Extending our wireless
We had a loft conversion built recently. But the wireless reception in the new loft is a bit weak, being as it is two floors away from the Netgear WGR614UK router in the lounge. So we investigated what to do.
It seemed there were three options, informed largely by my friend and service provider Rob:
- Go for some form of power-based ethernet, using the house’s mains power as a transport mechanism for data
- Get a second Virgin Media line into the house
- Buy a bridge
Option one was ruled out quickly—mainly because I was skeptical. Although it shares a fuse box, the electricity in the loft is on a separate circuit to those of the rest of the house. I have no idea whether that issue would have been surmountable, but knew that my expertise in this area was non-existent. I’m perplexed as to how electricity itself works, so how to get it to do something other than its designated purpose is yet further beyond me.
Option two was ruled out because I’m a cheap bastard—one with principles, no less. I wasn’t willing to pay Virgin Media a monthly fee for routing an extra broadband connection to my house.
So bridge it was. And with some help from Rob, it looks to have been successful.
First of all, the theory. I was going to put a bridge router on the floor above the main router. Wireless access from the loft would connect to the bridge router, which would in turn be connected (by wireless) to the main router which has the connection to the internet.
And below is a description of the process.
The hardware of choice was the Linksys WRT54GL. Recommended by Rob, its USP was that you could re-image the device’s firmware, important for some of the quite complicated bridging that would ensue, allegedly.
So first of all, I had to re-image the device. Unfortunately, this failed midway through, which borked the device. So I had to flash it with TFTP. (This process was made all the more difficult by the intermittent internet access—read access to Rob via IM—caused by my need to connect to the borked router.) Once done I could then, step-by-step, upgrade the firmware to the firmware of choice that would allow the bridging.
Then I followed the instructions herein to configure it as the bridge. The only step that didn’t seem to work was changing the bridge router’s IP address. (It would need to be 192.168.1.2 instead of the 192.168.1.1 of the main router.) As soon as I did this, it seemed to bork the bridge router, to the extent that I couldn’t connect and had to start from scratch.
I hoped that it wasn’t a critical step, but it was. While at times each of the routers could be connected to, it seems there was too much conflict for this to be reliable, and even the previously reliable main router became as temperamental as its new sibling. Oddly, when I came back to the problem a few days later, it accepted my IP address change immediately, and fingers crossed, that seems to have solved the issue.
So now, we have two routers, with subtly different names, allowing us automated and extensive access throughout the house. Perfect!
I thoroughly recommend the set-up. And huge thanks to Rob for his patience.