Belkin F5D7132: The Bane of My Existence

Album Cover: Eyes Open

"It's hard to argue when you won't stop making sense."
Snow Patrol / Hands Open

Posted on August 17, 2008 7:13 PM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

The following is a detailed account of the ten hours of my life that the Belkin F5D7132 took away from me and that I will never, ever get back.

Over three weeks ago, I ordered a Belkin Wireless G Universal Range Extender in an attempt to boost the wireless signal from our new office (the old office is now the baby's room), which is on the far side of our house, to the living room, which is on the complete opposite side of the house. It wasn't until about a week and a half ago that I decided to open up the box and start setting the thing up. Unboxed, the device looked sleek and simple, and upon first glance I had no reason to believe it would soon become my arch nemesis.

Maybe if I would have read all of the reviews at Newegg and Amazon.com, I would have at least gotten a taste of what I was in for. At both of those sites, there is a very common theme: if you've got an unsecured wireless network, you're good to go -- if you don't, you're screwed. While you could certainly scour those reviews to get a good cross-sampling of all the issues, here's a list of some of the major ones I encountered:

  • If you decide to use the little setup guide that comes in the box, you're throwing away an hour of your time. The thing is pretty much useless, unless you're out of toilet paper.
  • In order to administer the thing via its web interface (which you must if you plan on using a secured wireless connection), you pretty much have to directly connect the device into the PC from which you wish to administer it, and then set a static IP address on that PC in a similar range as the device's IP so you can access the interface.
  • Once you've accessed the interface, it's like sitting down to play a game of Russian roulette, the key difference being that in Russian roulette, assuming your aim is halfway decent, there is no suffering involved. The brainless scum who designed the interface thought to themselves, "hey, let's take a mix of ASP, Ajax and web development incompetence and create a nightmare for all our users!" And boy were they successful.
  • If after days of endless pain and suffering (I'm not kidding) you somehow feel the mercy of the gods and get the thing to connect to and start extending your wireless network, you better hope you're using the exact same SSID or you're gonna see a bunch of "limited or no connectivity" warnings because of (I'm guessing) DHCP or DHCP server conflicts.
  • If you really think you can get the thing to work with WEP security enabled, you're absolutely dreaming. If you actually get it to work with WEP security enabled, you're far more a man (or woman) than I will ever be.

The only reason I stuck with this thing for the ten (or more) hours that I did is that I read so many stories online of people who absolutely hated the experience (like I did) but still managed to get it to work for them after much trial, error, error, error and error. Unfortunately for me, I think I had much more error thrown my way than anyone else did. The story ends somewhat positively, though, simply because I gave up on running a secured wireless network and instead resorted to controlling access to my wireless network via MAC addresses.

The definitive guide on how to get the Belkin F5D7132 up-and-running seems to be this review from Chovy, but even that didn't work for me. Here's a rough rundown on what I had to do:

  1. Turned off the WEP encryption on my wireless router
  2. Restricted access to my wireless router by specifying only the MAC address of the Belkin F5D7132 as allowed to join
  3. Plugged the Belkin F5D7132 in directly to my laptop with an Ethernet cable
  4. Set a static IP on the laptop in the same range as the Belkin F5D7132's default IP address (the default is 192.168.2.254 so I set my laptop's IP to 192.168.2.100)
  5. Navigated to the web interface of the Belkin F5D7132 by accessing http://192.168.2.254/ in Internet Explorer (Firefox seemed to work, too, believe it or not, but at this point I wasn't ready to take any chances)
  6. Set up the proper wireless settings so the device would connect to my now open wireless network, making sure the device's SSID was set to the same as my original wireless network (to avoid aforementioned DHCP issues)
  7. Moved the device's default IP address to an address in the same range as my wireless router (I changed it to 192.168.1.199) and then updated my laptop's static IP to an IP in the same range (something like 192.168.1.101) so I could still access the web interface
  8. Accessed the web interface again, this time restricting access to the Belkin F5D7132 by supplying the MAC addresses of both my laptop and Lando, since those were the only two devices I anticipated needing to access my wireless network
  9. Unplugged the Ethernet cable from the laptop, reset the laptop to obtain its IP address automatically and then cleared the original wireless network from its memory (to avoid any caching issues that might cause problems)
  10. Traveled to the other end of the house to try and connect with the laptop to the newly extended wireless network, finally achieving success

Among all the reviews I read of the Belkin F5D7132, I also noticed that there are quite a few people who've reported having issues with the device losing it's connection or needing to be rebooted fairly regularly. I'll have to keep an eye on that and see what happens. I'm literally at a point right now where the smallest issue could set me off on a tirade, but I do feel somewhat proud of the fact that I managed to stay patient enough to keep trying to figure this thing out even though I really should have given up a long, long time ago. It's a shame I don't have the same level of encryption (i.e. any) that I used to, but I'm hoping the MAC address filtering will be good enough for now.

