Converting an old wireless router into an access point

Converting an old wireless router into an access point

A “wireless router” is actually quite a complex device. It comprises of a router, a network switch and a Wireless Access Point. A router is a bridge between two networks – typically the Internet and a Local Area Network. A switch (in its simplest form) connects many devices on the same network – typically a Local Area Network. A Wireless Access Point (WAP) provides a point of connectivity for wireless devices onto a network – typically a Local Area Network. A WAP can be thought of a little bit like a wireless switch in such that it connects many wireless devices on the same network.

I have a tonne of wireless routers knocking around. Most of these are Netgear WGR614 (v9) routers which I acquired whilst I was a student, forced to suffer the pain of being a Virgin Media customer. There’s 2 ways to use a wireless router as an access point. The right way and the easy way. I shall cover each of these below.

Edit: For both methods you will likely want to disable DHCP on the router via its web control panel – Thanks to @Duffy177 for pointing this out.

The Easy Way

A typical wireless router is constructed in such that the routing happens between its “WAN” port and its switch. As such, if you just plug all of your devices into the switch ports and don’t use the “WAN” port, you have a switch and wireless access point rolled into one. It’s normally pretty easy to identify which is the “WAN” port and which are the switch ports as most routers group the ports together and some even colour the WAN port differently. The below image of the Netgear WGR614 shows this:

Netgear WGR614 (v9)









The Right Way

The right way is sadly not always possible as it depends if the router supports it. When you log into the web interface, look for a setting relating to using the router as an access point or assigning the WAN port to the switch. If you can enable this option, you can use all of the ports on the router as it has now stopped routing. The below image of the DD-WRT firmware config shows an example of this:

DD-WRT Assign WAN Port to Switch





That’s about it. Hopefully you can recycle some old routers and give them a new lease of life.