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Newbie Help Needed - WRT54GL in Repeater Mode

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by TekTimer, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    Hi, I can use some guidance on if Tomato is the best firmware for me to use as a repeater and some other functionality, or if I should go DD-WRT.

    Repeater Needs
    I have a WRT54G v2 that I have running stock Linksys firmware and will probably leave that way. I'd like to add the WRT54GL into the mix as a repeater on that router to help fill some void areas at the opposite end of my house and out in the detatched garage. I read that Tomato doesn't truly function as a repeater, and instead works as a WDS as discussed here. Think the speed issue being cut in 1/2 is worth it to stick with Tomato over DD-WRT? Seems like the DD-WRT forums are hard to get support and help so I'd rather stick to an active community.

    Is Tomato ideal as a repeater, or is DD-WRT a better option?
     
  2. Monk E. Boy

    Monk E. Boy Network Guru Member

    If you can connect an ethernet connection, even if the ethernet connection is bridged over powerline networking to make the run, then Tomato can function just fine as a wireless expander. Really any router can, provided you can disable the DHCP server on the wireless router, and their technology is similar enough that clients won't get confused when roaming between routers.
     
  3. lefty

    lefty Networkin' Nut Member

    IMHO dd-wrt works great for ease of configuration in terms of creating a repeater bridge, now repeater and repeater bridge are 2 different types of linking, but dd-wrt has an easier point and click config to go about doing it, as most of its configs are point and click, but i actually been teetering on trying to create a repeater via tomato, my idea is that the repeater option is there, but you have to be somewhat crafty about getting it to work.

    Basically, you would have to go into the connection wireless mode of tomato, select client bridge, and link that into the main AP wirelessly, then create a VIF on the tomato unit, bridge it to a different interfaced subnet such as br1, put br1 on say 192.168.2.1 and dont unbridge anything, leave br1 bridged to br0 so you would get network functionality as far as internet is concernd and just use IPtables to do the restricting. I'll need a weekend before i can try this theory though, and right now its only Thur. so it'll be a couple of days before i can try/test my theory. I am hoping it works though. will let you know how it goes, and then do a 'how to' if it does in fact work. :)
     
  4. pharma

    pharma Network Guru Member

  5. Monk E. Boy

    Monk E. Boy Network Guru Member

    In case what I said earlier wasn't clear, Tomato is perfectly capable of expanding wireless network coverage by simply tying router LAN ports together over ethernet. All you need to do is disable the DHCP server on the expansion router(s), set the wireless network name & passkey the same, and choose a different wireless channel (preferably).

    Powerline networking converts a standard ethernet jack into signals that are broadcast over the power wiring in your house, so you can often go fairly long distances with just two boxes. And they share the same "powerline LAN" so you can actually add a 3rd, etc. box and join the existing powerline network, thereby adding more possibilities for expansion.
     
  6. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    Thanks for the replies everyone. I wasn't getting an email notification so I had no clue your responses were here.

    I think what you are saying is that it can be done as a wired network, or as your secondary suggestion. With the second option, can this be done with the stock Linksys firmware? I tried it but read online that I'd need to have DWS, and that option was not available so I wasn't sure how to add the mac address of the main router to the secondary one. I'm guessing with Tomato or DD-WRT that is easy to do.

    I was first planning DD-WRT all the way, but their support forums seem weak and many questions go unanswered. I'm technical, but don't have a ton of time these days to poke and test, so i'm looking for the more solid bet from the get go. I did find an article that shows how to set up DD-WRT with full steps, so I am considering giving DD-WRT a try.

    More Questions
    I may also want to run a VPN on the router, and I know that there is TomatoUSB that can do that easily, or I think DD-WRT can also do that easily out of the box. This article shows how to do it with DD-WRT loading from scratch.
    http://www.howtogeek.com/64433/how-to-install-and-configure-openvpn-on-your-dd-wrt-router/

    I'm referring to these 3 articles more or less for repeater related:
    http://www.howtogeek.com/56810/how-to-extend-your-wireless-network-with-dd-wrt/
    http://www.howtogeek.com/104007/how-to-extend-your-wireless-network-with-tomato-powered-routers/

    So if I want to run the router as a wireless repeater, and eventually OpenVPN is Tomato still a good option, or should I go DD-WRT first?
     
  7. Monk E. Boy

    Monk E. Boy Network Guru Member

    Basically I was saying that if you tie their LAN ports together pretty much any two routers can cooexist and expand wireless network coverage so long as:
    1) There is only one DHCP server between the two routers
    2) The LAN & WLAN (wireless) networks are part of the same network and aren't different networks (some routers setup wireless & wired as different networks, which prevents using LAN<->LAN to expand wireless coverage)
    3) The two routers have different IP addresses - e.g. 192.168.0.1 & 192.168.0.2

    And that tying ethernet ports together doesn't necessarily require running a long Cat-5/Cat-6 ethernet cable, there are technologies like powerline networking that can act as a bridge to avoid long runs, and they can be reasonably quick (100Mb and up). It's brain-dead simple to connect routers together over ethernet and reliable to boot.

    If you want to tie your routers together entirely over wireless then that requires WDS (Wireless Distribution System) support which I purposely avoid like the plague because of performance tradeoffs and vendor intercompatibility quirks. In casual reading though it appears that WDS use is far more widespread on DD-WRT than Tomato, though others can speak to how WDS can be implemented on Tomato vs. DD-WRT.
     

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