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How to set a Wireless Router as an Access Point

2007.11.22 11:24 by Philip
Tags: AP, access point, router, WAN, NAT, Wi-Fi


I've often found it useful to get just the wireless functionality out of a WiFi router and reuse it as an access point. Wireless routers seem more common, and are often priced even lower than wireless access points. Adding an access point to a wired network already in place, or to one where the main NAT router is provided by the ISP is usually the easiest solution. However, introducing a second NAT router on the network is not a good idea, especially without some tweaking to set it up correctly.

Instead of using your wireless router as intended (NAT routing, DHCP client/server, PPPoE client, etc.), converting it into a wireless access point will save you a lot of headackes and make the configuration much simpler.

In essence, the new wireless router/access point needs to be configured to use a LAN IP address in your network range (the same subnet as your other devices), and you need to connect one of its LAN ports to the existing gateway/router. Do not use the Internet/WAN port on the wireless router to be used as an acces point.

More detailed step by step instructions on how exactly to convert and use your wireless router as an access point are below:

  

Step 1: Find the IP addresses of your existing gateway/router and clients

You need to find the internal IP address of your existing modem/gateway/router that connects your LAN to the internet. Under Windows, the easiest way to do this is drop to command prompt (Start > Run > type: cmd) and type: ipconfig

Click to expand


In this example, my ISP-provided gateway/router (the "Default Gateway") is set to 192.168.1.1. My client computer is at 192.168.1.10


The "IP address" line in the above figure shows your computer's IP, while the "Default Gateway" is your main existing router that provides your internet connection. It is usually in the 192.168.x.x range.

Alternaticely, you can try connecting to your router's default IP address by looking it up in our routers database.

 

Step 2: Connect to your router administration interface to find the DHCP range

By default, LAN clients are usually set to obtain their IPs automatically. What that means is, the router acts as a DHCP server, and serves IP addresses dynamically, as needed to the client computers. You need to find the range of IPs used for DHCP so you can later set your access point to use an IP address outside that range (but on the same subnet).

Login to your gateway's admin interface, usually by typing its IP address in your web browser, and find the DHCP range:

Click to expand
In this example, the DHCP range is from 192.168.1.10 to 192.168.1.100

Note: If you don't know the password to your router's admin interface, you may want to lookup the defaults in its manual, or in our hardware database.

 

Step 3: Connect a computer to the wireless router/AP

You need to  connect a computer (via a LAN port) to the new wireless router to be used as an access point. I'll refer to it as the "Acces point" from now on. To do this:

- set your client computer to obtain its IP automatically (default behavior in Windows)
- connect it to a LAN port on the access point using a Cat5 network cable
- reboot, or use the "ipconfig /renew" command in Command prompt to force it to get an IP address from the access point

Log into the admin page of the access point (you can find it's IP address as you did in step 1 for your main router). It is usually done by simply typing the IP address of the router in your browser's address bar.

 

Step 4: Configure the wireless router / AP

Once logged into the admin interface of the wireless router, you need to do two things. First, you need to change its internal/LAN IP address to an unused address in the same range/subnet as all your other LAN devices. Second, you need to disable the DHCP server on your new AP, so there is only one DHCP server on the network. In my case, my main gateway/LAN router is set to 192.168.1.1, and it is serving dynamic IPs via DHCP in the range 192.168.1.10 - 192.168.1.100. I have to use any other address in the 192.168.1.x range for the access point:

Click to expand
In this figure, my new wireless router/access point is set to use 192.168.1.2 as its IP address, and I've disabled DHCP, so it will not interfere with the DHCP server from my gateway. It is important to have only one device acting as a DHCP server, and that the IP address of the access point is in the same range as the main router.

  

Step 5: Connect the AP to the LAN

It is time to connect the reconfigured wireless access point to the network. Use a LAN port on the new wireless router, and connect it with a Cat5 network cable to one of the LAN ports of the existing gateway. Make sure not to use the "Internet/WAN" port on the wireless access point!

