105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2013
I was looking for an inexpensive router that fulfilled a few basic requirements:
1) Ability to load Open Source Firmware onto. If I can't run Tomato on it, it's no good to me.
2) Has at least one USB port! My goal was to use this as an AirPrint and AirPlay device.
3) Relatively powerful CPU with a decent amount of storage and memory. In order to run some of these services, it'll need decent hardware.
4) Inexpensive. At least half the price of an AirPort Express. If I'm going to pay close to the price of an AirPort Express, I might as well just buy one.
After spending an hour looking around Amazon, I had settled on a $40 ASUS until I happened to see this hot little number for $20 even! I took glance at the reviews and noticed people running TomatoUSB on it, so I figured I'd give it a shot; worst case I can just return it, right?
It arrived the next day and I got down to work. It's not nearly small as an AirPort Express, but it'll be sitting on my desk so who cares, right? Besides, I've already got an AirPort Express if I ever need it for travel. (It's currently being tied up extending my WiFi network into the garage/office and sharing a row of printers.)
After spending about 3 hours doing research, I finally figured out a simple way to get TomatoUSB onto the router (which I've shared below). To put it simply, it works very nicely. There isn't much more to say other than that.
For $20, this is a great little unit! I've currently got it setup as an AirPrint server, so I can access my label printers from my iPhone and iPad, in addition to an AirPlay server so I can wirelessly stream music from my MacBook Air and iPhone to my USB headphones. I've literally got this doing everything a $100 AirPort Express can do for basically nothing. In fact, I'm thinking about buying a few more of these just to have. One for the stereo in the bedroom, one for the downstairs TV to get ethernet into the DirecTV box and one to hook an external drive into for torrents. Maybe a fourth as a spare!
*** TomatoUSB Setup Guide ***
So, about those instructions. An important thing to know is that the model number of this router is F7D7302, which is just a newer version of the F7D3302. So when you're searching for firmware that's the model you want to use. Now, I've spent some time doing research to get this working with TomatoUSB and finally came with a pretty simple solution. I've noticed a lot of guides want you to install DD-WRT first, which is completely unnecessary.
The best version for this unit right now is the TomatoUSB builds from Toastman. While this may appear to be a lot of steps, it's really not all that complicated.
You're going to want two files for this procedure. Google "tomato toastman 4shared" to find the repository (it's hosted on a download site called 4shared). You'll be looking for the latest version in the RT (MIPSR2) folder (each version will be split into VLAN and STD versions, you'll want the STD one). Inside of that folder will be a bunch of .bin and .trx files. You'll want the .bin file tagged "tomato-F7D3302" and one of the .trx files that starts with "tomato-K26USB-1.28" (you do *not* want the NVRAM versions of this file). I'd recommend getting the -Ext version of it as it includes all the features.
At the time of this writing I'm using the following versions:
Connect the router to your Mac/PC via Ethernet, you should be assigned an IP in the 192.168.2.X range.
Perform a 30/30/30 reset procedure to enter CFE mode. (Hold down reset for 30 seconds, while still holding the reset button unplug power from the router and wait another 30 seconds and finally plug power back in while still holding the reset button for an additional 30 seconds.)
Navigate to 192.168.2.1 in your browser and navigate to the .bin file you downloaded earlier, then click upload. If nothing happens after a few minutes, try hitting the upload button again or reloading the page. It took two tries before it took for me, but once it did it was basically instantaneous. A new screen will flash by letting you know the firmware is being installed and the router will reboot.
When it comes back up it *should* still have the same IP as before, but this time it will ask for your a username/password. It defaults to admin/admin. Go ahead and login, congratulations! Tomato is now installed, but we're not quite done yet...
In the new Tomato interface, go ahead and navigate to the Upgrade section and point this at the .trx file you downloaded. Tick the box to erase NVRAM (which will delete all your settings) so that you can start from fresh and don't have to worry about issues cropping up later.
That will take about 5 minutes to complete, when the unit reboots it will now have a default IP of 192.168.1.1. You'll need to set your machine to have a static IP in that subnet in order to access it. Once you do, you're all set!
The above procedure sounds complicated, but it's not really, I promise. Just make sure you've got everything you need before you start and you can have it done in 15 minutes.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2013
This review is about the Belkin Share N300 (F7D7302).
This is an excellent router, with 8 MB of flash memory and 64 MB of RAM, with that amount of RAM it runs really stable with various concurrent connections, the problem with the product is the factory firmware, I received mine with firmware version 1.00.23, which according with most reviews is really crappy, I flashed the last avaliable firmware by Belkin, version 1.00.25, tested it for a few days, and had very few problems with it, mostly related with slow file transfers from my USB hard drive, and with the wifi coverage at my house, of course keep in mind this unit includes internal antennas, so it's coverage is a little more limited.
I decided to load TomatoUSB on it, the Shibby version, someone else explained here how to do it, so I will only add some tips to that, you don't need to do exactly a 30/30/30 procedure, it could be more exactly an 5/5/10, unplug the router, press the reset button 5 seconds, without depressing the button, connect the router to the energy source, and after 10 seconds release it, that will put the router in firmware upgrade mode.
