[FAQ] Using two routers together/ Extending Wi-Fi

tom 2000

Well-known Member
I like wires :)

Want to run some cables to two security cams, trouble is, I've made the holes, but getting the wire from the hole, around a 90 degree and up bend and into the loft have yet defeated my many attempts.

:(
Likewise I am scratching my proverbials about getting a cable to my stables. There was a phone wire but it would not pull back underground. I mentioned it one day to missus and when I talked about diggers I got “the look”.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
I got lucky with last camera in a slightly different position.
Two really long cable ties taped together and a super strong little magnet taped onto the end of both.
Poked one deep into the hole from outside, went into loft, and poked it over the edge into the eves, working totally blind, laying on my stomach so I could just about reach, and DING, the magnets found each other! :)
Tried this same this time, but it's a bit of a turn and up, but no joy. :(
I bought a set of screw together rods, like tiny drain rods for this purpose, but they are too stiff to handle the bend :(

When the warm weather comes next year I'm going to give it another shot....

I have the holes, just not the right gear to stick in them!
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
As a side question.

Say you have a Access Point (router on the end of a Ethernet cable) in another location to beam out a secondary WiFi signal.
Or you have say a powerline adaptor, which takes the signal via your mains, and beams out a WiFi signal.
Or you have one of these very overpriced at +£100 each unit, mesh systems.

Are they actually doing anything different to each other?

Would a phone, for example still be the same, and hold onto a mesh unit from another room, despite being near another stronger one.
Or it is totally different and, in some way all one signal so the phone does not need to jump between the devices?
 

tom 2000

Well-known Member
I got lucky with last camera in a slightly different position.
Two really long cable ties taped together and a super strong little magnet taped onto the end of both.
Poked one deep into the hole from outside, went into loft, and poked it over the edge into the eves, working totally blind, laying on my stomach so I could just about reach, and DING, the magnets found each other! :)
Tried this same this time, but it's a bit of a turn and up, but no joy. :(
I bought a set of screw together rods, like tiny drain rods for this purpose, but they are too stiff to handle the bend :(

When the warm weather comes next year I'm going to give it another shot....

I have the holes, just not the right gear to stick in them!
Will nylon fish tape not do the job?
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
Will nylon fish tape not do the job?
I had never heard of 'Nylon Fish Tape'
Just googled it, and yes, that looks good, will look into getting some.

My problem is that it's beyond hand reach and working blind, and laying on stomach in loft, right in the corner of roof with face into loft insulation. Nice!

Hard to explain, but if you think of the soffet board, at the bottom of a gable end, that's the hole, so it needs to go round a 90' bend, then into the soffet-space sideways, for me to pick it up in the loft, but it's probably a 12"x 12" void, and it's over the lip of wall-brickword in the loft so I can't reach it.

It's a 2 person job, one needs to keep feeding and waggling outside, and another in the loft trying to see if can see anything.

I even tried an extendable steel rule, and magnet combo, but no luck.
as I'm working blind I could be an inch away or no where near.

pain in the bum!
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Will nylon fish tape not do the job?
I very rarely pull cables myself, but I've see "the lads" use all sorts of "creative" mechanisms: As well as "proper" cable pulling gear, I've seen them "push" cables lashed to bits of trunking, progressively pull through thicker cords until they've worked up to one strong enough to pull the actual cable and "fish" through mouse holes with hooks of wire that look suspiciously like coat hangers!

One job I always recall, the trunking in situ (basically a very thin pipe) had one cable in place already and no room for a puller or an additional cable so the solution they came up with was to lash the new cables to the old one, lubricate everything with washing up liquid (including squirting a bit into the pipe) crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Fortunately it worked. (Though it certainly wouldn't have passed cat6 certification!)
 
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tom 2000

Well-known Member
I had never heard of 'Nylon Fish Tape'
Just googled it, and yes, that looks good, will look into getting some.

My problem is that it's beyond hand reach and working blind, and laying on stomach in loft, right in the corner of roof with face into loft insulation. Nice!

