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View Full Version : Used WRT-DD to turn my old Linksys Router into a Wireless Bridge...


tacticalcity
10-25-2010, 1:17 PM
My apartment complex offers free wireless internet access via a wireless router in the main office. Which is great. However, I have several computers in my apartment networked together via a wired LAN, in order to improve file transfer speeds of movies and video files to each computer (they are hooked upto my TVs) and connecting each one to the wireless network individually through their own wireless modems caused all kinds of problems in doing that.

What I needed, and until this weekend could not figure out how to do, was a way for my router to treat the free wireless internet signal as if it were a wired modem. My Linksys WRT54GS router did not want to do this on its own. However, thanks to software called WRT-DD I was able to replace the routers firmware and get it to do it.

Now my Linksys router is acting like a WIRELESS NETWORK BRIDGE. The router uses its wirless functionality to connect to the wireless network provided by the apartment complex. However, all of my computers connect to that network through that router, and not through their own wireless modems. This ensure all traffic flows through the hardwired cables. It also ensures I have the protection of the firewall on the router and the firewalls on each individual computer. Basically it works exactly like it would if I had a hardwired modem plugged into the wall.

So far, I am really pleased with the end result. Everything works much more seemlessly. A lot less effort is required on my part to do things. No more connecting and disconnecting individual computers to the wireless network. No more forgetting to disconnect a wireless network to prevent slowdown of file transfers between my own computers. A lot less headaches.

For those who have no clue what I am talking about, here is diagram that should make more sense...

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh183/tacticalcity/MY_NETWORK.jpg?t=1288743212

Notice that unlike a traditional network, mine does not have a wired modem plugged into the wall. The DD-WRT software is what allows me to treat a wireless access point as if it were a cable or dsl modem and setup a much more useful and secure network.

ShootinMedic
10-25-2010, 1:28 PM
I have used this also and it works great! The DD-WRT software runs a lot more stably than the Linksys firmware that came on that router.

rockdogz
10-25-2010, 1:32 PM
Cool! WRT is neat. Although I would substitute 'network card' for 'modem' in your story... People rarely use modems these days!

blakdawg
10-25-2010, 1:38 PM
My personal preference is for the Tomato firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) over DD-WRT, but whichever firmware you prefer, the WRT54G's are amazing little boxes that I think are wildly unappreciated.

rynando
10-25-2010, 4:06 PM
My personal preference is for the Tomato firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) over DD-WRT, but whichever firmware you prefer, the WRT54G's are amazing little boxes that I think are wildly unappreciated.

Yes they are and thanks for that link to Tomato. I've been using DD-WRT for so long I never thought to try anything else. I'll give it a shot.

bigpappa0095
10-25-2010, 6:20 PM
Cool! WRT is neat. Although I would substitute 'network card' for 'modem' in your story... People rarely use modems these days!

a cable modem is still a modem :rolleyes:

us.marshal
10-25-2010, 7:06 PM
My personal preference is for the Tomato firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) over DD-WRT, but whichever firmware you prefer, the WRT54G's are amazing little boxes that I think are wildly unappreciated.

+1 Tomato is the bomb!!! Faster than DD-WRT for large file transfer, etc.

Curtis
11-02-2010, 7:59 AM
I was just asking someone how to do this....

tacticalcity
11-02-2010, 2:21 PM
Cool! WRT is neat. Although I would substitute 'network card' for 'modem' in your story... People rarely use modems these days!

If you are referring to the wireless connections on each individial machine, and not the cable modem plugged into the wall....they are all built into the motherboards, and not an actual PCI cards. I thought that was the defining difference. But I could be wrong. I'm not such a geek that I would assume I'm correct on something like that. As for replacing the need for a wired cable or DSL modem, it definately does that and those items would be referred to as modem.

I had never heard of Tomato, and until that weekend had never heard of DD-WRT. While not the easiest thing to figure out, it was within my particular wheelhouse...but I work with computers all day as web developer and can find my way around operating systems and computer hardware better than the average Joe. Just not a whole lot better.

It is still working great by the way. Much more stable and practical than the way I was doing it before.

tacticalcity
11-02-2010, 2:34 PM
I was just asking someone how to do this....

The biggest thing is to follow the directions LINE BY LINE on eHow. If you screw-up you could ruin a.k.a. BRICK your router turning it into a useless box. However, these routers come dirt cheap of eBay so you could always get another one and try again.

Thankfully it worked for me on the first try.

