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Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

T430 and later, plus T530 and later series specific matters only
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wrybread
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Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#1 Post by wrybread » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:05 am

I've got a really odd problem, I wonder if anyone has any ideas.

My Thinkpad T530 with an up to date driver (Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205) keeps disconnecting from my Airport Extreme router. The weird thing is that's the only router it has the problem with. Any other router and it has a rock solid connection. And the router has a rock solid connection with all other devices.

The only way to fix the issue is to disable the card and re-enable it. Which works, but it's incredibly annoying, since it happens a few times per day.

I don't imagine anyone has any ideas? Driving me a bit nuts!

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:40 am

Swap it for a 6300N, even if you only have 2 antennae.

Or if you are really bold: Lenovo T530 Laptop WiFi upgrade
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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#3 Post by wrybread » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:53 am

Thanks for that, ordered. At $5 it's certainly worth a try.

If mine only has 2 antennas, any tips on which jacks to connect them to?

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:15 am


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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#5 Post by wrybread » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:28 am

Awesome and thanks.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#6 Post by wrybread » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:16 pm

I picked up a Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Centrino ... 2749.l2649

But it won't boot with the stock Lenovo bios... I gather I need to find a version of the Bios with the silly wifi card blacklist removed?

The link suggests Middleton's BIOS, but looking at the thinkwiki page I don't see the T530 mentioned:

https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Middleton%27s_BIOS

Can someone confirm that the T530 works with Middleton's bios? And which version to use?

Or is there some other way to make this wifi card work?

Also, that link says to connect the antenna wires in the laptop to the card in this order:

"If you have 3 wifi-cables connect grey-white-black (L to R)."

My T530 has 3 wires, and the ports on the wifi card are color coded and they would be (L to R) white, grey, black.

Any idea which to use?

Image
Last edited by wrybread on Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#7 Post by ajkula66 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:47 pm

No Middleton for T530. You need a different modded BIOS. Unfortunately I am clueless on which one.

Good luck.
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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#8 Post by wrybread » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:54 pm

Thanks. A few posts refer to this, but this looks a little elaborate:

http://photonicsguy.ca/projects/t530

If that's required, can anyone recommend a different wifi card, that will work with the T530 out of the box?

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#9 Post by TPFanatic » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:56 pm

T530's whitelist only permits Lenovo FRU wireless cards, so you'd need to find a 6300 that originally came out of a ThinkPad.

T530 cannot take modified BIOSes without a hardware flasher. :( You might be SoL.
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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#10 Post by wrybread » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:48 am

K, I found an ebay auction for the Intel 6300 that specifically says it works with the T530:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Wireless ... SwvHJcze0j

(If the auction is gone, the title is "Intel Wireless-N 6300 633ANHMW PCI-E Wifi Card Lenovo T420 T430 T530 T520 X220")

Fingers crossed.

And really an odd problem, I got another T530 and it has the same problem with my Airport Extreme. Lots of other laptops in the house and none of them ever drop wifi, but these do at least a couple of times a day. They work great with a crappy old router I connected just for them, so it's something specific to the Airport. Odd.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#11 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:03 am

People who read the Forum regularly (and not just about their own laptop model) should know that there are manuals, such as the HMM with included partslist (up till xx20 Series) and newer HMM with a separate partslist (a.k.a. frubom) as of xx30 Series.
Those partslists include the info about which parts are working in that particular machine.
It has also been mentioned numerous times, that many laptops have a wifi-whitelist, which only allows for Lenovo-approved wifi cards, as listed in those partslists.
Some even have an LCD-whitelist.
It has also been mentioned numerous times, that it needs a modded BIOS (or other patch, such as NO-1802), if you want to use a non-whitelisted part.

People should read up on whatever Thinkpad they have and note all its quirks and/or peculiarities and special mods if/when available.
These include Slic, whitelists, upgrades to FHD/WQHD, 7-row keyboards, battery-checks, touchpads, and, and, and...
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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#12 Post by wrybread » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:18 am

I know all about the white listed wifi cards, I've been dealing with that bizarre quirk in Thinkpads for probably a decade. But I assumed you recommending it meant the card was whitelisted.