Hard to explain, but if you think of the soffet board, at the bottom of a gable end, that's the hole, so it needs to go round a 90' bend, then into the soffet-space sideways, for me to pick it up in the loft, but it's probably a 12"x 12" void, and it's over the lip of wall-brickword in the loft so I can't reach it.

It's a 2 person job, one needs to keep feeding and waggling outside, and another in the loft trying to see if can see anything.

I even tried an extendable steel rule, and magnet combo, but no luck.
as I'm working blind I could be an inch away or no where near.

pain in the bum!
I feel your frustration. I blind drilled into soffit board one day and then had a crisis of confidence that I might have gone through bathroom ceiling by mistake. The real mistake was calling down to the missus to check. Such an earfull in the time it took her to check everything was ok.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Say you have a Access Point (router on the end of a Ethernet cable) in another location to beam out a secondary WiFi signal.
Or you have say a powerline adaptor, which takes the signal via your mains, and beams out a WiFi signal.
Or you have one of these very overpriced at +£100 each unit, mesh systems.

Are they actually doing anything different to each other?
In terms of the Wi-Fi, basically no - and Access Point is an Access Point is an Access Point, whether it is a separate stand alone device, built into a SOHO router or a HomePlug, or a bit of software running on a PC or a phone running something often styled as a "personal hotspot" which turns it into an AP. Or whatever.

Different AP's offer different facilities - there's a lot of variations and options in the Wi-Fi standards - but fundamentally they are all basically doing the same job.

Where the solutions you describe differ is in how they establish what I call the "backhaul" link between AP(s) and the rest of the network. It could be wired ethernet (best way) could be HomePlug (tunneled over the mains) or could be Wi-Fi for backhaul as well as client access which is what a lot of the newer "whole home" and so-called "mesh" systems do.

Would a phone, for example still be the same, and hold onto a mesh unit from another room, despite being near another stronger one.
Yes it could - it depends a bit on how "brutal" the mesh system is about encouraging/forcing the client from one AP to another (it's possible they may not do it at all) which is implementation and/vendor dependent. But fundamentally "mesh" AP's and just AP's like any other, the don't possess some "magic" woo woo the makes them "different" to a fleet of AP's with ethernet (or HomePlug) backhauls. Generally the "mesh" part of so-called mesh systems is about them using Wi-Fi for their backhaul links instead of you having to install cables (or HomePlugs.) And the automation probably sorts out which AP "meshes" with which so you don't have to manually configure it yourself. IIRC some have a management app that draw you a diagram of who is talking to who.

Or it is totally different and, in some way all one signal so the phone does not need to jump between the devices?
There's actually no such thing as "Wi-Fi Signal" as most people conceive it. (Big Wi-Fi Myth Number 1.) Wi-Fi is not facilitated by some ethereal energy field like The Force or Ley Lines or something. The AP's are thusly not "field generators" like that dish thing protecting the death star in the Return of the Jedi.

Every single Wi-Fi device on the planet - all the phones, tablet, laptops, printers, eftpos terminals, webcams, car alarms, and AP's - everything "Wi-Fi" both transmits and receives radio signals. There's no asymmetry in this either - the radio emitted by your iPhone is just the same as the radio emitted by an AP and is entitled to be just as "loud" (though phones do tend to try and be a bit miserly to eek out battery life.) Wi-Fi is two-way radio like walkie-talkies (or a conversation) not one-way radio like television (or a lecture.)

In each Wi-Fi cell there's basically a rule that "only one thing at a time can transmit." the AP's are but one of those "things." There are rules in the Wi-Fi protocols which describe how to determine whose turn it is to transmit, which try to ensure some level of fairness.

So the AP's aren't spewing out some kind of "signal" (energy field) that the clients somehow piggy back onto. It's just like sound. Just as you do not require some "thing" to generate "audio signal" in order for you to speak, you just speak and you voice carries as far as the local environment permits - same for Wi-Fi, except it uses radio waves instead of sound waves.

