I burnt my LinkSys wifi router in Europe, help.
July 19, 2004 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Bought a LinkSys wireless router in the States. Plugged it in in Europe without checking the voltage. Sizzle, sizzle pop, "hey's what's that smell?" No universal power adapter. Help! (More inside.)

I live in Europe but not in a particularly techie part of Europe (Budapest), so when I go to the States, I tend to stock up on hardware essentials. In the past, I've bought two BEFW11S4's, carefully checking the voltage beforehand and being pleasantly surprised that they were dual voltage (rated from 110-240V).

On my last trip to the States, I bought yet another of the same model. When I got it home (well actually several months later), I finally got around to plugging it in. I heard a humming noise and thought that it was strange, but it wasn't until I smelled that sickly electrical smoke that I knew what was going on.

As I lurched for the wall, there was a distinct pop and the lights went out in Georgia. After unplugging the router, I looked at the underside and sure enough, this particular son of a bitch was not dual power unlike it's two (seemingly identical) brethren who sit here churning out these very packets.

So now, I have have one really expensive paperweight, and I'm wondering whether it was the power adapter or the electronic device itself that took it for the team.

Can my poor router be salvaged?
posted by fooljay to Technology (15 answers total)
 
Not since you let the magic smoke out.
posted by bshort at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2004


Ah yes, those Linksys routers were notorious for having different version numbers with entirely different feature sets--the firmware even had to be different for what externally seemed to be identical pieces of hardware.

I doubt you'll be able to salvage the device, but wireless routers are so cheap now... why not just pick up a new one? (I got a Netgear model a few weeks ago for around $16 after rebate)
posted by bcwinters at 3:04 PM on July 19, 2004


Well, it wasn't the router that was smoking. It was the adapter/power supply in the wall. I smelled everything very carefully to see where it was coming from. Hence, my uncertainty...
posted by fooljay at 3:06 PM on July 19, 2004


why not just pick up a new one?

I wish... You missed this part:

I live in Europe but not in a particularly techie part of Europe (Budapest), so when I go to the States, I tend to stock up on hardware essentials.

Or perhaps I understated. Let's put it this way, I think there are four wireless hot spots in Budapest (a city of 2 million people I might add) and two of the emanate from my good routers...
posted by fooljay at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2004


can't you try it with a power supply from one of the others?

good luck!
posted by andrew cooke at 3:17 PM on July 19, 2004


I thought about that, but I do believe that it's actually not the power supply that is rated and single voltage but instead the device itself.

If I ever plug that thing back in again, I'll be using a transformer. But I somehow doubt that I will because a transformer (not a converter, mind you) is almost as expensive as the device itself. I just wonder if it's worth the expense.

Hmm, I think I just answered my own question.

Okay, new question, just like the old question but different:

If I bought a new power supply for this thing, could it be used in the States, or is it fried like the first row of a Dead concert?
posted by fooljay at 3:48 PM on July 19, 2004


I thought about that, but I do believe that it's actually not the power supply that is rated and single voltage but instead the device itself.

This is almost certainly not the case.
posted by kindall at 4:03 PM on July 19, 2004


Check the label on the power supply. It will state the input and output voltages.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on July 19, 2004


If the problem is with the power supply not being able to take the voltage that your wall socket provides then plugging one of your wall warts that is known to be good into the new WAP should power the WAP just fine.

If, on the other hand, the problem is with the new WAP not being able to take whatever is emanating from the power supply, then plugging a known good wall wart into the new WAP shouldn't do anything, since the WAP is already fried.

Either way, I would try plugging in one of your good power supplies.

Or, if you want, I can sell you an SMC Barricade 802.11b access point with 4 router ports for a low low price. It's basically just like the linksys model you have. Email me if you're interested.
posted by bshort at 8:37 PM on July 19, 2004


Oooo, complicated.

The answer depends on wether you have a switching (light) or linear (heavy) power supply.

In the case of a switching power supply, you have definately destroyed the power supply. You *may* still have working equipment, since the output voltage is definately regulated.

In the case of a linear power supply, one of two things can happen:

If it's regulated (fat chance) the output will have remained at the correct voltage, which means the router is A-OK. What would have happened is the regulator would have likely melted something in the power supply due to heat dissipation. Also, probably the transformer is done for.

If it's not regulated (likely) the output voltage would be double what is expected. This could blow the filter capacitors in the power supply if they are rated too low. Also, due to the higher output voltage, your router will draw more current (unless it's regulated internally). In the end that adds up to a melting power supply transformer.

