How do you setup Airport Extreme with multiple Airport Express access points?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by dpavid, Aug 28, 2016.

  1. dpavid macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #1
    I want to setup multiple access points using a few Airport Express units around my home. I have an Extreme already. Looking to get 3 Expresses to set up at various locations around my home to extend wireless range. They will all be connected via CAT6 through a Netgear Gigabit switch. I searched this forum and tried looking online but not 100% sure the best and correct way to do it.

    I'd like them all to have the same SSID or network name and show only as one network. As I roam around the house, I'd like it to drop one connection from the Extreme/Router or access point and reconnect to another access point if the signal is stronger. Similar setup to say a hotel or convention center. Multiple access points and as you roam around the facilty, it drops one connection when the signal gets weak and connects to a stronger one. The SSID never changes.

    How do I set this up using one Extreme and multiple Express units?
     
  2. drewsof07 macrumors 68000

    drewsof07

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    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #2
  3. dpavid thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #3
    That's what it's called! Been searching variations of "access point" on youtube and google. Wrong terminology. Thank you!
     
  4. Scary Spice macrumors regular

    Scary Spice

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Location:
    British Columbia
    #4
    I run this setup and it works flawlessly. Way easier than Ubiquiti, faster, and if you are on AppleCare, free extended warranty and support.
     
  5. Undecided, Aug 29, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016

    Undecided macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    California
    #5
    Setting up the network with the same SSID and password is straightforward so you can easily connect wherever you are but you're not going to get clients to drop and reconnect when a better signal is available. That's controlled by the client, and clients will do everything they can to maintain the connection they have. They don't constantly search for a better signal, unfortunately. If they get disconnected then they will reconnect to the best signal at that location, however. (Not sure how enterprise Wifi does this - I think they trick it, by putting everything on the same channel, but then with all APs and clients all on the same channel, and you risk interference.)

    As a result, by the way, if the APs aren't all available, you could get undesirable results. For example, if you reboot one of them, the devices that were connected to it will connect to the next best available AP. When the original AP comes back up, the devices will not automatically switch back. Of course, if no other AP was in range, then yes they would reconnect to the original one since that's the only one available.

    So if you move around and find your device struggling to maintain a weak signal, you'll have to turn wifi off and then back on. But it's not as bad as it might sound - every time you wake up a device, it looks for the best signal. So it's only really an issue if you are moving while actively using a connection.

    EDiIT: note that the ethernet port on the expresses is only 100mbit. So doing this with expresses may not be the best approach, depending on your internet speed and desired LAN speed. You could do with I do: use used time capsules and/or extremes, since those have gigabit.
     
  6. drewsof07 macrumors 68000

    drewsof07

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #6
    I took my airport extreme & 3 airport express roaming network down and replaced it with a single ubiquiti. Better range than all of the airports combined, and I have the POE injector connected to a UPS so wifi persists through power outages.
     
  7. dpavid thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #7
    OK, that sucks. How does say a hotel do it then? You connect in your room on the 40th floor, go in elevator to lobby, you're still connected, walk to ballrooms a bit away and still connected to the same SSID. No need to login away. Is it the same as the example above but you're going so far away from one AP that it reconnects you to another AP after the connection drops?
     
  8. drewsof07 macrumors 68000

    drewsof07

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #8
    SSID does not equal channel. You are correct, the SSID doesn't change, but you do switch to different channels on the APs as you move around. If they all used the same channel, they would cause interference. Interference = lower signal integrity & range. Once you cross a threshold of (out of range) of one channel, your system switches to a stronger channel. Also worth noting, to your hotel example: there are far more advanced features in a $1,000+ AP commonly used by business customers than on a $99 consumer grade router.
    If you already have the extreme & expresses, you should give it a try. I would start with a single express in roaming, just until you are more comfortable with how these are set up. Couldn't hurt to learn something new!
     
  9. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #9
     

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