Turn Your Old Router right into a Range-Boosting Wi-Fi Repeater

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If you are upgrading to a sooner, stronger wireless router, do not chuck your older Wi-Fi field. With the magic of DD-WRT, you possibly can flip your older wi-fi router right into a range-expanding Wi-Fi repeater to cowl in every single place you want a connection.

The creation of wi-fi residence networks grew slowly up to now decade, however reached the purpose at which almost each residence with a high-speed connection had a wi-fi router that shared Wi-Fi connections all through the house. Now Wireless N has grow to be the usual at electronics retailers, promising sooner connectivity along with your wi-fi units, sooner switch and streaming speeds between units, and higher connectivity. So what’s to be completed with your property’s first wi-fi router?

Our suggestion is to put in the open-source DD-WRT firmware in your router and switch it right into a repeater on your foremost router, increasing your Wi-Fi sign to achieve each nook and cranny of your own home, and even into your yard or storage, if wanted. You’ll have the ability to use the identical password and safety scheme, you will not want something besides an influence outlet for the repeater once you’re completed, and most of your units will mechanically change between the 2 indicators when wanted.

We’ve beforehand run down easy methods to install DD-WRT on a Linksys router to present it many, many extra options, together with the repeater perform we’ll cowl right here. If you have already put in DD-WRT, then, skip to the section on repeater configuration. One notable distinction on this information, too, is that I am putting in a customized construct of DD-WRT, the “micro” taste, on a Linksys WRT54G ver. 6, or “model 6.” Adam wrote his authentic information in 2006, with a fully-DD-WRT-compatible Linksys WRT54GL router, and at that time, those that picked up a blue Linksys field with out figuring out about open-source firmware had been just about caught. Now there’s an enormous array of supported devices, and even my sadly restricted Linksys can run a Micro construct, and Micro now features a repeater perform.

Update: A Note on Speed

Some intrepid bandwidth watchers, Will Smith among them, have identified that their very own experiments with repeating indicators has left them with slower connections. To be trustworthy, I used to be utilizing the repeater principally for Google Reader in mattress, and looking and net working from outdoors the home, so I hadn’t seen a noticeable drop in velocity. A number of checks at SpeedTest.net inform the story. Pictured at left right here is the consequence from my foremost router, a Buffalo mannequin with Wireless N (detailed here), connecting from my upstairs workplace to the downstairs lounge, then Buffalo, NY to Toronto, ON.

This result’s via the modified Linksys WRT54G ver. 6 router about 10 toes away, related as a repeater to the Buffalo router downstairs, after which examined once more via Toronto. There is, as you possibly can see, a obtain velocity distinction, and if I might been utilizing my Wireless N modem, it could be much more extreme. So take a repeater for what it’s—a slight trade-off in velocity for a better attain, along with your mileage various primarily based in your and connection. You may also observe, although, that utilizing SpeedCheck’s Android app, I really acquired higher obtain speeds from my workplace via the repeater than via the primary router—for a smaller antenna, maybe, connectivity can generally win over latency considerations.

What You’ll Need

Compatible router: Grab that old-but-still-works router and flip it over. Get the mannequin quantity off the label, and write down the MAC tackle, when you’re at it—the places for each, on a typical Linksys “blue field,” are pictured above. Type the primary few characters of your mannequin quantity into DD-WRT’s router database, and search for your mannequin to pop up. If you get any sort of inexperienced “Yes” listed along with your mannequin, you are within the clear—even essentially the most pared-down DD-WRT construct, micro, helps the repeater perform.

Firmware recordsdata on your router: In that very same router database, click on on the road that pertains to your router mannequin, then seize all of the recordsdata listed there. You could not find yourself utilizing all of them, however as soon as you have taken your router offline, even when it is not your foremost router, you will need to have all of your recordsdata accessible offline.

Print-out of your directions: There’s likelihood, in the event you’ve received a reasonably standard router, that you will have entry to specific router model instructions on the DD-WRT wiki. You’ll normally see a hyperlink on the identical web page as your firmware recordsdata; if not, go forward and search the wiki. If you do not have a printer, or hate losing paper, use a print-to-PDF instrument like doPDF or the Nitro PDF Reader for Windows, or the built-in PDF capabilities in Mac or Linux. The motive, once more, is that you simply need to be ready in case you lose web connectivity on a number of routers throughout the flash course of.

Ethernet cable & pc with Ethernet port: Enough cable to comfortably attain out of your pc to the router you are engaged on, and a pc with none networking issues that you recognize of.

A pen and paper: The paper for notes, and the pen for each writing and urgent and holding down the reset button in your router.

