DD-WRT routers are great for a variety of reasons. Access to software that goes above and beyond a manufacturer’s out-of-the-box operating system is a huge advantage, and the security options are phenomenal. DD-WRT simply allows you to take better advantage of your hardware. But what do you do when your hardware becomes outdated and you want to upgrade to the latest and greatest Wi-Fi router? What do you do with your old router? One option is to utilize your hardware as a repeater. Instead of throwing away your hardware, you still make good use of it on your personal network.
What Is a Repeater?
A repeater is a networking device that allows people to extend the length of cable segments or wireless signals. You see, there are finite limits on how long cables and wireless signals can be without degrading the signal that they carry. Interference and magnetic fields can absolutely ruin a signal as it travels to its destination, and any interference will decrease the theoretical maximum length of the cable or Wi-Fi standard. For example, the theoretical maximum for Ethernet cabling is 100 meters. If your cable length exceeds 100 meters, you will start to notice incredibly slower speeds – if it works at all.
But what do you do if you need to run a cable 150 meters or connect a computer outside the range of your wireless router? That’s where repeaters come in. As a device from layer 1 of the OSI model, a repeater receives and incoming signal from one network segment and retransmits it to another network segment. Basically, they help you by allowing you to chain Ethernet and wireless segments together so you can exceed the maximum range. However, repeaters are somewhat limited. You can’t make an infinitely long network segment by using repeater after repeater. Having said that, though, you can certainly use your DD-WRT router as a wireless repeater to solve almost all of your cable length problems.
Make sure that you backup your configuration before beginning and be aware of all of the settings on the setup page you have enabled before you begin. If you make a mistake and need to start over, backing up your configuration is a huge help. Additionally, make sure that you don’t apply your changes until you have completed the setup.
- First, you must disable your connection type. You can do this on the basic setup screen that is reached from the Setup page. Basically, we need to disable this because your router won’t be hooked up to a modem.
- If you would like, you have the option of changing the router name as well as the host name.
- Give your router a unique IP address for your network. You need to make sure this address is unique so there aren’t any IP addressing conflicts. In particular, you need to verify that the address you assign is not used by another router on your network. Now click the ‘Save’ button.
- Change DHCP Type to ‘DHCP Forwarder’ instead of a DHCP server.
- Enter the IP address of your router and your modem under DHCP Server options. Click ‘Save’ one more time. If you can’t make the page come up, verify that you are browsing to the newly configured IP address in Step 3.
- Wipe the security configuration by browsing to the security page and unchecking everything. Basically, you are stripping the configuration settings from this router so it acts as nothing more than an access point.
- Next you need to browse to the wireless section and change Wireless Mode to either ‘Repeater’ or ‘Repeater Bridge’. There is a slight difference between the two options. The repeater option will only give you wireless capabilities, but the repeater bridge option will also give you the ability to use Ethernet ports as a repeater. This is extremely useful if you need to extend Ethernet cable segments for video game consoles or stationary desktop computers. The choice between the two modes is completely up to you.
- Now you need to configure your router to see your wireless network. Enter the name of your existing wireless network in the Wireless Network Name (SSID) field. Remember, it is case sensitive and needs to be copied verbatim.
- Change the wireless security settings on the Wireless Security tab to match what is configured on your Wi-Fi network. Now, hit the save button again. Lastly, it is time to click ‘Apply’ and update your configuration.
After your router has restarted and applied the configuration, you should notice that your Wi-Fi signal is much stronger around the area where you placed your wireless repeater!