Thursday, September 18, 2008

Viewsonic WPG-150 "Wireless Presentation Gateway"

"Hey, I thought this blog was about software, what gives?"


Well, Mr. Anonymous Strawman Setup Guy, it is.  This post is about the Viewsonic WPG-150 Wireless Presentation Gateway -- a little box that allows a person to connect wirelessly to any VGA projector.  I'm not going to focus on the WPG-15o's hardware, as it seems to work just fine;  its firmware on the other hand...

The way the WPG-150 works is this: it broadcasts its SSID over wireless which you connect to via your Windows-based PC or laptop.  Once connected, you simply open a web browser and you'll be instructed to download the software required to actually send video to the device, which it then sends out via VGA to the projector.  The client software consists of video and audio capture drivers necessary to send your display to the WPG-150, and a simple control-panel type application.

All that crap works just fine.  No issues whatsoever.  The problem is this: "what if I want to connect to the network while I'm making my presentation?  What if my presentation involves showing a live website?"  Hey, have no fear, the WPG-150 solves this problem for you as well by including a network jack allowing you to plug the device into your network.  It's then smart enough to handle your network requests while still projecting your display.

Here comes the FAIL!

The wireless adapter inside the WPG-150 is hard coded with an IP address of 10.0.0.1, and the device has a built-in DHCP server that will assign the computer that connects to it an address of 10.0.0.2.  Interesting choice of IP addresses there, since 10.0.0.0/24 is a common subnet used in private corporate networks, and 10.0.0.1 and 10.0.0.2 are very likely to be used by gateways or servers.  Can you guess my network configuration?  Yup.

The WPG-150 only allows you to change the LAN IP, so using it on a 10.0.0.x network would require the additional purchase of a router.  The website BCCHardware.com has a review of the WPG-150 in which they seem to imply that the 10.0.0.1 address can be modified via the default web page that the device serves up when you connect to the device without the client software.  I was able to locate an embedded Java control on this page, but it errored out with a class not found exception.  I even rolled back to Java 1.4 and used several different browsers.  My hunch is that this is a left-over from a previous incarnation of the device.

So I emailed Viewsonic technical support via their online support form.  No response for over a week.

So I broke down and called them up.  You can get their tech-support phone number after going through a little online support questionaire in which you click "no this did not solve my problem" about fifteen times.  Thankfully I was able to speak with a representative within a few minutes of making my call.  I made the mistake of trying to explain why the device wasn't working on my network, which just seemed to confuse the matter.  Finally I just flat out asked, "just tell me this: how do you change the 10.0.0.1 address on the wireless interface?"

"You can't.  It's hardcoded into the firmware."

"Is there an older version of the firmware I can roll back to or something?"

"No."

"Fail!"

"huh?"

"Nevermind.  Thanks."

I called up my favorite sales rep and setup a return for the device, and at the same time put in an order for the InFocus LiteShow II, another Wireless Presentation Gatway that's a few dollars more expensive.

When the LiteShow II arrived I felt a little pang of panic as the device looks almost identical to the WPG-150.  It even comes configured with the wireless interface set to 10.0.0.1!!  Clearly there is an outfit out there private labeling these things.  The firmware, to my relief, is not a copy of the WPG-150 and has several networking options available.  I was able to configure the device in Access Point+ mode (or something) which basically turns the thing into a router.  The LiteShow documentation sucks, so it took a while to figure this out, but essentially I was able to give the hard wired LAN interface an IP on my private network, and the wireless interface an address in a different range and it routes between the two successfully.  WPA (TKIP or AES) encryption and RADIUS support on the wireless interface makes it a useable access point in a corporate setting.

8 comments:

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Bryan said...

Great info, I have a question though. I have 4 wpg-150 all in the same building but in different conference rooms. Here is the problem no matter what room your are in and they are all on at the same time all you see in you wifi pick up is WPG-150 four times, you don't know which one you are connected.

Here's my question: Is there a way to go into the system and make a name for each unit, so as it will show up on people wifi lists, like conf1, conf2, conf3.

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