Monday, 9 December 2013

Turn a router to an access point/switch


Current situation and what the client need

  • Network interconnected.
  • Connections to his/her new second office
  • Second office is 35meters away
  • On a budget
  • Have a spare router (home) laying around
  • Wireless Access from his laptop

Options to Achieve the objectives

In order to setup a new connection for the client's new office, it is best to install either a switch or a router to keep the cost down as much as possible. Alternatively, the client can get a Internet Service Provider (ISP) to install a new line however because the client is on a budget the best options are suggested below, it may require a computer technician or follow the guides below I have provided.

Acquire a wireless switch - Easy level
Switches are the easiest device for linking local devices for interconnection, what most people called this action is "Plug and Play". 



Use the spare router - Medium level
Understanding of networking - IP addressing and DHCP
Router's configuration

Use Cat5e network cable to connect the main router to another router or a switch. Cat5e can provides a good length of 100meters without losing signals and keeping a low cost.

To keep it within the budget, my advice is to use the spare router that the client has, but first thing you need to do is inspect the capabilities of the router and ask yourself some questions such as:
  • Does it even work? 
  • Does it support wireless?  
  • Support Wireless standards2.4GHz / 5GHz? 
  • Enough switch ports? (I would strongly advise if you have more computers needs to be setup in the new office then go for a switch solution as (home) router typically has limited switch ports up to 4.
After answering those questions, you should have a better idea of which networking equipment you should go for, router or switch.

In this exercise, I will be going to use a router to expand the current network.

Here is what we are going to do and why we doing it?

Pre-configure the second router to the right settings.
Get it setup - wire your computer/laptop to the router with a Cat5e network cable.


Configure router setting -

Router's IP Address - In order to allow the second router to communicate with the existing network 192.168.2.x, the second router must have the same IP address e.g. set it to 192.168.2.254 anything from range 1-254, however to be in the safe side you might want to check the main router's DHCP IP address pool setting, because you do not want to overlaps the IP address that has been reserved and get IP conflicts on the network.


Different manufacture routers have different admin setup page, and to set a static IP address for the router. First get on to the admin page by typing the router's IP address on a browser and it should brings up the admin page to allow you to enter username and password to login, if you doesn't know how to do that and here is a quick guide using Command Prompt (CMD) for networking. For router's login admin details, it usually have a sticker stuck under bottom of the router or back of it.

Look for basic setup tab, and then the router should give you plenty settings to change but look for LAN/Internal TCP/IP configuration. Now you will probably can see that the existing IP address for the router is what you have just found from command prompt router's IP investigation and use it to access the router admin page. Now, change the router's IP address to the main network's IP and click apply to save the change. The router should go off and come back up.

The page you are currently on might not be responding anymore, this is a hint that you might on a different network like you have a different network IP address setup to your network interface. Option 1: Disable/Enable your network interface. Option 2: DHCP on the router you are connected to has been disabled and therefore your computer didn't get an IP, to solve this simply set a static IP address with the correct network address to your network interface.

 - Setup Wireless and configure the right settings

 What settings we are changing in this section here are :
  • Wireless Access Point SSID
  • Security - Password
  • Make sure the Wireless is turned on
I couldn't provide an exact guide of how to setup wireless access, but this link here provides a brief and rough idea of step by step guide of how to do it. By completing this step, wireless access should be ready to go.

 - Disable DHCP service on router


 DHCP settings should be on the same page as the Router's IP address page. In order to have DHCP service disabled, simply un-tick the tick box and click Apply to save the changes.


The reason of this is the router should no longer providing IP address to whoever its connected to the router. By having DHCP off the router can simply acting like a switch and when the router connected to another router, it will just switch those traffics from the main to end device and turns in to an Access Point (AP) for both wired and wireless to the main.

 - Connect main and second router up with Cat5e to the switch port

Finally, a physical activity and final step. The below diagram should give you a good clue of where cabling goes on the spare router 2.
AP connection detail 
Moreover, the below diagram illustrate the whole wiring how modem and the routers are connected.
 
The setup is now complete, but there is always a last step to perform is testing. To test it, you can connect a laptop via wireless connection or wire connection. Either way the laptop should be getting an IP address from the network, from router one. Simply do some CMD ping test and internet browsing to ensure you have a connections to a LAN and WAN.

Summary

I have performed this job and supported someone over a phone/messaging and I had to remotely desktop (LogMeIn) someone's computer in China to tell them what to do, the problem have taken me two hours after switching from phone conversation to a classic notepad messaging on the same screen.

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