Moral of the story: unless you're a masochist, don't buy a Belkin F5D7132, even if it means paying more for something else. That is, unless you're one of those crazy folks who has an open network and doesn't mind your neighbors downloading the latest episode of Lost on your dime.

Comments

chovy on August 18, 2008 at 1:24 AM:

Your link to my blog goes to amazon instead :(

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Bernie Zimmermann on August 18, 2008 at 6:58 AM:

Hey chovy. If you let me know where you posted those same instructions on your blog, I'll update the link. I wasn't able to find the same list of instructions when I looked just now. Thanks.

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Fairfax on September 05, 2008 at 8:01 AM:

I've just bought one of these (September 2008)-- an impulse buy for our new garden office. The current version available in England now supports WPA, but frequent reboots are necessary (roughly twice a day for the three days I've owned it!). Your instructions, and others, were very useful. Still, it would have been easier, and cheaper, to buy 30m of external CAT5e cable. . .

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Bernie Zimmermann on September 06, 2008 at 7:19 AM:

Thanks for dropping by, Fairfax. I'm actually considering buying a whole lot of Cat 5 e cable right now and running it out of the wall in my office, under the house, and then into the wall out in the living room where Lando lives. It would be a total hack-job, but it would be so nice to have wired connectivity out there and get around this whole wireless situation I've currently got going.

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Fairfax on September 06, 2008 at 7:29 AM:

I've now lost patience with this irritating little device. The latest version does support WPA, but only with 4-5 reboots per day, at least one of which seems to require a full reset. After accidentally dropping the unit, causing only cosmetic damage, I finally saw the way forward: 5 minutes later, a claw hammer had provided this unit's messy apotheosis. To be fair to Belkin, wireless extenders seem to be an unreliable technology at best, although that doesn't excuse their absurd, barely functioning, web interface.

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devilfisch on October 08, 2008 at 1:39 PM:

I actually did not have problems setting the Belkin as a repeater for my Netgear WNR854T wireless N router (which was a replacement for a bricked Netgear Wireless N access point and used exclusively as such) as well as my DLink DIR-451 3G router although I do agree that it seems like it can't handle continuous operations and requires restarts every once in a while but not as often as most people report it to be. I usually had to restart about once in a period of one week to a month.

I'm not sure about it but the restart issue may be caused by overheating. I had the same problem with my DLink DIR-451 which disconnects me from the internet once it gets too warm I installed some fans beside it and now it works like a charm. It might work with the Belkin Universal Repeater as well but I can't really tell how effective it will be.

I also have another repeater, a DLink DWL-2100AP upgraded to the latest firmware to enable universal repeater mode which I was using until now. It worked fine (no damn restarts required) but now the power adapter seems dead. Just my luck. This meant I had to unpack the Belkin again. I hope it does its job better this time around. Only time will tell.

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devilfisch on October 08, 2008 at 1:47 PM:

Oh, I forgot to mention on my former comment that I use WPA-PSK (TKIP) for security in my network. All devices are working fine including the Belkin which is sitting several rooms away from my room to connect my neighbor living next door to my network. The Belkin Unversal Repeater is also using a stronger and larger 8dbi antenna and not the default puny antenna that it came with, which could be the reason why it connects with ease.

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Scainer on April 07, 2009 at 3:44 PM:

Been running this for several months.
When using security you need to set the SSID differently to your router or there is a conflict. Don't use the auto-connect feature as this will reset the SSID to match the routers.
The Extender does seem to stop working after 24 hours. To solve this I use a digital timer that switches off for 5 minutes during the early hours of the morning.

Strangely it seems impossible to use WPA-PSK with a netgear DG834xx router, but WEP works (which is kinda like giving the key via SSID) which is better than leaving it open.

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bmwong on April 15, 2009 at 7:19 PM:

Thanks Scainer. Making the SSID different than the router did the trick. Security is still enabled. Connecting the thing to a PC is the only way to configure it correctly. The only issue I'm having now is the range. Can't believe how little power it puts out. I'll try swapping the antenna.

