Last week, my old wireless router died on me. Actually the power supply stopped working. It was a topcom router, I bought at aldi, for just under 80€ a little more than three years ago. So the warranty had only just expired for a couple of months. It had been acting strang lately, losing dns-caches and disconnecting wired clients, for no obvious reason. I was still very happy with it. It was cheap, fast (108Mbps wireless), secure and reliable. It came with a wifi-usb key too, which I rarely used. If someone has a spare 5.0V DC 2.0A power supply, just let me know 🙂 I used to experiment a lot with that little router. Once I made a parabolic signal director for it, boosting its range to up to 300m.
So last week, I searched for a solution. I wanted a cheap, but comprehensive solution. Something I could use to play with a bit, without spending too much money. I started reading some reviews, and found that the Linksys WRT54GL is a favourite among open source firmware enthousiasts. I found that it looked ugly and was more expensive than the WRT54G2. I found that the WRT54G2 too is supported by DD-WRT, a fully featured open source firmware. So I ordered it from routershop.nl, and two days later, yesterday, it arrived by mail.
I played with it a bit, but found that out of the box, the possibilities for configuration are rather limited. So I flahed it with the new firmware. This page details the process, which is actually rather painless. There were only two (known) problems I encountered. The first is that the tftp program for sending the new firmware to the device didn’t work under windows Vista. This was not a problem for me, I just booted into XP and everything worked as described. The second problem was that after setting a new password, I couldn’t save any of the settings I wanted to change. I did the 30/30/30 reset, which means pressing the reset button for 90 seconds, while killing and restoring the power to the device after half a minute. After that I was able to configure the device to my liking.
I was very impressed with the possibilities the DD-WRT firmware opens for such a cheap device.
In a next post, I will describe the network topology I realized with it. I used to need an extra network-switch to give an external IP to my telenet digibox/digicorder.