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Review: My cheap Wireless Bridge solution...


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#1 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 09:01 PM

As most of you probably know, DirecTV has added native support for the Linksys WGA600N "wireless gaming adapter", which is really a wireless bridge. It allows you to connect an Ethernet-equipped device to a wireless access point, so that you don't have to run a cable.

My problem is that a WGA600N costs about $80, and I wanted to get my parents' HD-DVR connected to their home network (and thus, to the Internet) to allow all of the cool network-based features, but I didn't want to spend $80 to do so. Also, their WiFi access point/router is their 2Wire DSL router, which is only a "G" device, not a much faster "N" device, and because it is integrated into the DSL modem, won't be upgraded anytime soon. That made the Linksys a bit of overkill.

Instead, I found a cheapie off-brand device on Newegg.com that can be set up as a wireless access point OR as a wireless bridge. Actually, it has 5 modes, but nearly everyone would use it for one of the two I mentioned. Here it is:

Posted Image
ENCORE ENRXWI-G IEEE802.11g 54Mbps Wireless LAN Extender

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833180035

The ENRXWI-G comes set up to be an Access Point, so you have to change a setting to get it into Game Adapter mode, which the device calls "AP Client". Because there is no native support on the HD-DVR for this device, configuration must be done from a PC.

The instructions for this WGA come on a CD in .PDF format, and are only marginally useful. It took a bit of trail and error to figure out a few of the settings due to the layout and label names for a few of them, and the instructions didn't do a lot to clarify them.

From the factory, or after pressing the recessed reset button for 5 seconds, the device defaults to the fixed IP address of 192.168.1.1. Many will quickly note that most wireless routers use that address, so from the start, there's a potential conflict, but it's easy to fix:

Start by unplugging your PC from your regular network (or disable your WiFi connection) and plug in the Encore to your PC's Ethernet port. No Ethernet cable is supplied, so you'll need one. Then, go into your computer's settings for your Ethernet connection, where you're going to give your computer a fixed IP address and subnet mask, instead of using DHCP to get this from your router. In your TCP/IP properties, assign your PC the IP of 192.168.1.5 , with Subnet Mask of 255.255.255.0. You may need to reboot when done.

Once rebooted, your computer will be on the same network as the Encore. Fire up your web browser, and go to http://192.168.1.1, which is the IP of the Encore. You should get the Encore's login screen: enter "admin" as both the login and password. That will get you to the Status screen, where you can see the Encore's current settings.

Again, most of you will have a router using the IP address that the Encore defaults to, so you'll want to change the Encore's IP. Click on the IP Settings on the top, and enter in a different IP address in the same subnet. I chose 192.168.1.20, since I know that my parents' router's DHCP addresses don't start until 100, so anything 99 and below are free to use as fixed IP addresses. Click SAVE, and the Encore will reboot and will be on its new IP address. This means you'll need to use the new address in your web browser (http://192.168.1.20) and log in again.

Once you're logged in at the new address, click the Basic Settings tab. Use the pull-down list to change the Encore's mode from Access Point to AP Client, which is the Encore's way of saying "network bridge" or "wireless game adapter" mode.

Then, I had to set up the security. My parents' DSL router is very limited, and only offers 64-bit WEP security. The Encore's choices aren't all together: most of the other options, like WPA and WPA2, are grouped together on a grey bar background, but WEP has its own separate set of radio buttons. I clicked "WEP Key" to "Enabled", left the pull-down options for the password at "64-bit" and "Hex", and typed in the WEP password. A bit of testing revealed that you must also click the "Shared Key" button in the gray bar, or it won't actually use the WEP key.

Last, I clicked the "Site Survey" button on the SSID field, causing the Encore to scan for wireless access points. It immediately found my parent's router and those of a couple of neighbors. I selected the proper router and did a save. After the Encore came back up, I was able to access the network and Internet from my PC via the Encore. Configuration was complete! (Remember to remove the hard-coded IP address from your PC and reconnect to your home network!)

All that was left to do was to disconnect the Encore from the PC and move it to the HD-DVR. Once I had done that, I went ahead and Menu-Restarted the DVR and let it come up. Just as it should, it worked immediately, and had access to the Media Share server (WMP11) I had set up on one of the household computers. Right away, we could play music and pics on the TV. OnDemand took several hours to enable itself, as is typical when you first connect it, but it's now also working. I didn't test DirecTV2PC there, but I have no doubt that would work as well.

