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Problem with roaming network w/2 Extreme bases?

936 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Mar 15, 2013 6:26 PM by adurstewitz RSS
xrob Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Mar 11, 2013 2:45 PM



I am trying to configure a roaming network inside an office building with 2 airport extreme base-stations. In the past, we have used 1 basestation with great success. But we have a cinderblock wall that we are contending with now and the signal degrades too much on the other side. So, I bought an additional Airport Extreme and first tried to set up an extended network. That didn't work because the two could not see each other. So, I decided to run a cable and go with the roaming network.


I have now run a cable from the primary base-station to the slave and plugged that into the WAN port of the slave. I have pretty much followed the instructions on apple's site (although they refer to the older version of the airport admin software) and after two times, got it to work. However, the problem I am having is the network is not properly distributing DHCP addresses, and am getting several of these 169.254.xx.xx numbers that do not work. However, if I manually define a static IP for the device on the wifi, it works. So, the problem MUST lie in the DHCP situation.


Here is how my network is somewhat different:

1 - We have multiple DHCP servers on our network. The main intenet router ( is serving a small block ( for DHCP for any guests NOT using wireless. The main airport (static, is ALSO serving DCHP ( for wireless clients.


2 - I want to connect the 2nd base station and give it a static IP (do I really need to do this? When I tried in the beginning, the 2nd base did NOT get an IP assisgned from the first airport, maybe because it is wired?). The airport software keeps wanting to change it to DHCP instead for some reason. It appears to have kept the static config ( even though it now says DHCP. Strange.


I am simply trying to get this roaming network to work properly. If I disconnect the slave station, everything works fine.


Thanks so much for your help!


Rob H

  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,220 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 11, 2013 11:38 PM (in response to xrob)

    You are on the right track suspecting DHCP conflicts.


    To configure your "roaming network" connect your "slave" Extreme to your main Internet router - either directly or through a switch - and place it in "bridge mode". That will work.


    A router will be distributing IP addresses using DHCP. Anything connected to it should be configured as a bridge, the essential difference being that a bridge does not distribute IP addresses.


    I do not believe your "slave" Extreme will function connected as it is to the "main" Extreme, but may work if you assign it a static IP address. It is not unusual for it to retain this static IP after having been changed to DHCP if its lease is still valid.


    The OK article you referenced must be terribly outdated if it is referring to AirPort Admin Utility. That has not been used in about a decade. Read this one:


    Wi-Fi base stations: Extending the range of your wireless network by adding additional Wi-Fi base stations


    Unfortunately its screenshots refer to AirPort Utility 5.6, which has been replaced with the prettier, though less useful 6.2.

    MacBooks  iMacs  iPads  AirPorts, OS X Mountain Lion,  28 years Apple!
  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,220 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 12, 2013 7:59 AM (in response to xrob)

    You don't have to configure it with a static IP address since the router will supply it with one, but "bridge mode" is a must. If you want to experiment, change it to DHCP but leave connection sharing set to bridge mode.

  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,220 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 12, 2013 8:25 AM (in response to xrob)

    Did you configure the Extreme to "extend" a wireless network? Don't do that. Configure it to "create" a wireless network. If you provide the exact same wireless network name and security settings as your "main" Extreme, you will have what appears to be one contiguous wireless network to be used among them.


    It is best to start with a "hard reset" each time you want to reconfigure a setting, otherwise it can become difficult to make changes to a unit that has already been configured.

  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,220 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 12, 2013 8:48 AM (in response to xrob)
    So set up the new one with the same wireless name and password WITHOUT extending. This one will NOT serve DHCP, so the goal is for that info to come from the other base-station.



    Yes, all this is correct.


    Connect the Ethernet cable to the "slave's" WAN WAN port.png port.

  • harryharris Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 14, 2013 1:48 AM (in response to John Galt)

    Interloper here.


    Thanks for this info, John - I'd been going mad trying to configure a roaming network. The key was, as you say, not telling the second Extreme to 'Extend a network'.


    The Apple KB article on this is very unhelpful. They use the Time Machine app, so the config screens have different choices. They really need two more articles, one for Airport Utility 5.6, and one for the IOS version..


    I now have a working setup, using PowerLine adapters to connect the two Extremes.

  • adurstewitz Calculating status...
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    Mar 15, 2013 6:26 PM (in response to xrob)

    I have been able to successfully setup the configuration, however, neither my MacBook nor my iPhone will connect to the 'remote' AirPort Extreme. Although my GoogleTV (wireless), desktop (wired) and VOIP (wired) connect just fine. Any ideas why my Apple products will not roam?


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