DIY Repeater for XFINITY WiFi Hotspots using DD-WRT

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BradfordGiosa
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Aug 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:24    Post subject: DIY Repeater for XFINITY WiFi Hotspots using DD-WRT Reply with quote
Hello all,

For my first post, I originally planned to submit a DYI instruction guide on how I used a WRT54G w/ DD-WRT as a repeater for Comcast XFINITY WiFi hotspot.
I began engineering this to bring internet into my in-law's vacation home with out incurring another monthly expense to myself or them.

I'd imagine that this can be used for almost any ISP that allows their residential internet customers to gain internet access from public WiFi hotspots where available.

I know Time Warner, Optimum, CableVision etc. are just some ISPs that offer this, but I am only a Comcast customer and have no way to test that they actually will work with this guide.

I will def need some constructive criticism and help from board members and gurus, as this is my first DD-WRT project.

Is this a good place to post this type of DYI guide?
Any feedback before I share my guide?

Thanks,

Bradford Giosa


Last edited by BradfordGiosa on Thu Oct 31, 2013 15:15; edited 1 time in total
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BradfordGiosa
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Aug 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 16:25    Post subject: Reply with quote
Sorry it took so long to post. But here is how I did it with a Linksys Wrt54g:

Background: My in laws have a vacation home at the Jersey shore and recently wanted to add broad band internet with out incurring another monthly bill. So, instead of running out the door to the local shack, I decided to use some old unused hardware I had accumulated from past jobs. However, what I had laying around was almost enough to complete the solution with out a) breaking the bank and b) getting locked into another contract with a major isp. Because of the way free hotspots work from most of your residential ISPs, most of the work was already done for me. Also, I researched A LOT based on the type of hardware I already had and / or obtained to complete the project through trial and error. I received invaluable knowledge by interacting and taking part in the software / hardware communities, that pertain to the materials I was employing to engineer a a) cheap b) viable c) stable solution. These communities were ready, willing and able to help when called upon which more had a great impact on why I chose them. One of the forums being DD-WRT.com, because this is the type of software that would perform the functions that most older residential routers will not perform easily out of the box. This solution and guide are also written this way because the original hardware I started with was older. Now many off the shelf routers can easily overcome obstacles that I run into toward the end of my solution. The software used, DD-WRT, I have installed to a few devices, so for me this part kind of went smoothly. From what I have read some people have the most trouble with this and I will not be covering it, as there are enough HowTos on DD-WRT.com - Depending on the manufacturer of your hardware, this can part can be tricky, as I have experienced. Also, I’ve had little success using the plug-in style wall repeaters, so here goes.

Hardware Materials:
(you can see the whole list here: http://amzn.com/w/A1BRBYHEA99Y)

1. Router – WRT54G V6
2. Antenna(s)
3. Antenna extension cable(s)
4. Antenna connector pigtail(s)
5. Wired Device
6. Wireless Devices
{edit}
7. Wireless Antenna N-Type Lightning Arrestor(s)

Pre-install tasks:
1. Survey the area for the wifi signal to pick up the not-so strong public wifi hotspot.

2. Calculate the type of antennas needed to make a good, stable connection to not-so strong public wifi hotspot.

3. Determine and plan for permanent antenna and router mounting locations to stabilize connection.

4. Route and secure antenna fixture, extensions and router (also run cat5 for wired connections to repeater as well!). {edit} After reading, alot, I decided to add Wireless Antenna Lightning Arrestor(s). Mainly because the property isnt always used, so if lightning did strike the router wouldn't catch fire and burn the joint down.

5. Setup DD-WRT on routing hardware and configure.

This is pretty much the easiest part:

Obviously, you would not really be building this if you are in range of a public wifi hotspot or like me it was just a few yards too far for any of my devices to reach. I previously checked in the front of the house to find the signal strength just barely and had to spend most of my time in the front of the house or yard to get good broadband speeds. This was unacceptable for me and knowing this, I already had pretty solid understanding of where I want and needed to mount my antenna, based on previous site surveying. When I figured out that I could get a free hotspot signal, instead of using my metered 3G/4G, I then researched a bit. I found the exact GPS coordinates of the hotspot through my ISPs site map. By driving in my car at a specific speed for the whole length down the road, I was able to calculate a rough estimate of how far away my antenna and router were located from the hotspot location off a telephone pole. This allowed me to plan the type of antennas I was going to use and how much extension cable and type of pigtails I would need to get to the router. Keeping in mind that the router I used originally shipped with 2 small removable antennas. I would utilize one to pick up the public hotspot and the other would be used to broadcast a secure private network to the house for only our devices to connect.

After all the hardware was installed, I followed the directions listed in this tutorial word for word:
http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Universal_Wireless_Repeater

I used one antenna to receive the public hotspot connection and the other to re-broadcast a new, private SSID, into the house. After you have done all this, connect to your new private SSID, open the browser and the first page should prompt you to supply your ISP's login. MIne has been running for 5 months and I have only had to log in once.

