Monday, March 02, 2009

Use your Alfa 500mW AWUS036H and RokAir USB adapters with Kismac

Back in October we posted about using your RokAir wireless USB adapter with Kismac. We want to provide some more details on how to do that. Because the RokAir uses the same chipset as the Alfa 500mW AWUS036H adapter, the process is the same for both adapters.

If you just want to use one of these adapters with Kismac, and not as a wireless adapter for Internet access, the process is extremely easy. Simply download Kismac trunk R319, connect the adapter to a USB port, then launch Kismac. When Kismac opens, click on the KisMAC menu in the top left and select Preferences. On the screen that appears, if you see any devices already listed under Capture Devices, you can leave them or remove them. But you do need to add your USB device. To do so, click on the drop down menu next to the Remove button and select USB RTL8187 device. Then click the Add button to the right of the drop down menu. You can click the box next to "use as primary device" under the injection heading if you have more than one Kismac compatible device and want this to be the primary. Otherwise leave the box unchecked. Now you should see USB RTL8187 device in the Capture Devices list. Close this window so that you are back in Kismac. Now click where it says Start Scan in the bottom right.

It is noted in the Kismac support documentation that the software will not work with USB devices if you have the device drivers for the device installed on your Mac, and this is correct. If you want to also use your RokAir or Alfa USB WiFi adapter for Internet access, one you have installed the drivers for them, you will have to uninstall them in order to use the device in Kismac, and then reinstall them when you want to use the device for Internet access again. Inconvenient? Indeed. But those are the limitations of the the compatibility between Kismac and all Kismac-compatible WiFi USB adapters out there at present. If you have already installed the driver software for your adapter and need to uninstall it, locate the Mac software CD that came with your device or that you downloaded. If you cannot locate it, download the latest version here for 10.3 and here for 10.4 or 10.5 Leopard. Run the installer program and open the folder for your operating system. Then run the file called realtek USB WLAN Uninstall.command. This will open a terminal window and prompt you for your system password. Enter it and then the terminal will uninstall the device from the computer. Once that is done, reboot the computer without the device connected. When it reloads you can connect the adapter and you should be able to use Kismac. Before scanning be sure to add the device as your scanning device in Kismac (see paragraph two above). Based on our own use we found sometimes it was necessary to run the uninstall command a second time before the device would work in Kismac. If there is a problem, what will happen is that Kismac will hang for more than 20 seconds when you click on the Start Scan button. Then you know something is wrong and will need to force quit Kismac and proceed to troubleshoot.

More convenient is to buy a separate USB WiFi device that is not Kismac compatible and use that for Internet access. This eliminates the need for having to uninstall and reinstall drivers when you want to use Kismac. This would be ideal if your primary purpose of wanting to use your Alfa 500mw or RokAir adapter is for use in Kismac. We recommend getting the RokIt Wireless USB adapter for Internet use as this device is not Kismac compatible.


Dan said...

"It is noted in the Kismac support documentation that the software will not work with USB devices if you have the device drivers for the device installed on your Mac"

Good info to know. Thx

Tom Nelson said...

I guess I need a little help. I have done exactly as you have outlined above. As I supposed to turn OFF airport, the built in wireless card? When I do, I get no activity with the Alfa 500mw so I am assuming it is not connecting. Any help would be greatly appreciated

Rokland LLC said...

Hi Tom,

Because we do not regularly monitor the comment sections of our blogs, it is recommended to contact our support department directly for help. This can be done by visting our web site and clicking on the Contact Us link there. It also lists our phone number there if you want to speak to someone here. What you need to do depends on what you have already done in terms of installing and configuring the adapter, so getting in contact with our support department directly is probably the best way to proceed. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This cleared up the reason why my alfa 36h wouldn't work initially with Kismac.


Anonymous said...

Very much helpful, thank you!