A Router upgrade gone wrong.

Authors rant: it’s 2:00 am – decided to update my blog with articles I‘ve been wanting to add (indulging myself with a pot of freshly brewed coffee) .

What I wanted to do:

Way back, I carried a laptop to work everyday. Terribly inefficient – I live obscenely close. The total time it takes turning it off and on, unplugging and plugging, and putting it in the bag  and taking it out of the bag – is greater than my commute time.

I had this situation resolved by getting a heavy duty desktop at home and VPN(ning) from the home to the office, for files I needed.   And setting up an “OpenVPN” so I can VPN from the office to home and retrieve files I might have forgotten.

Life was grand – I left the laptop at work.

Then came the iPad. My wife got the first generation – a surprised gift from my generous brother-in-law (and sister-in-law) on my wife’s birthday. After observing her using this (“iPadding”)  I then saw it’s potential. I toyed around the idea of getting one but the timing was not right – had a super busy schedule (2010 was not my year for “iPadding”).

2011 – I got the iPad2 – aside from it’s regular use as email, scheduling, entertainment center, demo device etc. I wanted to use it to Login to my home network, sign into a virtual machine, use Visual Studio from Microsoft, do some code changes  and submit these.  I wanted to be “Laptopless”. 

For the iPad2 to connect to my home network I needed to trash my “OpenVPN” and use standard PPTP. Note, you can use OpenVPN but you need to Jailbreak the iPad2. I am sorry but I do not have the patience for jailbreaking that is my pet peeve. Anyway, I have to replace my WRT54G router with a new one that is compatible with the latest Tomato USB firmware.

The first router of choice:

 N300 Wireless Gigabit Router from NetGear 

image 

One of the supported routers listed in tomato usb firmware documentation.

Hubris:

I did not researched on how easy it was to flash this baby. According to various links – you simply first have to flash it with DD-WRT and then finally the “tomato usb router firmware”.  I did not question this additional process I just thought I could follow the steps and have a router baked with “tomato usb firmware”.

I did the flashing process.

Begin Hubris – (“this is not my first flash so am confident” !).

Started with the DD-WRT firmware. Flashed, it works. Next came the Tomato firmware. Ooops, I flashed it with the tomato usb firmware albeit the wrong one hence bricked it. (Bricked in layman’s terms means rendering something useless). 

End Hubris – (“this is my first brick – confidence has left the building”).

Note, I do not blame the manufacturer or the firmware guys – this is completely my fault. Having said this I went to the process of unbricking the darn thing .. details are given in this link "How-To-Debrick-Your-NETGEAR-WNR3500L-Using-A-USB-TTL-Cable-on-Windows"

Unbricking Pictures:

IMG_0770

The cable:

IMG_0769

opening the patient 

IMG_0771

the heart … (note the drivers are installed on COM5 on my machine)

IMG_0772IMG_0773IMG_0774 IMG_0780

clamping the patient and making sure that all wires are in place.

The last stage of death – Acceptance:

I was able to go as far as the recovery screen and able to interrogate the patient. The Ethernet modules are completely dead I even tried shortening some pins. So, finally gave up, reordered another router. This time I made sure that this router needs to be flashed directly with the tomato firmware – that story in the next round.

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