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Set up your own home Wi-Fi with these simple steps

modem-router-pc

This guest post was authored by Tapiwa Mapani. He’s not a trained geek and says “I just have a restless mind that makes me experiment with this type of stuff and most of the time to great success.” He has a Wi-Fi network setup at his home office which uses a mobile broadband USB dongle and a wireless router. He shares how you can setup a similar wireless network. Tapiwa is venturing into music production; you can find his work on www.soundclick.com/tapiwa. He can be contacted on tapiwa at mail dot com.

Stage 1 is for your basic wireless internet and Stage 2 is if you’re feeling a little more adventurous and want to have a network that your neighbour can’t leach off! I’m sure this’ll work for the other dongles out there as well (Econet, Africom, and any new comers)

modem-router-pcWhat you will need:

  • Internet Dongle (I’m using PowerTel)
  • Wireless router (preferably the 802″g” standard because “n” may give you compatibility issues with some devices and I think it’s not worth the extra cash). Mine was $80 and is a Trendnet TEW432BRP. They are available in most gadgets shops in Zim.
  • A computer you can dedicate to become the “server” for your home wifi. This PC does NOT have to have wireless capabilities as it will directly be connected to the wireless router. Also note that this PC will always have to remain on as it will be the one directly connected and responsible for distributing the internet. My “server” PC is an old faithful HP DX2000 running Windows XP service pack 3. I will explain how to set it up on XP and Windows 7 as I did this successfully on both platforms.

IMORTANT: Before beginning, TURN OFF any firewall applications that you have or the one that came with your antivirus/internet security! If you don’t, the firewall will block the internet sharing unless you know how to add exceptions etc, which I don’t. However if you just have the default windows firewall running you can leave it on as I did but if you encounter any problems this should be the first thing you should turn off.
STAGE 1 (Testing Mode)

  1. Plug one end the cable that came with your router into its LAN port NOT WAN! and the other end into the PC’s Ethernet port.
  2. Open up your browser and access the router’s setup page (mine is 192.168.10.1)
  3. Find the option to DISABLE DCHP and click save/apply
  4. Your router will restart and windows may say it’s connected to it with limited connectivity. This is OK. Now unplug the router from the PC and pull out its power as well.
  5. In Windows XP:
    1. Click start and open up Network Connections.
    2. On the dial up connection that is your USB modem (Powertel = “Wireless Terminal”), right click it and select properties and go to the Sharing Tab or Advanced tab.
    3. Click to check the checkbox that says “Allow other network users to connect…”
    4. Untick the middle one that say’s “Establish a dial up Connection…”.
    5. And check the “Allow other users to control or disable…”
    6. Click OK. A warning or 2 may come up about the LANs IP and anything else. Just click OK/Yes
  6. In win 7:
    1. Click the network icon in the taskbar and select “Open Network and Sharing Centre”
    2. On the left pane select Change Adapter Settings.
    3. Find your USB modem and right click it and select properties and select the sharing tab.
    4. Repeat the above step 5.a for Windows XP but on the drop down list given under Allow… select Local Area Connection.
  7. This step was not necessary a month ago on PowerTel but a couple of days ago they seemed to have encountered problems with their DNS servers meaning that sharing on a network like this will only load specific sites!…But there is a better more reliable work around that is to use Google DNS. I don’t think this step is necessary for Econet/Africom.
    1. Open the PowerTel connect page and click file > settings.
    2. PowerConnect profile, click edit and tick the box “use the following DNS Servers”
    3. Under primary server type 8.8.8.8 and Secondary 8.8.4.4.
    4. Click ok.
  8. Now Connect to the internet.
  9. Plug in the router back into the PC and turn it on. Give it a couple of min to load and after which you should be able to connect to it on any wireless device and begin surfing!
  10. If you have can’t browse, try a simple restart of the server pc.

