I've had this major thorn in my side over the past few months, but it finally got so bad that I had to go out and do something about it.
I'm speaking of my god-awful Vonage/Linksys WRT-54GP2 router.
I'm half tempted to write a "declaration of Independence" style rant about this router. ("When in the course of human events a piece of electronics equipment reaches a level of suckitude that the people depending on it feel like taking it out back and shooting it with a high powered rifle...")
I bought the router under the mistaken impression that "simplicity is best". A router, a Vonage terminal adapter, and an ethernet hub, all in one-- plug it into my cable modem, configure it once and be done with it, right? Not quite.
Eventually I got an Airport Express, and it would only occasionally connect to the wireless network the Linksys initiated. It'd only show up about 10% of the time and then only if I power cycled both the Airport Express and the Linksys.
But that's just so I could stream music through my stereo... Ignoring that, I couldn't even use the stupid Linksys without hack number one, namely to open a Terminal on my laptop and ping the router. Apparently this heartbeat was sufficient to remind the damn thing that "the drill sergeant is around, stay on your toes". Hack number two was to turn off "Hidden Network" because that nearly doubled the chances that the Airport Express would find the Linksys' network.
But, eventually, those hacks became insufficient. I'd find myself without a network at least once a day, and would have to go and power cycle the thing. I got so frustrated with resetting the damn thing so much I resorted to putting an appliance timer on it!
I established a daily "scheduled downtime" routine on the router each day at 4:30-5am figuring "I won't need it then anyway".
After calling Vonage and having them tell me that the firmware, now two years outdated, was in fact the most recent, I had finally had enough. I decided to pick up an Airport Extreme, but with a crazy work schedule over the past few weeks, I didn't have time to pick up a replacement.
Well today, I squeezed in 15 minutes to stop by the Apple store, and am elated to report that all my hacks have been obsoleted. No more ping heartbeats to keep the router up. No more power cycling, or appliance timers. No more Airport Express not available on the network.
And not only does Airtunes work reliably, I can now use WDS to extend my wireless network to my first floor since I'm using all Apple wireless access points.
Here's how it all went down to go to a master Airport Extreme + Airport Express (with WDS) + WRT54GP2 as Vonage TA.
- Disable wireless (and nearly everything else) on the Linksys. This was the most gratifying step. Set it to pick up an IP address via DHCP
- Unplug WAN cable from cable modem on the Linksys and plug it into the Airport Extreme
- Unplug the Ethernet cables from the Linksys and plug them into the Airport Extreme
- Configure the Airport Extreme to act as WDS main and a basic WiFi router
- Plug an Ethernet cable into a hub port on the Extreme and plug the other end into the WAN port on the WRT54GP2. This enables the Linksys to work just as a Vonage device. Yes, dear crappy Linksys router, you are now just an overpriced, overglorified wired ethernet/POTS bridge device
- Configure the Airport Express to act as WDS remote
There, in six relatively simple steps, months of frustration have simply dissolved into the ether. No lost connections, high signal, low noise, no hacks, and the products I already had that never worked right.... now work right. Imagine.