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Old 03-20-2010, 05:56 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Which do you prefer: OpenWRT, DD-WRT or Tomato?

Hi -

My main wireless is an ActionTek DSL modem: it handles my incoming DSL, all my DHCP and DDNS, and it's a good Wifi base station throughout the house. Life is Good.

I want wired access to a desktop PC upstairs: I tried a USB wireless stick, and it just isn't cutting it. I'm hoping I can use an old WRT54G wireless router, install some hew firmware, and use it as a wireless access point. I would like to plug the desktop into the WRT54G (cabled), have the WRT54G get a DHCP address and register the desktop's hostname in DDNS (wireless), and have everything work.

Q: Is "wireless access point" the correct term here?

Q: Should I go with OpenWRT (suggested in a previous post: looks very promising), DD-WRT, or Tomato?

Any feedback, suggestions or advice would be appreciated!
Thanx in advance .. PSM

Last edited by paulsm4; 03-20-2010 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 03-20-2010, 06:13 PM   #2
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Wait, if you want wired access, what's the point of adding another WAP?
Old 03-20-2010, 09:10 PM   #3
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Q: Wait, if you want wired access, what's the point of adding another WAP?
Good question. I bought a DLink USB wireless stick - and it stinks. At this point, I'm reluctant to consider *any* other USB wireless for my laptop. And I don't have any PCI slots to spare.

But my original questions remain. Assuming I want wireless-to-cabled for my upstairs desktop (I do), and assuming my WRT54G hardware might be a good way to accomplish this:

1. Is "wireless access point" the correct terminology? "Wireless Bridge"? "Wireless Repeater"?

2. Which of OpenWRT, DD-WRT, or Tomato have any of you had the best experiences with?

Any/all suggestions, experiences, tips and wisdom are appreciated!

Thanx in advance .. PSM

This link sounds the most promising so far: OpenWRT Bridged Client

Last edited by paulsm4; 03-20-2010 at 11:50 PM.
Old 03-21-2010, 02:40 AM   #4
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I've used both DD-WRT as well was OpenWRT on a few different devices. They both work very well, and would choose OpenWRT over DD-WRT mainly because I don't need a GUI (or want) to configure the device. Once one gets used to the syntax involved with the files found in /etc/config, it's pretty simple. Well, if you have a basic understanding of TCP/IP, firewalls and routers, that is.

I noticed something running on port 80 of an access point I installed OpenWRT on today. I didn't bother checking it out, and it will be disabled as soon as I install it as the main AP here at home.

I received a Ubiquiti NanoStation2 today that appears it will do well. Using the instructions found here, I had OpenWRT (Backfire 10.03 Beta) installed on it within minutes. I was only using the GUI to update the firmware that came with the device, which I did not bother to check out beyond finding the firmware update page.

I then proceeded to lock myself out of the device as I forgot to add access for ssh after I reconfigured the network. tftp'ed the image to it at that point and everything was good. There is only one ethernet port on this device, and it's firewalled by the default config. As I recall, the first time the device boots on a OpenWRT install, it disables the firewall and enables telnet. Telnet is disabled after you change your password, but I'm not sure if that is what also enables the firewall, or if that's merely the result of the firstboot script. Either way, keep that in mind if you do decide to use OpenWRT.

The NanoStation2 strikes me as an excellent value. In some testing I've done with it thus far, the throughput is extremely high. I did some file transfers on it and found the throughput to be just a wee bit over 23Mb/sec, which is pretty impressive. That was with a damn near line of sight connection, however, and only 15 feet away, which is closer than it will be when installed, not to mention the signal will then be going through a floor at least. Here is a portion of an article I found on the Tech World site:

The fact is that real Wi-Fi speeds, measured in terms of file transfers, have always been slower than the claimed data rate. This is because headers, handshakes and other overhead take up a substantial amount of the available bandwidth. Here are the real file transfer speeds I measured with each class of WLAN product:

* 802.11b, nominally 11 Mbit/s, actual throughput 4.5Mbit/s
* 802.11g, nominally 54 Mbit/s, actual throughput 18 Mbit/s
* Boosted G, nominally 108 Mbit/s or 125 Mbit/s, actual throughput 22 to 24 Mbit/s
I downloaded a ~600 meg file, and was getting 23.2Mb/sec throughput. The client system was using a Linksys WUSB54GC adapter, which has no external antenna at all.

