Friday, March 12, 2010

Expanding a Wireless Network: hooking up a Linksys WRE54G expander to a Netgear DG834G router

This isn't quite my usual kind of post, but it caused me so much hassle (mostly due to the sad state of the Linksys documentation) that I wanted to post the steps in the hope that it'll help others.

We were getting dead spots in our home wirelesss network (chiefly the sofa where we like to watch streaming movies on the laptop), so I bought a Linksys WRE54G expander for downstairs. This is an actual access point that connects to and extends a wireless network, as opposed to a booster antenna that you plug into your wireless router (note that not all wireless routers can take an external antenna).

In theory, hooking this up to our Netgear DG834G, which is a combined DSL moden and wireless router, should be pretty simple; you just get the WRE54G to join the wired network so that you can configure it with the access credentials for the wireless network, then plug it into an outlet in the area where you want to expand your wireless coverage. The difficulty came when the WRE54G documentation didn't explain anything about how to connect it if it can't join the existing wireless network right away without any configuration.

Barra's post on the Linksys forum was a big help here. These are the steps I took:
  1. Reset the expander for about 1 minute.
  2. Get the MAC address from the bottom of the WRE54G and add it to your router's DHCP setup so that the expander gets the IP address (the third number of the IP address depends on your network's existing IP range; Linksys defaults to 192.168.1.x while Netgear uses 192.168.0.x)
  3. Connect the Ethernet cable that comes with the WRE54G to the expander and the other end to the ethernet port on a computer with a working display.
  4. Manually set the TCP/IP properties on the computer to: IP; subnet mask; Gateway (the third number of the IP address depends on your network's existing IP range as above)
  5. Open a browser on the computer and type (the IP address you gave to the expander)
  6. Leave the user name blank and type password "admin" to log on to the expander.
  7. Set wireless channel, SSID and security the same as on the router; set mode to Mixed.
  8. Set subnet mask to and gateway to (the IP address of the router)
  9. Save all changes in the expander setup.
  10. After making all changes, reset your PC to use DHCP and plug it back into the router if necessary.
  11. Go to the DG834G's management web page and, under Advanced Wireless Settings, check the box for Enable Wireless Bridging and Repeating, select the Repeater with Wireless Client Association radio button, and enter the MAC address of the expander under Remote MAC Address 1. (Thanks to Ben Carpenter for this step).
  12. Save the router changes.
  13. Locate the WRE-54G in an outlet somewhere near the router to begin with. You should see both lights on the expander turn blue, and you should be able to see the WRE54G in thel ist of attached devices on your router's management page. You should also be able to get to the expander's setup page from any computer on your network, at
  14. If that all works, you should be good to unplug the expander and relocate it where you want to expand the wireless coverage.
The WRE54G is working really nicely for us now - but what a kerfuffle to set it up !