Connect your client computer to another LAN port of the gateway/router (if you do not reboot, you will have to use "ipconfig /renew" in command prompt to obtain an IP address from your router).

Note: Some older devices that do not support Auto-crossover (MDI/MDI-X) may require a crossover network cable (where the send and receive pairs are switched) between the two routers. This is not common with modern hardware.

 

Step 6: Test admin page is reachable and secure the AP

Now that the new wireless access point is connected to our network, with a correct IP address in the same range (and outside the DHCP range), we can test whether it's reachable, and secure the wireless connection.

In the above example, I configured the wireless AP to use 192.168.1.2. Its administration interface should be reachable by typing this IP address in the browser.

Once connected, it is time to set the wireless security:

Click to expand
Use WPA2 if both your access point and clients support it. Set a strong key, and remember it - clients will need this to be able to connect to the wireless network.  Try not to use WEP encryption - it can be cracked easily as illustrated here.

 

Step 7: Test the AP wireless connection

Start a wireless client and make sure it properly connects to the network. It should pull an IP address automatically from your existing router/gateway (the DHCP server).

Done, you now have a wireless access point.

 

Note: If you can't figure out the default IP address by connecting to a router with a Cat5 cable, you can also look it up in our Broadband Hardware Database, containing IP/login information on more than 2600+ routers.

 

  User Reviews/Comments:
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by anonymous - 2008.06.10 18:30
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I spent an entire weekend trying to get my Linksys router to work as an access point. I was missing the step of putting the IP address outside of the main routers dynamic IP range. Great precise, simple instructions!
by anonymous - 2008.08.03 04:23
your a life/timesaver!!!! i took so long to figure this out!!!!
by jim - 2008.12.10 22:35
you're awesome! thank you very much!
by anonymous - 2009.01.20 12:08
Thank you so much for these instructions !!
I have been strugiling with setting up a wireless network for a month!!
It only took me 20 min with your tutorial!
THANK YOU THANK YOU !!!!!
by anonymous - 2009.03.20 10:34
Excellet - I've had a new belkin N1 router that worked fine but would not allow me to connect to ms exchange through vpn, my 5year old router would. So now the old one is the modem router and the new one gives me N1 wireless. Means a slightly meey setup but saves me having to replace the router again!
Thanks
by anonymous - 2009.05.23 11:35
thank you, worked well
by anonymous - 2009.06.09 11:14
My wireless router manual said nothing about how to setup an access point. It only covered replacing a wired router.

I search quite a bit for help and this one was easily the best and I got it done.

Thank you!!!

I was a bit thrown off by Step 4 when it said there are two things to do and then only talks about one step. I guess the second one is to disable DHCP on the AP.

Also, when I was done and had it working I noticed a selection on my wireless router config screen for "Setup as an Access Point". It seems like they support this and I probably could have saved a lot of time. Too bad it was not in the Install Guide. Oh well, now I understand what DHCP is about.

My router is the Dynex DX-NRUTER.
by anonymous - 2009.07.31 21:46
Wow you ROCK! Don't know how I missed the IP address conflict. One Linksys Wired router and one Linksys Wireless now working together! This saved me a day/weekend of pulling my hair out.
by anonymous - 2009.08.01 00:12
I want to use my laptop in our office and I was getting a wifi connection but I have to enter the PIN for lnksys WAG54G 2, is there a way where I can figure out what it the PIN number of this router so I can connect?
by beaux - 2009.08.07 05:24
This is the best instructional guide in the web! You are awesome. I just have a quick question. Is there anyway that you can determine the DHCP Range of the main router without going to its Interface? The main router is "TP-LINK Router R460" Does anyone know the default DHCP range of this router?
by hugoread - 2009.08.24 10:50
Thanks for a great article. I have followed this in trying to use my old router as a switch in my network.

- In the main gateway router I set the DHCP range to be 192.168.0.2 to 192.168.0.200
- In my old router (not wireless, a Netgear 314, I just need it for extra wired ports) I turned off DHCP and set the IP address to 192.168.0.201

Should be all good and indeed after wiring up correctly (LAN port to LAN port between devices, not using the internet port on the Access Point), machines connected to the AP can see machines connected directly to the main gateway router and vice versa, so that's all great.

