Help with best way to setup Airport Express to extend WiFi (somewhat advanced?)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by rogersmj, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. rogersmj macrumors 68020


    Sep 10, 2006
    Indianapolis, IN
    Hi everyone, looking for some advice on the best setup.

    I have a high-end Netgear N router at the head of my network running DD-WRT firmware. I'm pleased with the performance of this router, and the control the DD-WRT firmware offers me, but it's in my office at one end of the house and the other side of the house doesn't get a strong signal.

    So I purchased an Airport Express for two purposes: expand WiFi coverage and provide an AirPlay receiver into my home audio system (awesome perk, that). I have some ethernet runs in my house, so I connected the Airport Express via ethernet to the head router.

    After a lot of reading, I figured out the way to "extend" the WiFi in this manner (with the Express hooked into the main router via a cable) is to actually setup a second WiFi network on the Express using the same settings as my head router (same SSID, same auth method), and turn the Router Mode Off (Bridge Mode). Initially I was trying to use the functionality labeled Extend Wireless Network, but that appears to actually use the WiFi to connect to the main router, instead of the LAN/WAN wired port.

    In principle, this seems to work, with one hiccup: sometimes our devices (iPhones, iPads, etc) seem to hang onto the wrong WiFi station; they'll have virtually no signal, even though I'm 10 feet from one of them. When I'm in the same room as my Netgear, I can pull up its status page and see that my iPad (with an extremely weak signal) is clearly not connected to it, and therefore must still be connecting to the Express over 60 feet away on the other side of the house.

    I have experimented with changing the ACK timing on my Netgear router, but once I narrowed it down to 15-20, I can't seem to find the right setting within that range. No matter what I set it to, there are times when my devices hang on to one signal or the other when they should really give it up.

    Since I'm considering adding a third WiFi access point (maybe another Express? An Airport Extreme, perhaps?) to provide better coverage in the upstairs front part of the house, I want to get this figured out. Does anyone have any suggestions? Do I need to set things up differently? I know this is possible; businesses obviously have tons of WiFi access points and all use the same SSID, but maybe I need different equipment to achieve a similar setup. Any insight is appreciated.
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    had similar problems a while back, fixed it, but now my setup has changed, i don't have time to get the exact answer right now but hopefully can point you in the right direction,

    make sure it's using the exact same kind of security, research "tkip and aes" as well as making sure it's WPA2 personal or whatever. you'll have to look up what the express uses, and make the dd-wrt match.
  3. whsbuss macrumors 68040


    May 4, 2010
    SE Penna.
    You should also operate on different wireless channels for each unit.
  4. rogersmj thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 10, 2006
    Indianapolis, IN
    Thanks for the replies.

    Both are set to WPA2 personal. However, the main router (via DD-WRT) offers me the option of TKIP, AES, or both (currently set to TKIP). The Airport Express offers no such setting that I can find. Any advice on what I should set the main router to?

    Initially I had them explicitly set to different channels. While troubleshooting this issue, I set them both to Auto. I haven't really noticed an impact.
  5. afletch macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2013
    Did you solve this?

    I'm having a similar problem (with an airport express and airport extreme). Did you get anywhere with this?
  6. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    Try using both.


    What exactly is your problem ?

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