So, my $30 solution worked, and my parents are thrilled with all the cool new features they now have access to. Hopefully, this will be useful to someone else.

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#2 OFFLINE   Richierich

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 07:28 AM

That is WAY TOO MUCH WORK for me as I don't want to be a Wireless GURU to get mine to work,

Simply buy the WGA600N and install it and be done with it.

You also don't need the "N" Speed as the HR2X DVR doesn''t transmit faster than "G" Speed.
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#3 OFFLINE   BattleScott

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 07:56 AM

e-bay and craigslist are good places to pick up these devices for real cheap too. I was in similar situation, wanted network but didn't want to pay too much, and was able to pick up a used Linksys adapter for $20 (including shipping).
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#4 OFFLINE   BattleScott

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 08:15 AM

That is WAY TOO MUCH WORK for me as I don't want to be a Wireless GURU to get mine to work,

Simply buy the WGA600N and install it and be done with it.

You also don't need the "N" Speed as the HR2X DVR doesn''t transmit faster than "G" Speed.


The HR dvrs are 100MB ethernet and are capable of higher throughput than G or N wireless systems.
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#5 OFFLINE   dave29

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 09:29 AM

wow, thats a lot of work to save $50. but, it sounds like you know what your doing.:)

#6 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 12:19 PM

The thing is, it really isn't that much work. I only spent about 10 minutes doing the configuration, and if I'd had some real instructions to start with, it would have been more like 3-4.

Granted, native support is a wonderful thing, but for anyone who was able to set up security on their wireless router, this should be simple. I did the hard part, which was figuring out the few quirks that were due to the obvious translation to English from what I'm sure was Chinese (the translation was good and readable, but the instructions weren't as clear or complete as they could have been) and the couple of design/configuration choices that added a bit of confusion. Why they would default the IP to 192.168.1.1, given that nearly all home routers use that IP, is a mystery to me, but it only takes a couple of seconds to change. They could also have layed out the settings for the encryption options a little better. Still, a few seconds of work got it going just fine.

#7 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 12:22 PM

If would seem prudent to use "N" class wireless devices featuring faster bandwidth, particularly since a number of the current and future services/activities will work much more reliably.
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#8 OFFLINE   BattleScott

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 12:33 PM

If would seem prudent to use "N" class wireless devices featuring faster bandwidth, particularly since a number of the current and future services/activities will work much more reliably.


It depends on what you have and what your going to use it for. If your mainly using it for DoD, then "G" is plenty fast enough to outrun even the fastest ISP services. And if you already have a "G" router, there's no compelling reason to upgrade it.
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#9 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 12:36 PM

IIP,

It was very nice of you to take the time to detail what you did. While some might find your solution to your liking...many others will. Thank you for posting this info!

#10 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 12:43 PM

And if your "G" router is integrated into your DSL modem, as was the case here, then upgrading becomes much more of a pain. My parents only have one HR21, and no other HD, so they won't be doing any MRV anytime soon, but they would like DoD and Media Share, and "G" is plenty fast enough for those.

#11 OFFLINE   ebockelman

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:18 PM

The HR dvrs are 100MB ethernet and are capable of higher throughput than G or N wireless systems.


From what I've seen, the HR2x is too underpowered to saturate a 100Mb ethernet connection.

Wireless N can best 100Mb ethernet in real-world conditions. (The draft spec actually goes up to 600Mb/s, but that's not available in consumer gear yet.)

And as said by others here, for on-demand use, any of these standards will be faster than most home internet connections. It really only matters for in-network activities, such as Directv2PC.

#12 OFFLINE   Richierich

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:32 PM

I have a "G" Speed Router and when I do DOD it is as fast as I need. By the time I got upstairs to watch it, it had reached 6% and the speed at which I watch it is less than the speed of the download so why go with an "N" Speed Router unless you can take advantage of speeds in excess of 100 Mbps. My Router has everything that the WRT610N Router has except "N" Speed and 5Ghz bandwidth. It has a Dual Band Router which is great for preventing dropouts but I wish someone could explain what an "N" Speed Router like the WRT610N would do for me in terms of more speed than my WRT54GX "G" Speed Router.
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#13 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 03:26 PM

Great find, IIP. And thanks for the detailed write up. I've gone through a similar process setting up the D-Link DWL-G730AP which is around $50, if you want a more compact device. Also great for travel if you want to go online at a hotel with only wired internet access.

