TomatoUSB as a repeated/WDS?Is it worthy?

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by TekTimer, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    So I would like to set up 2 TomatoUSB routers at opposite ends of my house to help extend signal but someone on the boards here said it isn't reliable. Anyone have it set up successfully and recommend it? I've read that DD-WRT is better for it, but I like Tomato.

    Or, was wondering if this device would be ideal? Just not sure the throughput

    TRENDnet TPL-406E2K Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter Kit

    Anyone think this is worthy or crap? If the routers themselves will handle the repeater type need I would forget all about this, just saw it and figured I would ask.
  2. Marcel Tunks

    Marcel Tunks Networkin' Nut Member

    Wired connections between routers should be used whenever possible. Powerline can be good or useless depending on your equipment, your house wiring, and how much you value latency. If you can get powerline with a good store return policy, then go for it.

    With WiFi, small changes in the physical orientation of your devices can make a big difference. You may be able to wire one router to another spread them apart in the same room or adjacent rooms, and still achieve what you're aiming for. Sometimes a 90 degree tilt or turn is all it takes.

    Can you tell us a bit more about your issues? Is your router in a corner, basement, behind a metal object, etc?
  3. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    Thanks for the input. I was hoping to set up a secondary router to help extend wireless signal to my back patio, and out to my detached garage. Right now the patio has almost none, and the garage has just enough to stream music if I put my phone in a particular spot or two. I have the router positioned up in a bedroom/office on the 2nd floor of the front of the house. So its definitely a stretch out there, I would estimate about 120 feet and through plaster walls. There is a chimney in the wall between the router and the back yard, so maybe that is it?

    The house is old and the wiring is on all different type of old/new upgraded circults so my guess is that the powerline setup probably won't be ideal, I'm going to just forget it all together.

    I was hoping to not have to run the cat 5 line to the secondary router if I don't have to. Do some people get the wireless repeater to work with Tomato, or is it a lost cause and destined for failure even if I get it working? I once tried it but I couldn't get it to work, but I only tried for about 30 minutes so more time could have resolved the issue. Is it worth spending some more time in hopes of getting the wifi-to-wifi on 2 routers to actually work as a repeater? I have some faith since I've seen people online say it works, write tutorials, and companies sell extenders so I assume they work in the same fashion, but I guess the truth lies in the setup and taking the time to figure out if it will or not.

    Now I wish I ran a cat5 line in the bedroom, I completely gutted and remodeled it a few years back. There is one spot where I can still easily snake the line up, not the best place to put a router in the room but it will do if I have to.

    More feedback please :)
  4. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    In addition to my last message, I guess my other option is to invest in a more powerful router that gives off a stronger signal from the get go. I'm guessing if I had maybe 20% more strength in my signal I wouldn't need a repeater at all.
  5. mvsgeek

    mvsgeek LI Guru Member

    If your routers have detachable external antennas, you could either replace them with better ones, or make a couple of windsurfer parabolic reflectors to focus the signal. I've made several of these, and they really do work:) I've also been suckered into buying cheap Chinese antennas on ebay, which were worse than useless. There's lots of good stuff about antennas on this forum. I've been happy with products from L-com (formerly Hyperlink).

    As previously mentioned, wired connections are always preferable - failing that, better antennas and a WDS-AP setup should work for you.
  6. Mercjoe

    Mercjoe Network Guru Member

    As a years long user of WDS, I can tell you it is very stable, at least in my case.

    I have 2 routers set up as WDS + AP for much the same reasons as you. I can not run CAT 5 cable to the other end of the house and I feed both wired and wireless devices off of both ends of the link.

    Like someone said here, antenna orientation is crucial, but once figured out is easy to duplicate.

    One things to remember is: Jacking up the transmit power it NOT the solution.

    My advice it to configure and confirm the link at a shorter distance, THEN start to move the remote WDS router away. WHEN you run into a problem, troubleshoot till it is corrected and then move it farther away. You ARE going to loose speed with enough distance, but that is secondary to getting a good link established. You want connectivity, speed can be worked on later if needed. Remember, slowest link ANYWHERE in the chain is your limit. Normally that is your ISP provider. more thing; Do not jack up the transmit power in an effort to fix the link. I can not stress this enough. Yes, it CAN be used in some situations, but slowly and very deliberately. Most of the time you are creating more issues than you might resolve.
    Marcel Tunks likes this.
  7. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    Thanks for the feedback and idea. I'm currently running a Belkin N300 that doesn't have an extrenal antenna, but I have a WRT54G and WRT54GL so maybe i'll try on that and see if it helps. I also just got an Asus with an external so maybe i'll try that too.

    Glad to hear someone has it working well. Last time I tried I could get the routers to link and could connect to the second, but the internet wasn't working. Did you follow a tutorial online that you could share a link to? If not no sweat i'll find some of the ones I found last time and try again when I have more time.

    Good tip on testing while close. Last time I was going up and down the stairs like mad man, lol.

    Question, did you name both SSID's the same, or different? I read that you can make then different so you know when you are definitely connected to one over the other. That would be helpful for sure.

