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Connect devices to a wireless network

Our wireless expert, Lisa Phifer, explains how to connect multiple devices wirelessly using a wireless bridge in this Q&A.

I have been looking for a 4-to-8-port wireless bridge/client adapter device to allow me to connect several devices without wireless adapters to the wireless network. These devices are things in the production environment like torque guns or PLCs which generally have a wired RJ-45 interface but nothing else. Can you suggest any products for this type of deployment?

Many APs can operate as a wireless bridge -- for example, the Linksys WAPG54G. You can easily connect several Ethernet devices to another wired network over wireless by deploying a pair of WAP54G's, both configured in wireless bridge mode. In that case, you would cable each device's RJ-45 interface to one of the ports on an inexpensive 8-port Ethernet switch, then cabling that switch's uplink port to a nearby WAP54G. The other WAP54G would be cabled to the distant wired network.

This type of solution can accommodate all Ethernet devices through one switch/bridge pair. However, it requires you to install a pair of compatible bridging APs (for example, Linksys WAP11's or WAP54G's can interwork in wireless bridge mode).

Another alternative is to connect an Ethernet bridge designed to operate as a standard 802.11g/b client, like the Linksys WET54G. In this case, you would still cable all Ethernet devices to a nearby Ethernet switch. But the switch's uplink port would be cabled to the WET54G, and the WET54G would be configured to associate as an ordinary client to your existing 802.11b/g AP.

This type of solution seems to do what you want, but still requires you to have a separate switch and bridge. To accomplish both functions with just one box, use a product like the Linksys WET54GS5, which is basically the WET54G with an integrated 5-port Ethernet switch. A similar product is the Buffalo Turbo G High Power Wireless Ethernet Converter. However, to accommodate more than four Ethernet devices, you may need to go with a separate switch.

This was last published in December 2006

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