WDS with Thibor15c - Need to sabilize connection between two WRT54G's

Discussion in 'HyperWRT Firmware' started by rbngan, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. rbngan

    rbngan LI Guru Member

    Here is what I’m trying to do:

    I volunteered to help set up the network for a non-profit camp. The present set up and application is in small non-profit camp to service the camp, the staff homes and guests with wireless service for e-mail (nothing high speed or large file transfers). I have a small office network with four computers, one router, one range extender, one satellite modem and one 24 port hub. The router is a WRT54GSv4 with stock firmware The modem is connected to the router’s internet port. One computer is connected to LAN 1 port on router. The Hub is located in a separate building (office trailer with metal sides) and is connected to LAN 2 port on router via a 100 foot cable (No I do not want to remove the cable). The other three computers and printers are connected to the hub. The wired network is work perfectly, so far.

    The location of the camp is in the foothills/mountain area with lots of lodge pole pine trees. The property slops about 30 degrees with south being high and north being low. The ISP is a low grade satellite service 500k/128k located in the center of the property in the loft of a dinning hall/kitchen (it gets hot when the cooks are busy). There are cabins south east, south and south west around the area ranging from 100 to 350 feet away. The staff homes (where I'm trying to get service) are 400 to 500 feet away; to the east, northeast direction. There is a building (the Chapel-with corrugated steel roof) located between the staff homes and the dinning all that is about 200 feet away from the Loft (Router and internet source) that I thought a repeater could be placed. There is a rather large clump of these pine trees between the dinning hall and the repeater building. (See attached drawing – I’m no artiest)

    I tried using a Linksys router (WRT54GSv3 – Stock firmware) with the LS 7dpi antennas in the dinning hall Loft. I put a LS range extender (WRE54G) as the repeater (no option to increase the antenna). I'm getting intermittent service to the staff homes (about 2 bars on one lap top if I stand on my head holding a hanger.) and limited service to the cabins (about 2-3 bars) (my Dell laptop gets 3 bars and good connectivity and surfing is slow but faster than dial-up). Also, they keep loosing the link with the range extender and I have to have someone reset it or move it to find a signal.

    I need help with establishing a stable connection between the Loft, the Chapel and the Staff Homes with still being able to provide service to the cabins. I’m 160 miles away and I need to make sure it is stable so I do not have to come up every week to fix something.

    A) I though if I loaded the router in the Loft with Thibor’s 15c firmware I could boost the routers transmission level, it may help get to the range extender, but the range extender may not be able to get back to the router. Is this correct?

    B) If I use a directional antenna I will loose service to the dinning hall and cabins (I though connecting only one antenna port to a directional antenna and leaving the other antenna port connected to an omni antenna. It may work but I could not find anyone with information on this configuration and that still does not solve the repeater issue reaching back to the router)

    C) So I think I need to boost the transmission between both the primary and repeater location (correct so far?). I decided to try WDS. Two people donated two routers (Thanks Dave and Tim). One is a WRT54Gv3.0 (WRT-A) and the other a WRT54Gv2.0 (WRT-B) and I still have the WRE54G to use as a repeater in the farthest staff home. I configured both routers with Thibor’s 15c firmware (Now they say WRT54GS – Did Thibor’s firmware change them? I know I downloaded from the correct link). I plan on putting the WRT54Gv3 in the Loft with 7 dbi antennas, the WRT54Gv2 in the Chapel with 9 dbi antennas, and the WRE54G in the farthest Staff home. I set up WDS. I followed the information on the following link. (http://www.thibor.co.uk/#modes). After setting it up I could not see my routers with my laptop or Netstumbler. I found information that said “The most popular wireless mode is WDS+AP, which is used to connect two or more WRT54G/GL/GS together without wires.†I changed it and I was able to connect again. Is this ok to run this way? I hope it is giving me both WDS between the routers and access for laptops and repeater at the staff house (I did enter the mac address of both routers in each other as the web site instructed).

    Now, to test it. I’m want to test it at home first and will take to camp (160 miles away) after it works at home. I know the trees may be a problem, but I’m hoping that with signal boost on both routers, I will blast through the trees (will that work?)

    I’m not sure how so test it so this is what I did:

    I used NetStubler. It shows both MAC ID’s, one SSID . I set up the WRT-A in my kitchen. Then I took an 100’ extension cord and ran from an outside outlet away from the house. Connected the WRT-B to the extension cord. This puts the two of them about 120 feet away with a two walls and a 21’ travel trailer between them (not 200 feet at camp or the same as pine trees). Then I took my laptop and walked while monitoring Netstumbler. I got about 205 feet before I lost the WRT-A signal. I walk 530 feet (no obstructions) from WRT-B (650 feet from WRT-A) and still was able to have internet access. I did walk 5 feet around the corner of the house at 530 feet and the internet slowed to just about as fast as dial up. My connection did show connected to the WRT-B mac address with the gateway of the WRT-A mac address. It seems to be working.


    Now for more questions that developed during the set up:

    1) I got a pair of 7 dbi and 9 dbi antennas. The 9 dbi’s off E-bay. I’m not sure if they are any better than the 7 dbi antenna. Do you have any suggestion as to if I should use the 9 dbi on WRT-A or WRT-B. I though if I put them on WRT-B I would have a better chance of getting the signal back to WRT-A. What do you think?

    2) Do I need to configure port forwarding on WRT-B the same as WRT-A (I could not find any information in this)?