What makes an AP and AP is it is the "point" at which you "access" the rest of the (wired) network from your Wi-Fi device. Us IT nerds are not terribly inventive when it comes to dreaming up names for things.!

AP's give the illusion of "Wi-Fi Signal" because they transmit something called a "beacon" usually 10 time per second which advertises their presence (and name.) It's these beacons that things like Wi-Fi scanner apps listen out for and display. As part of the meta data the scanners NIC gets when grabbing the beacons out of the air, Wi-Fi NIC's record the received signal strength (RSSI) and it's this that your scanner app displays, graphs or shows on the "bar" meter. It looks like it's measuring "field strength" as if taking a temperature, but it's not, it's an illusion and because the beacons happen so frequently, it looks like a continuous reading even though it isn't in the same way that TV/Film fools us into seeing moving images made out of frequently updated static images.

Roaming from AP to AP is about maintaining a usable data service, not constantly "hunting for the best signal."

I think I need to have a lie down now. And @Tempest - I like your avatar, though of course Defender is the best video game ever and don't let any yoofs claim it's FIFA Soccer '98, Halo or some other nonsense. :D
 
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KayCS

Active Member
Just reading through this very useful thread and thanks for that but just seen the question of getting LAN cables into a loft and it’s something that had me back in the day with head down in itchy fibreglass loft insulation.:(



I found a very simple solution in the over flow pipe to my hot water feed tank in the loft by running a LAN cable through the over flow pipe.



My tank was dismantled and removed years ago after changing to combi-boiler but I still use the over flow pipe as a conduit. If you have a tank in the loft and it’s still used you have to be wary of blockages but one LAN shouldn’t be a problem and mine being disused now carries a LAN and a satellite cabled from my dish.



Just a thought. :)
 

KayCS

Active Member
I wished I had the time, but no, I went from page 1, December 2011 to page 15, October 2018 and upto today and just found a few useful items to keep my network sweet. :D
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Likewise I am scratching my proverbials about getting a cable to my stables. There was a phone wire but it would not pull back underground. I mentioned it one day to missus and when I talked about diggers I got “the look”.
If you cannot get the wires in, if (unobstructured) line of sight is available and distance is not great, maybe have a look at a point-to-point Wi-Fi "bridge" solution - possibly with some directional antenna pointing directly at each other. I've never installed one myself, (though I have subbed the work out,) but others here have.
 

tom 2000

Well-known Member
If you cannot get the wires in, if (unobstructured) line of sight is available and distance is not great, maybe have a look at a point-to-point Wi-Fi "bridge" solution - possibly with some directional antenna pointing directly at each other. I've never installed one myself, (though I have subbed the work out,) but others here have.
House to stables is only about 20 feet wall to wall. I currently use Powerline. Speed takes a dive but is adequate. Of more concern is sometimes it just doesn’t work requiring a Powerline reboot. That mostly happens in cold dark nights, lol. I am not familiar with Wi-fi bridge products. I can see how I can run data cables, electricity could require professional help.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
P2P Wi-Fi links are pretty much as you might expect - it's usually a pair of "things" on the end of ethernet cables that talk to each other to "bridge" together two otherwise separate ethernet (or other Wi-Fi) LAN's. Very similar to what these "mesh" AP's do. Indeed, for such as short (physical) distance a pair of these "mesh" AP's might do the job if you can get them mounted on the (inside) of the appropriate "party" walls.

For such a short distance if there's nothing in the way (such as trees, cars, etc.) you may not even need directional antenna if you mount them externally and/or might get away with not mounting anything external if the walls aren't too thick.

However, as with all Wi-Fi - it's difficult to predict how well it will work in advance of spending the money, so it's a bit of a gamble. You could perhaps try a basic survey. Stick something up against the party wall in one building, preferably high up, (an old router or AP will do - anything as long as it's advertising an SSID - it doesn't need any onward connection) then head into the other building and see what the reception is like at the other "party" wall. I'd try it "both ways round" and see what the trend is like.

