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Wireless photography with an iPad and ShutterSnitch - Continued
ShutterSnitch FAQ: Router configuration tips

What follows is a series of setup tips for and screenshots from several of the routers we've discussed so far, including the Aluratek CDM530AM, D-Link DAP-1350, Cradlepoint PHS300 and Apple Airport Express. There are a lot of different ways that a router can be configured, and a lot of explaining that can accompany the configuration options.

We're going to steer clear of most of the explanations and just say that if you want one of these routers to pass pictures from a camera transmitter to ShutterSnitch on an iPad, set them up as shown, regardless of whether your transmitter is an Eye-Fi card, a WFT unit from Canon, Nikon's WT-4/WT-4A or even a Mac or Windows computer. Match the configuration shown and things should just work.

Considerations

As you'll see, the goal was to configure each router identically, or at least as close as possible. That way, regardless of which router is in use, the iPad will have the same IP address. Therefore, the Canon and Nikon transmitters can always find ShutterSnitch without needing their destination FTP server settings changed.

We've also set things up to account for alternate destinations. For example, pictures might need to go from the transmitter to ShutterSnitch on an iPhone occasionally, or perhaps to an FTP server on a computer. Plus, the three newest Canon transmitters have the slick WFT Server mode, which effectively turns them into a destination as well. With that in mind, we've planned for all these devices to be possible destinations, which means it's helpful for them to get a consistent IP address of their own each time they join the wireless network.

All configurations utilize the 192.168.x.x private addressing scheme. This is not unusual. If you have a router on your home or studio network, chances are it's assigning an IP configuration that starts with 192.168 as well. Several of the routers we tested default to 192.168.0.x addressing, and most (all we've tried actually) Canon transmitters are troubled by 0 being the value of the third segment, which means that number has to be something other than 0. We didn't want it to be 192.168.1.x, however, despite that being common.

The reason is the iPad. The name of the Wi-Fi network it's connected to is displayed only in the Settings app, not in ShutterSnitch. Within ShutterSnitch, however, you can readily view the iPad's IP address. Therefore, if the private addressing scheme you use is sufficiently unique - for example, not 192.168.1.x - then you can check the IP in ShutterSnitch as a quick verification that you're still connected to the wireless router you expect and that the iPad hasn't autoswitched you to another. We accomplished this by standardizing on 192.168.3.x as the addressing scheme for all the portable routers we might deploy in this wireless workflow.

With all this in mind, the routers have been configured so that the following IP addresses go the following devices every time. This is done using DHCP Reservations.
  • 192.168.3.100 Laptop (as a computer-based alternative to ShutterSnitch, Photo Mechanic's Live Slide Show feature is great)
  • 192.168.3.101 iPad (for ShutterSnitch)
  • 192.168.3.102 iPhone (for ShutterSnitch)
  • 192.168.3.103 Canon WFT-E2 II A (for WFT Server mode)
Neither an Eye-Fi card nor Nikon's WT-4/WT-4A will serve as destination devices in an iPad-based wireless workflow, therefore they don't need an IP reserved for them. Whatever IP address the router's DHCP server assigns them will be fine.

It's unlikely that your list of wireless devices will exactly mirror ours. The point here is you will simplify your wireless life if you ensure that any destination devices always have the same IP address on your network. There are a couple of ways to do this, but none easier in the long run than DHCP Reservations. We recommend using this feature, and that you use our map of devices and IPs as your starting point, modifying it to suit your bag of gear.

The wireless settings we've chosen assume that all these devices need access. The WFT-E2 II A, WT-4A and iPhone 3GS, for example, can't connect to an 802.11N-only network, so the wireless protocol setting chosen allows for a mix of 802.11g and 802.11n devices.

At two of the locations where we will deploy this gear regularly, channels 1, 6 and 11 are already occupied or even crowded with Wi-Fi routers, whereas channel 8 is wide open. Therefore, if the router requires or allows for a manual channel selection, we'll usually pick 8 these days, or alternatively, 3.

You'll probably find these channels to be among the clearest ones where you are too, for the simple reason that 1, 6 and 11 are the most prevalent default or automatically-selected channels and users don't tend to override them. There's a method to this madness, in that these three channels are the only ones within Wi-Fi's 2.4GHz band that don't partly overlap other channels. This means they're not subject to interference from traffic on nearby channels. Traffic on the same channel, however, can lead to slowdowns or even disconnects if the channel is crowded enough.

