Multiple Routers in One Cement House

I am trying to set up a blanket of wireless throughout a concrete house.  I will be using Netgear Rangemax Dual Band Wireless N Gigabit Routers for every router in the house.  There is cat5 running through the walls and we have determined that in order to broadcast wireless, we will be needing 4 routers in the main house and 2 in the guest house.  I think the guest house is set up properly in that the Netgear Rangemax Dual Band Wireless N Gigabit Router (Router 1) is distributing internet from the dsl modem both wired and wirelessly.  There is a second Netgear Router(Router 2) located on the opposite side of the guest house that pulls internet into the Internet port on the router.  I tested it by hooking up my laptop to one of the four ports on the back and was able to get an internet connection.  Are there any problems that I may run into when I configure the remaining routers in the house?

The IP address of Router 1 is 192.168.2.1 and Router 2 is 10.0.0.1.  I know I need to set them up to have static IP addresses but what would be good assignments for each router?  Also, do I need to have DHCP enabled on every router with a different range of IP addresses to be leased from each router?  I feel like I'm doing something wrong...  Please advise.
Anthony_PLMAsked:
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dlancelotCommented:
Hello Anthony, if I understand you correctly, you have router #1 connected to the DSL modem, and it is connected to the rest of the home as the home is prewired?

If the above statement is correct, you will want to turn off DHCP on all the routers except router#1.  This leaves the DHCP assignment up to router #1, and has the ability to lease 255 IP addresses out at once (if this is not enough, then we need to look at alternative configurations).

The static IP assignment on each router is simply there so that you can administer each router from anywhere on the network if needed (probably never need to do this).  I'm not a subnetting expert, but if you're able to connect to the internet through router #2 and it has that static IP address assigned to it, then you're good to assign just about anything to the other routers for static IP's.

All SSID's need to be set to be the same.  This makes it so that regardless of where the user is, they will not experience any packet loss if they are moving around the property with a laptop while doing a download say for example (this is rare and pretty much never done, but just in case).

Make sure if you protect the wifi with a WPA2 passkey that you make sure it's exactly the same on all the routers to facilitate switching from one to the other.
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SnibborgOwnerCommented:
Wireless networks biggest problems is that they can interfere with each other, so make sure that you put them on channel numbers at least 2 apart.

If you are using the wireless routers in one overall network, then you should use only one IP range to do the job and this can be achieved with one DHCP server.  However, if each room has to have independent security you are going to have to use VLANS to seperate them out.

The routers only need IP addresses for monitoring and mantenance and should therefore receive their IP addresses from DHCP.
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the prompt responses.  I feel like I'm starting to understand what needs to happen with each router config.

dlancelot:  I feel like each router should be on the same subnet (192.168.2.x) so that when going from room to room, the client machine doesn't have to acquire a new address for that specific router.  Currently router 1 is 192.168.2.1 and router 2 is 10.0.0.1 which may explain why my client is complaining about wireless connectivity issues with the second router.

Here is the email he sent me earlier.

"It was good to meet you yesterday.  We started experiencing problems in the living room of the guest house.  The connection suddenly ends ("times out") and we are frequently asked for the password and to allow access to information in the "keychain".  Sometimes we get a message that says we are either too far from the base station or the wrong type of security was set up.  When we are able to connect, the signal strength is strong.  We don't seem to have any problem close to the modem unit in the closet.  There is no need to run out here to address the issue, however I hope it can be resolved as part of setting up the main house.  Because we have no problem when we are close to the modem and the router in the service closet, it seems to me there is a glitch with the second router in the other bedroom."


Snibborg:
When you say channel, I assume you are talking about the wireless channel.  Should it not be set to channel 1, 6 or 11?  And shouldn't all the routers be set to the same?

So this is what I will do and please correct me if I'm wrong.  I am still a little confused as to what the IP addresses should be set for with the routers.  I read it is better to set it up each router with a static ip to avoid conflicts but I'm not sure if the subnet should be different.  

SSIDs will all be the same with the exact WPA2 Passkey.

Router 1:
IP address: 192.168.2.1
DHCP enabled
IP address lease range from 192.168.2.6 through 192.168.2.255

Router 2:
IP address: 192.168.2.2
DHCP disabled

Router 3:
IP address: 192.168.2.3
DHCP disabled

Router 4:
IP address: 192.168.2.4
DHCP disabled

Router 5:
IP address: 192.168.2.5
DHCP disabled
Will router 1 be able to leases addresses through router 3 as if router 3 is simply a switch?
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dlancelotCommented:
Anthony, you are partially correct, when the DHCP is turned off on all but the main router, the IP addresses do not matter, and will not be the cause of the connectivity issues.  However, Snibborg is correct in suggesting separate channels for each access point and this is probably the source of the disconnections.

Just as an FYI, what you're trying to accomplish (the hard way) is making a "mesh network".  There are products on the market that accomplish this quite seamlessly.  Nortel, Motorola and Cisco make high end professional grade products designed for places like the Hilton hotels.  For residential applications I have heard

http://www.open-mesh.com/store/ 

is decent, but I've never used their product.  I have however used Meraki

http://meraki.com/index_public_wifi_systems.php

and it's quite easy to configure.  Their products are quite versatile, and you might find the 4 routers is excessive for the property.
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SnibborgOwnerCommented:
You might be better off using range extenders rather than all those individual routers.  Good point about the SSID dlancelot, I hadn't considered that.