    3) Do I need to configure the access restriction the same on WRT-B and WRT-A?

    2)At http://www.hyperwrt.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=958 I read:
    a) The firewall should be disable on WDS WRT-B – I disable it like is said but Why?
    b) That the WAN port should be disabled – Why? If so, How do I disable it? (Is this the same as selecting disabled for the internet connection type on the basic set tab under the Setup page?)
    c)â€More from Thibor: Speedbooster [GS firmware only] may be forced on for WDS+AP use by entering the following command in the startup script [area of the administration page]:
    nvram set afterburner_override=1†I did not download the GS firmware but it does say it is a WRT54GS now after the 15c firmwareupdate. Does this apply to my WRT’s? If so will with impact my WDS connection for the better or worse?

    D) If I’m still getting intermittent signal between the two WDS router them I may try to put two directional antennas on one antenna port of each router pointing at each other. I think this would give me better connection between the two WDS routers and put a 7 or 9 dbi antenna on the other antenna port to broadcast/receive from the cabins and the staff homes. What do you think of this idea?

    E) Is it best to put the antenna’s outside? If so, other that the ASTTNC mount is there another way to mount the antenna’s?
    F) I read at (http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/outdoor_ap/index.html) about how someone put an AP in a plastic container and made it an external AP. Can you think of any issues with this? Can I put the WRT outside in a sealed plastic container?
    What effect will the cold have on it?
    Will the heat from the unit offset the cold?
    Will the heat burn up the unit?

    I know this is a lot of things to think about and I have a lot of different question, but I hope someone can help me with this. Thanks in advance.
  2. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    you seem to be loosing sight on the question to be honest. you could have just said my WDS is not working, than giving us a story (though good) about the WRE54G setup.

    setting up WDS can be hard. i would suggest that you first setup WDS all on a bench in the same room. this way you can know that they are at lest connecting before you send them out to the outside world.

    if you are broadcasting to buildings then tbh you need outside antennas. directional ones would be the mst suitable. Using one antenna on each router to do the WDS part and then the other Antenna doing the wireless cell for that building (I think this should work, though never tested it.)

    tbh i dont think the WRE54G will be upto transmitting very far.
  3. gerds2001

    gerds2001 Network Guru Member


    very nice story and quite a job you are planning. My setup is not that difficult but I should be able to give you at least some information based on my setup. I have a cable modem connected to a WRT54GS, a standalone (no LAN cable, power only) WRT54GV2.2 and a WDS/AP connection with WPA/AES encryption between them. Both devices are running Thibor 15c. It took some time (some 6 hours) to set it all up since I made the following errors:

    1) I did not enter the wireless MAC adresses for the WDS link. That made the WDS connection unreliable and after some hours the link died completely. I had to reboot both devices to get the link back. After entering the wireless MAC address of the counterpart, this problem vanished :)

    2) My former setup used WEP encryption and I switched to WPA Personal/AES to secure the link and all other communication. For the WRT54GV2.2 be sure to set "cpu_overdrive=1". The device has some well known HW issues with the RAM and it works perfectly for me. Without the setting, I encountered link problems when surfing within the range of the WRT54GV2.2 repeater.

    All other settings are as described in the sticky WDS thread, just make sure that you erase the NVRAM and reboot afterwards to create a clean environment. Furthermore, make sure that main device is a DHCP server!

    I have never used the Linksys Range Extender but my feeling tells me that I am better up with two WRT devices than with one WRT and a range extender since I have full control over the WRT box but virtually none over the range extender simply by flashing a new firmware.

    Some answers to your questions:

    2) Port forwarding: You have to configure it on the main router (the one next to the cable modem) only, because all other devices act as repeater and they simply receive data and forward it regardless of port numbers.

    3) Access restrictions: Depends on your level of paranoia. I did not set any MAC access lists, they are a pain when it comes to edit them, especially when we are talking about more than 5 addresses. Futhermore, each time a new device wants to connect, you have to edit the access list... Set up WPA encryption with a difficult passphrase and give it to the people that should connect to the network (just my 0.02$).

    2a) firewall: The firewall is only needed at the router connected to the cable modem, since it should block unwanted connects / packets from the outside.

    2b) WAN port: should be deactivated. No cable modem on a device means disable WAN port since you don't need more than one default gateway in your network.

    2c) Speedbooster: Give it a try :)

    I am no antenna expert so I will remain quite. For my setup it was sufficient to turn up the output power (83%) of the regular antennas.

    If your set up in the woods does not work, you might try a different channel. It took me a while and some tests to figure out that channel 1 is giving me the best performance.

    Thumbs up for your project

  4. penkert

    penkert Network Guru Member

    Just a short addition to Toxic's post. I'm running a WDS network with outside antennas. I wouldn't recommend using a single wrt to serve both as a WDS station (with an outdoor directional antenna cennected to one outlet) and as an accesspoint (with an indoor omnidirectional antenna on the other outlet). This has lead to stability problems with packet loss here, and I've been told that the diversety system for the two antennas isn't made for such a setup. I use dedicated wrts to form the WDS link (pure WDS without accesspoint functionality) in addition to a wrt in each building serving as accesspoints. This way you can also use different channels for the WDS link and WLAN cells, thus eliminating the problem of the available network bandwidth cut in half with every wireless hop. This is especially true when many people are supposed to be connected to the network at the same time. BTW, Thibor's firmware is phantastically stable with this setup----something I can't say about other firmware distributions.
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