I like it when other people take the time to post something they have learned, a problem they have salved, so that others who want to do the same thing can benefit from their experience. This may be the first techie posting on my blog but I thought it was as good a place as any to put this. It’s very geeky but it could also save someone else a ton of frustration, and I’m happy to do that. So, without further ado, here is how I turned the Westell Versalink 327w into a DSL bridge (no routing so it’s basically a modem) and incorporated it with a new AirPort Extreme (n) Base Station, as well as connected an external USB hard drive and Epson Stylus Photo R260 printer. (That sentence is about as long as Darwin’s original title for “Origin of Species”.)
It took me a few hours of Google searches and trial and error to get this to go. There was no one-stop solution. Why? Because the Versalink isn’t unique to Verizon, there are different versions of the firmware out there, Verizon puts their own GUI (interface) on top of Westell’s, and some Verizon customers are setup with PPPoE and some with just straight DHCP. If you Google long enough you can find the combo that works for you. That being the case this solution is going to be specific to my setup, but hopefully be generic enough that with your won trial and error you can make the magic happen capin.
Out of the box
The 327W is a four-port Ethernet and 802.11g/g+ wireless modem and router. It works well for most home networking environments. It’s a modem in that in takes the DSL from Verizon and turns it into something your computers to talk to. It’s a router in that you can have multiple computers connected to it sharing one public IP address. It has a built-in firewall that is customizable.
My problems with it were these. My old iMac DV with the original AirPort card (11b) would not consistently or reliably connect to it (but it connects perfectly with my new AirPort Extreme). And, I would try to open ports for VNC or other apps and they would not really be open. I even turned the firewall off and the ports were still not open. I had a Linksys router that I knew worked reliably but I had also been wanting to get the newest AirPort Extreme for the TimeCapsul and printer sharing features. But I wanted it to do all the heavy network lifting, not the Versalink.
I remembered from my old ISP support days that some ISPs deliver their DSL in either a bridging style connection or a routed connection. While poking around the Versalink I notice it said the connection type was a “Routed Bridge”. Huh? I wonder. Could it just do bridging and none of the routing? (The ISP I worked for didn’t give people a choice so this was intriguing. Many customers were mighty unhappy when we changed from bridging only to routing only.)
Google to the rescue!
Most of the stuff I found was in the dslreports.com forums, but they were all for non-verizon customers, or verizon customers with different modems/routers/firmware/interfaces, or PPPoE customers and I’m a DHCP customer. So, if you are a Verizon DSL customer with a Westell Versalink 327W rev. J and want to turn your box into a modem/bridge so another router can do the work, here is what you do.
If you want to disable with wireless in the 327W here is what you do. (Why would you do this? Because there is no point in having it on since none of your wireless devices will have internet access if they connect to it. Your new router is doing that new. Plus it might cause some confusion in the future.)
At this point you have two choices; you could change the Ethernet connection on your computer from Manually to DHCP (or PPPoE with your username and password) and see if your computer gets the public IP from Verizon as it should, or you could plug in your new router and see if it gets the public IP as it should (or do the PPPoE thing), and be on your way.
I chose the first option just to be certain and it worked. My Mac got a public IP and I was able to surf. If you do this step, before you go on to the next step with your new router, make sure you release the IP from your computer before connecting the new router. I didn’t know the UNIX command to do this in a Terminal prompt on my Mac so I just changed the Ethernet from DHCP to “Off” before unplugging it. This does the “release” command behind the scenes. Basically, before connecting a new routing device, release the IP of the current one. Verizon’s setup likes to match the IP to the physical device that is connected so be sure to release before changing devices.
If you skipped the single-computer test above you should be able plug your new router into any of the Ethernet ports on the 327W, tell your new router to get it’s address via DHCP, and the magic will happen. If you are PPPoE just set the appropriate settings and it should also work. It should be noted that no other Ethernet devices should be plugged into your 327W as they won’t work on your network or the internet.
For the future…
If you need to do anything to your 327W after make it a bridge/modem you won’t be able to go to http://192.168.1.1 because your new router doesn’t see the 327W as a device on the network. Remember, it’s just a bridge now, a “dumb” modem. You will need to connect an Ethernet wire from your computer to the 327W and manually assign your computer an IP address just like in step 1 above. Now you should be able to go to the web interface and do whatever it is you need to do.
If, in the future, you want to replace your new router with another one, be sure to release the IP address of your current router before connecting the new one.
If you decide to bail on this whole thing and want your 327W to be “it” again, you can always restore the factory (or Verizon) default settings and be back to square one. Go to the “Advanced” screen again and click on “Restore Defaults” and you should be back to when you first opened the box (unless you had someone come install it for you, then you might need more help!)
That’s about it. Seems like a lot but I wanted to be thorough and most of what I found wasn’t. Hope this helps someone else. I’m open to help if something doesn’t work as explained above. Just shot me an email.
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