My Reflections on using Custom Firmware in a Router by Jacoi Frett.

I am going to talk about my experience installing my first custom firmware on a Buffalo Airstation WHR-G54S router. My goal was to get the router to connect to the internet wirelessly and ultimately to change the firmware on it. I was told that this process would provide me an insight as to why people take the time to use special firmware on their routers.

The first step for me was to get the buffalo router to connect to the internet wirelessly.  I thought I could just plug my modem into the router and then connect to the wireless internet.  Unfortunately,  I ran into a problem. I couldn’t get internet access to my router even though i had my router hooked up to my modem properly! Turns out the router was stuck in bridge mode and I just needed to disable bridge mode in the settings.

Once bridge mode was disabled the first thing i did was see if i could access the internet on the router if i hardwired it to my computer. Once i hardwired the router to my computer i still couldn’t get internet access. My next troubleshooting step required a modem reset.  To reset my particular modem (motorola) all you have to do is hold in a pin into a small hole on the back of the modem for 30 seconds.  Normally a person just pulls the power cord out but this modem comes with a battery in it. I also unplugged the router.  After the 30 seconds I waited another five seconds and replugged in the router.  This little trick allows the modem to bind the mac address to the buffalo router. Success!  After resetting the modem i was able to access the internet with wireless and by hardwired.

My next challenge was to get the rest of my devices to connect to the router.  I ran into another problem though. Two of my devices wouldn’t connect to the router!  After checking the settings I realized that I was using the wrong IP addresses. This is because i changed the buffalo router subnet to 192.168.0.1 and my previous router was set to 192.168.1.1. On the two devices that wouldn’t connect to the internet i had set a static IP that corresponded with the 192.168.1.1 subnet. I had to change it to the same subnet as the buffalo router for it to connect.  Once again it worked!

To be certain I was getting a handle on this I setup some port forwarding to make sure that worked.  My test application was UltraVNC.  I was able to connect on the first try!

Next, I changed my firmware from DD-WRT to Tomato. The purpose of this test was to get the hang of several different firmwares and to see what they could do.  I was told that you coul d turn a $25 routers into a $2000 router and I was interested to see why.  Thankfully even switching firmwares to Tomato turned out to be a breeze.  No bricked routers and no issues.  Doing that was simple and I didn’t run into any issues. I downloaded tomato, unzipped the file and in the settings upgraded firmware.

Author: Jacoi Frett, St. Thomas, VI. 

Edited by Ben Uecker