    I tweaked the power to 60 on my router and it actually helped a bit, but i'm looking for a better solution so i'll keep with the repeater/WDS trials.
  8. mvsgeek

    mvsgeek LI Guru Member

    The SSID must be the same on both ends of the WDS link. I just verified this in my test environment. For some reason I thought that the channel and MAC address combo rendered the SSID redundant, but that's not the case, at least with my hardware/firmware setup (2 x Asus RT-N12, Toastman 0502.3 Std).

    Toastman has posted some very detailed findings on TX power settings. His magic number of 60 has worked well for me in both my in-house network, and in the rural network I maintain, which has 13 WDS links of between roughly 50 and 1500 feet.
  9. Mercjoe

    Mercjoe Network Guru Member

    I started with:

    The only changes I made from that was to define the remote router an static IP that is outside of the DHCP range of the main router. I defined the IP address on the remote router in the Basic-> network->Router IP address to This makes it easy to remote admin the router by just going to that static address at any time. Please note: You do not NEED to define this static IP on the main router. I did afterwards, but just so it would be in the traffic IP charts.

    That is the basic how to get it going. My advice, start SIMPLE. Get the link established. Do it WITHOUT any encryption at first.

    Once you have the link going you make any changes to that may effect the WDS (such as to enable encryption) on the REMOTE router first and save it. Then make the corresponding changes to the main router. After you reboot the main router the WDS will re-establish itself (if everything it configed right) and a simple peek at the remote router admin page will tell you that the link is good.

    After you have the link up and encrypted the rest is all trial and error. Some things help, some things don't

    You will find the ability to look at the remote router is the best 'how's it doing' measurement that you can get. You can use wireless survey on the remote to see if there is any competing wireless devices and reset the channels to mitigate the interference.

    Looking at link speed and RSSI with moving the remote or main router around helps a lot as well as you can 'tune' your positioning to get the best link.

    For me, most changes are done based on wheat the remote router 'sees' and the conditions around it. The main router is essentially a fixed point with limited mobility.
    mvsgeek likes this.
  10. TekTimer

    TekTimer Serious Server Member

    Thanks for the specifics, they were very helpful. So I went ahead and tried again and I was successful.

    I set up router #1 as instructed, only difference is that I have WPA2 Personal on for security. I thought I read only use WPA but it seems to at least connect both routers with WPA2.

    On Router #2 I set it to and I can access the second router, or the 1st router with

    When looking at connected devices on router #1, I can see wds0.1 connected and the wireless signal is pinging back and forth. Same on Router #2 I can see router #1 connected as wds0.1.

    I unplugged and replugged a few times and it reconnected every time. First Success!

    Next, I figured give it a try so here are my scenario's:
    Test Scenario 1 (Wired Desktop Computer on Router #2):
    -Router #1 and Router #2 set up as instructed without wires in-between
    -I hooked a wired desktop computer up to router #2 and I saw it as a connected device, and I was able to surf the internet.
    -Test Scenario wired desktop on router #2 was a success. So I know it is working now.

    Test Scenario 2 (Wifi Phone connected to router #2):
    -Router #1 and router #2 in the same room
    -Both Router #1 and router #2 are shwoing thath they are both connected to each other in the device list.
    -My phone was already connected to router #1 so I disabled my wifi, and then put my phone closer to router #2 and turned wifi back on. I could see my phone was then connected in the device list of router #2, and not router #1. I was able to successsfully surf the web so this is a successful connection.
    -Success again!

    Test Scenario 3 (Wifi Phone connected to router #2, but at a distance):
    -I took router #2 downstairs and plugged it in
    -I looked in router #1 and #2 device list and the devices reconnected to each other as expected
    -I tried to put router #2 where the signal is still strong, but just starts to drop slightly
    -I then took my phone and tried to walk way in the backyard where router #1 typically gets really weak, or drops

    In this scenario I was able to connect to router #2, but I had to disable wifi and then reconnect it. Is there a point where router #2 should typically pick up, where router #1 completely ends, or where router #2 is stronger than #1?

    After I was certain I was connected I walked out to the far end of my garage and I was still connected, but my signal was very weak even on router #2, and my speed was low. I am able to connect to router #1 in the garage if I am already connected, and then I place the phone in a certain spot. With Router #2 I was connected wherever I went in the garage so it is working.

    I moved around router and got it to a spot where it had about 36TX/54RX as my testing point.

    I guess I was expecting more speed, even though WDS supposedly chops the speed in half. I am on a line that can get 60Mb/s Down, and about 25 Mb/s, but when I was out there I could hardly get 1Mb/s down, and .25Mb/s up.

    Does this mean I need a router with a stronger signal to begin with? I have an Asus I bought I may try to load up as router #2 and see if that changes anything.

    Thanks for the help, and all extra feedback appreciated.
  11. mvsgeek

    mvsgeek LI Guru Member

    Kudos for your thorough and well-documented testing procedures!

    Based on your results, I'd first look into antenna upgrades before replacing your routers. Tx power of 60 on your existing routers should be quite adequate with proper positioning, orientation, and suitable antennas.

    How are you measuring signal strength? And noise floor? If you're not already familiar with inSSIDer you might want to take a look.

    With a single WDS link between 2 routers, WPA2 should be OK. I'm only using WPA because I ran into connectivity issues using WPA2 with more than 3 WDS links in a "spokes of a wheel" configuration.
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