In a previous post I showed you how to install VPN on Fire TV. Though the method introduced in that article works, it has a few drawbacks. First, the method requires you to root (jailbreak) your Fire TV, which voids its warranty. Second, the method requires you to disable the update program, which means you won’t receive new features or security fixes. Above all, the method doesn’t work with all VPN services: it works perfectly with IPVanish and HideMyAss; but it doesn’t work with Cyberghost VPN or PIA (Private Internet Access), one of the most popular VPN services.
To overcome these problems, I’ve come up with a new method of unblocking Fire TV. This new approach doesn’t require you to jailbreak your device, and it works with all VPN services. Even better, it works not only with Fire TV, but also for other digital media players (Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc.).
The new method, shown in Figure 1, extends your existing network by adding a second (VPN) router dedicated to devices that require access to VPN service. You connect all devices that use VPN to the second (VPN) router, and any devices that don’t use VPN to the Internet router.
You may ask, what are the advantages of using two routers, and can we simply install VPN on the existing Internet router? You certainly can, but you’re likely to run into some problems.
First, when VPN is installed on the main Internet router it slows down the speed of every connected device, including non-VPN devices. Second, every time you make changes to the VPN setup it disrupts all connected devices. Finally, running VPN on the main router makes all connected users “virtually” reside where the VPN server is. This causes geolocation-based applications (Google Map) to function incorrectly.
The two router setup eliminates these problems. It lets you group your devices by need: those that use VPN and those that don’t. Now you can tinker with settings on the VPN router without affecting devices connected to the main Internet router, a useful advantage for any network with multiple users.
You’ll need a second router that supports the OpenVPN client and an ethernet cable to link the two routers. Also, make sure that you know how to log into each router’s configuration pages.
Choosing a VPN Router
You can use any router, old or new, as your second (VPN) router, but it must support the OpenVPN client. If you choose to use an old router, check the manufacturer’s website to see whether they offer firmware for your model that supports OpenVPN. If they don’t, you may find third party firmware for your model at the “supported devices” page on the following websites: dd-wrt, OpenWrt, or Asuswrt-Merlin (for Asus routers only).
If you plan to buy a new router, make sure its firmware supports the OpenVPN client. If not, you will have to find third party firmware that meets this requirement. A list of routers I recommend is shown in Table 1.
IP Address Plan
I recorded the IP addresses for my routers in Table 2. You can use these settings for your routers also. Simply enter the numbers listed in Table 2 into the appropriate fields in your router configuration pages as you go through the instructions.
If you decide to allocate your own IP address ranges to your routers, you should organize a similar table/sheet to ease your setup. You can use any private IP address range  for either router, but the address range allocated to one router must not ‘overlap’ with the other. Refer to this page to determine the subnet mask for your selected private IP address range. For more information refer to the notes listed below Table 2.
|Device||Internet Router||VPN Router|
|Private (LAN) IP Range||192.168.1.1 – 192.168.1.254||10.0.0.1 – 10.0.0.254|
|LAN Subnet Mask||255.255.255.0||255.255.255.0|
|WAN Connection Type||PPPoE||Static IP|
|WAN Subnet Mask||Automatic||255.255.255.0|
|WAN DNS Server||Automatic||192.168.1.1|
Here’s an explanation of some of the fields in Table 2.
- For the WAN IP address of the VPN router use any IP address (e.g.192.168.1.11) from the Internet router’s IP range that is not already assigned. This permits access to the VPN router’s configuration page from devices connected to the Internet router.
- For the WAN subnet mask of the VPN router, use the LAN subnet mask of the Internet router (e.g. 255.255.255.0).
- For the WAN DNS server and WAN gateway of the VPN router, use the IP address of the Internet router (e.g.192.168.1.1).
In the following steps I’ll first show you how to set up your VPN router through your computer. Next, on the Internet router, we’ll assign a static IP to the new router. Then we’ll configure OpenVPN on the new router. Finally, I’ll show you how to unblock various digital media players  using this method. Let’s get started.
Setting Up the VPN Router
- Connect the VPN router to your computer using a network cable.
- Log into the VPN router’s configuration page.
- Under settings for Wireless, choose a wireless channel. (To avoid interference, choose any channel other than the one used by the Internet router.)
- Under LAN-> LAN IP, enter the IP address and subnet mask for the VPN router. Remember to enable DHCP under LAN-> DHCP Server.
- Under WAN -> Internet Connection, select “Static IP” for the WAN connection type. Then, under the WAN IP settings section, enter the WAN IP address, subnet mask, default gateway and DNS server for the VPN router.
- Under the “Administration” menu, enable the “Allow web access from WAN” option to permit WAN-connected devices to access the VPN router.
Connecting Two Routers
Next, connect your VPN router to the Internet router by plugging one end of an Ethernet cable into the WAN port of the VPN router, then plugging the other end of the cable into any LAN port on your Internet router.
Configuring the Internet Router
Next, you’ll log into your Internet router and manually assign an IP address to your VPN router. On the router’s configuration page, go to LAN->DHCP Server and enter an IP address for the VPN router. This address must be identical to the WAN IP address of the VPN router (e.g. 192.168.1.11). You may find this option in a different location depending on your router model.
Setting Up the OpenVPN Client
To set up the OpenVPN client on your VPN router, follow the instructions in “How to Install VPN Client on Your Router“.
Connecting Digital Media Players
You can use this method to unblock any digital media player simply by connecting it to the VPN router. No additional setup is required. Chromecast users should make sure both the device itself and the mobile phone used to control the device are connected to the (same) VPN network.
I recommend this new method because it’s easy to use, works for a variety of digital media players, and is compatible with all VPN services. Additionally, this two router setup helps you manage your VPN devices without impacting your whole network. Now, instead of devoting time to hacking your toys, you can relax and enjoy the shows you want to see. After all, shouldn’t technology make your life more convenient?
- 1. Private IP address
- 2. Digital media player is sometimes referred to as ‘streaming player’, or ‘set-top box’.
Got a question? Post it in our forums. We’ll work it out.