About a year ago I moved in with a friend of mine. Both he and I are serious geeks that pride ourselves on trying to be more aware of the latest technology trends and cool consumer electronics. It’s rare that we have a computer or technology problem that we cannot figure out how to resolve on our own. Of course, sometimes this involves countless hours on message boards and geek forums looking for the answer to some obscure problem we run into with our latest purchase. One that had stumped us (mostly due to laziness) was getting our home networking setup to support all the computers we have in the various rooms of a very old house with dense plaster walls. The challenge was getting the wi-fi to reach the back room where my computers were as we couldn’t easily run cat-5 all the way back. After literally purchasing every available wi-fi router at Best Buy, I settled with the Linksys WRT54GX2 as it seemed to have the best signal strength and speed. However, in order to get even this high power puppy to reach the back room, we had to move it into my roommate’s bedroom to be as close as possible to the back of the apartment. This created the challenge. In order to do this, we had to connect it to another Linksys router. In doing this we then created two separate networks, which made it so that we could play LAN games with each other nor share our iTunes libraries with each others computers that are connect to the two rooms entertainment system. As someone who long ago studied networking and was fairly skilled in this category, there were just too many settings for me to want to attack the problem. Then more recently I wanted to explore the gaming and torrent file sharing possibilities with my computer that was connected to the wi-fi router. After some initial monkeying with the setup, another friend of mine stumbled upon the “NAT Mode” feature in the wi-fi router. The small description on the routers administration site said, “NAT Mode: If the router is hosting your Internet connection, select Enable mode. If another router exists on your network, select Disable.” Awesome! This was it! Well, as you might imagine it wasn’t as simple as just selecting “Disable”. Initially we gave up, but I was now of the belief that I could setup this wi-fi router to just act as an access point allowing me to operate with one network. Today, I got back online and started doing some more research on it. I didn’t find the answer well documented, but found enough info and sequencing feedback to figure it out and now have my wi-fi router acting as an access point thus allowing all my computers to get an IP address from the original router and be able to talk to each other. Given the limited info I found, I figured I’d write up my story here in case there are others that need to setup the same. So, here’s the detailed step-by-step direction on how to configure your Linksys wi-fi router to act as an access point only.
Configuring Linksys Wi-fi Router to be an Access Point
- Go to the wi-fi routers administration site (http://192.168.1.1) (user is blank and password is admin)
- Under the “Setup” menu select “Advanced Routing” and choose “Disable” in the drop-down box to the right of “NAT MODE”. Then click “Save Settings”.
- Under the “Setup” menu select “Basic Setup” and enter a static IP address outside your source router’s IP range in the field “Local IP Address:”. (Note: Your source router is the one connected to your cable or DSL modem. To determine the IP Address range go to its admin site and look at the range under “Setup – Basic Setup”. Choose an address that is outside the range, but follows the first 3 sets of numbers e.g., 192.168.15.x – Write down the static IP you choose.)
- Select the “Disable” radio button for “DHCP Server:”, then click “Save Settings”. The router will now reboot and you will need to change the physical cables connection.
- Move the cable that comes from the source router to any of the Ethernet ports (It’s likely connected to the port labeled “Internet”.)
- Unplug the wi-fi router to reboot it so that it now passes through the other router
- Cycle your network connection on your computer that is connected to the wi-fi router. You should be given an IP address now within the range of the source router (e.g., my source router has the IP of 192.168.15.x). Test this new connection by going to any website.
- Change the SSID on your wi-fi router by going back into the routers administration site. To access this, you’ll have to enter the static IP you gave it in step 3 above. Go to the “Wireless” menu and under “Basic Wireless Settings” enter a new “Wireless Network Name (SSID):” that you will recognize when connecting (otherwise if someone else in your neighborhood has a Linksys router you won’t know which one to connect to). Click “Save Settings”
- Connect your computer to the new wi-fi SSID
- Go back into the wi-fi routers admin and navigate to “Wireless – Wireless Security” to turn on security so that only authorized users can access your network (optional)
Let me know if you get lost in my steps above.