It was a typical Saturday afternoon (before we had kids). I was chilling, enjoying the weekend and my wife was watching something boring on Netflix. All of a sudden, I heard:
Sure enough, she was showing off her mad multi-tasking skills of using her laptop, iPhone and watching TV at the same time. I took a look at the signal strength in the room:
I took a look for myself and (like usual) she was right. It was going between 1-2 bars. With multiple video-streaming devices in our room with the poor signal strength, it was no wondering everything was always buffering.
I thought of my options. We were running just your basic Rogers stock router all the way downstairs in a decent sized house with lots of potential interference. I had just put in powerline adapters in my room which were working marvelously. I also happened to have an old D-Link DIR-605L lying around that I had inherited from work. And I was determined not to spend anything. After some research, I came across this:
It got me thinking. Even though my stock router was completely different than this spare that I had, I could use my recent Network+ knowledge to turn it into a Wifi extender for my room. I plugged it in (making sure to just use it as a switch and avoid the WAN port), ran an IP scanner to find what it’s IP was, and after googling default passwords for that model (the password sticker on it was faded out), was able to log in:
Once I had the IP, I made it static on the home router using MAC address filtering, as well as assigning it a static IP on the GUI as reassurance. I tweaked the admin settings, added an NTP server and then went to focus on the LAN and WLAN. For the LAN, I had to make sure I put it in the same subnet and give it an IP that I could remember, close enough to the DG IP:
I thought there may be a conflict going through the powerline adapters, but the adapters default to bridge mode and should not affect any traffic on either side. I picture them as essentially an extra long CAT6 cable.
Next, I had to tweak the WLAN settings. The trick here is to mimic the SSID from the router downstairs as much as you can and you should then be able to roam freely between them. This D-Link also had a router feature to set it as an Access Point which made it a bit easier as well:
After that, I saved all the settings, restarted the router, and gave it a test. Full bars from my room! Having a switch in the room was useful as well for using other network devices. Since then, it has been very solid, only failing a couple times over the years requiring a restart or reconfig.
One criticism I have though is that it does not seem to roam properly. In other words, one I connect to one AP and then go to the other side of the house, it seems to stay connected to the original AP most of the time instead of roaming to the closer router. I am guessing it is probably due to minor incompatibilities between the devices, especially since they are completely different makes and models.
The most important part…..wife was happy and has not complained since! We can stream HD Netflix on 3 devices at the same time from our room without any issues.