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Last post Author Topic: The fun of installing custom router firmware (tomato, dd-wrt) - an introduction  (Read 21417 times)

40hz

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@mouser - Buying an upgraded unit is not a bad idea. The newer routers have come a long way since the WRT-54GL. And they now have the 802.11n and (in some models) the newer 802.11ac(draft). You'll need new wireless adapters to take advantage of those. But almost everything in the last year or so comes stock with 'n' support so that's usually not an issue. The difference in range and throughput can be substantial.

802.11ac is still in draft so I wouldn't be too quick to adopt it at this point.

I'm partial to the TEW-812DRU aka Trendnet AC1750 at this point - which has support for WDS - so if you ever do need a second WAP for better coverage, integrating a second unit (that also supports WDS) into the wireless backbone the AC1750 creates is a piece of cake.

The Netgear 750 is also a good choice despite my long standing reservations about Netgear products in general. I have several of these at client sites, and they've been very reliable so far.

mouser

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« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 12:19:11 PM by mouser »

40hz

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Thoughts on http://www.amazon.co...ess-N-Router-RT-N56U ?


Never owned and have only seen one so far. It was working and nobody was complaining about it - so that's a plus! ;D

Most reviews I've read said it was great. A few reviewers said they liked it at short range but saw the performance drop off with 2.4Ghz and drastically for 5Ghz at longer distances. Not a complaint I've seen in most reviews however. That said, the reviewers were quite positive overall.

 8)

Certainly a looker with all those pretty blue LEDs and that diamond patterned case it's in..

Maybe Carol has some input on it? She probably sees a bigger variety of hardware than many of us do.

wraith808

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Thoughts on http://www.amazon.co...ess-N-Router-RT-N56U ?


You cut off a bit much when trying to cut off the referrals.  The first two groups after that are required (especially as the last is the stock number).

@mouser - Buying an upgraded unit is not a bad idea. The newer routers have come a long way since the WRT-54GL. And they now have the 802.11n and (in some models) the newer 802.11ac(draft). You'll need new wireless adapters to take advantage of those. But almost everything in the last year or so comes stock with 'n' support so that's usually not an issue. The difference in range and throughput can be substantial.

802.11ac is still in draft so I wouldn't be too quick to adopt it at this point.

I'm partial to the TEW-812DRU aka Trendnet AC1750 at this point - which has support for WDS - so if you ever do need a second WAP for better coverage, integrating a second unit (that also supports WDS) into the wireless backbone the AC1750 creates is a piece of cake.

The Netgear 750 is also a good choice despite my long standing reservations about Netgear products in general. I have several of these at client sites, and they've been very reliable so far.


I have this one: http://www.amazon.co...outer/dp/B0041LYY6K/

Do you think its nearing time for me to upgrade if it's working fine right now?

rgdot

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Netgear WRT54GL, Linksys? :tellme:


mouser

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Quote
You cut off a bit much when trying to cut off the referrals.


So i did -- thanks, corrected now.

40hz

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Do you think its nearing time for me to upgrade if it's working fine right now?

It's already paid for. So if it's doing what you want it to, there's no need to upgrade IMO. :Thmbsup:

About the only folks that might arguably need to stay on the bleeding edge of PC tech are the super-serious PC gamers.

mouser

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So i broke down and got myself a new router (ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-N 600 Router RT-N56U).

The main motivation was to fix the issue with my laptop losing it's connection, and to improve wireless connection strength at far corners of my house.

So I'm using stock firmware on this for now; i *MIGHT* put tomato on this router, i might not.

And the laptop losing connection i will have to report on later.
The wireless strength in the kitchen is a little better but not hugely -- that's a disapointment but maybe due to me not getting a router model with external antennas and me not experimenting with positioning the router (anyone know what kind of difference this kind of thing makes?)

However, I got a huge surprise after connecting the new router, which is that my internet download speed almost doubled, from 35MBPs to 57MBPs(!).  I had assumed that the older netgear 54GL router would not have had a problem getting this kind of bandwidth so it never occurred to me that it could be the bottleneck.  Very cool surprise.

If you're using an old router and not getting the bandwidth that your ISP says you should get, you might want to consider upgrading router..



Special thanks to dc member Swkire for help with router issues and advice in choosing a router.

skwire

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(anyone know what kind of difference this kind of thing makes?)

It can make a huge difference.

4wd

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So i broke down and got myself a new router (ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-N 600 Router RT-N56U).

...

So I'm using stock firmware on this for now; i *MIGHT* put tomato on this router, i might not.

I don't think you'll need to worry about that decision because Tomato is for Broadcom based routers.

The RT-N56U is based on a Ralink chipset and if Info Depot is correct, it's not supported by any other firmware either.  It's also listed in the DD-WRT database as being unsupported.