No biggie, was only $8, I'm still glad for the advice (and all the other incredibly useful advice you provide on this forum).

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#13 Post by wrybread » Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:14 pm

Got the Lenovo compatible/approved 6300N wifi card, booted up no problem and so far no dropouts. Whoo hoo! Thanks for the great tip.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#14 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:24 am

ugh, correction, no improvement, still having the same issue with the new wifi card.

Such an odd issue.

- only happens with Airport Extreme routers. Happens with multiple Airport Extreme routers at multiple locations

- no other devices on the network have the issue, and there's lots of other devices. But the two T530's I have here both have the issue.

- in same location, connecting to a crappy thriftshop router I bought works fine

- when I lose internet, I still have an IP addy but I can't even ping the gateway. Can ping myself tho.

- disabling and then enabling wifi always fixes it

- in Windows Device Manager, I have "allow windows to power off this device" disabled

- doesn't happen from Linux

- using 5ghz wifi
Last edited by wrybread on Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#15 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:35 am

Blame that hapless fruit outfit.
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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#16 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:45 am

Believe me I'm tempted to, but it sure is odd that these are the only devices the Airport doesn't get along with. And I should mention that it happens with both my old T530 and my new one. But no other devices have ever had the issue, even once.

I'd just swap out the routers but we have a somewhat elaborate mesh network, so it would be pricey.

I guess I'll just keep the crappy old Linksys connected for Thinkpads.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#17 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:25 pm

wrybread wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:45 am
Believe me I'm tempted to, but it sure is odd that these are the only devices the Airport doesn't get along with. And I should mention that it happens with both my old T530 and my new one. But no other devices have ever had the issue, even once.
I'm going to venture a guess that none of the "other devices" sport Intel wireless cards. Airports are/were mostly Atheros-chipped and tend to play nice with anything but Intel in my not-so-limited experience.
I'd just swap out the routers but we have a somewhat elaborate mesh network, so it would be pricey.

I guess I'll just keep the crappy old Linksys connected for Thinkpads.
From a sheer networking standpoint I'd question the concept of building a network around a proprietary-system device - and I'm not an Apple hater by any means - but to each their own.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

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FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T520, X200s


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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#18 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:13 pm

I'm going to venture a guess that none of the "other devices" sport Intel wireless cards. Airports are/were mostly Atheros-chipped and tend to play nice with anything but Intel in my not-so-limited experience.
Good idea, but if Airports don't play nice with Intel cards I would think Google would be full of hits for "airport extreme intel wifi card disconnect", but it isn't. But sure would be interesting to test these cards in a different laptop. I don't think I have anything compatible though. Hmm.
From a sheer networking standpoint I'd question the concept of building a network around a proprietary-system device - and I'm not an Apple hater by any means - but to each their own.
I didn't set the network up, I'd have used Ubiquiti hardware if I did, but that's just personal preference. From my experience setting up mesh networks (which admittedly isn't much) they work best when built with identical hardware, and the Apple hardware has been absolutely flawless otherwise. Never ever needs to be rebooted, fills the two stories of our concrete walled and floored warehouse with signal, both 5ghz and 2.4ghz, lightening fast, super easy to add new nodes, etc. But it does like to candy coat the wifi protocols in Apple-speak. For example the option to prevent broadcasting the SSID is called "create a closed network". And it doesn't give access to lots of things, I suppose in the name of simplicity.
Last edited by wrybread on Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#19 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:56 pm

wrybread wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:13 pm
I'm going to venture a guess that none of the "other devices" sport Intel wireless cards. Airports are/were mostly Atheros-chipped and tend to play nice with anything but Intel in my not-so-limited experience.
Good idea, but if Airports don't play nice with Intel cards I would think Google would be full of hits for "airport extreme intel wifi card disconnect", but it isn't. But sure would be interesting to test these cards in a different laptop. I don't think I have anything compatible though. Hmm.
If you trust Google for stuff like that I have an absolutely lovely bridge to sell you at a highly discounted price... :D