Remember, the router must use the physical wireless interface to pick up the unsecured public hotspot and must re-broadcast the bridged network connection on a virtual interface SSID. You cannot have it the other way around.

Also, after doing all this, I noticed that my WII would not connect to the new SSID even thought all other devices would. This is because WII will not connect on channel 1. When repeating the router will only operate on the same channel as the public hotspot, which in my case was Channel 1. I solved this by buying a router that can operate on 2.4ghz and 5ghz bands. Allowing the second SSID to operate on a completely separate channel from the primary.
hareram
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 15 Mar 2011
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 23:17    Post subject: Thank you for the post. Reply with quote
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the detaied post. Yours is the only post I came across that said its possible to do it. And then you followed with detailed instructions!

I was able to connect to xfinitywifi and share the connection via ethernet and wireless to all my devices in the house. .. But unfortunately the connection speed sucks and things take forever to load. Nothing wrong with your instructions. Its the problem with the hotspot itself. Well..
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:27    Post subject: XfinityWifi bridge Reply with quote
Are you still having luck with this connection? I'm trying to do the same thing and cannot get my router configured properly to link it all up. Been playing around with all kinds of settings in dd-wrt. Using a Netgear WNDR3400 dual band router. I cannot seem to get it to connect to xfinitywifi SSID.
BradfordGiosa
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Aug 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 17:21    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's still chugging along, I last used it on Sunday April 20th, 2014 for the first time in about 7-8 months. Still have not had to restart the dang thing, WRT54G series are built like a brick s--t house!

Are you able to connect to Xfinity Wifi and atleast get a connection via wired LAN?
If not, what are your settings for the WLAN connection to Xfinity?

If you cant get a connection to the service, you need to start there.
I suggest using wired LAN to configure the router to connect to Xfinity first. because then you can use DD-WRT to measure the signal strength and diagnose what to rule out issues there.

EDIT:
OOPS just re-read your post.
Make sure you have automatic channel selection on, it must match the channel that Xfinity chooses to broadcast the connection to you, you cannot select your own. If your router has dual band (2.4gz and 5.0ghz) then you can certainly re-broadcast your SSID on a different channel.

BG
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 17:47    Post subject: Reply with quote
Awesome, glad to hear it's still working. I want to do this at the beach as well, but I'm trying to get it all figured out at home first. In my house I can see the xfinitywifi access point, but it's of low signal strength. It connects but pulling up the webpage to get that initial comcast logon screen was not working last night. Just too low signal. It pulls in the title of the webpage at the top of the browser, but can't pull in any data. Right on the edge. That was with my laptop using it's build-in wifi card. I thought the router would have a little more horsepower and get a decent connection. That's the main issue right now with the setup at home, figuring out if the router is connected to xfinitywifi. I enter that SSID in the settings of the repeater on the 2.4ghz antenna, but can never verify if it's connecting. I did go into Status, then WAN, and can see it as an available network, and it has low but stable signal, but can't really tell if I'm connected to it with the router. I am hard wired for now until I get it set up.

Also, that link you posted a while back to the hardware for the antenna off amazon still works. Is that still what you would buy, or is there something newer that would work better? Also, I'm currently using my Netgear WNDR3400 which does not have any external antennas. Is it possible to connect an antenna? I have a WRT54G as well, but wanted to try and get the Netgear going first as it's newer and dual band, so I could connect to the repeater with 5ghz.
BradfordGiosa
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Aug 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 18:34    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ok so yeah, being that I dont have any specific issues with signal strength, knock on wood, I would still recommend the parts listed above.
As for your router not having external antennas, you can certainly buy a mod kit off of eBay like this one:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/7dBi-Antenna-Mod-Kit-for-Netgear-WNDR3700-v-2-N600-WNDR3400-WNDR3300-v-2-/140829834472

But beware this is for people who have no issues with taking things apart and putting them back together to make them work the way they need them to! Cool If you don't feel comfortable doing so, I would just invest in new hardware to aid in ease of implementation. My recommendation is to get a power inverter for your car to power your router and computer. Then try to locate the access point, be it on a telephone pole or directly in the cable line and then setup everything parked closer to the unit. Then add the antennas later on.

Heres what our access points look like:
https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSSidT79N94EvTCB36WMS1bwx69_tMENsFzYxd_JubyWokKFQ8q
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 17:57    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tried more over the weekend to get this going. Still no luck. I was able to successfully repeat the 2.4ghz and 5ghz bands on the main router in my house, so I know it can repeat. The issue is just linking up to the xfinitywifi. I might also have a different version of dd-wrt. I have both Repeater and Repeater Bridge as connection options in the main Wireless tab. If I select just Repeater it drops my wireless connection to it. If I have it on Repeater Bridge it works and I can connect wirelessly. Not sure what I'm missing. Also, when I select Repeater or Bridge, the channel selection goes away. So I'm assuming it on auto and getting it from the xfinitiywifi.
nikkoms
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 04 May 2014
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 12:55    Post subject: Reply with quote
I too am having difficulty repeating the xfinitywifi signal. I have been successful in repeating other wireless signals, but this one is not working for some reason. Any other tips you can provide, aside from linking to a generic repeater tutorial, more specific to how you set it up? I'm pretty sure all xfinitywifi hotspots share the same gateway/subnet settings. Care to share your settings?
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 13:17    Post subject: Reply with quote
Exactly. It would be great to see each screen that was changed in your setup to get the result. Seems to me there has to be more than just what that tutorial says. Also, you might be using a different version of dd-wrt. Like I said when I switch mine to Repeater/Bridge or Repeater, the channel selection goes away. I cannot tell the router which channel (auto or other) that the xfinity signal is on. Since you don't need the gateway or subnet when you connect to an xfinitywifi hotspot from your laptop or phone, ipad, etc, I don't know why you would need it. But I hear ya, like me you're probably down to trying about anything at this point.