At least an hour’s time, and endurance: Instructions for many routers are specified by step-by-step element, with very particular directions. Even so, you do not need to rush issues, or load the incorrect file on the incorrect time. Doing so opens the potential for a “bricked” router, one that does not work and cannot be accessed or set again to its default, factory-fresh state. That’s not going to occur to the affected person, cautious firmware flasher, although.

Get Started

As acknowledged above, completely different routers will take completely different paths to putting in DD-WRT. There are some frequent procedures, and a basic path, to getting it put in, although, so you possibly can learn alongside as I comply with the DD-WRT Wiki’s directions for a WRT54G version 6 installation.

Do a arduous (30/30/30) reset in your router: A “arduous” reset, or a “30/30/30,” means finding the reset notch on the again of your router, then inserting a pen and holding it there for a complete of 90 seconds—30 seconds at first with the ability on, then yank the ability twine and wait one other 30, then plug the ability twine again in and wait 30 seconds, all whereas nonetheless holding the pen. It appears a bit extreme, however belief me—I’ve had associates with digital engineering expertise clarify simply how finicky, and generally random, bodily reminiscence chips like these in routers could be at holding their settings or in any other case not fully blanking out.

Set a static IP tackle in your pc: Most DD-WRT guides need you to set your pc’s IP tackle, the one it attracts out of your router, to 192.168.1.7, and set a subnet masks to 255.255.255.zero. How do you do that in your pc, with out the router being accessible?

Head to Windows’ Network and Sharing Center, normally by right-clicking in your community connection icon within the system tray, or heading there via the Control Panel. In the left-hand panel, click on “Change adapter settings,” then right-click in your “Local Area Connection” providing and choose Properties. Under the Network tab, choose the “Internet Protocol Version four (TCP/IPv4)” and hit the Properties button. Now within the General tab, change the primary radio change button to “Use the next IP tackle:”, then enter 192.168.1.7 within the IP Address area, and 255.255.255.zero ought to fill itself in beneath “Subnet masks.” Make positive you have received the IP entered appropriately—Windows can skip the “7” half if there’s solely a single digit within the third part—and hit OK once you’re completed.

Firmware Installation

Now we’re gonna get critical. Connect the Ethernet cable between your pc and the router—you’ll want to insert the cable into one of many numbered ports, not the port labeled “Internet” that is barely distanced from the others. Turn off any wi-fi connection to your foremost router, unplug any broadband mobile modems, and so forth.

In the case of my WRT54G ver. 6, I needed to create a custom-made flashing picture for my router, with a chosen MAC tackle written in. The MAC tackle is a supposedly distinctive identifier given to all pc that may entry the web, one that enables networks to permit and block primarily based on this tackle. Your web supplier and the the cable modem they supplied additionally tracks the MAC tackle of your router, and may deny service if a distinct router than the one the modem is used to servicing all of the sudden seems. So I adopted the directions for downloading GV5Flash.zip, unpacking its contents, then operating the vximgtoolgui utility and filling within the MAC tackle I wrote down from beneath my router, and pointing the app at a spot to drop the ensuing .bin file.

Now you are going to pull off a type of “arduous,” or 30/30/30 energy cycles—maintain down reset for 30 seconds plugged in, 30 unplugged, then 30 seconds once more plugged in. When you are completed, wait a number of seconds, open your browser (ensuring your pc’s nonetheless related by cable), level it to http://192.168.1.1, and also you ought to get a immediate for a username and password. The default for my router on this mode is “root/admin”—yours can possible be discovered at RouterPasswords.com, or in your individual DD-WRT directions. After getting into that combo, you must see the default router display screen. A Linksys default normally appears like this:

In most circumstances, you are subsequent going to move to the Administration part (circled within the pic), then click on the Firmware Upgrade sub-section. It’s normally a easy affair: a Browse button to search out the file you need to add, and an OK/Apply button to set it in movement. From right here on out, until you’ve got my similar precise router, you will presumably have a distinct set of 1 or two recordsdata to add, in a really specific order—comply with your individual DD-WRT custom-made directions. In basic, although, you will be doing a process alongside these strains:

  • Uploading a “prep” file that will get your router prepared for a brand new firmware.
  • Waiting a strong 5 minutes—no dishonest.
  • “Power cycle” the router (a easy unplug, 30-second wait, then re-plug).
  • Re-connect to 192.168.1.1, see the “Management Mode” window, then add your (presumably custom-made) particular DD-WRT picture and hit Apply.

After seeing this good little “Upgrade Success” message, wait one other full, trustworthy 5 minutes.

