Monday, March 30, 2009

DD-WRT on DIR-300

I wanted a standalone AP-client/Ethernet converter/Wireless bridge. I couldn't find a suitable product on the market (with my budget of < US$50). The products I did manage to find were either too expensive, too old, not available, or too over-featured (remember you heard this term here!).

Well, there were a few: like the Zyxel G-570S which cost S$99 (too expensive), Engenius ECB-1220R which was not yet available (but the price seems alright at S$75). Asus WL-320gE/WL-330-gE looked like they fit the bill too, but was too expensive.

The Linksys WGA54 was an obsolete, EOL product. Last firmware was in 2005, and it doesn't support WPA. I bought 3 of them only to find out that they worked quirky too. There was no way to get the signal strength, for example.

I came back to something that I've overlooked for a while, because the published product specs didn't support an AP client mode - the Dlink DIR-300. It was based on an Atheros AR2317 which IS supported by DD-WRT, which had client mode wireless, which was a full linux distribution (something which I was right at home with), and it was both CHEAP (S$50) and readily available. So I popped over to Challenger on the weekend, bought one unit, and brought it into the office today to get it converted.

It wasn't too daunting after all. It took me a few tries and reboots to get the DD-WRT firmware properly flashed onto the board, and a couple more steps later we are in business. I got my wireless AP client up and running.

I was able to connect to an AP using WPA2-PSK via the webpages. The only complaint I had about the interface was that it put the onus of knowing the security settings on the user, and did not detect the suitable configuration for the AP. It had telnet (how about SSH?), but the username and password did not match the web-based login. AP scanning works well. I could use the iwconfig and iwlist commands to scan for access points and get the signal strengths. Just perfect for my wireless testing. I could even do performance testing from the router itself.