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wifi extender at home

mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

wifi extender at home

Hope this is the right area for this post as it links to routers.
Because of the position of the incoming wire and the thick walls in the house I don't get complete wifi coverage throughout the house.  So I'm going to use a previous suppliers wifi/router on the end of homeplug adaptors to extend the wifi coverage (with IP allocation being done by the primary router).
My question is, is it better to give each router it's own SSID and transmit on different channels in order to prevent interference with each other (and have to manually choose which SSID to attach to as I move around the house), or should I set both boxes to have the same SSID and transmit on the same channel?  Will the second option mean that my handheld device/laptop will just seamlessly connect to whichever wireless access point has the stronger signal?  Or will it lead to chaos as the main router will end up assigning(?) 2 IP addresses to this device as it will see it on it's own wireless access point but also at the end of the homeplug line?  And will 2 boxes transmitting on the same channel just create interference with each other anyway?
Of course the ideal solution would be a seamless handover from one access point to the other as a device moved around the building.  Is this possible?
17 REPLIES
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 11,916
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Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: wifi extender at home

Hi Mike,
Yes your ideal is achievable, with one or two provisos!
First some ADSL modem routers will not function correctly if there is no ADSL connection - I have had such issues with PN supplier routers.  Assuming that you do not have this issue, you can achieve what you want as follows...
1. Find a spare IP address in your existing network not within the DHCP range - for example if your primary router is PN's TG582n the DHCP pool is 192.168.1.64 - 192.168.1.252 then use a free address below .64 - e.g. 192.168.1.64
2. Do a factory reset on your old router - connect a computer to it via a cable - make sure that you do not have another connection (e.g. WiFi) to the primary router
3. Logon to the other router's admin console
4. Turn off DHCP / NAT / Firewall options - this will pass responsibility for all of these to the primary router and avoid confusion / conflicts
5. Set the WiFI SSID and passphrase to be the same as those in your primary router - you could leave the channel allocation to AUTO and let the routers fight it out, or you could set one to 3 and the other to 11 - ideally though get inSIDDer (a free application which displays WiFi channels in use) and look at what channels are free
6. Set the router's IP address to be that you found in 1 above - after which you will loose connectivity to the router
7. Plug the other router into your home plug, reconnect your computer as per normal

Testing - you should now be able to ping the 'other' router's IP address (192.168.1.64 in this example) and thereby configure the router further if needed.  All wifi connected devices should now roam freely between the two APs using the strongest signal and retaining the same IP address.
HTH, please aks if you need clarification.
Note Devolo do a really good homeplug / wifi AP solution such as this, which is a doddle to set up.
mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

Thanks Townman.  I've already got the secondary router set up with a separate SSID and everything working happily so a change to the same SSID as the primary router will be easy enough.  And I've downloaded inSSIDer to investigate best choice of channels for each box.
So that's great, thanks.
mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

OK, a bit of a delay from the original post I know but....
I've got both my primary and secondary router running with the same SSID, one on channel 1 and the other on channel 11, having used inSSIDer to identify the best channels to use.
The question I have now is whether its possible to control the speed at which a device switches from the signal from one router to the signal from the other?  Main interest is on Windows 7 and 8 devices as I assume there may be more scope for altering configuration here than on mobile phones but answers for Android and WindowsPhone8 would also be appreciated to keep the rest of the family happy Smiley
The reason I ask is that having done the setup I notice a considerable delay in my laptop switching.  It sits there for several minutes with barely a signal after having moved away from the secondary router area to the primary router area, in fact, in frustration I disconnected and reconnected which of course defeats the whole object of this exercise!
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,841
Thanks: 103
Fixes: 6
Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: wifi extender at home

In windows try going to your wireless adapters properties, click advanced and look for the setting" Roaming Aggressiveness" : try changing this from 3. medium to 5. highest.
Unfortunately not all wireless cards have this setting.
mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

