Airport Extreme and Express + Switch (large house, wireless range problems)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by tfcowhey, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. tfcowhey macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2008
    I have a large house which is fairly old. I currently have a Comcast cable modem which the tech conveniently placed in the basement, connected by CAT5 to an Airport Extreme which is on the first floor and which broadcasts wirelessly for net access for most of the house.

    However, I just moved my office up to the 3rd floor, and the signal up there is awful.

    So, I have an electrician coming, and he is going to wire CAT5 up from the basement modem to the 3rd floor office, which is where I plan to move the Extreme (which is providing the primary wireless network, powering 2 printers and allowing my iMac to access the net). So, that means that the signal on the first floor (where my wife does most of her surfing on her laptop) is going to suck.

    I have an Airport Express, which I was planning on using to extend the network, but the connection between the Express and the Extreme is really weak because of the distance between the two. I was thinking about putting a switch between the modem and the Extreme, and wiring the Express into the switch.

    I am hoping I would essentially have 2 wireless nodes on the same network. But, it seems too simple. Thoughts? Problems? Anything I am missing? Do I need to run another CAT5 down from the Extreme on the 3rd floor, or will the switch be able to handle the back and forth?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. rich.smith macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2008
    You cannot use a switch between the modem and the extreme. You need to use a wired router. Connect the extreme and express to the router and use them as access points. The router takes care of assigning IP addresses to all computers on the network. You can use them as two different wireless networks operating at 2.4 GHz (express) and 5 GHz (Extreme). If possible use the Extreme network only with 802.11n devices for maximum speed.

    I recently upgraded to an Extreme and was able to use my existing wireless g router for exactly the same purpose. Two laptops, my iPhone, and a wireless printer all use g. In my case, I use the Extreme as the router and I switched by old router to an access point. I was able to leave the computers, printer, iPhone, and two range extenders untouched. Couldn't have been simpler.
  3. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    you don't need the extra router, get the electrician to pull a second wire down to where you want to put the express. and your extreme will still function as the main router.

    so your setup would be

    modem --up to 3rd--> extreme --down to 1st--> express.
                                 -- --> to switch or other iMac
    if you don't have enough ports on the extreme, you can put a switch into one of the LAN ports, and add the extra ports that way.

    for setup -
    *leave the extreme configured as it is
    *put the express in "off (bridge mode)" under internet --> connection sharing

    *give the express and the extreme the same SSID and security settings, but different channels. (Auto should do you for N, if you're B/G make sure there at least 5 numbers apart to avoid overlap)

    Your computers or other devices will automagically switch to the stronger signal as you move about the house.
  4. BiikeMike macrumors 65816


    Sep 17, 2005
    I have the same problem, different set up. I just moved into the basement of a house. Up on the 2nd floor, not counting the basement, is the Linksys router. I was hoping I could switch that to an AEBS, plug an express to boost the signal somewhere on the first floor, and another in the basement for me to hook a router upto so I can get my Vonage and other network things set up.

    does it work this way?

    If it does, will I need the one on the first flooras a jumper? I am in the basement right now, and in this particular spot, get pretty good coverage. Will the VOIP sound all crappy if it's going through a router, into an Airport extreme, up to the base station, and out to the world?

  5. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    One thing that is often not mentioned, is that wireless repeaters KILL network speed. For each jump you can have your network speed cut in half, so 2 jumps, and you're running at 1/4 speed. Very simply each repeater basically uses half bandwidth for in and the other for out.

    although in your setup you could have the basement express just join the network and not repeat, so you'd only be running at half speed.

    as to if it would work for you, there's really no way to tell, depends on the construction of the house, actual distance involved, and local wireless interference (cordless phones, microwaves, and others)
    One thing to keep in mind is that a 5Ghz N signal, really doesn't go through walls well.

    A typical SKYPE call uses 3-16 KB/sec so you should be able to cover that with wireless. and as to sounding crappy from going through all the jumps, only if bandwidth on your network is a problem, it probably goes through 20 different pieces of network gear between your house, and whoever you're talking to.
  6. tfcowhey thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2008
    WAW74 thanks for the advice. Went with your setup, and seems to be workig perfectly. Thanks again!

Share This Page