HOWEVER! For some reason I can't get to the config page of the AP. I type the IP address in a browser (192.168.0.201) and it continually times out and just won't connect. I've even tried taking the machine off the network and connecting a PC straight to it and it still won't connect to the page.

Incidentally, I've got two devices coming off the AP; one is a Roku music player and one is a mini-PC. I'm using the mini-PC as a music server (Firefly), which I've done before when not using an access point, but now the Roku doesn't see the music server! Do you know if there are further settings on the AP config page (that I can't currently access) that I should set up in order to make the music server accessible throughout the network? I wouldn't have thought so as all the port forwarding is handled by the gateway router and is set up correctly and working. Perhaps I have to copy the port forwarding on the gateway router onto the AP?

Thanks in advance for any help,
Hugo Read.
by sabre - 2009.10.10 17:18
Try temporarily setting a static ip on the computer configuring the AP. Make sure it is a compatible IP of course.
by anonymous - 2009.10.11 05:46
Many thanks for a quick fix to a frustrating problem. turns out that keeping the static IP of the AP out of the DHCP range was the critical element. I have now succesfully extended the range of my BIPAC7300N using the DWL 2100AP. Mat
by anonymous - 2009.10.12 14:41
Thank you sooo much for your time a effort.
by anonymous - 2009.10.23 07:20
Thank YOU!!!!!!!!!
by BRUCE - 2009.11.11 10:59
Hi Phillip

Thanks for your time in posting these solutions! I think my problem is not far off what you described, but it has enough differences to stump me!

My setup is this:

Host computer (XP Pro) with a USB broadband (cellular) modem that is where the internet comes from. I have a broadband router/AP which I want to set up as an access point only, so that my laptop/phone/friends-with-own-computers etc can use internet, see my files etc at my place.

Main computer:
So, I've enabled ICS on the main computer-correct? I've also enabled DHCP on the ICS-but not sure if it needs to be setup as you mentioned about the gateway or if you even can setup ICS's DHCP.

Router/AP:
Then I disabled DHCP on the router, but don't know what to enter under the static IP. I have tried an IP address similar to my host computer's, but then cannot access the router anymore and had to reset it! (I think you may be realising at this point the amateur you're dealing with!)

This is what I get when I type cmd /k ipconfig /all:

Windows IP configuration

Host Name.................................: Bruce
Primary DNS Suffix....................:
Node Type.................................: Mixed
IP Routing enabled.....................: Yes
WINS Proxy Enabled...................: No

Ethernet Adapter Wireless Connection 2:

Connection-Specific DNS Suffix....:
Description.................................:Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection
Physical Address.........................:00-12-F0-02-D4-CE
Dhcp Enabled.............................:No
IP Address..................................:192.168.0.1
Subnet Mask...............................:255.255.255.0
Default Gateway..........................:192.168.1.0
DNS Servers...............................:192.168.0.1

PPP Adapter Vodafone 3G:

Connection-Specific DNS Suffix....:
Description.................................:WAN (PPP/SLIP) Interface
Physical Address.........................:00-53-45-00-00-00
Dhcp Enabled.............................:No
IP Address..................................:41.12.201.77
Subnet Mask...............................:255.255.255.255
Default Gateway..........................:41.12.201.77
DNS Servers...............................:196.207.35.29
196.207.35.30
Primary WINS Server...................:10.11.12.13
Secondary WINS Server...............:10.11.12.14
NetBIOS over Tcpip......................:Disabled

That's it.
The Vodafone 3g is obviously the cellular broadband modem connection.

So, can I be helped? I have got the AdHoc network working but would prefer the stability of the infrastructure. Please Help!!!

