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How to set a Wireless Router as an Access Point

2007-11-22 (updated: 2014-06-08) by
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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.

 

Notes:
If both your main gateway and access point have wireless capability, you can use the same SSID, same security, and different non-overlapping wireless channels to extend the range of your wireless network and allow clients to connect to either one automatically.
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 - 2012-01-24 14:49
Thank you so much.
I had an XP desktop system and was adding a Win7 laptop.
I had a 3COM (U.S. plug and using in Europe with a power converter) hub and a Linksys WAP (UK plug) and an antenna access to the internet. What a mess but it worked.
We had bought a Fujitsu laptop and had no problems connecting it via the WAP. Then, for some reason, we lost access to the WAP and, coincidentally I guess, lost some laptop function as well and then it wouldn't start. The laptop went back and we got an Acer instead. Eventually realising there was a problem with the WAP we bought a TP-Link wireless router to replace the hub/WAP and could not get anything to work through it. Frustrated as hell I saw your article on using the wireless router as a WAP (you're right, here there is a 50% markup on WAPs over routers) and everything worked fine right off the bat. I should have thought of it myself but thanks for posting it as a prompt.
Ideally I'd rather get rid of the 3COM hub but, at least, I'm back working again.
Thank you, thank you, it was a life saver.
by Hien - 2012-02-19 20:51
Thanks! The instructions work and I was able to convert a DIR655 wireless router to a WAP. however, when I connect it to the DIR-4100 GamerLounge router that connects to the Comcast broadband modem, to make the new WAP work, I had to disconnect an 8-port switch that was used to enable an RJ45 jack providing Internet access to each room in my house. to put it differently: if the WAP is connected and I want it to work and let my laptops access the Internet wirelessly, I have to disconnect all other wired connections. this phenomenon is repeatable:disconnect switch, get WAP, ,leave both on, no Internet connection to any device (lwireless laptop, wired desktops, iPhone, iPad, tv, blurry player, play station, etc..).

I appreciate any explanation why the above happens, and of course anything I could do tho fix this.

Thanks,

Hien
by hien - 2012-02-23 14:18
Referring to my previous comment I found the reason why the network as configured crashed: OVERLOAD. Please refer to diagram and explanation below.

Comcast modem > GamerLounge DGL-41000 router ---> DIR655 WAP
---> DGS 2208 Switch
---> DGS 2208 Switch
---> DGS 2208 Switch

with each switch, all gigabit-capable providing internet/LAN connection to some combination of these devices: one or more desktops, a 3-D HDTV, a blu-ray player, an AppleTV for AirPlay device, a Logitech Vue for Google TV, game consoles (PlayStation3, Wii, XBox 360) and in the extreme situation, another cascaded 8-port DLInk gigabit switch.

From this experience, a lesson learned is The GamerLounge can handle only 3 gigabit switches connected to 3 of its 4 LAN ports, and that each one of these gigabit switch can take up no more than 2 devices of any kind, e.g., a HDTV and Apple TV only, or blu-ray player and game console only.

It's is uncanny to see the 4 windows 7 laptops that were blinking "no internet access" when connected wirelessly to the net through the DIR655 WAP get reconnect as networked devices are disconnected one by one until the critical upper bound set of GamerLounge-connectable devices (2 gigabit switches with 2 devices each plus the DIR655 WAP) is reached. I use only 4 laptops so I don't know how many laptops I could connect wirelessly through the DIR655 WAP, but this device does support additionally to the laptops a couple of iPhone and one iPad with no network crashes.

There are reference elsewhere on the net about how network of cascading switches are prone to collapse. My case may be the first documented case of home network crashes due to too many switches that are connected to a broadband router in parallel, rather than in cascading mode.

Wen I counted the number of device in my home that want an internet access to "automatically upgrade their firmware and operating systems", the number is between 40 and 50! Maybe it's time to upgrade to a business class 8-port gigabit router able to handle 8 8-port gigabit switches for 8x8=64 connections!

D-LINK or CISCO/LINKSYS or NETGEAR, do you have one for me?

