To join the network, you will need some WiFi-capable equipment.
If you have a good, strong signal, the easiest way is to simply add a WiFi
card or adapter to your PC. For a weaker signal, you may need an external AP
(client) that is usually connected to your PC via a network (or USB) cable, and
can thus be moved to a spot where the signal is better. For the ultimate setup,
you can also add an external antenna to your AP, which will improve your signal
There is one important thing to remember: Antenna cable losses with Wi-Fi
equipment is high. 5 metres of "average quality" antenna cable may lose 50% of
your signal strength. Always aim to connect your WiFi device to your antenna
with as short a cable run as possible - eg 1 metre or less, and use good
quality cable and connectors.
We use IEEE 802.11 compliant equipment - the "official" name for the spec
that is known as WiFi. You get 3 commonly available types of 802.11 WiFi
equipment: 802.11a, which is not very widely deployed, and not generally used
in our network, 802.11b, which is old and slow (11Mb/s theoretical throughput,
less than 5Mb/s in real life), and 802.11g, which will give around 15-20Mb/s in
real life from it's claimed 54Mb/s theoretical maximum, and is the recommended
equipment to use.
Almost all the backbone nodes are compliant with both 802.11b and 802.11g,
so if you really can't get hold of any 802.11g equipment, it should be possible
to use either "b" or "g". If you have one of the newer "a/b/g" capable devices,
set it to "g".
All other marketing-oriented descriptions (Super-G, Turbo-G, 108-G, MIMO
etc.) are mostly known to work, as long as they are compliant with the basic
802.11g specification. You will obviously not be able to use their added
features and claimed speed increases.
Antennas should be polarised vertically - i.e. the elements (teeth /
rods) should point up/down, not like the TV antennas in this area which
are horizontally polarised - i.e. their elements are pointing
Most computer retail outlets sell WiFi equipment. Availability of adaptors
and AP's shouldn't be a problem. But not many will stock antennas, cables and
other peripherals. You may have to shop around for these.