Use a wireless router as a repeater for a laptop?

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by Jon Danniken, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    Hi all, I am wondering if it would be possible to bridge a wireless
    router with a wifi card in a laptop, so that the wireless router would
    essentially serve as an extended antenna for the wifi card.

    I know that you can bridge two routers to extend the range from the base
    router, but that's not what I'm trying to do. Instead, I want to bridge
    the extra wireless router with the laptop, so that the extra router is
    basically transparent, serving only as an extension of the laptop's wifi.

    Is such a configuration possible? I would be using something like
    DD-WRT firmware on an appropriate extra router.

    Thanks for your help with this.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Nov 29, 2013
    #1
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  2. Jon Danniken

    miso Guest

    Isn't this just a wifi repeater?
     
    miso, Nov 30, 2013
    #2
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  3. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    Well I don't know, I am pretty much a newborn WRT wireless, and my track
    record with networking is pretty dismal.

    I know you can set up an extra router as a repeater by bridging it with
    the main router, which involves setting up both of the routers to
    function in such a manner.

    I am basically just trying to use the extra router as a "wireless
    antenna extender" for the laptop wireless card, without setting up
    anything differently in the main (WAN connected) router.

    My apologies if I have some of the terms mixed and mingled.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Nov 30, 2013
    #3
  4. Jon Danniken

    miso Guest

    A repeater cuts the bandwidth in half, not that it really matters in a
    lot of situations. That is, if the internet pipe isn't very fast.

    Sometimes your phone can't get wifi where the notebook can, since the
    notebooks often have better antennas Then a repeater can be handy if
    your phone can't do a faux ethernet via the usb port.
     
    miso, Nov 30, 2013
    #4
  5. Jon Danniken

    miso Guest

    I forgot to mention that bridging can get ugly. If you have two existing
    networks and just bridge them, they can have address conflicts since the
    addresses were assigned before the bridge was established.
     
    miso, Nov 30, 2013
    #5
  6. Jon Danniken

    ps56k Guest

    HUH ???

    Just tell us, in plain words, what the problem/challenge is -
    and then maybe we can answer your questions...
     
    ps56k, Dec 1, 2013
    #6
  7. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest


    Thanks Alex. I'm not too concerned with the throughput, it's extending
    the range that is the issue with this setup. That's a neat setup there,
    and I noticed another one that actually does something similar and lets
    me connect to the middle router wirelessly.

    Unfortunately they are all still bridging the two routers, where you
    connect the laptop to the middle router, and configure the middle router
    to bridge to the main router. After looking around at all the examples
    I could find, I'm starting to think my end goal of being able to use the
    middle router as a wireless adaptor connected to the laptop might just
    not be possible.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 1, 2013
    #7
  8. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    Sorry if I wasn't clear, I don't have a firm grasp on the all of the
    lingo. I want to configure a middle router such that it functions
    essentially as an extension of the wireless adaptor in my laptop. Once
    configured in this way, I would join whatever network I wanted through
    the standard interface on the laptop instead of first configuring the
    middle router to join the network.

    Unfortunately, I do not think this is actually possible now that I have
    poked around a bit.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 1, 2013
    #8
  9. Jon Danniken

    ps56k Guest

    yeah - you got it backwards.....
    it's the Access Point that is sending the "broadcast"
    which then can be "repeated".
    not the other way around.

    That's why it's best to just ask the simple question...
    Which - you still have not really shared -
    There are several different ways to "extend" the range to a WiFi Access
    Point.
    or - even bypass the WiFi with other networking devices..
     
    ps56k, Dec 4, 2013
    #9
  10. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    A wireless adaptor on a laptop uses the laptop's software to connect to
    an access point; I wanted to configure the middle router so that when it
    was set up and connected to the laptop, I would be able to use the
    laptop's software to connect to the far access point, using the middle
    router as a sort of "wireless adaptor" if you will.

    In other words, I wanted to be able to see the far AP's SSID on the
    laptop's software, and connect to it using the laptop's normal "wireless
    connection" application.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 8, 2013
    #10
  11. Jon Danniken

    Ben Myers Guest

    I've actually done this using two wireless adapters on the middle computer, one
    running client software and the other acting as an access point. Not sure if it
    can be done with just one.

    Ben
     
    Ben Myers, Dec 9, 2013
    #11
  12. I just did exactly what you're asking, as described in another thread.

    The "router" I used was a Ubiquiti Nanobridge horn (without the dish),
    which is about the size & shape of a small 2D-cell flashlight.

    The laptop is a dual-boot Win7/Ubuntu Thinkpad W510.

