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How to Check Wireless Signal Strength on Wi-Fi Equipped Inkjet Printers; Variables Affecting Signal Strength

Document ID:HO3186
 
06/04/13 Properties  

Problem

Cannot print; Unable to print; Possible interference; Intermittent signal loss; Drop off network; Determine proper location of printer; Verify proper distance to access point;

Environment

Windows 95; Windows 98; Windows Me; Windows NT; Windows 2000; Windows XP (32-bit); Windows XP Professional (64-bit); Windows Vista (32-bit); Windows Vista (64-bit); Windows 7 (32-bit); Windows 7 (64-bit); Windows 8 (32-bit); Windows 8 (64-bit);

Solution

Overview


This article describes a number of procedures for determining the printer's wireless signal strength – via the network settings page, the printer display or control panel, or the printer's web page (EWS). Gains or losses in signal strength  affect bandwidth throughput. The strength of the radio frequency (RF) is measured by the printer's Wi-Fi adapter, printer server, wireless print server, or internal network adapter (INA).
NOTE: Antenna placement can greatly impact performance. However, it does NOT determine the host computer's signal strength to the access point, and it is important to distinguish between the two when trying alleviate communication issues. See Wireless Glossary for an explanation of some of the technical terms used here.

 

Before you begin


Make sure the printer is turned on  and that paper is loaded into the auto-sheet feeder (ASF). 

  

Option 1: Network Settings Page – Signal Strength and Quality settings under Wireless


Wireless Setting Default Value Configured Values (Example)
BSS Type Ad hoc (computer-to-printer).  This value will change to Infrastructure after configuration with an access point.  (Commonly known as your connection type or mode.) Infrastructure
SSID Print Server  macdaddy3 (after configuration with an access point)
Wireless Security Mode Disabled until configured. WPA- PSK (optionally WEP, WPA2)
Security recommended - WPA Personal.
Signal Strength Not listed -40dBm 
Current Access Point Not listed 0080C80A2236 (MAC address of the access point the print server is communicating with)
Current Channel Not listed 6
Quality Not listed Excellent
Pairwise Cipher Not listed TKIP (part of PSK Security Mode)
Groupwise Cipher Not listed TKIP (part of PSK Security Mode)
Trouble Code Can't find Wireless Network None

Procedure:  Printing out the Network Settings Page (X3500 – X4500 Series printer displayed in the example)

Blue first line of printer display
Red second line of display
Step Action
1 Press Settings to display Settings/ on the display.
2 Press  to display Settings/ Network Setup.
3 Press  to display Network Setup/ Print Setup Page.
4 Press  to observe the message Load Plain Letter paper and press .
5 You will see Preparing page before the printer starts printing.
Other Models
Printer Model Article
Z1400 & Z1500 Series Click here
Z2400 Series Click here
X6500 Series Click here
X4850 & X7550  Series Click here
X4600 Series Click here
X9350 Series Click here

 

Option 2: Checking the Signal Strength on the Printer Display or Control Panel


X3500,  X4500 & X6500 Series Procedure
You will find equivalent settings in the same place on other models; however, the navigation buttons will be different.
Blue - first line of printer display
Red - second line
of display

Step Action
1 Press Settings to display Settings / Maintenance> on the LCD.
2 Press  to display Settings / Network Setup.
3 Press  to display Network Setup / Print Setup Page.
4 Press  to display Network Setup / Wireless Setup.
5 Press  to display Network Setup / Network Name.
6 Press  to display Network Setup / Wireless Signal Quality.
7 Press  to observe the message Unacceptable, Poor, Fair, Good, or Excellent

 

Option 3:  Checking the Signal Strength on the Web Page (EWS) Reports Link (All Models


Step Action
1 Open your web-browser interface (e.g. Internet Explorer, Fire Fox).
2

Enter your printer's IP address into the web address field (sometimes referred to a the URL field).

Example: http://<your printer's_IP_address>, where <your printer's_IP_address> is the value found next to Address on the Network Settings Page.

3 Click on Reports.
4 Click on Print Server Setup Page.
5 Observe the values next to Signal Strength and Quality

 

Is your Signal Strength Low? 


Several variables affect signal strength and consistent communication with the printer. Below is a brief list of things to consider when determining the placement of the printer or the positioning of the antenna.
NOTE: Please refer to your wireless router/access point documentation for additional suggestions on maintaining signal strength and combating interference.

Obstructions

Place printer in a location which does not prevent the antenna from transmitting/receiving signals. Areas behind large objects may hinder signal transmission to the printer.
Suggestions: Provide a more direct path to the printer, adjust both printer and access point antenna angles, or consider the purchase of high-gain antennas for your access point.
NOTE: This phenomenon is often called RF shadow, and is known as dead space around objects where the access point radio frequency (APRF) signal cannot reach the desired wireless device.

Distance 

The advertised range of most access points is 300 feet. A combination of the other three variables (Obstructions, Interference, Antenna Placement) can reduce this to as little as 50 feet.
Suggestions: Move the printer closer to the access point, move the access point closer to printer, consider the purchase of high-gain antennas for your access point, or try adjusting antenna angles. One other option is the purchase of a wireless repeater (range extender).
NOTE: Some consumer grade access points can function as repeaters, but this will slow down the overall data throughput.

Interference

Neighboring wireless networks or other devices using similar frequencies (2.4GHz cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors etc.) can affect signal quality and printing performance.
Suggestions: Relocate the printer or access point. Also, consider changing the frequency channel of your access point.
NOTE: Lexmark is not responsible for the configuration of your access point. If you are unsure how to change channels while ensuring wireless clients maintain wireless connectivity, please consult your wireless router/access point customer-support resources.

Antenna Placement 

Vertical polarization (antenna vertical/perpendicular to ground) is typical for antenna placement, but changes in elevation between the access point and printer, or reflection, refraction, diffraction, absorption and scattering of RF waves off various obstructions can greatly diminish signal strength.
Suggestions: Depending on the location of the printer you may have to adjust the angle of the printer or access point antenna(s).
NOTE: Dual antennas on access points create antenna diversity, which helps to control signal multipath caused by the many types of obstructions and the numerous effects they have on wireless signal transmission. 

 

Wireless & Networking Glossary


Click here for explanations of wireless and networking terms.

 

Still need help?


Please contact Lexmark Technical Support for additional assistance. NOTE: When calling for support, you will need your printer model type and serial number (SN).
Please call from near the printer in case the technician asks you to perform a task involving the device.

 



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