Monday, 17 August 2009

Reflashing my 3COM Access Point

Every now and again I get enough spare time to try re-examine an on-going problem between my Wifi enabled Brother printer and my Wifi Access Point (AP). For some reason the printer cannot associate with my AP using WPA2 + PSK - after 3 association attempts it just gives up and prints out a failure message (which is annoying because this wastes paper!). Brother's help pages are not exactly helpful and resolving this outstanding issue has been little frustrating so far.

Looking at my AP, I discovered a new firmware update - the pros were it fixed some outstanding bugs and possible fix my printer associating issue that I've been wresting with but the cons to re-flashing it were:

1. There is a risk of the flashing going wrong and turning the AP into a brick.
2. The new firmware will introduce other unknown issues
3. Some features were going to be deprecated, such as the 2nd SSID feature.

Not liking risk, I've been putting off the re-flashing, but this weekend I gave it a go. What could possibly go wrong? :-)

I downloaded the new flash image (which was in a Windows self extracting executable archive) and with some painful steps extracted the firmware and bug fix manifest. Unfortunately the new firmware mean resetting the current configuration settings, so I got a hard copy of the configuration tweaks by printing these out from the clunky web admin tool.

Then I downloaded the new flash image and waited... and waited... and after 10 minutes the AP rebooted and I was much relieved to see it working again! I then zapped the settings to default and the re-applied my own configuration.

So did all this fix my laser printer associating problem? No. Ho hum. My next step will be to look at sniffing the wireless packets and try to figure out the problem at this level. Or maybe I should just keep the printer connected to the AP via an ethernet cable...

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