How to Rebroadcast a Weak Wifi Signal

routerThere may be a time when you have access to a wireless network in one part of your house, but just can’t get it anywhere else.  This isn’t a big deal if you own the network (you can buy another access point or wireless repeater), but if you don’t own the network, this guide will show you how to extend your free coverage.

What’s the purpose of this, you might ask?  In my case, I can connect to several wireless networks in my bedroom where my PC is located.  Unfortunately, I can’t access those networks in my living room where my Xbox 360 is located.  The technique presented in this guide allowed me to use my PC to pick up a wireless signal, share it with my PC’s Ethernet connection, and then rebroadcast it with a router.

What You’ll Need:

  • A working wireless connection
  • A computer running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 with an unused Ethernet port
  • A configured wireless router set to DHCP mode (I’ll be using a WRT54GL with Tomato firmware, but anything will work).  Every router is different, so make sure you configure your router’s settings (SSID, security, etc) before you begin this guide.
  • An Ethernet cable

Windows XP

  1. Connect your wireless router to your PC’s unused Ethernet port with an Ethernet cable.  Make sure to connect the cable to the source or internet port on your router, not one of the numbered outputs.
    router_back
  2. Power the wireless router.
  3. In Windows, right click the Network icon in the system tray and select Open Network Connections.
    rebroadcast_wifi_networkconnXP
  4. Right click your wireless connection and select Properties.
  5. Click the Advanced tab and select “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection”.  This will allow your computer’s Ethernet port to access your wireless internet connection.  Click OK.
    rebroadcast_wifi_enablesharingXP

    1. If you don’t see an option for sharing your connection, verify that you have a second connection enabled on your computer.
  6. You now need to give your Ethernet connection a static IP address.  In the Network Connections window again, right click your Local Area Connection and select Properties.
  7. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click the Properties button.
    rebroadcast_wifi_tcpipXP
  8. Select Use the following IP address: and provide an address.  I arbitrarily used 192.168.137.1.  Set ‘Subnet Mask:’ to 255.255.255.0.  Leave the DNS settings blank and click OK.
    rebroadcast_wifi_ipsettings
  9. Your rebroadcasted wireless network will now be up and running!

Windows Vista

  1. Connect your wireless router to your PC’s unused Ethernet port with an Ethernet cable.  Make sure to connect the cable to the source or internet port on your router, not one of the numbered outputs.
    router_back
  2. Power the wireless router.
  3. In Windows, right click the Network icon in the system tray and select Network and Sharing Center.
    network_rebroadcast_sharingcenterVista
  4. Click Manage network connections on the left side of the window.
    network_rebroadcast_managenetworksVista
  5. Right click your wireless connection and select Properties.
  6. Click the Sharing tab and select “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection”.  This will allow your computer’s Ethernet port to access your wireless internet connection.  Click OK.
    network_rebroadcast_allowsharingVista

    1. If you don’t see an option for sharing your connection, verify that you have a second connection enabled on your computer.
  7. You now need to give your Ethernet connection a static IP address.  In the Network Connections window again, right click your Local Area Connection and select Properties.
  8. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click the Properties button.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_staticipwin7
  9. Select Use the following IP address: and provide an address.  I arbitrarily used 192.168.137.1.  Set ‘Subnet Mask:’ to 255.255.255.0.  Leave the DNS settings blank and click OK.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_ipsettingswin7
  10. Your rebroadcasted wireless network will now be up and running!

Windows 7

  1. Connect your wireless router to your PC’s unused Ethernet port with an Ethernet cable.  Make sure to connect the cable to the source or internet port on your router, not one of the numbered outputs.
    router_back
  2. Power the wireless router.
  3. In Windows, click the Network icon in the system tray and select Open Network and Sharing Center.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_opennetworkswin7
  4. Click Change adapter settings on the left side of the screen.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_changesettingswin7
  5. Right click your wireless connection and select Properties.
  6. Click the Sharing tab and select “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection”.  This will allow your computer’s Ethernet port to access your wireless internet connection.  Click OK.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_enablesharingwin7

    1. If you don’t see an option for sharing your connection, verify that you have a second connection enabled on your computer.
  7. You now need to give your Ethernet connection a static IP address.  In the Network Connections window again, right click your Local Area Connection and select Properties.
  8. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click the Properties button.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_staticipwin7
  9. Select Use the following IP address: and provide an address.  I arbitrarily used 192.168.137.1.  Set ‘Subnet Mask:’ to 255.255.255.0.  Leave the DNS settings blank and click OK.
    network_rebroadcast_wifi_ipsettingswin7
  10. Your rebroadcasted wireless network will now be up and running!

While rebroadcasting a weak signal does give you better access to a wireless network, it does have some inherent disadvantages.  Port forwarding will now be twice as complex, and there will most likely be a high amount of network latency induced.  That being said, I didn’t personally notice much of a difference browsing the internet on my laptop or using Xbox Live.

