Upgrade wireless router WRT54G to DD-WRT firmware

I’ve meant to flash my main wireless router to the DD-WRT open source firmware for a while.  I flashed my bridge router over a year ago, immediately upon receipt.  I needed a wireless bridge, and the stock firmware didn’t support it.  However, I was hesitant to take the chance with my main router because I didn’t have any backup and would have to buy a new one.

However, I’ve been having internet issues recently.  I replaced my cable modem because I remember when the last one went out a year ago, which had the same intermittent problems.  However, repeated calls to the ISP have resulted in the firm statement that the signal seems to be fine to the modem.  That leaves the router…

Since I may need to replace the router anyway if it’s bad, I might as well try the flash.

I went to dd-wrt.com to find the appropriate firmware for my router, which happened to be the Linksys WRT-54G v3.1.  The 3.1 version is good to have because it has 4MB of flash memory.  Some models have just 2MB and need to run a smaller version of the firmware.

I had already read the instructions on the DD-WRT wiki the last time that I flashed my other router — be sure to be familiar with the warnings and instructions before hopping in.  Each router has its own quirks, and the wiki pages have lots of info, such as this one for the WRT54G series.

As for the flash itself, here is what I did.

  1. Restore factory defaults with the original Linksys firmware.
  2. Hard reset
  3. Set your computer to a static IP of (or to whatever subnet the router is on)
  4. Log in admin page (username is blank, password = admin) and navigate to firmware upgrade page.
  5. First flash: Mini-Build required for inital flashing via WEB      dd-wrt.v24_mini_generic.bin
    1. “Upgrade are failed!” message appears from router.  A second one (in a different window) appears a few minutes later.
    2. Lights should return to normal.  Failing to wait long enough can brick router.
  6. Hard reset after the second message
    1. After reset, able to access status page for DD-WRT, no problem!
  7. Go to administration->firmware upgrade –> login as root:admin
    1. Upgrade with dd-wrt.v24-13064_VINT_std.bin
    2. Wait for completion message, which can take several minutes (same warnings as above!)
  8. It automatically came to success screen, and asked for a changed password
    1. Hard reset again after flash is complete
  9. Should be able to access DD-WRT again, now with the latest firmware.
  10. Change password and set all settings.  Back up your new settings, and you’re ready to go

Hard Reset (aka 30/30/30 reset):
* With the unit powered on, press and hold the reset button on back of unit for 30 seconds
* Without releasing the reset button, unplug the unit and hold reset for another 30 seconds
* Plug the unit back in STILL holding the reset button a final 30 seconds

If you don’t have a router yet, there are a huge number of good routers that have been tested with DD-WRT and other alternatives (such as OpenWrt and Tomato, but I haven’t tested those).

I suggest buying the router that I used for my bridge, the Linksys WRT54G2.  It’s a bit cheaper than the others, and has internal antennas that are about as good as the other models with antennas. There are specific instructions for that one here.  If you want to use the same one I’m describing here as my main router, you can get that one here for not that much more: Linksys WRT54GL.  Note the L in the model – they specifically made this one to bring back the larger flash memory to allow for flashing the full DD-WRT.  The other ones have less memory and therefore use a more stripped-down version of the firmware.

I’ll have to wait a few days to see if I run into any more connection problems, but so far it seems that my internet connection hasn’t been hiccuping.

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About ProjectJourneyman

I am a software engineer that escaped the cubicle world at a large company to go solo with Android app development. My attention to detail and quality applies both to my apps and to my research on how to make money with Android. Now that I have the freedom to work on my own projects, I am documenting my efforts in the hopes that it will help other current or aspiring independent Android developers get the income they desire.

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