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Linksys Router with Apple Airport Extreme as an Extender

Posted on 2010-09-18
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I have a Linksys WRT160N router connected to my cable modem.
i just bought an Airport Extreme with 1Terabyte memory so I can back up my IMac.
How do I configure the Airport Extreme to work as an Extender to my Linksys Router. I have seen posts on the net that suggests it can be done, but they are not very clear.
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Question by:chalif4397
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by:strung
ID: 33708954
I assume you bought a TimeCapsule not an Extreme?

Are the Linksys and the TimeCapsule in close proximity so you can connect them by an ethernet cable? That works much better than connecting them wirelessly.
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by:chalif4397
ID: 33709417
yes it is a Time Capsule.
I can connect them by ethernet cable, but prefer to have the time Capsule\Extreme upstairs to act as both the backup device and an expander.
i have read that doing the setup connected via ethernet cable may help.
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by:chalif4397
ID: 33740972
Any new ideas?
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by:gecko_au2003
ID: 33760159
The time capsule from what I can gather is just network attached storage so it wont expand or make your wireless network range larger or anything like that - I presume you got a disc with the time capsule , if so did you not get any software / applications to install on your computer ( when whilst the time capsule is connected to your linksys ) the software / application should configure the time capsule or it should allow your Mac to see the time capsule so as to use it with time machine.

So in essence you would connect the time capsule to the linksys router via ethernet cable and install said software onto your mac ( which will be connected to your linksys router in some way shape or form ) and this will in turn allow it to connect to the time capsule in some way either via the software or in another way.

Can you not see from your routers config page what devices are attached to it ?

If so you could get the ip address of the time capsule and use safari or firefox or the likes to see if it has a web interface page ??
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by:hboris
ID: 33760607
airport express, airport extreme and time capsule can in fact extend the wifi network, as long as it is configured as "extendable" and the originating router supports WDS (wireless distribution system). Consult your Linksys operation manual on how to set this up (and if that is in fact supported).

In case it is not supported you can wire a cable and attach the airport normally (wired) and set it to create a wifi network with the same name and security settings. Since computers remember the network by name this would be possible.

I would advise you to change the setup and replace the Linksys with any airport station (even the express would do). You could also switch the roles and use Time Capsule as your main router and the Linksys as extender (if it is supported on the Linksys).

Boris Herman, ACSA
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by:strung
ID: 33760675
The Time Capsule is designed to work as a wireless repeater for another Apple Airport device. The technology to do this is called WDS. I believe the Linksys also supports WDS, but the problem is that WDS does not seem to be standard from one router manufacturer to the next, so whether the Linksys version of WDS is compatible with the Apple version is anyone's guess.

You could give it a try by following the instructions or online help for both routers.

I know in the past people have been successful in extending a LInksys WRT54G using Apple equipment, but it required flashing the Linksys with third party firmware. You could try googling to see if anyone has been successful connecting an Apple Airport to a WRT160N.

Be aware though that range extenders cut your bandwidth in half.

If possible you would be better off connecting the LinkSys to the TC using an ethernet cable and setting up the TC in bridge mode.

If you still need a range extender after doing that,  you could buy an Apple Express which is specifically designed to extend the range of Apple wireless devices such as a TimeCapsule.
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by:byundt
ID: 33760692
for the benefit of gecko_au2… a Time Capsule is a WiFi access point with network attached storage that can serve as a WiFi router.

Several years ago, I used an AirPort Express WiFi access point to extend an existing wireless LAN, and there are many references on the web that describe how that setup should proceed. The setup was sufficiently complicated that I wrote down the exact settings used in the AirPort configuration screens. The final trick to success was turning off all security in the network until everything was working correctly for a couple of days, then turning security settings back on.

If you bought the Time Capsule at an Apple store or authorized dealer, they ought to be willing to help you set it up (such as by linking your Time Capsule to extend their store's WiFi network).

You may find the discussion in these web pages helpful:
http://www.bioneural.net/2009/04/05/the-dark-art-of-airport-networking/ "The dark art of AirPort networking"
http://islandinthenet.com/2009/05/15/creating-a-wireless-mesh-with-apple-airports/ "How to create a wireless mesh network with Apple AirPorts"
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by:gecko_au2003
ID: 33760938
so then why sell the airport extreme base station or any base station if you can use a time capsule as a router or wifi access point - seems a bit silly to sell two items that pretty much do the same thing aside from the storage.

