If you’re not afraid of a little bit of software hacking (and the very real possibility of making your Linksys function only as a brick), a way to get tons of value out of a consumer quality low cost Internet router–about ten to twelve times its worth–with one of a few open source firmware packages. I’ve used DD-WRT three times now and will try Tomato when I get home.

These packages will allow you some very advanced features at low cost; you’ll be able to use your router as a wireless repeater (extending the range of your wireless network), a wireless to wired bridge (allowing you to interface wired Ethernet devices to a wireless network), or to boost the strength of your antenna. Expert features include Quality of Service routing or Chillispot are also available as long as your router supports the standard or better versions of DD-WRT.

I bring this up because I am currently in Kansas City at KansasFest, a retrocomputing festival for the last survivors of the Apple II generation. The campus has WiFi which in certain areas is spotty, so a Linksys WRT54GS router I picked up at Wal-Mart (for more than I wanted to spend but it was all I could really get the day before I left Honolulu) got turned into a wireless repeater to make the Internet much more accessible for the attendees. I already have two DD-WRT running routers at home–one as the primary router for the whole LAN and one as a repeater and expand the area at home that I can use my computer in, so this one will be a third.

How is this frugal? Well, a device with this kind of functionality goes for–get this–$600.

I spent $50, which was more than I wanted to, but I was in a rush.

If spending $50 and taking ten minutes to get twelve times the value isn’t frugal, I don’t know what is.

4 Responses to “Economy of Technology: Do It Yourself Geekiness”

  1. Jake Stichleron 26 Jul 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Every Linksys router I’ve used made a heck of a doorstop. Glad to see you’re getting great use out of yours – oddly enough, I had never even considered open source router firmware… especially considering I use so much open source software.

  2. [...] found something in my size–I have bought lots of electronics from there, including lots of routers which end up being dd-wrt devices, the equivalent in function of $600 [...]

  3. [...] this goes further; for instance, I’ve discussed several times how to use old Linksys (or some other brand) routers as powerhouses using the freely available dd-wr…. I’ve taken that further–when I have a friend on Twitter, for instance, having an issue [...]

  4. Red Bull Hatson 03 Nov 2011 at 7:38 pm


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