Can I use (3) WRT54GL's together.

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by eggsped, May 14, 2008.

  1. eggsped

    eggsped Addicted to LI Member

    I would like to install my cable modem and NAS in the basement and have a second WRT54GL on the third floor of the house to feed 2 desktops and a networked printer. Occasionally I need a wired connection on the second floor so I would like to have a third unit that is occasionally plugged in / connected to the network. We have 2 wireless laptops that I would like to seamlessly connect to the router with the strongest signal.

    What would the best way be to configure such a setup? I'm clearly not well versed in networking...

  2. jersully

    jersully LI Guru Member

    Do you plan on wiring the routers together? If so, then just make sure the APs are on different channels, and let your wireless clients talk to whichever AP gives the strongest signal.

    You can connect them wirelessly, and lots of people in these forums have done that. There are caveats about the amount of bandwidth you'll get at your remote APs. Also remember that if you have two (or more) APs connected wirelessly and you have a client that's close to an AP and gets a GREAT signal to it, actual throughput will depend on the connection between the APs.

    If this were my project, though, I'd set up a hub in the basement and wire it to one AP on your second floor in the middle of the house.
  3. eggsped

    eggsped Addicted to LI Member

    Ideally I would have them all communicating wirelessly. The router on the second floor will only be used occasionally and will be unplugged the rest of the time. As it is now I get pretty good reception throughout the house with one router but I would really like to move the 2 computers and printer upstairs and running a cat 5 line isn't really feasible, the walls have fire breaks and it would either be a real pita or a ghetto run.

  4. eggsped

    eggsped Addicted to LI Member

    OK, I think I found the solution in the Tomato FAQ, go figure..

    Anyway I plan on connecting the routers as shown below per "How do I use WDS?" in the FAQ. Is this the best way to set my network up.

    / \
    / \
    #2 #3

    How much speed degradation will I see at routers 2 and 3? I have Comcast 20/2 service.

    FWIW, I'm a bbq fan and use a Stoker to control my smoker and will use router 3 to handle the Stoker when I'm cooking, (3 or 4 times per week).
  5. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

    For a wireless device connected to WDS node #1, max would be full wireless speed.

    For a wired device connected to WDS node #2 or #3, max speed would be full wireless speed.

    For a wireless device connected to WDS node #2 or #3, max speed would be half of max wireless speed.

    If you have #1 -- #2 -- #3, and you have a wireless client connected to #3, that device will talk at max one third wireless speed.

    You might as well leave all WDS nodes connected all the time. Connecting or not connecting the third one would make no difference to the speeds, but improve your coverage.
  6. bigclaw

    bigclaw Network Guru Member

    The bandwidth reduction depends on how many WDS nodes (e.g. WRT54GLs) have to relay your traffic wirelessly. Each time such a relay occurs, your effective bandwidth is cut in half.

    So for example, if you have the following WDS set up:

    PC 1 <-Ethernet-> WDS 1 <-Wireless-> WDS 2 <-Wireless-> WDS 3 <-Wireless-> Laptop 1

    For Laptop 1 to communicate with PC 1, its speed will be reduced to 1/4th of the maximum wireless speed because two WDS nodes (2 and 3) have to relay the traffic wirelessly.

    In the following example, however, the speed between PC 1 and 2 will be half of the maximum wireless speed because only one WDS node (node 2) has to relay the traffic wirelessly.

    PC 1 <-Ethernet-> WDS 1 <-Wireless-> WDS 2 <-Wireless-> WDS 3 <-Ethernet-> PC 2
  7. jersully

    jersully LI Guru Member

    How sure are we about the wireless speed for the client on the 3rd AP? For the sake of discussion, let's assume for the moment that there is only one client connected so the layout is:
    AP#1 - AP#2 - AP#3 - Client

    So, it's generally agreed that wireless throughput for AP#2 is cut in half, as it is talking to #1 and #3 in turn. "Get packet A from #1, send packet A to #2, get packet B..."

    If AP#2 is only a relay, and AP#3 has only one client, could it not do just the same thing? "Get packet A from #2, send packet A to client, get packet B...)

