For broadcasting or extending the range of a wireless network or allowing a wired network to broadcast wirelessly, one piece of networking equipment is used and that is a wireless access point or WAP. Below is an in-depth explanation on setting up a wireless access point for your home network.
How to Install a Wireless Access Point
Steps on how to set up a wireless access point are:
Your WAP acts as a go-between device, between your router and computers trying to connect to your home network. Hence, the wireless settings of your router should be inputed onto your WAP, so that the wireless access point picks up and broadcasts the correct signal. Before doing anything with the access point, you will need the following information from your router:
- Router’s IP address
- DHCP address range
- Wireless network name or SSID
- Wireless channel being used
- Security mode being used (WEP, WPA etc.)
- Password or security key (copy all the settings, such as number of keys, encryption type etc. to be safe)
Please write down the above data correctly. A slight change in the settings and nothing will work. To obtain such information, you will need to log onto your router’s setup page. If you are familiar with the process or know the settings, skip the following steps:
I. Use any computer that is hard wired to your router. Do not connect to your router’s page wirelessly.
II. On that computer, open the Command Prompt and in the black screen, type the command ipconfig.
III. Look for the field Default Gateway. An example of what it may look like: “192.168.1.1”. Write this down, this is your router’s IP address.
IV. Close the command prompt and open any web browser. Delete any URL in the Address bar and type in your router’s IP address. Press Enter.
V. A dialog box will appear asking for your router’s username and password (not related at all to your wireless network). If you have enabled any, please enter it now. The default login information for most routers is a blank username and password: admin. Click on Ok.
VI. At the main setup screen, look for DHCP Range and DHCP start and end addresses. Write this down.
VII. Now look for a tab at the top of the screen, that says Wireless or Wireless Settings. Click on said tab, there may be sub tabs like basic, security and advanced. Look for the wireless information details mentioned above (SSID, security etc.) and write them down.
VIII. Check if you have enabled broadcasting of your network name, i.e. your network name is seen and you connect by selecting it. This option is usually termed as SSID broadcast and is found in the wireless settings page.
Connecting the WAP
1. Now it’s time to deal with the access point. Connect an Ethernet cable to the port on the WAP and the other end of the wire to the Ethernet port on your computer, such that the WAP and a computer are hard-wired together. Turn on the access point.
2. Open the Command Prompt and type ipconfig/renew. Then type ipconfig. Look for the Default Gateway address, this is currently your WAP’s address, which needs to be changed.
3. Open a web browser and type this address in the Address bar. Log in to the page, (username blank, password:admin) and now you are on the WAP’s setup page.
4. The default mode for functioning is Access Point in most routers. If there is any such specification on the WAP’s setup page, make sure this mode is set to Access Point only.
5. First the router’s IP address needs to be assigned. Look for the term IP address and there should be four number filled boxes beside it.
6. To help understand what the access point’s address should be, here’s an example:
Suppose your router’s IP address is 192.168.1.1 and the DHCP starting address is 192.168.1.10 and ending address is 192.168.1.15
7. Since the DHCP range is 10-15, the access point’s address should NOT be any of these numbers but should be something different. An ideal address for your access point is 192.168.1.2. So, it is within the router’s subnet range but not within the DHCP range. Type this in the IP address box. Do not type in the Default Gateway boxes.
8. Look for any option termed DHCP enabled and a possible checkbox or “yes/no”. Turn off the DHCP. With this address change, the web browser might try to refresh or a message might be shown. Close all windows.
Setting Up the Wireless Network
(i). On establishing the WAP’s address, now the physical connections have to be changed. Connect one of your router’s LAN or Ethernet ports to the port on the WAP. Connect another wire between the computer and the router’s port. Power on the access point. Now both your computer and the WAP are connected but not to each other, instead to the router.
(ii). Now on the computer, open a web browser and type in the WAP’s IP address, which was just assigned (in this scenario, 192.168.1.2) and logon to the setup page. Look for a main tab that says Wireless.
(iii). Under this tab, enter SSID and wireless channel. Look for a sub-tab that says Wireless Security and click on it. Under this, select the correct security type and type in the password or key, that is used for your network. This step is inputting the wireless settings of your router onto your access point. Once done, close the browser.
(iv). The LED’s on your access point should be lit up. Check the WAP’s manual to see if they are lit up correctly. The WAP has been set up. If you are connecting it to a wired router, leave the present connections as they are. If you have a wireless router, then you can disconnect the WAP from the router and position it in a location, such that it picks up the router’s signal and broadcasts it properly. This process is slightly “trial and error” in nature, as you need to check the signal strength for placing the wireless access point in the optimum location.
The above mentioned WAP installation procedure may seem very tedious, but you just need to be patient and read the step carefully before doing anything. Bear in mind that your access point is now configured according to your router’s wireless settings, so if you change them on the router, you have to change them on your access point.