Using dd-wrt to convert a Linksys router

Using dd-wrt to convert a Linksys router

When I got my MiFi device to replace my satellite modem, I had to figure out a way to share the internet signal with the other computers on my home network. At first I thought I could just use the UBS connection on the MiFi and then use the desktop computer as a gateway for the other computers. Well, I never could get the USB modem software to run on my old XP computer.

I then thought I would just buy a wireless USB device to plug into the desktop. However the cost of these at Wal-Mart was more than I wanted to pay. I started to order one from Tiger Direct but then I found a different solution.

I found that I could convert my router that I no longer needed into a device by running it in “Client Mode.” Unfortunately my Linksys router did not support client mode.

A few more Google searches revealed that I could replace the firmware with some from and make it run like I needed it to.

At first I was scared from the dire warnings that I could easily convert my router into a paper weight if I did not carefully follow the instructions. But I eventually decided to give it a try.

I found my router listed in the wiki and printed out the instructions. I downloaded the appropriate files. I then reset the router just like in the instructions. I actually used a stopwatch to make sure I held the button down for the correct amount of time.

Holding the button down while disconnecting and reconnecting the power was the hardest part of the job for me. Well that and the waiting five minutes between changes near the end of the procedure. If I had not used a stopwatch I am sure I would not have waited long enough. I got very impatient, but I read where not waiting was the most common error people make in installing the software, so I waited it out.

The instructions were very easy to follow. I just checked off each step along the way. Everything worked like it was supposed to and my Clint mode ran first time. The router automatically syncs up with the MiFi whenever I turn it on. It runs in secure access mode so I don’t have to worry about my neighbors using up my bandwidth.

See for more info on the router modification.

Goodbye Hughesnet; hello Verizon MiFI

Goodbye Hughesnet; hello Verizon MiFI

While there are a lot of great things about living in the country like letting the dog run free and having 4×4 trails in the back yard, having access to high speed internet is not among them.

I am about a mile from the end of the Charter cable run and several miles from the nearest DSL capable phone line. For years the only option I had was Directway. Directway eventually evolved into Hughesnet.

The satellite internet seemed really cool at first. Connection speeds were much faster than dial up. And it was also more reliable. It was always on and I never had to worry about busy signals when trying to connect the modem. The savings of dropping AOL and the extra phone line pretty much paid for the Satellite service at first.

However over the years the price went up and the service went down. First they added download limits. And they did not tell anyone, they just secretly started limited speeds if you went over a certain amount. It took some folks in a broadband forum to figure it out and write a program so you could monitor your download sand not go over the limit and be penalized for going over.

In the past few months, the system has become virtually unusable as the connection speeds during peak use times are unbearably slow. The system works fine during the day and late at night; but from 4pm to 10 pm it is useless.

I reluctantly tested the Verizon 3g connection at our house. Cell phone coverage is pretty good there but not perfect. I suspected the data transfer would be spotty at best. However, I was surprised at the speed of two different devices I tested. They worked great and got better signal than my phone.

So, I finally cancelled the Hughesnet service and got the Verizon MiFi 3g. 4g had just come out but it was much more expensive for the device so I decided to just get the 3g.

The box arrived by FedEx and was very easy to set up. All I had to do was connect using the wireless card in my laptop computer. I have not run any actual speed tests but the feel is much faster. I can actually play Car Town on Facebook. That was next to impossible on the satellite.

The trouble came about when I tried to connect it to the desktop computer. The USB connection simply refused to install. I saw in some forums that others were having similar issues using XP like I was. I decided to just stop fighting it and use a wireless connection for the desk top as well.

The trouble was, I needed a wireless device for the desktop. See the next post for how I modified my Linksys router to connect to the MiFi.

Stay Stuck Dash pad review

Stay put mat holds GPS in place
Stay put mat holds GPS in place
Natalie from Iphone Acccessories sent me a StayStuck phone pad. This silicone pad is made of an amazing friction material that sticks to just about anything. I have been driving around with it in my street Jeep this week and my cell phone has stayed put just like the product name suggests. I have stuck it on the dash and on the center console and it stays either place just fine.

The sample she sent me also has a really cool feature in that it has a place to mount a suction cup device like a phone holder or a GPS navigation device. To test it further I put it in my off road Jeep to see how it holds up to bumps and dust.

I had to use a damp cloth to clean the very dirty dash in my Jeep before it would stick. However, once it was free of dust, the pad stuck fine.

