Old routers need not just fade away
In the inexorable pursuit of faster broadband speeds and more efficient wireless (Wi-Fi) connections it seems that many of us are regularly replacing our router. BT appear to release a new one for their latest “go-faster” service every 18 months or so. Many of us move service provider to get the best value for money. In rural communities those who are burdened by speeds sometimes capped at 0.5mbs, are taking the initiative by coming together as a community to leverage grants, local resources and collective buying power to initiate their own internet provision with rural internet initiatives such as B4RN who are delivering FTTP speeds up to 1gbs. All of this means that there is often a pile of older routers condemned to obscurity, gathering dust, discarded and forgotten under the stairs, in the loft, boxed up in the garage or perhaps even taken to the tip. Please don’t do this at the very least recycle.
Because we are now much more aware of our internet speed the moment Facebook or Google falters we blame our connection. Usually it’s because our smartphone, tablet, laptop is connected by Wi-Fi and the signal just isn’t quite as strong in the office, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom? There are lots of ways of extending our Wi-Fi; from upgrading your Wi-Fi adapter or installing sophisticated meshed Wi-Fi access points (AP) through to powerline devices that plug into your home electric socket. All of which have a cost, when you could repurpose your old router to provide greater Wi-Fi coverage.
First of all as a general rule of thumb, whilst this may seem somewhat counterintuitive, the newer your old router is the better the Wi-Fi signal is going to be.
This procedure involves resetting the old router to factory defaults, logging into the router using the default IP address usually 192.168.1.254, entering a password if there is one, disabling DHCP, and giving the old router a new IP address. Finally, running an Ethernet cable between the old router and your new router which is overall responsible for managing your network and connections. Trust me it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Because BT are one of the primary internet service providers in the UK. I’ve chosen to explain how to convert an old BT Home Hub 5.0 or Home Hub 4.0 into a second Wi-Fi access point on your network, which will extend wireless coverage in your home. Although the details are specific to those routers, the basic principles are the same for any router.
It is important that the old router isn’t connected to anything other than its power supply.
Next reset the old router, this is located on the rear of the router, use a paper clip, to hold down the Reset button for twenty seconds or so, whilst simultaneously powering up the router. The light will go green, then it will begin to blink, turn solid blue, going to flashing amber for fifteen seconds and eventually going to solid amber. A few seconds later, the broadband indicator will start to blink red/pink. This process of resetting to factory defaults will deactivate the BT Fon feature which would prevent DHCP from being disabled. If you have forgotten the admin password the reset will set it to the factory default, written on the router.
Configuring your router
Fist we need to isolate your PC/Laptop from the existing home network, so if it’s Wi-Fi connected disable the Wi-Fi or if it’s connected by an ethernet cable remove it from the port on your computer.
Using a spare Ethernet cable connect your PC to the old router
Your PC should then receive an IP address from the Home Hub, via DHCP. (If you are curious to know, this address will probably be 192.168.1.64).
Start a browser on your PC and enter 192.168.1.254 into the address bar which will give you access to the routers own menu system.
Click on Advanced Settings. Enter the admin password exactly as its written on the white panel that came with your router. We need to change the IP address so that there is no conflict with the new router.
Click “A-Z” at the very top right. Then click D -> DHCP Settings. Under “Hub IP Gateway Address”, enter a new IP address for the hub. Which needs to be outside the range used by the new router. I would recommend 192.168.1.63. click Apply, answer Yes. You will then see an error message. Don’t worry this is because you just changed the Hub’s IP address. In your browser enter the NEW address 192.168.63 and the home page should load again, proving that the new IP address works.
Click “A-Z, select D/DHCP Settings. Enter the admin password if asked. Under DHCP Server, set the radio button to No.
Click Apply and answer Yes. After a few moments, the page reloads
Remove the spare Ethernet cable from your PC and the old router
Connecting it together
Connect the old router to your new router by using a long Ethernet cable. Plug one end into any of the yellow ports. Plug the other end into a vacant port on your new router. Power it up and your old router is part of your home network. Any devices connecting wirelessly to it will be able to access the rest of your network and to the Internet.
If your old router is a long way from your new one, and a long cable is going to be messy, you could use a pair of power line connectors, the effect will be the same as if you had used an Ethernet cable
Test your New Wireless Access Point
Activate wireless on your PC and check the list of available Wi-Fi points. The old router will be recognised by its SSID connect to it enter the wireless key from the routers original white panel. If you have them try to connect from a smartphone or tablet. You will need to enter the wireless password if requested. If all has gone according to plan. Wireless users can connect to whichever AP has the strongest signal.