2010-02-07

The Asus WL500W and DD-WRT


I've been running my ASUS WL-500W Wireless N Router with DD-WRT for a good two months now.

Here's what I've found:

It works great for me!

I hated my WL-500W with the stock firmware. It seemed clunky and didn't behave all that well, despite updated firmware and a plethora of promising features. But since I had this device at my Dad's house, its original shortcomings didn't mean much to me - it worked adequately for him, so I was fine with it.

But a few months ago my Dad received a "free" wireless access point from his new internet service provider, so I ended up with the WL500W. I decided that DD-WRT was the only way to go.

Installation


I installed the Mega Generic, v24 preSP2 (Build13064), available from the DD-WRT web site. I followed these TFTP instructions. Installation was a breeze using TFTP. I was stoked to see it boot.

Issue #1 - making a brick.

I was busily reconfiguring the WL500W soon after it booted: make a config change, save, make another change, save, etc. And then it turned into a brick.

The LEDs on the WL-500W started to flash as if it was in a constant reboot cycle. I became sad; despondent almost. I struggled to use any software technique I could find to unbrick it. After several painstaking hours, I gave up on a "soft solution" to unbricking it.

Unbricking.

After so many wasted hours, I concluded that the only way to unbrick it was with a hardware technique. I went after the brick using the pin 9 grounding unbrick method. I've heard mixed reviews on this technique - some have claimed that this method will permanently damage the device. But since I otherwise had a brick, I decided to take the risk.

In my case, the unbrick method seemed to work wonderfully. Phew! The brick was no more. I reinstalled DD-WRT and did my best to...

...Avoiding Bricking
.

I think my mistake was saving configuration changes too quickly. Now, when I make a change to the configuration, I give the WL500W a good long while (like a couple minutes) to commit the change to flash memory. I wait until the load average goes down to near zero before saving another configuration change.

I'm not sure if it really helps, but I haven't bricked the router since I instituted my new "slow save" procedure.

Other issues.

I mistakenly tripped power to the WL500W last week, and it didn't come back up: The "AIR" lamp stayed off, and the device wasn't accessible via ethernet. After experimentation, I found that the device would start up normally if I unplugged my laptop from the WL500W's ethernet port when powering up the WL500W. I didn't look into the "failed boot" condition any further.

The other issue is that I could never get the USB ports on the WL500W to do anything useful for me. Then again, the same was true when I used the stock ASUS firmware.

Performance.

I find that the WL500W performs quite well for a 2.5 GHz-only "N" router. It certainly beats the pants off of many other N-class home routers that I've used.

The WL500W with DD-WRT has been rock solid. I do have it automatically restart weekly, but I have never had any indication that it actually needs to be restarted on a schedule.

And it can easily run with that Mega build. I love having most all of the DD-WRT features on the box. Once you go Mega, it's hard to go back.

Well, I hope that helps!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been using DD-WRT on my Asus WL500W for a few years now. It suddenly became unstable. Your "unplug ethernet" trick worked for me. Thanks.

Alejandro.Cortina said...

thanks for the bootup with no ethernet connection trick!!!!

Anonymous said...

The DD WRT isn´t the best firmware for the wl500w when you look at the put through data speed.
give this a try instead.
http://code.google.com/p/wl500g/


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