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Setting Up Roaming - New AirPort Extremes and Utility

18455 Views 54 Replies Latest reply: Feb 19, 2014 5:53 PM by SBsyncro RSS
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Tim Hassett Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jun 27, 2013 2:23 PM

Hello Everyone,

 

I just purchased two new AirPort Extreme units (the new 802.11ac capable ones) and want to setup a roaming network whereby the 2nd APE is upstairs and is connected via ethernet to the first APE down in the basement where my internet connection comes in. 

 

Like this:

 

Cable modem ---ethernet---->  APE 1 downstairs ------ethernet------>  APE 2 upstairs. 

 

My question:

 

- How is this done using the most current version of the AirPort utility for OS X?  (version 6.3)

- Because I'm dealing with these brand new 802.11ac units, is setup any different? 

 

 

I've already done a bunch of research on this and have found very helpful kb articles and discussions on this, but they all reference the old hardware and old utility.  Such as:  http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4260

MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012), Mac OS X (10.7.4), 16GB RAM
  • Tesserax Level 8 Level 8 (47,575 points)

    The good news is that the basic roaming network setup is the same with the new 802.11ac base stations, but you did discover that the Apple Support article is a bit dated. I would expect them to update it soon.

     

    In the mean time, let me try to give you some step-by-step instructions using the 6.x version of the AirPort Utility. First, there are a few key elements to successfully configuring a roaming network, and they are:

    • All of the base station must be interconnected by Ethernet. Note: You can use non-Apple routers in this type of network.
    • All base stations must have unique Base Station Names.
    • All base stations must use the same Radio Mode and Wireless Security Type/Password.
    • Each base station should be on a different Radio Channel. Using "Automatic" works well here.
    • All base stations, other than the "main" base station, must be reconfigured as a bridge.

     

    Let's start with the "main" base station. This will be the one directly connected to the Internet modem:

    • AirPort Utility > Select the "main" base station > Edit
    • Base Station tab > Base Station Name > Enter a unique name here
    • Internet tab > Connect Using: DHCP
    • Wireless tab > Network Mode: Create a wireless network > Wireless Network Name > Enter the desired name. This will be used on all base stations > Wireless Security: WPA2 Personal (recommended) > Wireless Password > Enter the desired wireless password. This will be used on all base stations.
    • Network tab > Router Mode: DHCP and NAT
    • Click on Update

     

    For each additional base station added to the roaming network:

    • AirPort Utility > Select the appropriate base station > Edit
    • Base Station tab > Base Station Name > Enter a unique name here
    • Internet tab > Connect Using: DHCP
    • Wireless tab > Network Mode: Create a wireless network > Wireless Network Name > Enter the desired name. This will be used on all base stations > Wireless Security: WPA2 Personal (recommended) > Wireless Password > Enter the desired wireless password. This will be used on all base stations.
    • Network tab > Router Mode: Off (Bridge Mode)
    • Click on Update
  • DanET816 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have a similar situation, where I have just purchased a new Airport Extreme and hope to set up a roaming network with my earlier AE located near the entertainment center.  My new AE is in the basement next to the cable modem.

     

    I have spent three days trying different ways to get the second AE to be recognized by Airport Utility, and it is never discovered.  Do I need to revert back to installing the older AE in place of the newer one temporarily to change some settings first?  It was intially configured to serve as the router for the house, but the wifi signal was not reaching the second floor and I hoped to place it near the television to provde a LAN connection for faster downloads of movies.

     

    I also tried setting it up as an extended wifi network and it was not discoverable in that mode either.

  • Tesserax Level 8 Level 8 (47,575 points)

    At this point I would recommend that you perform "factory default" reset on each of your AirPorts. In addition, I would suggest that you place each base station in the same room until you have the roaming network configured properly. Use known good Ethernet cables between them.

  • DukeBedford Calculating status...

    Tesserax:  Your explanation is most helpful.  However, my primary router is an old (but still quite functional) Netgear router, which is doing port forwarding to various devices on my network.  I had an older Time Capsule, connected via ethernet, that was providing roaming as well as Time Machine backups.  It died and I bought a new 2TB 802.11ac Time Capsule.  Setting it up the way I did before no longer allows me to use the new device to provide a stong roaming signal.  You indicate that all base stations have to have the same network name, security protocol, and password -- but the Netgear only provides WEP, and that isn't a choice on the new TC.  Is there a workaround for this, or am I going to have to bite another bullet and replace the primary router?

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,585 points)

    Unfortunately, the 802.11ac Time Capsule does not provide any type of WEP settings.....so there is no available workaround for this on the Time Capsule.

     

    This might be an opportunity to greatly improve the  wireless security on your network with a new router.....since as you already likely know.....there are numerous free utilities available on the Internet that will crack a WEP network very quickly.

  • DukeBedford Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    OK ... then how about disabling wireless access on my ancient Netgear, and using the Time Capsule as the sole wireless access point?  Or does roaming work only if wireless access is enabled on the main router?

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,585 points)

    If you turn off the wireless on the Netgear, the Time Capsule will not be part of a "roaming" network, unless you also have another router on the network that will also be  providing a wireless signal.

