Monday, January 19, 2009

Wireless Brick

I think I just bricked my old 802.11g wireless router. With all the problems I was having with DLNA and my PS3, I thought I would try to upgrade the firmware in my Linksys WRT54GC router. I followed all the instructions and downloaded the newest version of the firmware. The progress bar went smoothly from 0 to 100%... then it timed out. After trying to reset it for 30 minutes, I looked online at the Linksys/Cisco website forum and found out that a lot of people were having the same problem. There was no response from anyone at Linksys. Why bother hosting a forum if you are not going to answer questions? The consensus was that there were a bad batch of these WRT54GC routers and they essentially become non-functional after upgrading the firmware.

Luckily, I had an extra 802.11n Netgear router in my storage closet. I got it at an employee raffle a few years ago. For some reason, my Internet connection decided to act up at the same time so it took me about 2 hours to swap out the router, reconfigure the security, and setup all the attached devices so they could connect to the new router. After all this work, I was still having problems with accessing media on my PC from the PS3. In addition, the only other device with 802.11n is my Sony Vaio but it's attached with an Ethernet cable. Without a corresponding 11n adapter, there won't be any bandwidth gain over 11g. In fact, I think the old 802.11b USB adapter is too old to recognize the 11n router so my Compaq notebook in the living room won't connect to the router. Arg!

Left to right: cable modem, new 802.11n router (with special "Enabled by Broadcom" sticker), and dead 802.11g router (with WEP passkey conveniently pasted on the side).

The newly installed Netgear 802.11n router asked if I wanted to look for firmware upgrades when I tried to configure it. I quickly clicked on [Cancel].


I just check Netgear's website and found that the (really) old 802.11b USB adapter (MA111) can only use WEP encryption. I had enabled WPA2 on the new router since it's more secure. I'll probably go back to 128-bit WEP so older equipment can still connect; otherwise I have to spend $50 on a new USB adapter.

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