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Sun, 28 Jul 2013

Recommendations on setting up wifi repeaters

My old housemate Will emailed me saying he wanted to get a second wifi router to use as a repeater. I realized that I haven't written my standard recommendation down ever, just repeatedly used it to great success. So, here it is:

My general recommendation here is to build your own "wifi repeater" out of two "wifi routers", rather than buying something that calls itself a repeater. It relies on Ethernet bridging rather than any advanced wifi technology, which in my opinion makes it easy to diagnose.

 |   Main wifi router                                                  |
 |  uplink                  port 1    port 2       port 3      port 4  |
   |     |                 |      |  |         |  |       |   |      |
   +-----+                 +---+--+  +---------+  +-------+   +------+
     |                         |
     |                         |
     |                         |
     V                         |
  +-----------+                |
  | cable     |                |
  | modem or  |                |
  | whatever  |                |
  +-----------+                V
                        +----------------+                    +------------------------+
                        |                |  a/c power         |                        |
                        | ethernet over  +------------------->| ethernet over          |
                        | powerline      |                    | powerline              |
                        +----------------+                    +----------+-------------+
  DO NOT USE!!!        +------+                                          V      
+--------------------->|      |            +-------+   +---------+  +----------+  +--------+
                       |uplink|            |port 1 |   | port 2  |  |port 3    |  | port 4 |
                       |   second wifi router  (DISABLE DHCP on internal network on 2nd rtr)

If you don't want to do ethernet over powerline between them, you can do regular old Ethernet.

Crucially, you must disable DHCP for the second wifi router. Then anyone on the second network will have their DHCP broadcasts answered by the first wifi router.

Also you should manually set the admin IP on the second router to something like if the main network uses as the admin IP address.

Do not connect the second network's uplink port to anything.

It doesn't really matter if you set the ESSID (network name) of both networks to be the same or different. I would gently recommend setting them to be the same, and have the same key, so people's laptops can happily roam between them.

Note also that if you need wired network connectivity for computers near "2nd router", any computers you plug into the "port 1-4" ports will work fine. And the choice of port 1 on "Main wifi router" and "port 3" for "second wifi router" as the connection points is totally arbitrary.

Happy wifi-ing!

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