I didn't set the network up, I'd have used Ubiquiti hardware if I did, but that's just personal preference. From my experience setting up mesh networks (which admittedly isn't much) they work best when built with identical hardware, and the Apple hardware has been absolutely flawless otherwise. Never ever needs to be rebooted, fills the two stories of our concrete walled and floored warehouse with signal, both 5ghz and 2.4ghz, lightening fast, super easy to add new nodes, etc. But it does like to candy coat the wifi protocols in Apple-speak. For example the option to prevent broadcasting the SSID is called "create a closed network". And it doesn't give access to lots of things, I suppose in the name of simplicity.

I just found a buried setting in the wifi options (of which there are surprisingly few) of the Airport called "WPA Group Key Timeout", I just maxxed it out at 6944 days, fingers crossed that that helps.
My experience - and I encounter *a lot* of different networking environments on daily basis and have been doing so for the past 20 years - is that Airports leave a lot to be desired when it comes to playing nice with certain groups of devices. But - as I've previously stated - to each their own.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

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Abused daily: T520, X200s


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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#20 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:12 pm

Does anyone know if there are any non Intel wifi cards that work with the T530?

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#21 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:34 pm

wrybread wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:12 pm
Does anyone know if there are any non Intel wifi cards that work with the T530?
Not without a BIOS mod.

I'd love to swap the Intel one out for an Atheros in my own T520 but can't be bothered with the flashing...
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T520, X200s


PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#22 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:55 pm

How silly. Does anyone know the stated reason for this wifi card restriction policy by Lenovo?

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#23 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:27 pm

I encounter *a lot* of different networking environments on daily basis and have been doing so for the past 20 years
Me too by the way. In a past life I made my living fixing computers and setting up networks, and now work as a a programmer but still work on networks all the time. And I can't think of an example of a networking incompatibility between two major brands like Apple and Intel, especially with something as basic as wifi. Not saying it's not possible, but yes I think if there was an issue there'd be lots of hits on Google, especially given that this laptop and the Airport Extreme have both been around for awhile.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#24 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:13 pm

wrybread wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:55 pm
How silly. Does anyone know the stated reason for this wifi card restriction policy by Lenovo?
I can't believe that you've been a member since 2007 and haven't ran into this limitation before.

IBM started this practice roughly around P4M era ThinkPads such as A31/p and T30, so in 2002 or therabouts. It never went away, and became even more of an issue as the time passed. Back then they were stating some nonsense about FCC compliance and what not. HP has been doing the the same thing for years, BTW. A lot of *loud* complaints over the past 15+ years got us nowhere with either IBM or Lenovo.
wrybread wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:27 pm

And I can't think of an example of a networking incompatibility between two major brands like Apple and Intel, especially with something as basic as wifi. Not saying it's not possible, but yes I think if there was an issue there'd be lots of hits on Google, especially given that this laptop and the Airport Extreme have both been around for awhile.
Well, whitelisting of the wireless and BT cards has been around for a lot longer than T530 and/or Airport and you've obviously been oblivious to it regardless of your stated experience, so there's always something new to learn. That's why I'm on this forum every day.

Good luck.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T520, X200s


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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#25 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:43 pm

People here sure make a big deal about knowing about the wifi card whitelist. But anyway, as I mentioned above I've dealt with and been painfully aware of that ridiculous whitelist for more than a decade. I was wondering why it exists, not if it exists. Such an asinine and unjustifiable restriction.

