Sunday, September 07, 2008

We are officially online at home.

Dusty and Gary had an unused rig from InvisiMax on the roof of the house they had bought, and were more than willing to give it up. It consisted of a parabolic antenna for the 2.1-2.7GHz wireless range and a gutted LinkSys WRT54Gv3 running a custom firmware.

They had severed one end of the Ethernet cable running to the unit when they had removed it from their roof, but that didn't pose much of a problem. InvisiMax had been using the two unused pairs from the Ethernet cable to run power to the WRT54G. I used my trusty multimeter to sort out the polarity of the end and a replacement power adapter, and moments later had powered on the unit. I was also able to terminate the Ethernet cable with a female jack, allowing for the InvisiMax rig to be closed permanently.

With my laptop jacked into the WRT54G, I could see InvisiMax had been using a custom firmware. It took some guesswork for the password, but I was able to obtain access and subsequently upgraded to a new firmware. My first choice had been DD-WRT, but a friend had informed me of a more graceful firmware by the name of Tomato. Within minutes I had it installed and was ready to begin fishing for an external wireless access point (WAP) to which I could bridge.

I chose a nearby WAP, fine-tuned the antenna position, and within moments was online.

After bridging the connection, I set up a second WAP running DD-WRT (this WAP is not able to run Tomato) which provides our Internet access at home.

It will take a few days to sort out the kinks, I'm sure. DD-WRT can be finicky, or so I hear. When I made a small mount for the antenna, it ended up repositioned. This will need to be fine-tuned again. Ideally, the antenna would be mounted on the roof instead of sitting in our living room.

My setup is not optimal, but I will not complain since our Internet access is presently free.

The whole experience has been enlightening. I haven't even touched on the topics of cracking WEP or wardriving, both of which occurred. Since those are on the questionable side of legality, I'll save those stories to tell in person.

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