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Converting a Cisco 1242AG lightweight AP to Standalone

Filed under: Cisco,Networking Ray Olander @ 8:39 PM

So, it turns out that when you have an Cisco access point that starts with AIR-LAP instead of AIR-AP, it is configured to attach to a wireless controller on your network before it does anything useful. If you don’t happen to have a Cisco Wireless Controller configured and on your network to handle that, your access point is essentially a very expensive paper weight…or is it?!

It turns out that you can convert the AP from lightweight mode to standalone mode (and vice-versa actually). I am going to list the steps I took to do this because I didn’t find any articles on the Internet to tell me how, but don’t let this fool you – I am not a Cisco guy. If I didn’t write it down here, I likely don’t have any additional answers on this topic other than “if it doesn’t work, get a bigger hammer” :)

So here we go:

PC Setup

Download TFTPD (TFTP server) and configure to point to some directory (which will be your “base” directory) and to allow it to operate through your firewall.

Download IOS software for the 1242 (I used c1240-k9w7-mx.124-25d.JA1 for this experiment)

Make a copy of the IOS file named “c1240-k9w7-tar.default” in the TFTP base directory (The AP will look for this exact file name)

Download and run Putty. Create a session to COM1 9600/8-N-1 (I turn on logging and set the scrollback buffer to 9999 lines)

Configure a PC for and either connect to a switch dedicated for this purpose or use a crossover cable (the AP will default to

Connect the Cisco blue console cable between COM1 on the PC and the console port on the AP

Open the Putty COM1 session to monitor the AP when it comes up

AP setup

Connect 2GHz (cone shaped) and 5GHz (flat) antennas to the appropriate connectors on the AP

Connect the access point to a switch or crossover cable

Load new IOS on AP

Press and hold the MODE button and plug in the power

When you see “Button is pressed, wait for button to be released” in your Putty session, let go of the button

The AP will startup, default to and look for a TFTP server that has “c1240-k9w7-tar.default” ready to serve

The AP will automatically download the new IOS and delete the lightweight image (mine was “c1240-


You should see something like “Download default IOS tar image tftp://”

Once the AP has fully started, do the following to get the Ethernet interface activated


Password: Cisco (this is case sensitive)

ap# config t

ap(config)# interface FastEthernet 0

ap(config)# ip addr (or perhaps what IP it will eventually have on your production network)

ap(config)# interface BVI1

ap(config)# ip addr (same network as the Ethernet interface)

press ctrl+z to exit config

type wr to write the config

Go to your PC and open to get to the web interface of the AP to finish configuring the device.

The username is Cisco and the password is Cisco (both are case-sensitive)

If you changed the IP address to something other than & above, be sure to change your PC IP address too before trying to access the configuration webpage.




This all sounds great since I have been messing around for a few hours trying to get my LW AP to take a normal IOS but failed every time. Below is the error I keep getting. Did you run into the same issue? If so, what was the fix. If not, I guess I’m pretty much screwed. It is getting to the image but keeps timing out with the below error.

button pressed for 168 seconds process_config_recovery: set IP address and config to default process_config_recovery: image recovery image_recovery: Download default IOS tar image tftp:// tar.default

examining image… extracting info (286 bytes) Premature end of tar file ERROR: Image is not a valid IOS image archive.Loading “flash:/c1240-rcvk9w8-



Comment by Guest2847 March 3, 2012 @ 12:19 PM | Reply



This TFTP IOS load process uses both the 10.0.0.x address and so your TFTP server needs to be able to handle that. The SolarWinds one does not. The Tftpd32 one works OK.

Comment by 2sonik April 6, 2012 @ 12:35 AM | Reply



works perfectly! thank you :-)

Comment by Alain June 12, 2012 @ 8:37 AM | Reply


by Alain — June 12, 2012 @ 8:37 AM | Reply 4. This process wont work

This process wont work from the built in TFTP server on MacOS. You will need a windows machine. Regular tftp stuff on your mac works fine, as long as you assign everyone read and write permissions on the file the tftp server is trying to access.

Comment by Norgs October 23, 2012 @ 2:09 AM | Reply