Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A new $600 router in my back yard

Wow, this is my first post in a long, long time.  My family and I are finally settled into the parsonage at our Raleigh church home, getting things unpacked and settling the kids into school…their first time in North American schools.  The only drawback to our living arrangements has been the lack of internet access.  The church has a good DSL connection, but the problem was how to get that to the back of the property.

Several years ago the church built a “multi-purpose building” aka gym and during that process they laid down underground conduit to connect all the buildings.  So this week the youth pastor and I have been pulling CAT5 network cable and tonight we finally had internet in our home at long last.

The final piece was the wireless connection between the Education Building and our home, which is across the parking lot.  I thought about a number of options, including wireless repeaters, signal boosters and bridges.  In the end, I thought it would be easiest to put an access point in the Ed Building and hope I could get a solid signal at my house.

The secret to the deal is an article I read on LifeHacker back in June.  It described how to turn a $60 router into a $600 router by replacing the firmware with DD-WRT firmware.  After a little shopping around I found a Linksys WRT54G on sale for $49.99 and bit the snatched one up.

Because the 54G has a lot less memory than others in the series I had to use the “micro” version of the firmware found at the Bitsum Tech Wiki along with installation instructions.

The DD-WRT firmware upgrade is fantastic.  Among the many awesome things it allows you to do is to control the radio's power.  By default the Linksys is set to 28mW.  The DD-WRT allows you to change that all the way up to 251mW.  I didn’t try it but I think if you set your transmit power to 251mW the magic smoke would promptly leak out leaving you with a bricked router.  I set the power at the suggested 70mW and left it alone.

So far I’m really excited about the solid performance and tweaking I’m able to do.  I’d really recommend this for anyone who is trying to reach into those far corners of their home or yard.  All the other stuff is just a bonus.


Dr. D's Diagnosis said...

OK. This post proves beyond all reasonable doubt that you are more geeky than I am . . . while I am thinking about this, I guess I am a geek in reversal since I use Apple and you don't generally have to know anything about computers to get a Mac to work properly, but I digress. I can't wait until you come back a broadcast that kind of power across Gjilane! Missing you, D

Trent said...

Hey Jeff! can I use this blog in my Culture and Communication class? I mean this is a perfect example of not knowing what the heck you just said.

Glad to see you back.