Configuring a Wireless Router for e:cue

Having wireless access to your lighting system can add a tremendous amount of flexibility both in the realms of installation/programming and end user control. Having wireless access allows you to program your system while freely walking around the installation and it also allows for end users to use smart phones and tablets to control their systems with a great degree of freedom.

While the names and locations of the settings discussed will be different from one router to the next, virtually all wireless routers will have the same basic options to configure your network. I’ll be using screenshots from the administrative interface for the Linksys WRT54G router, as it is one of the most popular and well known wireless routers on the market. I will be breaking this article down into 3 segments to keep things as simple as possible:

  1. Basic Setup
  2. Configuring Network Options
  3. Security

Please note that this article assumes a prior basic understanding of setting up a network for an e:cue system.

1) Basic Setup

If you are using your wireless router in a very small system setup, you likely won’t need anything other than your e:cue devices, your server, and some patch cables. You’ll just need to plug each of the devices  into one of the numbered ports on the router. If you are using a larger setup that requires a switch, use a patch cable to connect one of the numbered ports on the router to a port on the switch.

One of the most common mistakes when setting up a wireless network is to plug the Uplink Port (some companies label it as “Internet”) to either connect to a server or the switch. This port should only be used to patch to a router or modem that will be providing internet access. Everything else should be connected to a numbered port on the router.

Once you have your router connected, you’ll need to follow its instructions to get to the administrative interface of that particular model. In most cases it will be a web based interface that you will get to by going to an IP address such as http://192.168.1.1 or http://192.168.0.1 both of these are popular default IP addresses.

Once you have access to the administration interface, you’re set to move on to configuring the network options.

2) Network Configuration

The goal for configuring the router is to get the router and your computer all on the same network segment and to set up the DHCP to do the same. DHCP is the protocol that allows computers to obtain an IP address and other setting automatically upon connecting to a network. It is what is used by default for most consumer network interfaces. You can learn more about DHCP here.

As the butlers (and other e:cue hardware) need static IP addresses in order to ensure that the server is sending the correct data to the correct devices, they do not support DHCP. With some planning, however,  they can coexist peacefully on the same network as devices that do. I generally set my butlers as the low end of the network segment (192.168.123.1+), setting my servers at 192.168.123.101+ and then using the 192.168.123.200+ for my router as well as other devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc) to connect with DHCP.

Log on to your router’s admin page, and you should see something similar to this:

  • Change the Name of the router to whatever you wish (“SSID” for some manufacturers). This is the name that will be displayed by your operating system when listing available networks.
  • Set the Local IP address (Called “Router IP” by some manufacturers) to 192.168.123.200
  • Set the last digit of the “Starting IP Address” for the DHCP server to 192.168.123.201
  • Save the changes (the router may need to be restarted at this time).
  • You may also need to disconnect and then reconnect to the router so that it receives the new DHCP settings.

Once these changes are applied, you should be able to access your e:cue equipment without having to manually change your IP address in your windows settings. You should keep your production server as a static IP address though so that it’s address never changes, which can cause problems.

3) Security

There are two levels of security that you need to provide, or at least be aware of: First, you need to control who can connect to the router, and secondly you need to control who has access to the administrative interface for the router.

Controlling router access

If, for whatever reason, you wish to allow public access to this router, you do not need to enable the wireless security on the router. The merits and drawbacks of the different encryption schemes are not really within the scope of this article but you can read all about them here. I’ll recommend that you go with WPA encryption. You’ll need to go the the security settings for your router, set the security mode you wish to use and the access key (the password that you’ll need to enter in order to connect to the router).

Each router is different in terms of where the security settings are and what security modes they support. Check your model’s documentation to determine how to set up encryption.

Administrative Access

The final step is to set a new password to access the administrative interface. This is an often skipped, but crucial security step. Default router passwords are a well known and easy to exploit vulnerability. Again, consult your model’s manual to figure out exactly how to change the password for your router.

Once you’ve got your wireless network setup, make sure to check out the articles on Setting up a Remote Desktop Solution, Setting up the HTTP Server. Also, if you are using an android device. make sure to consider my e:cue Remote Terminal app.

 

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