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2 Wireless routers on one home network

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Please forgive me because networking is not my strong suite. I have been building computers for several years now, but have very little experience on the network side of the equation.

Anyway, here I go.

My wife and I bought a new house a few months ago. We went from a small, single level rental house, to a larger ranch with basement. We used to just use one wireless router, and we had good signal everywhere in our old place. Now, we are running into issues with signal.

I have our cable modem in the basement feeding to a wireless router. We connect to the network through router, and it has been working flawlessly for years. It is a Linksys E2000 running stock firmware.

The problem is, this router is in the basement, and we use all of our devices up on the main floor of the house. I think we are loosing some speed because the signal isn't as strong upstairs. Also, sometimes, things won't load completely, or videos will stop buffering because the signal is too weak.

I have another wireless router that I had not been using. It is a Linksys WRT160N V3 running DD-WRT. I had been using it as a client bridge to get wireless network connection to my blu-ray player that only has a wired Ethernet port. It was too slow, and unreliable for video streaming, so I ended up wiring directly to the blu-ray and the router has been sitting unused ever since.

What I've done is reset that router to factory DD-WRT settings, and I connected that router to the basement router. If I remember correctly, the ethernet cable from the first router is plugged into one of the LAN ports on the 2nd router. I then did a basic wifi setup so that I have a new SSID on the 2nd router. Each router has it's own IP address,192.168.0.1 - Basment & 192.168.0.2 - Living Room. The basement router has DHCP enabled, and the living room router has DHCP set to forwarding using the IP address of the 1st router. I don't know if this is right or not, but everything seems to connect to the internet just fine.

I'm not sure if this is the ideal setup for the home though. Everything is connected to the internet, but I have to choose which router I am connected to. If I were to go in the basement and loose signal to the main floor router, my device won't automatically switch to the basement router.

I'm looking for some advice on what is the optimal way to implement two wireless routers in a single home network. I've attached a network map of my home. Right now, everything is connecting through the wireless network from the living room router since all our devices are used on the main floor. The basement router is basically just acting as a switch and hands out IP addresses.


Edited by markag - 11/11/13 at 3:11pm
    
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post #2 of 9
As long as both access points are set with the same SSID and the same security/password settings, you will only see one network and will be able to roam between them.
    
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post #3 of 9
It sounds like you have a double NAT with overlapping subnets type of situation.

For best performance, you'd want to do the following:

  • Assign router 2 a static LAN IP address in the same subnet as router 1 but outside of the DHCP lease range for clients.
  • Connect routers together using the LAN port on each device (avoid 'WAN' or 'Internet' on router 2)
  • Disable DHCP on router 2
  • Assign the same passphrase, security mechanism and SSID on both devices.
  • Choose a different wireless channel for each router device (1,6 or 11 for the 2.4 GHz spectrum).

The static IP will allow you to manage both devices.
Using the LAN ports on both devices keeps them both in the same broadcast domain.
Since you're on the same broadcast domain, clients even behind router 2 will still reach router 1's DHCP service.
This will allow you to stay in the same ESSID when roaming between access points.
Use a different channel for each router device so they don't interfere with each other.
post #4 of 9
You can try WDS, but it's kind of a challenge to set up.
post #5 of 9
This will explain how to do it. What you're basicly doing is wiring the second router to the first one and all it does is send out a WiFi signal to connect to in simple terms the page explains it better, its called access point mode. I don't know if this would be better then what beers suggested but I've used it and it worked fine. I've used it for having two networks like you want and because I use pfsense.
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post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beers View Post

It sounds like you have a double NAT with overlapping subnets type of situation.

For best performance, you'd want to do the following:

  • Assign router 2 a static LAN IP address in the same subnet as router 1 but outside of the DHCP lease range for clients.
    I've got router 2 on it's own static IP already.

    Router 1 (Basement with DHCP enabled): 192.168.0.1
    Router 2 (Living Room w/ DHCP forwarding with router 1's IP): 192.168.0.2

    I can access both routers from any connected device by typing in either IP address into my web browser.

    My DHCP lease range on router 1 is 192.168.0.100-149, so I think I'm good there.

  • Connect routers together using the LAN port on each device (avoid 'WAN' or 'Internet' on router 2)

    This is how I have it. I verified this last night.
  • Disable DHCP on router 2

    I don't have it disabled. In the DD-WRT interface, I have it set to DHCP forwarding, and I entered the IP address of the first router as the DHCP server. It's working, but I don't know if it is optimal. I'll have to try disabling it later tonight.
  • Assign the same passphrase, security mechanism and SSID on both devices.

    I have different SSID's now, but the same passphrase on each.

    If I change it so that they have the same SSID, when a device connects, will it automatically connect to the strongest signal? I would hate for it to connect to the weaker basement signal, and not the stronger living room signal.

  • Choose a different wireless channel for each router device (1,6 or 11 for the 2.4 GHz spectrum).

    I picked different channels, but I don't think I picked those specific ones. I think router 1 is running channel 3 maybe, and router 2 is on 11. Is 1, 6 or 11 preferred? My routers can't do simultaneus 2.4 and 5 GHz broadcasting, so everything is on 2.4 right now.

The static IP will allow you to manage both devices.
Using the LAN ports on both devices keeps them both in the same broadcast domain.
Since you're on the same broadcast domain, clients even behind router 2 will still reach router 1's DHCP service.
This will allow you to stay in the same ESSID when roaming between access points.
Use a different channel for each router device so they don't interfere with each other.

See my responses in red above.

Cones, Thanks for the link. I'll have to follow along with that later this evening.

It seems like I am most of the way there on my setup, but there might be some tweaks I can make to get it where I want.
Edited by markag - 11/12/13 at 8:46am
    
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post #7 of 9
I agree with what beers said as well, that's how you should do it. Here are the same instructions from the dd-wrt wiki http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Wireless_access_point

What you're effectively doing right now is running 2 routed networks which prevents the clients on the 2 networks from seeing each other directly, but what you want to do is run the second router as only a switch/access point and turn off the routing functions to place everything on the same network.

One thing I just remembered: you may or may not have trouble connecting the routers together with a standard ethernet cable. Normally you need a crossover cable to connect such devices, but most modern hardware can figure this out on it's own so if you can't get them to connect for some explainable reason, that's probably it.

Another thing to remember is do all your setup/testing with all the equipment in the same room so you're not running up and down the stairs when it doesn't work the first time. I believe windows will hide the second network and only show whichever is strongest, but there may be a way around that. Perhaps someone else has a suggestion for this one.
Edited by ZHoob2004 - 11/12/13 at 8:42am
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post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Luckily, it seems that my routers are OK with using a regular ethernet cable going into their LAN ports. The port number lights up on each router when connected which, according the to DD-WRT link, means that it is working properly.

It's always hard messing with the network. It seems like you don't have an internet connection until everything is setup right. No access to the web for reference while you are doing the work. At least I seem to run into that a lot. At least right now, everything is working and connected to the web. Should make it easier to go in and tweak one of the routers, especially with a wireless connection.
    
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post #9 of 9
I believe the devices will always pick the signal that is strongest, how fast they switch between the two when one becomes weaker i do not know.
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