Turning an Old Router Into a New Wireless Access Point

Eventually we all end up with an extra router whether it is because your old router micro stutters or like me you get married and have two of everything. Whatever the reason don't let an extra router sit idly or worse rot in the local dump. This post will show how to setup a Linksys (Cisco) wireless router as a wireless access point for your home network.

What is a Wireless Access Point and Why Should I Care?

A access point can eliminate that weak or dead wireless spot in your house. This results in better speeds in those areas that previously had weak signal strength. A wireless access point does this by acting as a second (or third, fourth, etc..) point where your wireless network is broadcast from. It does not require a new connection to your internet provider rather it repeats the broadcast from your existing router.

You can download an open source router firmware to configure your router as an access point some builds even have a wireless repeater option. However, if you have a router that isn't supported by one of these firmware mods or you are not comfortable flashing the firmware in your old router there is a built in method.

What You Need

  • Primary Router (your newer better router)
  • Access Point (your older router)
  • Ethernet Cable

Note: Some newer routers come with an access point mode, if your router has this mode you don't need this guide.

Router Setup

  1. Find the MAC address of your Access Point (old router). You can find the MAC address on the router usually the underside or by logging into the router.
  2. Log into your primary router and add the MAC address to the DHCP reservation (pick an IP address e.g. 192.168.1.xxx where xxx is a number chosen by you between 001 and 256)
  3. Write down the wireless SSID and the encryption strength and password
  4. Change the wireless channel to either channel 1 or 11

Access Point Setup

Set the access point IP address and disable DHCP service

Set the security level and password

Set the SSID and channel.

  1. Connect a PC to the access point via Ethernet cable.
  2. Log into the access point and change the router IP address to the address you chose in step 2 of the router setup.
  3. Disable DHCP service
  4. Change the wireless encryption strength to match the primary router (probably WPA2)
  5. Change the access point wireless password to be the same as the primary router password (what you wrote down in step 3 of the router setup)
  6. Change the wireless SSID to match the primary router SSID
  7. Change the wireless channel to either channel 1 or 11 (the opposite of what you chose in step 4 of the router setup)

 

 

Optional Parts

Using the wireless repeater option is the easiest method to extend your network range. However the problem with this method is you have to place the access point where it gets a strong signal from your primary router. Otherwise you end up creating a "slow" portion of your wireless network. The best way to maximize the speed and area of your wireless network is to run an Ethernet cable from you primary router to the access point. This is usually an issue because the primary router is often on the other side of your house. I solved this problem by using Ethernet over power line adapters. This option requires an extra Ethernet cable. Installation is simple just plug an Ethernet cable from each router (or access point) into the power line adapter and plug the powerline adapter into the wall. That is it! it is literally plug and play.