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#14 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 03:32 PM

It depends on what you have and what your going to use it for. If your mainly using it for DoD, then "G" is plenty fast enough to outrun even the fastest ISP services. And if you already have a "G" router, there's no compelling reason to upgrade it.

You had me until your last sentence, which contradicts your first statement.

Yes, it does matter depending on what you need your network connection to do, and in a number of cases for things underway in network-based services and in the future, "G" may likely not cut it.

In addition to even these things....the performance for your home network for other devices may also provide a "compelling reason" to upgrade to "N".
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#15 OFFLINE   hasan

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 05:36 PM

With what is coming down the road in terms of requirements for wireless networking the HR and H boxes, G does not cut it, and I wouldn't invest in it unless there was no other alternative. Since this isn't the CE forum, I can't go in to specifics, but be forwarned, G is not going to work well for some of the not-so-future features. I say this because I tested it (G vs. N), but am prohibited from going any further here.

My only reason for posting is to prevent someone from following G advice, only to find out later that it is wholly inadequate for something they might really enjoy and make use of.
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#16 OFFLINE   BattleScott

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 08:50 PM

Wireless N can best 100Mb ethernet in real-world conditions. (The draft spec actually goes up to 600Mb/s, but that's not available in consumer gear yet.)


The data rates your talking about for the 802.11n are "raw" data rates, not effective throughput.
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#17 OFFLINE   BattleScott

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 08:59 PM

You had me until your last sentence, which contradicts your first statement.

Yes, it does matter depending on what you need your network connection to do, and in a number of cases for things underway in network-based services and in the future, "G" may likely not cut it.

In addition to even these things....the performance for your home network for other devices may also provide a "compelling reason" to upgrade to "N".


If you already have a G router and you plan to use the wireless for DoD, there is no reason to spend the money on upgrading to N. What's contradictory about that?

If you're going to use the wireless for multiple streams of HD video involving DirecTV2PC or some other top-secret application whereby video streams are passed from a central DVR to other locations around the internal network then it may be advisable to spend the money to upgrade.

Edited by BattleScott, 24 January 2009 - 09:04 PM.

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#18 OFFLINE   BattleScott

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 09:04 PM

I have a "G" Speed Router and when I do DOD it is as fast as I need. By the time I got upstairs to watch it, it had reached 6% and the speed at which I watch it is less than the speed of the download so why go with an "N" Speed Router unless you can take advantage of speeds in excess of 100 Mbps. My Router has everything that the WRT610N Router has except "N" Speed and 5Ghz bandwidth. It has a Dual Band Router which is great for preventing dropouts but I wish someone could explain what an "N" Speed Router like the WRT610N would do for me in terms of more speed than my WRT54GX "G" Speed Router.


Specifically for DoD, there would be no benefit as the ISPS connection is going to be the limiting factor in dowload speed. But as discussed above, if you plan to utilize DirecTV2PC or MRV for streaming HD content through the internal network, N would be desirable.
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#19 OFFLINE   peaches

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 09:11 PM

anyone who believes that 802.11 spec link speed is representative of actual real world throughput should read smallnetbuilders articles.

There is no 802.11n MIMO 40Mhz product that transfers more than 80Mbps asymmetrically meaning uplink transfers will be 60Mbps or slower - this is at 1 meter away from base Access Point.
2.4Ghz 40Mhz channel width
http://www.smallnetb....,200/chart,31/

5Ghz 40Mhz channel width
http://www.smallnetb....,200/chart,41/

If you live in a house then you want to use 2.4Ghz 802.11n to get better range and more bandwidth. If you live in a clustered apartment then 5Ghz may be worthwhile - bandwidth will be lower as will range, but less interference.

If you use your gaming console to stream uPNP content over your WLAN then 802.11n is a good choice. For gaming only, you only needs about 2Mbps actual bandwidth (or 11Mbps link rate) at a high SNR (like 40 or greater - use netstumbler, iStumbler to check). If you can't achieve this at the location then 802.11n is worthwhile because is has a much longer range.

A La Fonera/Airlink (DD-WRT client) costs about $30, so decide if you want the WGA600N if you can afford it.

As far as performance goes, the WGA600N is a great dual band bridge. A good gaming simultaneous Dual Band router is the D-Link DIR-825, which has come down a bit in price. If you only need 802.11n 2.4Ghz, the DIR-625 (not 615) is a good budget router with great QoS - good for gaming.