I'm guessing it's to sell wifi cards, but I cant imagine that they sell enough aftermarket wifi cards to even make it worth the effort.
Last edited by wrybread on Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#26 Post by wrybread » Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:53 pm

And ha, since you mentioned me being a member since 2007 I clicked my profile and searched my posts. Turns out my very first post in good ol May 2007 was about wifi card blacklists. And @realblackstuff was there to help me out! And he even pointed out that I read the eBay listing wrong. The more things change...

viewtopic.php?t=43453

That post was about my old T30. I travelled the world with that laptop and I still have it and it still boots to Puppy Linux on the off chance I need it to. Been eyeing its keyboard for a possible transplant to my t530.
Last edited by wrybread on Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#27 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:20 pm

wrybread wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:53 pm
Been eyeing its keyboard for a possible transplant to my t530.
Well, that one's not going to fly BUT if you want to mod the BIOS to enable non-whitelisted cards you may as well install the BIOS that would enable swapping in the T520 keyboard. Not as nice as one found on T30 - no argument from me on that one - but leagues nicer than the standard *30 series keyboard IMO...

Good luck.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T520, X200s


PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#28 Post by wrybread » Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:26 pm

I think/hope I fixed it. On the Airport Extreme is an option called "WPA Group Key Timeout", with a default value of 60 minutes. I changed that to 60 days and so far so good.

Note that I first filled the field with 999999999999999999999999's which put the router into a crashing reboot cycle and I had to reset to default, so if you're having the same problem, don't do that... I haven't tried giving it a value of 0 but that might work too.

Anyway I think in non Apple speak this setting is called "WPA Group Rekey Interval" or "Key Renewal", and according to this thread some wifi cards don't work well with it because they "aren't properly implementing TKIP/AES":

https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1089217

My shot in the dark theory is that it would renegotiate the WPA key every hour, and sometimes this card (all Intel cards?) would fail and drop the connection. When researching I found some threads that blamed this on wifi interference, but it's odd that it only happens with these cards, on multiple devices, and on no other devices on our network, so I'm pointing the finger at the Intel cards. But then it's odd that this issue doesn't seem to happen with my Intel card and other routers, which presumably use the same WPA key renegotiation technique, so I guess I'm still stumped, but at least I don't need to reset my wifi connection multiple times a day anymore.

I suppose this change makes our network slightly less secure but in our case that's no biggie and is way preferable to getting bumped from the network, or spending hours figuring out how to mod my bios and probably bricking my laptop in the process.

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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#29 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:03 am

https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what ... y-interval

There are different encryption standards: WEP, WPA, WPA2, PSK, TKIP, AES and probably a few more.
https://www.howtogeek.com/204697/wi-fi- ... p-or-both/

It sounds like your Airport Extreme may need some fine-tuning: https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT202068
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Re: Wifi keeps disconnecting from Airport Extreme

#30 Post by wrybread » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:30 am

> It sounds like your Airport Extreme may need some fine-tuning: https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT202068

That's all pretty basic stuff, mostly just going over the Airport's default settings. And interestingly the only setting it doesn't mention is the one that fixed the issue... These Airport Extremes are surprisingly basic, not very many advanced params.

I have a feeling the tuning required is on the Intel card side, specifically in it's Windows driver. Maybe futzing around in Device Manager can fix it, but for my purposes just keeping the same WPA key for longer works fine.

And it's interesting to mention again that this card has no problem at all when using Linux. Here's the output of "lshw -C network" from Mint Cinnamon for the Linux folks:
*-network
description: Wireless interface
product: Centrino Ultimate-N 6300
vendor: Intel Corporation
physical id: 0
bus info: pci@0000:03:00.0
logical name: wlp3s0
version: 3e
serial: 24:77:xx:xx:xx:xx (S/N removed to avoid someone "breaking in")
width: 64 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: pm msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
configuration: broadcast=yes driver=iwlwifi driverversion=5.0.0-32-generic firmware=9.221.4.1 build 25532 ip=192.168.5.133 latency=0 link=yes multicast=yes wireless=IEEE 802.11
resources: irq:31 memory:f3000000-f3001fff

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