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Buffalo Air-Station WYR-G54 -Wireless router, firewall, gateway 

Neat little product to help you build a wired and wireless home or small office network

I've had a broadband internet connection for about 4 years now, that makes me an early adopter! This was from before the time when BY saw the light and decided broadband was neither a threat to their ISDN business, or somethat for which customers had no use. As such it's a cable-modem based solution from NTL. They've improved a lot in those four years as well!

Why give you this little history of domestic networking? Well - way back then there weren't a lot of broadband connectivity options. NTL provided a cable-modem that on one site connected to their wall socket, and the other to an Ethernet connection. No firewall - and not much else. There were products available, each performing a specific task and for the most part expensive and aimed at business.

Being something of a techie, and with a friend that was even more so, I built a Linux PC with two network adaptors. One connecting to the cable modem and the other to an Ethernet repeater. The other house PCs then connected to that repeater. The linux box operated as both a firewall protecting the other Windows machines, and a network address translator that allows more than one PC to share thhe single broadband connection. After a couple of years I installed a simple 802.11b wireless access point, to the glee of my wife that was forever tripping over the long Ethernet cable that regularly got strung around the house as my laptop and I migrated from room to room.

Quick tally! to get my network going I had a Linux box (that I also used for work), an Ethernet repeater and a wireless access point. Time to simplify - and increase the speed of the wireless network.

After hunting around I zeroed in on the Buffalo Air-Station WYR-G54. To summarise what this does:

  • Ethernet port to connect directly to the cable-modem
  • 4-port Ethernet switch for wired connectivity (in my case the Linux box doesn't have a wireless connection)
  • Firewall
  • NAT gateway
  • IEEE 802.11g/b wireless access point

Plugging the device in was simplicity itself. One laptop with an 802.11g card worked perfectly as did an older machine with an 802.11b card, although I did upgrade that card.

There are a few products around like this - may which include an ADSL connection so you can remove one more box. This one had a couple of nice features which I particularly liked:

  • Support for dynamic DNS
    Most home broadband connections have 'dynamic' IP address - that is they change regularly, sometimes many times a day. NTL is much better than that, but the addresses do change. This is really frustrating when I want to get to my home server from the office. Dynamic DNS allows you to have a URL that dynammically maps to your dynamic address - you can use 'me.mydomain.co.uk' or whatever to access your server.
  • Worked with VoIP
    I haven't used ths much but intend to investigate further. I've heard some devices have problems with the VoIP protocols, but this device worked fine for me.
  • Price
    Current price for this product from DABs price is only £32.71, including VAT
  • Ease of use
    Very simple to set up, including more sophisticated features such as port-forwarding and wireless encryption.

A couple of things have let the product down. One of the biggest is that it doesn't support wireless bridging to a second compatible device. There are no standards for this but I bought a Buffalo G54 wireless bridge/access point which won't interoperate with this product.

A worse one I think is the performance of the wireless connection. Generally the antenae provided by default with these products is not great, but this doesn't excuse loss of connectivity within a single room. Literally I've had a gap of a few feet between AP and laptop and the connection goes. This needs more investigation, but the old 802.11b AP would work from one end of the house to the other through walls with no problems at all.

This needs some investigation - I have read a couple of messages on some boards saying a software upgrade has fixed the problem. The Buffalo support pages have no such software upgrade however so I'm a little stuck.

I think this product has a lot of promise and I'm pretty sure the issues I've had could be fixed through software. If you want a pretty cheap router with a good feature set then this one is worth a closer look.

Link : Buffalo sites information page and link to DABs order page.

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Comment by jonw, May 16, 2008 22:10

Wow - thanks for that Tim. My WYR-G54 is still going strong. Hard to believe I wrote the review almost 3 years ago. The router has behaved admirably over that time, although there now seem to be some traffic patterns that cause it to effectively lock up (haven't been able to exactly pin them down). The router is so reliable other than that I really don't want to chuck out the hardware but my searches for updated firmware drew a blank.

When I get a few spare moments - and as you say am feeling brave(!) I'll give it a try.

It would be good to have a list of any obviously additional features in the new firmware.
Rating:

Comment by humbletim, May 16, 2008 21:41

I just posted some new information on an alternative firmware upgrade in the forums -- http://www.gadgetspeak.com/forum/group.rhtm?msgRoot=-1&ID=766&messageID=237175
I had a hard time searching for this and figured if anyone else is using a WYR-G54 still it wouldn't hurt to also mention here! -t
Rating:

Comment by JO, May 11, 2006 2:39

have a home network running absolutelyfine have installed asterisk@home onone machne and a softphone on each of two other PCs. - but the sipphone behave as if they arenot onthe network at all. i suspect i am having problems mappign the UDP ports SIP 5060 and RTP 8000 any ideas anyone?
Rating:

Comment by olin, Jan 20, 2006 2:26

I would like to access my buffalo airstatin to my panasonic cr-l4 please send me an installating softeware to my e mail. I appreciate your kindness.




ps just incase needed the num on the back of my card is. WLI-CB-G54


thank you


sincerely olin
Rating:

Comment by jonw, Oct 18, 2005 21:17

I put this in the forum, but adding it here won't hurt! The product works a lot better with an elusive software upgrade, which seemed to be available from sites other than Buffalo! I'm pleased to report that Buffalo have now got at least part of their act together and the firmware upgrade is available from : http://www.buffalo-technology.com/downloads/WYR-G54_1.1.zip

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