Create a wireless bridge with a cheap TP-Link router

29 Sep Create a wireless bridge with a cheap TP-Link router

The TL-WR1043 router from Chinese manufacturer TP-Link is one of the most capable AND inexpensive routers on the market today.  With four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, Wireless-N, and a cost of only $54 (at the time of this writing), you cannot find a better value. And it efficiently solves a problem many people have: insufficient wireless coverage.

If your home is large or prone to Wi-Fi “dead spots” where the signal is weak, you can use a wireless bridge to help overcome these problems.  A bridge does exactly what it sounds like: it connects two Wi-Fi networks without the need for cabling. The bridge is nothing more than a second router that joins to your existing network, and extends its range. A bridge also increases the number of wired devices you can connect to your home network via the wired Ethernet ports on the back of it.  Anything you connect there is also connected to your home network,  enabling you to connect devices without onboard Wi-Fi, such as DVD players or game consoles.

To do this, you need two routers, a laptop, and an Ethernet cable. This article assumes one of those two routers is already setup and functioning as your primary Wi-Fi router, and the other is out-of-the-box, unconfigured TP-Link TL-WR1043 router . It will be referred to as the “bridge router” in this article. It is also recommended that you update the router to the latest firmware version from TP-Link before proceeding (3.13.4 Build 110429 Rel.36959n as of this writing)

Here is how you build the bridge:

1) Write down your existing wireless settings
Open up the web-based management console on your existing, primary router. Browse to the Wireless/Wireless Settings section and write down the values for channel, SSID, transmission mode, and the wireless security method and password in use. You will need these value later when you configure the bridge router.

2) Connect the bridge router
Connect the bridge router directly to your laptop with an ethernet cable plugged into any of its four LAN ports. Disable the laptop’s wifi connection, which will ensure your laptop is only talking only to the router. Power the router on, and your laptop should obtain an IP address from it.

3) Open the Administration console
Open a web browser and go to the bridge router’s administration page at 192.168.1.1; you will be prompted for the default password of admin/admin

4) Select the Wireless/Wireless Settings section.
In this section, set a different Wireless Network Name (SSID) from the one used by your primary router. Then set all of the other settings on this page to match your primary router. After making these changes, you will be prompted to reboot the router, which you must do to ensure these changes take effect. After the reboot, move on to the next step.

5) Give the bridge router a different IP.
Open the router management console once again, and select the Network/LAN section. In this section, you will see that the router has a default IP address of 192.168.1.1, which is the same IP address as your primary router. In order to avoid an IP address conflict, change the IP address of the bridge router to 192.168.1.2.  You will need to reboot the router after making this change.

6) Setup the bridge
In the router management console, browse again to the Wireless/Wireless Settings section. This time, tick the checkbox entitled “Enable WDS Bridging.”  This will open a drop-down section with a number of new settings.  You will need to fill in the “SSID(to be bridged”) and the “BSSID(to be bridged)” sections. The fastest way to do this is click the “Survey” button. This will open a new window called “AP List” which shows you all the Wi-Fi networks in range. Look for your primary router in the list by its name (SSID), and click the “Connect” link on the right.

You will notice that the SSID and BSSID sections are now filled out properly. Now simply enter the wireless security values you copied from your primary router. It should look something like this, with the sections with red arrows filled in. Save the settings, and your router will reboot and join your existing Wi-Fi network.

7) Disable DHCP
Since your primary router will be handing out IP addresses on your network, you do not want the bridged router also trying to assume this role. Select the DHCP/DHCP Settings section, and disable the DHCP server.

Then choose the System Tools/Reboot section, and reboot the router for the last time.

8) Reconnect to your primary router.
Disconnect the Ethernet cable from the bridge router and reenable your Wi-Fi. You should now see two possible SSID’s for you to connect to: the primary router and the new bridge router. Connect to the primary router, as you would normally do.

9) Validate the bridge setup.
You can perform a few tests to ensure your setup is configured correctly:
a) Browse to the administration page on the primary router. Select the Wireless/Wireless Statistics section. In this section, you should see the MAC Address of your bridge router, and some values in the Received and Sent Packets counters, indicating the connection is working. It should look like this:

Note that the MAC address of your bridge router should be printed on the bottom of the device.

b) Browse to the 192.168.1.2 address, which is the management console of the bridge router. You should be able to resolve this address and login to the adminstration page on the bridge router without issue.

If both of these test pass, you should be reasonably certain your bridge is configured correctly and running.

10) Connect to the bridge
Now reset your Wi-Fi connection to the SSID of the bridge router.  You should be able to connect successfully, get an IP address through the primary router, and be able to connect to the Internet. You should also be able to connect a wired device to any of the LAN ports on the router and get to the Internet as well.