Once you have the firmware installed, then you have to configure it to work correctly as a wireless bridge. There is an eHow tutorial for that as well. I followed it step by step.

Since I am not the person who manages the wireless network I am connecting to, it is provided by the apartment complex I live in, there were a few things I had to guess on. Frequency, and starting IP address of the router broadcasting the signal (its actually using DHCP but DHCP is not an option for the half to the network that connects to free wireless network you are treating as if it were your cable modem). Thankfully the person who setup the router left a lot of the defaults in place, so my educated guesses all worked perfectly.

rkt88edmo
11-02-2010, 3:32 PM
I've been running tomato for a while now, like it, but I didn't have too many issues with stock linksys, but it is always fun to put a little non-OEM fun in stuff.

tacticalcity
11-02-2010, 3:48 PM
The linsys router I have was not capable of doing what it is currently setup to do. But if have a wired modem then you don't need to do what I am doing with mine. When I was running a cable modem the firmware it came with did great. I just couldn't justify the expense of a cable modem when the complex I live in offers a wireless connection to the office for free.

blakdawg
11-02-2010, 4:15 PM
I really like Tomato's bandwidth graphs, and I think the interface is a good balance of usability and fine-grained control.

The thing I love most about Tomato (compared to the stock firmware in every other router I can think of) is that it just runs forever - pretty much every consumer or soho-grade router I've had contact with, other than Tomato on a WRT54GL, needs to be rebooted every few weeks or months. (Some devices, much more frequently, if it sees heavy use, such as BitTorrent activity).

I've been responsible for the installation of a bunch of Tomato/WRT54GL combos (was using WRT54G's in the early years) and they've all been rock-solid, even when they've been a version or two behind on the most current firmware.

My hunch is that other firmwares (like DD-WRT) are probably similar, because the people who are working on the firmware are doing it because they want to, not because they have to come up with something "good enough" to put on the company's hardware so they can ship it.

I just got stuck on Tomato a few years ago and haven't had the motivation to keep looking at the other firmware, because Tomato does what I want/need.

tacticalcity
11-02-2010, 4:21 PM
Hey if works...use it. I was just happy to find something that will do what I need it to. Conceptually I knew it was possible. Just couldn't find anything that actually worked until now. Thankfully somebody creative came along and built what I needed, and better yet offered it up for free...and boy and I thrilled! I'm sure there are several other solutions out there. This was just the first that came up in an internet search. So far so good. No issues at all.

The warnings about the possibility of bricking your router had me worried. But this thing has to be approaching 10 years old. And if it didn't work I wasn't really out much. Thankfully everything went swimmingly!

blakdawg
11-02-2010, 4:41 PM
The warnings about the possibility of bricking your router had me worried. But this thing has to be approaching 10 years old. And if it didn't work I wasn't really out much. Thankfully everything went swimmingly!

I have played around with a lot of consumer/SOHO network hardware and the only time I've had a bricked router was when I did what everyone says not to do, and tried to update firmware over a wireless connection, which went down for some reason, and an otherwise nice little router got clobbered.

That was a painful (but not especially expensive) lesson - ever since then, I don't break the "don't update firmware over a wireless connection" rule, and have had no bricks after probably > 50 firmware updates to a lot of different hardware.

tacticalcity
12-02-2010, 6:01 AM
Well, a month or so later and it has been running flawlessly. It is like having a cable modem plugged into the wall. I have a nice constant-on internet connection, where as before with the individual wireless nics I was having lots of issues. I could not be happier. WRT-DD is great...best part is it was free!!!

blisster
12-02-2010, 2:36 PM
Be careful. All of your computers are now on the same network as anyone else in the complex that is connected to the wireless network. They' can ping and browse shares on your machines, intercept any broadcast traffic, spoof DNS and DHCP packets, etc, etc.

You may very well be aware of all this and have taken steps to keep your portion of the network secure from others, however I figured I would mention it to you as I know others that have done this type of setup and then had machines and data compromised. I would also be creaful about doing any online banking or other sensitive transactions over a shared internet connection that I did not have total control over.

tacticalcity
12-02-2010, 6:31 PM
I have taken appropriate measures. Everything from settings on the router/bridge to settings on each computer all designed to keep the traffic one way. If they try hard enough, and waste an enourmous amount of time, they'll get it...but that is always the case. There is not a lot of reward on the other end of that effort. Nothing sensitive is stored on my home computers. So if they do get in, there is nothing all that exciting for them to grab. It would be one of the most boring hacks in history.