Thanks a lot
Bruce
by Karen - 2009.11.25 08:14
Bruce:

I am not the original article writer, but I read your post and might be able to steer you in the right direction. In your description, you didn't mention having more than one router (a broadband router is NOT a router). The setup in this article is only needed if you want to connect two routers together (typically one wireless and one wired). If you only have one router, you need to keep it working as a router - connect it to your broadband modem using the router's WAN port, and keep DHCP turned on (your network must have one router if you have multiple computers connected at once, and normally that router would serve DHCP). That's the conventional use of a router, and if it's a wireless router with multiple LAN ports, you can use the single device for both wired computers and wireless.

That in of itself will allow your friends to use your wireless and connect to the internet, but if you want them to also share files directly, more is required - their computers will need to be in the same "workgroup" as yours, and similar operating systems will probably also be required. That is beyond the scope of this article. At our house, we allow friends to connect to the internet (our wireless is secured so that the neighbors don't use it, but we tell our friends the key), but we don't bother with file sharing - if we need to move files between our computers and guest computers, we either use thumb drives or email.
by Philip - 2009.11.25 10:15
Thanks for trying to help Karen... Since he's using an USB cellular connection that probably does not work with the wireless router (unless it's a model that has the necessary WAN port for USB modems), he may need to use his computer as a gateway.

Then, a wired NIC on that gateway computer would connect to one of the LAN ports on the wireless router (used as an access point as per the article)... And other wireless clients would connect through the wireless router/AP and the gateway computer to get online.

The router/AP needs to be in the same subnet as the NIC on the gateway PC. The USB cell modem would have the external IP address, while the NIC connected to the router and the rest of the network will be in the 192.168.x.x range, all in the same subnet.
by nudel - 2009.12.08 04:40
TREMENDOUS!

I finally 'understand' access points!
by anonymous - 2009.12.15 08:30
ooooh, it was all about using a regular LAN port instead of a WAN one! Thank you very much! You, sir, are a genius
by PEBill - 2009.12.31 10:30
Very good instructions. I had already set up my wireless router as an AP on my wired network and was having problems. It would work with two wireless laptops I have for a short while, but then all of a sudden the Internet was no longer accessible on one or both of the wireless laptops. I would then have to disconnect and reconnect the wireless access on each laptop to restore the internet access (over and over again). What a pain!

Then I noticed in your instructions that the static IP address for the AP needed to be outside the DHCP range. I had set my static IP address for the AP within the range, which seemed to make sense to me. (Although in another sentence of your instructions you state that the IP address of the AP needed to be WITHIN the range - contradictory)

Thanks for the good article. My Belkin N Wireless Router manual mentioned nothing about this procedure. Its a shame the hardware companies are so short sighted with how the end user will user their product.
by Ryan - 2010.01.01 12:43
Ok, so I understand all of your instructions, but my question is: I have one wireless router in my house and it works great. I am wanting to buy another one and use it as an access point, but I want to connect my xbox 360 to the AP through cat5 since I don't want to buy a wireless adapter for the xbox. A little pricey. I do want the wireless signal improvement in my downstairs, but also want to hard wire a few items to the AP and get internet to them. Is this possible, and what wireless routers support this. I would rather buy a wireless router and not just an AP. Any help would be appreciated.
by Johnny Cakes - 2010.01.01 22:37
Probably the best instructions on the Internet, as I viewed many before ending up here. Kudos!
by Tim - 2010.02.06 22:23
I'm going to ask a stupid question - I need to hook up my Samsung TV to the internet wirelessly, it has a wired lan (cat 5) port on the back of the TV and I donít want to buy the $80 usb adaptor from Samsung. Will these instructions allow me to take a wireless router and make it into a WIRELESS access point that will feed my TV a lan signal?
by Philip - 2010.02.07 11:07
It is a very good question actually...

Access points are designed to have one wired connection and many wireless clients.

What you need is a "wireless client" (or a wireless repeater) where you can connect to a wireless network and have wired clients.

With that in mind, there are some wireless routers that can operate as wireless clients. Since not many support that mode with the factory firmware, the other possibility to explore would be to install a third party firmware that extends its functionality and lets the router work in that mode. I'd check the DD-WRT firmware and see if your router is compatible.

I hope this helps.

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