9.01.2009

Misadventures With My Dad's Linksys Wireless Bridge


A few weekends ago we went to visit my dad in Henderson. It was hot! So when we weren't at the pool we were sitting in the air-conditioning completely mesmerized by his 60 inch HD TV. I noticed that as part of his fancy Samsung Blu-Ray player he could download Netflix directly into his TV. My Dad watches a ton of movies (what else is there to do in Vegas if you don't gamble??) and I've been wanting to experiment with the whole web-connected TV thing. When I explained to my Dad what his TV/DVD player combo could do and the awesomeness of the Netflix service (I watch movies on my computer all the time) he was in for the the experiment!



I sent him off to Best Buy in search of the Samsung BD-P1600 wireless adapter. An internet search told me it would run him about $89.99, maybe less if he could find a bargain. The wireless adapter looks like a little USB that you just plug into the back of the player. It comes pre-programmed with some Samsung zip-a-dee-doo-dah and supposedly easily connects with your home wi-fi.

Well, they didn't have it so he returns home with $200 worth of new equipment. A Netgear N-Speed router (because his G router won't be fast enough) and aLinksys Wireless Bridge (model #WET-610N). We got the Netgear router up and running pretty quickly considering my dad has this crazy computer set up in his house. He's got probably four computers all running at different wireless security levels. Regardless with some patient click-click-clicking around we're able to access the router directly and set a common, uniform security level for all the machines. And let me just tell you, there's absolutely a difference in speed between G and N.

The misadventures were all thanks to the Linksys Wireless Bridge. If you're like me and determined to somehow make the thing work, I'll run you through everything I tried - and I went to heroic measures - but I'll give you the punchline now: after probably 8 hours of struggling with the thing my Dad returned it to Best Buy, got a different bridge, and had it working all on his own within two hours!

The first problem

The installation software that accompanies the Linksys WET610N router SUCKS! I am neither novice nor IT-person. I'm an everyday person with little fear of computers, half-a-brain, and I know how to Google! I say this because it will likely help you understand why I tried to go thru that stinkin' software FIVE TIMES before I finally realized it was defective...not me! I would get nearly all the way through the installation process - to the part where it was trying to register the Bridge on the Wireless Router - and it would fail.


Solution #1

A few years ago I learned a great trick if you're testing the soundness of any product. I Googled: "Linksys WET-610N SUCKS" and took note of the results. It's a fantastic tip! (I discovered the brilliance of this search when I Googled my beyond lame dishwasher).

All of the problems listed for this Wireless Bridge held true for us but was I deterred?? NO! I think some latent hacker gene kicked in and I became determined to make the dang thing work. Besides, there were a few people who said that once they solved the problems it worked great...

From this search I learned that I could go to Linksys website and follow instructions on how to access the Bridge directly to do the set-up. Their instructions are better than what I'm about to give you but here's the quick run-down:
  • Plug the bridge into your wireless router (just like it says in the first few steps of the Linksys instructions).
  • Access your Wireless Router remotely. It all depends on how you installed your wireless router but, for me, there was a little N icon on my desktop for the Netgear Router.
  • Find the tab on the right side of the screen that says either Attached / Connected / Networked Devices. (I don't have the icon in front of me so you made need to do a little clicking around). When you click on the correct tab you'll see all the devices that are connected to the router. For example, you'll see your computers and you'll see the Wireless Bridge. It lists right there the IP address for the bridge. COPY it (highlight it with your mouse and hit CTRL+C)
  • Open a web browser page.
  • Type in http:// and add the IP address for the URL. (Or if you did CTRL+C, you can just hit CTRL+V . It should paste that IP address ).
  • Follow the Linksys instructions to configure correctly.
I was so proud of myself for getting the darn thing configured! I swear I felt like the Queen Hacker. Not to brag but everyone in my family was impressed by my mad skills (and patience).


The big problem


So I get the darn thing downstairs, plugged in, and it works for about two minutes and then suddenly disconnects. This is the most prevalent problem with the bridge, based on my earlier Google search. But I still think I can outsmart it! After all, there were a few people who had managed it...


Solution #2


Using the Linksys site as my guide, I do everything that's suggested. Recycling the bridge (did it), do a hard reset and then reinstall (did it), and do a firmware update (did it). In the end, we got it to work for an evening, watched a few movies on Netflix, and then the next morning it was off-line. We tried recycling it in the morning a few times but it wouldn't stay connected for more than a few minutes at a time.

The router was upstairs and so we thought that perhaps it wasn't getting a strong enough signal. I brought my laptop computer downstairs near the bridge's location, connected it to the internet via the router, and checked the signal strength (94%). When I remotely checked the Bridge, it determined it's signal strength around 64%. While the bridge's distance from the router was well within the required distance it was obviously struggling a little. But still, 64% should be fine.

And then it kicked off-line again. Sigh.


Solution #3

Rather than wrestle with the dang thing any more my Dad exchange it at Best Buy for a Bridge built for gaming. By that time I was headed home but he was able to install the new Bridge within two hours and was watching movies!


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