Now if your network is working, you may realise that its open to any Tom Dick or Harry that connects to it! This is why I put testing in brackets earlier. If all is well, you now need to make your network secure. This involves accessing the router page but since DCHP was disabled it is not possible unless…

STAGE 2 (Finalizing network)

  1. Disconnect the router from the server and reset it (usually using a paperclip to press into a small hole at the back.)
  2. Now connect to it wirelessly using another PC and go to the Wireless screen where you need to enter your SSID (network name) and security (password). Use WPA for security. Every time you save something the router may restart so be patient.
  3. Finally, after you’re happy with your settings, disable DCHP once again. And after it restarts turn it off at the power.
  4. Plug it back into the server and turn it on.
  5. Connect to the internet and then log into your new secure network on any device and all should be fine!

I will post up another tutorial on how to share a printer and files over your new network although this can only easily be done on Windows 7 as Windows XP is a bit old and complicated but my printer is connected to the Windows XP machine in the study and all works fine as well as file sharing.

You can post comments below on your experience setting up your own home Wi-Fi. If you also know an easier way to do some of the steps above (there always is), share that as well.


Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

38 thoughts on “Set up your own home Wi-Fi with these simple steps

  1. So i thought  i was the only dongle, out here, thanx for the cool stuff Taps, I like it 

  2. quite good
    but i do feel to save yourself frm the extra costs of buying the wireless router you can always setup a an adhoc network with a pc or laptop with wireless capabilities

    with windows 7 its even easier because they give u the option of sharing internet yet with lower version u have to setup the default gateway on every other machine tht u connect on the wirelss adapter settings…

    if any1 is interested in ths jus tel me and il document the steps for u

    1.  Adhoc networks are convenient but somehow for me they always end up not working or just fail to setup properly even on the simplicity of win 7. Like my dell PC seems not to want to share its internet when I tried ADHOC mode!

  3. Not so bad though you could have done better with Ubuntu Ebox on the server. It offers more capaabilities such as load balancing etc.

    1. come on man, load balancing for home / personal wifi? next time, dont just comment before you really read. great article! 

  4.  Overall good article, but with the setup you have described, why go with a router? A wireless access point is what I would use for what you have described and in fact that’s how I have configured my own SOHO. I almost always use a wireless access point as I have flexibility to setup DNS and DHCP services with platform/hardware/software combinations of my liking. However I would never use any version of windows for DNS, DHCP and Routing network services on a SOHO network; LINUX is the way to go for that. Garikai above mentioned Ubuntu Ebox, a smart move I would recommend to anyone.Without a doubt Google DNS servers are the way to go for answering DNS requests or forwarding requests. Consider OpenDNS (208.67.222.222, 208.67.220.220) as well should Google’s ever go down (which is doubtful).

    1.  The router part is because most wireless access points now have NAT and a WAN port which means it will be capable to do some routing hence Wireless (Broadband) Router. Here a Windows PC connecting to the Internet will be serving network setting (IP addressing, DNS etc…) and someone can still use the same PC for daily office work.

    2. An access point in this country is just the same price as a router and Im sure there’s more you can do with a router and in the day that we can get affordable DSL into our homes you’ll already have a wireless router ready to go!…And windows is doing great with the DNS and DHCP side of things…as long as you keep your computer updates with the latest updates you’ll be fine.

  5.  wireless n is worth the money and new routers can be used as access points or repeaters 

    1. l thought the days of repeaters in LAN are gone although l think  they still got a place in fibre optics backbone networks!

  6. Ok, but why all the hassles of having a server PC and leaving it on, thus no green wasting electricity. Why not just buy a wireless AP?

    For people with more that one PC to connect using cables, why not buy a router with switch ports. A cheap Buffalo router with 4 port switch cost less than $25 and comes with AES, WEP, Firewall, AP with one touch setup etc….  

    1. Hope you mean Wireless AP that connects to the ISP and terminates on an Ethernet to your LAN. 

      …”why not buy a router with switch ports.”? Not quite getting you but I think you mean a something like a Wireless Access Point with a router/Internet port (Wireless Router) of low cost. 

      In this example the Internet/Wan port is not in use, our ISP is terminating on a  USB port unless your Access Point can use USB connection and it will totally eliminate the server. The server here is not dedicated to internet, It can be used by someone to do daily office chores.

