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Airport Express Repeatedly Drops the Connection

7196 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Feb 27, 2010 6:15 PM by Glen Hunter RSS
John Mims1 Level 2 Level 2 (300 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jan 9, 2010 7:54 PM
I have an AEBS, a Time Machine and 2 Airport Expresses. The Expresses are both set up to Join a Wireless Network. Everything on the network works fine except the 2 Expresses that are constantly dropping their connections and reconnecting. In both instances, the signal is very strong in the areas where the Expresses were located. I have tried different firmware versions to no avail. Here are the logs. Of course, I have pages and pages that look exactly the same...

Jan 09 22:40:49 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:40:49 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:41:17 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:41:17 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:41:46 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:41:46 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:42:14 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:42:14 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:42:48 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:42:48 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:43:16 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:43:16 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:43:44 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:43:44 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:44:13 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:44:13 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:44:41 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:44:41 Severity:5 Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
Jan 09 22:45:09 Severity:5 Joined BSS 00:1b:63:2a:ee:a7
MacBook Pro | iPhone 3Gs, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • afjafj Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 11, 2010 12:33 PM (in response to John Mims1)
    I have a similar problem.
    I have 2 seperate AXs, both are set up as wireless bridges joining a network hosted by a Linksys WAG325N.
    Both successfully connect to the wireless network and let me connect to the internet and stream audio from iTunes, but both also lose their wireless connection periodically - the green light changes to flashing amber for about 5 seconds. The interesting thing is that this happens at 7 minute intervals almost invariably (I notice that John Mims1 example was a 30 second repeating cycle).
    The time at which my two AXs disconnect is not synchronised and I do not have any problems with the wireless connection on my MacBook Pro.
    The interesting thing is that when I run the Airport utility, the 7 minute disconnect cycle is broken and the units stay connected until the utility is closed down.
    Looks to me like it's some kind of timeout, but I'm at a loss to figure out what settings I can tweak on either the AX or the Linksys router.
    MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Rooibos Calculating status...
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    Jan 12, 2010 2:27 AM (in response to John Mims1)
    I have had the same problem for a couple of years.
    Tried to find a solution here then...in vain.
    I have a Mac Book pro. A netgear router, and an airport express connected to my printer and my stereo.
    The connection to the printer is solid, green light 24/7. When I play music via itunes, however, after about 7 mins I loose the connection...light goes amber and I have to reset the router (power off, power on) to reset the connection.
    Perhaps its only meant to work flawlessly with the apple airport station??
    Mac Book Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2), Cube
  • ak_jorge2008 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 13, 2010 9:43 AM (in response to Rooibos)
    This weekend I tried a whole slew of fixes I found on the Internet ... so many I'm not even sure which one worked. But something definitely fixed the problem I encountered with Airtunes losing access to my remote speakers (Airport Express w/ Wireless N).

    First, after each and every one of these attempts, I performed a hard reset of the Airport Express (unplug the AX, press and hold the reset button using a ballpoint pen while plugging it back in, and keep holding the button until the amber light starts flashing rapidly). Sometimes that actually wouldn't work, and I'd have to do a soft reset (identical to the above, but without unplugging the AX).

    First, I downgraded my Airport Express's firmware to 7.3, then 7.2, then all the way to 7.0. You can do this by following the instructions located at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1218:

    1. Open AirPort Utility.
    2. From the AirPort Utility menu, hold the Option key (Control key in Windows XP and Vista) and choose Check for Updates....
    3. Select the specific firmware version you require.
    4. Click Download.
    5. Select your base station and choose Manual Setup from the Base Station menu, or double-click on the AWD icon.
    6. Choose Base Station > Upload Firmware.
    7. Select a firmware version and click OK.

    I was not able to get the AX to work with any of these previous firmware versions. I assume this is because I am running Snow Leopard, but I'm honestly not sure. At the end, I downloaded the latest version of the firmware, uploaded it to the AX, and configured it to "Join an existing network" in my home.

    Here is what I think helped the most: I forced the AX to take a static IP address on my network. I read in several forums that the Airport Express does not play well with third-party routers (like my Belkin Wireless N+), which distribute IP addresses to devices in the 192.x.x range. Apparantly Apple devices prefer addresses in the 162.x.x range. This seems weird and totally irrelevant, but since nothing else has made sense I gave it a try:

    In Airport Utility, select the Airport Express and choose Manual Setup. Find the AX's current IP address on the summary page. Under the pull-down menu for DHCP, set it to Manual and make sure this same IP address is entered in the box. Your router's IP address should be in the Router IP Address field.

    Click Update.