I did read and figure out the difference between Bridge and Bridge Repeater mode. I definitely need Bridge/Repeater mode to repeat the xfinitywifi signal to wireless devices. That's fairly new in dd-wrt. The old Bridge mode would only allow WIRED devices. Otherwise everything else is the same.
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 13:20    Post subject: Reply with quote
Actually, when looking at troubleshooting Repeater/Bridge mode, when not getting an internet signal to the clients it suggests:

"Make sure you have a gateway specified in the repeater bridge router, and that the address there is the primary router. "

So, maybe the gateway of the xfinitywifi signal is necessary to enter in the main settings. Maybe the trick is to connect to the hotspot on a phone or tablet and note the gateway, then enter that in dd-wrt.
cyberjew
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 29 May 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 6:37    Post subject: This worked extremely well... Reply with quote
This worked extremely well for me, I got faster speeds than at home so I canceled my cable!!!
Here's more or less what you need to do...

Normally, in order to use TWC/Xfinity/Optimum/Cable Wifi you need to REGISTER (Authenticate) your device by logging in. You CANNOT do this via dd-wrt!
We need to get the hotspot to authenticate automatically, bypassing the sign in page.
Start with the MAC address:
I used a random one starting with 400E85 so it seems to be a Samsung phone (they'll probably blacklist MAC's belonging to routers).
Now you have 2 options to authenticate:
1, Easiest: Use the wizard in your ISP's portal to manually add your device by MAC Address (under wifi/device management)

or 2, PC: Clone this address then connect to hotspot, and when prompted Auto Sign In (google eg. clone mac address windows)

Once that's done, set dd-wrt to clone the MAC Address you used! (Setup>Mac Address Clone)
In dd-wrt I did a site survey and "joined" optimumwifi, then I added a virtual AP with my own SSID & Password. Now any device I connect (Wired too!) connected behind the router without needing to register. (Status>Wireless>Site Survey. Add Virtual interface by Wireless>Basic Settings. DO NOT set a password on the hotspot ssid only for the virtual)

Time limit! Usually they'll disconnect and maybe even flag your connection after 2 hours.
I set my router to reboot every 99 minutes to bypass this issue. (Administration>Keep Alive)

Beware: if you use it 24/7 they'll kick you off the hotspot after a while so be prepared to register new MAC Addresses every week or 2.
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 19:30    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ok, just ordered a 12 dBi outdoor omni-directional to try and get a better pull on the xfinitywifi signal. I was on the router last night, my Netgear WNDR3400, in repeater/bridge mode. I was able to see the xfinitywifi signal, but it wasn't consistent. I presume that my issues stem from the fact that I can't get a consistent bead on the signal. Kind of in and out of reception. I am able to connect to my main router that supplies our household wifi, and repeat that to devices that are connected to it. Just not able yet to get on the xfinitywifi hot spot. I'm hopeful that this antenna will be the solution. Prime should have it here in 2 days.
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 14:37    Post subject: Reply with quote
So I got the antenna mod kit for the WNDR3400 N600 router, and got the external connector installed. Got the 12 dBi antenna, which was much bigger than I imagined. Got everything hooked up and I do not get any more signal strength nor do I see any more wireless networks than I do without the antenna. What could I be doing wrong? I do have it hooked up to the 2.4ghz antenna internal of the router, but I see no improvement. I did just have the antenna sitting inside, in an open area in my living room, but thought it would add some boost to the signals I'm trying to pull in, or see more networks in the neighborhood I live in. Let me know what else I could try??
gifty74
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:28    Post subject: Reply with quote
So BradfordGiosa, you said that you followed this tutorial word for word for a universal wireless repeater. I think this is where I might be getting stumbled up. The tutorial says to get your router IP address on a different subnet, like 192.168.69.1. I'm wondering why you would need to do this for the xfinitywifi network. The other question is: when you connect to the xfinitywifi with a device like a laptop, you get an automatically assigned IP address from the access point. I'm wondering where in dd-wrt do you tell the router you're now using to connect like a device, to get an IP address. Mine's set at the default 192.168.1.1, but doesn't it need to get its IP address from the xfinity hot spot?

BradfordGiosa wrote:

After all the hardware was installed, I followed the directions listed in this tutorial word for word:
http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Universal_Wireless_Repeater
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