This article was rewritten and updated on 12th June 2016.
BT is a popular Internet service provider in the UK. BT subscribers receive a free router called the “BT Home Hub“. A new model of Home Hub is launched every few years, and as BT never takes the old ones back, many people have an old Hub tucked away somewhere, gathering dust.
This post explains how to convert an old BT Home Hub 3.0 into a second wireless access point (“AP”) on your network, strengthening and extending the wireless signal around your home or office. Although the details are for that router, the basic procedure should work for other BT and perhaps non-BT routers. In particular, notes have been included for the BT Home Hub 1.0 – these are indented and written in italics. Many users have also had success in reusing Home Hub models 2, 4, 5 and 6 (BT’s latest router, also known as the Smart Hub).
In summary, this procedure comprises resetting the old Home Hub to factory defaults, then logging into the Hub using the default IP address and password, disabling DHCP, and giving the Hub a suitable new IP address. And finally, running an ethernet cable between the old Home Hub and your managing router.
Note: During test, my local network was managed by a BT Home Hub 5. But the managing router is not part of this procedure. You are not required to access or modify it in any way, except when running a cable at the end of the process. Only the Hub being re-purposed is changed.
Start with the Home Hub not connected to anything except its power supply.
Hit the Reset Button
Power on the Home Hub 3. Locate the recessed “Reset” button on the rear, towards the right hand side. Using a paper clip or similar, hold down the Reset button 20 seconds or so. The Hub will reset (the power light will glow dimly amber, then flash, then the “Wireless” LED will light up blue, then both LEDS will settle to blue).
Home Hub 1.0 users: Press the “Wireless” button on the back of the Home Hub 1 and hold it down for 15 seconds. You will then hear a click and the Hub’s green LEDs will all illuminate. Wait a couple of minutes for the Hub to reset and reboot.
Resetting the Home Hub to factory defaults will clear out old settings that might otherwise prevent this procedure from working. For example, it will deactivate the “BT Fon” feature, also known as “BT Wi-Fi”. If left active, BT Fon would prevent DHCP from being disabled. Also, if you have forgotten the admin password for the old Home Hub, the reset will get around that.
Instructions for resetting other BT routers can be found here.
Connect your PC Directly to the Hub
De-activate wireless on your PC. If it is connected to your home/office network with a physical network cable, disconnect it now. The PC needs to be completely isolated from your network.
Connect a spare Ethernet cable from your PC directly to the Home Hub. Use any of the Hub’s Ethernet ports (they are coloured yellow).
Your PC should then receive an IP address from the Home Hub, via DHCP. (If you are curious to know, this address will probably be 192.168.1.64).
Reset the Admin Password
Start a browser on your PC and surf to the Hub default IP http://192.168.1.254. You should see the Hub’s “Please Reset your Password” page. Enter the admin password located on the pull-out tab of the Home Hub 3, as directed. It is not case sensitive. Also enter a new admin password where indicated, and enter it again to confirm. You can also enter a hint, but it is not required.
Click the “Change Password and open Hub Manager” button. You will be presented with the Hub’s home page.
Home Hub 1 users: Instead of the admin password, you must enter the serial number found on the back of the Hub, as directed by the web page. Also enter a new password, and again to confirm. Then click the “Change Password and open Hub Manager” button. The home page opens. Now proceed to the next Home Hub 1 section below.
Note: A couple of people have complained of not being able to surf to the hub at all. If this happens to you, try what Josh suggested in his comment below. That is, “go to File Explorer, then on the left it will say network, open that. If the hub is connected by Ethernet then it will show up with something like “BT Hub”. Click on that.”
Reconfigure Wireless Settings
Now Click “A-Z” at the very top right. Then click W -> Wireless Security.
Under Wireless Configuration, make sure “WPA & WPA2 (Recommended)” is selected. By default, it should be already. Enter a Wireless key. This is the password that will be required for clients to connect.
Click the Apply button at the bottom of the page. Answer “Yes” on the “Are you sure?” page. Wait a few moments for the new settings to be applied. The page will reload and there should be a “Changes applied” message at the bottom, confirming the new settings.
