Trying to extend my wireless network - halp!

I’m really being stupid here, please help me get past this. I’m trying to do something which shouldn’t be that difficult, but I’m not having any luck.

I have an existing network which works fine, except that in part of the house the wireless signal is very weak. I have looked into network range extenders and they are like $100 (!!?!?!) and after digging around a bit I figured I would try to use an old router that’s sitting around to provide the same functionality.

Below is a pic of the network. The dotted red box shows the proposed new router. From what I understand, on this “extender” you turn off DHCP, NAT and UPnP, give the extender a static IP that the primary router won’t dole out, connect the two routers (LAN port to LAN port - not using the WAN port on the extender) and you should be good to go. You can then set up a second wireless network on the extender, using a different channel from the primary router.

I tried this and it didn’t work. Not only did it not work, but I couldn’t even access the extender router, so I had to reset it to factory default.

The one thing I’m extra not clear on is what type of cable connects the two routers. I read you might need to use a crossover cable - is that the case?

Is there a downside to doing things this way as opposed to using an extender? If I use an extender do I have the same network ID in both places or do I have to set up a second ID as depicted below?

Any other advice?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Check out and see if your old router is compatible. With that firmware installed, you can pretty easily turn your second rounter into a wireless bridge/network extender.

First off, use the same SSID - The 802.11 protocol will allow roaming to occur between the two. You do want different channels, so that’s good.

The routers may not support auto-crossover, and you don’t want crossover, so using a crossover cable might be part of the problem. You just want a straight A-A or B-B cable running between the LAN ports on the router A and LAN ports on router B.

DD-WRT is great but it’s not going to make this any easier. Also, range extenders suck. Copper is king.

I finally got it to work by going verrrry slowly, step by step (and starting over a few times). It helped to use a second computer to fiddle with the extender, so I could set it to a static IP and not muck with my working connection. I eventually had to use a different router than the one I initially planned though, because for some reason I couldn’t turn the wireless radio on with my initial one, no idea why.

Thanks for the tip about setting the SSIDs the same, I think I could actually see the iPad switching channels when I went from one room to the other.


I am looking to do something similar. I have a DLink 4300 wireless router now but coverage is pretty poor upstairs - had the iPad drop the network altogether in bed last night. I have 2 airport base stations that Ive used as extenders before, but I can’t configure them now for some reason. does anyone have any experience with something like this? What would be the tradeoffs between something like that and adding another wireless router as a repeater? If you think repeater would be better, what is a good and cheap model that is likely to be compatible with the DLink I have?

Don’t know about that antenna, sorry. My problem in reconfiguring my routers turned out to be trying to do too much in one step; when I went slowly and made sure things were good each step of the way, it ended up working.

However, just came out with an article in improving your wifi network and it might be good to read that for some more info and help on your issues.

Do N routers provide more coverage for Wi-Fi?

I believe the answer to that is yes, but even if that’s not the case, the 5ghz frequency should weed out any potential interference issues with other devices.

Seconded. I spent two full Saturdays (first one trying to get a wireless repeater going which is impossible, second making it into a regular wired AP) trying to get this work and it was the same deal - trying to do too much in one step.

Yep. The majority of consumer wireless devices - including bluetooth - use 2.xGhz (2.4 in Europe, I think it’s the same in the US). Being able to use 5.xGhz instead will give you better signal.

Except possibly here in Dublin where my company have so much 5.4/5.8Ghz fixed wireless coverage that everyone else is pretty much screwed.

Microwaves are also 2.4GHz. A friend of mine, using an Airport Express to play music in the baby room, had to ration use of his microwave lest the Wifi would cut out, music stop, and baby cry.

I told him to move everything to N.

First, Ryan is completely wrong about crossovers. 2 switches without auto-mdi/mdix do need a crossover to join, There just aren’t many switches without auto-crossover left out there. When there were, they also usually had uplink ports that were crossover wired.

Next, be aware that N is both 2.4 and 5 GHz and some of the cheaper gear is 2.4 only. Check your wifi card as well for 5GHz.

5GHz is a shorter wavelength than 2.4 and typically has a shorter range and less penetrating power for going through walls. N can use MIMO and multipath to help the range, but you will have different reception profiles still.

Finally, for people with multiple floors in thir houses, the standard antennas with most wireless radios are designed to transmit and receive in a flattened sphere area to improve their range, which can give poor reception above or below the radio. You might want to tilt the antenna to change the reception area to be more vertical.

Except he was dealing with routers, and disabling DHCP, not with barebone switches, and 90% of the routers out there are auto-sensing, and hooking a router to switch does not require a crossover, which means I wasn’t wrong in about 99.99% of the possibilities in which we were dealing based on the info given. :P

Routers are only routers between the wan port and the rest of the lan/wlan. The rest is just a wireless ap and wired switch, with a mini server for dhcp and such thrown in. But yeah, as we both noted, most switches are auto MDI/MDIX now.