Reviewing and testing by Neo (at RouterTech.Org)
Basic to Intermediate: - this should give a rough idea of what the router is like for someone fairly new to wireless networking
A CAT 5 Patch cable (fully wired)
An RJ11 to RJ11 cable (to connect to a suitable microfilter or broadband socket)
The power supply unit (12V, 1.5A)
The antenna (packaged separately from the router)
The small 15 page booklet/manual, a quick installation guide and installation CD
An of course, the router:
The front panel contains 15 LEDs which indicate the basic status of each of the routers functions and connections:
The box contains a sticker which gives the default password as "admin" and the IP address (gateway) of 192.168.123.254
The router itself is very solidly constructed and quite heavy - the case is solid steel with a rough brushed finish to it. There is a COM port (9 Pin Male Serial) but no power switch. On the sides there are vent holes and four screws (two per side) which fix the case together. The vents and metallic case are important because the router can get very warm - hence it is good practice not to let it get overheated. Also there are holes on the base of the unit for wall-mounting the router, like so:
The router RJ45 ports seemed rather tight, also the snagless patch cable that came with the router was a very tight fit and required an enormous amount of effort to release it from the router.
Since I have been using my ASR-8400 on my PC (and so it was correctly configured for a router), I did not need to run the "Easy Setup" utility from the CD. As my priority was to get the ADSL connection going first, I did not attach the antenna.
The router was connected to the network card (NIC) via an RJ45 cable and to the phone line using my existing RJ11-RJ11 cable. The power adaptor was then connected to the router and then inserted into the power socket. All the LEDs light up as the router powered on, then the 4 ports were scanned/polled at which point the LAN1 connection was found (the LAN1 Speed and Link LEDs stayed on).
Then the indicators settled into the following sequence:
M1 flashes approx every half a second
Power, SH-Time, ADSL and LAN1 Speed all remain ON
WLAN and LAN1 Link both flash OFF every five seconds or so
Of course further network activity causes the LAN1 Link LED to flash ON and OFF, as expected.
Also, as the router was turned on the NIC connection was detected by Windows.
The next step was to access the router - pinging 192.168.123.254 succeeded and both the 'Quick Installation Guide' and 'ipconfig /all' from the command prompt confirmed the IP.
Therefore a web browser window was pointed to the URL "http://192.168.123.254" which accessed the router's web interface as hoped.
Logging in is very straightforward - typing in 'admin' into the left hand box and pressing Enter on the keyboard (or clicking on the 'Log in' button) are all that's needed.
The Quick Installation Guide instructs you to use the 'Quick ISP Setting' link, entering your ISP type and ISP login details (account name and password):
After clicking on 'Next' the router reboots and attempts to establish a proper connection to the ISP. The router goes through several stages and during this time the LEDs also flash as follows:
M1 continues to flash, ADSL goes OFF
M1 and SH-Time flash in synch
Then ADSL goes ON
At this point the router should be able to access the Internet and so should any correctly configured PC/device that's connected to it.
Going to the 'Status' page as the router suggests shows that the router has been assigned a WAN IP etc.
Unfortunately I also experienced the problem that has been noted in the forum - that the router can drop the connection and fail to reconnect:
At this point I rebooted the router
It seems the router detects the drop in the Internet connection and tries to reconnect but can't. Perhaps the router thinks it has reconnected but it hasn't fully? Other, newer firmwares may correct this problem (although they may suffer in other areas) but I felt it was important to test the firmware that comes on the router from the factory.
With the UPnP services already installed/set to run automatically ("Universal Plug and Play Device Host" and "SSDP Discovery Service"), the UPnP part of the router was made accessible by Windows XP:
As usual, trying to get access from the "Network Places" wouldn't work (since this appears to be a feature of XP)
But under "Network Connections" the UPnP ports setup was available:
As with any router, the password should be the first thing changed to provide some security. Using ShieldsUp from GRC.com some ports were found to be closed and one was found to be open.
113 and 1723 were CLOSED and 1720 was OPEN
Using the DMZ (pointed to 192.168.123.10) did not have much of an effect and didn't stealth all the ports.
Disabling UPnP seemed to stealth 1720 and using virtual servers to point 113 and 1723 to 192.168.123.10 stealthed these too.
The ping test passed with "Discard PING from WAN side" ticked
For the print server, I consulted both the setup guide that came with the router and Martyn's guide: http://www.routertech.org/kb.php?mode=article&k=32.
I powered down the router, plugged in printer and then powered up the router again.
