General Networking/Lan/Wan/two routers in same network

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QUESTION: I setup up a spare linksys router as an access point in the other end of the house.  I will call it router #2.  I disabled dhcp, and assigned the IP address on it 192.168.1.2.  Router #1, is 192.168.1.1.  Both routers have same ssid and passkey and I have broadcasts enabled on both.  Router 1 is a linksys with tomato on it.  Router 2 is a linksys with factory firmware.

I am using a wall plugged ethernet bridge to run the ethernet to router 2.  I have the ethernet plugged into a numbered port on router #2.  Nothing is plugged into the internet port in router #2.

So far, the internet seems to work good on router number two.  However, when some devices such as tablets roam back and forth, they seem to maintain excellent signal but don't always have internet connection.  And some devices aren't connecting to the closest router.

The laptops seem ok.  The rokus and tablets seem to be having the problems.  I haven't tried the ps3 yet, but that is wired to the router, and it should be fine.

How can I fix this?

ANSWER: Hi Jim,

May I assume that each access point is set to a different channel?  Say one to 6 and another to 11?  Otherwise they should conflict with each other.  I'm not sure if you are running b/g or n ...  though you did a really nice job of trying to detail most of what's going on there.

Am I to understand that your laptops are dynamically switching which access point they are connected to, on the fly?  If so that's pretty slick for a home-setup - since home wireless networks normally can't pull that off, without some central manager - as would be typical for a multi-access point configuration.

I'm kinda GUESSING that you may not be running 802.11n ....  because if you were, it should have more than sufficient range with only one access point for even a very large house.  I'm doing that here, with a mulit-family with 3000 square feet and 4 stories - all brick and it works very well.  b/g doesn't have great range unfortunately so I'm thinking that might be why you have gone down this road.  Is one of your routers b/g/ and n?

Granted, I've got some unknowns here.  but in IT we try and keep it simple wherever possible.  Assuming that one of your access points/routers is N-capable - then locate it as centrally as possible.  Given your slick Ethernet over power solution, this should be a snap - and have a single wireless network for everything.

If you don't have an N router ... the good news is that they are really quite cheap.  The last one that I bought, an Asus was only $35 at the time and this was like 3 years ago.  Newegg.com has a great selection (as does Amazon) but I usually get my tech stuff from newegg since I've done so for a long time and they have great customer reviews and a wonderful return policy.

Feel free for follow-ups, if you like to fill-in info, etc.  The thing is that some tablets, devices, etc aren't quite as good at connecting with some access points as others.  You can do everything RIGHT ... and still have issues that are limited to the end device.  It can be frustrating.  In theory, it's a clean standard, right?  But ... sometimes it just doesn't work quite as we'd like and we just need to do something else to get it done.

For example, one of my tenants has a Lenovo that can't connect to my wireless.  She's Chinese and runs that character set BUT the laptop was bought HERE and is fairly new.  And that is pretty weird since I own and run TWO Lenovos and both of mine work just fine.  I have tried EVERYTHING to get that one additional laptop on the wireless network, including changing security settings to every type supported - and even disabling security entirely to try that out too.  And ... all to no avail.  That one darn laptop just won't connect and about 12 other devices, ranging from iphones, to a roku, to various laptops (dell, mac, lenovos), to droid phones - are ALL fine.

In the end, I had to run an Ethernet line 2 stories up the back of my house, to supply a physical RJ-45 drop there, just for one laptop  ... after doing that I setup a separate old Netgear access point that I had around and it wouldn't connect to that one either.  But ... they can plug-in and all's well.

Anyway ... I would try just using one centrally located N capable access point (don't worry they all support b/g also), and if that works for you then you can smile and move on to more important things in your life.

I hope this helps and do please feel free for follow-up as you like.

J.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: You are correct, they are both G routers.  I actually am ok with all of my devices except a cheap tablet I bought for 60 bucks.  The wifi range on that sucker is horrible, and thats why I decided to throw our spare router in the other room to provide it a good signal.  It just so happens this tablet is also the one that cannot seamlessly roam.  Big surprise haha.  I still think it was a steal for an android tablet for 60 bucks for the kids to play games and stream videos.

As far as the rokus go, since they do not move, I should be able to setup a mac filter in each router, for those to prevent them from connecting to the wrong router.  Correct?

