Help with my wireless network design

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by petestein1, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. petestein1 macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2008
    I was hoping that the community here could weigh in on the better way to set up wireless in the 3 story home I recently moved to.

    The cable modem is in the wire closet in the basement.

    In that same closet are ethernet cables that run to most every room of the house.

    Should I...

    1. Connect one airport to the modem and then set the other 2 to extend the network wirelessly


    2. Use an Ethernet switch to distribute the signal to 3 different rooms of the house and then hardwire the signal directly from the ethernet jacks to each airport express? Is it even possible for all of the airport expresses to be hardwired and yet be part of the same network?

    I assume the latter gives me faster speed but I vaguely recall having a setup like this a few years ago and having problems with the printer I had plugged into the USB port on one of the airports -- it would only be available... sometimes. Like maybe only when that airport was the one I was connected to.

    Ideas? Advice?

  2. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I'd suggest a possibly modified version of number 2.

    First though, is your cable modem also a router? If so, then setup 2 will work so long as you turn Connection Sharing to Off (Bridge mode) on all of the Expresses. This allows your cable modem to do the routing and lets the Expresses act as wireless access points. You can give each Express a unique SSID and password or give them all the same SSID and password to create one giant roaming network.

    If the answer is no, then I'd suggest getting a wired router and plugging it into your modem between it and your switch. Then proceed as described above.
  3. petestein1 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2008
    Skorpien, the modem is NOT a router so yes, I'd send the signal from the modem to a wired router and the distribute the signal from the router to 4 jacks around the house (3 for airports and 1 for the TiVo).

    I'd prefer to give them all the same SSID and password instead of each being unique. With 2 laptops, 2 iPhones, an iPad and a number of friends and guests using the network, one network with password would be a lot easier.

    If they all have the same SSID and password, I assume my laptop would just connect to the access point with the strongest signal?

    And wow, I just tested. When I'm downstairs, about 10' from an Express that is extending the network from the Express that's hardwired upstairs, I get about 2 Mbps. When I sit upstairs about 20' from the hardwired Express I get about 17 Mbps.
  4. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Yup, that's what a roaming network does. Your devices connect to the strongest signal (hopefully ;)) without you having to do anything.

    As for your speed decrease, there may be many factors. One thing you have to keep in mind, with every "jump" in an extended network, your network speeds are cut in half for the clients connected to the Express that's extending the network. Wireless interference and signal degradation could be another factor.
  5. petestein1 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2008
    Skorpien, thanks so much. So just to make sure I've got all the parts nailed down, I:

    -- Plug in each Express where I want it.

    -- Drop an ethernet cable into to each one (that of course is connected to the wired switch on the other end).

    -- Configure each one in Airport Utility with the same name and password

    -- Make sure to turn OFF Connection Sharing

    -- One question -- when configuring it, do I say I want each one to:

    "Create a wireless network"


    "Connect to a network using Ethernet to extend the network or create a second network"


    "Join a Wireless Network"

    ...thanks so much.

  6. petestein1 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2008
    And yet another followup question to my followup.

    One of the 3 airports that will be part of this network will NOT be plugged into to an Ethernet cable... it has the printer plugged into its USB jack and there's no ethernet jack nearby.

    Will this work with Connection Sharing set to off?
  7. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I do have to apologize as I don't know the exact settings to use, but I would assume you'd want the "Connect to a network using Ethernet to extend the network or create a second network" option. Are you going through manual setup or are you using the setup wizard when you see those options?

    For the Express that's hosting the printer, you'd want it to join your wireless network. Will you be using that Express to further extend the network wirelessly as well?

    The best suggestion I can give is to try it and see if it works. You can always perform a hard reset on them to get them back to their defaults if things don't work. I'll try to help as best I can but hopefully somebody else with more experience/knowledge can chime in too. My experience is with the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule, so the setup is similar but not necessarily the same.

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