I added a "Standard TCP/IP Port" as shown:
I made sure "Enable bidirectional support" was un-ticked to increase compatibility and also used 'lp' rather than 'lpUSB0' for the Queue Name.
One thing that was important was to make sure the printer (in this case an HP Deskjet 3600) was enabled by selecting "Use Printer Online":
Otherwise the router says the printer is "not ready".
Here is a section of the log showing a print job being completed:
And above is the network activity of the print job, showing that the image was being sent over the network.
Wireless access was easy to test. Having already installed a wireless PCMCIA card in my laptop, I was able to roam about the house and still pick up a reasonable signal. As I got further away the signal strength obviously dropped and what also became apparent was the impact of the angle at which the laptop was held - the signal varied by about 10dB depending on the orientation, with the best results when the card pointed towards the router.
|Level||Distance (metres)||Signal (dB)||Classed as|
|Same||0.3||-30 to -30||Good|
|Same||3-4||-54 to -60||Normal|
|Above||4-5||-53 to -54||Normal|
|Above||7-8||-64 to -74||Poor/Bad|
|Below||6-7||-70 to -73||Poor/Bad|
|Below||3||-54 to -65||Normal/Poor|
The table shows very rough estimates to the distances involved - the signal strength should be considered very approximate, especially since this was around the house and things like walls/people and furniture could be influential. As one can see the signal was weakest below the router (since the antenna was pointing up). This would suggest that people who like to mount their routers in their lofts should point the antenna downwards for maximum reception within the house.
Using the 'Wireless LAN Utility' that came with the card, all that was required was to scan the networks and then connect to the one generated by the router - the default name is 'default' but obviously you might want to change that if there are several wireless networks operating in your area.
I didn't try the 108 speed mode.
This was a little more complicated to setup. The router supports 64, 128 and 256 bit encryption, but the 'Wireless LAN Utility' only supports 40, 128 and 256 bit encryption. Since the lowest common denominator was 128 bit I went with that. Also WEP is the seemed to be the most common (if not most secure) mode to go for.
So the router was configured like this, and then rebooted for the settings to take effect.
For 128 bit Shared Keys, the key must be 26 (HEX) characters long.
Initially, I had ASCII selected in the 'Wireless LAN Utility' and had keys shorter than 26 (0-9, a-f) characters - this caused Windows 98 to crash and the laptop wouldn't boot into Windows with the PCMCIA card inserted. The only way to fix this was to edit and reset the Registry settings.
Here is a snapshot with the correct settings including keys of the right length, 'Shared Key' (to match the router) and 'HEX' selected:
In the 'Wireless LAN Utility' the 'Authentication Mode' has two options - 'None' or '802.1X'. Since there was an 802.1X settings in the router which seemed separate from the WEP setting, I left the 'Authentication Mode' in the 'Wireless LAN Utility' set to 'None'.
Even with the antenna removed from the router, the laptop was able to connect from 12 inches away with the WEP enabled:
The circled padlock indicated a 'secure' network from the router.
This was very easy to get going (since I had previously set up my PCs). All that was required was for the ZoneAlarm software firewalls to be set to trust the new 192.168.123.X IP range. What was odd was that file sharing had suddenly stopped working with my ASR-8400, so to see it suddenly burst into life with the SWAMRU 54108 was a nice surprise.
Transferring a file using the wireless connection (no security mode selected) gave a brief test on the speeds involved:
Pushing 1,857,545 bytes took approx 50 seconds and
appeared to average 0.25% of 100Mbps = 0.25Mbps
1,857,545/50 = 37,151 bytes per second. 37,151 x 8 = 297,207 bits per second = 0.297Mbps
Pulling 1,857,545 bytes took approx 5 seconds and
appeared to average 3.125% of 100Mbps = 3.125Mbps
1,857,545/5 = 371,509 bytes per second. 371,509 x 8 = 2,972,072 bits per second = 2.97Mbps
The distance between the router and laptop was only about 12 inches, so one would expect with more realistic distances the speed would decrease further. These tests highlight the wireless side of things - the LAN part of the network would offer 10/100Mbps so the only bottleneck should be the wireless part.
The tests were performed with a relatively small file, so perhaps with a larger file the speeds would have been able to increase further.
The obvious difference between pushing and pulling data is also clear - a factor of 10 is massive difference, so people should be aware of this when using a network.
Well this router is pretty easy to use and does it's job well when setup correctly. The print server is a nice feature that I'm sure many networks would benefit from, but be warned that not all printers will be compatible. It seems to be made well, but it does get very warm, so this is something to keep an eye on. If and when the ADSL connection drop problem is solved, this router should make a good addition to a network.