How can I share a printer from two different Airport Extreme networks?
May 5, 2010 2:40 PM   Subscribe

I have two Airport Extreme networks. One is connected to a cable modem and is used for family activities such as web browsing and Netflix/Roku access. The other Airport Extreme is connected to DSL and is used in my home office for work related tasks. How can I share an ethernet-ready printer between both networks?

The Airport Extreme units sit beside each other on a shelf. The printer is an ancient (but very reliable) HP4 with an ethernet card installed.
posted by fjb to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you need to keep these 2 different networks? Why not have 1?
posted by k8t at 2:57 PM on May 5, 2010

Connect the printer to one of the computers (doesn't matter which one, I use an old iMac sitting in the basement) and then Share the printer through Sharing in the system preferences. You will, however, need to switch to that network (an easy task by just choosing the other network with the airport icon in the menu bar if you don't happen to be on it), in order to use the printer.
posted by HuronBob at 3:04 PM on May 5, 2010

I suppose you could hook the printer up to an ethernet hub, then attach each airport extreme via ethernet to the same hub so that they can find each other. Maybe go that route.
posted by teedee2000 at 3:06 PM on May 5, 2010

oops...didn't see that it was a network printer.. in that case, just plug it into one of the extreme units with cat5... then do as mentioned above... There's no way, as far as I know, it can be on both networks at the same time..
posted by HuronBob at 3:06 PM on May 5, 2010

You say you have an "ethernet card installed"; do you really have an internal network card, or an external jetdirect that attaches via the parallel port? If you really do have an internal network card, go to ebay, and buy a JetDirect 170x or EX Plus3. It connects via the Parallel port, and has an ethernet port. Hook it up, and you'll have two ethernet ports. Configure each on its own seperate network. The printer wont care; and your machines wont know its on both networks, or even care.

Other solutions to this might be to get a dual-wan router, and hook your DSL and CABLE to the same router, and route out the right interface based on the machines MAC address (blah blah blah techie speak).
posted by SirStan at 3:16 PM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sir Stan has the easiest solution, and possibly the cheapest. (Provided you can figure out how to configure the older external Jet Direct, which can be tricky.)

What you should probably try is just connecting the airports together with a crossover cable. They might be smart enough on their own to figure out what to do when a computer on one network tries to get to the printer on the other network. (Provided they are on different subnets.) Then you might have to configure the printer manually, because any auto-discovery configurators probably won't work. But if the client PCs are using strictly IP based printing, the traffic ought to go through. You might have to set up a static route of some kind.
posted by gjc at 4:02 PM on May 5, 2010

Any reason you can't just connect the two Airports together? They look to be simple 3 port switches. Most good GigE interfaces do auto-crossover, but if not just get a crossover cable. Set the two Airports to have different gateway addresses on the same network. Might take some DHCP fiddling or setting static IP information on the connecting machines. Otherwise, should work fine.
G1 (dsl) -- AP1 --|-- Wireless1
                  |-- Ethernet1 -- Printer
                  |-- Ethernet2 -- AP2.Ethernet1

G2 (cable) -- AP2 -- | -- Wireless2
                     |--Ethernet1 -- AP1.Ethernet2
Wireless1 DHCP: Netmask: GW:
Printer: (same Netmask, GW)
Wireless2 DHCP: Netmask: GW:

Local network traffic is bridged across both APs Ethernet and Wireless, non-local traffic goes through default gateway configured on each machine via DHCP or Static assignment.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:27 PM on May 5, 2010

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