Tech Tip: Wireless Access Points

It’s been a long time since I last posted a post, however, it’s summer, so I’ve got a bit of time on my hands :)

Recently, I’ve received the Virgin Media SuperHub, this combines the modem and router into one unit, like you would get with ADSL routers. Now I’ve got a spare router to play around with.

My first thought is to turn it into a wireless access point, mainly because the WiFi signal in my room is non existent, have no idea why it won’t cover my room, all I know is, that my room is a dead zone for WiFi devices. This was easy for me due to the fact that I already have an Ethernet cable coming into my room into a switch for my desktop PC and NAS, so all I would need to do is hook up an Ethernet cable into the back of the switch and connect it to the router.

Equipment Needed: 

  • Laptop/Netbook (anything portable with WiFi and ethernet)
  • D-Link DI-524 Router (other routers can also act as an access point) – referred to as AP or secondary router
  • Virgin Media SuperHub (or another router) - referred to as Router
  • Ethernet Cables

So, I’ve got these things, what do I do now?

  1. Disable the WiFi on the Laptop and connect an Ethernet cable from the Laptop to the AP. Make sure there are no other cables attached apart from Ethernet to Laptop and the power cable.
  2. Access the config page of the router and log in, this can be done by entering the IP address of the router, this is usually found on the back/bottom of your router, e.g.
  3. Depending on the manufacturer and firmware of the secondary router, here’s what you should do:
    • If your AP has it, enable Access Point Mode (or similar) on the router.
    • If your AP does not have this luxury, do not despair. all you need to do is disable the DHCP server and NAT on the AP.
  4. Then connect the AP to the router.  Connect ethernet port to ethernet port.
  5. On the router, find the new IP address of the AP. On the SuperHub, to do this, login to the config page and go into advanced settings and click on “IP Filtering”, there you should see the IP address of the new router.
  6. Make the router have a static IP, this way, it is easier to access the router later on, to do this on the SuperHub, click on “LAN IP” and enter the MAC address of the AP and also the IP of the router, something that was found out in step 5.
  7. The next thing you need to do to avoid interference is to change the channel on both the router and the access point. Change the channel of the router to Channel 6 and change taces access point to channel 11.
  8. Now, you can configure the AP to have the same WiFi settings as the router (SSID and encryption), this way, most devices should be able to switch to the stronger network if you’re moving out of the range of the weaker network.
  9. One to to test and see if devices swap over from a point of weak access from one router to the WiFi signal of the access point. To do this, disable the WiFi of the access point and go towards the AP and see how low the signal gets, then, enable the WiFI of the AP and repeat the test and you should see that the signal strength should increase.

Where is the use of an AP in a home environment?

An example of where having an AP is useful in the home environment is when you have your router at one end of the house, and by the time you get to the garden, you don’t get a WiFi signal.
With this, you could have your router and you could have an ethernet cable running to another room further down the house near the garden, this way, when you go to the garden now, instead of not having an internet connection, you now have an internet connection due to the extra router you have hiding.

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