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Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

Airport Extreme -> Airport Express via Cat6 not working?


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ltdrebin

 
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Hi Guys..first time poster/long time lover of the forums

I currently have a wireless network in my house using an Airport Extreme. I have a cable modem running into it and then a WPA2 protected wireless network broadcasting for various devices in my house including a 'main' computer and printer which is located on the other side of the house.

Sadly the signal is fairly weak by the time it gets to the other side (~28% according to iStumbler) and the printer (wireless) often drops out and the main computer gets very sub-par performance from the network. Worst yet, this is the computer that syncs to my Apple TV (Gen1) so the buffering/sync'ing speeds are terrible.

Anyway, due to the construction of the house I cannot run an ethernet cable to this back room (lets call it the den) and so need a way to bring the wireless signal 'closer'. This is when I invested in an Airport Express which I could plug in about 50% closer to the den and then run an ethernet cable from it to the Airport Extreme so as to not loose any of the wireless signal/bandwidth etc (this is what 99% of the forums say to do!)

My problem now that I've done this and configured it a dozen different ways (to test) is that in effect the signal is marginally better and performance is NOT notably better. iStumbler shows a signal strength of 37% now even though I'm less then 11 feet from the Airport Express. I've tested creating new networks, joining networks, the exact same settings as the Airport Extreme etc etc etc..and nothing has made a difference.

Now my main concern is that I feel like it is NOT in fact using the ethernet cable to 'create' /boost the signal but in fact is still relying on the wireless signal to then repeat. I cannot figure out anyway to test and see if it is indeed using the ethernet to rebroadcast the original Airport Extreme network.

Sorry for the ramble but if anyone could lay this out for me (step by step if it's not too much to ask) I would be forever grateful as I'm at my wits end trying to get a decent signal in this house!!

drebin
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mrplow

 
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OK.

To see if it's getting the network connection via ethernet or just extending the wireless turn wifi off on your airport extreme. If the wireless network remains, the airport express must be getting a network connection via ethernet.

If:
- The signal from Extreme to Den is weak
- The signal from Express to Den is weak
Maybe the Dens location and environment is the issue.

Try connecting the express to the Extreme by ethernet. Have it create a network called 'EXP', using the extreme to give it an IP/internet connection. And, for this example, lets say the wifi on the extreme is called 'EXT'. So you now have two wireless networks connected to the same internet connection.

Use iStumbler in the Den and compare the strength of both the EXP and EXT networks.

If both are still very weak/similar them I suspect something in the environment/make-up/location of the Den.

If this is the case you're going to struggle to resolve your issues with wi-fi. Perhaps consider using ethernet over power adapters (one connected to the extreme, one connected to the express but actually in the Den). Both using the same SSID. That will give you the best wifi signal in the Den, providing the adapters work in your situation.

If, in the above example, the EXP network is strong enough to use then it's likely all a config issue. If this is the case post back and I'll try and give you detailed config instructions.

I know, I ramble, but hopefully some of it will be of some help.

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For starters, why are you running a cable between 2 wireless devices? Have the Airport Express join the extremes network wirelessly. This will then, in effect, double (if not more ) the range of the network you are trying to join. This is what wireless stations like this are designed to do.

Once you have done this, come back and tell us how it works.


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I agree it should be used as a repeater but looking at the OPs original post they've tried most things and wireless or cabled repeater the overall range will be the same. Double or more is a little optimistic.
Looking further at the post getting the express that close and still getting a weak signal definitely smacks or an environmental issue.

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I large houses we have been known to use several Airport Extremes but most of the time an AEBS and 3 AE's get the job done per floor keeping the AEBS in a central location if possible.
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I use an Airport Express wirelessly connected to my Airport Extreme (Gen 2) to extend my network into my basement with a more robust signal. It seems to work just fine, but all homes and AO's are different. I wasn't aware one could plug an Express into an Extreme, as I thought the ethernet port on the Express was dedicated to a modem connection. Guess I learned something new.

Anyhow, perhaps you might try the different Ghz frequencies available on the devices 5Ghz -vs- 2.4Ghz. You could also fiddle with the dedicated "n" setting -vs- "n/g compatible" setting. I've found in the past that some homes have some frequencies more saturated than others. I've also seen wireless n/g compatibility mode diminish signal strength in my own home, but I have no idea why. Just a thought.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrplow View Post
I agree it should be used as a repeater but looking at the OPs original post they've tried most things and wireless or cabled repeater the overall range will be the same. Double or more is a little optimistic.
Looking further at the post getting the express that close and still getting a weak signal definitely smacks or an environmental issue.
Probably the best bet would be to use multiple Airport Express's between the two areas vice running a cable.


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ltdrebin

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baggss View Post
For starters, why are you running a cable between 2 wireless devices? Have the Airport Express join the extremes network wirelessly. This will then, in effect, double (if not more ) the range of the network you are trying to join. This is what wireless stations like this are designed to do.

Once you have done this, come back and tell us how it works.
Hi,

Sorry if I didn't explain that part well enough, but my understanding from all the various articles/msg boards etc is that by simply 'repeating' or extending the network wirelessly I will effectively be cutting my bandwidth in half as the Airport Express will be taking 50% of the original signal/bandwidth to re-broadcast that out through itself.

