Most wireless networks employ a router as the central hub for connecting multiple computers to a wireless network. In most cases, using a router to create a wireless network is the easiest way to connect more than one wireless to the Internet. However, if you only have two PCs and don’t want to invest in a separate routing device, you can create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network using nothing more than the wireless cards installed in the computers and sharing features already built into Windows.
Install a Wireless PCI Network Card
Power off the first desktop computer in which you want to install a wireless network card. Disconnect the power cord and all other cables, then transfer the computer to a sturdy, flat work surface -- a large desk or table is ideal.
Lay the computer on its side so that the right-side access panel faces upward, then use the Phillips screwdriver to remove the two retaining screws that connect the panel to the case chassis. Remove the access panel from the computer case.
Clip the alligator clip on the end of the anti-static wrist strap to a metal surface inside the case and then slide the loop on the strap over your wrist.
Select an empty PCI slot on the computer motherboard. Depending on the type of computer you own, the motherboard may have one PCI slot or it may have multiple slots. You can identify a PCI slot by its white color, as opposed to PCI-X slots that are usually brown, blue or black. The white PCI slots are also shorter in length than PCI-X slots. After selecting an empty PCI slot, remove the screw that secures the metal bracket for the selected slot on the rear wall of the computer case, then remove the bracket and set it aside.
Remove the antenna bar from the wireless card if it ships attached. You can remove the antenna bar easily by first straightening it until it points straight out at a 180-degree angle from the card and then twisting it counterclockwise until it unlocks and slides out of its terminal slot on the rear face of the network card.
Grasp the top of the mounting bracket on the rear of the wireless card with your left hand while gripping the top right corner of the card with your right. Use both hands to push the wireless card into the empty PCI slot until fully seated. Secure the card to the rear wall of the cases with the screw you removed from the slot-cover bracket.
Replace the access cover and secure it to the computer case with the retaining screws you removed. Reattach the wireless antenna bar to the terminal slot on the rear of the PCI wireless card and turn it clockwise to lock and secure it.
Return the computer back to its original location and connect the power cord and cables.
Power on the computer, log in to Windows and then wait a few seconds for the operating system to detect the new PCI wireless adapter card. Insert the installation disc for the PCI wireless card when prompted by Windows, then click the “OK” button. Windows installs the required driver for the device. Reboot the computer if prompted.
Install a PCI wireless card in the second computer if it does not already have one.
Set Up the Host Computer
Go to the computer you want to use as the host, then click “Start | Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center | Change Adapter Settings.” Right-click the icon for the PCI wireless card in the list of network adapters, then choose “Properties" on the pop-up menu.
Click the "Network" tab and select the “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” value in the Protocol list. Click the “Properties" button under the Protocol list on the Network tab.
Click the radio-button control next to the “Use the following IP address" to enable it, then type "192.168.0.2" in the "IP Address" field. Leave the default "255.255.255.0" value in place for the Subnet Mask field and enter "192.168.0.1" in the "Default Gateway" field. Click "OK" to save the changes and close the Internet Protocol Version 4 window. Close the Properties and Control Panel windows.
Create the Ad-hoc Wireless Network
Click the Start button, "Control Panel" and then “Network and Sharing Center.” Click “Set Up a New Connection or Network” to open a new window. Click “Set Up a Wireless Ad Hoc Computer-to-Computer Network" and then the "Next" button.
Type a descriptive name for your private wireless network in the "Network Name" box in the “Give Your Network a Name and Choose Security Options" window.
Enter a password for your private ad-hoc network in the "Security" Key field, then enable the “Save the Network” option. Click “Next” and wait a few seconds for Windows to create the new ad-hoc network and display a confirmation message. Click “Close” to close the window after creating the ad-hoc network.
Connect Second Computer to the Ad-Hoc Network
Go to the second computer. Click the wireless signal icon to the left of the time and date display on the taskbar to open a list of nearby wireless networks. Choose the name of your new private ad-hoc wireless network and click "Connect."
Type the password you created on the host computer in the Security Key field when prompted and click "OK." Wait a few seconds for Windows to connect to the second computer to the ad-hoc network and receive an IP address automatically.
Click Start, then "Computer." Click the "Network" link in the navigation pane of Windows Explorer to view the host computer on the ad-hoc network. Double-click the network name of the host computer to browse shared files and folders on its hard drive.
- You can save considerable time versus installing PCI wireless cards in the computers by adding USB wireless adapters to each machine. A USB wireless adapter connects to a free a USB port on the computer and works virtually the same as an internal card. USB wireless adapters are easier to install and put away when not in use. The only drawback with most USB adapters, though, is that they have reduced wireless ranges when compared to internal PCI cards.
- You can connect multiple computers to the host PC without a router. However, connecting many computers could slow performance on the host computer, as it must act as a dedicated router in addition to performing other tasks.
- With an ad-hoc network, you can also share the Internet connection on one computer without a router. To do this, first set up the computer with the Internet connection as the host. After you configure the computer as the ad-hoc network host, click “Start | Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center | Change Adapter Settings.” Right-click the name of the network adapter used for the Internet connection, then click "Properties." Click the "Sharing" tab, enable the "Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection" and click "OK."
- Phillips #2 screwdriver
- Anti-static wristband
- Adapter installation CD
- PCI wireless network card
- PCWorld: The Desktop Wireless Adapter Difference - USB vs. PCI
- Microsoft Windows: Set Up a Computer-to-Computer (Ad Hoc) Network
- SolveYourProblem.com: Install a PC Wireless Card in 10 Steps
- NETGEAR: NETGEAR 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet Adapter GA311 User Manual
- US Robotics: Wireless MAXg PCI Adapter Installation Guide
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