|September 5, 2004
This article will show you
how to use a wireless router as a wireless access point. Wait, you
might say, isn't a wireless router more advanced than a wireless access
point and wouldn't that be taking a step backwards? That's true in
some sense, a wireless router has more functionality than a wireless access
point, but sometimes you only need an access point.
why not just buy a wireless access point instead of using a wireless router?
fine, so why not replace your existing wired router with a wireless router?
Cost. Wireless routers
are currently much less expensive than wireless access points. This
is rather counter intuitive. You would think that since a router
is more complicated than an access point, it would be more expensive.
But wireless routers are cheaper because manufacturers are producing many
different models of routers and very few access points. This drives
the price of routers down and access points up. For example, today
when I went to the local Fry's Electronics, I saw a Netgear wireless router
for $19.99 after rebates. A wireless access point by Linksys cost
$149! If you are patient, you can get a wireless router for very
cheap, although you may have to deal with rebates. Rebates suck but
they're better than paying $149 for a wireless access point.
By having a separate router
and access point, you make your network more modular. For example,
I currently have a wired router with a 802.11b wireless router attached
as an access point. If I want to upgrade to 802.11g, I can just replace
the B unit with a G unit.
I know that this scenario is
not for everyone. If you are starting from scratch and don't have
any router at all yet, it would make sense to just use a wireless router
as a wireless router. This article is more for people who have an
existing network to which they would like to add wireless functionality.
If you have an existing home
network with a router installed, you might not want to change the router
since the advanced functions of port forwarding and loopback already work
on your existing router and might be different on the wireless router.
Also, the router feature sets may be different.
The wireless router might not
have enough LAN network ports for your network. Most wireless routers
have 4 ports or less while wired routers can have 8 ports or more.
Here's how to do it:
There you have it. You
added wireless capabilities to your existing wired network by using a wireless
router as a wireless access point.
First thing, plug in the power
to the wireless router, but do not connect it to your network yet.
Attach one computer using a
category 5 network cable to one of the wireless router's LAN ports.
Make sure this computer is set to automatically receive a IP address from
the wireless router's DHCP server.
Login to the wireless router
using the computer that is connected to it. Now that we're in the
router configuration, we can make the changes we need to turn this wireless
router into a wireless access point.
You can leave the WAN configuration
in the wireless router completely empty. The WAN part of the wireless
router won't be used when it is being used as a wireless access point.
Set the LAN IP address of the
wireless router so it is compatible with your existing network. For
example, if your current network uses the 192.168.1.x network, then make
sure the wireless router is on the same network. Different companies
use different LAN numbers such as 192.168.0.x or 192.168.2.x. We
need the wireless router to function on the existing network. Give
it an IP address that is easy to remember. For example, if your current
wired router is 192.168.0.1, then you can give the wireless router 192.168.0.2
which is only one number away from the wired router number (which you probably
already know by heart).
Turn off the DHCP server on
the wireless router. There can only be one DHCP server on your network,
and it should be the DHCP server on your wired router, not the wireless
Implement the same wireless
security settings as detailed in this article: How
to Secure Your Wireless Network. You want to keep your
wireless network as safe as possible.
Now that your wireless router
uses the same IP numbering scheme and has the DHCP server turned off, it
is basically a wireless access point. We have to hook it up to our
existing network. You do this by connecting a Category 5 cable between
the LAN port of your existing router / network to the LAN port of your
new wireless access point. Do not connect it to the WAN port of the wireless
access point. Depending on your router / access point manufacturer,
you may need to use a crossover cable instead of a standard straight through
cable. On my Linksys 802.11b wireless router turned wireless access
point, I use a straight through cable without any problems. You may
need to experiment with this.