The channel numbers are sub frequencies within the broadcasting range, so of course if you have two adjacent routers on the same channel you will get clashes between them, where you will get blank spots.

Let us know how you get on.

Snibborg
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dlancelotCommented:
I really like the use of routers if you cannot go with the mesh technology (and being you've already purchased an installed the hardware) over using extenders (personal preference/experience with extenders).
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
Yeah, I don't think a group of range expanders are the way to go here as the signal is easily diminished by the house.  Hard wiring the routers together seemed like the way to go.  I'm a little familiar with the Meraki stuff but know nothing about open mesh.  I will do some research on these.  
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dlancelotCommented:
Meraki is nice if they also need the signal outdoors as the outdoor units are pretty sweet (you can even use solar if they don't want to get an electrician onsite!).
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
I will look into Meraki and open mesh too but I would like some clarification on the proper set up if using netgear units.  We have changed equipment a little in that we won't be using full blown routers for the main house.  Instead we will be trying netgear access points throughout the main house which are hardwired to the guest house Netgear Rangemax Dual Band Wireless N.  Should I have DHCP enabled on the access points?  I understand that I should offset the wireless channels by at least two.  I guess I'm just a little confused on the ip address side of things.  If router 1, which is the main router coming off the dsl modem is set to 192.168.2.1, should I set router 2 as 192.168.3.1?  And what should the other access points be set up as?  Thank you.
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SnibborgOwnerCommented:
No, use 192.168.2.1, then 2.2, then 2.3 etc.  If you use 192.168.3.1 will not be able to see it with a 255.255.255.0 subnet mask.

Make sure that DHCP is only enabled on one access point.  Multiple DHCP servers will drive your network mad as the pc's will not know which DHCP server is the right one.

Snibborg
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SnibborgOwnerCommented:
Looking at this I think we need a recap:

Set the system up with:

The same SSID (remember its case sensitive) on the router and access points.
Set up your router with the IP address of 192.168.2.1 and the DHCP server with a range of 192.168.2.20 to 192.268.2.50.
Set the default gateway to the address of your router - i.e 192.168.2.1.
Set the channel number so that there is at least two numbers difference between each access point.
If possible, make the closest channel access points the farthest apart physically to reduce interference.
Set the IP addresses of the access points to 192.168.2.10, 192.168.2.11, 192.168.2.12, 192.168.2.13, 192.168.2.14.

Set up the encryption with the same type on all wireless devices and with the same password.  Do not use WAP as it is not secure enough.

Definitions:

A router is a device that has a wireless connection but also a modem connection to the Internet.

An Access point takes information from a wired network connection and distributes it wirelessly to the PC's.

These terms are not interchangeable.

Snibborg
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dlancelotCommented:
I would like to add one thing to snibborgs setup (as everything else looks good):

If you're using wireless G, then there are only 3 distinct wireless channels 1, 6, and 11, all other channels are too close to these and can cause interference.

If you're using wireless N, it may be best to set the AP's to be backwards compatible with G, so you'll probably be forced to use the 2.4GHz band...meaning you had better stick to 1, 6, and 11.


*a graphical representation of what I'm talking about above can be seen here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11
(scroll down a little less than halfway)
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
Okay.  So the IP addresses of the routers (access points) are conflicting with the WAN's subnet.  Meaning I can't have the IP address of Router 1 (192.168.2.1) and then set Router 2 as 192.168.2.2 as they are both on the same subnet...  Router 2 can be in a different subnet but that doesn't complete a wireless blanket as the pc must acquire a new ip address when moving throughout the house to update it's subnet with the closest router....  This isn't what we want.  Is there a way around this using a group of WNR3500's to complete the job?
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
I found some documentation that involves using a crossover cable.

http://www.home-network-help.com/wireless-router-as-access-point.html

This seems to be what Snibborg is talking about.
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
Evidently the WNR3500 supports MDI/MDI-X but I can't find that feature anywhere.  This should keep me from having to make crossover cables.
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SnibborgOwnerCommented:
No, all the access points have to be on the same subnet - 192.168.2.xxx to be visible.

I recommended starting dhcp at 20 so you had some wiggle room if you ever add other devices, whilst enanbling you to use 30 machines at one time.  If that's not enough then increase the highest number to increase the range.

I'm presuming that your first wireless access point is also the router that connects to the Internet.  I might be wrong and you have a seperate modem to the net.  Ideally your router will NAT the external IP address to the 192.168.2.xxx network you've created in your local network.  The gateway on this router is usually either 192.168.2.1 or 192.168.2.254.  If DHCP is on this router then it will fill in the gateway automatically.

DHCP will allow the PC's to have the same IP address throughout the buildings as it is registered by the MAC address of the PC's wireless card.

Don't worry about crossover cables, they are all but redundant nowadays as the wired switches and access points can detect the wiring it's dealing with.

Hope this helps.  Sorry if it's complicated.  The good news is you'll come out of this with a lot more knowledge than when you went in.

Snibborg
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Anthony_PLMAuthor Commented:
Okay.  This is where I've ended up.  Sorry I haven't let you guys know how it's gone.  I removed the second netgear router and installed netgear access points that are hard wired to the router with DHCP enabled..  The guest house has two of them and it's working fine.  The main house has three access points and it's working great except for the fact that the chimney on the patio interferes with signal so I may have to install another ap outside.  Either way, everything is working fine most of the time.  There are two Powerbooks in the house.  For some reason one of them keeps prompting for a password while the other does not.  This is no longer a networking issue so I consider this done.
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