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Chapter 3. Hardware And Communication

3.1. Components of a Wireless LAN
3.2. Types of Cards
3.3. Types of Antennas
3.4. Connection Modes
3.5. Channels
This chapter gives an overview of some of the hardware available for wireless LANs, the role they play, and further details about their operation.

3.1. Components of a Wireless LAN

In order for successful communications to take place in a WLAN, certain hardware is needed. The hardware can be generally categorized as being a transmitter, antenna, a receiver, or a combination of these.
  • Transmitter - A transmitter, as an active device, initiates an electromagnetic signal, beginning the wireless communication process. Usually, a transmitter sends this signal to an antenna after the data has been received by the originating station (ie. computer).
  • Antenna - An antenna acts as an intermediary device in a WLAN. Specifically, it can propagate a signal after it has been received from a transmitter as an AC signal and then passively creates the waveform for it to travel through the air. The actual shape and path that the electromagnetic waves take depends on the type of antenna, its intended purpose and its desired coverage area. An antenna also performs the reverse of this operation by receiving signals and passing them along to a receiver.
  • Receiver - A receiver completes the electromagnetic communications in a WLAN by taking a signal (usually from an antenna) and passing it to the computer in a way it can understand (such as binary 1s and 0s).