Networking :: HOWTO: Wireless Router into Wireless AP (bridge)

Taken from

This article will show you how to use a wireless router as a wireless access point.  Wait, you might say, isn't a wireless router more advanced than a wireless access point and wouldn't that be taking a step backwards?  That's true in some sense, a wireless router has more functionality than a wireless access point, but sometimes you only need an access point.

So why not just buy a wireless access point instead of using a wireless router?

   * Cost.  Wireless routers are currently much less expensive than wireless access points.  This is rather counter intuitive.  You would think that since a router is more complicated than an access point, it would be more expensive.  But wireless routers are cheaper because manufacturers are producing many different models of routers and very few access points.  This drives the price of routers down and access points up.  For example, today when I went to the local Fry's Electronics, I saw a Netgear wireless router for $19.99 after rebates.  A wireless access point by Linksys cost $149!  If you are patient, you can get a wireless router for very cheap, although you may have to deal with rebates.  Rebates suck but they're better than paying $149 for a wireless access point.
   * By having a separate router and access point, you make your network more modular.  For example, I currently have a wired router with a 802.11b wireless router attached as an access point.  If I want to upgrade to 802.11g, I can just replace the B unit with a G unit.

Okay, fine, so why not replace your existing wired router with a wireless router?

   * If you have an existing home network with a router installed, you might not want to change the router since the advanced functions of port forwarding and loopback already work on your existing router and might be different on the wireless router.  Also, the router feature sets may be different.
   * The wireless router might not have enough LAN network ports for your network.  Most wireless routers have 4 ports or less while wired routers can have 8 ports or more.

I know that this scenario is not for everyone.  If you are starting from scratch and don't have any router at all yet, it would make sense to just use a wireless router as a wireless router.  This article is more for people who have an existing network to which they would like to add wireless functionality.

Here's how to do it:

  1. First thing, plug in the power to the wireless router, but do not connect it to your network yet.

  2. Attach one computer using a category 5 network cable to one of the wireless router's LAN ports.  Make sure this computer is set to automatically receive a IP address from the wireless router's DHCP server.

  3. Login to the wireless router using the computer that is connected to it.  Now that we're in the router configuration, we can make the changes we need to turn this wireless router into a wireless access point.

  4. You can leave the WAN configuration in the wireless router completely empty.  The WAN part of the wireless router won't be used when it is being used as a wireless access point.

  5. Set the LAN IP address of the wireless router so it is compatible with your existing network.  For example, if your current network uses the 192.168.1.x network, then make sure the wireless router is on the same network.  Different companies use different LAN numbers such as 192.168.0.x or 192.168.2.x.  We need the wireless router to function on the existing network.  Give it an IP address that is easy to remember.  For example, if your current wired router is, then you can give the wireless router which is only one number away from the wired router number (which you probably already know by heart).

  6. Turn off the DHCP server on the wireless router.  There can only be one DHCP server on your network, and it should be the DHCP server on your wired router, not the wireless router.

  7. Implement the same wireless security settings as detailed in this article: How to Secure Your Wireless Network.  You want to keep your wireless network as safe as possible.

  8. Now that your wireless router uses the same IP numbering scheme and has the DHCP server turned off, it is basically a wireless access point.  We have to hook it up to our existing network.  You do this by connecting a Category 5 cable between the LAN port of your existing router / network to the LAN port of your new wireless access point. Do not connect it to the WAN port of the wireless access point.  Depending on your router / access point manufacturer, you may need to use a crossover cable instead of a standard straight through cable.  On my Linksys 802.11b wireless router turned wireless access point, I use a straight through cable without any problems.  You may need to experiment with this.

There you have it.  You added wireless capabilities to your existing wired network by using a wireless router as a wireless access point.

Hope that helps someone out there

This is how I have my wireless hooked into my green...noone around me is close enough to intercept my WiFi so I have 64bit encryption engaged..but it hasnt failed me not a single time yet


AwPhuch, I know this scenario works very well since you are using a Smoothie. I, for one, think a plug here for Smoothwall would be prudent. Using the scenario above, I have done the same thing. I am using a 233Mhz box with 228Mb ram, 2Gb hdd, for a Smoothwall firewall with Red, Orange, Green. I have a 24 port hub plugged into Green, a 4 port hub in Orange, with Red being broadband cable access. I have a Linksys wireless router plugged into the 24 port hub attached to Green. However, I've used the wireless router as a router and an AP (access point). I have found that both work well for me. I have chosen to go with using the Linksys as a wireless router because I want any and all wireless users to be on a separate network segment and any hardwired machines on their own segment. Have implemented MAC address access control on the Linksys + WEP. The interesting part is that any machines using wireless are NAT'd before going thru the Smoothwall, and then NAT'd again upon leaving the Smoothwall. This gave opprotunity to trouble shoot VPN connectivity when wireless, but was very easily overcome when I realized the double NAT'ing thing. On the Orange DMZ sits my music/web/ftp/ssh server, 199Hmz 128Mb ram 1 4Gb and 1 20Gb hdd running DSL 1.5. It's a nice touch, and can be accessed from anywhere internal or external and makes an excellent addition for gathering music/files/iso's/etc from the web but staying safely on the DMZ until I am ready to transfer it to the inside and can be done remotely.

Okay, I'll get off my shamelss plug soap box. Just wanted to give another perspective and I highly encourage anyone who just happens to have some old hardware sitting around that is not already running DSL to give Smoothwall a shot and then go find themselves a cheap Linksys.

Yes I use SmoothWall Express 2.0 as my choice of firewall products...

I didnt mean this to be exclusively for could actually made DSL into a router...all be it, a shell only manual config router..but its possible

I just posted this up because not many people out there know you can create a "simple" wireless AP or hub s/ wireless I posted it took me 9 min to find this page.  If it takes me less than 5 to find anything on the internet..then its hard to find...

Not to mention...all those people who have trouble getting a Wifi pci card working..well all you gotta do is get a working nic (easy enuff) and kapow..just take a cheapo WiFi router and convert to a AP and bamo...instant wireless capabilities (allthough you have to use cables and another power plug)


Good post.

I know this will work with Linksys products because I'm doing it. I have a Linksys wired router in one part of the house with a wire going to a Linksys wireless-B router in another area.  I use the wired ports for speed and the wireless connection for convienence.  

I think there was a post on the Linksys site on how to do it but I'm pretty sure they (Linksys) recommended against it. The only problem I could see would be leaving both routers with 'DHCP server' turned on.

Maybe it's more common then I thought....


REALLY interesting post.  Thanks for the link to Smooth Firewall, don't need it today, but might in the future.  

AwPhuch, Followed the first part OK (leave the wired router in place etc.).  Intrigued, but a bit lost on your later comment:
...all those people who have trouble getting a Wifi pci card working..well all you gotta do is get a working nic (easy enuff) and kapow..just take a cheapo WiFi router and convert to a AP and bamo...instant wireless capabilities

Can you explain further?  I've got two linux boxes that are in a second room with intermittently successful wireless access to the router in another room.  Can I just buy a second wireless router, hook these two up to it (wired), have the router find the other router and get an IP address?  Been frustrated enough, too cheap to buy new cards (after all half the fun is making it work without any dough) that I've almost given up and run network cable through the attic.    

Please forgive if this is completely obvious!

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