Instructables

In this Instructable, we will be adding fans, a heatsink, and 9dB antenna to the LINKSYS WRT54G series router for use with DD-WRT firmware upgrade!
These routers are…well…awesome.
Before we begin I wanted to provide a rundown on the router to spark your interest, especially if you’ve never caught wind of its awesomeness! J
They have been implemented in more scenarios than almost any other router on the market due to cost, ease of use, and potential abilities. With the GL being Newegg.com ‘s number one selling wireless router as well as on the sites Top Ten sold of ALL products (as of today 5/10/2010) and the GS reported in New York Times Online Top 10 Most Popular Routers worldwide(as of today 5/10/2010) , you cannot go wrong with this little wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The $50 WRT54G with DD-WRT firmware in a parabolic dish setup helped to set the 2nd place world record for unamplified Wi-Fi distance in Venezuela @ 173miles!!!! Second only to the $100 XR5 on a $190 PCEngine WRAP board at 189miles in Italy. Recap here Long Range Wi-Fi Wiki
Most versions of this router have the ability to upgrade its firmware to an open-source Linux build called DD-WRT downloadable from DD-WRT (free). If you decide to upgrade to a firmware on this site, PLEASE read ALL the directions, FAQ, Wiki and Forum EXTREMELY THUROUGHLY, as improper firmware flashing can leave you with a very expensive paperweight. I cannot stress this enough! You have been warned!
With a (somewhat) simple upgrade to the appropriate firmware, this $40 - $60 router can save you hundreds of dollars and open up a seemingly endless amount of capabilities (and void the warranty). Chances are though, if you’re confident in performing these upgrades, you couldn’t give a darn about warranties. You’ve already voided more of them than you care to keep track of. AmIright?
The purpose of upgrading this router is so that we can safely use the "DD-WRT" firmware "Overclocking" and "Increased Transmit" functions to their max without having to worry about overheating issues!
Note: I’ve heard several people arguing that adding heatsinks is not necessary; that they have maxed theirs out without any problems. I have personally burned out 2 of these units, and had serious stability issues in others due to overheating by maxing out without extra heatsinks at the very least. Please refrain from filling the comments section with “You don’t need heatsinks or fans” comments or the likes. If you don’t want to install them, keep it to yourself. Thank you! J
This type of upgrade is most useful in very large households, businesses, neighborhood-Wi-Fi, trailer parks, RV parks, campsites, etc.
With this one I’ll be using it for an ad-supported neighborhood Wi-Fi which provides both an internet source for people who cannot afford it, but also a way to reduce costs for the person who pays for the source connection- usually high speed cable service that a single household will never fully utilize; unless you have a pirate in the midst. (YaaarRrRR, I cannot condone piracy, mateys!)
In this Instructable I will not be covering flashing the router with DD-WRT, nor will I covering its configuration. That is one thing that is far too router specific for me to want to post. You can however find out all the information you need at the DD-WRT website.

!!WARNING!!
Do NOT buy antenna on ebay!
I have personally purchased a pair of "9dB Antenna" from a VERY reputable seller. They did not reach anywhere near 9dB. If you follow this instructable and use antenna you got from ebay, don't complain when it
doesnt work.
Having said everything I wanted to get out of the way: I hope you and all the wonderful Instructable enthusiasts enjoy this Instructable!
Comments, suggestions and questions are highly encouraged!
Without further ado, lets mod!
 

 
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beej20014 years ago
I modded my router quite similar to yours. Heatsinks on all the chips, and a small fan inside the case. I drilled all the holes top and bottom bigger, and called it good.

