Wireless network bridge?
June 3, 2006 10:35 AM   Subscribe

I want to connect my (not-internet-connected) ethernet network to an existing 802.11g network. What hardware do I need?

I thought the device that would let me do this was a 'bridge', but searching pricegrabber shows very few bridges, most of which are a year or two old. D-Link's site doesn't show any products that claim to be bridges.

So, what's going on? Do I have the terminology wrong? Is it impossible to connect networks like this? Or will any wireless router also function as a bridge?
posted by beniamino to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Do I have the terminology wrong?"

No, what you want is called a bridge. They're not popular items, so they tend to be expensive and relatively difficult to come by in consumer channels, despite being very simple (simpler than a NAT router) devices.

"Is it impossible to connect networks like this?"

No, a bridge will do what you want.

"Or will any wireless router also function as a bridge?"

No, but you can probably press one of the Linux-running Linksys routers (the famous WRT54G, for example) into service as a bridge with alternative firmware. If you didn't have an existing wireless network, obviously any wireless AP could do the job. However, not many such devices ship with the wireless interface set up for client mode.
posted by majick at 10:46 AM on June 3, 2006

The Linksys WRT54G may be a great router, but don't get a WET54G bridge. Terrible, terrible, terrible reviews and I can back that up with personal experience. That, however, is exactly the type of device you want although I'd recommend another vendor - or maybe the -S model.
posted by kcm at 10:50 AM on June 3, 2006

I think what I meant to say was to buy one retail if possible and don't send for rebates before you're happy - this goes for just about any marginally-popular consumer device that generally has little hope of being corrected through firmware revisions due to supply and demand. :)
posted by kcm at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2006

If you have a spare or find one on eBay cheaply, you can use a Mac Mini with an Airport card as a bridge.

Just plug in your CAT5 patch cable, open System Preferences, click on Sharing, and click on Internet.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2006

Best answer: Hmm.. the D-Link Wireless Range Extender might do what you want. You probably don't care about extending the signal, but as a side effect it looks like you can use it as a bridge too (there's an ethernet port on the back, although the manual doesn't say much about it).

One warning though: range extension isn't something that will always work with two pieces of arbitrary equipment. You have to make sure that your extender is compatible with the access point.

And I'll quickly mention that it's certainly possible to do this sort of thing with Linux and a spare machine. However, you'd have to be pretty familiar with Linux networking, the command line tools, and some knowledge of netfilter helps too. Not something for a novice or even many advanced users.
posted by sbutler at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2006

You want an Apple Airport Express (looks like a couple of decks of crds stacked together), I've done this with mine, in a previously horrid incarnation of my home network.

If you're the adventurous and knowledgeable type grab a WRT54GL and install openwrt on it. It can do the same stuff but has the added features of having a 4 port "switch" on it and can run a variety of service for you.
posted by iamabot at 11:05 AM on June 3, 2006

Actually, after further review, you may have to get a full fledge base station from Apple to do what I'm describing.

I'll see if I can test it out here in a minute or 4.
posted by iamabot at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for these excellent answers. I'm toying with the WRT54G-as-bridge (instructions here) and linux box solutions. I'm always looking for an excuse to pick up a shiny new Apple gadget, but even the Airport Express is a little pricey.
posted by beniamino at 11:57 AM on June 3, 2006

Yeah, impulse buy :(

I am weak before the power of the shiny. The WRT54G is a handy little box, I keep one around because I never know when I'm going to have to hack something together for work or piece together something for home.
posted by iamabot at 12:32 PM on June 3, 2006

Yeah, the Linksys WRT54G does this just fine. And everything else in the world.

Very occasionally a product that does exactly what it should do will sneak past the Quality Control of a large manufacturer.
posted by Hildago at 2:08 PM on June 3, 2006

Best answer: Cheaper / simpler solution, assuming this is just a straight peer network: Set up a 802.11g adaptor on one of the existing Windows PCs on the network (one that can "see" the wireless network), and set up ICS.

Pros: Costs $20 for another wireless NIC; uses Window's inbuilt ICS.

Cons: Uses Windows ICS...
posted by Pinback at 4:16 PM on June 3, 2006

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