    I've now gone for two days with only one loss of connection, which happened after waking my computer up from sleeping overnight. Restarting the Mac got me back in business again, and it's been fine for hours now (previously I could only go 30 minutes or so before the AX would disappear and I'd have to restart my computer and all routers).

    That's a convoluted answer to a convoluted problem, but I hope it helps someone. I'd be interested to hear from someone more proficient than me if the static IP address issue is really the source of the problem ... at least for folks using a non-Apple router.
    15" MacBook Pro (mid-2009), 2.8 Ghz, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • afjafj Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 14, 2010 12:37 PM (in response to ak_jorge2008)
    Interesting idea, ak.

    I reconfigured one of my AXs to a static IP address (192.168.1.210) which is outside my router's DHCP range.
    All is well in terms of getting on the internet etc, but the 7 minute disconnect problem is still there - it didn't make any different at all. I will try a reboot on the AX tonight and see if that makes any difference.

    My next thought is to use Air Radar to make sure there are no competing WiFi signals and perhaps to try some different channels and then perhaps try different encryption settings - I'm not expecting these to be the problem, but it will eliminate them as possibilities.

    Any other suggestions are gratefully received.
    MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Glen Hunter Calculating status...
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    Feb 25, 2010 3:09 PM (in response to John Mims1)
    I'm also having the 7 minute disconnection issue.

    This manifests in 2 kinds of messages:

    "Installed unicast CCMP key for authenticator"
    "Disconnected from network"

    Sometimes it's the first message every 7 minutes, other times it's the second message. Sometimes both messages one after the other, sometimes only one or the other.

    Also I tend to lose my connections permanently after putting the Macbook to sleep I've got a Linksys WAG160N router, with 2 airport expresses in the "Join a Wireless Network Mode". Interestingly the new "802.11n" AX has alot more disconnections than the old "g" one.

    After putting the Mac to sleep I also tend to lose my connection to the router (there is a signal but no network). This is "fixed" by turning Airport on the Macbook off then on. Interesting to note that after doing this although I have a network connection to the router the AX's are still not visible. The only way to get all 3 working seems to be to power cycle the router.

    Things I've tried (from advice in other forums):

    - Applied all OS updates required to take the Macbook to Snow Leopard 10.6.2
    - Used iStumbler to make avoid competing wifi channels. I'm on 1, my neighbours are on 6 and 11.
    - Checked the signal strength for router and AX - all good strong signals, low noise.
    - Disabled DHCP on the router.
    - Manually assigned IP addresses to my Macbook Pro (192.168.1.10), and the AX's (192.168.1.110, 192.168.1.111)
    - Updated to the current version of firmware for both AX's (6.3 for the old one and 7.4.2 for new one).
    - Using Airport Utility set the Wireless Security to WPA2 Personal instead of the default of WPA/WPA2 Personal, to match the Linksys setting.
    - Deleted the Preferred Network in wireless network preferences
    - Removed then re-entered the WPA keys for the network and AX's
    - Added the Preferred Network back in.

    Making all these changes has indeed reduced the number of disconnections but not eliminated them, especially the 7 minute interval disconnections. I found that before using manual IP addresses I had to constantly "Renew DHCP Lease" in Network Preferences as the Airport connection from the Macbook to the Linksys Router was lost (by lost I mean the signal was there but no network connection).

    I've also noticed:

    - When playing music through airtunes there are no disconnections, ever. However if I just let iTunes sit there without playing music eventually (not every 7 minutes but after an hour or so, or after putting the computer to sleep), the connections one or all of the AX's are lost. The "n" AX is lost much more frequently than the old "g" one. Sometimes the g AX does not drop out at all.
    - After checking the AX "n" log sometimes the 7 minute dropouts are as regular as clockwork, basically once they start going at this interval they just keep going. However at other times (e.g. after power cycling the router or the AX's), the disconnections are not regular at all and just happen intermittently.

    Theories:

    - The Linksys WAG160 firmware has issues with DHCP renewal and WPA2 key renewal (some forums suggest this), resulting in Airport issues unrelated to the AX
    - The Linksys router doesn't "play" properly when you have mixed "g" and "n" airport expresses
    - The new Airport Express "n" has firmware issues
    - The new Macbook Pro airport card and/or firmware has issues with working with "n" devices.
    - Some forums suggest the problem is to do with the power management strategy of the Macbook. I have noticed that when I'm using the computer constantly (e.g. typing, web browsing, listening to music) etc then there are no messages appearing in the log. However if I take a "break" for a few minutes or so, then the messages start re-appearing. (If you want to try this make sure you exit Airport Utility, iTunes music and/or iStumbler first, they seem to keep the connection active).

    From my reading there are plenty of other users using other brands of routers (e.g. Billion) having the same issues.

