March 10, 2011

Linksys WRT160NL and DD-WRT

A few years ago, I wrote about the Linksys WRT310N and DD-WRT. I no longer have that router since a friend decided to borrow it permanently, and I ended up selling it to him.

When my ASUS WL500gP died last year, I tried to buy another unit only to find it wasn't available locally any more. So I went looking for an alternative, and the Linksys WRT160NL was what I found. I've had one for a few months already, and recently I bought a few more as it's quickly turning into my favorite router.

WRT160NL has a 400 MHz CPU, 32 MB RAM, and 8 MB Flash. The It has a USB port ("Storage Link") for attaching USB storage devices. However, with DD-WRT, it can also be using for USB printing. The box has a penguin logo and it's just inviting me to put a third-party firmware on it.


I'm running the most recent DD-WRT (16214 as of this writing) on it. With this version, I can enable USB Printer Support from the web interface and it automatically works with my inkjet printer. With earlier versions I had to manually install p910nd to get printing to work. DD-WRT doesn't have a detailed changelog so I don't know when this happened, but I'm glad it works "out-of-the-box" now.

The DD-WRT router database currently shows version 14896 for download. This version seems to have wireless problems since I seem to lose wireless connectivity after a while. 16214 also seems to have fixed that problem.

While trying to figure out the wireless issues, I also followed the recommendations in this thread and set my TX Antenna to 1+2+3 and RX Antenna to 1+3 and Antenna Gain to 2, which seems to greatly increase my wireless stability and connectivity.

Oh, while I was playing with upgrading the different firmwares, the WRT160NL locked up completely. It would no longer finish booting and the power light just flashes. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that the router wasn't actually "bricked", and I managed to recover it simply by using tftp to upload the linksys-to-ddwrt-firmware.bin to it. After it rebooted, then upload the actual wrt160nl-firmware.bin to it using the web interface.

Just to be sure that it wasn't pure luck that I recovered the router, I purposely crashed the router several more times, and each time I managed to recover it by using tftp.

The WRT160NL also works with Gargoyle, which I'll talk about next time.

11 comments:

VoLAnD said...

Hi, can you explain how u've managed to tftp it, I've got almost the same scenario, installed dd-wrt, wanted to return to stock firmware, after reboot flashing lite on router and no web interface, and also no ping...
Another question, I don't quite get the usb support of dd-wrt on this router, what exactly does it mean, does it only support mounting drives (what partitions besides ext and fat, does it support hfs and ntfs mounts) or also sharing (only samba?) or do I need to install this functionality separately?
Thanks for your post btw, I'd say that instructions on wrt160nl.org and dd-wrt forum are pretty outdated about this router and it's a good thing that some people share their thoughts :)

FRiC said...

To recover the router, all I did was tftp the "linksys-to-ddwrt-firmware.bin" file to the router. (The actual firmware file won't work, it has to be the linksys-to-ddwrt file.) Note the WRT160NL doesn't work like some Broadcom routers where you have to hold down reset while powering on to enter a special recovery mode. Just power up and the WRT160NL accepts the file right away. (You'll notice the tftp succeeds.)

Changing firmware seems to be hit and miss with this router. I've "bricked" it by just upgrading to a newer DD-WRT (or by switching to Gargoyle), but sometimes it works just fine.

Sorry, I've not had the chance to test out mounting drives.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Could you please explain the procedure to do the TFTP for the router which is not pingable. I was trying to do the firmware upgrade, but in between a power failure. On restart it is not even pinging.

The power light is just keeps blinking, the ethernet is working. but no ping reply.

Please let us know the step by step procedure to TFTP the router by Solarwinds TFTP from Windows7

Thanks G.Jerome

Nathan said...

Did you ever get around to trying Gargoyle? I'm curious if it has any advantages. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, can you please tell me where, you get never version of ddwrt than 14896 that is shown in router database?
thanks

FRiC said...

I don't know why the URL the "16214" pointed to disappeared. It's fixed now. The URL is ftp://dd-wrt.com/others/eko/BrainSlayer-V24-preSP2/2011/ and the current version as of today is 17201. (I'm still using 16214 and happy with it.)

Oh, I never got around to seriously testing Gargoyle on the WRT160NL besides installing and booting it up, but I know it works fine since I have several deployed in the field. :P

Anonymous said...

Hi! I tried what you worte but the problem appears that I have no router IP address. How can I use TFTP in this case? Do I need a serial cable or is there some other way to put the image on the most likely bricked device?
Thank you!!

FRiC said...

When the router is not responding, you can't get an IP address from the router, so you'll need to manually set an IP address on your computer.

However, you need to know what subnet the router is and place the computer into the same subnet. i.e., if the router is 192.168.1.1, then you need to put the computer into the same subnet, e.g., 192.168.1.2.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the most reliable DD-WRT build is 14929, followed by 15962. Explanation:
http://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/dd-wrt#TOC-Recommended-version

Greetz, Pjotr.

eq said...

Hello. can someone help me? After upgrade me wirelles connection is better than lan connection. before i had 10mb/s download and after upgrade i`ve got onl 3mb/s. Please can someone help me?

Dreatori Alexis said...

It would no longer finish booting and the power light just flashes. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that the router wasn't actually "bricked".

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