Sunday, May 22, 2011

my NC can't talk to my wireless

Nook colors being unable to talk to wireless access points is a common and super-frustrating problem.

In no small part, this is because unless you know about skipping the out of box experience, you cannot use the device at all until you have connected!

Consensus is that release 1.1 of the BN software is more reliable at connecting to access points than the newest 1.2 release at this point (May 2011.)

If you've tried everything else, you can reinitialize your NC, install 1.1, and lock it from further updates by rooting it.

Before you go there, be sure you have to.

Let's start with known incompatible or borderline compatible access points for software 1.2.

If you have one of these, you should probably roll back and root. That is the best fix for least three consumer routers: DLink DL-624, Westell 327W and Belkin F5D8231-4. There is an unreleased fix for the Belkin, no info on the Dlink or Westell. Some folks have found that doing a reset to factory settings works with the Westell. I would suggest that the fastest way to get to factory settings is to do a clean install of OS 1.2.

Assuming that doesn't work, each of these three worked fine with Nook software release 1.1. Go install it.

If you're still reading, let's try fixing the problem.

First, try the obvious: hold the power button on your NC in > 15 seconds. Ignore the "do you want to shut down?" dialog. Your NC will power down. Power back on. This process resets some components, and some folks find it helpful. I include it here, but I realize you probably already tried it. More than once.

Another obvious one: are you sure you're entering and sending the wireless password correctly?

Test the password by making a new connection to the AP from a computer or other device in the house. Then, forget your connection on the Nook Color and set it up fresh. Untick the "hide my password" button in the password settings, so you can see what you are typing. Check that your Nook Color and your router agree on both the password and encryption setting (WPA, WEP, WPA2, etc.) you are using.

Now to some of the less-obvious:

1) Take a look in Settings.... Wireless... If your nook color remembers more than 10 wireless networks (these are not just the networks displayed, but those with stored passwords - they are displayed as "remembered") go in and forget a few of the ones you use least often.

The nook color can only store 10 networks' login data, or so I have read. So select and forget a few of the ones that say "remembered" but are out of range. Now try connecting to your AP again.


2) find out what router or access point model you have, and what software it is running. If an update is available from the manufacture, install it and see if your NC can connect after you reboot both devices.


3) Once your router is up-to-date, try this, making each of these changes together:

- tell your router to run in G only or G/N if you'd immediately kill services you need by disabling N.

- Disable MAC filtering

- Disable WEP and WPA

- Put speed in "auto" and channel in "auto" rather than manually setting either

- Broadcast your SSID

- Try setting your lease time to a very long interval - 1 week if possible

 If you make those changes you may well be able to connect. Then you can start walking the changes back one at a time.

On the N band setting, you may not be able to "lock" the router at its highest speed or anything close to it under 1.2. You may not be able to use N at all (some Cisco access points in N just don't work with NCs running N, but do work with NCs running G.)

Most folks are ultimately able to hide SSID, use WPA-2 and MAC filtering all without problems. 

There is some very interesting juju happening with WEP. Some WEP connections won't work; if your router only supports WEP, be aware that at one time BN was advising customers that WEP was not supported. To connect to Nook Colors, some WEP-only routers need to be in "open" WEP key mode, some need to be in "shared" WEP key mode, and the Nook Color cannot connect to some.

If your router only supports WEP, as a network guy, I would recommend you replace it and get a router with WPA-2.

Frankly, you might as well run your router without a password until your replacement arrives. Use a different method to secure it (MAC address filtering, all by itself, is far more effective than WEP, and simply not broadcasting your SSID is probably as effective as WEP.)

If you still can't connect, you can look into doing a full clean install of 1.2 (if you really like it), and if that fails, install 1.1 and then root.

Some people are able to get connectivity after a full format and reinstall of 1.2 Some are not.

If you are unable to connect your 1.2 to your access point after
- updating your AP software
- doing a clean install of 1.2
- turning off the bells and whistles on your router,

please let BN know that you followed this guide and could not establish a connection. Please also give them the model # of your router or access point.

BN doesn't have a copy of every AP in the universe and right now I think it makes sense to help them identify problem models. APs are commodity hardware. Most run one of a relatively few Linux kernels and a relatively few wireless and ethernet chipsets. The more problem routers BN knows to test, the sooner they'll find a pattern.


  1. Thanks for the info, but all this begs the question-"why do NookColor units have such difficulty with home wireless?" I have desktop wireless adapters, netbooks, laptops, B&W nooks, PS3 all connected to to a Linksys WCG200 with WEP security and MAC filtering. By disabling all security and filtering, I was able to register the NC. Enabling security and filtering disabled connectivity to the NC. All other devices worked properly despite changes. I changed security to WPA/AES with filtering enabled-no connection. I disabled filtering-no connection. Also noticed that WPA/AES is not a choice on the NC, so that could be a problem also. Anyway, this is all too difficult and I think I'll probably just return the NC.

  2. My NC connects to my router (running WPA2/AES) just fine, and in my tests with a Linksys draft N router, it was able to connect to that as well. My router does not broadcast its SSID and employs strict MAC address filtering.

    My impression is that people are having fewer issues with the 1.3 software than the 1.2, but that some routers do have trouble with the NC.

    The goal here isn't to defend BN's network implementation but just to give some tips on things to try if your router is unhappy with the NC.

    If your NC is incompatible with your home network, by all means return it.

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