Extended wireless network - Airport Extreme + multiple Airport Express wireless setup

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by zerodb, May 14, 2009.

  1. zerodb macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2008
    I'm working in a home/home-office environment right now which was setup by someone else and I've noticed some odd network behavior when moving about the property.

    Looking at the setup, the relevant portion is:

    Cable modem - Airport Extreme - 10 port wired switch - 3x Airport Express in different areas of the house.

    The configuration of each device has the Extreme and all three Express devices set to "create a wireless network" with the network name the same for all four of them.

    I am not a networking expert but I would have thought that the Extreme should be set to be the "master" in a WDS network and the Express should each be set to participate in that WDS network. If they're all hosting their own wireless network with the same name and the coverage overlaps, how does a PC know which one it's using? Or maybe this doesn't matter.

    I just know that when we move from one room to another we frequently have to re-select the wireless network to establish connectivity.
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    so the expresses are hard-wired back to the extreme (through the switch) ?

    This is actually a more robust way to set up the network.

    WDS (wireless distribution system) would not require the expresses to be wired back to main base. it also will cause speed drops as each remote base station is having to use it radio to receive traffic from the main and forward it to the next. basically speed drops in half for each jump. or if a signal had to jump through all 3 of your expresses - 1/8 total speed at the far end.

    the way you have it setup should work. go in to the security settings and make sure they are all exactly the same, so no mixing of "WPA" and "WPA 2" or personal and enterprise.

    The channels should be different, and spread out, the only channels that dont overlap/interfere are 1, 6, and 11 (click here for wiki graphic)so try to use those, since you have 4 bases, i would use something like 1 & 3 on the bases that are as physically the furthest apart, then 6 & 11 on the other 2.

    your wireless devices should switch to the stronger base automatically. and change as you move around.

    I've done this and had it work, but i had a d-link main base, and an express at the far end of the house.
  3. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    I know this thread is old, but I've been struggling with getting a good coverage of wireless signal in my house, I have 2 AEBS and 1 AE unit. They are each wired via switch/ethernet to one another and set to create a wireless network (same exact settings) - the trick was to change each channel as per that diagram you referenced I put on channel 1 and one on channel 6 and one on channel 11 - doing this has remarkably improved my network.

    Before they were all I think on the same channel.

    Again, thanks - I think I have much better coverage in my house now!
  4. zerodb thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2008
    This is a good point.

    I tried to switch the network in question over to a WDS setup, but I BELIEVE since the Airport Extreme will only make an 802.11n network, and the Airport Express units in place were only g-capable, they could not BE an extension of the same network. I tried and tried, and auto setup would result in an error, and manual setup would result in the Extreme reporting "no relays" in the network.

    I eventually did what was suggested above, and again encountered problems until I realized that I needed to switch off the "connection sharing" selection so the AP Express units weren't all trying to be DHCP servers as well as the Extreme.

    Also, I found out that the Time Capsule in the boss's office wasn't even being USED for its wireless, and I switched that on... now I think I actually have the whole place covered with wireless-N and I can probably just ditch the AP Express things anyway.

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