Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fun With Routers II

Here's part one:

Fun with routers part one

Out Of The Box


Today I received my shiny new Asus RT-N16 router from NewEgg. I was really excited finally get a replacement for the one I had, which was giving the whole family quite a bit of grief, in addition to the problems it was causing for work. So, I unboxed it and hooked it up.























First Impressions


It's a solid looking unit. It doesn't look or feel cheap at all. The packaging was good and everything was neatly laid out. I thought I read somewhere in one of the reviews that they hated the blue lights on it, but I think it looks fine. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this router didn't disappoint.

The router connected right up to my computer and I looked around at the built in administration screens. It looked like they put a lot of work into the user interface but it looked a little flashy for me, and plus it was a little choppy. It seemed perfectly functional, but it was very "flickery". So, I decided to flash it with DD-WRT.

DD-WRT


Half the reason I bought this thing is because all the reviews were saying how nice it was with DD-WRT and TOMATO firmwares. It is wonderful that this router advertises the ability to use open source firmware, though it would've been even better if it came pre-installed.

Flashing the firmware of your router is not for the faint of heart. If you make a mistake then you could end up "bricking" the router, meaning that it is no longer a router, and its only value is as a big chunk of plastic. You want to do your homework and make sure you are flashing the right version for your model router.

Here's the DD-WRT Wiki for this router:

DD-WRT Wiki For Asus RT-N16 Router

I downloaded the "mega" install and tried step one in the Wiki, which was to use the browser to flash the firmware. This didn't work. I followed the instructions to put the router into "recovery mode" it kept telling me that the firmware update failed.

So, I downloaded the Asus utility for my router and tried that. It was still complaining that the device was not in "rescue mode." I'd unplug the router, hold the reset button down, and plug it back in. The router gives no indication that it's in recovery mode, so I was having a really hard time.

Two Buttons!


...until I read a forum post somewhere talking about getting the buttons confused. There are two buttons on the back! I never did put my reading glasses on and look how those buttons are labeled. Looking at my diagram above, I was pressing the red button while plugging in the router. It's the other button. Once I did that, the utility let me flash the firmware.

Success


Now everything seems to work fine. The last time I used DD-WRT was to bring an old Linksys router back to life. So, I took a 5 year old router and got 5 more years out of it until it was just too old and slow to run all the devices that are now on my network. Seems like everyone who comes over has a pocket full of devices.

Since I had to replace that router, I have  had about half a dozen routers and I've hated them all. It looks like I am good now, though. Hopefully I will retire this router only when it's just too old, and not because I despise it. Time will tell...

If all goes well, there will not be a "Fun With Routers III."

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