I mounted my mom’s Tom Tom to it to see if it would stay in place. I have left it there in all kinds of weather conditions from cold to hot to wet to dry. It has not moved. I always get annoyed at suction cup devices because they tend to pop loose when the temperature changes. No such problems with this pad.

I have driven around on the trails on my farm and have even done some rough maneuvering to get the Jeep into position to do some winching and so far the pad is still in place.

I need to get one for my mom for mother’s day because she is really happy that she does not have to mount her GPS on the windshield any more. For more information on this cool product see: StayPut Pad

I think I am going to get one of the regular phone pads to prevent occurrences of the levitating cell phone.

Jeep Cherokee Transmission replacement

When my friend Jennifer started having trouble with the transmission in her Jeep Cherokee, I was really surprised. The AW4 in the Cherokee is a very reliable transmission. However, hers was becoming very sluggish to engage either drive or reverse when cold. It would work fine once warm but was taking longer and longer to warm up each morning.

Another friend of ours had a transmission available as he was parting out his old off road Jeep. I made the trip to Kentucky to help him swap parts and picked up the left overs. Loading it on the trailer was fun since it had no brakes after the axle swap. But it did prove the transmission worked fine.

The swap began with removing the transmission and transfer case from the donor Jeep. Since both Jeeps had the 231 transfer case I decided to simply swap the transmission and transfer case as a unit.

I began by disconnecting the transmission control and sensor wires at the firewall. There are three connectors. Also the transmission kick down cable needs to be disconnected from the throttle linkage. The battery cable needs to be disconnected at this time as well.

With the Jeep on the lift, I removed the two drive shafts. Then the starter and the inspection plate from the front of the transmission. Next, I unplugged the wires to the oxygen sensor and removed the bolts holding the exhaust to the manifold. I also unbolted the transmission filler tube from the backing plate.

I fabricated a mount for my hydraulic lift table to hold the transmission and transfer case so I could lower it down once it was loose. I cut the exhaust between the muffler and tail pipe to make it easier to handle.

With the transmission supported by my table, I removed he cross member. This is when I discovered that the transmission mount was broken and had been for some time. The transfer case shift linkage was slightly damaged due to the movement, so I left it in place and simply disconnected it from the transfer case. The exhaust came down with the cross member as well.

Next I removed the cooling lines from the side of the transmission. It took quite a while to clear the dirt and mud out of the quick connects to get them to release. I used a dental pick to scrape between the tube and the connector.

Next I removed the four bolts that secure the torque converter to the flex plate. I was surprised at how easy the engine turned over indicating that it was low on compression, although it ran well.

Then I lowered the transmission slightly to get better access to the upper bolts. Then I removed the crank shaft position sensor.

Next I removed the two large bolts on either side of the transmission that secure it to the block. Then using the proper socket and about three feet of extensions, I removed the two inverse torx bolts from the top of the transmission.

With the transmission loose I began to drop it down. That is when I noticed I had missed one of the bolts that secures the cover plate to the transmission. With that last bolt out, the transmission slid out easily.

The only glitch was that I made my holder too tall and it would not roll out form under the Jeep. I had to use my engine hoist to lift the axle enough to clear the bell housing. I then used the hoist to lower the transmission transfer case unit to the floor.

Then I towed the donor Jeep back out into the yard.

Next I put Jenny’s Jeep in the shop and began disconnecting the stuff under the hood. When I disconnected the transmission control wires I noticed one of the plugs was different and filed that away in my mental notes for later.

The exhaust was broken between the tail pipe and the muffler so I did not have to cut hers to drop it. Otherwise, I used the same procedure to drop her transmission and transfer case as a unit as I did the donor Jeep.

I had a really hard time with the transmission lines on her Jeep however. The plastic quick connect pretty much crumbled away instead of releasing. On one I had to unscrew the coupling from the transmission to get it off the line. The connection to the radiator was easy on hers however because a previous owner had cut off the quick connect and just clamped the hose to the metal line.

While working with the lines however, I think I found the cause of the transmissions early demise. Right at the oil pan both lines were crushed. On line was nearly pinched off. Looks like sometime in its history this Jeep suffered a track bar failure allowing the axle to contact the oil pan and crush the transmission lines. I am sure the transmission had trouble maintain proper pressure and cooling with the restricted flow.

I checked on the price of new lines but the Jeep dealer wanted $170 for the set. I decided to recover the lines from the donor Jeep. It took a while working on the cold wet ground but I finally worked the lines out intact saving all the plastic connectors.

