Question on how to attach WDS router to a main router

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by careh, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. careh

    careh Addicted to LI Member

    I found out after trying to put QOS on a WDS router that was not the router connected to the ISP that QOS is supposed to be on the router connected to the ISP and not on any subsequent routers.

    I now have my main router - which is connected to my ISP feed - set up with QOS and now want to attach a WDS router to it. The WDS router will in turn connect with other WDS routers in a wireless network.

    I can connect the WDS router to the main router by using a network cable running from one of the switched ports on the main router to one of the switched ports on the WDS router.

    I was wondering if there is a way to do that wirelessly? (to connect the ISP connected router to the first WDS router).

    **** Update - I mis-read the PM I got from toastman - I interpreted it as 'you can't have QOS on a WDS router' when it really said - you have to have QOS on the first router connected to the ISP - and not on any subsequent routers attached to that router.

    Sorry for leading people on a wild goose chase....
  2. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    WDS means "wireless" distribution system, so if you use CAT5e cable to connect them, it wouldn't be WDS. A simple AP (access point) is connected this way and is by far the best way to increase your coverage.

    WDS is used when you simply CANNOT run cable between the two. In that case you have to use wireless for convenience, at the expense of reliability and speed. WDS doesn't work so well these days, it seems rather less reliable and is prone to disconnections. Others will fill you in on why, there are several people here using it and can tell you what are the pros and cons.

    [ Basically, a wireless has to listen, and receive data from it's partner. While it is doing that, it can't transmit. Now it has the data, it can transmit it to its partner, but it can't receive at the same time. When it has finished sending, it switches to receive again. Throughput (speed) is therefore les than half of the maximum speed quoted for wireless. If you then add another WDS machine, this time the speed is halved again. Each machine has to listen, switch to transmit, send to the next. That one then transmits, preventing ALL the others from doing so until it has finished. And so on. And if the same transmitter also sends and receives data to the client machines, then no more data can be received from the WDS network until it has finished. Nor can it send data to the client until all the transmitters in the WDS system have finished. Things get slower and slower.]

    When you enable WDS you enter the MAC address of the other machine's wireless into each other's settings, so they will connect. You look in the "status - devices" list to see if they have connected. Google for more information. Use the "advanced" search on the forum to look for "WDS". Do this for each machine. The main router you are proposing to only connect to one other, so it needs only one MAC entry for WDS. If the "slave" machine is also connecting to 3 other WDS routers, then it will have 4 MAC addresses in the WDS list.

    If you set up a simple system with cable from router to other machines configured as Access Points, that will be fastest and will not suffer the speed penalty of WDS.
  3. careh

    careh Addicted to LI Member

    The intent is to expand the network coverage over a large summer camp area where running network cable is not feasible. We also want to use QOS (to limit campers from hogging bandwidth). The slowness of WDS is not an issue as the Internet feed is a satellite internet connection and the campers are supposed to use the Internet for basic emails and web browsing only. Now if it is flaky that will be another issue....

    We have a router connected to the incoming Internet feed - running QOS (call it router1) and then I have two other routers that I want to run WDS on (call them router2 and router3). Ideally I would place router2 50 feet away from router1 (connecting it wirelessly to router1) and then place router3 50 feet away from router2. router2 and router3 are wirelessly connected via WDS. I have set up WDS on router2 and router3 - where each has the other's MAC address. I have tested this and it works.

    My question is how to connect router1 to router2. I know I can do it with a network cable - and from there router2 and router3 will connect wirelessly on WDS. But I wanted to know if I can connect router1 to router2 wirelessly.

  4. jsmiddleton4

    jsmiddleton4 Network Guru Member

    Yes. That is what WDS does. The FAQ on Tomato's original web site does step by step on WDS setup. You control usage on the router that is giving out IP addresses, the one which will be your dhcp server. Regardless of which router a client connects to, ALL clients have to go through the "master" router sooner or later.
  5. careh

    careh Addicted to LI Member

    The FAQ at: shows a 2 router setup with both routers running WDS. Meaning they are not running QOS.

    What I want to do is have:

    * router1 as the router connected to the Internet and running QOS.

    * router2 running WDS (talking to router3)
    * router3 running WDS (talking to router2)

    My question is can I connect router1 to router2 wirelessly?
  6. jsmiddleton4

    jsmiddleton4 Network Guru Member

    And the answer again is yes. QOS goes in the master router, none of the slaves.
  7. careh

    careh Addicted to LI Member

    But the question is - can I connect router1 (the 'master' router - the one connected to the Internet feed - and not running WDS) wirelessly to router 2 (running WDS) and if so - how?
  8. TexasFlood

    TexasFlood Network Guru Member

    So you're asking how to wirelessly link the routers. My answer to this would be WDS. But you state that QOS and WDS can't coexist therefore is not an option on the ISP connected router. I question this premise though as I run QOS and WDS on my ISP router. careh, what is this "hard way" in which you found cannot have QOS running on a WDS router? I have not see this myself. Have others?
  9. careh

    careh Addicted to LI Member

    I added QOS to a WDS router (which was the second router in a string of routers and NOT the router connected to the ISP) and saw no change in the tests I did. I played around with various settings for quite some time - thinking I must have done something wrong - and saw no change in connection speeds.

    Then I PM'd toastman and he said I have to put QOS on the router connected to the ISP.

    So I added a non-WDS router as the first router (the one connected to the ISP) and turned on QOS in that router. Immediately I could see QOS taking effect. So far so good. Now I have QOS working.