Of course, threading the UTP wires though is always going to be better. Wait till she's at her mothers for a weekend and quietly hire in the mini digger. :D

"Other" solutions are available also - one place I worked, we had laser links! Though they could be a bit of pain if it rained and the wipers (just like a car) packed up or bird went and sat on it.
 

tom 2000

Well-known Member
If I did manage to get the two Netgear devices to Bridge would they also act as APs and serve client devices such as phones?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Depends on the software they are running: "Out of the box" probably not, but maybe one of the after market firmwares such as DD-WRT or Tomato might do it if you have some old routers you don't mind "bricking" in case the AM firmware install goes bad. Perhaps take a look at their web sites.

(Ironically, "bridging" and serving clients simultaneously is what a lot of "mesh" nodes are doing.)
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
What's the difference between a wireless router and a wireless access point?

Hope that does not sound too dumb a question ;)

As far as I know, both types of unit need a Internet signal/cable plugging into them, from let's say a Superhub box, and both them beam out WiFi and have some ports you can physically plug items into also.

So, what's the difference?
 

tom 2000

Well-known Member
What's the difference between a wireless router and a wireless access point?

Hope that does not sound too dumb a question ;)

As far as I know, both types of unit need a Internet signal/cable plugging into them, from let's say a Superhub box, and both them beam out WiFi and have some ports you can physically plug items into also.

So, what's the difference?
A router assigns ip addresses and therefore is involved in what goes where. An Access Point is merely somewhere that client devices can get into the Network. The original point of this thread was to reconfigure home routers so they no longer acted as routers but if plugged into the wired home network would provide an alternative Wi-fi source for client devices. Also useful as switches for plugging stuff in to.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
A router assigns ip addresses and therefore is involved in what goes where. An Access Point is merely somewhere that client devices can get into the Network. The original point of this thread was to reconfigure home routers so they no longer acted as routers but if plugged into the wired home network would provide an alternative Wi-fi source for client devices. Also useful as switches for plugging stuff in to.
Thanks for that.
How about I say this and get your response?
A WiFi Router can be made to be a Wireless Access Point, but not the other way around.
 

tom 2000

Well-known Member
Thanks for that.
How about I say this and get your response?
A WiFi Router can be made to be a Wireless Access Point, but not the other way around.
Probably. Furthermore you only want one router acting as a router on a home network otherwise you will get a conflict.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
In data networking a "router" and an "access point" are very different things. The former is packet switching device (bit like a switch, only at the IP level) and latter facilitates Wi-Fi - strictly, an AP is a "bridge" between ethernet and Wi-Fi, in data networking "bridge" has a specific meaning.

The "get-you-on-the-Internet" omni-box we have at home colloquially known as a "router" is to hell and back different from a "proper" network router, albeit that a typical SOHO router actually contains both an AP and an IP router and a lot more besides - switch, modem, DHCP Server, firewall, NAT, etc. etc. In enterprise system these can be, and often are, all separate devices.

Attached to the first post of this thread is a block diagram of a typical SOHO router. Notice that one of the blocks is an AP. If you removed everything except the AP - that's an AP.

You need all the modem/NAT/Firewall/router gubbins to talk to your ISP and separate your network from the rest of the world. You don't need any of that to "do Wi-Fi" - all you need is one or more AP's plugged into your LAN somewhere. But of course, it's convenient for SOHO consumers to have everything packaged in one box.

When SOHO routers were first introduced, they didn't contain AP's at all, but they had all the rest of the get-you-on-the-Internet gubbins. Then in short order as Wi-Fi gained popularity, SOHO routers started including AP's in the package with everything else.

Notice that some vendors have stopped calling them "routers" and use names like "HomeHub" "SuperHub" etc. - not least because people like me moaned that the term "router" was causing confusion - many people now believe "routers" are necessary to "do Wi-Fi" (they are not) and call anything that facilitates Wi-Fi a "router" regardless of whether it actually is or not.

