Multiple Access Points

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Tom Owad's picture
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Joined: Dec 16 2003
Posts: 2460

Searching ebay and amazon for wireless routers has got me thinking again about setting up a larger network and possibly buying some repeaters or setting up bridges with some wap11's. Anybody done this? What equipment did you use? I recall reading about a lot of incompatibles bewteen variuos brands and am thinking about piecing something together with old 802.11b devices.

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Dr. Webster's picture
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Joined: Dec 19 2003
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Don't use repeaters.

I tried to set up a repeater in an apartment building once. The first access point was at one end of the building, and the target computer was at the other end and up a floor. Even using high-gain antennas and a repeater, I couldn't get a reliable connection -- signal strength wasn't an issue, however, as, for some strange reason, the repeater itself caused the access point to freeze every 24 hours or so.

I'd recommend instead simply using multiple access points, fed via Ethernet from a main router. Use no more than three access points, and set their channels to 1, 6 and 11 (the only channels that don't overlap). High-gain antennas are very helpful in increasing range; Linksys makes a pair with TNC connectors that offer 7dB of gain and have an optional stand/extension cable which allows you to move them further away from the access point (at the expense of a little gain). Cisco makes some awesome high-gain uni- and omnidirectional antennas, but they're prohibitively expensive for household use.

802.11 is a great technology, but there are some severe limits to what you can do with it. Plain old Cat 5e should be used wherever you can.

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davintosh's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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A lot of wireless routers...

... can be set up as access points instead. Routers seem to be a lot cheaper than dedicated WAP's, and can be repurposed if they ever need to be.

When there are multiple access points, if you set them up with the same network name and security key, but on different channels, you'll be able to roam between them seamlessly. It works best to use a spread of several channels between adjacent nodes; channel 1 at one end of the building, channel 6 in the middle, channel 12 at the opposite end. The portable wireless unit will pick up the signal from the nearest WAP.

We originally set up the four WAP's on our church's network with independent names and keys and all, and it was a pain moving between them. It's a mix of Linksys and D-Link units spread across the building (very large building.) Now I can literally walk from one end of the building to the other without losing signal and without switching networks (can doesn't mean I do; I know a guy who was walking with an open laptop, tripped, and ended up with a broken display.)

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doug-doug the mighty's picture
Joined: Apr 14 2004
Posts: 1355
Re: Don't use repeaters.

Dr. Webster wrote:

...High-gain antennas are very helpful in increasing range...

Didn't drbob have an antenna hack for the AirPort? I imagine it might be possible to apply his approach to other wireless routers and it would make for a good article. drbob, any thoughts?

If it was not him, then I will have to check to find where I saw that as it was some time back.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Yes it was me. Tom and I had

Yes it was me. Tom and I had a long chat about it last night.

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