    There's really no setup needed on the laptop; I simply turned off the
    internal WiFi NIC (the Lenovo has a hard switch to do that) and plugged
    the radio/router into the Ethernet port of the laptop.

    The laptop works just fine, and now I can transmit and receive for miles
    around that laptop. Full details are in the current thread titled:
    "Straightforward out-of-the-box solution for extending WiFi range"

    This particular router transmits at 27dBm which was too powerful for
    me, so I lowered it to 6dBm and STILl got a whopping -40dBm signal
    strength to my router about 50 feet away.

    I'm pretty sure that I could move that router a mile away, and still
    connect to it (I haven't tested that yet), simply by clipping that
    Nanobridge M2 into its dish (which comes with it when you buy it).

    Since the dish is 18dBi, and the radio/router is 27dBm, the transmit
    power available to that laptop is now 45dbM, which is over 30 Watts!

    Compare that to the puny 0.5dBi antenna inside your laptop, with probably
    something like a 12 to at most 15dBm transmitter, which is a puny
    0.01 to 0.02 Watts.
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 17, 2013
    #12
  13. If I understand you correctly, I just did exactly what you want to do.
    The "router" I used to connect to my laptop was a Ubiquiti NanoBridge M2.
    It connected to a standard Netgear N600 home broadband router.

    Here are the details that I had posted to a recent thread:

    On Fri, 13 Dec 2013 01:48:52 +0000, Danny D'Amico wrote:

    UPDATE:

    After many hours of trying to get the settings just right, just now
    I was able to tremendously extend the WiFi range of my laptop, as a test,
    simply by connecting a Ubiquiti NanoBridge M2 feedhorn (sans dish antenna)
    to the Ethernet port.

    Here is my signal strength at the feedhorn, as seen through the laptop:
    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2869/11399128184_ebab5e1de1_o.png

    Notice the noise is a tiny at -99dBm while the signal strength is huge
    at -44dBm (with a SNR of -44 - -99 = 55, if I did the math right).

    This gets me 130Mbps between my Linux laptop & the home broadband router.

    Here are the network settings that were necessary to make this work:
    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2854/11399127954_02139418fd_o.png

    And, here are the access-point specific wireless settings to make it
    connect to my home broadband router's SSID:
    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3733/11399100445_af45bef4c0_o.png

    With the dish antenna, that Nanobridge M2 has a gain of 41dB (i.e.,
    23dBm transmit power + 18dBi antenna gain), which is far too powerful.

    Since that calculates (if I did the math right?) to over 12 Watts, I
    had to lower the gain by removing the dish ... which dropped the gain
    down to 23dBm + 3dBi, or 26dB (which is a 0.4 Watts).

    Even that was far too powerful for use in my house, so I dropped the
    transmit power of the feedhorn radio down to 6dBm, so with the 3dBi
    feedhorn-only gain, the screenshots above are at 6+3=9dB (0.008W) EIRP.

    Even with the gain reduced as low as I could make it, I still got
    a connection strength of -44dBm and a connect speed of 130Mbps, so,
    it's at least a proof of concept that this is one way to extend the
    WiFi range of your laptop.

    My goal will be to try to connect to my home broadband router from a
    mile or two down the road... so that's what I'll try next.

    PS: Jeff Liebermann should be proud of me!

    Here's the howto I wrote up ... (it can also be used at coffee shops!)
    BEGIN: How to use a Nanobridge M2 as your laptop wireless NIC!

    0. I reset the Nanobridge M2 radio to default settings as per this video:


    I connected the POE to the Nanobridge M2.
    I reset the Nanobridge M2 back to factory defaults by holding the reset button down for 10sec (until all LEDs flashed)

    1. I set the Nanobridge M2 to be the Linux laptop wireless NIC as per this video:


    2. I turned off the wireless NIC inside the laptop with the hardware switch.
    Note: I could just as well have run this command on Ubuntu 13.10:
    $ sudo ifconfig wlan0 down

    3. I set the IP address of the laptop to be on the 192.168.1.XX subnet.
    $ sudo ifconfig eth0 192.168.1.99
    $ ifconfig (make sure eth0 is 192.168.1.something & that wlan0 is not up)

    4. I physically connected the Nanobridge M2 to the eth0 port of the laptop.

    5. I pinged the Nanobridge M2
    $ ping 192.168.1.20
    PING 192.168.1.20 (192.168.1.20) 56(84) bytes of data.
    64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.572 ms
    64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.460 ms
    64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.286 ms
    etc. (control C to escape)