As for your linksys, only in the case of a regulated linear power supply can you be guaranteed it's ok. If it's regulated internally (you'd have to open and search for [likely] a large three pin chip labelled 7812, 7805, or some other 78xx number) then the regulator could have overheated and melted something. In that case, you're probably OK. Otherwise, if it's not regulated internally, or it's switch regulated, she's toast.

Note: If you do try to resurrect it, plug in the new power supply to it and *HOLD* the power supply to check if it gets warm quickly. If so, the router is shorting it out and you'd better unplug it FAST!

As far as power transformers go, they shouldn't cost that much! One that can powerful enough for your linksys should be available from your local electronics shop (*REAL* electronics shop, not Radio Shack / Tandy / Best Buy) for under $15. Note that a power transformer will *only* change the voltage (DON'T USE IT BACKWARDS), *not* the frequency. Some devices may act odd or overheat if the wrong frequency is applied (generally, these are poorly designed 60 Hz devices operating on 50 Hz mains, or elcheapo electric clocks).

HTH!
posted by shepd at 5:02 AM on July 20, 2004


Check the label on the power supply. It will state the input and output voltages.

OK, the old power supply says:
Input: 100v-240v
Output: 5v, 2.5A
(or some such. It's plugged in right now)

The old router says: 5V, 2.5A

The new power supply says:
Input: 120v, 60Hz, 23W
Output: 12v DC 1000mA

The new router says
12v DC, 1.0A

Either way, I would try plugging in one of your good power supplies.

Scared. I can't fry another one or else I'm screwed. I'd have to be wired. Aaaaaaccck!

The answer depends on wether you have a switching (light) or linear (heavy) power supply.

How would I know? There's other writing on the power supplies. For instance, on the new one, it says "Plug in Class 2 Transformer". Is that helpful?

I have to say, despite having taken a full year of honors engineering physics, I am totally clueless about most of your reply, shepd. I know it's useful, it's just that I have conveniently forgotten most of the words you use since college.

Perhaps I can run down to an electronics shop and get a new power supply that is rated similarly to the working one and plug that in (holding it to feel heat and with my nose on it to smell smoke) with the new router. I don't care about burning it out if it's a spare. I just can't spare my working ones...
posted by fooljay at 5:38 AM on July 20, 2004


ok, you can't use the old power supply because the output voltages are different.

go to an electrical store and buy a transformer that has the same plug on the end (hopefully standard, otherwise you'll need to do some soldering to swap plugs) and has an output of 12V DC. it must be rated at 1A (1000 mA - same thing) or more (more doesn't matter for current, it's only voltage that has to match exactly). you must also check that the polarity is correct - look at the new power supply and/or router and there should be a funny little symbol like a thermometer bulb or two concentric circles with + and/or - on it. that's telling you which bit of the plug (inside or outside) is +ve or -ve. the transformer you buy has to match.

you can find cheap transformers that have switches to do a variety of voltages and either polarity. as long as the output current rating is ok (1A or more) that would be fine - set the voltage and polarity before plugging it in.

a transformer should be very cheap and will let you test your router. you may even have a transformer lying around somewhere that matches. note that you are very very unlikely to damage the transformer as long as it can provide the current (and is rated at 240V input, obviously), so using a tarnsformer you already have is low risk (as long as the output current is 1A or more and it's 12V DC).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:37 AM on July 20, 2004


>How would I know? There's other writing on the power supplies. For instance, on the new one, it says "Plug in Class 2 Transformer". Is that helpful?

Only way to tell for sure is to open the thing, which you can't so, because it will be hermetically sealed. :-(

Just guess by the weight (heavy / light), that's all I can suggest, unless it's labelled (appears yours isn't -- most aren't). Sorry.
posted by shepd at 7:38 AM on July 20, 2004


normally switched power supplies are in a box shaped something like a cigarette package, often with significant air slots, and usually plug into the wall via a cable.

linear (wire-wound, heavy, whatever) are cube-shaped, don't have much in the way of cooling slots (at this rating), and often plug straight into the wall.

for weight, the light ones weight quite a bit less than you'd expect if it was full of water (they're really just a circuit board with some beefy capacitors), and the heavy ones weight more/about the same (they have a big chunk of iron and loads of wire inside).

but really, best thing is just to get a transformer that works and try it.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:34 AM on July 20, 2004


I'll vouch for the wonderful, wonderful world of switching power supplies. The one for my Toshiba Laptop (& manufactured by LiteOn) has taken a shit-kicking this past year and a half: shorted DC output, sparking DC output for minutes at a time, sparking AC input, etc. It's still ticking along just fine, despite having nearly melted from overload...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2004


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