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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.

 

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 amsuamenra - 2010.02.17 09:41
This is awesome. I was trying to figure this out and couldn't. Frustrated the crap out of me but Thank You for posting this.

Be Blessed
by satz - 2010.02.17 16:25
hi all
wonderful article.

have just bought a Linksys wireless N router, but I'd like to keep using my old reliable non-wireless Billion router as the gateway, pretty much as your article describes.

However the new router comes with an install CD that says to run before installing the router. Q: should I run this CD from the PC that is plugged into the wireless router?

many thanks
by Philip - 2010.02.18 09:03
You do not need to run the CD or install any software. All you really need is to find its IP address and login information to be able to configure it using a web browser.
by techjunkie - 2010.03.01 21:31
Hi Phillip..
Im just wondering.. would I be able to see the other devices on the network.. or do I have to disable the firewall on the wireless router.. or it doesn't matter because Im not going through the wan Port?

thanks for your time

Kevin
by Philip - 2010.03.03 08:45
You should be able to see other nodes on the network without disabling any firewall functionality.

What many routers claim as a firewall is just the basic added benefit of NAT (Network Address Translation), which assigns private IP addresses to devices on the network. What this means, essentially is that all local devices are assigned private IP addresses not routable on the internet, those IPs are not directly accessible from outside your LAN (i.e. 192.168.*.*, 10.*.*.*, or 172.16.*.*).

Some routers add a SPI firewall that inspects outbound packets from the internal network to the WAN port, but most of them do not filter any traffic on the local ports. More advanced routers may have the capability of setting VLANs, or separating wireless from wired ports traffic, but you'd have to configure them to get that functionality.
by anonymous - 2010.06.06 13:29
I use a usb dongle with an unlocked 3 d100 router, i found the signal a bit weak at times so i set up an old router as an access point which increased the range considerably. the unlocking software for the d100 came off the net and is free
by pals - 2010.07.09 14:22
Dear Friend,

I know very little about network and wondered with your simple guidence. thank you very much.

I am in Qatar and I have a Thomson TG585 v 7 ADSL2+ router given by Qtel, the telecom provider. My friends told that it is ip locked. Shall I make it as an access point still.

Thanks,
Pals.
by Philip - 2010.07.09 15:08
If you're getting your Internet connection through that Thomson TG585 ADSL2+ router you can't configure as a simple wireless access point since you still need an ADSL router to get to the Internet.

If you do have another ADSL modem/router for your Internet connection, then yes, you can probably set your second wireless router as an access point.
by AMBGMA - 2010.08.04 10:24
Impressive knowledge, I was able to setup my WAP.

Did you use the same SSID for the wireless routers?
by anonymous - 2010.08.26 18:32
I have a wired Linksys BEFSR81 8-port router (BEF) that serves my entire house and connects to a cable modem. My BEF is set to 192.169.1.1 with a dynamic range of 192.168.1.100-149. I also have a Linksys EZX555W workgroup switch connected to the BEF via Cat6 in one room that serves two desktops and a wired printer. The printer has a static IP. I have set up a Linksys WRT54G wireless router (WRT) in another room that is connected via Cat6 to the BEFSR81. I want several wireless devices including laptops to be able to access the internet through the WRT, which works fine, but I can't seem to figure out how to allow the laptops to send to the printer. It used to work but when I did a firmware upgrade on the WRT I lost my settings and I can't figure out what I am doing wrong. The WRT is currently set to 192.168.1.2 with NAT enabled and a different dynamic range than the BEF. The WRT is connected to the BEF through the WAN port. I know I found the original setup on the web but have searched in vain for the info, so any help would be appreciated.
by Philip - 2010.08.29 12:03
The easiest solution would be to set the Linksys WRT54G as an access point as per the article above (connected via a LAN port, leave the WAN port empty), in the same subnet as the other router, with disabled DHCP (so all clients get IPs from the same router)...
by anonymous - 2010.08.29 15:59
I am having a lot of issues as well......

