Giving your Xbox 360 cheap wireless [Networking] | Posted at 11:32 AM
Over Christmas break, one of my presents was to wirelessly-enable my girlfriend's sister's Xbox 360 on the cheap. Once I was done, I had saved her $65 (plus tax).
Instead of walking you through everything, I will just give you the walkthroughs I used.
Note: This is not meant for non-technical people. It would be easier for you to buy the $100 wireless adapter. However, for techies, this will save you tons of money.
First, let me describe what you need:
- A primary router/modem-router with wireless capability (any router will do).
- A DD-WRT-compatible router. A Linksys WRT54G works excellently and we bought one for $35 at a local computer shop.
- An ethernet cable
The end result of this is as follows:
- The primary router, in my case located downstairs, has a wireless access point configured. I enabled WPA2-Personal security on it. If your DSL modem has wireless capability, you're all set. In my case, I had to configure the primary router to get an IP from the DSL router.
- The secondary router can be configured two ways: a Client or a Repeater Bridge. I chose the latter because it is easier to manage the network when all devices are on the same subnet. In addition, you get an added bonus of a second wireless access point!
- The Xbox 360 connects via ethernet to the second router.
To setup your second router, you will need to install DD-WRT. Do not just download it and flash it, you'll probably break your router.
How to Do It
This guide is meant for using DD-WRT, since it had the most documentation and supported Repeater Bridge mode. There also seems to be a way to do this via the Tomato firmware (seems only to support Client mode right now).
What I did was follow the excellent installation guides on the wiki. Here is the list of things I used:
- Read up on how to identify your router and version. I used this WRT54G guide on the wiki. Just Google "dd-wrt [your router model]" and you'll get the Wiki page for it.
- A walkthrough for Version 8 of my router. Note: Versions matter! The guide for version 6 (my second router) was much different than version 8 (the first router).
- Be sure to read the notes in the Peacock thread on the forums. Note: The only real tidbit of information that I used was to know how to do a 30-30-30 hard reset. LEARN IT.
- The files needed for your router and version. Search it in the router database. Note: Some installation guides use custom firmware so read the installation guide for your router just in case. This was the case for me with my secondary router which used version 6 software.
- Read the guide on Client mode or Repeater Bridge, depending on your needs. I chose the latter because it was simpler and easier to manage.
- Be patient. When steps tell you to wait five minutes, wait five minutes. I used Online Stopwatch to time everything appropriately. The whole process of setting up two routers with DD-WRT and configuring everything took about 4 hours (since the second router wasn't working right at first using client mode). The end result was awesome, though!
In my case, there were some things the wiki and thread said would be a problem but turned out not to be.
The guides say that when you flash the firmware with TFTP on Vista/7 you have to time it right. This wasn't a problem for me. I simply restarted the router, ran the command to flash the firmware, then hard reset the router again. I didn't run into any problems using Windows 7.
Some guides say it's not possible to manage both routers under a Repeater Bridge configuration. That's not true, if you set up and remember the local router IP, you can still manage it. I made it easy. My primary router was http://192.168.1.1/ and the secondary one was http://192.168.1.2/ since the primary router gave out IPs after 100.
Additionally, it's a good idea to enable/disable your LAN card on the computer you're using to flash the firmware once you change wireless modes on the router. It is also a good idea to clear the cache in Firefox/IE each time you flash a new firmware, to make sure you're getting the right pages.
Initially, I had tried to configure the second router as a wireless Client but it wasn't working. It was much easier to configure the router as a wireless bridge or repeater bridge. That's what I'd recommend. For the client mode, you might need to configure advanced routing and such… for a repeater, the guide was insanely straightforward. Additionally, client mode separates your network into two subnets: 192.168.1.* and 192.168.2.* which can make it harder for devices to talk to each other. Apparently, version 6 and version 8 WRT54G routers don't work well in that situation. A repeater bridge is almost like a bypass of your second router, it doesn't assign IPs, it passes all traffic to the primary router.
The results were excellent. The Xbox 360 worked great on Xbox Live and I saved them $65 compared to buying a wireless adapter. In addition, they get a second access point upstairs!
Another solution, and simpler but less flexible, is to use a laptop with a wireless card and ethernet card. Bridge the connections, hook up the Xbox to it via ethernet, and then connect to wireless. This also worked for me using Windows 7 in about 5 minutes. However, you always need the laptop to connect to Xbox Live.