Hien
by anonymous - 2012-02-28 15:20
I guess router manuals do not describe this process because the manuafactures want us to buy WAP devices.
Excellent instruction provided.
I wonder if I must disable NAT on tthe WAP router as well?
Thanks a gain....
by Mr Finch - 2012-03-14 15:02
Hi i know this is an old post, but is this the same prosess to make a server wireless.

basicly i have built a server for my home and its all running on cat5 cables but i want to access the network wirelessly from my laptop to use the network drives. i have an spaire router and was wondering if i can configer the to make my server wireless.

can any1 please help
by deb - 2012-03-27 03:04
Hi,

Step 2 is not working for me. What could be reason? It is giving ar
error message: 'Can not access', when I am entering my IP add in
the browser add space.

Deb
by Sarah - 2012-04-12 21:43
THANK YOU! That was much easier than I expected, even for someone as non 'technical' as me... Lifesaver :)
by anonymous - 2012-04-24 09:28
Thanks, it was really helpful!
by darin - 2012-05-11 05:31
Hi all,
I'm struggling to do almost the same and i can't for days now:
I have cable internet at home - it is a cable coming from outside going directly in my desktop so i do not have administrative access to the router where the cable comes from. i have a static IP and the ISP recognizes my desktops physical address. I want to put that cable into my old wifi router and to connect my desktop to the router using second cable and to use internet through wifi on my laptop. The idea is the laptop to access internet without having the desktop on and vise versa.

I've tried all combinations of settings I can think of and I never succeeded in providing internet connection to the laptop.

Any suggestions please.
Darin
by anonymous - 2012-05-23 00:23
O so I have been pulling my hair out for about 24 hrs now. In my office we have a wireless G router configured as an WAP but when I search my network I cannout find the ip address of the WAP. So the WAP is starting to fail because it is so old. I am trying to replace it with a Cisco Linksys e2500 that has been flashed, Now when I set it up following your instructions to the T I can see the network connect to it but cannot connect to the internet. Any advice? My default Gateway is 192.168.1.1 and my Server is 192.168.1.11 I have tried to set the WAP Cisco to 192.168.1.2 and no luck.
by Philip - 2012-06-02 12:25
Darin, you may want to check this FAQ:
http://www.speedguide.net/faq_in_q.php?category=88&qid=370

Are you power-cycling the modem after connecting a router to it? If it does not work, you may have to clone your network adapter's MAC address in the router.
by galtzhayek - 2012-06-12 05:51
wow great guide! i knew nothing about nothing with wirless and network stuff and i got this working! thx man!
by Renovatio - 2012-06-17 08:29
I successfully set up my Linksys WRT54G and use it as an access point. However, the wireless internet speed connecting the new access point is 1/4-1/2 of wireless internet speed connecting to my router. The wireless internet speed is consistently slow even the access point sitting next to my laptop. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.
by anonymous - 2012-07-09 01:05
This was very good - a otherwise worthless mobile gateway inherited by parents and locked to a certain ISP is now unlocked and works fine as a guest-access point. Thanks so very much.
My only problem was finding out the DHCP adresses - but that is more a GUI problem of my gateway...

Great!
by Philip - 2012-07-10 11:51
Renovatio, seems you have two wireless access points (your wireless router, and a second one acting as an access point only).

In this scenario, it is best if both devices use different non-overlapping channels (at least 3 channels apart), and the same SSID/security settings/keyprhase. That way, the clients can connect to the one closer to them automatically and may eliminate any interference issues.
by chops - 2012-07-12 18:48
Thanks for the guide - very easy to follow!

One issue -

I'm running windows 7, and have a d-link wired router that i've reconfigured DNS on. I have a linksys e1200 that i wanted to turn into an AP via this guide. I follow all instructions, but now I can't log back into the new AP to change security parameters. I've tried both the new and old address for it.