     

    If the Time Capsule will be the only device providing a wireless signal, "roaming" is not possible since you will only have one access point....and "roaming" requires two or more.

     

    As long as wireless devices can receive a good signal from the Time Capsule, you should be OK.

  • DukeBedford Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I think I understand -- I won't be "roaming", but I should still have a strong (single) wireless signal.  I agree that the time has come to replace the Netgear router -- but until I do, we can't access the net via wireless using our iPhones and iPads because the Netgear signal isn't strong enough in most of the house.  I just want to make sure that disabling wireless access on the Netgear isn't going to preclude me from setting up wireless access on the new TC and leave me "deaf".  And do I need to use the old Netgear network name, or doesn't that matter?

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,585 points)
    I won't be "roaming", but I should still have a strong (single) wireless signal.

     

    That's correct. The new Time Capsule has added two additional wireless antennas......for a total of six now.....and the antennas are located up at the top of the "tower", so that should improve the wireless performance over previous models.

     

     

    I just want to make sure that disabling wireless access on the Netgear isn't going to preclude me from setting up wireless access on the new TC and leave me "deaf".

     

    It won't.

     

     

    And do I need to use the old Netgear network name, or doesn't that matter?

     

    Edit....I would use a different wireless network name on the TC to avoid confusion with the "old" network.

  • DukeBedford Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Bob, I saw your edit.  I turned off wireless access at the Netgear router and changed the name of the network on the TC to a new name.  I've turned off wireless security temporarily to remove that issue from my troubleshooting challenge.

     

    A bit of additional disclosure:  I'm running OS 10.6.8 on all my Macs because I need access to a crucial database that requires Rosetta.  So I can't run the new Airport Utility, which runs only on 10.7 or better.  Instead, I'm using the IOS Airport Utility App on an iPad, which DOES work with the new TC.  So I need the wireless network in order to make any changes in the TC config.

     

    I'm following these steps:

     

    1.  Power down the TC, so I'm sure my wi-fi connection is to the Netgear router.

     

    2.  Once connected, power up the TC and use the iPad to access the TC base station.

     

    3.  Change the TC network name and set security to "None".

     

    4.  Set the iPad Wi-Fi to the new network name.

     

    5.  Connect to the Netgear router via ethernet and disable the Netgear wireless access.  Log out.

     

    6.  Select the new network name on my laptop Wi-Fi.  Remove the ethernet cable.

     

    Now the TC wireless access point should take over, and I should be able to access web sites via the TC wireless access -- but I can't.  Network Diagnostics tells me that the connection to my ISP is not functional.  I re-boot the cable modem, the Netgear router, and the TC.  I even powered off the iPad and the laptop and restarted them.  The iPad Airport Utility reports that it "can't find any AirPort base stations."  Rebooting the TC yields the addtional warning that the TC is "missing from my network."

     

    I'm at a loss ... what else should I be resetting or rebooting?

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,585 points)
    Remove the ethernet cable

     

    Your network requires that the routers on the network be permenently connected using an Ethernet cable.

     

    Please review the requirements that Tesserax carefully provided.   I am pasting in a copy of his reesponse here.......

     

     

    In the mean time, let me try to give you some step-by-step instructions using the 6.x version of the AirPort Utility. First, there are a few key elements to successfully configuring a roaming network, and they are:

    • All of the base station must be interconnected by Ethernet. Note: You can use non-Apple routers in this type of network.
    • All base stations must have unique Base Station Names.
    • All base stations must use the same Radio Mode and Wireless Security Type/Password.
    • Each base station should be on a different Radio Channel. Using "Automatic" works well here.
    • All base stations, other than the "main" base station, must be reconfigured as a bridge.

     

     

    So, you may have turned off the wireless on the Netgear router, but you must maintain the Ethernet connection between the Netgar router and the Time Capsule. That is the only way that the Time Capsule can receive its network connection information.

     

     


  • DukeBedford Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Bob,

     

    What I was referring to in step 6 was that I had connected my laptop to the TC via ethernet in order to change the reconfiguration of the Netgear (primary) router. Then I disconnected the cable from my laptop to see if  wireless access was working.  As long as all the machines are connected via ethernet, I have connectivity among all of them, and to the internet.  But when I try to connect my laptop (or my wife's, or my iPad)  to the LAN via wireless, I don't see the new (TC) network name in the Wi-Fi choices.  The Netgear router and the TC are always connected by eithernet.

     

    Earlier in the discussion, I asked about turning off wireless access on the Netgear router and using only the downstream Time Capsule for wireless access.  You said

    If you turn off the wireless on the Netgear, the Time Capsule will not be part of a "roaming" network, unless you also have another router on the network that will also be  providing a wireless signal.

     

    If the Time Capsule will be the only device providing a wireless signal, "roaming" is not possible since you will only have one access point....and "roaming" requires two or more.

     

    As long as wireless devices can receive a good signal from the Time Capsule, you should be OK.

    I agreed that this would not represent a "roaming" network -- but having wireless access from one device is much better than none.  What I've been trying to do, without success, is to set up the single wireless access point described above. I thought/think I have the Time Capsule configured as described, but it's not working.

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,585 points)

    If things are configured as you say, then they should operate correctly.  I cannot explain why they do not.

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