Get on Xbox Live with cheap wireless-to-Ethernet tutorial

I played with the 360 a few weeks before subscribing to the XBOX Live service. After hours upon hours of playing PGR3, Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo over and over again all by myself, I was ready to get onto Live.

My cable modem and, thus my Internet connection, is located two stories above in my office, however, the logistics of running an RJ-45 Ethernet cable down to the console itself seemed ridiculous. Not only would I be able play online games finally, but I was also super keen on streaming my music and viewing photo slide shows straight from my PC. I already owned a U.S. Robotics 8054 wireless b/g turbo access point and router and have an existing wireless network at home. Given that, I should be able to get on XBL, right? You bet!

I started doing a bit of research on forums aware that there are virtually dozens of gaming adapters, both wired and unwired, available that are supposed to plug in and just start working. Always skeptical of such promises, I dug deeper and found on one site some guy talking about this spare D-Link wi-fi router he had lying around; and, was using as an Ethernet-to-wireless bridge to play on Live wirelessly. After a few minutes I knew what I had to do! So, I headed to my local Best Buy to get the goods to make it work.

I walked past the $185 CAD LinkSys wireless plug-and-play gaming and $129 CAD XBOX 360 USB-to-wireless adapters to a three dollar (after $60 mail-in rebate) “blanc” 802.11 b/g WLAN broadband router (Update: It’s actually a GigaFast WF719-CAPR and till in regular service today]. I picked it up and was on my way with a satisfied grin. And, why not? I’d just saved over $150 and was certain I’d be up and running within the hour. As expected, I was able to configure this bargain-of-a-router to communicate with my PC running Windows XP in almost no time.

It’s important to know that router capabilities vary from manufacturer to manufacturer along with the user interface, however, they all allow you to take control of a lot of the same things. I’ll do my best to explain what I did to configure the blanc to communicate with my U.S. Robotics (use the screen shot links for reference – blanc interface shown), but that doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Let me start by saying that I’m not an IT professional, but here’s how I got things to work:

After unpacking the router and plugging it in, I connected a laptop (with the wireless radio disabled) to one of the blanc router’s LAN (not WAN) ports via RJ-45 cable.

I then opened a browser (i.e. Internet Explorer or Firefox) and typed in the address of the router found in the instruction manual. A status screen comes up with all of the default settings loaded (figure 1). At this point, I don’t have an internet connection nor can I access my network, but I can see some of the settings I’ll need to change.

This particular router comes with a setup wizard, which I won’t walk you through. I changed the “operation mode” to “bridge” mode (see figure 2) whereby all Ethernet ports (of this router) and wireless interface are bridged together, and NAT function disabled.

In the basic settings area, I switch to "client" mode from “AP” mode (see figure 3), select the band(s) my U.S. Robotics router transmits (b/g in this case) and enter in my wireless network SSID info (same as upstairs router).

With the U.S. Robotics, which is connected to the high-speed cable modem, hosting the internet connection, you need to input the security information (figure 4 and 5) required to access the host router (it must match exactly). There are several types of encryption available. I’ve set up a 128-bit protected networked protected with a shared WEP key assigned by me.

A key part of the install is to reassign the client router’s IP address to reside within the range of the host router’s IP address range. This can be changed in the LAN interface section (see figure 6). Setting up the WAN to automatically configure itself is shown in figure 7.

Once you change the LAN address (different from the factory default), this will be the new address you type into your browser to reconfigure the router later on if necessary. After making all of these changes (figure 8), I’m happy to report that I can play games Live without any lag whatsoever.

I don’t know how fast my connection is, but I have not noticed anything strange (that is if you don’t include the invasive Symantec Norton Personal Firewall software I had installed on my computer). Oh, firewalls can hav e a serious impact on network performance. You’ll need to configure it properly (I disabled mine). Ask your manufacturer for suggestions.

Once everything is set up properly, you’ll be able to access the internet with the laptop, which is still connected to one of the blanc’s LAN ports via RJ-45, and verify your connectivity. Now in the home stretch, run the network tests found in the "Network Settings" section of the 360 dashboard. Once everything checks out and the 360 passes a series of network and system tests, it’s off to the races. Of course, you’ll need to have a Live subscription first. You need an MSN passport (i.e. Hotmail account) for this, but the rest of the subscription process can be done directly on the 360 now that it’s connected.

Hopefully, this tutorial has been helpful and you’re ready to go. If that’s the case, I’ll see you on the battlefield son.