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Network Configuration

This section deals with the most fundamental network issue: connecting to your NFCS. In most cases, the NFCS is preconfigured for your network before delivery. If you can connect to the NFCS web interface home page, skip this entire chapter.

If you can't connect to the NFCS at all, there are only a few possible reasons:

  1. The network cable is defective
  2. There is a network problem
  3. The NFCS is damaged
  4. The NFCS is configured for a different network

If the problem is #4, you must configure a computer to match the NFCS network settings and update the NFCS to match your network.

Collecting Network Information

First you'll want to collect information about your network. If you're running Windows, bring up a command prompt window. You can do this by clicking Start, then selecting Run.... In the popup, type 'cmd' and press Enter.

In the command prompt window, type ipconfig /all. This will display information about your network. Make a note of the following:

  1. IP Address (192.168.1.173 in the example at the right)
  2. Default Gateway (192.168.1.11 in the example at the right)
  3. DNS Server(s) (192.168.1.11 in the example at the right)

In other operating systems, ipconfig or ifconfig may provide this information.

The 'Default Gateway' and 'DNS Server' information will be used to configure the NFCS. The IP address will be used to ensure that the NFCS is set up for your network.

Mini-tutorial: The NFCS is designed to live on a class C network, which means that the first three numbers of its IP address will match the first three numbers of every other computer on the network. In the example at the right, the IP address of the Windows computer is 192.168.1.173 which means that the address of the NFCS will be 192.168.1.x where 'x' has to be an unused number.

NOTE: The IP address that you see on your PC is for the PC itself. DO NOT use this address for the NFCS!

At this point, check the NFCS IP address (on the inside of the front cover). If the first three numbers match the first three numbers of your computer's IP address, then the NFCS is configured for your network - problem #4 above can be ruled out. If that's the case, then try a different network cable. If that doesn't work, you might have a problem with another computer or network device at the same address as the NFCS. Unplu the NFCS and try the steps in 'Finding an Unused IP Address' below.

For the rest of this example, we'll assume that the first three number of the IP didn't match - the network is 192.168.1.x, and the NFCS is set up with an IP address of 192.168.0.20.

Finding an Unused IP Address

Now it's necessary to find an unused IP address on your network. In general, addresses where the last number is between 5 and 25 are more likely to be available. A quick (but not absolutely definitive) test is to use ping to test an address and see if there's a response. Continuing with this example we might try 192.168.1.5 as a prospective address for the NFCS. In the command prompt window, try the command ping 192.168.1.5. If you're lucky, you'll get a few 'Request timed out' messages, indicating that there's likely no computer at that address. If you get a response, try another address such as 192.168.1.6.

In this example, the addresses in the network are all 192.168.1.x. This is a common value, and is the default for networks with a Linksys router. Other common address ranges are 192.168.0.x and 10.0.0.x. Whatever the address block that's in use on your network, you'll need to find an unused IP address in that block. Once you have an unused address, write it down. We'll need it in the 'Changing NFCS Network Settings' section below.


Configuring the PC to match the NFCS

Once you have the network information and an unused IP address, it's time to connect to the NFCS. If there's a network connection between the PC and the NFCS, then you're ready. If not, the easiest way to do that is to get a 'crossover' network cable and connect a PC directly to the NFCS. A crossover cable can be purchased at any computer or office supply retailer.

Once connected, you'll need to manually configure TCP/IP networking on the PC. The details vary, but the basic idea is that you need to give your PC an IP address where the first three numbers match the IP address of the NFCS. Since the NFCS is at 192.168.0.20 in this example, we'll set up the PC to be at 192.168.0.100. The address doesn't matter as long as the first three numbers match. The last number has to be between 1 and 254.

If you're running Windows, bring up the 'Network Connections' window. That might be a choice from the Start menu or the control panel. You might also be able to get it by typing ncpa.cpl at the command prompt. (Do NOT lecture me on how cryptic Linux is!)


Once you have the Network Connections window, double click on the 'Local Area Connection' item. This will bring up another window. In that window, click Properties. That will bring up another window. In that window, select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), then click Properties. Amazingly, that will bring up yet another window. in that window, click the button for 'Use the following IP address'. Fill in the IP address with the number you've selected in the process above. In this example we're using 192.168.0.100. Also fill in 255.255.255.0 for the subnet mask as shown. None of the other information is needed at this step.

In each window, in reverse order, click 'OK' or 'Close'. Depending on the version of Windows, you may need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. As above, type ipconfig /all to verify your network settings.

The sequence described above applies to only one variant of Windows. It's beyond the scope of this document to cover all the differences in how and where network configuration is accomplished in Windows. Hopefully this will provide enough guidance. Editorial note: This same thing is accomplished in Linux by editing two simple small text files. I'm done venting now. I feel much better.

Once you have your PC configured for the same IP address block as the NFCS, you should be able to bring up a web browser and type in the NFCS address. If this still does not bring up the NFCS web interface, then you have a problem which is outside the scope of this document.


Changing the NFCS Network Settings

In most cases, you will not be changing the IP address of the NFCS itself. It's much more likely that you'll be changing the gateway or DNS server addresses to match your network. Collect the network information that you'll need: IP address if that needs to be changed, gateway address, and DNS server adress(es).

The network setting control panel in the NFCS is deliberately hidden and password protected. Since the NFCS may be connected to the Internet, it's important that bored children or malicious entities don't have access to change your configuration.

Assuming that you have the NFCS web interface, add /cgi-bin/utils/netcfg to the IP address in your web browser URL bar as shown in the following screen shot. This will bring up a login window. Enter the username and password found on the inside cover of the NFCS.

Enter the information that you recorded above for your original network. It is CRITICAL that this information is correct, and that it's entered correctly. Double check all values. Any mistake here can render the NFCS inoperable.

Once complete, click the 'Update Settings' button and cycle power on the NFCS.

On your PC, return the network settings to their original values. You should now be able to connect to the NFCS at its new IP address. If you haven't changed the IP address, correect gateway and DNS settings allow the NFCS to access external resurces to set the time ar report problems.

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