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Can I use my old router as a repeater?
December 2, 2012 12:18 PM   Subscribe

How can I use my old router as a wireless repeater?

I just replaced my Trendnet TEW-639GR router (this guy right here) with a Netgear N900 (this guy). I did this because I have an old house with thick plaster walls; the signal just wasn't reaching to the other side of my (relatively small) house.

So I got the new router set up. It seems to work pretty well. At the other end of the house, though, it still shows a poor signal--better than the old router, but still pretty crappy.

I would like to use the old router as a repeater or wireless access point. I'd like to take the signal from right before where it drops off (the kitchen), and repeat it to the bedroom (crap signal). I have no idea how to do this. It seems to have the capability, though. The old (Trendnet) manual says, "When WDS is enabled, this access point functions as a wireless repeater and is able to wirelessly communicate with other APs via WDS links." That's the last mention of it in the manual. Thanks for the help, Instruction Manual. You're a big help. And in case you can't tell, Instruction Manual, I'm being sarcastic.

So, is there a way to do this?
posted by rybreadmed to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you can run a cable to the router's new position, I recommend doing so— just turn off any NAT or router functionality on the old router ("bridge mode", perhaps) and plug it into the NATted side of your new router.

If running a cable is too much of a pain, this webpage has a few more bits of information on setting up WDS— is that enough to help?
posted by hattifattener at 1:32 PM on December 2, 2012

I tried following that, and I'm not getting anything. It doesn't give too much detail.
posted by rybreadmed at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2012

Hard wire it if possible. Running it as a repeater means it has to send and receive each packet twice, which will slow your network down.

Set it to a different name but same SSID as your main router, assign it a designated IP address (I use for main router and .253 for secondary wireless), turn off DHCP to put it into access point mode. Plug it directly into the main router with Cat5 or Cat6. Shouldn't cost too much for a spool of cable and a few terminator jacks, plus the faceplates and a floating box to do the wall mount so it looks good instead of hacked together. I ran connections to many of the rooms in my house, either through the wall, ceiling, or in the case of one bedroom, followed the cable line around the side of the house, tucked under the siding, using indoor/outdoor cable for that run.

The setup works well; handoff between routers is transparent to me, devices just connect to whichever of the two has the strongest signal and switch if necessary as I move around the house. Using iStumbler I can see both routers, but in wifi menus it shows up as a single network.
posted by caution live frogs at 4:11 PM on December 2, 2012

It seems like it'll just be easier to bite the bullet and buy a dedicated repeater such as this one. The cost in time (and money) of running cables all over my house seems to justify a dedicated repeater.

Is there any way to use my Trendnet TEW-639GR? It's not that I'm cheap...well, it is. I'm cheap, and I'd like to use my existing router.
posted by rybreadmed at 4:57 PM on December 2, 2012

The thing about WDS is that it's pretty crappy - it's barely a standard (well, OK, it is - but it was standardised so long after the rest of the 802.11 suite, and it's so little-used, that most vendors haven't really bothered to update their implementations), it often doesn't work between manufacturers (or even between models of the same make), many implementations don't work with encryption higher than WEP, and when it does work it essentially halves your throughput. Basically, don't bother, it's not worth the effort.

If your router's at one end of the house, I'd try a cheap directional antenna before anything more expensive.
posted by Pinback at 5:16 PM on December 2, 2012

As others have said, using it as a repeater sucks. The problem with a repeater is that it drops your bandwidth in half. You have a house, does it have an attic? Can you run an ethernet cable in the attic, and install the access point (upside down) over the spot where you're weak on signal? How about powerline ethernet?

To answer your original question:

The netgear WDS information can be found in the manual on pg. 82. There isn't much detail the 639GR
"Configuring WDS with TEW-639GR
Enable the option for WDS and input the MAC Address of the wireless device that also supports WDS in to the blank fields. You can add up to four additional devices in the spaces provided. Click on apply at the bottom of the page, to apply your setting changes.
Enable the security seeing in security page, each WDS APs need to use same security setting.
(Note: WDS supports wireless g/n modes. The use multiple Access Point will reduces the overall network throughput to ½ the TEW-639GR."

I've set up repeaters before, it can be glitchy and unreliable. I even set up a seperate wireless bridge (using 3 routers, two talking on one wireless network, and the third communicating to the clients on a seperate network, to try to keep the bandwidth up) and it was...crappy.
posted by defcom1 at 5:26 PM on December 2, 2012

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