Wireless bridge between two wired LANs... which kit?

Discussion in 'Networking Issues' started by Guigsy, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. Guigsy

    Guigsy Network Guru Member

    I have a wired 4 port router upstairs in my house connecting 3 PCs to my cable modem. The router is a Linksys BEFSR41 (I think), it's was cheap when I got it 3 years ago. It's been very reliable, but it's pretty basic.

    I've got an XBox downstairs which I connect to LIVE with by running a 20m CAT5 cable from the router whenever I want to game. It's not actually very far to the router, less than 10m through a wooden floor, just I have to take the wire go via the staircase. It's a pain in the bum to hook up each time and it's a tripping hazard. I also want to put a PC next to the XBox to plug into my stereo.

    What's the best way to hook the XBox and the entertainment PC to my cable modem?

    I've read a lot of information on over many days, and I'm pretty confused. I am willing to try non-standard firmware, but I'd prefer it if it'd worth without. If I buy kit and then I can't get it working, I can't return it if it was never supposed to be able to function that way in the first place.
    1. Plans:
    2. Buy two WAP54Gs and a switch. Hook one AP to my router upstairs and the second AP to a switch. I'm pretty sure this will this work out of the box. Am I right?
    3. Same as plan 1 except buy a WRT54G instead of a WAP54G and the switch. I'd replace my existing router with a WRT54G and then bridge to a WAP54G downstairs, then I'd run the old wired router as a switch off the WAP54G to my XBox and Ent. PC. Is this possible out of the box or do I have to use non-Linksys firmware? Would this be a point-to-point connection only, or would I be able to run more wireless clients off of it at a later date?
    4. Buy 2 WRT54Gs. Is it possible to use WRT54Gs at both ends? I'd not need the router functions of the WRT54G downstairs and it'd involve less wires and plugs, a neater solution... if it works. Would I have to change the non-Linksys firmware to enable this feature? What are my chances of success? Would all the ports work on the 2nd WRT54G, or would I still need a switch to get more than one wired connection?
    5. Buy Buffalo. Buffalo have a wireless router and a wireless AP with 4 ports built in. It's work out of the box BUT they cost a bit more than Linksys here in the UK AND I'm worried about the signal as the Buffalos only have internal aerials AND I wouldn't get the nice toys in the non-standard firmware that I could get for the Linksys models.
    6. Buy Asus. They're dirt cheap and I think they will bridge using WDS. They also have USB ports, which is nice. However, I've heard they're a bit flakey and again I loose the firmware toys.
    7. The 'I give up' plan. Buy a wireless router, a wireless ethernet adaptor for the XBox and a USB/PCI wireless adaptor for the PC. This is the most expensive method and I'd prefer not to do it, but at least it'd work.
    Which do you think I should try and why?
  2. jdepew

    jdepew Administrator Staff Member Member

    Alright, here are my comments on each of the suggestions -
    Yes, this should work right out of the box like this - with the latest firmware the WAP54G supports bridging, which is exactly what you want to do. This could be one of the more cost expensive solutions, but least expensive with setup time.
    This is perhaps my favorite solution since it reuses old hardware, doesn't require custom firmware and will give you great performance along with all the added benefits of the WRT54G, such as future firmware upgrades. With regards to point to point, nope, other wireless clients will still be able to connect to the WRT54G, the WAP will act as a client too.
    This is also another great solution but here you will need to install the Sveasoft firmware on the second (client) WRT54G in order for the WRT54G use all the 5 ports available to it. I cannot comment for sure if they have gotten it working yet so that you can connect a switch for even more clients. In this setup, you would enable the second WRT54G to work in 'Client' mode. But this is another great way to go, since two WRT54Gs are cheaper than 1 WAP54G. You can also use a WET54GS5 which will do the same thing out of the box as the WRT54G with Sveasoft firmware. Again, this is a bit more expensive, but again will save you time and trouble.
    I've never used Buffalo, so can't really comment onthem, but they are based on Broadcom chipsets as well, so compatibility is likely high and Sveasoft has talked about developing for that line as well.
    Same comment as Asus.
    Yup, probably the most expensive, and I'd look into the other options.

    My usual suggestions holds true though, If you have the WRT54GS available (with SpeedBooster) get that as the majority of the custom firmwares available work the same on that as the WRT54G and it has the advantage of 2x the RAM and the SpeedBooster option.

    Let us know how you get things set up!

  3. Guigsy

    Guigsy Network Guru Member

    Errr, I got impatient on Monday and ordered some stuff.... I guess I got lucky because I got a WRT54GS and a WAP54G. They arrived yesterday, so I've not had a chance to try to get them working yet.

    Cheers jdepew, I feel much better now someone else agrees with my logic. I was really unsure whether WRT->wireless->WAP would work as it's pretty vague on the Linksys site. I think it's only possible with the latest firmware on the WAP??? I nearly got the last option (buy a WET and a card for the PC), but I found loads of people with WET issues.

    PS The firmware on my WRT54GS is more recent than the stuff on the Linksys site. I think it's 2.09 from memory. Is this normal?
  4. jdepew

    jdepew Administrator Staff Member Member

    Regarding the 2.09.1 firmware on the WRT54GS, if you are in Europe, then this is becoming quite common. Many users have found though that the version available on Linksys' site to be much more stable and have better wireless performace.

    Good luck with it, let us know how it works.

  5. Guigsy

    Guigsy Network Guru Member

    I assembled all my wireless setup last night. First I set up the WRT54GS. I just dropped it in place of my wired router and it worked from the off. I checked through the settings and changed the password and that was about it.

    Next I flashed the WAP with the latest Linksys firmware, then it appeared to work for a minute before locking up. I did a hard reset and it's been fine since (maybe I should follow instructions!).

    Then I spent about 20 minutes swapping and changing cables between the WRT and WAP until I got them communicating. All I did in the end was leave the WRT as it was, then set the WAP to 'AP Client' mode and detected the router. Easy. :D

    Next I tried to lock it down. After an hour of faffing around I think I've discovered that WPA encryption is not available on the WAP54G when it's in AP client mode (it disables encryption it if you try to select WPA while in AP client mode). I resorted to WEP security and got it working fine. I took the WAP downstairs and plugged it straight into my XBox and it worked straight off. I thought I was going to need a switch between them, but I guess the WAP is crossover/patch auto-detecting?

    I'll do a Chariot test for speed tonight. It's probably pretty slow, but it's fast enough for XBox live. Just so people who search through the forums looking for tips: Don't bother with a WET54G, get a WAP54G instead... you don't even have to worry about invalidating your warranty with 3rd party firmware. 8)

    Remaining questions:

    Is AP Client mode the best one to be in? I think the other modes are called repeater and bridge. All I need at the moment is for the WAP to bridge and it's working fine.

    However, will either of the other two modes allow me to turn on WPA encryption?

    Will any of the other modes allow me to repeat (for some wireless clients later) AND use the LAN port on the back of the WAP to plug into my XBox (and maybe another PC by using a switch in the future)?[/list]
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