Potchefstroom Community Network


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 significantly.

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.

General Specifications

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 sideways.

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.