Convert a TP-Link TL-WR1043ND into a Wireless Repeater
I realized the other day that my basement has rather poor Wi-Fi reception and decided to look into fixing this problem. I started by seeing how feasible it would be to simply move the main router, although due to the weird wiring in the house and the fact that my router was a modem router combo that required being near a cable outlet, it proved to be a bigger hassle than it was worth. I then remembered I had an old router I wasn’t using that I could possibly setup as a wireless repeater.
I explored using the stock firmware, which I quickly found won’t work in my setup because my main base router which was provided from the cable company does not support WDS bridging. The lack of features on the main router due to it having a fairly stripped down firmware left me with few options, so I decided to give DD-WRT a try and see how easy it was to implement a Client-Bridge function in that firmware.
I must say that my first several attempts proved to be quite frustrating. For beginners, the firmware that was recommended via the router database on the main DD-WRT site was out of date and worked poorly at best. When I tried using the latest version of the firmware I ran into even more problems getting a reliable connection. After far too much trouble setting this up I found several pieces of advice from various parts of the DD-WRT forums to make a reliable stable Wi-Fi repeater.
I decided to post my configuration here to make it easy to find for anyone else with the same issue. The steps to copy my setup are as follows:
a.) Primary Wireless Router:
IP Address = 192.168.0.1
SSID = SSID1
b.) Secondary Wireless Router:
Make and Model = TP-Link WR1043ND
IP Address = 192.168.0.2
SSID = SSID2
Router Name = Bridge
Username = admin
Password = password
3. Connect a cable from your computer to the LAN port on your router.
4. Set your browser to 192.168.1.1 and open the dd-wrt Web GUI.
5. You should be asked to change your password and username. Carefully type these in. If you aren’t asked for a password and username, do a hard reset, this time doing it properly! Hit change password.
6. Go FIRST to “Wireless” => “Wireless Security” and enter the security type and key that matches your primary router. (You must use WEP, WPA2-AES, or WPA-TKIP to have DD-WRT work reliably. (I had issues choosing TKIP+AES)
7. Hit SAVE, (or APPLY if you wish to)
9. Go to the “Wireless” => “Basic Settings” page and set the following settings:
“Wireless Mode” = “Client Bridge”
“Wireless Network Name (SSID)” = “SSID1”
“Wireless SSID Broadcast” = “Enabled”
“Advanced” => “Regulatory Domain” = “YOUR COUNTRY”
10. Your wireless network mode should be set to the same as the primary router. I set mine to “N-Only” so it operates the max speed my main router can handle
11. Set the wireless channel to match your primary router channel. I chose “Turbo 40MHz” again to maximize the bandwidth of the link between the repeater and the router.
12. If you are using N only or Mixed with N, set your wireless channel width to match your primary
13. Set the wireless network name to exactly the same as your primary router. Make sure spelling and capitalization match.
14. Hit SAVE at the bottom. Then hit APPLY.
15. Check to make sure all the configurations, including the mode, saved and the mode is still client bridge. If any changed, fix them, and SAVE again.
16. Goto “Setup” => Basic Setup” and set your “Router Name” = “Bridge”. Enter a router Local IP address of 192.168.0.2. (Presuming your primary router is on the 192.168.0.x subnet. Client bridge must match the subnet of the primary router) Leave subnet mask at 255.255.255.0.
17. Set the Gateway IP to your primary router. (192.168.0.1)
18. Leave Local DNS blank
19. Check Assign WAN port to a switch, (if you wish to).
20. Change your Time Zone and DST to match where you are.
21. Hit APPLY.
22. Set your browser to 192.168.0.2 and login to your router
23. Goto Security, Firewall. Under Block Wan Requests, uncheck everything but “Filter Multicast” (Leave Filter multicast checked).
24. Hit SAVE
25. Disable SPI Firewall
26. Hit APPLY.
27. Go to “Setup” => “Advanced Routing” and change the operating mode from “Gateway” to “Router”. Hit APPLY.
28. Set your browser to 192.168.0.2 and login to your router
29. Go to the “Wireless” => “Basic Settings” page and add a Virtual Interface with the following settings then Hit APPLY.
“Wireless Mode” = “AP”
“Wireless Network Name (SSID)” = “SSID2”
“Wireless SSID Broadcast” = “Enabled”
30. Set your wireless security for the repeater under the “Wireless Security” tab to ensure your bridge isn’t opening up your previously secure Wi-Fi. I recommend using WPA2 to ensure your network is secure.
31. Lastly go to the “Administration” tab and then choose “Commands” from the sub tab choices. Here cut and paste the following command: “echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/br0/proxy_arp” and then hit “Save Startup” to ensure it runs this command at every startup.
32. Lastly reboot the router by pulling the power for 10 seconds and then plugging it back in. After waiting a few seconds to allow the repeater to establish the connection you should be up and running with a working Wi-Fi repeater.
Thanks to Ratty over on the DD-WRT forums where I got the majority of these steps. I added in changing the firmware build to one that others online had said was much more reliable and also an easier way to setup the proxy ARP instead of using Telnet.