For Christmas I got mum a Apple Time Capsule primarily because I wanted to ensure her computer was backed up without her having to do anything pro-actively. However, I was also hoping that I could use it to extend her wireless network range (especially considering it’s damn expensive if it’s just a NAS).
Currently her wifi is provided by a old Linksys WRT54G (hardware version 2.0). I plugged in the Time Capsule and used Airport Utilities to set it up. I couldn’t get “extend wireless network” to work. I tried all different settings, I tried with a password and without any wifi secrity, I tried updating the firmware of the Linksys WRT54G (from v2.02.7 to 4.20.8). Whatever I tried it just showed up with a horrible little red error bubble that shows “extend wireless network” failure. It could join the network fine, and it could access the internet, but it just wouldn’t extend the network. Eventually, I gave up, guessing that the Time Capsule is just plainly incompatible with the WRT54G. I Googled it and apparently you can only extend a wireless network if the network is already based on Apple products (I should have guessed!).
> Sorry, but Apple designed the “Extend” feature to only work among Apple devices.
So I wondered if you can do it the other way round. Make the Time Capsule the primary wifi base station and use the WRT54G as the repeater. This kind of made more sense anyway because the Time Capsule is N but the WRT54G is only G, so it would probably be better if the master router is the faster, longer range option.
- First I swapped the WRT54G firmware for one from DD-WRT which is a brilliant open-source project that adds extra functionality to routers. I followed this guide: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Linksys_WRT54G_v2.0.
- Once I had DD-WRT working, I followed these instructions to turn it into a “repeater bridge”: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Repeater_Bridge.
It worked. The WRT54G doesn’t need anything except a power outlet to do the repeating. This basically saves £79 (the cost of a “Airport Express”, the Apple wifi extender).