    Obviously if there are clients passing traffic anywhere along the chain then things get skewed, and this is just an educational excercise.

    If the OP isn't concerned too much with bandwidth and really wants three APs, then he should go ahead. But if bandwidth is a concern, and he's already explained why he can't run wires, perhaps powerline is an option? I think that's what I'd do.
  8. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

  9. eggsped

    eggsped Addicted to LI Member

    OK, how do the above configurations differ from a mesh setup?

    Thanks for all of the information. The ghetto wiring job is sounding better and better.
  10. mstombs

    mstombs Network Guru Member

    I don't really know what you mean by "ghetto" but a Cat5e backbone wiring job would be a sound investment IMHO, you'd have a secure 100Mbps full duplex wired network with best rate wireless 54Mbps (~20Mb/s half-duplex) on each floor, plus the backbone would be upgradeable to Gigabit (think about locating a backup or media server in the basement and shifting gigs of data) when a future replacement of WRT54GLs comes along.
  11. eggsped

    eggsped Addicted to LI Member

    Ghetto as in the wiring would not be between the walls as in a professional wiring job. Full house wiring would be ideal however, my house has what the home inspector called "fire breaks", when we stuck a borescope into the wall there were horizontal boards between the studs a few feet in either direction. He said that was to keep a fire from spreading quickly between the walls. Unfortunately it also makes it hard to run new wiring between the walls as well.

    I get pretty good coverage throughout the house with one router so I may use the second and third routers as bridges to the equipment on the other floors while using the main router to feed the wireless laptops.

    Can someone explain a mesh network and how or if it differs from the setup I first planned on using?

  12. bigclaw

    bigclaw Network Guru Member

    Agreed. Also, once you have a Cat5e network, you don't need to wait for a future replacement of the WRT54GL to enjoy gigabit speeds. Five- or 8-port gigabit switches are dirt cheap nowadays. Most of them are auto-sensing and eliminate the need for any crossover cable or uplink ports. It's as simple as plugging your router as well as your PCs into the switch.
  13. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

    Don't know much about mesh networks, but it's the same idea as WDS, just with specialized software. (I think actually the WDS concept came from mesh...) However, mesh nets usually run slower speeds as it's a WAN for internet type connectivity, with routing, etc.

    A good wired backbone in your home is always (IMO) a sound investment, and should be your first prize.

    However, if wiring is a problem, and if you don't like the speed drop you get with WDS (bearing in mind that the slowest real speed you'll have to a wireless client with your star setup would be around 12Mbps [1.5MBps]), you can always double up on your router #2 and #3, like this:

    #1(AP) ----- #2.1(WET) ---- #2.2(AP)
           #3.1(WET) ---- #3.2(AP)
    Now you don't have any repeating radios, so everywhere you'll have full wireless speed of around 25Mbps [3MBps] (if all signals and router setups are good).
    #1, #2.1, and #3.1 would all work on the same channel. (The #2.1 and #3.1 routers are actually just clients of #1.)
    #2.2 and #3.2 would be on different channels, but have the same SSID as #1, and clients would roam freely among #1, #2.2, and #3.2. (You can of course give #2.2 and #2.3 different SSIDS, which would allow you to select to which one you want to connect at any time).

    Further, as 802.11n is nearing main stream, you may later replace your 54Mbps routers with N-routers, which could give you 100Mbps+ speeds on the wireless setup.
  14. jersully

    jersully LI Guru Member

    A ghetto job is something that is cobbled together, or that doesn't look presentable though it may work.

    Eggspeed, I highly recommend you research HomePlug or PowerLine networking. It's ethernet over home electrical wiring, and you can get 14, 85, or 189Mbps out of it, depending on which version you go with. With your construction situation I really think it's the best way to go. I've never used it, but from what I've read it's secure, very reliable, and ridiculously easy to set up.

    Just be sure that your APs are all broadcasting on non-overlapping channels. It's generally agreed that channels 1, 6, and 11 are best, though if you had strong signals from neighbors I suppose you might want to adjust that.
  15. mstombs

    mstombs Network Guru Member

    Do read the specs/reviews the maximum speed is not guaranteed, its an "up to", but apparently it does work...
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