Wireless Repeater Troubleshooting

Posted on 2012-03-30
Last Modified: 2013-12-27
I have a two storied house, and upstairs I run a Zyxel WAP-3205 running the latest V1.00(BFR.6) firmware.  The problem is that downstairs I have no decent signal, and so I added a second AP (Same model, same firmware) in universal repeater mode.

Initially the signal was much better but I am having ongoing issues with my devices not always picking up the downstairs repeater and so still having problems.

I have repeater mode enabled as I have no network point where I was to put the second AP.

The upstairs AP is set to "Access Point Mode" which I presume is correct, they both shouldn't be set to repeater mode.

What can I use to troubleshoot why my devices aren't always using the downstairs device even though it's much closer and produces much better speeds when it's working.

I am using a mix of N Android devices.

Running on Channel 5 (Changed this but it made no difference).

Using WPA2-PSK encryption.
Question by:networkn
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 37789999
> The problem is that downstairs I have no decent signal

In order to repeat it, you need to get halfway-decent signal there.

Otherwise, your repeater is getting the same signal from the main wireless that other clients in the same room could get without the repeater.

Have you looked at powerline adapters to connect the 2 wireless units?
e.g. ZyXEL PLA4205kit

You should use only channels 1, 6 or 11 in the 2.4GHz band. Most manufacturers default to channel 6, which overlaps heavily on channel 5... so if there are other wireless networks nearby, they could be causing interference which would be avoided by using channel 1 or 11.
You can scan for nearby networks that may be interfering by using free programs such as inSSIDer or Wi-Fi Inspector installed on a laptop with a wireless adapter so you can walk around and check different locations.
LVL 25

Expert Comment

ID: 37790875
How far apart are the two APs?

Darr247 hit the nail right on the head of the coverage issues. If the repeater can't get a good signal to start with, then what do you expect it to repeat? Move it to the closest area that can gets decent signal, then see if the repeater will help. Otherwise, use a powerline networking kit. Alternatively, if moving the modem is a feasible option, go that route.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 37791230
I don;t think a powerline kit would work - I think they work over one circuit only. Upstairs sockets should be on a separate ringmain than downstairs ones.

As other have suggested, move the two APs closer together, and also look at what channels you are using. I suggest 1 for AP1 and 11 for AP2
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Expert Comment

ID: 37794032
I found with those routers you will get flapping with the wireless N features.

Try setting the out put to 100% power, and the wireless speeds to a mix of b+g and see if the repeater is working,

Their is a range inspector called netstumbler, this will show you all the other people using the 2.4 range in that area, then you can select what ch that is not common and test this


Author Comment

ID: 37794055
What is "flapping"?
I have the output already to 100%.
Are you suggesting I turn off the N features but changing the Wireless from BGN to BG?

I reset the second AP and reconfigured it using the wizard and it seems a little better, though it still seems like a 50% chance my devices will pick up the "weaker" AP Upstairs.

I set both devices to Channel 1 now.

Expert Comment

ID: 37794288
Flapping is where a device eg. a laptop with a centreno wireless N when connected to a wireless N router has the ability to use b/g/bg/n thus it uses all of these protocol to transmit the data, ergo flapping is where a wireless device loses connectivity and then trys to connect on anther frequency

U will see the connectivity rate will go from 300mbps then change to 70mbps to 60 mbps and then back so you get inconsistency ,

Give it a try and see if this makes any difference


Author Comment

ID: 37794291
Right well the concern I have is that standing right next to either, I am getting no more than 45mbps
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 37794786
Powerline adapters do not need to be on the same circuit at all, though they do work best when they're on the same pole of a 2 pole 240/120V system, or the same phase of a 3-phase system.

A repeater must be on the same channel as the main unit it's repeating.

NetStumbler doesn't work so good in Win7, and hasn't been updated in years; both of the utilities I linked to in http:#a37789999 give similar information, but are actively maintained (inSSIDer is even open source) and run fine in Win7.

You said you're using WPA2-PSK, but did not mention the encryption type.
802.11n supports only AES encryption, so if you have chosen TKIP (or 'both' if that's an option) the fastest it will connect is 54Mbps; if you want 11n connection speeds, AES encryption must be used (or else 'no security').

Author Comment

ID: 37794856
I don't see anywhere in these WAP's to configure AES or TKIP, but I do notice that the WPA Compatible checkbox is ticked, could this be causing a lack of N?

Under WDS which is NOT enabled, there is AES and TKIP could this be what is missing?


Accepted Solution

networkn earned 0 total points
ID: 38563275
The problem turned out to be a known issue with the Zyxels but I couldn't be bothered working out the problems any longer, so I gave them away and bought myself an Engenius single WAP with Long Range ability and haven't had a problem since.

Please advise the best way to close this question?

Author Comment

ID: 38563277
Also if your house has RCD's which most modern houses at least in NZ have, you can't use powerline which is why we can't use powerline.
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 38564328
Not all circuits are required to have GFCI protection.  If your country's electric code writers have made such a requirement, I'm sure your grocerty sellers love it since when one trips on your refrigerator or freezer you'll probably have to replace all the food in it by the time the problem is discovered.

Here in the USA, GFCI protection is required only on outdoor circuits, and outlets in the same room within 2m of sinks/tubs; and AFCI protection is required only on bedroom outlets.

You can mark http:#a38563275 as the solution... you just can't assign it any points.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38579148
Investigation with the manafacturer led to the conclusion there is an issue with these devices in this configuration. I do appreciate the information provided by other parties.

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