  • John

    Hi Jeff,

    Great set of instructions.
    I have an existing Thomson TG782T Router (DSL Modem + Wireless Router) at home.
    As you said te signal is very weak at the other end of the house, so I got a TPLink WR1043ND to set it up as a Bridge to extend my wireless reach.
    I followed your instructions section by section, and still cannot get it to work.
    TG782T Router has 192.168.1.254 as the Admin IP but the DHCP on it has been set up with a default Gateway of 10.0.0.138 and a IP range 10.0.0.1 – 255
    Subnet is 255.255.255.0

    I tried to set up the WR1043ND with 192.168.2 and 3, and 250, they got connected to the TG782T Router and visible. The problem was that I could not connect to it Wired or Wireless,
    I then tried it within the Home Router IP range 10.0.0.99 This time it was also Visible and I could connect to it to get to the WR1043ND Console. But I could not use it as an Access Point. It did not provide an acceptable IP. It came back with a weird IP of 169.254.236.245 and sub mask of 255.255.0.0 and default Gateway 0.0.0.0

    Any Ideas where I may be going wrong?

    Thanks

  • Jeff

    The 169.x address is a known as a self-signed IP, and is indicative that you are not, in fact, connected to the access point. You need to ensure that DHCP on the bridge access point is disabled; only the main access point should be handing out IP addresses.

  • John

    Thanks Jeff,

    I had already disabled the DHCP on the WR1043ND. So I don’t know where my PC is getting the 169.x IP from.
    According to the WR1043ND Admin Panel, it shows ‘WDS Status: Run’ . but it’s not getting IP allocation from TG782T Router

    • Umer

      Dear always remember that address starting from 169.X.X.X are always given by the local windows APIP service means Automatic IP Providing service this means you have not configured the setup correctly and your system is obtaining it from the local windows machine.

  • Jeff

    A self-signed IP is what your PC gives you when it cannot obtain an IP address dynamically. Try using the same IP address range (ie: 192.x.x.x) all the way around.

  • Bla

    It’s a very good description. I had only problem with the MAC filtering, I forgot to enable the bridge router’s MAC on the existing router.
    Thank you for the nice work

  • Abdul Sami

    I could not complete step 10. Windows 7 couldn’t connect to router 2 Wi Fi.
    Do i need to change the SSID on router #2 to match with router #1.

    • Jeff

      The SSID on each router should match.

  • Abdul Sami

    What about Security scheme? they should also match?

  • bootjack81

    Thanks for the great concise instructions. I was able to bridge my 941 and 1043 routers without a hitch!

  • Arman

    just what I wanted! thank you so much!
    I’ll try it asap 😉

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  • Dj Agab

    Thanks for this great tutorial. Is this bridged router also capable to serve as a printer server when in bridged mode? I would like to connect an USB printer to the bridged router (the second TP link) that serves as a printer server.

    • cosjef

      I honestly do not know. I have never had a USB printer hooked up to it.

  • sedar abzakh

    thanks aloooooooooooooooooooot its great thank you dear 🙂

  • Azmeir Zaki Echokilopapa

    thank you for the tutorial.
    for those who can access internet after you reconnect the cable, you don’t need to uplink it to the bridge. Just plug in the network cable into the port 1 or port 2 or port 3. no need to uplink into WAN socket. it really work.
    thank you jeff

  • Mac

    Good day Jeff;

    Can i used my tp-link wr740n to extend my network (wifi issue)? in my case, there is an existing high end wireless access point installed but there are place doesn’t reach the signal.how can i fixed that?

    Hope for your immediate response.Thanks and Godbless

    • I used my WR740N v4.x for extending the range using above method. And I must say it worked like charm. You can certainly use it to extend the range of your WiFi Network.

  • Bruce Law

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your excellent guide.

    I’ve followed your instructions faithfully. However, once I disable the DHCP server on the bridge router (i.e. TL1043) I cannot reconnect to it.

    As soon as I re-enable DHCP server, I can connect to it again. Any ideas what might be causing this?

    Also, should I be using the exact same wireless security settings as the primary router? I have separate settings currently, as I assumed there is no need to duplicate them.

    Thanks.

    • burebista

      You can set a static ip on your laptop adapter, to be in the same range as the _new_ ip you set for the repeater.

  • amir

    i can see the mac address of bridge router in the wireless statistics of my primary router i cannot access internet on my bridge router

    • karry

      same problem i am facing. I am able to ping and access the bridge router but no internet access

      • bill

        Use compatible routers.

    • mha

      try using ip given by isp

      • Jetro Raymundo

        i can only connect 1 client whys is that? can you help me? TIA

  • Abdallah A. Flaifel

    hi Jeff,
    i reached the ninth (a) step but b it doesn’t work it’s just can’t access it
    notice i’m trying to connect Tenda router(main) to TP-Link router(bridge) also the IP for tenda is 192.168.0.*** and the TP-Link is 192.168.1.***

  • very useful, nicly laid out and easy to follow +1.

  • Lubbe

    Thanks man! Worked like a charm, great step by step tutorial.