Have any other ideas for accessing wifi on the cheap?  Let us know in the comments.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Jonathan_Paul Jonathan_Paul

    Now you need to post a part 2 using Ubuntu.

    jon

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Jonathan_Paul Jonathan_Paul

    Now you need to post a part 2 using Ubuntu.

    jon

  • jacob

    i got an idea… get a longer ethernet cable and move it.. LOL

  • jacob

    i got an idea… get a longer ethernet cable and move it.. LOL

  • Rob

    Great post…I've been doing this on my mac for years, but can never get xp to do this. Does the 192.168.137.1 need to be changed on the wireless router as well? or do you leave the 192.168.1.1. I am connected wirelessly to 192.168.137.103, but there is no internet signal. Shouldn't you be able to plug your laptop straight to the Ethernet cable that is supposed to go into the wireless router and get internet? Please keep me posted.

  • Rob

    Great post…I've been doing this on my mac for years, but can never get xp to do this. Does the 192.168.137.1 need to be changed on the wireless router as well? or do you leave the 192.168.1.1. I am connected wirelessly to 192.168.137.103, but there is no internet signal. Shouldn't you be able to plug your laptop straight to the Ethernet cable that is supposed to go into the wireless router and get internet? Please keep me posted.

  • Joey Reierson

    Say your neighbor broadcasts his wi-fi network unsecured and you leech it for the purposes of re-broadcasting to your devices that can't pick it up. In doing so, you also re-broadcast to others' devices who may not have been able to leech it in the first place, right? So how can you secure your re-broadcast against other neighbors? Put another way, what's the best way you can restrict the use of your computer's internet connection to just your devices; to do as your neighbor did not?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/evanw Evan Wondrasek

      Hey Joey,

      Good question – you are correct, anybody can pick up the rebroadcasted signal. The easiest method is to simply secure the rebroadcasted wireless connection using WPA or WPA2 encryption (which is what your hypothetical neighbors should have done in the first place). This will allow only you to access your rebroacasted signal!

  • Joey Reierson

    Say your neighbor broadcasts his wi-fi network unsecured and you leech it for the purposes of re-broadcasting to your devices that can't pick it up. In doing so, you also re-broadcast to others' devices who may not have been able to leech it in the first place, right? So how can you secure your re-broadcast against other neighbors? Put another way, what's the best way you can restrict the use of your computer's internet connection to just your devices; to do as your neighbor did not?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/evanw Evan Wondrasek

      Hey Joey,

      Good question – you are correct, anybody can pick up the rebroadcasted signal. The easiest method is to simply secure the rebroadcasted wireless connection using WPA or WPA2 encryption (which is what your hypothetical neighbors should have done in the first place). This will allow only you to access your rebroacasted signal!

  • Mario

    Thank you great information

  • Mario

    Thank you great information

  • bap

    how to you do this? I am using Linksys to rebroadcast unsecure and would like to add encryption.. Thanks!!!

  • http://www.techerator.com Evan W.

    Hey bap,

    All you need to do is enable standard encryption for the Linksys router you're using. This varies by device, so you might want to consult your documentation, but it is typically very straightforward to do. Please post again if you have trouble.

  • bap

    how to you do this? I am using Linksys to rebroadcast unsecure and would like to add encryption.. Thanks!!!

  • http://www.techerator.com Evan W.

    Hey bap,

    All you need to do is enable standard encryption for the Linksys router you're using. This varies by device, so you might want to consult your documentation, but it is typically very straightforward to do. Please post again if you have trouble.

  • Jenna

    This may be a stupid question, but once you have set up the rebroadcasted signal, you can disconnect it from your laptop, right? Also, does the rebroadcasted signal have the same SSID, or can you change that along with the WPA encryption you previously mentionetd?

    • http://www.techerator.com Evan Wondrasek

      Hi Jenna,

      You’ll need to keep the laptop connected to the router, because the laptop is working as the receiving antenna, and the router is working as the broadcasting antenna.

      You can do anything you want with the rebroadcasted signal, in fact I would suggest changing the SSID for sure to avoid network conflicts. Beyond that, you can apply your own security settings and anything else you like, it will not affect the original signal.

      • Jenna

        So here is my situation. I live in an apartment with free wifi, but I need to log in every time. We have ethernet ports in the walls. Could I wire the router directly to one of them and rebroadcast the signal as my own so my computer will automatically join right away?

      • Anonymous

        So my apartment has free wifi, but I have to log in every time I turn on my computer. If I plug the router directly into the ethernet port in the wall, could the router rebroadcast the connection as my own wifi so that my computer and phone can connect automatically?

        • http://www.techerator.com Evan Wondrasek

          Does the ethernet port in the wall require you to log in? If it doesn’t, then you don’t even need to follow the advanced methodology this article presents, you can simply plug the router’s source input into the wall jack and set it up as your own network.

          If the ethernet port also requires you to authenticate each time you use it, your router will probably have the same problem you experienced – it will need to be authenticated when the connection expires.

          Let me know and we’ll figure this out :)

  • Bman

    I did everything you said to do. I have an xp computer and a router and i followed the instructions but i have no internet connection when i try to connect to the router with another device. Anything im doing wrong?

  • deeeeez

    Any methods to do this with ubuntu?

  • CM_MinMJohnson

    Evan, say I’ve reconfigured my router as an adapter via firmware to work as my receiving antenna, is there a way to also have it rebroadcast said signal? And if so would that alow it to run independently from the laptop?