  • Open a TFTP program, normally supplied amongst your DD-WRT recordsdata, and level it at 192.168.1.1 (your router). Select your particular DD-WRT firmware (a micro construct, in my case), then set the retries to 99—But! Before hitting “Upgrade,” energy cycle your router, wait a number of seconds after re-powering, then go for it. When your TFTP app has a inexperienced mild and success message, wait one other full 5 minutes, then come on again.
  • Undo the static IP setup you place in place in your pc from the Network and Sharing settings. Unplug and re-plug your cable, then open a browser. If you possibly can hook up with 192.168.1.1 in your pc browser and see a setup web page for DD-WRT, do a (last) 30/30/30 “arduous” reset in your router, then verify that you simply nonetheless see the DD-WRT setup. If so, you are all arrange!

Setting Up the Repeater

Now that you have your oldie-but-goodie router arrange with DD-WRT, you possibly can set it as much as decide up the sign out of your major router and re-broadcast it inside its personal radius. Here’s how to do this.

With your pc nonetheless hooked as much as the now-secondary router, head into the DD-WRT setup display screen. It will ask you to set a greater password and username at first, so go forward and try this—you will in all probability need to arrange the identical admin/password as your major router to keep away from confusion. Once you are in, your setup display screen will look one thing like this, as my Micro setup on my Linksys seems:

First up, click on on the Wireless tab, then select Basic Settings. Switch “Wireless Mode” to “Repeater,” and the “Wireless Network Name” to the identical as the primary router you are going to be re-broadcasting. Don’t fear concerning the bridged/unbridged radio buttons—they will set themselves later. Hit the “Save” button on the very backside, however do not hit “Apply Settings” simply but.

In the “Virtual Interfaces” part, under that foremost “Wireless Physical Interfaces” part you simply modified, hit the “Add” button, then enter a new identify on your repeater—do not use the identical as your router, or else undergo the wrath of confused units. Adding “Repeater” or “2” to the top of your foremost router’s identify is fairly wise normally. If you favor an entry level that does not broadcast its identify, save that for switching off later—whereas we’re testing our repeater, we’ll be utilizing primary settings to verify the connection goes via. Hit the “Save” button on the backside once more.

With the primary Wireless tab nonetheless chosen, head to the “Wireless Security” sub-tab to the fitting. You’ll see two interfaces once more—a “Physical Interface” and a “Virtual Interface.” In the “Physical Interface” part on the high, fill within the similar precise safety settings as your major router—the safety mode, the algorithm (TKIP or AES, usually), and the password any machine would use to attach. You may want to leap again into your major router settings to substantiate these—that is high quality, however accomplish that from one other machine. Under the “Virtual Interface” part, arrange the similar precise safety settings as your major router, once more. Hit the “Save” key at very backside once more and, once more, keep away from “Apply Settings” for the second.

Jump over to the Setup tab on the very high, then scroll all the way down to the Network Setup part beneath Basic Setup. The foremost factor to do right here is barely alter the “Local IP Address” from what your major router is. If you hook up with your foremost router at 192.168.1.1, for instance, set this repeater router to one thing like 192.168.2.1, or one other quantity which you can bear in mind within the second-to-last place. Hit (you guessed it!) Save.

Finally, head to the Security tab up high, and within the Firewall part, disable the “SPI Firewall,” and un-check every thing beneath the “Block WAN Requests,” besides “Filter Multicast.” Hit “Save” on the backside one final time. Finally, head over to Administration, double-check that you have your administrator password written down or remembered, and hit “Apply Settings” on the very backside. Your router will reset itself now, so give it time to take action.

Unplug your pc’s Ethernet cable, activate a wi-fi machine, and see if you’ll find your new repeater bridge. Connect to it, use the identical password you’d use for the primary router, and you must have success. If not, run via the steps and double-check your settings. DD-WRT’s wiki page for WLAN Repeaters has a great deal of troubleshooting recommendation, so verify there too.

You’ve now received a second Wi-Fi station in your own home that picks up sign from the primary router and affords it out to units which are farther out. It’s possible not as quick a connection between units—it is wi-fi G, normally, versus N. Then once more, at this level, there are very, only a few companies or streaming functions that make full use of Wireless N’s loopy bandwidth potential, so your Hulu streaming, net looking, and different normal web life will possible be unaffected.

In my very own case, my spouse and I haven’t got to make use of modern-day divining methods in our very non-linear Victorian residence to maintain a spotty Wi-Fi sign to an iPod contact or Android cellphone, and a aspect patio has simply grow to be a most well-liked secondary residence workplace for the summer time. As a bonus, my closest neighbors now know that I am a critical, critical nerd after they hearth up their laptops. Here’s hoping you discover equally enjoyable and free makes use of for a Wi-Fi repeater.


How is your repeater understanding for you? Do you’ve got any strategies on making the repeater extra handy, or one other information for DD-WRT, Tomato, or one other firmware? We’d love to listen to your feedback, questions, and ideas within the feedback!

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