Giving an old wireless router (WRT54G) a new life

Over the holiday break, I had some spare time to work on projects around the house.  One of the projects was to give my old wireless router (WRT54G) a new life as a repeater.

I can't say enough about my current wireless router, an Almond+ by Securifi, it works great, it's easy to use and has tons of automation features.  However, it's located at the front of my house and coverage isn't great at the back of my yard.  To solve my 1st world problem, I reconfigured my old WRT54G.

Here's a couple of things to keep in mind during the process:

  • It's good to have separate internet access throughout the process so that if you have to look anything up, you can find a solution quickly.  My smartphone did the trick for me.
  • Be patient, after restarting the WRT54G sometimes the web interface (LuCi) and SSH access were slow to come up (connection lost message, etc...).  Wait a minute and try again
To start, I dusted off my WRT54G and got to work.  I checked out openwrt, and found my router in the OpenWRT Table of Hardware (make sure you pay attention to version numbers listed on the bottom of your router) and read the WRT54G device page.  It's a good idea to read the entire page, but really the most important section is Installing OpenWRT

I installed backfire v10.03.1 brcm-2.4 on my v3 router.  It was simple to follow their steps, and I had no problems at all.

Next, because I wanted to extend my existing WLAN, I configured the router to be a wireless client bridge (bridgedclient mode).  You can find the recipe here.

The most complicated part of the process was configuring the router for my WLAN.  Here are a couple of notes to help:
  • You'll need a telnet client and/or SSH client installed on the computer you're using to access the router and configure it
  • The router is running Linux, so I used vi (vi cheat sheet) to edit the files, which is a text editor and is a bit confusing if you're not familiar with it
  • All the configuration files are in /etc/config/
  • The default IP address of the WRT54G is in /etc/config/network, and was set to so I had to first change my laptop's IP to the same network so that I could access the router (via a wired Ethernet connection).
  • To change my laptop's IP:
    • Disable DHCP (control panel -> network connections -> lan connection properties -> TCP/IP v4 properties, set the IP to and default gateway to
  • Make sure re-enable DHCP on your laptop so that you can access the WRT54G after it is restarted

So that I don't forget the static IP of my WRT54G, I wrote it on the bottom of the device.  Then I plugged it in near the back of my house, and now I have extended WLAN coverage.

No comments: