Let’s face facts: Being in a group living situation sucks. Though to be fair, it sure beats having to take out a mortgage on a house you can’t afford. One thing that has become a problem for me, being the digital control freak that I am and at the same time not living under my own roof, is the fact that I don’t control the network. I don’t control the networking policy, I don’t control the gateway, I don’t control the security policy. I’m a sitting duck, at the mercy of the IT guy’s whims. But I’ve found creative ways around this, ways in which I can actually wrest some control for myself and eventually be able to truly control what goes on in my network and who is allowed to enter.
This was a project I undertook in Fall of 2018, and this project has been incorporated into my rig (currently decommissioned as I wait for my new office chair to arrive). The object was to build my own Ethernet that would connect to the Internet through the house’s communal WiFi. Essentially I wanted to construct an island of Ethernet connectivity within a sea of wireless so that I could do various things I couldn’t do before. What things? Well, I’m glad you asked…
- An Ethernet island allows me to have a choke point through which all incoming and outgoing packets must pass in order to enter or leave my network. I could place a dedicated firewall at this choke point to give myself ultimate control over the security policy of the network.
- I can connect devices that don’t have WiFi capabilities. I’m talking mainly about vintage computers like the Commodore 64 I bought off Ebay that I would have to connect through some sort of acoustic modem interface. It would be far easier to interface this with Ethernet than with WiFi.
- It gives me an excuse to buy and set up my own Ethernet switch, with cool blinking LEDs that would be flashing irregularly as packets enter and leave my network.
- Also, I kinda just wanted to see if I could do it.
Setting up an Ethernet island is fairly simple. First, you will need one of these:
And you will also need one of these:
The first picture is easily recognizable as an Ethernet switch. The second picture is a multipurpose wireless bridge that can function as either a wireless access point, a range extender, or a wireless client. It has an Ethernet port so it can connect to the switch, and it can either generate a WiFi signal from an Ethernet (if it’s in Access Point mode) or it can generate an Ethernet signal from a WiFi signal (Wireless Client mode). The second of these is what I want.
The physical setup is fairly easy. I just plug my switch and my bridge into a power strip, then connect the bridge to one of the switch’s ports via a CAT6 cable. Then I plug my computer into another one of the switch’s ports and log into the bridge’s setup page from a web browser. I will now walk through the setup.
The home screen
I selected Wireless Client mode (I think I forgot to screencap that part). Now I select the WiFi network I will be bridging to and the security parameters.
Here I’m selecting the IP parameters. I leave them as they are.
Review my settings.
System is rebooting.
And voila! Like that, I now have my own wired LAN that I can do whatever I want with. No more taking it in the ass from Mr. IT Guy who thinks he’s so very impressive because he’s root on our network.