      1. NO l mean routers with integrated switches in one box, check out the cisco 850 range for home and small business use. l also have a Linksys (now cisco) stand alone Wireless AP for home use. Buffalo and Netgear are the most common in that field. Check their range of products and correct me if lm wrong

        1.  Ok, I know the Ciscos and what you a saying now but considering time and labor Wire is very demanding. Also most mobile devices these days are WiFi ready.
          Dongle! Dongle! Dongle!
          This device has a USB interface which means routing is to performed by the device operating the Dongle.

  7.  Nice Article Taps it is simply basic I have done many SOHO networks during the active days of Dial-up on both wired and wireless networks. Keep it up.

  8. Ok, not bad. i suppose its basic enough for pple to understand. thats quite simple, bt rather than enable DHCP evry tym u need to go into the router, why not give urself a static ip address? since the router is a 192.168.10.1, u can always give urself a 10.x, wher x is anything but 1. otherwise, on paper, not bad…. 

    1.  if the router is your internet gateway and have 192.168.10.1, then all your inside network must have 192.168.10.x addresses otherwise you wont be able to access internet not 10.x.x.x addresses

    2.   Good point Nyasha at this point lets just call this Router an Access Point since the actual routing will be done by the Dongle Bearer (PC with dongle).

       If you enable  internet connection sharing in Windows XP the computer sharing the connection will turn into a dhcp server and assigns itself the IP address 192.168.0.1 and give addresses from 192.168.0.2 to 192.168.0.254.

      It will be wiser to assign ip 192.168.0.254 to the Wireless access point just after disabling the DHCP on the Access Point since it will be the last address to be assigned by the PC.

    3.  mmm I’ll try this but I was aiming to keep things really simple coz once you’ve setup the network you won’t really have need to access the router page.

    1.  What provider are you using for the USB modem? The problem I’ve seen with these is:
      1. Here they are priced 3.5times more at the store I saw them ($105)
      2. It seems in Zimbabwe we have a problem of a common code for hardware or sumthing because you may find the econet dongle working on the device but then plug in the powertel on and it might refuse.

      1. The router comes with a list of compatible 3G modems. I used a Novatel one that wasnt even on the list and it worked first time. The only important parameters I had to configure were the APN and dial string (ATD)*99#. I tested the setup while I was still abroad and when I came to Zim, the only change I made was to put in a data enabled econet SIM card and new APN (econet.net) and the setup worked first time. Suddenly my home computer and laptops all had internet 🙂 but the data bundles were soon exhausted :(. I did not try with Powertel. The other advantage with this router is that it also has a WAN port so you can connect it to a cable modem instead of using the 3G dongle.

    2. Any chance you can test the PowerTel modem as this will really  save me a lot of hassles. l will buy it straight away. Thanx.

      1. Hi Macd

        Most dongles supplied by local service providers will work with these 3G routers. And yes, Ev-Do modems from Powertel are compatible as well with a WAN failover redundancy for your DSL or WiMAX connection. If you ever need it please let me know I’ll hook you up with one.

          1. lm in the process of acquiring one, thanks for the offer, but l will keep yo email

  9. guys considering economic feasibilty all tht u saying hazviite kani
    u thnk mari inonhongwa here
    mkomana uyu akuti tiri pa den nhai
    and wants to share internet frm tht $50 worth of unlimited bandwidth
    idea yemukomana uyu is soo good
    and the other option ndiyo ya vince iyooo
    ADHOC network are so good on win 7 coz u don need to setup default gateway
    rather win7 does tht fo u
    so simple
    kwete izvo zvamavakunyora zvemu book re cisco izvo

    1.  Not all people use MicroShaft prisons of Windows and Gates, the world is Open Source. So settings based on MicroShaft does not cut it on me, try to explain your ad hoc network out of the shackles of Micro$haft and see how far you can go

    1. Great article, well presented and a really useful device at the end of the day.
      Thanks for your time and effort

  10. I am trying to log into my econet router and i need the user name and password i tried resetting it and using just admin as the password but not working can you help so i can changge my settings?

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