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Tag Archives: CEROwrt repeater

cisco m10

My daughter found an old Cisco Valet M10 router at a thrift shop for one dollar. She eyed the Cat5e cable that was attached, and it looked good. She knows that I’m always looking for patch cables, because I break the clips off the plugs from time to time, and the plug slips out of my router or laptop, and annoys me. So, she bought the Cisco Valet for it’s hefty, gray cable, probably thinking the router was worthless, and brought it home.

The Cisco blue-and-white router looks diminutive beside my old Linksys router, the WRT610N, and my newer Asus RT. The little Cisco router is famous for catching “The Moon” worm, a self-replicating, devil of a router infection, that jumps from one router to another. I’m not eager to mess with it. So, I research it, walk around it for a few days and say what the hell, let’s put DD-WRT on it.

For those of you who don’t know, DD-WRT is an alternative Linux firmware that replaces the buggy, insecure firmware that comes on 80% of the top 25 routers sold in the US. It will only work with certain routers, but when you get it right it’s incredibly flexible and secure. When you get it wrong you’ve bricked your router. Some can be resuscitated some not.

The Cisco Valet was offered for sale in 2010, and it was marketed as a mom router because of it’s ease of set up. A thumb drive containing the network configuration came packaged with the router. A user simply plugged the USB drive into the router, powered it up, and connected to the Internet, only it wasn’t that easy. The Cisco USB set up worked some of the time, but often people were frustrated with it, so you can still find a perfectly serviceable Valet router every so often.

The Cisco had 8 MB of flash memory. The Linux DD-WRT firmware I found was almost 4 MB, but it would fit, the serial numbers on the bottom of the router began with CVJO1K which meant it is Version 1, and compatible with DD-WRT, so that was a go. Play time! I thought I could make a repeater bridge out of the Cisco. It probably wouldn’t reach across the street as the Linksys 610N had when bridged, but it might serve as a back bedroom wireless extension.

I’d recently installed TomatoUSB by Shibby on my main router. Would tomato and DD-WRT play well together? Would they bridge and repeat together, or would I have to forward ports and finesse the whole thing, which I didn’t have the patience for. Although, there is quite a great collection of information out there about these two alternative router firmwares that I’d read in forums, this question about compatibility between the two when bridging hadn’t been mentioned. Maybe it was a non-issue, but so much with Linux is not trivial.

I’d bridged my original Asus router and my Linksys DD-WRT router with no problem. The repeating function not only reached through cinder block, but it crossed the street and into the far reaches of our neighbor’s home. This, however, was different. I’d just flashed TomatoUSB by Shibby on the Asus router, and I didn’t have the slick working original Ausus firmware to fall back on, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’d tinkered to get a bridge set up between tomato and DD-WRT, which is usually pretty easy, but still hadn’t gotten it to work.

SACRIFICE THE CISCO

The Cisco we bought for one dollar was so peppy and responsive, I had to try it. What did I have to lose if I wasted an old Cisco router, brick it in the name of fun, or maybe succeed at setting up a repeater bridge on it.

Because the router could have a virus or worm in it, I didn’t hook it up to my modem or the Internet. Instead, I hooked the cable that came with it into an old Acer laptop with Ubuntu Linux on it. I didn’t attempt to see if the USB worked, either. As a precaution, I planned to wipe out the Ubuntu desktop, and install a fresh version after I was finished playing, since I’m not sure how this worm propagates.

I connected the cable on the one end to the Cisco router, port 4, and on the other end to my laptop’s Ethernet port, to get a local connection without Internet to allow me to connect to my laptop so I could open the router settings page. I opened my Firefox browser by typed 192.168.1.1 in the search bar, and hit enter.

As I remember, admin, admin was the user name and password. “Frank & Louise” still had their information in there, along with a Bell South email address, and IP address. Apparently, it was a Canadian router that had been dropped off in Florida. Lots of information left in the router for anyone.

The Cisco M10 settings page was simplistic, with not too many options. I went to the administration page, and backed up the original firmware in case the dd-wrt flash didn’t work. I downloaded dd-wrt.v24-18946_NEWD-2_k2.6_openvpn_small.bin made especially for the Cisco Valet M10. I uploaded the DD-WRT firmware through the Cisco restore option, as per the guideline, which also said that often the Cisco router dialog would send a message saying the firmware was the wrong version, or it could just hang there and not finish. Neither happened, it installed like it was the original software. I got a message saying the restoration had succeeded. The settings page on the Cisco looks very much like my Linksys DD-WRT settings page.

Once more I try to set up a repeater bridge, but this time I go back to the original guidelines at the DD-WRT website. My notes had been wrong. The Cisco repeated immediately. It worked with TomatoUSB without a blip. Only thing is it was working at around 12 mbs, and barely had two bars in our back bedroom. It should have ran at 54 mbs. We get up to 72 mbs as we get closer to our router. I went on to set up my Linksys-dd-wrt and the TomatoUSB repeater bridge with no problem.

A footnote to my Cisco M10 signal and speed: Later I set up the Netgear WNDR 3800 CEROwrt router. I plugged the Netgear router into the Ethernet slot beside the WAN in my primary router, the Asus RT-N16 with TomatoUSB by Shibby, and the signal in the far bedroom on the Cisco M10 popped up to 54 mbs. The signal was full bars.

I didn’t get any encryption to work. The CEROwrt is set up to the internal IP, 172.30.42.1, unlike the TomatoUSB, which is 192.168.1.1. At any rate, apparently, the Cerowrt could connect with my encrypted Internet, internally without any encryption. And when it connected it boosted each repeater or bridge router in the system. So, the little router who could, did, it reached through walls.