Make a Network Printer Wireless?

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Make a Network Printer Wireless?

Postby scruffy » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:49 pm

I have a "Network" printer and I'd like to know whether (and if so, how) I can make it a wireless network printer.

My Brother 8480DN multifunction printer (the "N" stands for Network--it's got an ethernet port) is physically attached via USB to my desktop computer, which allows me to print to it remotely using my laptop, but it requires me to leave my desktop computer on, which I'd rather not do anymore.

My question is...can I turn this printer into a wireless network printer by hooking it up to a wireless access point? I presume it's designed to be attached to a router, but in my case, the router is located on another floor of my house. I want to leave the printer where it currently resides.

What's required to make this printer wireless?
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Postby evasive » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:57 pm

The strange thing is wireless routers these days are cheaper than access points :o

The other option would be to use a wireless print server, you plug in your printer throught the USB port, but those are 2 times more expensive.
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Postby scruffy » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:15 am

Evasive--

Thanks for the response....so you're confirming that a wireless access point will do the trick?

Do I just assign the printer an IP address through my router and then install it as a Windows network printer?
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Postby scruffy » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:18 am

Another question (I'm not too handy with wireless.)

Is it possible to use a wireless router as an access point? I.e., to turn off it's routing capabilities?
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Postby Twisty » Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:13 pm

I confirm that if you plug your ethernet printer into a router then you will be able to print to it over WiFi. I helped set up a similar Brother printer a few weeks ago, it worked over wifi but each computer did need the brother IP print software installed.

In terms of if you can run a router as an access point - it depends on the router. It can be hard to get one to be as transparent as an access point, but it is easy to make it into a wireless bridge if you can flash openWRT onto it.
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Postby scruffy » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:49 pm

Thanks, Twisty...very helpful.
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Postby scruffy » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:54 pm

I was able to achieve my goal of printing to my Brother printer wirelessly.

Just in case it helps someone in the future, I'm going to describe what I did.

I purchased a router that could be flashed with DD-WRT. I got a new TP-Link wireless N router on the cheap, Model TL-WR841N. (The difference between the WR841N and WR841ND is that the "ND" model has detachable antennas)

I'd never flashed DD-WRT before. It was quite a learning experience. Fortunately, the router that was hardware revision 7.2 rather than the latest one, revision 8. Apparently, DD-WRT has yet to be verified to work with the latest hardware revision 8, so I'm very lucky that I got sent an "older" router (which may have something to do with why it was sold cheap).

You really have to do your homework. I figured out that I needed to set up DD-WRT in "bridge" mode...but I found some posts on the DD-WRT forum from individuals who said they had difficulty getting bridge mode to work in the release of DD-WRT that was recommended for my router (model and hardware rev). Fortunately, they provided information on another release that worked.

(For anyone who needs the files I used: ftp://dd-wrt.com/others/eko/BrainSlayer-V24-preSP2/2011/12-20-11-r18024/tplink_tl-wr841ndv7/)

I was able to find some YouTube videos that described how to set up DD-WRT in "bridge" mode, and these helped me get it done.

Here's the tutorial I used on how to set up bridge mode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf140UmU39o&feature=related

I flashed the router using my laptop, and then, using the tutorial, was able to create the bridge, testing it by using the TP-link router as a "bridge" between my primary router and the laptop. (I.e., I turned of the wireless capability of my laptop and was able to access the internet successfully through my main router using the TP-Link as a bridge.)

After that success, I disconnected the router from my laptop and connected it to my Brother Printer. (And re-enabled wireless on my laptop.)

Finally, installed the LAN "version" of the Brother MFC-8480DN drivers on my laptop. During the installation the software scanned my network and--as a shock to me--actually found the printer, and configured it correctly. After installing the Brother software, I was able to print to the printer without any problem.
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Postby Twisty » Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:23 pm

Nice one. I am glad you got it all set up. A router with DD-WRT on it is often a useful thing to have around too. e.g. wifi signal in my study is too weak for laptops etc to get a link - but luckily I can get networking there by using my trusty Linksys set up as a bridge because it has homemade parabolic reflectors on the antenna to boost the signal.
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Postby evasive » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:05 pm

scruffy wrote:I was able to achieve my goal of printing to my Brother printer wirelessly.

Just in case it helps someone in the future, I'm going to describe what I did.



1st: congratulations!
2nd: a big thank you for the information. feedback like this is indeed priceless as us more technically advanced tend to skip describing "obvious" steps every now and then. well done!
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Postby scruffy » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:50 am

Twisty and Evasive--Thanks for all your help. I hope my experience can help someone else out in the future.
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