Monday, November 26, 2012

Extending a wireless network (and curing Kindle dropped Internet connections)

After lots of experiments with different router settings I've come to the conclusion that Amazon Kindles just don't like connecting to BT Home Hub 3 routers. The problem I have is compounded by my house having three feet thick stone walls. If I'm lucky I'll get a three bar wireless signal. I finally decided that if I was to avoid tearing any more hair out, the way to cure the problem was to add an additional wireless router to my home network.

What you will need

Over the years I've moved homes several times and changed ISPs several times too. I've acquired a number of wireless routers so I didn't have to buy a second router. This is what you'll need:

  • A 2nd wireless router. I had a spare one already but if you need to buy one expect to pay about £35 for a new one or £20 second hand. Ebay and Amazon both sell them as do computer shops.
  • A length of CAT 5 Ethernet cable with an Ethernet plug on each end. Get the length you need plus a little extra. These can be bought ready made, in various colours, quite cheaply on Ebay.
  • Cable clips to fit your Ethernet cable.
  • A short Ethernet lead (one probably came with your routers)
  • A computer to change the settings with.

Position the second router

Decide where you need your extra router. It needs to be near a power socket and also somewhere easy to run a cable to. For the moment lay out the cable which will connect the routers without fastening it down or connecting it at either end.

Find out some information about your current router

Now you need to find out the IP addresses that your existing router uses. On your computer go to a command window and type in  IPCONFIG then press Enter. Make a note of your 'gateway'. Here's what I got typing this in on a laptop - the red arrow shows what you are looking for:

Next go to a web page and type the gateway address into the URL/address bar. In my case
You will need to know the router admin password. Usually this is written on the back of the router or is blank. On a BT Home Hub 3 its on the pull out tab at the top of the router. If you can't find it then read the manual which came with your router or go to the manufacturer's site and find the default password there. If you changed the password (as you should) and forgot it, then reset the router, usually by pushing a paperclip into the reset hole and holding it in for 10-15 seconds. Your router should be switched on while you do this.

Type in the password to get access to the router. Find out two things from it's settings:
  1. The channel number the router uses. It may be set to auto. My BT router used Channel 6.
  2. The DHCP network range of IP addresses the router uses.
    On my BT Home Hub 3 I found this by going to Settings > Advanced settings > Home network > IP Addresses. The addresses on mine were -

Setting up the second router

Now we need to set up the second router. Connect it to it's power supply and connect the short Ethernet cable from it to your computer. Use one of the 4 sockets grouped together on the router NOT the one marked WAN.

You'll need to know the second router's IP address, administrator name and password. Again get this from the router manual or the manufacturer's website. Reset the router to it's factory default if you've forgotten a password you set.

I was using a D-Link router which used as it's IP address, admin as the username and the default password was blank.

You need to make some changes to the second router's settings:

  1. Find where you can change the router's IP address. On my D-Link I found this under Setup > Network Settings. Look at the gateway address you found and the DHCP network range of IP addresses the 1st router uses. Choose the nearest number to the Gateway IP address
    My BT Home Hub 3 gateway address was
    The DHCP network range of IP addresses the router used was -
    The nearest IP address was then
  2. On your computer open a command window and type in ping (or whatever number was your nearest available one). IF that IP address is unused you'll see something like this:

    This is exactly what you want to see. Set the second router's IP address to this value

    If the IP address is already being used you'll get something like this:

    If this is the case you'll have to choose a different IP address - change the last part of the number only.
  3. In the same area of settings (2nd router) look for DHCP server settings and disable the DHCP server
  4. Save the second router settings. At this point your connection to the second router will end.
  5. Disconnect the second router from your computer and connect it to the first router using the long Ethernet lead. Again avoid the WAN ports on both routers.
  6. Back on your computer, in a web page type in the new IP address you gave the second router. Again enter the username and password to access it.
  7. Change the Wireless Network Name (or SSID) of the 2nd router. Choose a simple to enter name but not one which contains personal information or the router type. On my D-Link router I found this under Setup > Wireless settings > Wireless network Name. I resisted the temptation to call it 'GoogleCameraCar' or 'MI5van'
  8. Set the Wireless security mode to WPA-Personal or WPA/WPA2
  9. Set the wireless access key (on D-Link routers this is called a pre-Shared key) to something cryptic, at least 10 characters long, and using both letters, numbers and symbols. Don't use a word found in a dictionary or a name. Make a note of this key!
  10. Set the wireless channel to be different to the one used by the first router. If you have an older Kindle don't use channel 11. The further away the channel numbers are from each other the better. I used 6 on my main router and 10 on the 2nd router.
  11. Save your settings again.
  12. Now you need to set a new administrator password for the 2nd router. On my D-Link I found this under Tools > Admin. Again set this at least 10 characters long and make it a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. NOT 'Password', blank, your car registration, your mother's maiden name, your pet's name, your date of birth or anything else easy to guess. Make a note of this password!
  13. Save your settings again!

You should now find you get a MUCH stronger wireless signal and should be able to connect your ebook reader to the new network. If you are using a BT Home Hub 3 - no more lost Internet connections on your Kindle devices.

Tidy up those cables

The final job is to tidy up the Ethernet cable and fix it in place so that you don't trip on it. It's a little more complex than fitting a telephone extension cable because it's thicker and you should try to avoid sharp bends in the cable. These will slow the signal down. I find it's OK to hide it under the edge of carpets, or tack it in place using cable clips.

If this post has proved useful to you would you do me a favour in return? Download a FREE copy of the book I co-author - a romantic technothriller called 'A Vested Interest'. Even if you don't read it it will help our ratings. You can get it at and if you want to read it, you can use a phone, a tablet, a computer or even a Kindle.