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Laptop wireless switch light won't stay on - Any ideas?

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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July 19, 2010 2:19:36 AM

I have been using my Sony VAIO PCG-K23 with wireless internet for over five years now. Then recently, out of the blue, the LED light on the physical Wireless LAN on/off switch went out.

WLAN connectivity was fine just hours before, and no changes of any kind were made to the system or my wireless network. The K23 was not even physically moved. Since then, the LED light has essentially remained off, even though the switch is in the "on" position. There is no wireless connectivity when the light is off.

Here's where it gets strange: Every once in a while, when I turn the K23 on, the WLAN light is on, and there is wireless connectivity. But this lasts no more than 10 minutes before the light goes off again, and with it, the wireless connection.

I don't think it's related to overheating, because sometimes, even when the K23 is cool, the light does not turn on during startup.

So far, I've:

- Restored the K23 to factory settings using the VAIO Recovery Wizard
- Replaced the wireless adapter card with an identical model (tested to be in working condition).

Yet the problem persists. I'm pretty much out of ideas as to what else could be wrong, but I'm leaning towards some kind of hardware malfunction. Unfortuantely, I don't know enough about laptop hardware architecture to make another educated guess.

I'd truly appreciate any ideas as to what might be causing this problem. Thanks.
Anonymous
July 19, 2010 7:41:28 AM

Sounds like a hardware issue or a resource clash.

Have a look at Control Panel, System, Hardware, Device Manager and see if the adapter is listed as present -- and whether it is yellow flagged as faulty. If it's resource issue you may be able to fix it by changing interrupts/IRQ/memory setting.

If hardware -- many laptops' wireless section are on a mini-PCI card which is user replaceable with care so you may be able to fix that yourself (though you may be restricted to getting the part from Sony)
July 19, 2010 9:52:39 AM

Thanks for the reply.

I did check the Device Manager when the problem first occurred, and the wireless adapter is listed as "working properly" and with no conflicts. The system definitely "sees" the adapter. But the problem condition is basically the same as if I were to slide the WLAN switch to the "off" position.

I did replace the mini-PCI card with the exact same model as the one originally installed. As before, the WLAN indicator light remained lit for about 8 or 9 minutes following startup, and there was WLAN connectivity during that time. But both again stopped suddenly after that time.

I'm wondering what other distinct pieces of hardware are involved in the wireless connection.

Is it possible the WLAN switch itself is going bad?

I know it's a stretch, but is there anything that might be affected by a weak or dying internal battery? It's my understanding the button-battery installed on computer motherboards is to maintain the BIOS and BIOS clock.

The erratic occurrence of the problem suggests a variable or fluctuating factor like overheating or a dying battery. But overheating seems to have been eliminated and a dying battery shouldn't have anything to do with the WLAN switch, I think.

Banging... head... on... wall...
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Anonymous
July 19, 2010 11:38:15 AM

Try reducing the number of devices demanding IRQs and Memory space. Rather depends on model but often you can turn off unused ports in the BIOS. If you can do that, then restart Windows a couple of times to reassign resources.

Also check Power Management settings (like disable it altogether temporarily) to make sure that's not kicking in and disabling wireless -- which is a power hog.
July 19, 2010 8:58:09 PM

The only port I could disable in the BIOS was the parallel port. I did this and restarted Windows a couple times, but no luck.

The WLAN adapter properties (under Device Manager) has several properties and values under the Advanced tab. I changed the value for the "Power Save Mode" property from "Normal" to "Off," but this didn't fix it either.

The Windows power management scheme is currently set to the manufacturer's default, and is not terribly aggressive. I'm doubtful this has anything to do with the problem given that most of the time the problem appears during startup (i.e., the WLAN switch light doesn't come on as it should), and on the rare occasion it does come on during startup, it goes out within 10 minutes of startup, even if I've been actively using the computer during those minutes.
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