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How to turn a wireless router into a switch. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brett Brewer   
Friday, 28 March 2008

If you're like me, you've probably upgraded multiple generations of routers over the years and have old routers lying around that could be used as switches. I happen to have two old Linksys routers collecting dust in my closet. Recently I built my girlfriend a new PC and I did not have an extra network connection near her PC, so as a temporary measure, (I'm waiting for a new $29 gigabit switch to arrive from NewEgg), I decided to turn a spare router into a switch. So here's how I did it on a Linksys WRT54G version II using the latest official Firmware from Linksys.

Please note, you may want to give your PC a static IP address before you begin so you don't have troubles configuring the router after you switch off DHCP. You can switch your PC back to getting its IP address automatically after you're done configuring your router. In this example, my PC had a static IP address of 192.168.1.112. 
  1. hook the router up to your PC so you can access the admin settings.
  2. log into the router, usually via 192.168.1.1 for Linksys routers.
  3. You might want to look at this screenshot while you follow these instructions.
    On the main "Setup--->Basic Setup" menu,  under "Internet Setup" on the main screen, Set the router to use a static IP address and give it an IP address that is in the same subnet and IP range as all your other computers. So for instance if all your PCs have network addresses such as 192.168.1.100, 192.168.1.101, etc...then you should give the router a static IP address of something like 192.168.1.x where x is not in use by any other devices on your network. Remember, this is the address your secondary router would normally bet pulling dynamically from a cable/DSL modem, not the address you access the router at from your local network. 
  4. Fill in the subnet mask with the same subnet as your main router and other PCs. The subnet mask for the 192.168.1.x IP range should be 255.255.255.0.
  5. For the gateway address, use your main router's IP address...in this example it's 192.168.1.1.
  6. Set your first static DNS entry to your main router's IP address and fill in the others with the DNS servers from your ISP, or just leave them blank. If you don't know your ISP's dns server addresses, just view the network status screen of your main router and it usually lists the DNS servers of your ISP. 
  7. Under "local IP address" give it a different address than you used for your previous static IP address in step 3. Again, the address should be in the same subnet, just like the first one was. Make sure it doesn't conflict with any other devices on you network. This is the address you will log into to manage the router after you reboot it...it will no longer have the default 192.168.1.1 address, so remember the address you set here. 
  8. Disable DHCP
  9. Save your settings and then log back into the router at its new IP address to continue the config changes.
  10. Once you're back on the main "basic setup" screen, click the "Advance Routing" tab.
  11. Switch the "operating mode" to "router" and disable RIP/Dynamic Routing. (note: I'm not positive steps 10 & 11 are even necessarry, but it worked for me). 
  12. Click the "wireless" tab and disable wireless networking unless you want it turned on for some reason. 
  13. Click the "Security" tab and disable the router's firewall (presumably you already have a firewall running on your main router) .
  14. Finally, plug the router into your network and use it like a switch. Do NOT use the WAN port.


These steps worked perfectly for me, but there may be alternate ways of setting this up, such as leaving your router set to DHCP and using the WAN port to pull an IP dynamically from your main router. I leave that type of experimentation to you.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 06 April 2008 )
 

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