Installing and Configuring the Linksys WRE54G

Well, I broke down while in Seattle and visited the local Fry’s on Thursday night.  It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff these stores have.

I went there with a specific purpose – to pick up a Linksys WRE54G – Range Extender.  We have some spots in the house that have little or no connectivity to the wireless network and I intended on changing all that with this device.

I did the obligitory Search on the Internet to find out all about these devices – since I already own a Linksys Wireless Router, I figured I should try to match components to make life a little simpler during the installation.

Many articles on the Net pretty much say the same thing – the CD install is useless.  I never even opened the CD since I figured I know enough about networking to figure this out on my own.

The installation took a bit of thinking, but is rather simple when you stop long enough to actually think it through.  I’ve outlined the steps below since it seems there really is no “complete” How-To that I could find.

This is for the WRE54G v3 model – I cannot be certain this procedure will work with firmware that doesn’t have WPA support (although the principle should be the same for WEP).

Prepare to work within range of the router.  This means you need AC power within reach of the WRE54G when connected to the computer via patch cord.

Step One:  Connect to the webpage (Management Page) of your Router.  Turn OFF any encryption you are using from within this interface – if you’re in love with the WEP key you use, copy it into Notepad to reuse.  This will now require changing the settings on your laptop wireless card to continue with the configuration and allow you to connect back to your router again.  Copy down the SSID and any Encryption Keys (WEP or WPA) that you have on the router – if using PSK-TKP or AES then also copy down the key renewal period.

Step Two:  Plug in the WRE54G to power – this assumes you have slid into place one of the AC connectors provided in the box.  Connect the laptop’s NIC using the provided patch cord to the connector on the WRE54G (under the little access door below the antenna).  Manually configure the IP address on the wired NIC to with no gateway.  TIP:  I found it necessary to disable the wireless NIC in the laptop temporarily during the configuration of this unit to avoid routing issues.

Step Three:  Open the Run box on your computer and type, “iexplore” and press Enter (or hit ENTER).  Internet Explorer should open to the Management Webpage of the WRE54G with a prompt for Username and Password.  Leave the Username field blank and enter “admin” for the password.  Press OK or hit Enter.

Step Four:  DO NOT SAVE CHANGES UNTIL INSTRUCTED!!  Change the IP address of WRE54G to be one address higher than your router, make the subnet mask the same as the router and make the gateway address the IP address of your router (example:  Example:  If your router is then make the extender  Change the SSID to match the router’s SSID.  Press the Edit Security Settings button.  Select the Security mode from the dropdown that you are using (or want to use) on the router.  Choose the key or algorithim you will use on the router.  Enter the key or PSK you are using.  If using WPA make sure the key renewal period is the same as the router’s.  Select Save Settings.  You *should* end up back on the IP configuration page if all went well.  Here, double check the initial settings from the beginning of this step to ensure they haven’t reverted back to the factory settings.  If they did, change them to your required settings once again and select the Save Settings button.  If they still remain as you set them, carry on and Save Settings.

Step Five:  Both LEDs on the WRE54G should now be BLUE if all is well.  If you changed the network from 192.168.1.x to another subnet then it will be necessary to re-IP the wired NIC on the computer to the correct network so you can reconnect to the Extender.  Reconnect to the Management Webpage of the WRE54G.  After logging in using the default password the first page should show you near the bottom a Link Status with a MAC address.  If it’s all dashes, the Extender isn’t connected to the router.  Re-check the steps above before continuing.  If you have a MAC listed, then select the Password link (beside the Basic Setup link in the navigation bar).  Change the default password and Save Settings.

Step Six:  Disconnect the wired NIC from the WRE54G and turn on your wireless NIC.  Reconnect to the ROUTER with either wireless or a patch cable – remember there is no Security enabled so your original Security settings on the wireless NIC need to be set to NONE.  TIP:  If you see 2 matching SSIDs when you choose to Connect to Network in the Wireless configuration utility then you’re getting close!  Re-enable your Security on the Router.  Make certain that you match the settings you made on the WRE54G earlier.  Reset your wireless NIC’s security to match whatever method and key you are using on the router (and WRE54G).  TIP:  If you now only see one SSID for the wireless network then it should be setup correctly.

You’re done.

Move the WRE54G to the location you want to boost the signal and plug it into the AC recepticle.  If both LEDs become solid Blue, then you’re good to go – if not, you may not have connection back to the router from this location, so try another location. 

Happy Wireless Extending!!!