So, in-range traffic on nearby channels might slow your camera transmitter down. But, in-range traffic on the same channel is guaranteed to slow it down. Given that Wi-Fi seems to be everywhere within urban areas these days, there's a better than average chance you'll be within range of active wireless networks on channels 1, 6 or 11 the next time you fire up your portable router in the city. This means 1, 6 and 11 aren't the obviously-right channel choices they once were.

Knowing this, our rule of thumb is to stay at least two channels apart from the busiest channels at a given location. These days, in North America at least, this is going to mean channels that are between 1, 6 and 11. Like 8, or 3.

None of the screenshots specifically show how to get the wireless router (and any devices linked to it) onto the Internet. In all cases we've configured the routers so that, for example, pictures can get to the iPad and ShutterSnitch on the local wireless network, but not necessarily out to the Internet from there.

Nor do the configurations exclude this possibility, it's just that the paths to the Internet are too varied and numerous to try and account for them in what we show below. In some cases - with the Aluratek CDM530AM, for example - if you plug in an Ethernet cable that's connected to your wired home or office network, the router may well be able to access the Internet without changing a single setting. If you plug directly into a broadband modem, or a 3G/4G USB device of some kind, you'll almost certainly need to make settings changes beyond what's shown.

The process by which you initially access the router is a bit different for each model. Look at the instructions that came with the router to see whether it can be configured through a wired connection only at first, plus what the default IP address and login is. For the Airport Express, use the Airport Utility application rather than a web browser.

Generally, it's either possible to do the initial configuration only from a computer, rather than an iPad, or it's simply easier to do it from a computer at first. After that, settings changes can be done from Safari on an iPad. There are two exceptions. The first is any Apple wireless router, including the Airport Express, which rely on the Mac/Windows Airport Utility for this. The second partial exception is the Cradlepoint PHS300, which would not accept some changes we tried to make from an iPad.

Q: Can you summarize all the network settings that the example configurations are based on?

Yes. Remember, neither an Eye-Fi card nor Nikon WT-4/WT-4A serve as destination devices in a ShutterSnitch workflow, so the last segment of their IP address (the part after 192.168.3.) can be whatever the router's DHCP server chooses, or at least whatever it chooses from the range set out in the configuration (we've set this somewhat arbitrarily at .100 to .118).
  • IP address for the on-site computer (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.100
  • IP address for the iPad (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.101
  • IP address for the iPhone (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.102
  • IP address for the Eye-Fi card (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.xxx (104-118)
  • IP address for the WFT-E2 II A (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.103
  • IP address for the WT-4A (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.xxx (104-118)
  • Subnet mask for all devices (to be assigned by the router): 255.255.255.0
  • Router/gateway for all devices (to be assigned by the router): 192.168.3.1

  • FTP server (aka ShutterSnitch) port: 26000
  • FTP server (aka ShutterSnitch) username: lgm
  • FTP server (aka ShutterSnitch) password: ---
  • Passive FTP transfers: no

  • Canon WFT Server username: lgm
  • Canon WFT Server password: ---
  • Canon WFT Server port: 00080

  • Wireless network band: 2.4GHz, mixed 802.11g and 802.11n
  • Wireless network name (SSID): varies; first example below is LGM ZALIP
  • Wireless network type: Infrastructure (all router-based wireless networks are this type)
  • Channel: Any clear one
  • Authentication: WPA2-PSK
  • Encryption: AES
  • Password: ---
Q: A wireless device's MAC address is required for DHCP Reservations. Where can I find it?

Routers that support this feature usually have a way to grab the MAC address of a connected device when creating a DHCP Reservations entry. This is true of the Aluratek CDM530AM, D-Link DAP-1350 and Cradlepoint PHS300, for example. Of the wireless routers discussed on this page, only the Airport Express lacks this DHCP Reservations shortcut.