1. I want to hook up my wireless router to my modem for my main computer. I can't run wires through my walls so i need something else to connect my other devices in my living room.
(The problem is i can't run cat-5 to my living room where i need my T.V., Xbox and PS3 hooked up. These all need to be connected through cat 5 due to me not having wireless connections for these items).

2. I need another wireless router or access point in my living room where all my other electronics are.

My problem is i have not found an access point (i need about 4 ports) that you wan can hard wire items into and i do not know if you can set up another wireless router and hard wire items into it.
by anonymous - 2010.08.29 19:18
Thanks for your help on my BEF/WRG problem. It solved my problem. Very nice of you to take the time to help me and others. Thanks again.
by Philip - 2010.08.31 10:16
A Wireless Access Point generally provides access to clients wirelessly, and is connected to the network via a single Cat5 jack.

What you seem to need is a wireless bridge/client. It allows for connecting your clients via Cat5 and to the network wirelessly. Some routers have this functionality, but it may be easier/cheaper to look up third-party firmware, such as DD-WRT and buy a router that supports it, then run it in bridge mode.
by pisipisi - 2010.09.05 06:54
thanks, thanks..

i will pray for you everyday :)
i found my mistake in this article. my every setting was true. but i connected the cable modem's lan port to the router's wan port, changed it, and now it works perfect.

thanks again...
by hegg - 2010.09.10 06:26
I have tried for a long time to figure out how I could use my wireless Dlink 615 as an access point behind Isaserver 2004 with my own private adresses and allow iphones, ipads and laptops access to internett. Thanks to this fantastic guide I managed to configure all perfeckt in less than 2 hours.

Thanks Again.
by TechMD - 2010.09.15 08:38
i have a wired router & a wireless router. i want to know if it's possible to setup the wireless router so that more than 1 wireless connection can be made once it is connected to the wired router.
by anonymous - 2010.10.04 12:58
Barely had to break a sweat with your instructions. Wanted to hook up a Linksys WRT54G2 router to an existing network with no wireless. This worked like a charm. THANK YOU!
by numbsoul - 2010.10.07 04:23
my question is this...

is it possible to connect an AP from a switch/hub which is connected from the main router and the main router has DHCP disabled? i wanted to enable DHCP from the AP so wireless devices gets IP Automatically...

is it possible?

i wanted to set it up like this...

modem/router (DHCP disabled) ==> 16port switch ==> wireless router/AP (DHCP Enabled) ==> wired and wireless devices.
by numbsoul - 2010.10.07 04:29
my question is this...

is it possible to connect an AP from a switch/hub which is connected from the main router and the main router has DHCP disabled? i wanted to enable DHCP from the AP so wireless devices gets IP Automatically...

is it possible?

i wanted to set it up like this...

modem/router (DHCP disabled) ==> 16port switch ==> wireless router/AP (DHCP Enabled) ==> wired and wireless devices.
by Philip - 2010.10.12 09:37
Yes, it is possible... The idea is to only have one DHCP server on the LAN/subnet.
by old_pedagog - 2010.10.15 18:05
Trying to use a Netgear DG834G v3 modem router as an AP but can't get further than step 4! The admin user interface will not reveal itself with the listed IP address. The main router Linksys AG241 shows up fine but not the Netgear. Is there a way around this.
I have connected the two boxes with a crossover cable and I can access the internet through a LAN port on the Access Point. Help please.
by old_pedagog - 2010.10.16 13:04
Problem solved! I temporarily hooked up the new AP (router) to my laptop and the adsl line directly and was able to access the admin interface. It is not accessable when it is acting as an AP on my LAN.
by hans - 2010.10.17 04:08
thanks!
by alterseekers - 2010.11.10 13:58
Thank you so much for this article. It's so helpful in setting up wireless routers as an access point. And speaking of wireless routers, if you're looking for a good one, I recommend you check out the Netgear Wireless Router for Video and Gaming. You can use this device to connect computers, gaming consoles, notebooks, or wireless printers, and also your networked home theater devices. You can also use this to stream video and music from a USB drive to media players and DLNA TV's, even without using a computer.

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