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.
- MacBook with Mac OS 10.5
- Westell Versalink 327W D90-327W15-06 Rev. J (Made in China)
- Ethernet wire and AirPort card (wireless)
- AirPort Extreme (n) Base Station
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.
- For the sake of ease of configuration I found it helpful turn off the wireless in my Mac and to plug in an Ethernet wire from my Mac to the router and manually assign an IP address of 192.168.1.200, a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0, and router address of 192.168.1.1 because we are going to be messing with things that will kill the DHCP server in the router. (Don’t do it now. Print these instruction out before doing any of this.)
- Connect to the web interface of your 327W. http://192.168.1.1/ If you have what I have you will see a screen with a background that starts out black and the top and fades to red as it goes down, and a Verizon logo at the top left. If at any point it asks for a user name and password it should be your primary verizon.net email address and password (the whole address like firstname.lastname@example.org). I found that out the hard way. Most places will tell you it’s something like administrator/password but it isn’t with this particular version.
- In the column on the left you will see how fast your connection is, along with Connection Type and IP Address. In this scenario we are working with a Connection Type of “Routed”, but a PPPoE situation won’t be any different until you get to setting up the router you want to use. In either case make a mental note of this connection type. If you are PPPoE make sure you have your username and password written down before proceeding. Otherwise you will be way hosed until you get it from Verizon because we are going to nuke it from the router.
- In the row of icons across the top click on “My Network”.
- On the following screen in the left column click on “Network Connections”.
- You will see a table of various network connections on the router. The top one should say “Broadband Connection (DSL)” with a status of “DSL Connected”. Click on the little graphic in the “Action” column of this table.
- The next screen should show two tables. The top one is called “Routed Bridge Connection” and has only one row in it called “My Connection”. In the “Action” column click on the “release” button/link. (NOTE: This was the elusive step that had me hung up for hours. If you do not release the IP address the 327W has acquired, your new router will not be able to get an IP address from Verizon and none of this will work. The original IP is locked to your physical line until overt action is taken to release it. If you don’t release it from your end you can call Verizon support and have them do it from their end, but who wants to mess with that? There was all kinds of talk about the need to clone the MAC address of the 327W into your new router. But if you do this step first you shouldn’t need to mess with any of that.) In the next table called “VCs” there is also only one row. Click on the button in the “Edit” column.
- In the “Protocol” pull-down it will say “Bridge” or “PPPoE”. If it isn’t already set it to “Bridge”. In the “Bridge Mode” pull-down it may be set to “Routed Bridge”. Change it to “Bridge”. Basically, anything on this screen that can be set to “Bridge” should be set to “Bridge”. Click “Apply” and you should be met with a pop-up that asks you if you want to reset the mode, click “OK”. Your 327W will reboot.
- After it reboots you should be taken back to the main page describing your connection status. “Connection Type” should now read “Bridge” and the IP address will be empty. You will also notice that the “Internet” light on the 327W is off. That’s normal. All that means is that the 327W does not have it’s own public IP address which is exactly what we want. Now it’s a bridge, but we need to tell it to stop giving out IP addresses to your network like it’s a router. Click on the “Advanced” button across the top and then click on “Yes” when asked if you want to proceed.
- In the box on the bottom right you will see “IP Address Distribution”. Click on that.
- On the next screen set the pull-down to “Off” and click “Apply”.
- Click on the “Advanced” button again and “Yes” again.
- In that same bottom right box click on “Private LAN” and confirm “Private LAN DHCP Server Enable” checkbox is unchecked.
- Your 327W is now a modem/bridge.
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.)
- Click on the “Wireless Settings” button along the top.
- Click on “Basic Security Settings” in the column on the right.
- Set the “Turn Wireless ON” to “Off” and click “Apply” at the bottom. If it asks you to reset the 327W click “OK” and it will reboot. That should do it.
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.