Wireless Mesh and WRT54G’s

Back in 2005 I was hired by a customer in Sulphur Springs, TX (lived there for a couple of years) to network his daughter’s home using a HughesNet internet connection. This customer had been told by several people that it couldn’t be done. Fortunately, he had the forethought to pre-wire his daughter’s 2-story home with cat5e cable. That made it much easier.

Prior to this, he had been paying for separate dialup connections and phone lines for all the kids (grandkids). Successfully networking the HughesNet connection would start saving money within a couple of months.

The real catch was that he wanted to use the same HughesNet connection at his home, approximately 300′ away, and he didn’t want to run any cable. Fortunately, this was about the time when the Linux firmware community was really starting to thrive.

Since then, I have used the same basic setup several times to do a wireless mesh. It’s worked out great although I don’t get much call for it anymore.

Here is the setup that I used:

(2) WRT54G version1’s with Sveasoft firmware (Alchemy-6.0-RC5a v3.01.3.8sv)
(1) Linksys WRT54G v5 (added later for downstairs wifi saturation)
(1) Cantenna (added later as tree grew in the way)
(1) Linksys 8 port switch
Some patch cables and ends

It was really a simple setup. I flashed both of the WRT54G v1’s with the Sveasoft firmware and cranked up the transmit output power. I setup WDS on them and was able to successfully pull in the signal at his house nearly 300′ away. For the daughter’s house it was just a matter of making patch cables, connecting everyone to the first WRT54G v1 and the 8-port switch, and cleaning up the spyware and viruses already on the their pc’s.

After about a year, we added a Cantenna at his house to pull in a stronger signal to the 2nd WRT54g v1, and we added a WRT54G v5 to the downstairs to saturate the daughter’s house in wifi.

This system has been running remarkably well ever since the original installation. Periodically, I visit them (driving from Bossier City, LA, to Sulphur Springs, TX) and do some pc upgrades or remove viruses, etc. The relationship has worked out very well, and I’m pleased to call them my friends and not just clients.

Recently, the wifi signal has been a bit sporadic though. After a phone conversation, I followed up with an email. Here is a copy/paste of the email for informational purposes.


Basically there are 2 options. Here is the information on both:

Cable Run

1000FT Outdoor CAT5e Cable – Gray CMX Rated PVC

Surface Mount Boxes


Wall Plates

You will need the cable, wall plates or surface boxes, plus some RJ45 connectors – I have plenty of RJ45’s plus a tester. You would run the cable in the ditch for your water and up to the house. We can connect it to the downstairs or the upstairs Linksys WRT54G. It doesn’t matter. I’d say the ideal scenario is to connect the cable to a faceplate or surface box.

I’ve ordered from ComputerCableStore.com before (been a few years) and had no trouble. However, if you can find the cable cheaper that’s fine too – as long as it is outdoor rated.

You might also consider running it through PVC pipe or something for added protection. Plus, we don’t need to really exceed 300′ for the run as the Cat5e spec.

This is the best scenario as it gives you full bandwidth back to the main house.

Wireless Upgrade

Linksys WRT54GL


What we would do is add the WRT54GL downstairs and flash it with Linux firmware so that we can add WDS (wireless distribution system) and turn up the transmit power. This is exactly what I did back in 2005.

Then we add the cantenna to the WRT54GL and point it to your house.

I will use one of the following to flash the firmware and “upgrade” the router:

*Running on the upstairs router plus your router in your house.
*May need to purchase new license.