Of course, there are other alternatives to wireless like Powerline or Coax networking, with 200Mbps kits starting at $160 (aka Homeplug AV), 85Mbps kits for $80 etc... Netgear, Belkin, Panasonic, Linksys and Dlink are good Powerline brands.

http://www.netgear.c....tAdapters.aspx
http://www.netgear.c....king/Coax.aspx

#20 OFFLINE   the1who

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 10:13 AM

Just wondered if anyone ever really thought about this, security?

While the WGA600N supports a range of security features, do you actually use them?

I know there are some on here that would rather just plug and play, that is definitely fine, but I am more security conscious and run on WPA2. When setting up a "wireless" network, one shouldn't be naive. One shouldn't assume that it only happens to corporations and that personal security isn't a risk.

With the RIAA beating it's war drum, do you really want a phreaker downloading and sharing off your network, so that he can run and not be caught while you're stuck with the lawsuit?

I came across this thread as I bought a DWL-G730AP yesterday and was looking for more useful information that I might not have already known. I bought it to work with my DI-624 with WPA2 already. There are more adapters out there, but none specifically said they supported WPA enhancements. I have read the debates on here about N vs G and so forth, but I am not here for that and if anyone questions why, well I only have VoD interests, not MRV or D2PC.

It was maybe more of a hassle to setup, yes very true. But I definitely know and am assured that I am running all on WPA2 and am less worried about being phreaked upon or have war games outside in a car passing by. Sorry to bring an old thread out from the dungeons but I searched DWL-G730AP and this and a few other threads were the only to show up, this being the later of the 3. I definitely love the small compact design, very small, plus no external antenna as well.

If you are a person like me who already has a G infrastructure, such as laptops and desktops with a G router, this to me would be the best option since it is cheap. Plus Dlink has always had a good reputation with me, always able to provide 24/7 tech support over the phone. If you plan on upgrading to a N infrastructure then get the adapter that suits your current needs with the N network capabilities. I don't stream any videos to PC, have tried but no PC is capable of supporting, so I just select a VoD and forget about it as it is plenty fast, faster than I am able to watch in real time so I am not even one bit worried about speed. Plus 54Mbps is faster than the 10Mbps I get from my ISP, why worry, I definitely don't have a backbone connection. I'm not debating with anyone's views or opinions, simply explaining my experience. Just tested my ISP, 8Mbps currently, darn.

#21 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 11:03 AM

Just wondered if anyone ever really thought about this, security?


As I noted in my original post, this was for my parents, who were using a Pacific Bell/SBC/AT&T-provided combo DSL Gateway/WiFi-G Router, with encryption limited to WEP. Even though the bridge supports up to WPA-2, the DSL/Router was the limiting factor, and my parents have no intention of changing that. They don't do anything critical or financial-related on their computers, so the danger of hackers is low. Also, the usable range of the DSL/Router isn't all that great, which further limits someone from hacking in.

But security is always something to keep in mind.

#22 OFFLINE   the1who

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 09:20 PM

As I noted in my original post, this was for my parents, who were using a Pacific Bell/SBC/AT&T-provided combo DSL Gateway/WiFi-G Router, with encryption limited to WEP. Even though the bridge supports up to WPA-2, the DSL/Router was the limiting factor, and my parents have no intention of changing that. They don't do anything critical or financial-related on their computers, so the danger of hackers is low. Also, the usable range of the DSL/Router isn't all that great, which further limits someone from hacking in.

But security is always something to keep in mind.


Understand, wasn't really directed at you or anyone in general. But you know for those that I know who live in apartment complexes, it's not hacking a computer but using the network for their benefit that is illegal, which doesn't necessarily compromise the computer you know. And if someone was more technically able, they could adjust the power of the router as I have done. I have it set on the lowest and I can access it anywhere in this duplex. I haven't done a walk outside yet to test it's range, but sitting on the the front corner by the computers, it probably has a good range to the street curb.

That's one thing that I was reading about the Linksys adapter, the WPS security feature. There are supposedly like 4 different levels with WPS, one being the highest, which would require the clients and hosts to be the same manufacturer; to take advantage of that highest WPS level that is. But merely in general for anyone that would read or search for this, they'd have something to reference to keep in mind. As I stated, I was only searching for more information amongst this forum for my model number and this thread came up.

#23 OFFLINE   jwanner

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 05:17 AM

the same for all device data rates so it seems to be a moot point when comparing them.
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