In a typical SOHO network you only need one device facilitating your Internet connection, the modem/NAT/firewall/router functionality and this sits at the "edge" of your network connecting you to the rest of the world, not at the "centre" of your network "bossing" it.

Downstream of that, all you need are ethernet switches and AP(s) - you don't need any more modem/NAT/firewall/router devices - indeed adding them would partition your network and make life "harder."
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
Thanks for that.
How about I say this and get your response?
A WiFi Router can be made to be a Wireless Access Point, but not the other way around.
Weeelll - stictly speaking no, a router is a router and an AP is an AP and one cannot be turned into the other, unless it's got the right hardware and software to do so. What this thread (early on) describes is how to "cripple" a SOHO router so that only the AP and ethernet switch do anything useful so people could use "old" routers as additional AP/switch combos thusly savin having to buy new kit if you had old SOHO routers kicking around.

In such a "crippled" SOHO router, it's internal modem/NAT/firewall/router are all still there and active, it's just we're "arranged" things so they are never asked to so anything - (almost) no traffic ever reached them and they just sit there twiddling their thumbs. All the traffic processed by our crippled SOHO router passes through either "just" the in built ethernet switch and/or AP.

If you were building a network which required more than one Wi-Fi hotspot (cell) from green field, you wouldn't go out a buy a load of (SOHO) Wi-Fi routers and "cripple" them, you'd buy a fleet of (probably "managed") AP's, some switches and something to connect you to the outside world such as is dictated by the service provider and your networking needs.

Life gets really funky with enterprise scale AP's because some of them include a plethora of "bonus" features, including such thing as routers, VPN endpoints, web portals and all sorts somewhat blurring the lines, but fundamentally an AP doesn't need to do any of that. "All" an AP does at the most basic level is convert Wi-Fi to ethernet and vice versa. Indeed, to make that easy to do, the Wi-Fi standards were designed so that Wi-Fi and ethernet packet format are very similar facilitating relatively easy conversion between the two (and quick.) You can almost think of an AP as a two port ethernet switch, it's just that one of the ports happens to be a radio transmitter/receiver instead of an ethernet-over-UTP tranceiver (with a bit of extra logic to handle authentication and so forth.)
 
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Tempest

Distinguished Member
Thanks for replies, really interesting and really complicated ;)
I've never liked networking, ever since Doom2 deathmatch via dial-up days!

What I have done, and know works it you can use an old superhub 2 to act as an access point to your official superhub, simply by turning DNS off on the old superhub, plugging in a cable from the main superhub to the old one, and an instant access point.

Just set the SSID, password and perhaps channels up to work best.

I just stopped this as my new phone didn't like it.
My old phone was fine though.
Perhaps different chipset in the new phone I guess.

I do have a proper access point, a TP link one, but it's only 2.4ghz, which if I'm honest would be ok, and I was going to give it a try in a new local but I can't find the dam power supply at the moment!

As I mentioned, I have a TP link WiFi router coming mid this coming week, so will put my Superhub into modem mode, set it up and see what I get.
Better, worse, the same?

Will report here what happens anyway, it would just be simple all round if one device did everything. without access points and/or extenders.
 

tom 2000

Well-known Member
mickevh knows what he is talking about and I am merely a bluffer that doesn’t know a DNS from a DHCP.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Please do report back.

On your "crippled" SH you need to turn off it's DHCP Server (note "Server" not "Client" - it'll probably have both) otherwise you'll have world of pain with IP addressing issues. Multiple DHCP Servers on a typical SOHO LAN would be a "bad thing" - best to only have one and that should be in your ISP connected router. At time of posting, it's late at night, so perhaps that's a typo and you mean DHCP rather than DNS...?

You should really check the IP addresses of both SH's don't conflict either, especially with the ISP connected "main" SH IP address or it's DHCP range. If crippled SH is getting it's IP address from main SH using DHCP, it's possibly taken care of that for you automatically.
 
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