    Now I want to connect that 'master' router to a string of WDS routers. I can do that using a network cable - from the 'master' router to the first WDS router - but I would rather do it wirelessly - if there is a way to do that.

    I re-phrased my initial post in hopes that will make the request clearer.... Also - originally I was saying that I could not have QOS on a WDS router - but after hearing that texasflood is running QOS on a WDS router and me re-reading toastman's PM reply I believe I had misinterpreted what was said.

    So it is looking now that I can have a pure wireless WDS setup with the first router (the one connected to the ISP) running QOS - and that will give me what I want.

    Sorry for not understanding what was being said...
  10. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    I am getting very confused here, so let's start again.

    The confusion is caused by the use of the word "router" to mean different things. The only "router" is the one connected to the internet. The others are simple Access Points (whether they are connected by WDS or cable). We forget and refer to each plastic box as a "router" when we shouldn't.

    Don't think of your other boxes as "router 2 and router 3". You have one router connected to the internet and all the others are Access Points.


    Now, it does not matter if the machine connected to the internet is also using WDS to connect to an AP or AP's. Refer to my post above which already explained this, albeit badly.

    Connect the internet router to your slave AP no. 1 using WDS. You already have WDS on some machines so you know how to do that OK. Each machine has the other's Wireless MAC address.

    Now you have 1 Internet router ROUTER1 and what I will refer to as Access Point AP1 - which is now connected by WDS. Get that working. Forget about the internet at this time.

    When it is working, and you can connect to the router's ROUTER1's GUI via a machine using AP1, then enable the internet connection and switch on QOS and do whatever else you need. QOS is not enabled on any of the AP's, ONLY on the machine connected to the internet - the router. None of that should affect your WDS connections in any way - QOS is acting purely on ROUTER1's machine's WAN port connected to the internet, and handles all traffic from the campers to the internet.

    When it is confirmed that all is working, add more WDS Access points. It would be better if they are all connecting to the central internet router ROUTER1, like a hub with spokes to the AP's, or at least to AP1 - and use that as the central "hub".

    Connecting them in a chain is what really slows things up. Been there, done that, got the scars. I know your speed needs may be minimal but you'll soon see what I mean. Even 3 or 4 in a "chain" with a camp full of people probably is gonna be painful. Each one you add will once again halve the available speed. And that is without considering all of the camper's machines on the same frequency. [Unlike cabled AP's you have to have them all on the same frequency for the WDS to work].

    What I found worked best is to have the router or whatever machine you use as the hub (AP1?) up HIGH on a pole - line of sight to all the others. They will negotiate speeds between them, lowering the speeds as range increases, and eventually end up with the lowest, 1Mbps (wifi mode "B") which is capable of huge distances. When I did it, about 3 or 4 years ago with older versions of Tomato on WRT54GL's. I used the main router as the WDS hub, on the roof of a building, and 5 other AP's connected to it by WDS - the furthest was about 300m away, I'd guess. I wouldn't have described it as particularly stable. From all I read, WDS is a lot flakier now. Keep it simple with minimum of security encryption (either none - or WEP maybe) would probably help enormously.

    Re the stability, these guys here use WDS and will offer good advice.
  11. jsmiddleton4

    jsmiddleton4 Network Guru Member

    WDS only way to go. Very stable compared to other modes.

    Three "routers" setup for WDS is not that complicated. Router 1 has Router 2's MAC for connect to, Router 2 has Router 1 and Router 3, Router 3 has Router 2's.

    Spanning Tree Protocol on.

    2 slave "routers" in gateway mode. Can even use WAN port as LAN if you need to. All bandwidth shaping goes in Router 1, master router.

    Master router is DHCP server and hence "knows" what to do with various IP address in QOS.

    Same SSID and connect channel in all devices.

    I'm sorry but this is simply not as complicated as being presented by the OP.
  12. TexasFlood

    TexasFlood Network Guru Member

    WDS isn't as stable any more, at least for me.

    BUT it's so simple, flexible and stable once it's running that I still love it.

    Back in the day when I was running original Tomato on all WRT54G v2.0 generation corerev 7 routers, it was bullet-proof, nothing ever went wrong. Since introducing newer hardware and the requisite newer wireless drivers, the routers can get out of sync and lose the connection.

    I'd given up on WDS for a while and was using wireless ethernet bridge mode instead but it's more limited than WDS. jsmiddleton4 inspired me to give it another try. If I can find a stable build, load the same build across my routers and give them all a power cycle, I've been having pretty good luck since going back. If I lose a router, doing a save from the basic wireless page will usually restart things and bring it back. Once it's working, it is very stable and I still love it.
  13. jsmiddleton4

    jsmiddleton4 Network Guru Member

    Not one problem here. I'm on to the E3000's with 5ghz channels doing the "WDS" and 2.4 channels being just AP's.
  14. TexasFlood

    TexasFlood Network Guru Member

    As long as I get it synced up and working and don't screw with it, it's fine.
  15. Barnacle2

    Barnacle2 Networkin' Nut Member

    108-1 ssistendn

    I'm not sure if the question that was ever answered, so I decided to register on the forum and jump in

    YES, you CAN run a network cable between the main router and the first access point, and then WDS to the next access point(s). I am doing that in a campground right now. We have had some issues, but it works pretty well!

    Thanks for all the QOS talk. I will check my QOS settings this weekend at the campground.
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