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My home network uses a Verizon-branded Actiontec M1424WR router with Wi-Fi. My main computer is hard-wired and lacks Wi-Fi capability. I'm trying to connect an old Palm TX, which has Wi-Fi, via the network.

The router is set up for WPA2, and there are other wireless connections so I don’t want to mess with that. The Palm TX offers WPA (as well as WEP).

There is no way to upgrade the Palm TX, so any connection would need to be accomplished by making some kind of exception in the router to allow connection of this one device using WPA. Is there any way to do that?

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    While the question is technically about a WPA exception for one device, I managed to actually find a 2010 Palm TX firmware upgrade that provides WPA2 connectivity. Your call as to whether this answer solves your problem as well as question because technically they are two different things if you think about it. – JakeGould Sep 11 '15 at 3:51
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This was a concern for a friend with similar old (but still working 10+ years later) Wi-Fi enabled equipment that doesn’t have any updates to WPA2. The old handheld device actually had better Wi-Fi range than just about any current Android phone tested, and was good for free/open Wi-Fi networks like in most stores/restaurants.

  1. Your router might have a "WPA/WPA2 Mixed Mode" that would let you connect with WPA/TKIP or WPA2/AES. My router lists it under the Wireless security as "WPA / WPA2 Personal" and Encryption "TKIP / AES".

  2. My friends' solution was a router that had built-in “dual SSIDs,” where you can have your regular WPA2 “N” network, and also have a Guest network that used WEP or WPA, and “B” or “G” speeds.

  3. Or using a second wireless router hosting the WEP “G” network would work too. An excellent use of an old slow router that otherwise might get tossed away, and you could even unplug it when not using the old device, to lessen the security concerns of having a WEP network. Also, the Guest network or secondary router could be kept separate from your regular network, so even if an unwanted guest got access to it, they wouldn't be able to easily connect to your other devices.

Here’s a few links that could be helpful, centered on using DD-WRT if your router supports it (other firmware like Tomato or OpenWRT should be very similar):

  • Mixed mode sounds like the "exception" solution, but the router needs to support it. Availability isn't clear; need to check with Verizon. Short of that, a second SSID is a workaround if I can link the two together so it acts as a single network. Verizon owns and supports the router so it probably isn't a good idea to replace the firmware. I had some old wireless routers that my wife told me to get rid of. I'll need to see if I listened to her. :-) The how-to article in your link focuses on DD-WRT. Know where I can find instructions for the second router option? – fixer1234 Sep 11 '15 at 6:23
  • @fixer1234 FWIW, any ISP provided modem/router combo should always—and I mean *always*—just have the router part disabled by setting the modem to bridged/modem mode. And then using a real router—one that is more common and better supported and tweakable—as a router connected to that device. You’ll never be happy with the lack of functionality in ISP router core functionality. – JakeGould Sep 11 '15 at 6:37
  • I've used second routers often, but not in a bridged / single network way. I just plug the WAN port of the 2nd router into a normal LAN port of the main router. Then the second router sees the main router as "the internet" and usually "just works" (if DHCP is working ok). I've read guides on linking or bridging the 2 routers, some very simple and some looked like a half day's work, and I think they all depend heavily on what options the routers can support. A superuser.com or web search is what I'd try. Other firmware like Tomato (a favourite of mine) or OpenWRT might work too? – Xen2050 Sep 11 '15 at 6:44
  • Also, in the main router LAN -> secondary router WAN mentioned above, Giving the secondary router a different IP address (subnet?) from the main router might be important for local device access. I'm usually able to connect from the secondary network to a specific device on the main network just by putting in it's main LAN IP (ex. main router is 192.168.1.1 other "main" devices are 192.168.1.15; secondary router is 192.168.2.1 and it's "secondary" devices are 192.168.2.15). Though I'm not sure about going from the main network to the secondary network, that's probably where bridging comes in. – Xen2050 Sep 11 '15 at 7:26
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    Enabling any kind of WEP mixed mode leaves the network insecure (Including WPA2 devices on the same lan segment). Unless you have setup a DMZ you should not do this. – JamesRyan Sep 11 '15 at 9:34
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Before anything, I don’t believe that it is possible to have one Wi-Fi router—or perhaps one unique SSID—set to use mixed WPA2 and WPA connections. That said, I did discover some hope on the Palm TX WPA2 capability side of things. Read on.

So you say this; bold emphasis is mine:

There is no way to upgrade the Palm TX, so any connection would need to be accomplished by making some kind of exception in the router to allow connection of this one device using WPA. Is there any way to do that?

While the rest this answer does not technically answer the core question of setting a WPA exception for one device, based on this March 2010 discussion in this official Palm support thread, a firmware update for the Palm TX that provides WPA2 connectivity—among other things—is available:

You can purchase an upgrade for the Wifi software that will enable WPA2.

While the URL provided seems dead right now, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is quite helpful in providing an archive of that page. That page has links to these documents:

Now with all that said, it seems that while the update was once a paid update in 2010 it’s apparently free as of 2013? Or at least someone at HP—which owns Palm assets nowadays—has no problem with a power user on their forum publicly sharing that update for free as of October 2013?

The Dropbox URL a volunteer “HP Expert” provides grabs a file named, TX Security Upgrade.zip which seems to be the real deal. I assume that since the Palm TX is a discontinued/vintage product nowadays HP/Palm has no problem with others passing it along that firmware for free nowadays.

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    All kinds of good stuff here. +1 I had no idea HP now owns Palm's assets, I thought they just bit the dust. This looks promising. The only issue is figuring out how to synch without the connection in order to install this. There are hardware and software issues, and I'll have to dig into it. If it turns out that the router exception can't be done, I'll accept this answer (in addition to upvoting it) even if I can't implement it because it's quite a find and as close to a solution as is likely available. – fixer1234 Sep 11 '15 at 4:32
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    @fixer1234 Thanks! Happy to help! And please be sure to download that ZIP and related documents to your PC for reference just in case they mysteriously disappear. – JakeGould Sep 11 '15 at 4:33
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    Want to upvote, but trying to resist the urge... helpful information... but doesn't really answer the WEP/WPA device question... eh, upvote anyway! – Xen2050 Sep 11 '15 at 5:09
  • @Xen2050 Thanks. I decided to preface my answer with what I believe the answer is to the topic of mixed WPA2 and WPA connections on the same router: No. But then the rest of my Palm TX question follows. Should make it more contextual to the question while providing an alternative PoV towards a solution. – JakeGould Sep 11 '15 at 5:47
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    This is my favourite type of answer - "this shouldn't be a problem at all, just do xyz and the problem goes away" - the upvote stands regardless ;-) Seems that router firmware is extremely varied, some routers should support a mixed-mode wpa & wpa2 together, but no idea if it's common or not, and then if it actually works with the devices is another thing. – Xen2050 Sep 11 '15 at 6:16

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