    The 7 minute / 420 second issue we are all having must jog someone's memory - what device is checking something every 420 seconds? If anyone has any further insights would be much appreciated, I think I've pretty much tried everything suggested on the various forums.
    Macbook Pro 3.06 Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Glen Hunter Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 26, 2010 5:13 PM (in response to John Mims1)
    OK I may have found a solution to my network connection issues with the Linksys WAG160N and the Airport Express.

    I found this support article at Linksys:

    http://www1.linksys.com/support/troubleshoot/wireless/wirelessrouter_config/advancedsettings.html

    And this associated article on the Linksys forums:

    http://forums.linksysbycisco.com/linksys/board/message?board.id=WirelessAdapters&view=by_dateascending&message.id=20723

    The relevant part is for the router configuration seems to be:

    - Click on Advanced Wireless Settings
    - Change the Beacon Interval to 75
    - Change the Fragmentation Threshold to 2304
    - Change the RTS Threshold to 2307
    - Click on "Save Settings"...

    Also Airport Express doesn't like TKIP very much, so set the wireless auth algorithm to TKIP+AES or AES. Note that the other steps in the forum article are also relevant but I'm running WPA2 Personal not WPA, and it seems fine. There are some suggestions in other forums that AX works better with WEP but I don't seem have any problems in this regard.

    While I'm still getting "disconnected from network" messages in the AX logs (for both AX's), they don't actually seem to affect the Airport Express performance now. I've been running with the settings 24 hours now, putting the computer to sleep, waking it up, playing music, browsing and downloading, etc and so far the network connection seems very robust without all the previous issues. If it's still going well in a few days I'm going to go back to DHCP instead of static addresses and see if it still works.

    I also found a reference at Cisco to the 7 minute / 420 second issue. Apparently, with a number of routing protocols, when a route is down the router notices at starts counting:

    0 - 30 (normal periodic timer)
    31-180 secs( total of 150 secs) = 3 minutes (invalid timer,inclusive of 30 seconds). Router changes the status to possibly down.
    181-359 =6minutes (waiting for an update & status should be possibly down)
    360-420 = 7minutes (after all those 420 seconds are counted the route is flushed from the routing table)

    Anyway I'm not an expert so this might be totally irrelevant. If I get it working with DHCP again I'll do a final post.
    MacBook Pro 3.06 Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.4.2)
  • Jonathan Sapp Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 27, 2010 10:44 AM (in response to John Mims1)
    I have the same series of repeated messages in my log. My AE consistently drops connections every few minutes. I'm using it as a wireless bridge (in 'join' mode) to get my XBox 360 online.

    My main router is a Netgear WNDR3700 dual-band, and the AE is connected to the 2.4Ghz band, unfortunately, as it will not maintain a connection in the 5Ghz band. That really *****, as my microwave emits enough RF to foul up the 2.4Ghz band (we plan to replace it soon).

    I'm using static ip (not assigned by dhcp, but assigned directly through Airport Utility) in the 192.168.1.255 subnet.

    *Leaving Airport Utility on and connected to the AE stops it from periodically dropping connections*. I notice a huge difference on my XBox Live games as I don't get lagged for ten seconds every four minutes.

    I'm really peeved about this. If I can leave the Utility connected to that bridge and get it to stop dropping connections, then surely there can be a firmware adjustment to fix this undesired behavior.
    Mid-2009 MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6)
  • Glen Hunter Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 27, 2010 6:15 PM (in response to John Mims1)
    OK, this morning I went back to DHCP addressing for my Macbook Pro and 2 x Airport Expresses.

    Within and hour the AE were both dropping and losing connections.

    For me the 4 things that have made the biggest difference

    - Router well away from wireless 2.4 cordless phone, microwave oven and speakers.
    - Set WIFI to non-competing channel with neighbours
    - Statically assigned IP addresses for AE and Macbook
    - Advanced Router Wireless Settings (Linksys only?)
    -Change the Beacon Interval to 75
    -Change the Fragmentation Threshold to 2304
    -Change the RTS Threshold to 2307

    The last 2 items have made the biggest difference in overall stability, I am surprised as to how much of a difference the last one has made.

    There is still one outstanding issue and that is that if I put the computer to sleep for more than a few hours, on wake up it is unable to establish a route to the AE's and they become invisible again. Power cycling the router is the only way to fix this problem I have found so far. But if I don't put the computer to sleep, or play music continuously, or leave Airport Utility running, this problem does not occur. There are some old forums which suggest this has been a problem with AE in the past, which has been fixed by reverting to previous versions of firmware, but doing this has created other problems. So for now I will assume it's a firmware issue.

    Other than all that my other intermittent connection problems are fixed.
    PowerBook G4, Mac OS X (10.4.2)

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