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Gav on May 22, 2009 at 4:42 AM:

Hi,

I have one of these Belkin extenders, and your right it is a pain to get working.

Still unsuccessful at the time of writing this.

I can get it to connect to my secured WEP wifi signal however It doesn't extend the range at all. I have tried everything and just dont know what to do other than bin it and buy something else.

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IT Specialist on October 21, 2009 at 10:07 AM:

If i read your story its just a lack of experience.
We set those devices up and running in 10min. Without manuals cd's etc. on secured connections. With no problems.
Linksys wre54g No problem either.

The thing is many people start from the manual and thats were it gets complicated. Well.. for me i guess I never read manuals. I also never use cd's to setup routers or repeaters.

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Bernie Zimmermann on October 21, 2009 at 10:20 PM:

Okay, Nick Burns.

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Squeezey on December 05, 2009 at 8:52 AM:

Having just bought a Squeezebox and suffering from lack of wireless power throughout the house, I too purchased a Belkin F5D7132

I just want to thank you for the ranting post - it helped me get the F5D7132 up and running (all WEP 128-bit enabled!). Whether it was matching the SSIDs, or just luck - who knows?!

Had I read the reviews, I probably wouldn't have bought this - but it's now happily ticking along (for now anyway... let's hope there aren't any regular reboots waiting for me).

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Greenbomb101 on December 11, 2009 at 6:14 AM:

Uh oh, what HAVE I done? Yesterday I bought a used Belkin F5D7132 via Craigslist. Thankfully it does power up so I know I didn't get ripped off there, but I can see I may have stepped into a bear trap if what I'm reading is any indication of what's ahead of me. My intent is to boost the signal from my wireless modem/router in the house on the 2nd floor so I can hit the workshop about 130' from the router. I already have a long USB extension that put the G-adapter in the workshop at roof level and more in LOS with the router but it says the signal strength is low, tho' it does seem to work well. Let's see if what happens this weekend...

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Greenbomb101 on December 14, 2009 at 7:28 PM:

Thought I'd follow up. After reading a few web sites and a few helpful hints I got the F5D7132 WURE up and running with a minimum of fuss. Yes, Forget the owner's manual (I had to get mine on line).

I connected the WURE directly to the computer while me wife's MAC was still connecting via wireless to the modem/router.

Since we have a G4 MAC with 802.11b, I went with WPA. I set up a static IP on my Windows computer (192,168.1.100 if I remember), went into the WURE and set IP 192.168.1.103 since my Windows computer and the MAC are .96 and .97 - I checked in the router before starting this. Once in, I followed the prompts and menus, entered the SSID and passkey, saved the settings, and that was that. Re-connected my computer via Ethernet cable to the router, set my computer's IP back to automatic. Done. I was even accessing the internet via the WURE. Could have used it as a wireless internet adapter. Took the extender out to the other side of the house, went out to the workshop, got my G-Adapter plugged in directly to my other Windows system (nixed the USB extension), and now I have a "GOOD" signal rather than "LOW" with a "weak" connection. I can access the extender from either computer using the WURE static IP so I know it's working. Simple.

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Tony on December 19, 2009 at 6:52 AM:

Got it working in about 5 mins in AP mode using the supplied setup wizard. Just found this looking for more info on how to control the DHCP IP address allocations. Good luck all who are having problems!

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NellyK on January 25, 2010 at 2:49 AM:

I had similar problems setting up the WURE for my neighbour with whom I share the internet connection. It was only when I disabled WDS on my router that everything started working and I could ping both my router (192.168.1.254) and her WURE (192.168.1.111) wirelessly. I have WEP security enabled with the same encryption code on both. My SSIDs are set differently so I can see both boxes listed in available wireless networks . Parent AP SSID on WURE set to be same as router SSID but It's own SSID set to a different name. Hope this helps someone.

