I recently moved into a home with some relatives, lots of relatives. Including 3 small children, there are 10 of us. Before I moved in, there were 5 laptop computers and twice as many hand-held devices including Android phones, iPhones, iPods, 2 X-Boxes, and a Playstation, all fighting for their piece of 2.4 GHz goodness. They’ve always had trouble getting reliable wireless internet access to work. Suddenlink, the local cable company, sent out a tech who installed a wireless router and coverage was lousy, leaving people unable to connect. The tech couldn’t figure it out so they gave up and switched to Clear. Unfortunately, Clear was unreliable and slow. Besides, they had around 15 devices trying to share one 4G connection. What can you expect?
The first thing I did when I moved in (besides adding 4 more computers and my Android phone to the mix) was to install my own routers. I had Suddenlink come back out and install a regular cable modem in the home office from which I work my day job, Monday through Friday. The installer was a little surprised that I didn’t want a wireless modem. The office is in the corner of the house and I shun any wireless router with internal antennas. Instead, I connected the regular cable modem to a wired router and then ran 50 feet of Cat 6 to the kitchen where I installed an access point. Let the games begin.
The wired router was a D-Link DI-604 and the AP was an Asus RT-N12 (version 1). I was already running Tomato (Teddy Bear) firmware on the Asus from my previous apartment and never had a problem. I ran it with external high-gain antennas, centrally located in the kitchen on top of some cupboards. Everything worked fine until I started tweaking things.
I had read about a Tomato mod called Toastman, which would allow me to more closely monitor per-IP traffic. I figured that if someone was hogging bandwidth, I could immediately tell which machine was at fault. I installed it on the AP. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I came to discover that the IP monitoring will only work from the wired router (the one handing out the IP addresses). So I went out and got a new Asus RT-N12 (now version 2) and flashed Toastman onto it. I turned off the radio and have it working as a wired router in the office. I assigned static IPs to all devices and all was bliss, except for the fact that the AP kept locking up about twice a day. Connection speeds were slow for some devices, fast for others. Add in about 15 other wireless LANs that are visible from the house and we had real trouble.
I struggled for about 2 weeks getting it to work. Amazingly, I discovered that the stock antennas on the new RT-N12 (about 5″ long) worked BETTER than the aftermarket antennas I had been using. I chalk this up to either an impedance mismatch or lossy cabling (probably the latter). On a hunch, I flashed the AP back to the original Teddy Bear firmware it was using before.
FINALLY, everything worked as it should. I kept Toastman running on the wired router as it has experienced no problems. A day passed, no lockups. 2 days passed and it’s still holding up. It has now been a week and I’m proud to report that we haven’t had to reboot the AP once. Everything connects at high speed and there have been no problems. I think everyone else is happy with it too, now that they’re not getting disconnected on a daily basis.
It’s interesting how much a difference the correct firmware makes. The AP was indeed running the correct Toastman build for it’s model and version number, yet it just couldn’t do the job. The new router (also an Asus RT-N12, but version 2) runs it’s build of Toastman just fine. Note: these are TWO DIFFERENT Toastman builds. The build for the Original RT-N12 is RT-std while the one for RT-N12 v2 is RT-N-std. The RT-std is NOT STABLE while the RT-N-std IS stable. However, the RT-N-std can only be run on the version 2 router, not the version 1 router (the one I’m using as an AP). Therefore, Teddy Bear stays on the AP and Toastman stays on the wired router. And finally, everyone connects, all the time, with no complaints.