It sat outside on my balcony for an entire Las Vegas summer with temps over 110 with no problems.

oh, and I painted my case yellow
DSC_1657.JPG
NostalgicStone (author)  beej20014 years ago
 Very cool man!
I like the color, reminds me of  Bumblebee!
One thing I haven't done is drill the holes larger on the bottom
(seeing as I how I no longer have holes on the top lol)
I love it
bumblebee.jpg
Chad Baxter7 months ago
Are you British? I absolutely love your wits all throughout this instructable...it makes it quite the enjoyable read.
Here is a picture of the router mounted on the fan.
100_2101.JPG
Lol :D
Hahaha I love this
LOL!!!!! epic win :D
will this work?
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2216879&clickid=prod_cs
imboox22 years ago
I see this has been out a long time. For anybody reading this now, there is non-corrosive solder flux available, there has been for many years. I have been in the electronics field nearly 40 years and have used it a long time. I use solder paste to keep the tip of my soldering iron clean besides keeping it tinned.
DustySeven72 years ago
You got some of your information wrong. The current unamplified record is 237
http://www.engadget.com/2007/06/19/venezuelans-set-new-wifi-distance-record-237-miles/
NostalgicStone (author)  DustySeven72 years ago
That's awesome! But I was referring to unamplified distance, hence the bold and underlined "unamplified" in the ible.
Read closly, it is unamplified. They used a dish reflector to shape the signal
hwally2 years ago
Great tutorial. I have a 12 volt 0.82 amp fan, would that work as far as not drawing to much power. I have a wrt54g router. Thanks
bowmaster2 years ago
what's the range on this? Could it be expanded to a mile?
NostalgicStone (author)  bowmaster2 years ago
Sure, if you use the right dish.
From 'Ible:

"The $50 WRT54G with DD-WRT firmware in a parabolic dish setup helped to set the 2nd place world record for unamplified Wi-Fi distance in Venezuela @ 173miles!!!! Second only to the $100 XR5 on a $190 PCEngine WRAP board at 189miles in Italy. Recap here Long Range Wi-Fi Wiki"
Cool. That means I won't need to know the wifi password at school, I can just use my home network.
NostalgicStone (author)  bowmaster2 years ago
While this is possible and would be pretty cool, there are many caveats you have to keep in mind. First is that when you are surfing on a wifi connection, you are both sending and receiving data. This means that your wifi card would not only have to pick up data, but be able to transmit it back to the source. Using a dish on BOTH ends would work, but you would be using directional, not omni-directional, and your "available network area" would be determined by the direction, and dimensions of said dish(s). You would have to point both dishes directly at its counterpoint receive/ transmit respectively. This would be quite a task and would mean that you could not move at all once the connection has been established, or you would have to re-calibrate your dish(s). If you decide to undertake the project in spite of the obstacles, make in Instructable!
Hmmm, good point. Surely if if can break 100miles with a dish, it could get over 1 mile with an omidirectional.
NostalgicStone (author)  bowmaster2 years ago
Possibly, if using a very powerful antenna and perhaps a signal booster but you must remember that the WIFI CARD that you are attempting to use (in the laptop) must ALSO be able to SEND the data back to the router. If you can get a wifi card to broadcast 1 mile, make an instructable! That would be quite a feat!
Hmmm, it might be possible to hack a USB wifi card to do it.
Barron1112 years ago
Great work here. Does that upgrade work on the WRT300N ?
Ale Cylon3 years ago
Hi, great guide dude. Can i ask how far OCed can it goes or how much TX power can it gets after the mod, I have my WRT54GS only with Linksys 7dbi antennas and for confrtability I use the stand on for the antenas with the 6 feet cable to place them in a better location.

I ahve only made the TX power go to 70 and clock still is on 216Mhz. How much can I go after such mod?. I was planing into only add a fan but if I can get much enough after the mod then i can try.

Thanks man.
Nice write up! One question, I have a whole tube of this stuff:

http://www.chemtronics.com/products/product.asp?r=1&m=2&id=37

any reason why I can't use this?
pgentry3 years ago
Wow I live in Montana and I see your router on my list of network connections I think you just set the new record. I think I am going to set one of these up for every one who lives in my neighborhood I hope none of the kids grow extra didgets hay its says 2.4 right here on the side of the unit officer.
leeroper3 years ago
Nice one dude, people will have want they want, even if they can't buy it off the shelf haha!
kill-a-watt4 years ago
is this router still the best choice for the DD-WRT firmware?

