The PhoneBoy Blog

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Frankenrouters and Rethinking the WDS Mesh

Makeshift RouterWhat you see here is a “makeshift” router of sorts: the combination of a simple 5-port switch and a D-Link DWL-G730AP that I had purchased a while ago. Why am I using this when I have a perfectly good Linksys router I could use that does both of these things (the router pictured here)?

Quite simple, really. The WDS mesh wasn’t terribly stable. I can get my wife’s and my WRT54GS going fairly stable with DD-WRT–and I even some higher-gain antennas to improve the connection between the two routers–but the kids WRT54G, which could only run DD-WRT micro, kept having connectivity issues with the WDS mesh.

There are about six ways from Sunday I had the WDS mesh configured. However, the WDS mesh would stop working without fail after a few days. Multiple reboots would not clear the problem. It would come back up only after changing the WDS configuration somewhat. In the last reconfiguration, I was able to successfully isolate it to this WRT54G.

I decided for the sake of argument to ditch the WRT54G and go with something simpler. I remembered that I had this D-Link DWL-G730AP in my router box. I stopped using it once I replaced it with a Linksys WTR54GS.

One particularly cool feature of this router is that, in addition to the normal WiFi router mode, it has a WiFi client mode. You configure the router to communicate with a given access point. The router takes an inbound Ethernet connection and sends it over WiFi to another access point. It WiFi-enables a device that only has an Ethernet port.

It turns out that, if you hook it up to a switch, several computers can be sent over WiFi in this manner. It’s a kind of wireless bridge in this case. A little more complex to set up, but it’s far easier to get working again if things go south: simply unplug the D-Link and plug it back in. Much better for the wife, whom sometimes has to deal with this crap when I’m out of town.

Now I think DD-WRT (micro) can also be configured in this manner as well, but I’ll save the router for someplace that actually needs it. This particular Frankenstein router I’ve created seems to be serving it’s purpose well.

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