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HP LaserJet P1102w Wi-Fi problems

Spent an hour debugging Wi-Fi connection problems with our printer at home. It's a nice device overall, with good Linux support, and the network printing capabilities are very convenient these days as everyone is working on their laptop somewhere.

However, during the past few months we kept having intermittent connection problems – despite being on the same table as the AP, the printer just wouldn't connect to the network; whenever the "Wi-Fi" button was pressed, it would keep blinking for several minutes before giving up. If it ever managed to connect, however, it would work perfectly well for the next week.

At first I thought the printer had roamed to the other AP for this network (a powerline adapter on the opposite end of the house) which might be having connection problems – and sure enough, as soon as I disconnected it, the LaserJet would successfully connect to the main AP. But today I decided to take a shot at debugging it with my laptop's radio monitoring mode, and it turns out the distant AP was not a problem – the problem was the fact that there were multiple APs in the first place.

What the capture log in Wireshark showed was that that the printer would start associating to the main (closest) AP, but give up somewhere midway during the WPA2 handshake and go back to scanning. It seems that whatever embedded Wi-Fi chip is in the printer cannot keep track of multiple MACs per network – so while it was talking to access point A, it would receive a beacon from access point B for the same network name and this would make it abort the connection in progress.

For lack of a better solution (no firmware upgrades, no Ethernet…), I ended up just renaming the other AP to “Home (alt)”. I'm not entirely sure why the problem kept occurring even though the channels were not overlapping, but merely changing the network name does make the printer work perfectly – though I lose automatic roaming for all my other devices, which is a bummer.

The only bright side is that my printer still has fewer problems than some older models described in that 2015 post.


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