AirTunes, anyone?
July 7, 2006 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions for AirTunes Fun / Hacks, please!

I've just ordered an Apple Airport Express w/ AirTunes from an eBay seller. I'm very much looking forward to receiving it and playing with it. I'm looking for some tips, fun tricks/hacks and advice from owners. Ideally I'd like to use it to:

1. Extend the range of an existing unencrypted WLAN
2. Stream audio to my hi-fi.
3. Share a HP1200 with a Mac and a PC

Possible complications:
1. The WLAN AP is a WRT54G (so supposedly compatible) but it isn't mine. My neighbour very kindly shares his internet with all in range, but I very much doubt he'd be willing to allow me access to its settings to configure it if that's necessary?
2. I had wanted to use this setup for DVDs too, in conjunction with AirFoil, but I've read that delays are prohibitive.
3. The printer should ideally stay in the office, not move to the living room to be next to the AirPort Express and Hi-Fi - I guess for this I'd need two AirPorts!

So - it's up to you if you'd like to comment on the above, but what I'd also really appreciate are thoughts, experiences, hacks anecdotes from existing owners.

posted by dance to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I use an Airport Express as a wireless bridge for my Xbox, connecting to a WRT54G.

- You need firmware updates to be able to do true bridging, where packets are just passed from the ethernet port across the wireless to the access point. I did this so that I could have my desktop machine and Xbox be on the same ethernet network.

- The Airport Express can run as a client to the AP, but then has to NAT the traffic. The downside to this is that you wont be able to access devices on the Airport's ethernet from your wireless network, but would be able to access devices on your wireless network from your Airport's ethernet. This doesnt require firmware updates.

- I play XviD files on my Xbox, wirelessly, from my desktop machine. I have no problems with this, no stuttering or anything, however it does take about 6-10 seconds before video playback starts. I haven't tried streaming DVDs, which would be a significantly higher bitrate.

- Airtunes rocks, and should "just work", as it uses multicast.

There's a wealth of info out there. I'm sure you won't have any trouble figuring out what to do with your AX =)
posted by kableh at 9:14 AM on July 7, 2006

I use an Airport Express as a wireless bridge for my Xbox, connecting to a WRT54G.

What mode are you using on the AirPort Express to do this? I didn't think it was possible.

1. Extend the range of an existing unencrypted WLAN

Can't be done without new firmware on the WRT54G.

2. Stream audio to my hi-fi.

If the AirPort Express is in client mode and has the exsting network's settings, it should be fine. The range for 100% reliable operation is pretty minimal though (approx. 1 room).

3. Share a HP1200 with a Mac and a PC

If using the Express' client mode and the printer's USB port, that should work.
posted by cillit bang at 10:31 AM on July 7, 2006

My understanding, which may be completely wrong, is that the Airport can only do one of the functions at a time. Such as, it can act as a gateway/router OR it can accept wireless audio for output OR it can be a print server. I don't think it can do all of it at once, right?
posted by jeversol at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2006

No, it can do everything at once in router mode. In client mode (when it joins an existing network), the ethernet port can only be used for printing and music, and can't be used to access wireless. I don't what kableh is doing to make this happen with the XBox.
posted by cillit bang at 2:34 PM on July 7, 2006

I can address some of your complications:

I have an Airport Express, which I use as a bridge to extend my existing wireless network. My main router, like your neighbor's, is a Linksys WRT54G. I didn't have to change any settings on it to make it work with the Airport (some instructions I've read claim that you must change your router firmware to an open source alternative and set up the bridge using the Airport's MAC address, but maybe that applies to an older version of the Linksys router, because I didn't have to do any of that).

To set the Airport as a bridge, I used the AirPort Admin Utility, pointed it at my Airport Express, and under the WDS tab, selected "Enable this base station as a WDS remote base station" and "Allow wireless clients on this base station." Then selected my existing wireless network from the menu. Super easy.

I also have a Linksys 5-port switch plugged into the ethernet jack of the Airport, into which I plug my Tivo and my Xbox.

Finally, my stereo is hooked up to the Airport, so that I can stream music to it via iTunes.

With regards to other cool things one can do with the Airport Express: I just picked up a second Airport, which I have hooked up to my stereo outside. With the latest version of iTunes, you can stream music to multiple Airports at once. So when we have parties, we can play the same music simultaneously in the living room and in the backyard.

The Airport Express rules!
posted by medpt at 5:32 PM on July 7, 2006

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