The Airport Express can still show you a connected device's MAC address. While configuring an Airport Express from Airport Utility, click on the [Advanced] icon at the top, followed by the [Logging & Statistics] tab. Then, click the [Logs and Statistics] button. On the screen that appears, the MAC addresses of any connected devices are displayed in both the [Wireless Clients] and [DHCP Clients] tabs. Highlight an entry, copy it, and the MAC address (minus the other information on the same line) will be put on your computer's clipboard. These steps are based on the Mac version of Airport Utility 5.5.1, we've not tried the Windows version.

To know which device goes with which MAC address, your best bet is to have only device at a time connect to the Airport Express while you're setting up its DHCP Reservations. The same advice applies to other routers, though in the case of the CDM530AM, DAP-1350 and PHS300 the DHCP Reservations interface will display a device name alongside the MAC address for some (but not all) connected devices.

Q: How should the Aluratek CDM530AM be configured?

Bypass the wizard and then configure this router as shown in the first four screenshots, personalizing the settings as necessary.

Once you've successfully created and tested the configuration, you can save a configuration file to your computer's hard drive, as shown in the fifth screenshot. All tested routers have a similar feature.

Zalip
Network
DHCP
DHCP Reservations
Wireless
Save config
This is what you'll see when connected to the Aluratek CDM530AM from an iPad running iOS 3.2.2:

ZalipiPad
Connected
IP assigned
And this is what you'll see when connected from a Mac running OS X 10.6.4.


ZalipMac
Connected
IP assigned
Reconnect automatically
Q: How should the D-Link DAP-1350 be configured?

Bypass the wizard and then configure this router as shown, personalizing the settings as necessary.

You can adjust the DAP-1350's transmit power, but you'll want to leave it at 100% unless you need to extend the router's runtime when it's connected to an external battery.

DAP1350
Internet
Wireless
Network
Transmit power
Q: How should the Cradlepoint PHS300 be configured?

Bypass the wizard and then configure this router as shown, personalizing the settings as necessary.

You can adjust the PHS300's transmit power, but you'll want to leave it at 100% unless you need to extend the router's runtime when powered from its internal battery or an external one.

To ensure a trouble-free connection to this router from an iPad, make sure that Require User Login and Enable Bounce Pages are disabled.

PHS300
DHCP
LAN
Wireless
Transmit power
Bounce
User login
Q: How should an Apple Airport Express be configured?

Bypass the wizard and then configure this router as shown, personalizing the settings as necessary. Note that only the current, 802.11n-capable Airport Express offers DHCP Reservations, the earlier 802.11b/g Airport Express doesn't.

The Airport Express has been included here because we have this router and know that it works, plus it's popular among Mac-toting photographers. It's not designed to be run from either an internal battery or a small external one, however, and all configuration of it must be done from a computer. So, it's not our first choice for a wireless router to use on location with ShutterSnitch.

Express
Summary
Base
Wireless
Options
Internet
TCP/IP
DHCP
Q: If you gave all the portable routers the same SSID, instead of a unique SSID for each one as the screenshots show, then you wouldn't have to change the wireless network name in the Canon and Nikon transmitter settings for each router you might use. Wouldn't that be easier?

That would be easier, and at first it's what we set out to do. But the iPad threw a wrench in the plan.

For example, we tried assigning "LGM Router" as the SSID for both the Aluratek CDM530AM and D-Link DAP-1350, and ensured that all other login, security and wireless settings were as similar as each allowed. Trying to switch from one router to another resulted in unable to connect messages on the iPad, even with only one router on at a time, the iPad's Wi-Fi turned off an on in-between and so on. The only way past the problem was to either restart the iPad or use its forget this network option and start again.

Therefore, to avoid this iPad weirdness, we opted to give each router a unique SSID.

Q: What can I do to maximize the speed a portable router passes pictures from the transmitter to ShutterSnitch?

We have two suggestions, beyond what we've talked about already on the router selection page. First, select the clearest possible operating channel in the router. We favour channel 8, or 3. Second, treat the router as a signal booster for your camera's transmitter. Its signal is the weakest part of a transmitter-router-iPad wireless network, so by keeping your portable router closer to the transmitter than the iPad, when there is going to be some distance between the two devices, you'll realize a significant speed benefit. That means putting the router in your backpack, camera bag, pocket or other location that's near the camera.

Eye-Fi configuration tips are on the next page.
Next Page: FAQ: Eye-Fi configuration tips
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