Note From The Author, Gus
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Let me guess, your wireless router location has changed, or your new home does not have as favorable wireless signals, and now your wireless speeds have dropped. Glad you stopped by first, before going out and purchasing a fancy new router, or spending the time in the dusty environment of your attic, running Ethernet cable.
This guide, along with some patience and little time, will show you how to use an old, capable wireless router as a repeater. If your router is capable, it is simply a matter of upgrading the router’s firmware, allowing it to operate as a wireless bridge. Basically, this acts much like cellular towers carrying your cell phone signal.
Though there are a few firmware options, we will be using DD-WRT in this guide, as it is the most popular and best-performing firmware presently available. Their website says this about what they offer, “DD-WRT is a Linux based alternative OpenSource firmware suitable for a great variety of WLAN routers and embedded systems.”
Below, the topics will include initial tips, router prep, firmware installation, settings, and some final thoughts.
Make sure you have a compatible router to work with; visit DD-WRT and locate your router brand and model in their router database. If you did not find your router listed, it probably does not have the ability to act as a bridge…bummer!
Again, we will assume you have found your wireless router listed on DD-WRT and is compatible. This guide will help provide common steps to all firmware installs, as well as our personal experiences and input.
Do a hard reset of your router. As this may be different from router to router, please reference your router manual. Generally, it is a process called 30/30/30, which purges NVRAM and resets your router back to its default values. Note, this procedure should be performed before and after every firmware upgrade/change.
DD-WRT recommends you set a static IP address for your computer to be recognized by. This can easily be done by accessing your wireless adapter connection properties. These steps are based on Windows 7, but you will find similar settings in previous versions.
Since not all install procedures are the same for every router, I will simply touch on some points for you to consider.
Starting the install process will have you accessing the router’s administrative section and uploading one, or two files, pending the brand and model of your repeater. Generally, you’ll be following something similar to these steps…
Hopefully, you will be presented a success page
Once you have uploaded and installed the proper firmware, it’s time to make some router admin adjustments. With the computer still connected to the router, open the DD-WRT setup screen…
That should be it. You can now unplug the router from your computer, turn on wireless service to a computer or device and see if your new repeater is detected.
The only aspect of a bridged wireless repeater that I see as a negative, is the signal/speed may be degraded. This should not be much of an issue for normal Internet browsing.
Though the repeater continues the signal from your primary router, it is not designed to ‘boost’ the signal’s range or power. With that said, it allows you to widen the range of your signal without much expense or hassles that would normally come with alternatives, such as those discussed earlier herein.