HH1 users: On the Hub home page, select from the menu on the left: Advanced -> Continue to Advanced -> (enter “admin” and the password just created) -> Wireless -> Security. Select the “Use WPA PSK Encryption” radio button. Enter a wireless password (called a “key”) just below that. And change the “WPA-PSK Version” drop-down to “WPA+WPA2“. Then click “Apply”. Then jump straight to the next Home Hub 1 section below, where DHCP is deactivated and a new IP address allocated.
Allocate New Hub IP Address
The Hub IP address needs to be changed now. By default it is set to 192.168.1.254, and this would almost certainly clash with your managing router. What’s needed is a new IP address compatible with your home network, and which is not already in use by something else.
Click “A-Z” at the very top right. Then click D -> DHCP Settings. Under “Hub IP Gateway Address”, enter a new IP address for the hub. It should be in the same network, but outside the DHCP ranges of the router managing your network. For example, if your network is controlled by another BT Home Hub (eg. model 1,2,3,4 or 5), those routers by default allocate DHCP addresses in the range 192.168.1.64 to 192.168.1.253. You would therefore choose a new IP address outside of that range. I would recommend 192.168.1.63, but you could also use 192.168.1.62, (or 61, or 60, …).
After you have entered the new IP address for the Hub, click the “Apply” button and answer “Yes” to the “Are you sure?” question. You will then see an error message about the page failing to load, or it will not load properly. Don’t worry, this is expected because you just changed the Hub’s IP address.
In your PC’s browser, surf to the new IP address of the Hub, ie. the address you have just chosen. For example, http://192.168.1.63. The Hub’s home page should load again, proving that the new IP address works.
Now click “A-Z” at the very top right. Then select D -> DHCP Settings. again. Enter the admin password if asked. Under “DHCP Server“, set the “Enable:” radio button to “No“.
Click “Apply” and then answer “Yes” on the “Are you sure?” page. After a few moments, the page reloads. Proceed to the next section for testing your new wireless access point.
Home Hub 1 users: From the left hand menu, select “IP Addresses“. On the page that appears, uncheck the “Use DHCP Server” tick box. Below that, under “IP addresses“, you should see these addresses:
10.0.0.138/24 172.16.1.254/24 192.168.1.254/24
Click “Edit” next to the address that matches the rest of your network. For example if your other network devices are addressed like 192.168.1.something, choose 192.168.1.254. Enter a new IP address for the Hub. Following the same background notes as for the Hume Hub 3 above, your new address should most likely be 192.168.1.63. Therefore, change “192.168.1.254” to “192.168.1.63” and then click the “Apply” button. The page will then fail to load properly. Don’t worry, this is expected because you just changed the Hub’s IP address. In your PC’s browser, surf to the new IP address of the Hub, ie. the address you have just chosen. For example, http://192.168.1.63. The Hub’s home page should load again, proving that the new IP address works.
Test your New Wireless Access Point
Activate wireless on your PC and check the list of available Wi-Fi access points. You should see the new Home Hub 3 AP, which will be recognizable from its SSID.
You can now remove the spare Ethernet cable from your PC and the Hub.
Connect to the new AP. You will be prompted for the wireless key chosen above. Enter the key and your PC will connect wirelessly to the Home Hub 3. Note: If you are instead using a tablet or smart phone to test, it might connect but complain that the connection has “no Internet access”, or it might refuse to connect altogether and just “save” the connection. This is because we haven’t attached the Hub 3 to your network yet.
Finally, connect the Home Hub 3 to your local network You can do this by using a long Ethernet cable. Plug one end into any of the Hub 3’s yellow Ethernet ports. Plug the other end into a vacant port on your managing router. Now the Hub 3 is part of your home network. And client devices connecting wirelessly to it will be able to access the rest of your network and to the Internet, using your general Internet connection.
Alternatively, if your Hub 3 is a long way from your managing router, and you don’t want to trail a cable, you could use a pair of power line connectors – one connected to the Hub 3, the other to your managing router. Once the connectors are paired up, the effect will be the same as if you had used an Ethernet cable.
If all has gone to plan, you now have your second AP up and running. Wireless users in your home/office can connect to whichever AP has the strongest signal in their location.
Thanks to Neil Pellinacci for the basic process. I just added the factory reset bits after encountering an inability to disable DHCP due to BT Fon settings.