Ooppss! There is another firmware for it - see lanux128's post below.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 09:54:11 PM by 4wd »

xtabber

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I have the ASUS RT-N66U router, which is Broadcom based and can run both DD-WRT and Tomato, but, while that was a consideration in my choice,  I have found the stock firmware to meet my needs so far and haven't tried either of them.

The N66U is slightly faster than the N56U, but the critical difference for me was that it supports multiple SSIDs.  This allows me to run a high-security WiFi LAN for my personal use and a separate Internet-only guest WiFi network for others, through a single router.

Shades

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The use of bigger and/or directional antennas also makes a difference. Some routers can amplify the power that goes to the antennas. That makes a big difference as well. However, it is not advised as overpowering the unit can lead to dead routers, or at least WiFi-less.

Now that I have taken a look at the device I didn't see any external antenna. Which would mean that there is not really an option to improve the range of the stock antenna's, except power amplification if you are dead set on leaving the router in it's current location.

If you still have the old unit, maybe you could still use as a simple repeater, so you can reach the outer corners of your man-cave/house/mansion/ranch...

mouser

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Oh that's cool, i didn't even realize a router could be used as a repeater!

lanux128

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So i broke down and got myself a new router (ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-N 600 Router RT-N56U).

So I'm using stock firmware on this for now; i *MIGHT* put tomato on this router, i might not.

i am using the same model and so far the stock FW has been adequate for my needs. however if you want to try out a custom FW, check out Padawan's FW. more info here.

https://code.google.com/p/rt-n56u/

ewemoa

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Late to the party, but I got OpenWRT running on a TL-WR940N (V2.1) today.



I got reminded that the model number alone can be insufficient in making a good purchasing decision.  It turns out that if I'd gotten a V1.x device, installation would have been a lot easier -- V2.x turns out to not work with V1.x firmware (though there was some reworked version in the forums that ended up working luckily -- though unfortunately the official docs don't mention it).

Better to be able to verify such details before purchase it seems!

ewemoa

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I managed to brick my router :)



On a side note, it looks like I've got a chance of debricking if I can manage a serial hook-up.  One way forward seems to be to get some header pins attached to the router's PCB, but it's been decades since my first soldering activity.  Anyone have recommendations regarding learning how to solder?  (I looked for press-fit / solderless header pins but haven't managed to find any locally so far.)

mouser

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It's good you can smile about it  :tellme:
can you unbrick it?

lanux128

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from my personal experience, TP-Link is a poor choice when it comes to custom FW. i too had bricked one due to same differences as ewemoa encountered.

ewemoa

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IIUC, the goof I made had to do with restoring to the manufacturer's firmware -- wrote the file starting at the wrong location (or put differently, didn't tell the command line utility to skip an appropriate number of bytes from the file before starting to write) [1].  From the logs and memory I believe this luckily "missed" the bootloader.  If this is correct, then the bootloader may still be functional -- if it can just be connected to and communicated with, then additional attempts to restore may be possible.  Am interested in building appropriate "firmware" for this model anyway, so having serial access sounds like it'd help there too.

FWIW, I specifically chose this model because it was 1) available locally, 2) wasn't too expensive, and 3) there had been one report of compatibility with DD-WRT and OpenWRT (unfortunately, this was for V1.x, not the 2.X I got though).  This makes it much less stressful to experiment!



[1] Another point to be wary of -- file size of "firmware" :)

40hz

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I managed to brick my router :)

Awesome! You now have the opportunity to experience one of the best learning opportunities possible - fixing a mistake.

Been there in case you haven't guessed already. My mistake was not following the instruction which said to install the basic version of the replacement firmware first before attempting to install the tricked-out super-duper version. Got all the way through very nicely and then bricked on reboot.  "RTFM" strikes again! ;D)

Anyone have recommendations regarding learning how to solder?

There's several good ones on YouTube.

An informal but very comprehensive series of soldering videos can be found here. (The rest of this guy's stuff is pretty good too.)

ewemoa

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He he.

Thanks for the link -- I had looked for some tutorials but found that there seemed to be quite a few.  Having specific recommendations is helpful!



BTW, if the serial approach doesn't work...the following was inspiring:

  http://tasksofohm.wo...-link-tl-wa801nd-v2/

x16wda

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I looked for [url=https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10527]press-fit / solderless header pins

No solder here, head is thoroughly pinned...

fester.jpgThe fun of installing custom router firmware (tomato, dd-wrt) - an introduction
vi vi vi - editor of the beast

ewemoa

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Ha ha ha ;D

ewemoa

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An informal but very comprehensive series of soldering videos can be found here.

Here are the three I've found (made it through the first two so far):


I didn't know about special soldering tips for lead-free soldering and it was interesting to hear his opinion on specific types of soldering tips -- he seems to be mostly down on conical ones with a preference for the wedge type.  In the previous sentence "tips" refers to what's typically at the end of a soldering iron :)

Thanks, 40hz!

phitsc

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Gargoyle just issued an update that fixes the heartbleed bug.