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Trendnet TEW-652BRP and DD-WRT Success!

I recently visited my dad while on a business trip when I coincidentally discovered that DD-WRT is now available for his TEW-652. The TEW-652BRP has been a great router for my father, but it isn't what I'd call "feature rich". An upgrade to DD-WRT is a big bonus.

I live 2500 miles away from my non-technical father, and so a well-specified router that helps me manage his network remotely is important to both of us.

This article will explain what I did to finally get DD-WRT working on my TEW-652BRP v1.0R.

About the TEW-652brp

It's a nice looking little black 802.11n, 2.5 GHz router. It was amazingly inexpensive (usually way under $30), and the TEW-652brp is available through Amazon. Mine is a version 1.0R, you'll likely want the same version. Out of the box, it works quite well - it has been stable, and I was fairly happy with the stock firmware. But it was short on features - I like having VPN, SSH, and flexible DHCP services on the home networks I support. The stock firmware on the TEW-652BRP wasn't so good at that stuff.

An upgrade to DD-WRT gives me all these advanced features and much more. According to the label on the back of my TEW-652BRP, I have hardware version V1.0R.

Plan A: An easy upgrade to DD-WRT.

The on-line literature suggested that I might be able to simply install the DD-WRT firmware using the Trendnet's built-in firmware utility.

I downloaded the "factory to DD-WRT" .bin file for the TEW-652BRP, found here. Then I logged into the router via and navigated to the router's firmware update page. From there, I tried to upgrade the device using the "factory to DD-WRT" .bin file.

The firmware upgrade failed - the Trendnet firmware reported an error. Happily, no destructive action was taken by the firmware updater - the router was not bricked.

I initially believed that the upgrade utility didn't like the signature of the firmware file found on the DD-WRT website.

Plan B - Recovery Mode firmware utility.

So went to "Plan B": I'd upgrade the router's firmware using the recovery mode.

I set a static address of on my PC. Then I powered up the router while holding down the reset button. I held the reset button down until the "status" LED started to blink.

Then I plugged into Ethernet and went to with Firefox. Ta-da! A firmware update page came up.

Trendnet Firmware Recovery Page

I then attempted to upload the DD-WRT .bin file. Crap, same thing - invalid firmware file. Even the recovery mode wasn't willing to install a renegade firmware file.

Plan C - The solution

After two failures taking several hours, I decided to get a little more serious. I went to the Trendnet web site and downloaded their latest firmware, seen here. Then I got out the trusty hex editor and looked at the end of the file. The signature at the end was

... aka ...
41 50 38 31 2D 41 52 39 31 33 30 2D 52 54 2D 30 38 30 36 30 39 2D 30 35

I then looked at the DD-WRT firmware's signature at the end of its .bin file, and, sadly, it was identical. So it didn't seem like my installation problem was a simple "file signature" issue, but maybe a checksum or some other algorithmic issue within the Trendnet firmware.

So I decided to try to run around the apparent checksum issue by avoiding the Trendnet software altogether. Which worked.

The story I read on the web was that the D-Link 615 rev. C is the same hardware device as the '652, but with different (and better) firmware. I decided to try to install the D-Link firmware onto the router, and then install the DD-WRT firmware onto the "D-Linkified" Trendnet.

The short story is that this strategy worked like a charm. But it did require some hex editing. Here are the details.

(1) Download the D-Link 615 rev C firmware. I used an old version, Version 3.00.

(2) Use a hex editor to replace the D-Link signature string at the very end of the .bin file.

(aka: 41 50 38 31 2D 41 52 39 31 33 30 2D 52 54 2D 30 37 30 36 31 34 2D 30 32)

... became ...

(aka: 41 50 38 31 2D 41 52 39 31 33 30 2D 52 54 2D 30 38 30 36 30 39 2D 30 35)

(3) Using Trendnet's stock firmware, install the newly modified "DLink" .bin file.

(4) Wait patiently for the upgrade to complete

(5) Tada! The D-Link firmware login page appears! Yay!

From there, I performed a similar procedure with the DLink firmware update page:

(1) Download the DD-WRT firmware from the FTP site. I used the "factory to dd-wrt" firmware for the Trendnet, found here.

(2) Use a hex editor to replace the Trendnet signature string at the end of the .bin file with a signature that the D-Link firmware accepts. I changed the signature as follows:

(aka: 41 50 38 31 2D 41 52 39 31 33 30 2D 52 54 2D 30 38 30 36 30 39 2D 30 35)

... became ...

(aka: 41 50 38 31 2D 41 52 39 31 33 30 2D 52 54 2D 30 37 30 36 31 34 2D 30 32)

(3) Log into the D-Link router (username admin, password admin).

(4) Using the router's renegade D-Link firmware, I upgrade the firmware with the modified DD-WRT .bin file.

(5) Wait patiently

(6) Ta-da! DD-WRT firmware page appears!

From this point on, I was able to use DD-WRT firmware. I've been using this firmware now for well over a year, and it has been totally reliable.

Update: Excitingly, I just bought a similarly capable router with OpenWRT fully pre-installed.  The GLI MT300N is under $20 and is a compact, modern router with OpenWRT of the box.  It is rock-solid and has a sweet interface for installing optional software packages.

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