Accessing a Remote Network with a TP-Link SafeStream TL-ER604W Router

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Back in December I started using a TP-Link SafeStream TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband Desktop VPN Router to be able to login to the network at a remote property. It provided most of the functions I needed but unfortunately the client/server mode of the VPN service only supported PPTP. While not every secure it would have been fine for my purposes but unfortunately Apple dropped support for PPTP VPN connections from the newer Mac OS and iOS versions. I was able to purchase a program called Shimo to use PPTP from the Mac but there wasn’t really a good solution for iOS and being able to access the network from my phone was a critical need.

Frustrated that I couldn’t use my phone to connect to the network I eventually purchased a TP-Link SafeStream TL-ER604W Wireless N300 Gigabit Broadband Desktop VPN Router, which provides PPTP, L2TP and IPSEC client/server connections and so far it has worked great.

Both routers have, on at least one or two occasions, each hung up and required a manual power reset. The NetReset device I purchased recently seems to have eliminated that infrequent problem.

Updated 04/18/2018: I continue to be very pleased with this device. Combined with the NetReset device I’ve had zero problems connecting to to this VPN.

Scheduling Automatic Modem and Router Power Cycling Using a NetReset NR-1000US

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Back at the house the cable modem and router usually operate just fine but every now and then something hangs up and unfortunately it’s not always practical to go by to reset the gear. And asking a friend to do it for me, even when they’re eager to do it, just seems unfair.

So I searched for a device on Amazon.com, as usual, and sure enough someone has a product that is intended for exactly this need. The NetReset NR100US, which cost about $45 $60 $73, can be set to automatically reset the power to both outlets on the device using a set delay between them. It will turn off one outlet for a minute, turn it back on, and then a minute later do the same for the next.

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Macs Unable to Connect to Wi-Fi After Changing Network Mode (Cisco Wireless Router)

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One day, while modifying the wireless settings for our Cisco wireless router, I discovered a rather stupid problem. It surfaced when I changed the Network Mode for the 5 GHz network from Mixed to Wireless-N Only. This seemed to make sense since we don’t have any devices using Wireless-A. This is in reference to 802.11a in case anyone was wondering if I had actually meant 802.11ac, which my current router does not support.

And that’s the moment when I was disconnected from Wi-Fi and unable to reconnect. Two different Macs (one MacBook Pro and one MacBook Air) were unable to connect. Once again, I resorted to searching and found the solution. It seems, that for whatever unknown reason, when Wireless-A is disabled on my router then all Macs will decide that they require a different feature enabled in order to connect. In this case WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia).

The reason for this seems more absurd considering that the support doc implies that it must be enabled in the first place but, before changing the Network Mode, those devices connected just fine with it disabled.

Enabling this capability on my router solved the problem. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t seem to be a feature that should be required simply to connect to a wireless router but there’s no question that enabling it resolved the problem. More details are available via the linked support page included below:

Wi-Fi: Unable to connect to an 802.11n Wi-Fi network

Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router N900 Media Stream (EA4500)

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Linksys-EA4500

A while back I purchased an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station to serve as our primary router and wireless access point. Though initially impressed, I learned that this expensive device wasn’t capable of fully permitting incoming PPTP VPN connections. In addition, it didn’t provide many configuration options. To work around this problem I purchased an ASUS wireless router and instead used the Airport as a wireless access point.

The final work-around resulted in two network devices where one could have worked just fine (I continued to use the Apple Extreme instead of only the ASUS wireless router because the Apple device offered better wireless range). I wasn’t thrilled with this setup and wireless covered was still lacking so I added a new device to my wishlist for Christmas, which I received.

We’re now using a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router N900 Media Stream (EA4500). I was impressed with this model beforehand when my in-laws changed their router to one of these and I had a chance to work with it a bit. Since setting up our router I’ve removed the ASUS wireless router and the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station.

There are several features I haven’t used yet such as the ability to connect an external hard drive. The following are a few things I’ve learned about this router since installing it.

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CrystalView Wireless Instant Router and Repeater

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The Short Version: I only purchased this to extend an existing network. Once I figured out that it could only setup a new wifi network by using the original one as an Internet connection I ditched it. I had no interest in setting up multiple wifi networks just to extend my range. I probably could have configured the device to successfully setup another wifi network, but since that wasn’t why I purchased it I didn’t bother tweaking it any further. For more information about setting this device up you might find the many comments more useful.

I came across a very cheap wireless router at the local CVS (CrystalView Wireless Instant Router and Repeater). Now, I’m not in need of a router but what caught my attention was that it also claimed to have a repeater mode. It was marked at $25 and I thought it might serve as a good alternative to other wireless extender options. I didn’t need anything fancy but I wanted to increase the wireless coverage in part of our home.

After tinkering with it I found that it doesn’t work the way I expected. Technically, I don’t think it’s appropriate to call this device a repeater.  As far as I can tell it doesn’t repeat a wireless network. In my mind this should mean that the wireless configuration is the same and that all devices appear to be on the same network. It does not seem to be capable of extending an existing wireless network.

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How I Made the Airport Extreme Base Station “Play Nice” with an ASUS WL-520GU Wireless Router

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A while back I discovered that the Airport Extreme Base Station wouldn’t properly handle an incoming PPTP VPN connection. Recently, because I moved my home automation setup to an ASUS EeeBox PC, I decided to switch back to PPTP by using an ASUS wireless router.

My goal was to have the AEBS continue to manage the wireless network and provide the included high-speed Ethernet ports. On the other side, the new ASUS router would handle the typical functions of a resdential router (firewall, DHCP, port forwarding, etc).

So far this setup has worked without any hiccups.

Configuring the AEBS for this setup was simple. I only had to change one setting.

  1. Open the Airport Utility
  2. Choose Manual Setup
  3. Select the Internet button at the top
  4. In the Connection Sharing drop-down choose Off (Bridge Mode)
  5. Update

I made one other configuration change, though this is optional. I wanted to manually assign the AEBS’s LAN IP so I went into the TCP/IP tab, changed the Configure IPv4 option to Manually, and set the appropriate IP information (in this case the Router Address points to the ASUS router).

Updated 09/14/2011: So far I haven’t had any problems with this setup. The two devices seem to be working well together.