Still, when doing scans from another system that has a 5dBi antenna on it, I was still getting a 100% signal going through two fairly thick walls at somewhere around 10 meters away.

I also have OpenWRT (Kamikaze 8.09) installed on a Belkin F5D8230-4 wireless router that works well, but nothing like that NanoStation2. That particular router is a pre-N device, although I pulled the miniPCI card as OpenWRT did not have a driver for it, and I didn't feel like screwing around with the one available for it, either. I installed a Broadcom 4312 card, which seemed to work well enough. Last week I had a 9dBi rubber duck antenna lying around with no particular use, so I took two Ufl to RP-TNC adapters I had, drilled two holes in the top of the router and ordered another antenna. It came in yesterday, and I'm not particularly impressed with the performance of the device, although it's definitely better than it was. The NanoStation2 has considerably higher output, which is one of the reasons, as it has dual 10dBi antennas built into it. When the Belkin router was placed where I was getting a 100% signal from the NanoStation, it was at 70%-75%. Actually, that isn't bad at all I suppose.

I'll probably buy a higher output Atheros or Broadcom card for it and see how it performs then. Seeing the cost of the antennas and adapters for that router ran somewhere around $60, it's not the most cost effective way of going about things. A good high power card will be another $60.

I also have a Buffalo WLI2-TX1-G54 wireless bridge running DD-WRT. It performs incredibly well considering it does not even have an external antenna on it at all. I would have put OpenWRT on it, but it simply would not function correctly. I attempted to get it to work for quite a while, actually. I'll be pulling it when I install the NanoStation2, so I'll slap a serial port on it, and check out what OpenWRT is doing once I get a chance. With DD-WRT, at somewhere around 15 meters where the signal is going through a floor and probably a wall at ~30 deg angle, I pull 75%-80% signal strength.

I seem to recall DD-WRT is more restrictive with regard to configuration options than OpenWRT. When I started wandering off the beaten track, it wouldn't cooperate. I remember it was using NVRAM for configuration, whereas OpenWRT does not use it now, or at least not since Kamikaze as I am aware for a main configuration utility. It is utilizing UCI (Unified Configuration Interface) which is far better as far as I am concerned. I don't think the configuration interfaces themselves are the reason for DD-WRT being more restrictive, however.

I imagine that OpenWRT would perform well enough on the Linksys WRT54G router you have - maybe. Look at the OpenWRT WIKI page for WRT54G routers to determine if yours is one that is supported. Take note of this:

WRT54G v5, v5.1, v6, v7 and v8

This version has switched to a proprietary non-Linux OS (WikiPedia:VxWorks). It has less flash (2 MB) and less RAM (8 MB). These versions are NOT supported.

My Belkin F5D8230-4 has a 264MHz processor with 4 meg of flash, 16 meg of RAM, whereas my Buffalo WLI2-TX1-G54 has 125MHz/4M/16M. Try to find a router with 4M of flash (or more) -- 2M is possible, but leaves you with no options to install anything other than a very basic router package. You'll likely not have any useful tools like tcpdump available then as there is no space for them.

I wouldn't recommend a Belkin like the one I have for a first project. It wasn't easy to get OpenWRT installed and running on that thing. I do have to give it some credit from a hardware standpoint, however. It's the best built home router I've ever taken apart. The PCB has metal shielding that encases the whole thing, with easily removed covers. The miniPCI card that came with it was one of the massive ones, so I'm not limited to the typical cards that only fit in laptops. I should be able to use it for several more years if I'm so inclined -- if new wireless cards are released as miniPCI.