With both transmission on the floor beside each other, I started sorting out the differences in the 92 vs 94 wiring. It turned out he only difference was the speed sensor for the speedometer drive. I planned to change it any way due to possible differences in the speedometer drive gear. It turned out both used the green gear so that would not have been a concern. However, I had to make the swap to have compatible wiring connectors.

After slightly modifying my lift table, I set about reinstalling the transmission. I use a floor jack and a pole under the oil pan to help align the engine with the transmission and it slipped in easily. After installing the two large side bolts, I lowered the assembly slightly to install the two inverse torx bots on the top.

Next I installed the starter and exhaust pipe and the good transmission mount. After raising the assembly close to its proper place I installed the torque converter bolts and replaced the inspection plate.

Jenny’s Jeep is fitted with a transfer case drop to reduce drive line vibration caused by her three inch lift. The drop uses longer bolts and spacer blocks to mount her cross member.

I noticed that her cross member was twisted so I replaced it with the one from the donor Jeep. This one was also pretty beat up from off road abuse but at least it did not have a twist.

As I tightened the bolts I found one of them was stripped out in the unibody. Rather than try a more complicated repair, I found a long all thread bolt and cut off the head to make a stud. I then welded the stud in place in the unibody. Having a stud here actually makes bolting the cross member in place much easier as it keeps the spacer from sliding out on that side.

I welded up her muffler where the tail pipe was broken out. Once it was all in place I set it down and attached the wires and installed the dip stick tube. I then reattached the battery.

A quick test drive showed there was no delay in uptake to drive or reverse unlike the previous transmission. It was well within the 1.2 second spec for engagement even cold.

I headed out of the driveway for a road test. All went fine until I got onto the pavement. It simply refuse to switch out of first gear. I drive a lot of different driving options but to no avail.

Back in the shop, I started reading the trouble shooting guide in Factory Shop manual. failure to shift our of first was not one of the possible failure modes listed in the book!

I next started following the test procedure. The first step was to check for mechanical operation of the transmission. This step involves disconnecting the transmission computer and shifting manually. I dug under the passenger side dash and disconnected the controller.

A test drive showed the transmission functioned perfectly in manual mode. All gears engaged properly. I then plugged back in the computer and it stayed in first gear.

Assuming I had somehow damaged the computer or maybe it was not as compatible between different years as I had been told, I removed the computer from the donor Jeep and connected it to Jenny’s Jeep.

It still stayed in first. Completely stumped, I took a break and posted my question to the XJ list. A reply from Dave had me checking the throttle position sensor, and speed sensor inputs. I saw that the computer used these two inputs to decide when to shift.

The throttle position sensor tested out to within specs. And I assumed that since the speedometer worked, that the speed sensor must work also. However, after some more reading in the shop manual, I noticed there were in fact two speed sensors.

Testing it was a bit difficult due to access to the wires so I first decided to test the one on the floor. Once I figured out where to connect the test leads I saw the sensor made two pulses per revolution of the drive shaft.

When I connected my test leads to the one in the Jeep, it was constantly on and did not change like it was supposed to. I was on to something now.

The biggest trouble was that this sensor is located under a bracket that holds the transmission to the transfer case and holds the shift linkage. It is locate just about the cross member and on top of the transmission.

Access meant supporting the transmission, removing the cross member and lowering the assembly enough to remove the bracket and get to the sensor. Eventually, I accessed the sensor and as I removed it to swap it for the good on, I saw the problem.

The wires had been damaged by the shift linkage when the grommet popped out sometime ago. I guess moving the wires around made then contact in the bare spots as the transmission had been working fine before I pulled it out.

With the replacement sensor in place and all the metal parts bolted back up, I took it for another test drive. This time it shifted perfectly.

I swapped out a few more parts from the donor Jeep like the fan shroud and seat cushions and delivered it back to Jenny. She seemed very happy to have her Jeep back. Especially now that she does not have to wait ten to fifteen minutes from the time she cranks it until she can drive it.

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Phone Call from Norway

I love the Internet! This morning I got a phone call from a guy in Norway who was having trouble with his 242 Transfer case in his Cherokee.

He was having trouble with it popping out of gear when backing up. This can be a really annoying problem when off road. He found my article about the NP242 and called to talk through his problem.

I think he had already diagnosed it as a shift fork problem. At least that is what we agreed he should look at next. I also suggested that for off road he might just want to swap for for a 231 and get an extra inch of clearance.

I am really glad I was able to help him talk through his problem.