Getting a Roku working overseas with a secondary WiFi router
April 22, 2014 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Trying to get a Roku working with my home network and totally clueless. Can I make this work or do I have a $100+ brick? If I can make it work, how?

I currently live overseas and have been trying to find a way to watch US TV shows for a while. My current setup is very clunky - most streamed content is played through a dedicated spare PC running Windows 7 hooked up to my TV. Starting anything is a massive chore - it requires starting the VPN client (Witopia), waiting for it to connect, then navigating through either Windows Media Center or Internet Explorer till I find what I want to watch. All of this is done via a Media Center remote - the cursor is tiny, the font is tiny, and it's way too complex. I find the complexity and tiny font annoying, and my wife who doesn't have an IT background finds the setup confusing - I end up having to set up the computer and TV every time she wants to watch something, which isn't really a viable solution.

In an attempt to simplify things, I bought a Netgear WNR3500L that was supposed to be configured with DD-WRT (to run WiTopia) and a Roku 3 to simplify things. However, the Netgear does not have DD-WRT, just the stock firmware (the seller lied to me, yay!). My own attempts to flash DD-WRT to the router have failed, and I have pretty much given up on that route.

I've considered using Unblock-Us instead but have no clue how to set it up. Part of the issue is that the DNS settings for Unblock-Us must be changed in the router, but my ISP-provided router's settings are hardwired and *cannot* be changed. I cannot swap out the ISP-provided router because it is a cable modem + router integrated unit (German brand-name Fritz Box).

So the setup I'd like is:

Internet ----[Coax Cable]----> Cable Modem / Router ----[Cat5]----> Netgear WNR3500L -----(WiFi)------> Roku 3

Is this doable? If so, what should my settings, etc be? Please keep in mind that I'm a technical person but definitely not an IT person - DNS servers, gateways, etc are all a mystery to me. If not, should I just ship back the Roku? I'd like a simple way of doing this, but am getting kind of tired of throwing money and time at making this work.
posted by photo guy to Technology (4 answers total)
What you need to do is make the fritz box modem only "bridge mode" (example only, google "bridge mode" + [model number] to get specific instructions.) Then you can put your router downstream, your setup will be exactly as shown above, except that the WNR3500L will be acting as a router, so make sure the Cat5 from the modem is plugged into the WAN (Internet) port of the WNR3500L. You may have to configure your login to your ISP, but usually over cable you get assigned an IP over DHCP, so you don't have to configure anything on your router.
Then, you can set your DNS server on the WNR3500L to manual, and set the DNS servers, and it should all automagically work.

To flash DD-WRT onto the WNR3500L, the Wiki entry is here:, please note you have to flash twice, once with the .chk file, and then with the .bin.
posted by defcom1 at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2014

As defcom1 says, what you really want is for the FRITZ!Box (I love the capitalization scheme) to be in bridge mode. The reason is that you don't want two devices on the same network serving as DHCP servers. Basically, you want to make sure that there's only one thing handing out IP addresses, assigning DNS servers, etc. In an ideal world, you could just have your FRITZ!Box do that but, since it doesn't behave how you like, you just need to bypass it and have your nice router serve as the DHCP server.

Another option (if you can't get that to work) is to try to get another (simpler) modem that will serve only as a modem. Then, just hook up your Netgear router to that.

I would definitely try flashing your router with DD-WRT again. In my experience, you have to carefully follow the directions, but it usually works OK. Actually doing the 30/30/30 reset is important, as is waiting the amount of time specified; if you're anything like me, you may have gotten impatient and tried to take shortcuts. Also, the forums at are very active; you might get some more help with this side of the equation there.
posted by Betelgeuse at 1:41 PM on April 22, 2014

I use a VPN router with my Roku while overseas no problem.
posted by k8t at 11:03 PM on April 24, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all! I finally did get my Roku working but it took a few days of Googling and playing around with the setup. For anyone else who might run into issues:

Apparently there isn't a stable build of DD-WRT for the Netgear WHR-3500Lv2 (only for v1), so I used the Shibby Tomato Build. To get Witopia running, I used the settings listed on Witopia's sample script (you can download bundled in a ZIP file with the SSL VPN keys). Unblock-Us has some useful info on registering a Roku - most important point is that the Roku account *and* the Roku both must be registered from a US-based IP address.
posted by photo guy at 10:24 AM on April 27, 2014

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