VirtuallyUseful – Random Tech Babble

January 21, 2012

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-rcvk9w8-mx”)

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.

I hope this helped someone!


  1. I charge the cisco ios for this model of the cisco web page, upload the new IOS but the “conf t” command still don’t work. =/ any ideas?. thanks.

    Comment by Joan — October 10, 2014 @ 5:39 AM

  2. I found I had to set speed to 100 and duplex to full on the pc adapter when attaching to my pc. Otherwise it would error out saying there wasn’t a bootable file.

    Comment by Mark — July 21, 2014 @ 12:24 PM

  3. Where to get the file to flash is the issue if you don’t have a support contract with Cisco. Any ideas?

    Comment by Mark — July 16, 2014 @ 6:20 AM

    • The only suggestion I have is to maybe look for a used AP for cheap on E-bay and then pull the image from that. The disclaimer is of course that you should look into what the actual terms of the Cisco licensing are to make sure that option is compliance.

      Comment by Ray Olander — July 20, 2014 @ 11:24 PM

  4. Thanks! worked like a charm. Only issue I ran into was the name of my file name was .tar.default.tar but it was a windows issue. I had to shwo the file ext. in order to truly change it. here’s how to do that:


    Comment by Eddie — April 3, 2014 @ 10:47 AM

  5. Hi there,

    I followed your directions above but am running into the same issue! I set a static IP on my machine and connected the AP directly to my laptop using an Ethernet cable. I reset the power and while holding in the mode button till the status light went red(30 secs)…i get the following:

    button pressed for 20 seconds
    process_config_recovery: set IP address and config to default
    process_config_recovery: image recovery
    image_recovery: Download default IOS tar image tftp://

    examining image…tftp:// no such file or directory

    ERROR: Failed to open archive file tftp://
    Loading “flash:/c1240-rcvk9w8-mx/c1240-rcvk9w8-mx”…#

    Looking at the output it is looking at for the image. I have two images under C:\TFTP-Root…c1240-k9w7-tar.default and c1240-k9w7-mx.124-10b.JA.

    I have tried Solar winds which I read somewhere didn’t work(I used this to copy an image form another AP). So i tried TFTP32 and still didn’t work. Below is the log from TFTP32

    Connection received from on port 56931 [12/03 15:18:46.651]
    Read request for file . Mode octet [12/03 15:18:46.652]
    File : error 2 in system call CreateFile The system cannot find the file specified. [12/03 15:18:46.654]

    Am i missing something else here! Thanks in advance!

    Comment by John — March 12, 2014 @ 3:30 PM

    • HI John,

      Sorry for the delayed reply. This is hard to troubleshoot, especially not being there and so long after it happened, but I see TWO problems. The first is that you’re receiving a connection from when the AP is and your workstation is The second is that the file isn’t being found. I don’t know what device was on your network as so I can’t help there. As for the filename, in a comment posted after yours by Eddie, he had what appears to be the same problem and it turned out to be hidden file extensions. This URL was the fix for his issue:

      Comment by Ray Olander — June 11, 2014 @ 11:48 PM

  6. thanks man..i got 4 1242 LAPs at throwaway…this is what i just wanted to convert them to regular APs

    Comment by Razeen Abdulla — January 23, 2014 @ 7:51 AM

  7. 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

  8. works perfectly! thank you :-)

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

  9. 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

  10. 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://

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

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

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