Flashing DD-WRT... nothing to fear but fear itself?

Was thinking of flashing my d-link 825 more for hobby vs. any real benefit. The only thing I'm really wondering if it will help is the increase in antenna strength that a lot of websites mention. My apartment is not big... but for some reason there are a few walls made out of a kryptonite-like material that prevents a good signal from getting from my office to my living room even though its around 50 feet away (Usually 1 bar on an iphone in the living room, max nearly everywhere else). As the cable modem as well as other more important wired connections are in the office, moving the router is not an option right now.

I'm not a novice when it comes to these things, but I'm by no means a networking expert. That being said, assuming the flash is successful (which may be a big assumption), aside from setting the appropriate wifi security settings, how easy will it be to get everything else going? Will it basically be plug and play for everything to function the way it was before? My wife needs VPN for her work.. any challenges with that?

Flashing DD-WRT on most routers is not hard. The best advice I can give is check their wiki page for your model router and follow the instructions carefully. They go a little ridiculous with the number of times they say you need to do 30/30/30 resets but it can't hurt. Some routers do get better signal quality on DD-WRT and if you're adventurous, you can usually "overclock" the radio to get a little extra boost, though check their forums first before doing that as some routers overheat easily if you do that. I've flashed it onto a dozen routers between my own and various clients. It's usually much more stable then factory firmwares and offers better features as well.

I use a DIR-825 as my primary router as well and have been looking at the state of DD-WRT support for this router for a while now.

Carlbear95 wrote:

Was thinking of flashing my d-link 825 more for hobby vs. any real benefit. The only thing I'm really wondering if it will help is the increase in antenna strength that a lot of websites mention.

Just to eliminate other possibilities - you are not running a mixed N-G network? Running a mixed network forces the router to dedicate one antenna for each which reduces signal strength. If it a N-only network, it is 2.5 Ghz or 5 GHz? 5 Ghz N networks support more data throughput, but 2.5 Ghz is better for covering a bigger area.

DD-WRT support for the DIR-825 has been problematic. The DD-WRT router DB lists build 14896 as the latest stable build, but 14xxx versions have a problem of slowdowns in WAN/LAN speeds that only clear up after a reboot. The wiki page lists Build 18777 as the best available build, but a lot of folks in the forum thread seem to be sticking with Build 17201.

In addition, rev. B2 of the hardware is only supported by build 17201. Trying to flash a newer version will cause the router to lockup.

I had a similar issue with coverage in my house and in the end, I went with picking up a 2nd router (Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH2) that has manufacturer support for DD-WRT and using that as a Wireless Access Point with DD-WRT. Alternatively, you can link the two routers via Wireless Bridge in DD-WRT and extend the range that way.

Carlbear95 wrote:

I'm not a novice when it comes to these things, but I'm by no means a networking expert. That being said, assuming the flash is successful (which may be a big assumption), aside from setting the appropriate wifi security settings, how easy will it be to get everything else going? Will it basically be plug and play for everything to function the way it was before? My wife needs VPN for her work.. any challenges with that?

All settings will get wiped out after you flash the new firmware. If you have any IP reservations, port-forwarding or QoS rules setup, you will need to recreate them in DD-WRT.

Re: VPN - is the VPN software on your wife's PC? If it's relatively recent VPN software, it shouldn't have problems with DD-WRT. If your wife's VPN solution is configured on the router, then you will have a problem as the DD-WRT build for the DIR-825 does not support router-level VPN installation.

I am running a mixed network.. I have an original PS3 as well as a Wii and neither run Wireless N. Both the 2.4 and the 5.0 GHz bands are set to mixed.

As far as other settings go, I really don't do much other than some very limited port forwarding. I was wondering if since I don't use most of those functions now, will i have to learn them quickly to get a DD-WRT flashed router to work, but it sounds like if I wasn't fiddling with those settings on factory BIOS I won't need to fiddle with them in DD-WRT.

VPN is purely software driven.. so shouldn't be an issue there.

However, looks like I may hold off given some of the reservations you mentioned. I'll look at a new router and maybe set up the bridge you talked about.

Thanks for the information!

I think you don't need to set your 5GHz band to mixed, just leave it on N. Anything using G or B will be on the 2.4GHz band. Also you can set the bandwidth to 40MHz for better LAN Wi-Fi speeds, if you're not in a crowded Wi-Fi area.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

I think you don't need to set your 5GHz band to mixed, just leave it on N. Anything using G or B will be on the 2.4GHz band. Also you can set the bandwidth to 40MHz for better LAN Wi-Fi speeds, if you're not in a crowded Wi-Fi area.

That will help. The biggest problem with running a mixed network on the DIR-825 is that the router has only two antennas. With a mixed network, one antenna is assigned to N-band and the other for G-band which cuts the signal strength in half. Some of the other dual-band routers I've seen have 3 antennas for this purpose.

avggeek wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

I think you don't need to set your 5GHz band to mixed, just leave it on N. Anything using G or B will be on the 2.4GHz band. Also you can set the bandwidth to 40MHz for better LAN Wi-Fi speeds, if you're not in a crowded Wi-Fi area.

That will help. The biggest problem with running a mixed network on the DIR-825 is that the router has only two antennas. With a mixed network, one antenna is assigned to N-band and the other for G-band which cuts the signal strength in half. Some of the other dual-band routers I've seen have 3 antennas for this purpose.

How does this work for when routers are in dual frequency 5GHz/2.4GHz mode? Do both frequencies go out over both antennae or just one for each? I just moved to this kind of router, and we've had some flakiness with the 2.4GHz connection. It could be interference from the 60 other routers INSSIDER picks up in our area, but I didn't have this problem with the old router, which was 2.4GHz only.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
avggeek wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

I think you don't need to set your 5GHz band to mixed, just leave it on N. Anything using G or B will be on the 2.4GHz band. Also you can set the bandwidth to 40MHz for better LAN Wi-Fi speeds, if you're not in a crowded Wi-Fi area.

That will help. The biggest problem with running a mixed network on the DIR-825 is that the router has only two antennas. With a mixed network, one antenna is assigned to N-band and the other for G-band which cuts the signal strength in half. Some of the other dual-band routers I've seen have 3 antennas for this purpose.

How does this work for when routers are in dual frequency 5GHz/2.4GHz mode? Do both frequencies go out over both antennae or just one for each? I just moved to this kind of router, and we've had some flakiness with the 2.4GHz connection. It could be interference from the 60 other routers INSSIDER picks up in our area, but I didn't have this problem with the old router, which was 2.4GHz only.

I believe it is one antenna for each frequency, which can lead to this problem. If you must run a mixed-frequency network, you might want to look at 3-antenna routers or swapping the default antenna with 3rd party extended ones which can boost the signal.

You never get boost from an antenna. Rather, you get directionality. You increase the signal in one direction, at the cost of reducing it in others. The total signal is the same strength, but a directional antenna focuses more of that signal in a particular way. So you need to pay attention to what kind of antenna you presently have, where your destination is, and whether you can find an antenna that's directional toward where your clients are.

For receiving, a LARGER antenna can potentially increase the strength of the received signal, but that's dependent on the wavelength in question. I'm not sure that works with WiFi, because the wavelengths are very short.

stupid double posts. See below.