Posts Tagged ‘Wireless bridge’

Using Netgear WGT624v3 as a Wireless Bridge

June 8, 2009

I love repurposing old equipment to save buying expensive new gear. One of the things that has always bugged me is why on earth wireless bridges cost so much, when wireless routers are so cheaply available?

If you have ethernet-enabled equipment you want to connect to your wireless network (e.g. games consoles, Slingboxes, DVR’s etc), a better option than buying a dedicated wireless bridge (or “wireless gaming adapter”) for a premium price is to buy a cheap router or access point that can be configured to operate as a wireless bridge.

(Another benefit is that dedicated adapters often only support a single ethernet device; a reconfigured router may support many!)

This was the option I took when I wanted to get my original-flavour Xbox hooked up to the internet. I started out with a D-Link DWL900AP+ many years ago, but that was only a wireless ‘b’ device and therefore no good for video streaming. When I found out that the Netgear WGT624v3 could be configured as a wireless bridge, I jumped at the chance to get one.

It took some time to get working – hey, nothing ever comes easily where computers are concerned, does it? But eventually, I had the 624 up and running in client mode, providing my Xbox with a wireless connection!

I had, however, been unable to get wireless bridge mode working. I gave up on it in the end, since client mode served my needs. It had one slight issue – if left idle the 624 would eventually lose the connection, and require rebooting. This wasn’t really a problem for me – I only ever required the connection when streaming to my Xbox, so I would just switch the 624 on when I wanted to use it, and leave it off most of the time.

That was fine until I acquired a Slingbox, anyway. The idea of mobile TV on my iPhone, with full control of my DVR, was something I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, the 624 in client mode just couldn’t cope, for the following reasons:

1. Even with the Slingbox staying online, the 624 would still eventually lose connection to the network. That makes client mode useless for a device that requires a constant connection.

2. With the Slingbox online, my Xbox couldn’t get a connection, and vice versa. It turns out that in client mode, only a single device can be served by the 624.

So, it became obvious that if I was to achieve my aim, I was going to have to revisit the 624 configuration process and get bridge mode working. From my previous research, I knew it was possible – I had seen posts by several people who were successfully connecting multiple devices to their 624’s. I had to figure out why bridge mode wasn’t working for me.

Trawling through the thread on the Netgear forums once again, I eventually stumbled upon a post that put me on the right track. Previously, the anecdotal evidence had been that the command set remoteWbr APS_MAC_ADDRESS was required; however, any attempt to apply this command failed, with an “invalid parameter” error. cameo91’s post correctly gave the command as add remoteWbr APS_MAC_ADDRESS instead. Following the directions from cameo91’s post, the WGT624 accepted the input happily!

The next step was to get my router (a Netgear DG834G) talking to the 624 in WDS mode. Fortunately, I knew this was possible – I had seen on the Netgear forums that recent revisions of the DG834G firmware had added WDS support. I also found this guide which confirmed that my router would function as I required it to in WDS mode, along with instructions on how to enable it.

Now I have it all set up, the Xbox and Slingbox both happily coexist attached to the 624 simultaneously. Also, I haven’t seen it drop the connection yet – it seems bridge mode may be more reliable than client mode, which is a positive reason for using it even if you’re not connecting more than one device to the 624.

I thought it might be useful to others who wanted to get their WGT624’s up and running in bridge mode if I made a few notes on the process. Since BeatJunkie’s original tutorial is fairly well written and organised in numbered sections, I’ve decided to make some easily referred to annotations rather than reproduce the whole thing.

Section 3: If you’ve been through this process before with the WGT624 (e.g. had it running in client mode), you may well have turned off DHCP in its settings. If you then have trouble establishing a connection to the WGT624 on subsequent reconfiguration attempts, there are a few possible solutions you can try.

If you disconnect your PC from your router, you will have problems as your IP settings will be lost, and you won’t be able to connect directly to anything. So directly connecting your PC to the 624 via LAN cable may not be an option, unless you have two network ports, or can connect to your router wirelessly (do you have a USB wireless adapter lying around? This worked for me).

Connecting the 624 to the router via LAN cable may also work.

The tutorial states that the 624 must be connected via LAN cable – however, on my final attempt at configuring bridge mode, I could not connect via cable for love nor money. I tried all the methods which had worked for me previously with no success. Finally, I decided to try it via wireless, just for the sake of it – and to my surprise, it worked! So, be prepared to try everything – and don’t give up if it appears hopeless.

Section 4: I believe you need to turn off DHCP on the WGT624 as well as entering the SSID and encryption settings. You don’t want two devices trying to provide IP addresses for your network – the router should be doing all that.

Section 14: I’m not sure if the set remoteAP command is still required, but it doesn’t seem to hurt. After that, enter add remoteWbr APS_MAC_ADDRESS in the same manner.

Section 15: Instead of set oper sta, enter set oper wbr. Following that, you must also enter set WDS enable.

Note: a couple of useful commands you can type are help (which lists all the commands you can enter) and get config (which lists the current configuration – although for some reason, get config and get WDS report different statuses for the WDS setting.)

Now you’re done with setting up the WGT624, you just have to enable WDS on your router. Obviously this will very by model and manufacturer. If your router doesn’t support WDS, check to see if there is a firmware update that adds it. I will provide some notes on enabling WDS support on the DG834G.

Firstly, check if you already have the option – login to your DG834G, and look down the left hand side for an Advanced Wireless Settings section. (I’ve been burned before when upgrading firmware just to have the latest version, and finding key features broken by the “update” – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is my motto now!) If you don’t have Advanced Wireless Settings, you’re going to have to upgrade.

Head over to Netgear’s site, and find the downloads section for your model (I won’t link to it as there are different versions of the DG834G, and if I linked you to the wrong one it could be disastrous!). Download the latest firmware, unzip it (if necessary) and follow the instructions on Netgear’s site for upgrading the firmware.

After the DG834G finishes upgrading itself, log out of the router configuration page. I spent AGES hunting for the Advanced Wireless Settings section… it doesn’t show up unless you refresh the admin panel. Colour me embarrassed. When you log back in, you should see the Advanced Wireless Settings section, so click on it.

Select Enable Wireless Bridging and Repeating, then Repeater with Wireless Client Association. Enter the MAC address of your WGT624 in the table, then apply the settings. Note: if your settings vanish and are not saved, reboot the router then try again – although it supposedly reboots after the firmware upgrade, I found I had to reboot it again before the WDS settings page worked!

Once you’ve done this, your WGT624 and anything connected to it should appear in the Attached Devices section of your DG834G. You’re done!