When you access the CFE firmware page, there is a link there to clear NVRAM, use it first, after that you should load a trailed version, for Shibby's one, that should be something like tomato-F7D3302-1.28.MIPSR2-Mini.bin , wait for it to flash and reboot (about 5 minutes), once it reboots you should upload a more complete version of the firmware, for example: tomato-K26USB-1.28.RT-MIPSR2-110-Big-VPN.trx
Once TomatoUSB is loaded on it, you are in for a really great experience with this little piece of hardware, you can take a look at wikibooks.org, there is a guide for the configuration of Tomato firmware, some basic tips: under menu Advanced, submenu Wireless, be sure to change Transmit Power value to 0 , this will enable the default transmission power on the chipset, on Distance/ACK Timing put the aproximate distance (in meters) to the farest client, plus a 15% to be on the safe side, example: client at a distance of 26 meters, plus 15% (that is a total of 29.9), then put 30 as the value, also if you DO NOT use wireless b clients on your network, you can change the Preamble to Short.
For optimal coverage, try to locate the router right at the center location of the area to cover, and as high and free of obstructions as possible, at my house, two rooms of separation (aprox 13 meters, 1 concrete wall and 1 wood wall between) the signal strenght is near -63db, that is under Windows Vista/7 wireless bar indicator, still a good to medium signal.
And of course if you have a wired connection to the router, the performance is subperb!!, specially for torrents and streaming (if you connect more than 3 pcs, either wired or wireless, and do a lot of torrents/streaming/voip, you really should check the QoS capabilities of Tomato).
For USB, go to USB and NAS menu, submenu USB Support, there you should select: Core USB Support, USB 2.0 Support, USB Printer Support (if needed), USB Storage Support, File systems support (the ones you need), Automount, after that on the submenu File Sharing, for the quick (not the safest) config, you should select: Enable File sharing - Yes, no authentication, Workgroup - The name you want, Auto Share all USB partitions - Read/Write, Options Master Browser and WINS server (if you do not have another Samba server on your network).
Be aware, on the Big-VPN build from Shibby, even if BitTorrent Client appears as a submenu, a set of external packages need to be installed for it to work.
As a router this product is really powerful, stable and cheap, as an AP it has a limited wifi range, but still is powerful enough to handle 8-10 clients simultaneously, it is a real bargain.
If you need a more complex wireless coverage, you could put this router connected right at your cable/dsl modem (modem bridged if possible), and then connect other not so powerful wireless routers to it, for example a Cisco E1500, or a TL-WR841ND, specifically to negotiate wireless connections and extend range (those 2 have excellent coverage).
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2013
I purchased this at Amazon ["Sold by Etekcity and Fulfilled by Amazon"]
Out of box it would not "see" a USB hard drive I plugged into the USB port for all family members to back up to. I upgraded the device firmware, reloaded software, no help. I called the Belkin support number. A guy with a very strong Indian accent informed me the router was in a "special class" and I needed to speak to a "special support" group. They told me that the router needed to be "registered" and after I paid $39.99 USD, I could get technical support. I tried to explain that the router did not cost that much, and how much would his company benefit if I just shipped it back? They were very curt. I called the first support number back and complained and after being on hold for awhile, was told the same story. They suggested I use online chat support which was free.
Long story [too many hours] ends like this: THE ROUTER WILL NOT "SEE" A DISK DRIVE IF IT HAS IT'S OWN POWER SUPPLY!?!?! IOW, if it is externally powered. The USB port can "see" flash drives, and smaller hard drives [eg. WD passport], but if the disk drive has its own little power box, the router does not "see" it. Period.
Can you say "POS"? I asked the support guy why oh why didn't they write -THAT- little factoid down on a piece of paper in the box, instead of writing the 800 support number?
CAVEAT EMPTOR. I'm going to stress test the networking side of this router and may post another review, but for now, I'll never buy Belkin again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2014
I bought this router because of its capability to run Tomato USB firmware. At $20-$25 bucks, it seemed like an absolute steal.
First off, if you are not into modding your router, the Belkin firmware is garbage. I recommend you look elsewhere.
Still with me? Ok. Installing Tomato USB on this device was easy, as long as you follow the instructions. Doing a Google search for "Belkin N300 Tomato USB" will find you easy to follow instructions. Instructions I failed to follow correctly the first time.
I ignored the bit about waiting for the CFE menu to pop up. I instead followed the instructions to that point, then tried to install the firmware through the router's main page, and bricked my device. I felt like a fool. I decided to give it another go, and this time I put aside my pride and actually read the instructions fully and did what they said. The end result was a fully functional router without Belkin's stock firmware problems.
Then, I realized that I may not have actually bricked the original device. I took it back out and ran through the process again. Sure enough, this time it worked just fine. Coincidentally, my brother's router went out. I gave him my spare with Tomato installed, and it worked great for him just as it did for me. Another of my brothers was trying to talk him into purchasing the same $110.00 router he bought recently. Then he saw the performance this router provided, and wished he had listened to me instead and saved $90.00, since the Tomato Belkin outperformed his fancy expensive router in coverage and speed.
It is amazing to me that Belkin created such a powerful device then bogged it down with such lousy firmware. It takes a little time and patience, but if you are willing to mod the device, you absolutely cannot get a better deal for this price, or even twice the price. My experience even showed that it may actually be impossible to brick the router by screwing up the Tomato install, which cannot be said for other routers.
Almost a year in, this thing is still going strong, and the growing MAC device list does not slow it down. I am thoroughly impressed with this device, and I have only scratched the surface of what Tomato is capable of.