Thanks for the reply NPR.  
However, I've done that but the laptop still isn't switching nicely.  Just been trying it out this morning, I moved away from the main Plusnet router (on Channel 1) a little earlier, into the area covered by the secondary router (on Channel 11). The wireless icon in the system tray dropped to about 1 or 2 bars. inSSIDer was showing the link score dropping to between 20-30 while the secondary router was showing a link score up around 100.  Nothing happened for over 10 minutes so I started having a look around to see if there were any other settings that might help. I made no changes other than to remove the entry for the old SSID in "Manage Wireless Networks", then shortly after the laptop did switch across to the secondary router!  Ah ha! I thought..... but no, I've come back to the office room right above the primary router, it's showing a link score of 100 for the primary router yet I'm still attached to the secondary router with a link score of 7!  That's 30 minutes now without it switching over.
I'm wondering if there's any other setting to change? I've attached a screenshot of the Wireless Network Properties, any of those boxes make a difference?
For info, I'm running on Windows 7 Home Premium, SP1
Hang on!  Somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes it switched over - yes I know, I'm a slow typer!!
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
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Re: wifi extender at home

I've found it problematic to have networks using the same ssid.  Sometimes my Win7 laptop will spot the weaker signal and hang onto that, even if it's getting awful performance.  I've then no way to kick it onto the better signal without disconnecting the 2nd ssid.  I suspect this is because the 2nd wifi spot is reporting a higher possible speed, even though strength is much lower.
In my case, it's better to have different ssids and then I chose which I want to connect to.
Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,841
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Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: wifi extender at home

All I can suggest is to go through your set up and ensure:-
1) Both routers have the same ssid,
2) the same security and encryption setting.
3) the same password.
4) different wireless channels, using only channels 1, 6 or 11.
5) dhcp is disabled in the remote router.
6) It may also be worth deleting and re-creating the wireless network on the laptop.
This may help:
http://npr.me.uk/together.html
mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

Thanks Kelly, npr.
This is the frustrating thing with computing, features are there and they "should" work seamlessly but so often they don't!
npr, the laptop is, occasionally/eventually, switching so I think that proves 1-3 on your list are true. 4 is definitely true - channels 1 and 11, 5 I've done, so that leaves 6 as an option.  Good old Windows, if it doesn't work switch it off and switch it back on again, or delete it and recreate it.  Grin I thought things were progressing!
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,841
Thanks: 103
Fixes: 6
Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: wifi extender at home

Quote from: mikethackery
I thought things were progressing!

You thought wrong Wink
I've recently got a new laptop running windows 8.1.
That's definitely not progress from win7 Sad
mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

Well I'm not totally in agreement with you on that  Smiley I think once you've bypassed the Metro GUI and got yourself back to having a desktop it aint bad, cracking startup time on mine.  Metro is fine (or even good) on handheld/touch-screen devices (a la Windows Phone) but not for desktop/laptops imho.
Sorry for hijacking my own thread!  If anyone else out there has ideas on improving my laptop's roaming ability please feel free to bring us back on topic.
dick:quote
pwatson
Rising Star
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Registered: 26-11-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

I had a similar problem and found that setting both wireless networks to the same SSID and the same channel works (for me)  This may lead to problems where the signal strength from each AP is about the same but I haven't noticed anything.  Certainly an easy thing to try and see if it works for you...
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,841
Thanks: 103
Fixes: 6
Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: wifi extender at home

Did you try deleting and re-creating the PC's wireless network?
Re: win8, this is what I use to make it usable on a PC without a touch screen.
http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/
Eserim
Rising Star
Posts: 379
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: wifi extender at home

Hi
I've set up a similar network here - however, the old router I'm using as a repeater, plugged into my powerline upstairs, is a lot better at wireless than the Plus Net provided Thompson (i've just move the FTTC) - and at time, the PC downstairs suffers massive lag in games and I think this is down to the switching between Access Points - I've turned the roaming setting of my card off, but I think that setting only applies to switching between different SSIDs, not APs in the same SSID.
I have tried and failed to find a way to tell Windows 7 to ignore certain APs in a SSID -so I may have to resort to giving the upstaires a different SSID - not a huge issue I know.
Eserim
mikethackery
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 08-05-2012

Re: wifi extender at home

Quote from: pwatson
I had a similar problem and found that setting both wireless networks to the same SSID and the same channel works (for me)  This may lead to problems where the signal strength from each AP is about the same but I haven't noticed anything.  Certainly an easy thing to try and see if it works for you...

I could try that but I thought using the same channel is supposed to cause problems.  Also, as it works out the choice of channels by my various neighbours does mean that channel 11 is best one side of the house and channel 1 best on the other side if I want to avoid interference from them.