This was the original way I set everything up and I really noticed the drop in performance (according to speedtest.net..perhaps not the best test site but alas..when I was near the Extreme I could get anywhere from 20-30Mbps..but from the 'den' and off the 'repeated' signal I would be lucky to see 7-8Mbps.
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ltdrebin

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrplow View Post
OK.

To see if it's getting the network connection via ethernet or just extending the wireless turn wifi off on your airport extreme. If the wireless network remains, the airport express must be getting a network connection via ethernet.

If:
- The signal from Extreme to Den is weak
- The signal from Express to Den is weak
Maybe the Dens location and environment is the issue.

Try connecting the express to the Extreme by ethernet. Have it create a network called 'EXP', using the extreme to give it an IP/internet connection. And, for this example, lets say the wifi on the extreme is called 'EXT'. So you now have two wireless networks connected to the same internet connection.

Use iStumbler in the Den and compare the strength of both the EXP and EXT networks.

If both are still very weak/similar them I suspect something in the environment/make-up/location of the Den.

If this is the case you're going to struggle to resolve your issues with wi-fi. Perhaps consider using ethernet over power adapters (one connected to the extreme, one connected to the express but actually in the Den). Both using the same SSID. That will give you the best wifi signal in the Den, providing the adapters work in your situation.

If, in the above example, the EXP network is strong enough to use then it's likely all a config issue. If this is the case post back and I'll try and give you detailed config instructions.

I know, I ramble, but hopefully some of it will be of some help.
Hi,

Thanks so much for the comprehensive 'test steps'.

So I was able to do Step1 last night which was to turn off the wireless signal on the Extreme and test if the Express kept broadcasting its wireless signal and indeed it did albeit very weakly.

Interestingly enough while using iStumbler I also noticed (perhaps this is normal?) that even sitting next to a fully exposed Extreme (i.e not in cupboard etc) the strongest signal I could get was ~60%. Doesn't that seem odd? The same went for the Express when I was standing literally right next to it.

Someone mentioned using Wifi Analyzer on my Android phone too and it shows an equally poor strength coming from both units albeit much much stronger when I got closer to them.

I'm starting agree that it is indeed the house itself (and perhaps appliances etc) that are mainly to blame although some colleagues have suggested that I'd be better off using a 'electrical/power' based setup to take advantage of the houses wiring and the plethora of outlets near the den and around the house.

My main concern there is that again, it's an old house with what I suspect would be dubious wiring..so I assume that would also affect the reliability of that way of doing things?
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ltdrebin

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XJ-linux View Post
I use an Airport Express wirelessly connected to my Airport Extreme (Gen 2) to extend my network into my basement with a more robust signal. It seems to work just fine, but all homes and AO's are different. I wasn't aware one could plug an Express into an Extreme, as I thought the ethernet port on the Express was dedicated to a modem connection. Guess I learned something new.

Anyhow, perhaps you might try the different Ghz frequencies available on the devices 5Ghz -vs- 2.4Ghz. You could also fiddle with the dedicated "n" setting -vs- "n/g compatible" setting. I've found in the past that some homes have some frequencies more saturated than others. I've also seen wireless n/g compatibility mode diminish signal strength in my own home, but I have no idea why. Just a thought.
Thanks XJ..I've definitely tried to do a 5ghz with the Express and leave the Extreme doing the b/g network (for my wife's iPhone etc) but it seemed really temperamental for some reason. At times it would be lightening fast and have a decent signal strength (the strongest I've ever been able to obtain in the den is 40% but typically it lingers around 27-32%) but at other times it would almost drop out all together..

ideally I would find another Extreme or Express to test to make sure the hardware itself isn't failing..or would anyone suggest adding a non-Apple unit to the equation?
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How far apart are the extreme and express ?
How many walls in-between ?
Are they located next to metal objects ?
Have you tried moving them up/down and side to side ( I have seen signal increase by moving an Extreme higher up by one foot.) ?
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ltdrebin

 
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Hi Guys,

Here's a quick and nasty image of the layout of my current setup..though maybe the distances/obstructions etc might help you all in eyeballing any issues.

Also, I was wondering if you think it might help if I effectively reversed the current setup and ran the Airport Extreme from the 'central' location and use the CAT6 to connect it to the cable modem back at the TV location and also run a CAT6 to the Airport Express back near the TV..thoughts?

Cheers,

Drebin
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The central location would help and those distances are not any farther than I have
mine set with the exception of one less wall and no second story.
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Moving the Airport Extreme to a more centralized location would help. If there are cable drops available in other rooms that meet that requirement move the whole setup there. The Express located between the central point and the outer edges would give you enough signal coverage to cover the entire side of the house.

Using the express as a repeater isn't going to cost you enough bandwidth to worry about. Even if you have a 15 - 20 Mbs connection (or faster) from the modem you still not going to lose any seeped since the Airport in N mode has significantly more bandwidth than double that number.

In short, running Ethernet cable between wireless devices is kind of silly and ignores the inherent basic capabilities that are the entire purpose of wireless to begin with.


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Thanks to all of you. I have found a pretty happy medium by moving the Extreme to the more central location near the stairs and unplugging the Express altogether. I may experiment with plugging the Express in the Den itself and setting it to 'extend the network' wirelessly and see if this helps or hinders but otherwise I'm getting ~50% signal now in the Den (according to iStumbler) which is up from ~27-32% before so I'm happy.

Thanks again!!
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