“Linksys Wireless-G Range Expander Model WRE54G - User Review”
29 January 2006
Summary: Did not work for me, my situation.
Had a situation where I installed a Dlink DI-614+ wireless router to a DSL bridge. Unfortunately, location of router and bridge was in basement of house and laptop could not make a wireless link from the kitchen with the line of site between the router and the laptop being good old American dirt. So, I checked around and decided I needed a wireless expander to take care of the second floor of the house.
Went to Staples and bought a Linksys Wireless-G Expander, model WRE54G and quick check of instructions said that it could be installed without running CD, provided the wireless network was not using WEP or encryption. Since I had not gotten to the point of encrypting the network, thought I could just use expander right out of the box.
Plugged Linksys expander power cord into wall outlet, placed expander in what should have been line of sight of Dlink wireless router and sure enough, Link light on expander changed from red to blue indicating it had found an un-encrypted network. I then pushed the Linksys Auto Configuration button and the Activity light on the Linksys turned blue. All set, I thought.
Now at the laptop, I used Dlink wireless software to do a site survey. In this case, I found 2 networks, the wireless router in the basement and also the Linksys expander (the laptop Dlink card could see the basement router but as antenna in laptop PCMIA card so small, laptop transmit was not making it back to Dlink router). I selected the Linksys expander network and connected to it. All seemed fine but when I went to try to get onto the Internet, kept getting error, page not found. I was making link with Expander but apparently, Expander was not making link to router.
After a lot of experimentation, to include trying to run the Linksys CD configuration software in the laptop (must run in a system hosting a wireless adapter card) where it crashed every time I tried to run it (compatibility issue with Dlink DWL-650+ PCMCIA card?) I found that although the laptop was making a link with the Linksys expander, I had to do a Windows link repair operation to reestablish Internet attributes. This is not mentioned in any Linksys material to include full user manual, which I downloaded off the Linksys Internet web site.
So, in summary, this is what I have learned the hard way about the Linksys WRE54G Wireless-G Expander:
- Getting the Linksys to find and link to our existing wireless network can be a little tricky. It appears to me that the logic inside the Linksys is not all that solid, robust, whatever. Anyway, here we go. First of all, you must have both the Link and the Activity lights on the Linksys expander blue to be able to connect any wireless device to it. If the Link light is red or you have any combination of lights other than blue and blue, the expander is not linked properly to your network. The first time you plug the expander into the wall outlet, if you are lucky, the Link light will come up red and then switch to blue. Then press the Auto Configuration button on the Linksys and if the Activity light comes up blue and the Link light is still blue, you are set. If the Link light turns red and the activity light is blue, no good. I have found that using the reset button, through the small hole in the side of the Linksys case does nothing I can tell, so unplug the unit form the wall outlet and begin again. First get a blue light for Link and then press Auto Configuration. If at first the Link light goes red and the Activity light turns blue, push the Auto Configuration button again and wait. The unit might recycle and you might get both lights to turn blue and stay blue. If one or the other lights is still not blue, press Auto Configuration button again and wait. If you still do not have both lights blue, unplug unit from wall, wait for 1 minute and then plug unit back into wall outlet. Hopefully this time unit will come up with Link being blue and Auto Configuration button will establish blue Activity light. Again, if both lights are not blue, press Auto Configuration button again (press quickly, do not press and hold). If after many attempts you still cannot get both lights to be blue, it is possible that the Linksys is not "seeing" your wireless router and you might have to try the Linksys expander in another location.
- If placed in line of sight of wireless router and link not encrypted, Linksys will find an un-encrypted network and with push of Auto Configuration button, will make a wireless link to router. Interesting to note that in the house I was working in, actually many wireless networks in neighborhood but all encrypted and thus not a problem for Linksys Auto Configuration, but I did try to select a wireless router channel, which was not being used by other networks in the local neighborhood. Also, note that Linksys really is creating a new network. A site survey will reveal that.
- Is compatible with 802.11b standard as that is the standard my older Dlink wireless hardware is using. Interesting to note here that Dlink has some special mode allowing increased speeds beyond 802.b standards 11MBPS and when router configured for this mode, Linksys Wireless Expander does not seem to mind and makes connection just fine although link to laptop wireless card is at 11MBPS.
- Once Linksys expander in place, turn on laptop and do site survey and select Linksys network. Via experimentation, I learned that if I had Linksys and laptop within a few feet of wireless router, could see both the wireless router network, as well as the Linksys network on laptop. Only difference between 2 networks was when I examined Link Info, Status was different. For example, my Linksys network shows a Status of Associated BSSID=00-14-BF-71-A0-C2 whereas my Dlink router network shows a Status of Associated BSSID=00-40-05-53-52-8F.
- After connecting to a network from laptop, at least the first time, must do a Windows link Repair operation to reestablish Internet attributes like IP address, etc. If you do not do this, laptop or other wireless device connected through Linksys network will not find Internet.
- I am running ZoneAlarm as Internet Firewall and no entry in Zone table required for Linksys expander.
- Talked to Linksys about setup software CD crashing when I tried to use it and they said should not be a compatibility problem with my Dlink wireless card and probably the CD was bad. Downloaded the setup from Linksys site and setup software still crashes. Not sure there is a whole lot to set inside expander anyway.
- Interesting mystery I have not solved. Can send email from wireless laptop when it has a wireless connection to Dlink router but can not send email when connected through expander. As Verizon DSL as Internet connection, I have read there some potential problem with Verizon not accepting certain email ports or something but could not track down the problem.
Finally, after installing the expander and making an Internet connection, kept getting these phone calls that laptop could not connect to Internet. Would visit my friend and find that expander had lost link to wireless router even though both lights on the expander were blue. Mystery of why link dropping until I noticed that friend has 2.4GHZ telephones in her home. Call to Linksys confirmed that 2.4GHZ telephones can scramble the router to expander link and make it unstable. So in the end, with the expander not being stable and not being able to send email from the laptop via the expander, I have removed the expander from the system and am just going to sell it. It just did not work in my situation, probably because of the telephones but my friend is not capable of resetting the expander at every power failure and doing an Windows Internet repair operation. Not sure current link between Dlink and laptop going to be stable either with 2.4GHZ telephones but will see.