  • Nitr0f

    Great Guide!
    Worked like a charm

  • djshaggy

    thanks man…

  • AG

    The Internet connection works, but I now no longer can access the admin settings page of the bridge router. I can’t do this even when I am connected through the bridge router. It also doesn’t work if I am connected to the main router. It doesn’t resolve.

    • WSHH GOD

      Same thing, but it works so i ain’t worried about anyting

      • asdf

        did you try accessing the bridge router with the new IP you entered or the old one… You must use the new one..

    • Alejandro Erosa

      If you connect a PC with wire and the ip of the PC is in the net 192.168.1.x (x could be anything but 1). Then try with any browser in the address type 192.168.1.1

  • AnkitBhutoria

    I have done till the 9th Step. My Primary Router is D-link and have configured the TP Link to act as a Wireless Bridge. Now I have 2 AP’s. Is there a way to combine those 2 to act like one unified AP?
    Please clarify the above doubt and if possible elaborate on the 10th Step.
    Basically my Primary Router’s SSID is ‘A’ and bridged router’s SSID is ‘A Extended’
    Which one should be renamed?

  • Sezan Borshi

    Thank you very much!!!
    It works like a charm
    🙂

  • John

    Thanks so much! I have a Vizio TV that has a crappy antenna apparently. I used this as a wireless bridge and hard wired the tv to it. Thanks so much for your awesome instructions… took some doing but it’s working great now!

  • raheel

    can i put password on root router?

  • nathan

    I can’t get my d-link router to bridge with the tplink router. I contacted customer service, they said they might not be compatible. Does it matter what brand your root router is?

  • Tareq Shikder

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  • sistemas7g

    thanks jeff, really clear and helpfull

  • InsaneRequest

    I cant have acces to my primary modem because i live in a building with 24 people and we all use the same modem.How do i still configure my router as an acces point?

  • Rich

    This is an old post but still valuable. I followed your instructions and got my TP-Link WR841N router to act as an extender, so now the wifi signal upstairs is very strong compared to connecting to my main router (Netgear).

    Had to make a few mods to these steps, but you still got the job done for me:

    * I made sure to reboot the router when it did not automatically reboot. Sometimes it asked me and sometimes it didn’t. I made sure it rebooted after every step.

    * I also had to go into the wireless security settings (before step 9) and change the password from the one printed on the bottom of the router to the one I use for my main router.

    * Also, after disabling DHCP I was unable to connect to the router again via ethernet cable. No big deal since it’s working on my network as intended.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • Mauro

    Omg, dude, you are awesome. Thank you very much for this guide.

  • ymiac

    your mum should live in a cage
    Mate
    yourmuminacage.com
    Report me if u agree
    Also report me if u disagree

    • Get Fucked And Reported

      Mate, get reported

      • Ymaic

        Live for Isis and yourmuminacage.com
        You should live in yourmuminacage.

  • jelen

    Thanks so much Jeff. This worked like a charm! Much appreciated.

  • Get Reported

    Get reported mate

  • saiyam

    How to set password for repeater ?

  • igor migor

    Great post! It worked like a charm!
    Just one clarification! This is not just Wireless Bridge but WIreless Bridge+Repeater ! Dont complaining though! 🙂

  • Guess One

    Just wanna hug you by the 9 step. I didn’t realize that I would have to turn off the DHCP setting and was yelling at my router when found your website.
    Thank you man

  • Jetro Raymundo

    Jeff Thank you bro I’ve been working on this WDS setting for almost a week with no luck until i found your CHARM… thank you bro good job!

    Except that i cannot access the bridge admin page (TP LINK) 🙂

  • Luis Pantoja Vera

    Thanks, It worked right out of the box linking a Linksys WRT54GL with a TP-Link TL-WR340G.

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  • Basti

    Nice one! At first i was a bit confused about some steps (Setting a different SSID?) but that’s how it’ll work for people without much technical knowledge. Good Work!

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  • Joseph Karugia

    Hi Jeff,
    Thank you for the instructions. It really works.
    Thank you.

  • Sanziana Barbosu

    Thanks ! I made a bridge connection between two identical TL-ER740N v4 tplink routers

  • mt

    Hi Jeff,
    This is such a helpful tutorial. Thank you!

  • Dick Smit

    Hi Jeff,

    Followed all the instructions above, but can’t access the internet through the primary router.
    Primary router shows the following regarding the wireless access to the bridge-router:

    MAC Address Age(s) RSSI(dBm) Type IP Address Host Name
    xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx 444 -43 11n ERROR ERROR
    (is the right one…)

    Where might be the problem?

  • Babu Lal B

    Hello Jeff,
    I did the same as you mentioned in the article. The bridge router was working fine as long as the primary router is in ON condition.
    problem started after power switch OFF and Power switch ON of Primary router.
    After primary router Power switch OFF —> ON , the bridge router is not connecting to internet.

    — Again I performed the complete process listed in the article, then started working…
    So the problem comes when the primary router goes OFF —-> ON cycle.

    what to do?

    please suggest.