Having weak WiFi signal in parts of your home or office can be frustrating. While you could buy a commercial WiFi range extender, you can actually make one yourself for much less money using an old router you may have sitting around. With just a bit of DIY effort, I was able to build my own functional and effective WiFi range extender to boost my network coverage.

Why Make Your Own WiFi Range Extender

There are a few key reasons why you may want to build your own DIY WiFi range extender rather than buying one:

Cost Savings

Purchasing a commercial WiFi range extender can cost $50 or more. By using an old router you already have, you can build one for free or very cheap. The only thing you may need to buy is a power adapter if your old router doesn't come with one. So you can save a significant amount of money.


By making your own, you can customize the range extender to your needs. You can configure the settings however you want rather than being limited to presets from a commercial product. You can also position the router where you need it most to maximize signal coverage.

Learning Experience

Undertaking a DIY WiFi range extender project can be a great learning experience about networking, extending your technical skills. You'll also get the satisfaction of creating something useful yourself.

How a WiFi Range Extender Works

To understand how to DIY one, you need to first understand how a WiFi range extender actually works. The basic functionality is:

So a range extender bridges your existing network and strengthens the overall signal footprint. Keeping this basic functionality in mind will help inform how to build your own.

Choosing an Old Router for Your Range Extender

The key ingredient for building a DIY WiFi range extender is having an extra router to use. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting an old router:

Some examples of old router models that work well are Linksys WRT54G, Netgear Nighthawk R6700 or R7000, TP-Link Archer C7, or Asus RT-AC68U. But there are many others that could also work.

How to Build the WiFi Range Extender

Once you have a compatible old router to use, the process of actually building the WiFi range extender involves several key steps:

1. Update the Router Firmware

Most routers have updatable firmware from the manufacturer. Go to the manufacturer's website and check for the newest firmware version for your router model. Updating to the latest firmware ensures your router has all of the latest features and range extender/wireless access point modes available.

2. Connect the Router to Your PC

Connect the old router you want to use directly to your computer using an ethernet cable. This will allow you to configure the router through its admin interface accessed by your web browser.

Important: Make sure the router is not also still connected to your main network until the configuration is complete.

3. Access the Router Admin Interface

In your web browser, navigate to the IP address for accessing your router's admin interface. This is commonly or but check your router model documentation to confirm. Enter the admin password if required - try admin/admin or blank as common defaults.

4. Switch Router Mode to Wireless Access Point

Look for a setting under Advanced Configurations for switching the Router Mode or Operation Mode to Wireless Access Point or Range Extender. This disables the router functionality like DHCP server, firewall, NAT and converts it to act solely as a wireless access point.

5. Configure Access Point Settings

Under the Wireless or WiFi Radio settings, configure the access point settings:

6. Connect Router to Main Network

Now connect the router to your primary network using an ethernet cable from one of its LAN ports to a LAN port on your main router. Alternatively, you can connect wirelessly if they are within range.

Once connected, the router will join your network as a wireless client. It can now broadcast the network as an extended wireless access point.

7. Position and Power On

Position the router in a location where you want to improve WiFi coverage, like a remote bedroom or porch. Make sure it's powered on to begin operating as your new wireless range extender broadcasting your network's SSID.

Optimizing the Extended WiFi Network

Once built and online, there are some additional things you can do to get the best performance from your DIY WiFi range extender:

With some tweaking and testing, I was able to build and optimize my custom WiFi range extender to deliver a high quality signal in all areas of my home.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you built a range extender but are having issues getting consistent performance everywhere, here are some troubleshooting tips:

With a bit of tweaking, most DIY WiFi range extenders can be optimized to work reliably. But most issues stem from poor router selection, placement, or configuration.


Building your own WiFi range extender is a great DIY project that can save you money compared to buying one. It also lets you learn about wireless networking. With an old router that supports access point mode, and following the setup process outlined above, you can effectively and economically boost your WiFi network coverage. Position it where you need better signal and enjoy the expanded wireless access.