I’ve recently aquired an XBox 360 (which is fantastic by the way) and, with all I hear about this online multiplayer malarkey, I wanted to setup an internet connection to it. However, we run wireless in our house everywhere except the study where the ADSL Modem/Wireless Router lives. So, the 360, with nothing but an ethernet socket, is an Internet-cripple, as is everything else under my livingroom TV with an ethernet port.
Anyway, with the cost of an XBox 360 Wireless adapter coming in at around a scandalous £50 I thought to myself, there must be a cheaper way to hook up my XBox to the internet, and there is!
For a while I’d heard about this special firmware you can put on the (supposedly famous) Linksys WRT54G (and its GL and GS variants) called Tomato. There are a few third party firmwares out there which are all made possible by the fact that Linksys built the original firmware using a Linux kernel and released the code as open source.
Tomato, and a host of other firmwares, allow you to put the router into a client status, effectively making the WRT54G/GS/GL a wireless bridge. Once that’s done, it’s simply a case of plugging in your XBox 360 via the provided ethernet cable and, shazam! Online access on your XBox and anything else you happen to plug into the four ports of the WRT54G. A nice setup I like to call Tomato360.
So, here’s a guide on getting a WRT54G/GS/GL and Tomato up and running.
- Firstly, get a hold of a Linksys WRT54G/GS/GL – I managed to snag one from eBay at £25 and, as a guide price, I wouldn’t be paying any more than this if I were you. That’s a 50% saving on the cost of a comparatively inflexible XBox 360 Wireless Adapter. One very important detail is that you have to pay attention to the hardware revision of the WRT54G/GS/GL that you’re going to buy. The necessary versions vary between models, for a full detailed list refer to Tomato FAQ: How do I find my Linksys WRT54G/WRT54GS/WRT54GL’s version?. Remember, only bid for it when you know the hardware revision is compatible – some auctions won’t specify – so ask the seller! Here is an example of a message you can send to them to give you an idea:
Hi there, could you please tell me the hardware version of this router? This should be located on a white sticker on the underside of the router. Thanks.
- Once your WRT54G/GS/GL comes through the post, do yourself a favour and avoid any previous user’s configuration problems by plugging it into the mains and doing a total reset to knock everything back to factory settings:
- First, plug it into the mains – the lights on the front of the router should flash, wait until they are steady;
- Locate the little button at the back of the router – where the ethernet ports are – it should be labeled Reset (if the text hasn’t worn off)
- Press and hold the Reset button for 10 good long seconds, the front lights will turn off then back on again to indicate success.
- Figure out the IP address of your main wireless router. You can find this out by doing an ipconfig from the command line. The router’s IP address will be labeled as the ‘Default Gateway’ address – write this down for future reference.
- Download the latest version of the Tomato firmware onto your computer (from the Tomato website) then get an ethernet cable (just a normal patch lead, not a cross over) and attach it to your computer via your ethernet port. If you’re connected to any other network, wireless or otherwise, disconnect from it (this is so there are no IP conflicts when connecting to the WRT54G/GS/GL).
- Ensure your computer is configured to have it’s IP address assigned automatically via DHCP.
- Extract the appropriate bin file from the tomato archive, e.g.: for a WRT54G router, extract the WRT54G_WRT54GL.bin file. Pay attention to all of the options here and make sure you’ve picked the right one!
- Open a browser and type in the IP address of the router, which, according to the manual, should be 192.168.1.1, provided your hardware reset worked ok in step 2. To login:
Username is blank – as in – don’t enter anything for the username.
- Click Administration > Firmware Upgrade
- Be patient, the process will take up to 10 minutes, perhaps longer depending on the hardware revision/connection. If you interrupt this process you risk ‘bricking’ your new router, meaning you might as well use it as a doorstop for all the use it’ll be, so it’s important that you let this process finish in its own sweet time. Remember – I take no responsibility for any problems – its up to you – all I’m doing is telling you how I did it!
- Ok, when its all back up and running you should see a message stating that the ‘Upgrade is successful’.
- Click continue and login with the following:
Then click on the basic header on the navigation bar.
- Change the router IP address under the LAN section to a unique address on your network, as an example, my primary wireless router has IP address 192.168.1.1, so I set my WRT54G to 192.168.1.2 and set my machine’s IP addresses to be assigned addresses from 192.168.1.100 and upwards from the DHCP pool (on my primary router).
- Turn off the DHCP server, as this will be used as a client, essentially a conduit, you don’t want it assigning addresses to connected machines, thats the responsibility of your primary router.
- Leave the wireless enabled and set the wireless mode to Wireless Ethernet Bridge, set the SSID to the SSID (name) of your primary wireless router, this is needed so that your WRT54G/GS/GL knows which wireless router to connect to for its internet connection. The SSID is the name of your primary wireless router – its the name that you’ll see on your computer whenever you’re connecting to your wireless router.
- Set your security up to whatever it is your use on your primary router.
- Click the save button and the router will restart.
- Once the router is back up again, you should be able to open a command prompt on your computer and ping something, say, google:
That’s it! Next thing you’ll want to do is to plug your XBox into the WRT54G/GS/GL and go through the whole connection test process. You’ll be nailing noobs in no time!
If you decide to embark on the Tomato360 journey, please let me know how you get on in the comments.