Reuse a spare BT Home Hub as a Wireless Access Point

This article was rewritten and updated on 9th April 2017.

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 5.0 or Home Hub 4.0 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 those routers, the basic procedure works for other BT and perhaps non-BT routers.  In particular, notes have been included for the BT Home Hub 3.0 and the now ancient Home Hub 1.0 – these are indented and written in italics.  Many users have also had success in reusing Home Hub models 2.0 and 6.0 (BT’s latest router, also known as the Smart Hub).

Summary

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 Netgear router. 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.

Procedure

Start with the Home Hub not connected to anything except its power supply.

Hit the Reset Button

Power on the Home Hub 5.0 (or 4.0). 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 light on the front of the hub will go green. After about 20 seconds it will begin to blink, then turn solid blue for 15 seconds, then flashing amber for 15 seconds, before settling to solid amber. A few seconds later, the “b” will start to blink red. The Hub will remain in this condition. Proceed as follows.

Home Hub 3.0 users:
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 main home page. Click on “Advanced Settings”. The Settings page appears, with a message beginning “To prevent unauthorised access to your Hub’s settings, BT Hub Manager is password protected…“. Enter the default Admin password as directed. It can be found on the Hub’s white (detachable) panel, labelled “Admin Password for Hub Manager”. Note that the it is case sensitive. Click the OK button.

Home Hub 3.0 users:
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 3.0, 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. Finally, 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: Some Firefox users have reported seeing JavaScript errors at this point – switching to the Chrome browser fixed it for Ed Iglehart, see his coment 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 – 2.4 Ghz.

Under “2.4 GHz Wireless Configuration”, make sure that Security is set to “WPA2 Only (Recommended)”. By default, it should be already. Under “Wireless key (WPA2)”, delete the default key and enter one of your own, and remember it. This is the password that clients will use to connect to the wireless network. Leave all other options as the default.

Click the Apply button at the bottom of the page. The page will reload and you should see a “Changes applied” message at the very bottom, confirming the new settings.

Note that by default, the key you have just set also applies for the Hub’s 5 Ghz wireless network.

Home Hub 3.0 users:
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. The page will reload and you should see a “Changes applied” message at the very 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.

Deactivate DHCP

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. You should see a message at the very bottom: “Changes applied”. Proceed to the next section for connecting your Hub to the wired network.

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” buttonThe 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.

Connect the Hub to your Wired Network

Now remove the spare Ethernet cable from your PC and the Hub.

Connect the Home Hub to your local network You can do this by using a long Ethernet cable. Plug one end into any of the Hub’s yellow Ethernet ports. Plug the other end into a vacant port on your managing router. Now the Hub 5.0 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 Home Hub, 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.

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 AP, which will be recognizable from its SSID.

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. Try to connect from other devices too, perhaps a smartphone or tablet. In each case, you will need to enter the wireless password.

Flashing Lights on the Hub

At the end of this procedure, users of Hub models 4.0 and 5.0 will notice that the Hub light is now permanently amber and the broadband LED, shaped like a “b”, blinks red. Unfortunately there is no way to stop this, except to acquire some black insulation tape and use it to block the lights.

NB There is an option to dim the hub lights, which helps somewhat. Log in to your re-purposed Hub and go to A-ZH – “Hub Lights, change brighness“. Enter the admin password if asked. Then select “Brightness: Low” and click Apply. The message “Changes applied” appears and the hub lights immediately dim.

Conclusion

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.

Set a Different 5GHz SSID (Optional)

The BT home Hub (models 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0) is dual band, meaning it comes with an extra wireless channel on 5 Ghz. Modern wireless clients (circa 2015 onwards) can connect at the higher frequency and obtain a clearer, faster, less congested signal. Meanwhile, older devices will continue to connect using the slower channel

By default, the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz channels use the same SSID (same name). I like to give them different names, so that they stand out in the list of APs when your client device (phone, tablet) does a wireless scan. If you want to give your 5GHz channel a special name, proceed as follows.

Surf to the IP address of your re-purposed Hub and login. At the top right, click A-Z and then W and Wireless Security – 5 Ghz.

The Wireless SSID will be set to something like “BTHub5-XYZ3”. Edit the field and add “-5Ghz”, for example “BTHub5-XYZ3-5Ghz”. Click the Apply button. The page will reload and you should see the familiar “Changes applied” message at the very bottom.

Your 5GHz network is now renamed and you should see “BTHub5-XYZ3-5Ghz” among the list of devices found when your phone/tablet/laptop does a wireless scan (but only on devices which are 5 Ghz enabled, likely to be those purchased from 2016 onwards).

A Note on SSIDs

Some readers have asked if it is worth setting the SSID of the new wireless access point to be the same as another existing SSID, for example the one on your main wireless AP, provided by your main wireless router. It is allowable to have both the same, but I would not personally recommend it. If the names are the same, it is difficult to know which AP your device is connecting to.

