Having weak WiFi signal in parts of your home or office can be frustrating. While you can buy commercial WiFi extenders, making your own from an old router is inexpensive and can also be a fun DIY project.

In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk you through all the steps and considerations for making a powerful DIY WiFi extender using an old router you may have lying around.

Why Make Your Own WiFi Extender

There are several good reasons to make your own WiFi extender rather than buying one:

As long as you have an old router that's no more than 3-5 years old, making your own extender is easy and worthwhile.

How a WiFi Extender Works

Before getting into the steps for making one, let's look at how a WiFi extender works:

So in essence, the extender acts as a middleman to bring WiFi to areas your main router can't reach well on its own.

Choosing an Old Router

The first step is finding an old router you can repurpose as an extender. What should you look for?

Avoid routers more than 3-5 years old, as they likely won't have great wireless range. Don't use your current primary router either.

DD-WRT Firmware

One key piece is installing DD-WRT third party firmware on your old router. This opens up the advanced networking options we need.

The process to install DD-WRT varies by router model. Check their router database to find instructions for your specific router.

Key steps are typically:

DD-WRT unlocks features like:

So take the time to install DD-WRT before proceeding.

Configuring Your Router as a Repeater

Once you have DD-WRT installed, you can configure your old router to act as a wireless extender. Here are the steps:

1. Name Your Extender Network

Come up with a new SSID name for the extended network. For example, add "_EXT" to your current SSID.

2. Set Extender to Client Bridge Mode

In the DD-WRT admin panel, go to the Wireless tab. Set the Wireless Mode to "Client Bridge".

3. Choose Your Main Router's WiFi Network

Select the SSID of your current primary router as the Bridged SSID. This allows the extender to connect to your existing WiFi.

4. Configure Security Settings

Match the WiFi Password and Encryption settings to your current primary router.

5. Save Settings and Reboot Extender

Save your settings changes in DD-WRT and reboot the extender router.

When it comes back up, it will now be extending your existing network!

Optimizing Placement

Where you place your DIY WiFi extender is important. Follow these tips:

Also use Ethernet cables if possible rather than relying solely on wireless uplink to your main router.

Adjusting Antennas

If your extender router has external antennas, adjusting their positioning can improve range:

Fine tuning antennas is easy and can make a big difference.

Wrapping Up

Turning an old router into a WiFi extender is easy thanks to DD-WRT firmware. With some simple configuration, placement optimization, and antenna adjustment you can create an extender that rivals commercial options.

The end result is whole home WiFi coverage without spending much. Plus you get to put an old router to good new use.

I hope this guide gave you everything you need to make your own powerful WiFi extender. Let me know if you have any other questions!