Either way time capsule from what I gathered was just for storage and they never had enough storage for me so I was under the impression it was for time machine backups etc

Live and learn :)
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by:byundt
ID: 33760998
gecko_au2…,
Apple charges a premium for the Time Capsule compared to their AirPort with a third party external hard drive. That's why they sell the product with and without storage. The benefit of the Time Capsule is that setup for use in automated Time Machine backups over WiFi is extremely simple. Time Machine backup over WiFi using a hard drive attached to an AirPort wireless access point (not via Time Capsule) is possible (and I did it), but back when I was buying my AirPort it hadn't proven robust enough for Apple to feel comfortable supporting it.

Brad
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by:Darr247
ID: 33761685
It's ALWAYS preferrable to connect a range extender with cat5 to the network, when possible,

The WRT160N is 2.4GHz only, so if you are able to connect the Apple device to it wirelessly (i.e. if there's no signal upstairs now, there's nothing for it to 'repeat'), their connection speed will be limited to about 130Kbps maximum because Apple, Cisco and Intel do not support wide channels in the 2.4GHz band (channel bonding uses 2 out of the 3 available 11b/g channels, which could potentially cause interference with those manufacturers' installed base of legacy devices). Cisco owns Linksys, but for some reason allows Linksys to make 2.4GHz devices that DO use 40MHz-wide channels.

With a wide-channel connection speed could be up to 300Mbps.

Any wireless router/AP, when used as a true repeater, also has its speed cut in half (because it spends half its time talking/listening to the clients and the other half talking/listening to the other network-connected device)... then, 802.x frame overhead cuts true throughput about in half, again.

ergo, you'll get the best results if you can connect the Apple to the Linksys with cat5.
I don't think the Time Capsule can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios at the same time... but I might be mistaken about that.

Perhaps if you gave us a link to the 'posts on the net' you've seen, we could clarify any questions you have about the process.  It's possible the TC will work as a repeater only from another Apple device, using WDS... I don't recall seeing any WDS options in the stock WRT160N firmware...  did the posts to which you're referring mention loading DD-WRT on the Linksys?
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by:strung
ID: 33762393
Older time capsules could not use 2.4 and 5 at the same time. The more recent ones can use the two bands simultaneously.
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by:chalif4397
ID: 33793104


here are some of the posts i have read which allude to the possibility of doing what i want, although with slightly different model nos.
http://rgbdream.com/2005/09/06/linksys-wrt54g-airport-express-and-wds/
http://hintsforums.macworld.com/archive/index.php/t-10800.html
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strung earned 250 total points
ID: 33793177
I was familiar with those and they require you to flash the Linksys with third party software. I don't know if that is required with the newer Linksys routers or whether you can even do it. I suggest you try it without flashing the firmware first.
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 250 total points
ID: 33794744
Both links are to procedures over 5-years old, and the first one specifically notes that WDS is supported in the stock WRT54G's firmware and 3rd-party firmware isn't required.

Still, the airport express mentioned in those articles was not an airport extreme with a storage drive, and the WRT54G is not the WRT160N. The WRT160N does NOT support WDS with stock firmware. I don't think it's a good idea to flash a router still under warranty with DD-WRT in order to make it support WDS. By the way, WRT160Nv2 is not supported by DD-WRT (the barcode sticker on the bottom shows the version, and they've also started putting the version in the GUI - see attached).

As the articles mention, though it may not be clear if you don't already know what they're saying, the WRT54G has to be the main wireless router (connected to the internet), and the airport express acts as a WDS-connected bridge (not as a repeater)... so anything that gets its connection from the airport express would have to be connected to the Apple by cat5 (e.g. if you want a wireless connection upstairs, another AP would need to be connected to the airport express with cat5).


WRT160Nv3.png
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Author Closing Comment

by:chalif4397
ID: 33804221
I conclude that it is not an option for me to add third party software to get it to work. i will connect the Time Capsule directly to my Mac for now and use it solely as a backup device. The mac will just have to stay where it is as opposed to a location further away from the Linksys, which i would have preferred.

thank you to Darr247 and Strung for your guidance.
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