On the other hand, with different SSID names, you can see both in the list of APs on your client device (eg tablet), making it easy to choose whichever you prefer. Also, most devices will connect to the strongest signal by default. If you roam out of range of one, your smartphone, say, should pick up on the other automatically, if it is stronger/closer.
Or you can force it by disconnecting, then letting your phone/tablet reconnect to whichever is the nearer and stronger AP.

Some Background on DHCP

If you have followed the above procedure, wireless clients will be able to connect to your new AP. They are allocated an IP address by the DHCP server running on your main/managing router. There is no DHCP server on the re-purporsed Hub. It was deactivated as part of the procedure).

Acknowledgements

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.

264 thoughts on “Reuse a spare BT Home Hub as a Wireless Access Point

  1. Followed your guide and worked a treat using pfsense etc. However, the hh4 that I am using restarts every so often. I believe this is because it isn’t recognising a connection. I cannot find anything on the internet that fixes this. Is there any way to turn this off?

    • Hi Sophie. It is strange that the HH4 does occasional restarts. Perhaps your HH4 has some kind of issue. Unfortunately I can’t suggest anything, unless you have another HH4 to try in its place.

  2. All works fine however…Slave hub keeps resetting constantly?? So I lose the wireless for a minute or so then back on for about 15mins then repeats? Any ideas?

  3. If I can configure my old hub like this explains could I then take the hub to my partners address so I can use it like a hotspot to get a good connection there as the nearest hotspot is not a reliable connection or is there a way I can use my details to connect via somebody else’s homehub ?

    • Hi George, in theory yes, that should work. You should be able to take your re-purposed hub to your partener’s home, connect it to their main hub (via a cable or powerline connector), and obtain the second wireless access point, just as in your own home. There is a very small possibility that your hub’s IP address might clash with something on their network, for example their hub. But if that happens, you can always change the IP address of your hub again.

      On your second question, no, there is no way of using your details to connect to somebody else’s hub.

  4. Hi,
    Thank you for that very useful guide. Following the instructions and the defaults for a HH3 has worked really well and has enabled me to extend my poor Sky E115 router and provide additional Ethernet ports (Sky’s only comes with two!!)

    One problem I hope you can help with? I now need to access the BT HH3 to change some access control and wireless settings but cannot seem to access the HH admin screens. Can you advise?

    Using win 10, Ethernet connection into HH, have tried 192.168.1.63 and the IP address that it was allocated by SKY router (192.168.0.4) original default HH IP address (that I assume no longer applies). Indications are no network acess and browsing to those addresses just time out.

    Any pointers would be great!

    • Hi Alltoo. You have followed the above procedure and got a second access point running successfully. You now want to change some control and access settings on the re-purposed hub. As you have not said which settings you want to change, or why, it is difficult to advise. However there should be no problem in accessing the hub, and I do not know why you are getting a timeout. The .63 address should work if that was the address you chose when following the procedure. Are you sure the IP address is right ?

      • Thanks Jim, I just wondered if I was trying to connect incorrectly -though I could not see how.
        To update, I am trying to change the HH3 wireless settings -password and timed access disable for WiFi. I also wish to see which devices have been connected ( I suspect an unauthorised one has been courtesy of grandson giving out the p/word!!)

        For ease of use I used the article’s advised new setting for the repurposed HH3 192.168.1.63 (which I then recorded separately so it should correct).

        Will give it another try later today with reboots and also allowing longer to do up connections before attempting to get into the HH3 router’s home page. Failing that it,s maybe another reset and run through from scratch- with the changed wireless settings.

  5. Disable the Smart Setup on the ‘new’ repeater, this will prevent anything connecting to it from getting the web page stating there is a ‘problem’ with the broadband connection.

  6. Well not exactly sure what I have done to allow connection to the HH3 but after a hub reset AND being disconnected from the main broadband hub I can now get access to hub management pages.
    Did note my HH3 default IP address was not 192.168.1.254 but 192.168.0.254 but even that did not work prior to the above actions.

    However all is well now and with the HH3 IP address being outside the range for allocation of the SKY hub, no need to change it.

    One last question: is it possible somehow to access the HH3 management pages whilst still connected to the main SKY hub? Sky hub allocates the HH3 via DCHP as 192.168.0.4 but neither that not the default HH3 addresses above connect. I thought saving a copy of the bt hub setup might be useful!

    • Dubz, thanks for adding that suggestion, but I am not aware of a’ smart set up’ for my hub so if you can clarify please?

    • Hi Allytoo. My examples in the article use the IP network 192.168.1.xxx, because that is the default for BT Hubs. If your Sky hub (and other devices on your network) use 192.168.0.xxx, then you should also pick an address for the HH3 that starts 192.168.0.

      You say the main Sky hub has allocated a DHCP address to the HH3. However, I don’t see how this can be so. A DHCP address is allocated only after a client asks for it, and the HH3 will never ask. It does not operate as a DHCP client, and I don’t think it even has the software to do so. It isn’t capable of receiving a DHCP address.