Oh -- something I thought I'd mention: for some odd reason my HTC Magic running Android does not work with the NanoStation2. I was able to connect wirelessly to the device with both Linux and OpenBSD systems, but that damn phone starts arping for itself once it gets a DHCP lease. There is a burst of throughput at connection, then arp requests. The only difference I can see right off hand between the NanoStation2 and my other wireless devices is that it uses an Atheros chipset as opposed to Broadcom on everything else I have. Could be the beta release of OpenWRT, but I've read this has happened to a number of people going back to the G1 handset.

Good luck with your project. I enjoy working on wireless devices, and particularly enjoy the ones that present a challenge. That NanoStation2 was actually too easy.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:04 AM   #5
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It's been a while since your post, so you may have already figured out a way to make it work for you, but this is what I did in a similar situation (if I understand it correctly).
I have a cable modem connected to a router that's running Tomato, set up as an access point. I have another router that's running Tomato as a wireless bridge, which is connected by cable to my computer.
I just had to set the SSID of both routers the same, and have the DHCP server running on the first router only. There haven't been any connection or reliability issues and I get a good solid connection with the routers about 85ft apart.
Fwiw, I ran DD-WRT a few years ago on the second router (directly connected to the cable modem, before I got the other router) and had some stability issues, but the current version has probably improved quite a bit.

Last edited by Piist; 04-15-2010 at 07:24 PM.
Old 10-24-2011, 12:43 PM   #6
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Answer: Tomato wireless client or bridge


I know this is an old thread, but I believe I actually know the answer so I'm responding...

I have more experience with Tomato than Open-WRT or DD-WRT, but with Tomato I have done exactly what I believe you are describing--namely I set up the Tomato router to connect wirelessly to another network. The Tomato router then functioned as a gateway for computers connected to it physically.

The Tomato router will not function as an access point, but rather as either a bridge or a client.

Once you install Tomato and have it running, login and go to Basic...Network...Wireless... and choose "Wireless Mode" either "client" or "bridge." "Client" makes your router the gateway. "Bridge" makes your router just a switch on the other network, all LAN devices below your Tomato router will be on the same set of IP's given out by the faraway non-Tomato wireless router. That's okay if you own the other router too.

SSID should be identical to the non-Tomato router. Start by setting security settings at zero. Once you get it working then start turning on your security.

I ran my setup without security on the top router. I know that's not safe but the Tomato router had a full NAT firewall running so I figured I would be okay in the network below Tomato.

One tip--when you first set up your Tomato router have it physically connected as a child of the other router. Then if something goes wonky with the wireless connection between them you can still login to the top router and change it. When you want to test the wireless connection you just unplug the ethernet cable.

I had a setup like this, at a distance of about 20 feet, from an open area through both walls of a bathroom to a small storage area where the Tomato router sat. There is probably some interference from lots of wires which run through those bathroom walls. At first I made no effort to make sure they had a clean "line of sight" connection (I didn't even move the top router the one foot it would have taken to clear one computer that obstructed the Tomato router). Below the Tomato router I had a full set of computers working, with four VOIP lines connecting to the internet through the Tomato hookup. I had about a 54% connection most of the time, which worked fine for about a week. Then the connection one day mysteriously got much worse, to about 45%, and I started having network problems, including lots of telephone issues. Then I went back to my previous setup of a wired connection from the top modem/router to my Tomato router.

Once the VOIP phones stopped working I spent some time troubleshooting by trying to move the top router to clear the computer obstruction--and the Tomato router saw a large increase in the percentage of connection, going up much higher than the 54% that I had used successfully for about a week (I don't remember the number, maybe 64% or even 84%). However, the telephone lines still didn't work properly--they sounded choppy and sometimes callers got disconnected. So I went to the wired connection.

There are other more comprehensive online directions to make this work. These are the best directions I was able to find--and this is what I used to make the thing work.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:31 AM   #7
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I'm also looking for DD-WRT firmware for TP-Link TD-W8901G Wireless ADSL2+ Modem router, could someone please help to download compatible build for my TP-Link router.


access, point, wireless, wrt54g

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