Roydon CerejoMar 16, 2012 17:40:28 IST
Most users having a wireless router at home or office usually complain of dead zones and low wireless connectivity in certain areas. This usually happens when you have a large room or multiple rooms, where a single wireless router cannot serve the entire area effectively. Upgrading to Wi-Fi ‘n’ routers or installing high-gain antennas could solve the problem, but the chances are remote when it comes to accessing the signals in a larger area or if you have many walls in between you and your router, especially. Adding Wi-fi signal repeaters can help, but this increases the overall cost of the hardware.
A simpler and slightly cheaper solution would be installing additional wireless routers in other rooms, which will solve the problem. In this workshop, we show you how to configure multiple routers on the same network. Using this trick, you can have one single SSID throughout the entire network and stay in the same subnet too. Before you proceed, make sure you have an extra router handy with you. Any basic router would do since the goal is to spread the Wi-Fi network to a specific part of the house and not the whole house. You can invest in a few cheap Wi-Fi ‘g’ or ‘n’ routers, depending on how big your house is.
Choosing the right channel is very important
Let’s begin with an example to make you understand the network a bit better. You have a large home, which spreads across two or more rooms or floors. You have one wireless router, which is connected to the Internet gateway (either a DSL modem or a direct connection through your cable guy) and is placed in your living room. You can access this wireless network in your living room with ease, but your bedroom, kitchen, terrace or garden area has a very weak signal or you are unable to even get the network there. All you need is an additional router or more routers, which will pick up the primary network from another room and extend it further into its area. We shall take an example of a scenario where three routers are required to cover the area in the living room, the bedroom and the garden. Let’s call the primary wireless router in the living room as LR1, BR1 for the wireless router in the bedroom and GR1 for the one in the garden. Now we assume that LR1 is configured by default with SSID ‘RAHUL’ and a secure WPA2 password.
Let’s assume IP address is 192.168.0.1 and the DHCP server is enabled. All clients now connecting to this router will be given IP addresses by this DHCP server on LR1 from 192.168.0.2, 192.168.0.3, and so on. Log in to your router using that IP in a browser and open the settings page. Here, set the wireless network channel to ‘Channel 1’. Now, dig around a bit till you find the option to increase the antenna gain, and set it to the highest possible strength. Save and restart the router. LR1 is now configured.
Now let’s configure the second router BR1, which is placed in the bedroom. Once again, connect the router to a PC via the Ethernet or Wi-Fi network for configuration. Open the setup page of the router and start the setup wizard. Configure the WAN IP (Internet gateway) settings as ‘Dynamic’. This will receive an IP address from the primary router automatically. Next move on to configure the wireless network details, such as SSID and security password. Now enter the SSID the same as the primary router LR1 (in this case ‘RAHUL’). Enter the security type (in this case WPA2) and password, which is again identical to LR1. Next, set the channel number as channel 6, so that there is no overlapping of the channels between LR1 and BR1. Increase the antennal signal strength to maximum. Next, move on to the LAN settings and disable the DHCP server. Save the settings and the router will restart. Now BR1 is also configured.
Now that both, LR1 and BR1 have been configured, GR1 also needs to be configured with the same settings as BR1, except for the channel number, which needs to be set as channel 11. If you want to configure more routers for additional coverage, you can follow the same settings procedure as that of BR1 and GR1, but keep in mind to decrease the channel overlapping as minimum as possible. A reference chart of the channel numbers and their overlapping range is given below.
Make sure to secure your network
Once all the wireless routers are configured, all you need is to daisy chain the routers with each other using an Ethernet cable. For our setup, simply connect the WAN port of GR1 to one of the LAN ports of BR1 using an Ethernet cable and connect the WAN port of BR1 to any LAN port of LR1 using another Ethernet cable. Now once the entire network is switched on, LR1 will serve an IP address to BR1 and GR1 and to everyone connected to any of the three routers connected either via an Ethernet cable or via the wireless network. In this whole network, there is only one DHCP server, which will keep all the clients connected in the same subnet and since the SSID is identical on all the routers, one can roam between any rooms without having to switch the wireless network while moving.
The final setup
You can increase or decrease the wireless antenna gain according to your choice, depending on the coverage area needed in the room. You can also keep the wireless channels set to automatic, if you wish and the router will automatically select the best suited channel by itself. But it is advised to keep the wireless channel numbers as specified in this article to decrease channel clutter and signal drops. The image here shows multiple routers used together with different channel numbers, so that they don’t overlap each other.
Yes, we know that wiring multiple routers with an Ethernet cable in different rooms can be a bit expensive and difficult, too. But this is the only way you can get maximum network speed and connectivity. If you want to compromise on expenses, then you could install DDWRT firmware (if your router is compatible) on the additional routers and set them up to connect to each other wirelessly. But since the wireless strength from LR1 would be weak, the signal would only degrade till you reached the last router in the chain.
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