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2009-03-14

Wireless again

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I have an extended wireless network. It now includes two daisy-chains and one spur: a daisy-chain on 802.11n (5GHz) with a TimeCapsule (which has internet connection from my ADSL modem/router) and two Extremes; a daisy-chain on 802.11g (2.5GHz) with older kit — two Extremes (one connected by ethernet to the remote end of the 802.11n chain) and three Expresses.

Autoconfigure was a welcome feature of the 802.11n Express. It was great — when it worked — but it was always flakey.

With the 7.4.1 firmware update my setup became completely unstable. In particular, whenever Time Machine started a backup the network would auto-reconfigure, and break. I had to use an ethernet connection direct to the Time Capsule to make a backup. I've now reverted to a manual setup of the WDS with explicit MAC numbers. All appears stable, my iPhone is back on WiFi and backup over wireless is working again.

If you're having problems with an autoconfigured wireless network, try going back to manually configured WDS. Use Airport Utility. First make a note of the Airport ID (MAC number) for each of your devices. Then, one-by-one switch from Create a Wireless Network or Extend a Wireless Network to Participate in a WDS Network. A WDS tab will appear. Under this tab you can see (and manually adjust) the autoconfigured setup. In my case I found that two Extremes were trying to act as WDS main.

As usual, be careful to update the various access points in an order that doesn't leave you unable to access some device over wireless. If you do get into that sorry state, a direct ethernet connection can be used to reconfigure the lost device.

2 comments:

Peter said...

Thanks for your interesting post.

With your experience of daisy chaining, it would be greatly appreciated if you could advise me on whether I can buy and add an additional Airport Extreme to the two I already have (bought almost 2 years ago) please. I currently have one Extreme attached to my router and the other is about 50 metres away and links to it to create a broader wi-fi zone. I would now like to add another Extreme in the opposite direction to where the second one is located so that the other end of our home is also covered. My Apple technician says that there would be too much conflict between the three stations to make this work and has said that I would need to have a second base station to link separately to the one at the other end of our home, i.e I would have to buy 2 more Apple Extremes. Is he correct??

Many thanks in anticipation of your help with this.

Michael Fourman said...

I haven't tried exactly what you suggest with the new extremes, but I have made it work with the old ones. I just set up WDS with the root acting as main base station for two separate branches,

My suggestion would be to suck it and see. If it doesn't work you can think about buying a fourth one, but then you'd have two separate SSIDs and that could be a pain.