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Greenbomb101 on April 15, 2010 at 6:41 AM:

Update: In a nutshell, certainly not a step-by-step by-the-numbers guide. I got a used 2WIRE HomePortal SW1000 modem/wireless router. In the house, I wirelesly connected my wife's MAC G4 using the 2WIRE's default 64-bit hex WEP and our own SSID rather than the default in the 2WIRE. Out in the workshop, I connected the WURE to the other Windows XP computer via Ethernet cable. I set the computer's LAN IP address for 192.168.1.100 (may have to use 192.168.2.100) and entered the WURE via the Belkin Utility software. I gave the WURE its own SSID to identify it from the 2WIRE and kept the default ten-digit 64-bit hex security code (which I may change later). Kept the 192.168.1.103 IP address for the WURE since I reset the 2WIRE for 192.168.1.XXX IP addresses. Using the our own PARENT SSID set in the 2WIRE, I found the 2WIRE and using the option to search for available networks, I picked my SSID out of the "cloud", used the security code, and connected. I got out of the WURE, disconnected the Ethernet cable, reset the LAN connection to automatically assign IP addresses, and since I don't need it for now, I disabled it. In Network Connections, I went to the USB G-adapter connection, entered Properties/wireless connections and entered the SSID of the WURE, shared network, WEP, and then the ten-digit 64-bit hex security code from above. OK! The Wireless G adapter found the WURE getting an EXCELLENT signal and a strong connection. The WURE was connected to the 2WIRE which I verified from the house by looking at the list of active connections. Now there are two separate networks, the 2WIRE on one SSID and the WURE on its own SSID. I leave the WURE in the workshop and power it up only with the computer, since there are no other (for now) computers that connect to it.

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Kris on April 18, 2010 at 5:58 AM:

Anyone have a suggestion for a better repeater to buy?

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Dev on June 10, 2010 at 2:14 PM:

Thanks for posting all of your instructions. I have been fiddling with this gadget for a while (bought in April!) and have JUST found out that the bloody thing is not compatible with windows bloody 7!!!!!
I bought it from amazon marketplace so am trying to get a refund. Your post made me chortle though!

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Xan on September 28, 2010 at 4:47 AM:

I got one of these simply because it was the cheapest option. I knew why it was the cheapest option before I got it of course and this insightful article and many others you see around the net as well as the reviews for it on various online shops like Amazon explain quite clearly why it was the cheapest option.

The manual's useless, the auto-connect feature is pointless, the firmware is buggy and the web interface is broken.

However, I am one of the ones who spent many hours fiddling with it and finally got it to work. At the time all I wanted to use it for was to put my XBox 360 on the network. Firstly because back then Microsoft's own attachment for the console was twice as expensive as this thing, plus it didn't do WPA/WPA2 where as the newest incarnation of this devil box did. Secondly because I was too far away to have a wired connection so wireless was my only option.

I did get it to work eventually but I've since got that new XBox 360 Slim that has got (finally) built-in Wi-Fi so this box of trickery no longer has a place in my household. Although, I figured maybe I could set it up as a wireless repeater, like it was intended, but decided against it in case I gave myself an aneurysm. For connecting a lone device to a wireless network is was probably it's strongest ability but judging from what I've read about it, actually using it as an Access Point or Repeater is much less reliable (or doable).

Anyway, thanks for the article, as this and links to others as well as some valuable comments made helped me get this bastard to work with my 360. Now though, I may sell it. Although, I already feel sorry for the poor sod who buys it off me. In fact, I may just bin the damn thing to avoid giving anyone else a headache (or getting an email a week after selling it from the buyer asking me to help him get it to work).

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Pete N on January 02, 2011 at 8:10 AM:

I have one of these belkin range extender boxes and need to get it to connect to a wireless AP to a somewhat remote wired network i had it working once but for the life of me cant now where am i frelling up


Pete

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Pete N on January 03, 2011 at 2:26 AM:

Problem solved all working ok does exactly as i want now connects to a wireless access point and sticks it onto the ethernet port
i knew it would big case of brain farts rule the roost

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Rob on January 31, 2011 at 7:34 AM:

I bought two of these nightmare devices. Should have known to steer clear with "Belkin" written on the front of them. Hours to set up. And im no IT noob either. Web interface kept crashing all the time, leaving you unsure as to whether the settings had saved at all (if you managed to get to the settings before the crash). Absolute worst piece of shit you can purchase.

If you want to see how crappy their products are, check out:

http://en-us-support.belkin.com/app/answers/list/kw/crappy%20useless%20belkin%20products%20%28all%29/search/1

- their website lists them all!

I thought Edimax AP's were difficult and fiddly... but in comparison, they are a dream! Purchase an Edimax if you want half the headache and twice the signal!

