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I have a rather unique situation. I just bought a boat and am now living aboard full time. Back in my apartment, I had a WRT54G wireless router that I plugged into my cable modem, such that it provided Internet access via both wired and wireless.

I want the same setup on my boat, except the Internet connection is going to come from the marina's Wi-Fi network. I'd like to keep my own wireless network rather than just pointing my wireless devices at the marina's Wi-Fi for two reasons: 1) as I sail around, different marinas will has different wireless network names/passwords and I don't want to have to update all my devices, and 2) I want to be able to transfer files between my desktop and laptop while at sea, where there is no Internet access.

I would also, if possible, like to avoid buying any new hardware. Can I accomplish what I want using only my WRT54G rounter, perhaps by flashing it with DD-WRT? I have a 2 MB memory model, so I can't use the full-capability DD-WRT. If it can't be done with only this device, do you know of a simple access point that I could buy which I could plug into the WRT54G's WAN port and have it behave just like it was plugged into the cable modem back in my apartment? This hypothetical access point would need to be easily configurable to bridge to various Wi-Fi networks. If this access point had features such as removable/remote antenna (for mounting up on the mast) and extra long range, those would be plusses.

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I've done exactly what you're trying to do with the Airlink101 AP431W wireless access point and bridge. They're discontinued by Airlink but still available through Amazon and, I imagine, eBay. Airlink has a new product that I haven't used myself called the AP671W Wireless N 300 Multi-Function Access Point with 5-Port Switch. I suspect it'll do exactly what you want and appears to go for about $50.

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  • it looks like this is the approach I'm going to have to take. I'll call the Airlink people on Monday and ask them if their device will do what I want. You didn't have to flash it or anything, right? – rmeador Sep 10 '10 at 21:26
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DD-WRT now has support for "Multiple Virtual WLANs" on some chipsets. While I haven't ever used it for a situation specifically like this, it's possible that you could connect to the existing WLAN from the marina, then create a separate WLAN for your devices.

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  • that does look promising, but the documentation doesn't explicitly say that it will do what I want. There may be some weird restrictions on the virtual WLANs not being able to be used that way, who knows. I'd need to buy a new router anyways to get enough memory to install the full version of DD-WRT, so if I'm buying new hardware I'd rather get a device that does it out of the box, like the one BillP3rd mentioned. – rmeador Sep 10 '10 at 21:27
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AFAIK that will not work.

You just have one wireless interface, which will be connected to the marina's Wi-Fi. It can't create another Wi-Fi network while being connected to another network. You'll need a device with two wireless network interfaces.

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I did end up doing this, but a few years after I posted this question. For anyone else who finds this and wants to do the same thing, I purchased a MicroTek hAP AC Lite router, which is sort of "prosumer" level. It can join and form multiple networks out of the box, on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, though it requires a bit of configuring. As I recall, out of the box, all the interfaces are joined in a bridge. You have to remove the interface that is acting as the client to the other wifi network from this bridge so that you can create a DHCP client on it.

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