I didn't realize the N routers will provide significant more range.  I will go ahead and give one of those a try.  Will a cheap one still allow policies to control internet disabling schedules for the kids devices?  That is why I like my tomato firmware.  With a click of a button, I can disable any device in the house, or set a schedule for them.  Can I do that on the cheap current N routers?

One last question, how can I tell which router a device is getting internet from and connected to?  Before I added the second router, it was easy to see from my tomato device list.  However, with both routers now running, I am unsure how to tell...

Answer
Hi Jim,

>> QUESTION: You are correct, they are both G routers.  

Ah ... yes that is what I expected.  Nice to know that my guesses aren't too bad   :-)

>> I actually am ok with all of my devices except a cheap tablet I bought for 60 bucks.  The wifi range on that sucker is horrible, and thats why I decided to throw our spare router in the other room to provide it a good signal.  It just so happens this tablet is also the one that cannot seamlessly roam.  Big surprise haha.  I still think it was a steal for an android tablet for 60 bucks for the kids to play games and stream videos.

I agree - that's a heck of a nice deal.  You may well find that it simply interacts better with a different access point.  We can hope!

>> As far as the rokus go, since they do not move, I should be able to setup a mac filter in each router, for those to prevent them from connecting to the wrong router.  Correct?

Hmmm ... if you do that then the Roku will TRY to connect to whatever it does.  But if it fails to do so it may or may not try the other one.  You can certainly give it a shot but don't be too disappointed if it doesn't work.  Since you already have the extra hardware, you could readily run a separate ssid for that Roku (it's not going to move around anyway) and then it'll be fine.

Another thought is that you could run a different security type on the other router?  So then if the Roku is only configured for that one, with that password then in theory it may just try the one (since it sees the other but isn't really configured for it).  I'm not a total expert on things wireless but that could be worth a shot too.

>> I didn't realize the N routers will provide significant more range.  I will go ahead and give one of those a try.  Will a cheap one still allow policies to control internet disabling schedules for the kids devices?  That is why I like my tomato firmware.  With a click of a button, I can disable any device in the house, or set a schedule for them.  Can I do that on the cheap current N routers?

Oh yes the N stuff is freak'n awesome.  It's SO much faster and has far greater range too.  When I first stepped up to N a bunch of years ago it was really a leap forward.  Unfortunately the first N router I got died in only a year but my current one is still going strong.  As to what features they have, well that will be dependent on each vendor and what they include.  I can't really imagine that scheduling isn't standard (it is on my 3 year old Asus - though I don't use that feature) but you'll just need to look a bit at different models to see what features they include.  I would be much surprised if any decent vendor doesn't have scheduling.

Please note that in my experience, it's best to not try QoS features on those small routers.  They tend to not really help in a home environment, and can foul up the configs - at least if you are using standard firmware rather than 3rd party stuff like Tomato, etc.  Personally, I have never felt the need to try out the 3rd party firmwares in my setup and honestly didn't want to take the risk that I'd end up with a brick if things went sideways during the install.  I'd also avoid D-Link - their stuff has always let me down and I'll never give them another chance.

Here's a link with many good router options:
http://www.newegg.com/Wireless-Routers/SubCategory/ID-145?Order=PRICE&Pagesize=1

You may wish to consider spending a bit more to get one with an integrated print server.  I personally love this feature and being able to print from anywhere in the house, instead of being forced to physically connect with a USB cable.

>> One last question, how can I tell which router a device is getting internet from and connected to?  Before I added the second router, it was easy to see from my tomato device list.  However, with both routers now running, I am unsure how to tell...

That list will certainly be available via the UI in each router, for something like "connected devices".  On the client side you MAY be able to see what RSSID (and perhaps also the MAC) it is connected to.  But that will depend on how sophisticated a UI the wireless client software provides.  Laptops are rather good about this.  Other devices?  Hmmm ... well, you'd just have to look and see if those details are actually available.  Some may list these details and others may not.  Even my top end Droid 4.2 phone only tells me the ssid, security type, and gateway IP but not actually more than that.

J.

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Specialist in leveraging technology toward fulfilling a customer's business objectives: enhancing revenues and giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Networks: architecture, design, monitoring and trouble-shooting
Technologies: Bandwidth Management (QoS), WAN Optimization, Application Performance Management (APM), User Experience Management

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