      I think Sky hubs, by default, have a DHCP range covering the whole network, eg. 192.168.0.2 to 192.168.0.254. It would be best to go into your Sky hub setup pages and shrink this range, so leave room for static addresses. This will prevent your Sky hub accidentally allocating the same address you have chosen for the HH3 to another device on the network (such as somebody’s smartphone). It is a remote possibility, but best avoided. There are many web pages explaining hot to shrink the Sky hub’s DHCP range. Eg you could change it to 192.168.0.64 to 192.168.0.254, which will leave your HH3’s address (192.168.0.63) outside the range.

      And yes, if things are correctly setup, you should be able to surf straight to your HH3’s setup pages without difficulty, from anywhere on the network, wired or wireless.

  7. Hi

    We’ve recently got Virgin broadband and I’m trying this method to use our old BT router as an access point to reach a room that has patchy WiFi access. I’ve got all the way to the end of the process and the homehub 5 is producing a signal but none of my devices can connect to it?

    Is this a compatibility issue with Virgin? I reset the access password to be the same as the main virgin router – could that be the problem?

    Thanks
    Matt

    • PS. I also used the same IP address to change to as recommended in the article – could this also be an issue with a master virgin router?

      • Hi Matt. You say none of your devices can connect to the re-purposed Home Hub 5. In what way are they unable to connect ? Do they not see the HH5 as a wireless access point? Does the login fail? Is the password being rejected ? What error message is produced?

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for a very helpful article : I managed to set up an old BT Hub 3.0 without any problem, connected to a Sagemcom router.
    However, when I click on Network in Explorer, all I see is BT Homehub 3.0 Media Gateway (under Other Devices), which keeps disappearing & reappearing. I have an USB hard drive connected to the BTHH 3.0, which does not appear at all.
    Any ideas about what the problem might be?

    • Hi Ian. You have followed the procedure and successfully set up a BT Home Hub 3 as a wireless access point. As I understand it, you also want to connect a hard drive to the HH3 and have it shared around the network. I have just tried the same thing, using a Home Hub 3 and a 32 GB memory stick, and it seems to work fine. Other devices on my network can access files on the memory stick without a problem. I am not sure why you cannot access the drive from Windows (I use Linux). On your Home Hub 3 management page, is the hard drive shown under “My Home Network”, where it says “USB:” ?

  9. Hi,

    Great article & responses.
    I used this idea after reading your article.

    I just connected an old bt homehub 2 via a powerline
    Connector using an ethernet cable into yellow socket 1.
    Gave the hub a reset with a pin.
    Hub came hack up & worked straight off with no settings
    altered.
    Wi-fi worked using bt hubs password.
    Also connect to a desktop pc using another cable into
    Yellow socket 2.

  10. Hello,

    So I have followed all the steps from this tutorial and it worked just fine apart from a little problem.

    The router keeps checking connections from time to time and it results in a drop on the internet connection.

    Is this supposed to happen?

    Cumps
    Artur

    • Hi Artur, pardon the long delay in replying. No, that shouldn’t happen. I am not sure what equipment you are using, or what is meant by “The router keeps checking connections from time to time”. Could you provide more detail?

  11. Hi Jim
    Sadly I only found your piece after struggling through a number of other inferior efforts! Anyway, thanks for the time you’ve spent on it. I have a HH4 now running ok as a WAP. Its connected to the main Genexis modem/router through powerline adapters with both routers using the same SSIDs (I note not your preferred approach).
    The only issue is that the HH4 keeps rebooting itself every 30 minutes or so, with obvious loss of wireless until it completes. During my pre-instalation research I saw reference to this on another blog that I now can’t re-find, but no solution was offered, so its not just me! Do you know if there is a setting I’ve missed?
    Thanks…./Peter

    • Hi Peter, pardon the long delay in replying. The HH4 should not be rebooting itself every half an hour or so. That must be quite annoying. I would guess it is a fault with the HH4.
      A similar issue was reported by Sophie, in her comment above. If possible, try another spare hub. Many people have had success with the HH4. Sorry I can’t provide an easier solution. Hope you get it working smoothly.

  12. Hello Jim

    Great post thank you.

    Just hooked.up my hh 5. The main home hub 6 is downstairs, I have data points over the house it’s a new house so don’t know which ones are live!! There all in a patch panel it’s a bit of a mess..not numbered unfortunately…. If I can see the ssid of the hh5, does this mean it is connected to the network? All my devices can see it but can’t connect??

  13. Hi there,

    This was an excellent guide and I thought everything was working fine but sadly I cant connect.

    I went through all the steps and all my devices can now see that the wireless network of the old device has changed as it now needs a new password – so I assume that is working, however when I connect to it, it gives the message “Failed to obtain IP address”.

    One thing I struggled with was finding an IP address out of the range of the pool as the IP pool was 192.168.1.2 to 198.168.1.254.

    Any ideas?

  14. Forget it – this was a problem with my powerline. I didnt have it plugged into a wall – doing this rather than an extension cable worked now.

    Thanks again – fantastically helpful article.

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