Hasn't Linksys secretly reduced the amount of flash  and RAM without changing the part numbers, gone to non-removable antennas and still has the chutzpa to charge $50 each, near the same price as 5 years ago?

I'd expect them to at least put a SD card slot in the router by now.

I could really use something like this but I'd hate to encourage Linksys
I have an old PC running linux that meets all my household network needs, except if I could replace it with something that burns 30 watts less, 24/7, the break-even point for a $60 router is about a year and a half.
NostalgicStone (author)  kill-a-watt3 years ago
Excellent! Thanks for the stat.
When I mentioned that it could save you hundreds, I did not mean in electricity lol!
I should have added "in comparison to routers that come factory with these settings"
Goes to show how perception greatly varies depending on your previous experience/ interest/ needs etc.
Hahah
Thanks for the post bud!
OK, I picked up a thrift store Actiontec MI424WR revC for $3.99. I probably paid too much as it didn't come with the power supply, but I have one. It's supported by dd-wrt. It boots up at a hefty 14 watts, but I'm still going to save 35 watts every hour , or 307 KWH per year (about $50)
NostalgicStone (author)  kill-a-watt3 years ago
Again, thanks for the post, but again, I am not referring to savings in electricity, and I've purchased a "bricked" WRT54G for as little as $1 that can be fixed for free, and generally speaking wardrivers power these via public power jacks, thus eliminating the need to worry about electrical costs period.
Thanks again!
NostalgicStone (author)  kill-a-watt4 years ago
I hear what yer preachin man.
If you don't want to support a company, but still like a certain product it makes/ used to make, EBAY!
I never buy new ones, theres no point.
You are correct, they have been nerfing their new routers like none other!
Sucks!
This router is still my personal favorite tho, and there are plenty of the old versions out on the market for close to the same price they originally sold for.
Hurray for modding!
papaduck4 years ago
Flux corrosive??????? Flux for metalwork and plumbing is but we're doing electronics not plumbing. Go to Radio Shack or even a good hardware store and get some rosin core solder made for electronics work; it's ugly if you don't clean the excess off but it won't rot your board.
it will attack the Wire and/or the solder join , ( i dont remember ).
NostalgicStone (author)  hitachi83 years ago
I do believe it's both :)
Thanks for posting!
NostalgicStone (author)  papaduck4 years ago
If you leave that "ugly" on for too long, or there is too much "ugly" the board will slowly deteriorate. I have personally had to re-issue board to companies because people in the company I worked for (I.E.C. Electronics, Newark, Ny) did not wash the flux off properly, and the boards cease to function do to deterioration. It is not terribly common but it does happen.
Thanks, I'm a retired bench tech but never had that happen. Good to know!
I have recently purchased a WRT54G-TM with the 9dB high gain antennas and I have already flashed it with DD-WRT and its running great. Sometime sooner or later I would like to do hardware mods like the glorious fans, but I'm at college and have no supplies to do it at the moment. For the time being I have a small heat sink on the CPU and I have mounted the router to my box fan in the window. The box fan makes the long antennas vibrate slightly, is this alright for the router and antennas or should I move it?
Ive been reading through the comments and i couldnt really pull out what the approximate range of wifi is on this thing or if the wifi can be recieved directly by like an ipod touch or laptop. Thanks
Hey, great Instructable, but I have a little question. Since wifi is a two way conversation, wouldent the person on the recieving end of this monster need a huge router as a network bridge? Because an average wifi card can't broadcast 198 miles or whatever this beast can do?
camp6ell4 years ago
so disappointing... i read the title and immediately thought of the new tricks i'd be able to perform on the router i have in my woodshop...
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