Use Desktop with onboard NIC and PCI WiFi card as Wireless AP

  • Hi Guys I have a Compaq 3377L with onboard RealTek NIC (810xe PCIe 10/100baseTX). I installed an Intel Pro 394ABG PCI wifi card that I salvaged from my decommissioned laptop.

    My goal is to use this PC as a wireless access point with only one NIC and one wifi card.

    During the console installation, automatic detection of the interfaces it assigns WAN to wpi0 and LAN to re0 (onboard NIC). This looks like not normal. I expect that re0 to be the WAN since it connects to my ISP and wpi0. I tried to assigned manually the interfaces with following output:

    WAN (re0) -> v4/DHCP4:
    LAN (wpi0_wlan0) -> v4:

    However, before the output above there is a message that says "Reloading interfaces…wpi0: need multicast update callback". I tried to ignore this and went to the shell and test the connection using "ping" but there is no connection to my ISP.

    Any idea how can I make this work?

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    for what possible reason would anyone waste time doing this when you can pickup a $20 wifi router and use that for AP.. Sure and the hell going to draw less power!  And lot freaking smaller!!

    Are you trying to use this as a pfsense box without any lan interface?  Your subject makes it sound like you want an AP.

  • Well,  why not? If there is a $20 wireless router that can do captive portal, NAS, load balancing, and other pfsense features that i want all at the same time then let me know. That extra machine still have computing power running dual pentium at 2.8Ghz speed

    Yes, to build a wireless Access Point (AP) is the plan.

    Aren't you thrilled to do something great like repurposing unused machine and hack your way in?


  • You need to start with a wireless card that supports Access Point mode. The Intel card does not. Some Atheros modules work. I would not recommend a DLink or TPLink PCI card.

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Well,  why not? If there is a $20 wireless router that can do captive portal, NAS, load balancing, and other pfsense features that i want all at the same time then let me know.

    Why does all of that have to be in one device?

    Think of your wireless access point as an 802.11 switch that connects many devices to your pfSense LAN port.

    Oh, wait.  Everyone thinks pfSense should be a switch, too.  Nevermind.

    I note OP thinks pfSense is a NAS too.

  • Thanks Phishfry,

    After checking this

    I don't think I have Wireless AP mode capable wifi adaptor. I may need to buy another NIC (TP-Link PCI).


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    What you should be buying is an actual AP, not some nic to put into your pc box running pfsense, or whatever other firewall/router distro you might like as alternative.  Or even just captive portal sort of thing I linked too.

    I wold buy another nic or a dual nic or even quad nic so you can have multiple interfaces to work with for other segments, bandwidth with lagg or failover into your network.  Connect to your real AP like say something from unifi - they have a 70$ model that could get you started and price point allows for multiple ones to provide good wifi coverage vs some nic in a pc box where you network comes into the building.  POE even so easy to mount in ceiling where AP should be deployed for optimal coverage area.

    I am all for reuse of PC hardware - they make great platforms for say pfsense.  But pfsense not suppose to be everything in a box.  It makes a fantastic firewall/router - and sure can provide you with a captive portal, proxy, ids/ips etc..  But its not suppose to be a NAS your Media server, etc.  It is meant to be a security device/router.

    Your money would be better spent taking what you would use on some wifi card and put towards a real AP or another nic for your PC so it can have wan and lan wired connections.  Then a real switch!  and connect your devices and AP and your cooking with gas!

  • johnpoz,
    Yes this is now the plan. I will reuse my existing wireless router as AP. But I need to buy another NIC to setup as either WAN or LAN. My existing PC only have one NIC and one wireless card.