Question Extender/repeater? What's best for me?

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gggplaya

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This one sure has gone lots of ways. Key will be if either of those 2 already have 2 ethernet ports. If not you are going to have to add a ethernet board. Without digging around in the specs on cpu I don't know but in general a router function does better with faster clock rate cpu, it does not use multiple cpu well.

I have gotten lost in the thread. I though you said it worked ok if you plugged into the main router. The raw number of sessions seldom is a issue. If someone is running bit torrent it might have issue but even then this is more a memory issue. Even very inexpensive routers can pass 1gbit of traffic wan-lan because they have a special software NAT offload feature that bypasses the cpu.

This will not make your wifi problems better. You still need to keep your current routers for the Wifi radios. The number of wifi sessions a device can handle is done in the wifi chips themselves the cpu is not involved much. Using a wifi add in board in a PC works very poorly, I think mostly because of the location of the antenna. When you use a PC as a router you tend to always use some form of AP for your wifi.

Maybe I got lost here most times you only need to use a pc as a router when you need high speed vpn or your are in some way over utilizing a very large internet connection and are trying to use QoS to solve it rather than try to reduce the load or buy a bigger internet connection.

You should read up on Buffer Bloat(https://www.stoplagging.com/ ), not everyone can afford or have the ability to even get gigabit internet. I have gigabit internet and still had problems with bufferbloat because my upload is maxed out at 25mbps. If someone is syncing or uploading to the cloud, then other people on the network gaming will get packet loss without a good QOS system. Read up on the development of FQ_Codel and the eventual successor CAKE. I installed OpenWRT on my old router and enabled FQ_Codel, it was simply awesome. The problem was the ARM chip inside the router would max out my download speed at about 300mbps using the algorithm. It wasn't powerful enough. Then I looked at x86 off the shelf routers to handle it, and they were $600+. So I built my own router for much cheaper. I bought the processor, motherboard and ram for about $150. The power supply, USB stick and case I had already laying around. The 2 intel retired server cards were $20 shipped for the pair.

I would still use the Intel based network cards I suggested. It's much better for router and server duty. Significantly more reliable than the chips used on most cheaper motherboards.

The method of operation is a little more advanced, but this is basically how corporate businesses do their internet. They have a system rack with a router server, then have wifi access points to serve the areas of the office with wifi.

I then repurposed my expensive Asus routers to be a mesh access point network with wired backhaul. My network has never been this reliable. I used to get dropped packets and occasional internet lockups all the time. Rainbow Six Siege tells you when it's client side or server side on the screen as it's happening. I haven't had any client side lag since my new setup, it just works so well.

I've got a couple other older computers lying around, would they be better suited to the task?

#1
CPU Intel Core2 Quad CPU Q6600 2.40GHz
6GB ram

#2
CPU Intel Core2 Duo CPU E7500 @ 2.93GHz
6GB ram

Just wondering if one of those might be a better solution for what I'm asking it to do.
The Quad Q6600 is too much of a power hog. The core2 Duo E7500 should be sufficient for your internet speed, might struggle if you ever upgrade to gigabit internet, but should be plenty powerful enough for what you have now. Eventually when you retire your core i7, you can repurpose that into your new router. It should be able to handle well beyond gigabit FQ_Codel traffic shaping.
 
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That is all nice but I guess I wonder why you think this problem is bufferbloat. He says if you plugs into the main router it all runs fine.

Most his complaints are about wifi and using a PC as a router is not going to solve that. If I missed something I appolgise but I still think his best options is going to be to spent his time fixing the ethernet cables in his house.
 

gggplaya

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That is all nice but I guess I wonder why you think this problem is bufferbloat. He says if you plugs into the main router it all runs fine.

Most his complaints are about wifi and using a PC as a router is not going to solve that. If I missed something I appolgise but I still think his best options is going to be to spent his time fixing the ethernet cables in his house.
I don't think his problem is buffer bloat. His problem is his main router has poor software or a poor quality ethernet chip for the built in switch. It won't allow the connection of an access point for some reason. I've never even heard of that brand of router before, I'm really doubting it's well made.

