I’ve had to do this a couple of times in the past month, found it’s usually the same procedure, your router may vary.
Access Point vs WiFi Router
Let’s say you have a cable modem that gives up an internal IP address of 10.0.0.3. Then you’ve got your own WiFi router behind that that gives you an address of 192.168.1.45. Now you’ve got a printer connected to the WiFi and a computer plugged directly into the modem and they simply can’t talk because the printer is now sitting in another unroutable network.
Probably the printer is 10 feet from the computer too.
An access point is a WiFi location that goes into the network it’s plugged into rather than into a network it creates.
As access points are generally more business and less consumer, they’re generally priced at a slightly higher rate. Most WiFi routers can be changed into an access point with the following
Nuking the shark
I should point out if you don’t know how to back up your router settings, or restore them in the event that you make a mistake or I told you incorrectly, just walk away and spend the extra $20 on a dedicated AP rather than a FrankenRouter.
As an IT guy, resetting the WiFi to factory defaults and getting it back up and running is something I do on a regular basis, if you’re not comfortable doing it don’t plan on doing this. You might end up with a semi-functional router for a bit although I have no belief you could brick the thing.
So anyway, proceed with caution.
Turn that router into an access point
The steps are pretty much the same across the spectrum of routers I’ve played with and involve the following:
Get your main network’s IP information. EG that cable modem gave us a 10.0.0.x address. You’re going to want to know that.
Plug a device (laptop, computer) into the LAN ports on your WiFi router that you can use a web browser on.
Log into your router. If you don’t know how, don’t read any further.
Make a backup of the settings. If you don’t know how, don’t read any further.
Find a paperclip and the red recessed reset button on your router in case this fails.
Change the WAN settings from “obtain via DHCP” to specify – specify an IP address that’s not publicly routable and also not on your subnet. Something like 10.254.16.11 with a subnet of 255.255.255.0. No gateway or DNS servers are required.
Change the LAN settings to something on your network. In the example above our WiFi router was given an address of 10.0.0.2 by the cable modem’s DHCP server. We’ll give the soon to be access point an address that lives in that range but won’t conflict with a DHCP scope. So for this example I’d set the LAN address at 10.0.0.254.
Find and disable DHCP in the WiFi router. DHCP is the thing that hands out addresses like Oprah used to hand out new cars. You’re not going to need that any more.
Reboot the router. Place the cable plugged into the WAN port into the bank of LAN ports. Connect to the WiFi with something. You should now be connected and given an address of your primary network.