Hugh and I did a video podcast about essential tools and testers a jobbing broadcast engineer might have in his ruck. An item I didn't mention was a network router - yes, you're right; I came across one of these around a year ago;
It's a very basic NAT (network address translation) router with WiFi. It has a single LAN port and a WAN/LAN port (depending on what mode it's in) and you can pick them up on eBay for less than £20. The best feature is it doesn't need a power adaptor; it plugs into a 13A socket and is little bigger than a MK plug. There are three typical jobs mine gets used for.
- I'm demo'ing a piece of equipment that has a network connection but I don't have the means to connect my laptop to it because it's at the back of the room (connected to the projector, for example) - I just connect the equipment to the LAN port and then I can hit it over the WiFi from my laptop. This is typically how I demo Tektronix WVR / WFM series TV test equipment.
- I need internet access but I don't want to hook up to an existing network - either someone drops into the workshop asking me to fix their PC or laptop and I'd rather not give them access to our network; this is a NAT router and so connecting the WAN port to our network and their machine to the LAN port gives superb isolation via the devices firewall. If I'm at a customer's premises and I have the same worry I can connect my laptop to their network with confidence.
- I need a means of genarating DHCP IP addresses when demo'ing Amulet (i.e. several pieces of equipment).
- We're on site and all the wiremen want wireless for their 'phones/iPads etc - this is just the way to build a quick adhoc little network.