He can't use just the single primary router because the signal upstairs is low.

Also, the router can't handle more than 25 connections per the documentation. He needs to upgrade his main router, or connect a secondary wifi access point to help offload the wifi connections.

If he's going to upgrade his router anyways, with the amount of users he has in his house and only a 50-100mbps internet connection, you need really good QOS to make for a smooth experience. If he has the capability to build his own PC's, then making a router is not hard. Just build it, load the USB stick and fire it up. Then configure the router like you would any other router. Set the old routers to be used as access points and let the main router handle all the DHCP.
 

gggplaya

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I see I missed the part he has a crap router. I kinda have gotten used to even extremely cheap routers seem to not be limited by session limits.
People can use cheap routers, it all depends on their situation. My parents for example, would be fine with a cheap router. They only have 2 smartphones, an apple tv box and 1 desktop. Luckily for them, they get my high end hand me downs, but otherwise I would have bought them a cheap name brand router. The advantage of using a cheap name brand router is the trickle down software. Typically, it's just a cut down version of the software they use in their high end routers, so it' generally well developed and most of the bugs are worked out. Most of the major brands of routers have sub $50 routers, even down to $30 if you don't need wireless AC or a gigabit switch.
 

schwim

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Hi there guys and thanks so much for your continued assistance! I'm very sorry for the meandering nature of the topic. I guess that's just the byproduct of me not knowing how to properly test issues.

The two gigabit nic cards are on their way from the eBay seller so I should get those sometime this week. I've picked up a Netgear wifi router that I'll be using as a second WAP along with the Medialink and will try my hand at the PC with OWRT installed as my router. This will give me a router in the basement and a WAP on both the first and second floor.

One of the issues we had with the one person at the corner of the house seems to have been resolved by his installation of a wireless card with a remote antenna. He's now got a stable connection. The only thing I'd like to address now is the sometimes bumpy discord voice (not dropouts, just broken) and things of that nature. My layman brain is hoping that the issue may be dropped packets caused by too many connections trying to do a lot of stuff at the same time.

I don't necessarily think that each of these changes directly address a particular issue I have but I'm trying to create a local network that can handle whatever the house requires and I hope this will do it. I'll keep the thread updated and am sure that I'll need further assistance :)

Thanks again for your time!
 
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schwim

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Hi there folks! I come bearing a question :)

My setup will be the PC with a WAN and LAN port, I will have two APs but unless I use the onboard PC port in addition to the NIC card providing a LAN port, I'll have one more AP than I have LAN ports on the PC.

Can I plug one of the APs into the other AP without performance degradation? To explain it better, can I plug the upstairs AP into the first floor AP, which then gets it's info from the line from the PC where both APs will be providing wireless connections? Would I be better off having a second LAN port on the pc so that each AP has a direct line to it?

Thanks for your time!
 

kanewolf

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Hi there folks! I come bearing a question :)

My setup will be the PC with a WAN and LAN port, I will have two APs but unless I use the onboard PC port in addition to the NIC card providing a LAN port, I'll have one more AP than I have LAN ports on the PC.

Can I plug one of the APs into the other AP without performance degradation? To explain it better, can I plug the upstairs AP into the first floor AP, which then gets it's info from the line from the PC where both APs will be providing wireless connections? Would I be better off having a second LAN port on the pc so that each AP has a direct line to it?

Thanks for your time!
If you are going to use a PC as a "router" -- 1 WAN and 1 LAN port, then you put an ethernet switch right after the LAN port. All other connectivity goes to that switch.
 

schwim

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If you are going to use a PC as a "router" -- 1 WAN and 1 LAN port, then you put an ethernet switch right after the LAN port. All other connectivity goes to that switch.
Ok, so negative on the idea of daisy chaining one ap into the other and instead let this be the go-between for the aps and the PC:

 

gggplaya

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What? Of course, YES you can use the built in network switch on your access point to daisy chain to the other access point. That's how I have my house set up with 2 access points.