Any suggestions?

thanks,

Kevin
by anonymous - 2012-07-18 11:17
Works like a charm! I am soo happyyyy
by anonymous - 2012-08-02 19:28
heres the deal i cant get it to work, its more like im tricking my computer into thinking i have 5 bars but then it takes the internet from the other router cause its super slow

internet comes into house, goes through comcast box, into netgear wireless router, wifi is put out and internet goes out from there to rest of house through wires, (all in basement), upstairs i have a vizio wireless router, i did everything as it said in the guide, i also made the ssids the same, they have the same security and everything, netgear ip-192.168.1.1, vizio-192.168.1.2, netgear dchp is set to start at 192.168.1.3, cat 5 out of wall upstairs goes into lan not wan of vizio, when i connect it says there is intenet at 300 mbps but i get nothing

on vizio (wanted access point)
dchp disabled
firewall disable
incoming wire goes into lan 1
ip is 192.168.1.2

netgear (main)
ip is 192.168.1.1
dhcp is enabled
firewall on
internet goes in wan
4 ports out lan go through walls of house, one to vizio


im so confused been working on it for 2 days

just to make sure this is my goal

netgeasr is in basement
my room is on second floor oposite side of the house, i dont get a good connection up there, vizio is right below my room and i get a great connection but i am tired of having to switch back and forth
i want them to put out the same network or switch by itself or something
by anonymous - 2012-08-02 19:31
also i am doing all this on a 5 ghz network not 2.4 so the channels for each router are 44 and 156, so its 5g or hd or whatever your want to call it network
by Tina - 2012-08-10 19:28
Outstanding. Very clear instructions. If you follow them meticulously (I wasn't as meticulous the first couple of times) this will work! I used this to add Netgear router to AT&T U-verse set-up (kept U-verse WAP to communicate with TV wireless receivers) and it works perfectly. Thank you!
by blacksej - 2012-08-15 22:02
I am trying to set up a completely private LAN, with all devices connected by CAT6 cable to 3 of 4 ports on an Amped R100000G wireless router controlled by a portable computer/controller running Win7. I purposely do not want this network to communicate with the internet--just hum along as a private LAN (it is all inanimate equipment that is running).

When the computer/controller is also plugged into one of this R10000G's wired port, the R10000G is essentially acting as a wired router--a hub--using none of its wireless functions. So long as the computer/controller is plugged into one of these R10000G wired ports, the equipment works fine.

HOWEVER, when I then unplug the portable computer/controller from the 4th wired port on the R10000G (and Win7 control panel says I am now connected wirelessly to the Amped network) the devices and the computer cease to communicate with one another.

This is the problem I am trying to find a solution to. I suspect I may need to have a static IP, but need "help for computer dummies" to get this working correctly.

(Note: I periodically connect the computer/controller to a LAN here that is connected to the internet to get Win7 updates and virus updates, but then go back to the Amped network to work with the equipment attached to the R10000G).

The Amped tech support says I can set up the R10000G as an access point, but then keep it connected to the LAN that goes to the outside world--but the private LAN I am working with is no where near the cable modem that relates to the wireless network that connects to the internet.
by anonymous - 2012-09-18 17:12
Thank you for en axcellent article! I had spent some time trying to do this myself & when I finally found this article I got it set up in about 20 mins or so. Much appreciated!
by anonymous - 2012-09-20 20:16
Precise instructions, I have a WAP54G access point but it only connects two devices to the internet and give others limited access. My ip range is between 10.0.0.20 - 10.0.0.160 how would I go about handling this
by yamenh - 2012-10-20 06:07
Hi!
this article is great...
However I need to do the same thing but without connect my AP with an eathernet cable network, in other word I need to repeat the signal coming from my main router (That has an Internet) using a NETGEAR router...
I tried to but the same SSID and to disable DHCP and change the IPs but it's not working....
tried to connect with the NETGEAR support and they gave me this reference
http://vpncasestudy.com/download/WDS/WDS_Concept.pdf
but it is working only if you have 2 NETGEARS routers and you are trying to connect them together.....However in my situation I have a linksys router (this is the main router) and a NETGEAR router ( Want to make it work as a repeater to the signal)
any one know how to do it?
thanks
by Q - 2012-10-25 16:29
In this setup are you also able to make use of the other lan ports on the AP for local wired connections to other computers, while also doing wireless on the AP? I assume the upstream router will hand out dhcp addresses to both wired and wireless clients on the AP in this configuration?
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