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Billyvannuys on April 07, 2012 at 11:55 PM:

Oh no, I just bought one of these extenders and I'm not that great of an IT. However, I have hooked up everything in my house myself, so I won't give up yet. Thanks for the warning. I've already been trying to set it up for several hours now.

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Angry Belkin Sucker on January 17, 2013 at 7:41 AM:

I have been 'experiencing' the delight that is this soul destroying piece of junk. Wow. I Can't even find the install software online - even the Belkin website has a link to download it from; but downloads some completely random file which is nothing at all to do with this device.
If I ever meet a Belkin employee I will beat them to death with their own shoes. I hate them. A lot.
Belkin should be banned from selling products based upon this dreadful time zapping machine of hate.
I have half a dozen to get working for a charity. I'm tempted to burn their building down so I don't have to perceviere with this. I want to buy a crossbow and go Belkin employee hunting. Bunch of d**ks.

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Rob @ eXpertPTC on January 20, 2013 at 8:33 AM:

Hi Bernie,

I'm guessing that I must be one of the lucky few to get this working then?

Here's my guidlines to help anybody wanting to get their F5D7132 working.

[1] Encryption is either OFF (unsecured) or WEP 64/128 - Anything else doesn't work.

[2] On your main router which is connected to the internet, you need to 'Enable wireless bridging'

[3] On your main router, DO NOT enable the option to 'Enable ONLY specific Access Points to connect'

For some unknown reason even if I specify the MAC addresses on both devices this stops the internet from working. Although it gets the IP address from the main router and assigns that correctly to the host PC, but you cannot ping the main router?

[4] When selecting a wireless network to 'extend' you must have the main router's SSID un-hidden (after it connects you can re-hide the SSID)

[5] When setting up the F5D7132 it would hang after a minute or so, best solution I found for this was removing and reinserting power from the F5D7132 (several times.. being quick to make an ammendment and save it before it hangs again)

I hope these suggestions can assist others. Good luck and keep trying!!

:-)

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m. on April 03, 2013 at 1:37 AM:

Yes, this really is a piece of crap. I got mine working with WPA2-PSK, somehow. It took a bit of trial and error, and a lot of patience. For some reason, Belkin uses 192.168.2.x as their default subnet for most (but not all!) of their consumer-grade networking equipment, which adds a few extra steps to the process. I was able to get it working, but I'm an old hand at IT stuff. I'd hate to imagine the average end user trying to struggle through this.

It worked in a mediocre fashion for a couple of years or less, often going through spells of requiring 2-3 reboots per week to stay up. Then one day it started sh^H^Hspitting malformed packets all over my network. I would ping it and get responses from IP addresses that weren't even on my subnet. Suspecting NVRAM corruption (a problem common to home networking products, pretty much unavoidable with the storage technology involved) or perhaps a firmware bug, I confidently went to Belkin's support page to download the latest firmware. Only there wasn't any. I couldn't find the product listed anywhere on their site. Over the next few months, I'd occasionally sit down in my free time and comb the site for any information or downloads for this product, to no avail. So I took it off my net, since it was actually harming performance at this point.

Eventually I upgraded my home router to an Asus RT-N56U (which I wholeheartedly recommend: the user interface is clunky and the DHCP server is flaky, but the thing has 128MB of RAM and provides more bandwidth than any other consumer-grade router/access point I've dealt with). Since I had a leftover Linksys WRT54G, I flashed DD-WRT onto it and set it up as a repeater bridge, and it's worked like a champ ever since.

Rather than buy this Belkin device, I'd recommend anyone needing a ranger extender to buy one of the old Linksys WRT routers, or one of the clones by Buffalo et al, and put DD-WRT on it. Consumer network hardware hit a slump in spec's from the mid-2000's until a couple years ago. The old WRT's typically had 8-32 MB of RAM, whereas more recent routers were skimped on, getting 512KB-2MB. The more recent routers also suffered from underpowered CPU's, all in an effort by manufacturers to cut costs and improve their margin. Just in the last couple of years, better hardware has come onto the market (such as the aforementioned Asus), but in general don't assume newer is better. DD-WRT.com has excellent step-by-step instructions for turning these old routers into repeater bridges, among other things. It's not a simple process, but if you can follow the directions, it will still be easier (especially in the long run) than trying to make this Belkin piece of crap work.

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Mark on January 15, 2016 at 5:49 AM:

I have one of these working nicely as a wireless bridge, by flashing DD-WRT micro onto it.

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