Just make sure each access point has a different IP address, which if you're using the router as the DHCP server, they should. I would reserve the MAC addresses of each access point to make login administration easier. Like if your router is 192.168.1.1 then make access point one 192.168.1.2 and access point two 192.168.1.3.

DON'T use the WAN ports on your access points, some access point/routers will use their built in DHCP server when you do this and you'll be double/triple NAT'd. Make sure you have them set as access point mode and the DHCP is turned off. Let your main router do the DHCP.

Only use the network switch on each access point. Connect router to network switch of AP 1, then connect another port of AP1 to the network switch of AP 2.

As for degrading performance, yes and no. You'll be at the limit of gigabit to the first AP 1 network switch. But unless you have over 1gbps internet or your're doing tons of file transfers between computers on different access points, you really shouldn't see any degredation on performance and latency is maybe 1-2ms per daisy chain between access points.
 
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Ralston18

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With all that has been going on and discussed, I will add a suggestion.

Before doing anything get a good working sense of your network.

Start with a free utility such as Advanced IP scanner. With 35-40 potential devices who knows what all may be going on. Discover what devices are on your network, which ones should be but do not appear, which ones appear that you do not recognize. You will need to run the scanner several times over a few days to capture devices that may not always be on.

Check your router: It may have a listing of connected devices within its admin functions.

Run "apr -a" (without quotes) via the Command Prompt. Do so via 3 or 4 network computers. Get a sense of what the computers are "seeing" in the network.

Sketch out a diagram of your network: the diagram does not need to be a work of art per se. Just enough to clearly show devices, locations, name, IP, MAC, and the the connectivity path to the network be that wired or wireless. Include switches, router, and port numbers.

Most likely you will find yourself needing to revise the diagram as you figure out the network. And again when you start making changes. Marker boards are great for that - just snap an occasional photo to keep a record.

Use the diagram to plan changes and revisions. Especially if you are setting up Static IPs etc..

Being able to view the proverbial big picture will prove to be very helpful overall.
 

schwim

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Before doing anything get a good working sense of your network.
Thanks very much for the suggestion! I will start saving some nmap results and get an idea of what is on the network.

Ok, I got my cards in the mail today with a freebie. It seems the seller accidentally added a third card to the package. When contacted, they said not to worry about shipping it back so it seems I've got a different card with two jacks that I could use if it's of any additional benefit:

The two expected cards:


And the oddball:



Would that odd card play any part of my network? Is it just a card that would allow me to combine the wan and lan ports and if so, would that be something better, worse or just a different way to skin a cat?
 

gggplaya

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That oddball card is fine, it's not going to matter which direction you choose, using a single double card or 2 single cards. I like 2 single cards just so I can properly label them externally.
 

schwim

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I'll stick with the two cards and just save the oddball. I'm trying to get openwrt installed onto a USB but am a little confused as to which img to choose for install. I see the different filesystems, which is likely just preference but "combined" and "generic" is a little confusing: https://downloads.openwrt.org/releases/19.07.4/targets/x86/64/

Could someone tell me which I should be using to create the bootable USB stick?

EDIT: I went with ext4 since that's what I'm used to so I can play around with it.
 
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gggplaya

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Probably the best tutorial here, just skip the step about CSM Mode: https://wiki.seeedstudio.com/ODYSSEY-X86J4105-Installing-openwrt/

