wireless access point configuration

How to convert your old WiFi router into an Access Point – This works!

I’ve changed so many houses in the past 10 years. In the process, I had to change quite a number of internet service providers and broadband technologies. From cable and ADSL to the latest awesome fiber connectivity. Heck, I ended up collecting all the routers with/without integrated modems. I bought most of them for under $30 (~INR 1700), and didn’t get rid of them as I thought one of them might be useful at a later time (at a different house, maybe!).

Now that I’m in a 2000 square feet house, the current D-Link dual-channel router wasn’t able to cope-up. I have my small, home office setup at the farthest corner of this house. I was getting 1.6 Mbps throughput in this corner. The actual throughput is close to 50 Mbps when I’m closer to the D-Link router.

From 1.6 Mbps to 40+ Mbps

There are tons of articles on the internet on how to improve WiFi range, how to setup range extenders, repeaters and Access Points (AP). Sometimes, too many is too much. More so, if they’re not driving you to getting results.

I connected all the my unused routers, one by one, and assessed their ‘advanced wireless’ capabilities. I had a mixed bag of D-Link, NETGEAR and TP-Link routers. I was leaning towards my NETGEAR WNR614 as it’s performance has always been consistent in the past.

Setting up the Access Point (AP)

It’s quite a simple procedure. Just these steps, on most routers:

Step 1: Power up and login to the router you want to setup as AP (the IP address, and login info should be pasted across on the backside of the router)

Step 2: Setup the SSID, WPA-2 password details, and save

Step 3: Disable DHCP

Step 4: Set a new IP to the AP. Your base router (the one that’s connected to the internet now) will have the DHCP IP address range enabled (99.99%). Give the AP router an address just outside this range.

Example:

Base router IP range: 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.20

Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

AP router IP could be: 192.168.1.21. Subnet mask should be same as the base router

Step 5: Reboot AP and connect a LAN cable from the base router LAN port to the AP router LAN port (NOT WAN port)

Step 6: Connect to your AP, and check internet speed.

Did it work?

Yes, and NO! Yes, because, I was able to connect to the internet. And NO, because the throughput was no better on my NETGEAR (was getting 2 Mpbs). I repeated this with my D-Link 2750U ADSL router, and it didn’t even connect.

Finally, I connected the very old TP-LINK TD-W8151N. When I dug into its wireless interface setup, I was surprised to find the option to enable the device as AP!

TP-LINK access point settings

This is how the LAN is setup (base router IP range is 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.111):

LAN access point settings

And, it worked!

Repeated the aforementioned steps, and this is what I get now:

WiFi access point throughput

Key learning

Always buy a good router with AP and/or wireless repeater functionality – probably with 9dBi antennas.

Though this TP-LINK router is only a 150 Mbps, 3dBi antenna, it’s serving the purpose for now. However, I’m a minimalist, and would want a single device to be capable of providing good throughput, across 2000-2500 sq.ft area.

Why not go for a wireless repeater?

Because, most commercially available repeaters will chop-off the available bandwidth by 50%. I didn’t want to invest another $30 for a repeater, only to reduce the bandwidth. I think I’ll live with this working AP setup for now.

Will be glad to know if this worked for you.

Let me know if your router has a dedicated AP mode. What other routers in the $30 range come with this functionality? Most importantly, are there repeaters that doesn’t reduce the bandwidth?

Your thoughts?