Convert Cisco Lightweight AP to Autonomous

I recently picked up two AIR-LAP1142N access points from eBay that had previously been used with a Cisco Wireless LAN controller. As such they were configured with CAPWAP and do allow for independent operation. Cisco access points have three different image types available:

  • Lightweight (Files matching cXXX->
  • Lightweight Recovery (Files matching
  • Autonomous (Files matching

In order to use the access point without a wireless LAN controller (WLC), the Autonomous image must be installed onto the access point. Thankfully there is a process to convert a lightweight access point to an autonomous one.

  1. Connect to the AP with a serial cable, then connect the AP to a power source, be it via a POE Injector or a PoE switch. Once booted you will be able to authenticate.
    Password: Cisco
  2. Unfortunately many of the commands you’ll want to use, such as configure terminal will be unavailable. To enable the commands you’ll need issue the following commands:
    AP1234.5678.abcd#debug capwap console cli
    CAPWAP console CLI allow/disallow debugging is on
  3. Download an autonomous image for your AP and place it on a TFTP server that is reachable from the access point. It should have obtained network address information using DHCP automatically. In the example below I’m using “c1140-k9w7-tar.152-4.JB4.tar” but this can be any suitable autonomous image.
    AP1234.5678.abcd#conf t
    Enter configuration commands, one per line.  End with CNTL/Z.
    AP1234.5678.abcd#archive download-sw /overwrite /reload tftp://TFTP SERVER/c1140-k9w7-tar.152-4.JB4.tar

    The access point will download the software and reboot into the new autonomous image. The default username and password are cisco/Cisco.

Published by

Dave Hope

Dave works in IT for a leading UK based retirement developer, in his spare time he enjoys tinkering with technology and rock climbing.

13 thoughts on “Convert Cisco Lightweight AP to Autonomous”

    1. Amir, does the Cisco 1700I AP already have the autonomous image in memory in order to use the capwap ap autonomous command? Or do you still need to download the image and setup the tftp server?


  1. I found the .tar file, and I get through the commands, and it does the extracting but the archive command fails with the messages:
    Premature end of tar file
    ERROR: Problem extracting files from archive.
    Download image failed, notify controller!!! From: to, FailureCode:3

    archive download: takes 52 seconds
    I’ve had this result with two different .tar files.

  2. Hi,
    I have an AP AIR-AP1832I-E-K9 with running image, and that command:
    capwap ap autonomous
    debug capwap console cli
    after enable command aren’t working…

  3. Any idea on how to obtain the default tar for autonomous mode for a Cisco AP 2702E? It looks like need an entitlement to download it from Cisco? Is there any other source that somebody can share? Dropbox, drive link would be much appreciated.

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