  1. Download the EXT4 version that you found already.
  2. Unzip the gz and you'll have a *.img file.
  3. Download Etcher: https://www.balena.io/etcher/
  4. Use Etcher to flash the img file onto your USB stick.
  5. Plug USB into PC.
  6. Make sure you set your bios to boot from USB and set the recovery on power failure to always stay on (important for a router)
  7. Boot into the USB stick and wait about 5 minutes. It'll discover all the devices of the computer and get set up. Eventually it'll just stop, at which point just press the enter button and a linux command line prompt will come up.
  8. Type in "vi /etc/config/network" without the quotes.
  9. Write down the IP address
  10. Connect 1 of the ports to your modem and restart the modem. If it's a router/modem combo, make sure it's in bridge mode. Connect the other port into your network switch. If using the router, make sure it's in access point mode.
  11. Go to your other computer and open a web browser. Type in the ip address. If after several attempts it's not working, swap the ethernet cables around on the openwrt router. You may need to connect to the main motherboard ethernet.
  12. Once you're able to get into the web interface, you can designate each ethernet port to be whatever you want, like WAN or LAN0 or LAN1 etc... Once you figure out which port is which, you should label then with a permanent marker.
  13. Once you get it setup, you can disconnect the monitor, mouse and keyboard from the OpenWRT router. From here on out, you can log into the WEBUI with any browser in your home.
 

schwim

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Hi there ggg, thanks very much for the process! Unfortunately, I'm running into an issue that I can't get past:



The laptop connected to the PC seems to cause this to stream on the wrt panel. Sometimes it has no connection, sometimes I can get to 192.168.1.1, sometimes I can view a web page but usually it will result in a not connected issue. When I try to load the router web page, this streams on the OpenWRT machine.

I've tried swapping ports but the fact that I can sometimes get to the router config webpage makes me think that it's not what port I'm connected to that's causing issues but rather something else(the PC is connected to onboard port, wan is connected to one of the cards).

I've googled but to be honest, it's well over my head. Any suggestions on what I can do to get it up and running?
 

schwim

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Try connecting the port to a network switch, then connect your laptop to the switch as well.
I placed the switch between onboard port and laptop and am now able to get to google, etc. reliably but I am now unable to get to 192.168.1.1 , 192.168.1.1/cgi-bin/luci. I checked /etc/config/network and that is the IP address listed but when I try to reach it in the browser, it times out (110).

So I'm at the point that it's passing data from the connection to the laptop but I am unable to configure owrt.

EDIT: I will continue googling and post more info as I get it.

I'm looking at the network info on the laptop and it does see 168.192.1.1 as the dns server and it's got an ipaddress of 192.168.1.228 so it's on the same subnet.
 
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schwim

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Hi there ggg, I suspected that perhaps my upstream had already taken over that subnet so I disconnected wan and restarted and am now able to access the web panel. I will be removing the upstream router once I get this ready to roll.

I am looking at the interfaces and am a bit confused how to edit them.



Currently, my laptop is connected to it's lan via the onboard and the wan was working on one of the cards but I'd like to change it so that both the wan and lan are using their respective cards. What confuses me is that it's listing two as eth1. I'm afraid to make any changes to it until I ask.
 

gggplaya

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Both those WAN's on eth1 are correct. 1 is for IPv4 and the other is for IPv6. If your ISP supports IPv6m just leave the WAN's as they are.

For the LAN, I suspect the other card will be eth0, you can just switch it to that. Then you should be good to go.
Change your main router to access point mode and plug everything in. BR-LAN stands for bridged LAN, you can't actually see what interface it's using until you click edit-->Physical Settings-->Interface.

The WAN should be directly connected to your modem, you don't want anything else in between. If it's a router/modem combo, make sure it's set to bridge mode. If you have fiber, the WAN port should be directly connected to the ONT the ISP provides.

Once you get it all set up, connect the LAN port to the switch of your router(set as access point mode), then connect another ethernet cable from the switch of your main access point to the switch of the secondary access point.
 
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schwim

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When you say to switch it to eth0, do you mean just plug the lan cable into it or do I need to do something in the config panel?

I can't seem to get anything to happen on that one card. I tried moving the lan cable from the onboard to that second card and I just get "took too long". If I move the cable back to the onboard, I can again access the web panel. As the picture shows, I don't seem to be getting a third option for port.
 

gggplaya

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When you go to the interfaces tab where you had a screenshot earlier. For LAN click on the blue edit button. Then go to Physical settings then in the interfaces drop down, you can change the LAN to a different port.
 

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