    6. I logged into the Nanobridge M2
    $ netscape 192.168.1.20 (ubnt, ubnt)

    7. I set the "Network" tab as follows:
    AirOS:Network
    Router (default is Bridge)
    WLAN Network Settings->DHCP (default is DHCP)
    LAN Network Settings->IP Address->192.168.10.20 (default is 192.168.1.1)
    [x]Enable NAT
    [x]Enable DHCP Server
    Range Start=192.168.10.100
    Range End =192.168.10.200
    Change->Apply

    8. I rebooted the Ubuntu PC (with the wlan0 card still turned off)

    9. I set eth0 to be on the same (new) subnet as the Nanobridge M2:
    $ sudo ifconfig eth0 192.168.10.101

    10. I pinged the radio:
    $ ping 192.168.10.1
    PING 192.168.10.1 (192.168.10.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
    64 bytes from 192.168.10.1: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=1.15 ms
    64 bytes from 192.168.10.1: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.255 ms
    64 bytes from 192.168.10.1: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.310 ms
    etc. (control + C to escape)

    $ ping 192.168.10.20
    PING 192.168.10.20 (192.168.10.20) 56(84) bytes of data.
    64 bytes from 192.168.10.20: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=1.71 ms
    64 bytes from 192.168.10.20: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.308 ms
    64 bytes from 192.168.10.20: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.242 ms
    etc. (control + C to escape)

    11. I logged into the Nanobridge M2:
    $ netscape http://192.168.10.20 (ubnt, ubnt)

    12. I set up the "Wireless" tab to connect to the home broadband router SSID:
    AirOS:Wireless
    SSID->Select (I sorted the signals by signal strength & encryption)
    I selected my WPA2-PSK encrypted network SSID.
    I scrolled to the bottom & hit select.
    Change->Apply

    Note: I also had to set the DNS server by turning off DNS proxy
    Primary DNS server = 8.8.8.8
    Secondary DNS server = 4.4.4.2

    Voila!

    Once I set up DNS (which wasn't described in the video), I was able to
    connect to the Internet, and, in fact, am using this connection to type
    this up to help myself (in the future) and others.

    END OF: How to use a Nanobridge M2 as your laptop wireless NIC!
     
    Danny D'Amico, Dec 17, 2013
    #13
  14. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    No, you connected to the far AP with the router's internal software,
    accessed by your laptop.
    Yes, that's a pretty neat device.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 17, 2013
    #14
  15. Jon Danniken

    Harold W. Guest

    Jon Danniken scrit:
    But, he could have set up that router as a repeater.
     
    Harold W., Dec 17, 2013
    #15
  16. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    A repeater for the far AP though, even though the laptop is on a
    different subnet, not a repeater for the laptop.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 17, 2013
    #16
  17. Jon Danniken

    Char Jackson Guest

    WiFi repeaters are bidirectional (so when just two devices are involved it's
    hard to say it's for the far AP) and operate at OSI Layer 2, so both sides
    of the repeater are on the same subnet. No?
     
    Char Jackson, Dec 18, 2013
    #17
  18. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    Hi Char. I can configure my "middle" router (with DD-WRT) as either a
    client bridge (clients have the same subnet as the "far" AP) or as a
    repeater* (clients have a different subnet as the "far" AP).

    In this example, the "far" AP is the AP which is too far for my laptop
    to connect to, necessitating the use of the "middle" router in either
    bridge or repeater mode (ie, I'm using "far" in relation to the laptop).

    (WAN)----(far AP) ^ --z-- ^(middle router) ^ --z--
    ^(laptop)

    *this being an atheros-based router, it is called "client" mode in DD-WRT.

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 18, 2013
    #18
  19. Jon Danniken

    Char Jackson Guest

    A repeater uses wireless in both directions - first, to receive some traffic
    from the far AP, then to transmit those packets to the local PC. Since the
    same channel is used for both actions, throughput is cut in half. (Actually
    worse than that, but whatever.) This happens at Layer 2, meaning both ends
    are on the same subnet when using a repeater.

    dd-wrt's client mode and client bridge mode both bridge a wireless signal to
    a wired signal, if I remember correctly. So neither of those modes acts as a
    repeater.

    The primary difference between client bridge and client modes is that client
    bridge connects the radio directly to the switch while client mode inserts
    the router section between the radio and the switch. Client bridge means
    both distant ends are on the same subnet while client mode (because of the
    presence of the router section in the path) means the two distant ends are
    on different subnets.
     
    Char Jackson, Dec 18, 2013
    #19
  20. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    Gotcha; the reason I was calling it a repeater is due to using the
    wireless VLan to connect the laptop to the "middle" router without a
    cable. I had seen this referred to as a repeater mode, although it is
    accomplished by using Client mode in DD-WRT.
    Thanks!

    Jon
     
    Jon Danniken, Dec 18, 2013
    #20
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