EnGenius S-series PCI / miniPCI cards

  • Whats the word on EnGenius PCI and miniPCI cards operating at full power in the current release?  I have a EPI-3601S 600mW PCI card on my 1.2-RC3  install.  The card appears to be working fine, except it doesn't seem to be any more powerful than my 63mW Atheros card.  I have it connected to a antenna with 12dBi gain, 2 foot pigtail.  This combination at full power should be good for several thousand feet line of sight.  I can barley get it in the other room.  I exchanged everything to eliminate bad hardware.  The only logical thing left would be the ath driver in pfSense.  I've read a lot about people using other EnGenius hardware, is there something wrong with the S-series cards?  Any ideas would be great, thanks.

    Here is my ifconfig:

    ath0: flags=8843 <up,broadcast,running,simplex,multicast>mtu 1500
            inet6 fe80::211:50ff:fed4:f3bc%ath0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x1
            inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast
            ether 00:11:50:d4:f3:bc
            media: IEEE 802.11 Wireless Ethernet OFDM/6Mbps mode 11g <hostap>status: associated
            ssid "Free Wireless" channel 2 (2417) bssid 00:11:50:d4:f3:bc
            authmode OPEN privacy OFF deftxkey UNDEF powersavemode OFF
            powersavesleep 100 txpowmax 33 txpower 63 rtsthreshold 2346
            mcastrate 1 fragthreshold 2346 bmiss 7 -pureg protmode RTSCTS wme
            -burst ssid SHOW -apbridge dtimperiod 1 bintval 100

    I played around with the mode, and got nothing.  Ive read that txpowmax is what the card is operating at in the current mode, and txpower is what the cards top mode is.  So what mode does the card need to be in to run maximum power???</hostap></up,broadcast,running,simplex,multicast>

  • From "hints" in the user manual it looks like the card uses the Atheros 5211 chipset so the ath driver should work with the card.  You might try changing the power level settings for the card to see if it changes the output levels - some cards do not use the power settings correctly - found that out with a 900-MHz card that uses an Atheros 5213 chipset :)


  • I am able to adjust the card to various power levels…doesn't seem to effect its poor output.  Since the txpower "value" is just a meaningless number that only the driver and card understand, the only thing I know is my card is at power level 63 (whatever that means) when it stops going higher.  However, the txpowmax setting stops at 33 (again, whatever that means).  I read that txpowmax is what the card is operating at "in its current mode" and txpower is the maximum setting avaliable on the card.  So I am running at about half power, which seems about right based on the other cards I've tested just to make sure I am not crazy.  So the goal seems to be how to get the card into the right mode.  I can lower the card to OFDM/2Mbps in 802.11b, but that doesn't effect the txpowmax value.  The cards manual says 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 and 108 are avaliable.  Of course, there is no turbo mode with the ath driver yet.  Running in OFDM/6Mbps in 802.11g also has no effect on the txpowmax of txpower values.

    After reading the man pages 100 times, I think its all a matter of figuring out the right mode.  Of course, I am probably going in the complete wrong direction, and someone, somewhere, has the simplest answer I overlooked a week ago.  And when I do figure it out, I am going to have smashed the card with a hammer already, so it will be useless.  Basically, I am very frustrated...and stumped.

  • A little more information.

    It is a Atheros 5212 according to sysctl

    sysctl dev.ath.0

    dev.ath.0.%desc: Atheros 5212
    dev.ath.0.%driver: ath
    dev.ath.0.%location: slot=11 function=0
    dev.ath.0.%pnpinfo: vendor=0x168c device=0x001a subvendor=0x1799 subdevice=0x700c class=0x020000
    dev.ath.0.%parent: pci1
    dev.ath.0.smoothing_rate: 95
    dev.ath.0.sample_rate: 10
    dev.ath.0.countrycode: 0
    dev.ath.0.regdomain: 96
    dev.ath.0.slottime: 9
    dev.ath.0.acktimeout: 48
    dev.ath.0.ctstimeout: 48
    dev.ath.0.softled: 0
    dev.ath.0.ledpin: 0
    dev.ath.0.ledon: 0
    dev.ath.0.ledidle: 2700
    dev.ath.0.txantenna: 0
    dev.ath.0.rxantenna: 1
    dev.ath.0.diversity: 0
    dev.ath.0.txintrperiod: 5
    dev.ath.0.diag: 0
    dev.ath.0.tpscale: 0
    dev.ath.0.tpc: 0
    dev.ath.0.tpack: 63
    dev.ath.0.tpcts: 63
    dev.ath.0.monpass: 24

  • Ahhh - 5212 is a nice chip to work with…

    Hmmm - I may be totally out in left field (not new since I am also left handed :) ) but I wonder if the 'country code' has something to do with the tx power limiting... I have no idea how you would change it though.


  • That is what I thought at first.  But, after researching some I figured out that country code only controls avaliable channels.

    Yesterday figured out the problem.  These cards (EnGenius EPI-3601S 600mW PCI) must be plugged into a PCI 3.0 slot.  They run in a reduced power mode with anything less.  I didn't measure it, but it had about the same coverage as a 63mW card I have.

    It doesn't mention anywhere on the packaging, manual…or anywhere on the web that its PCI 3.0 only.

    Anyways, I just though I'd let everyone know in case anyone else is having this problem.

  • Hi guys,

    I'm looking at selling these cards in New Zealand and reading this post made a little nervous about them for a minute.

    To put others minds at rest, I've contacted Senao and one of their field engineers has conducted a test with the EPI-3601S PCI on a Pentium III box with PCI revision 1 with it's expected power output.

    I did a few crude tests of my own with a known 30-60mW output access point, then with a few EPI-3601S PCI's in ad-hoc mode. The difference for me was outstanding using the EnGenius card as I had expected.

    Here's the reply I received from Senao field engineers regarding a possible PCI version 3 difference in operation (note they would like to know the PCI card in questions serial number so they can further any tests that may be required):

    Email reply starts:

    I believe the rumors you heard may not be true in accordance to having only PCI version 3 to run the cards at maximum RF power. I did a test on the card with Pentium III system which is using PCI version 1 PCI bus and the result is obtain as show below.

    System Setup above show PCI card EPI-3601S connected to Spectrum Analyzer to obtain RF power reading.

    Card is inserted into PCI version 1 PCI bus.

    Reading taken from Spectrum analyzer reads 25.05 db after cable lost of approx 1.5db ~ 2db connecting from EPI-3601S to Spectrum analyzer.

    Kindly advised on some information that I may require, such as the serial number of the EPI-3601S that you tested as well as where was the rumors that mention about the issue you mentioned.

    Thanks and regards


    Field Engineer

    Engenius Networks Singapore Pte Ltd