10 Replies Latest reply: Aug 15, 2013 5:22 PM by rick722
rick722 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

Hi,

 

Just got a brand new airport extreme (ac model) and this is now my setup:

 

1. New Extreme is main router

2. Older 4th gen Extreme is extending main Extreme

3. Airport Express N (1st gen) is extending older Extreme

 

Things seem to work but when using iStumber for testing (normally what I do) I only see 4 networks not 5.  I do not see a network for my Express although it seems that I have a connection there based on signal strength.  Both extenders have green lights (and of course the main), but I'm a bit confused by this.  I have my network with a different name for 5GHz (didn't realize older Extreme would extend both bands but seems to be the case), but I'm only intending to extend the 2.4GHz band with the Express.  Also funny thing is when I'm near my Express in iStumbler the strongest network seems to be the 2.4GHz band from my main router which should be impossible since I'm too far away.  Unless when being extended now the Express is being masked to appear as my main router?  But this was never the case before when I only had one extender...

 

Ok hope this makes sense can someone please educate me on this thanks for your time,

 

rc

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (90,670 points)

    1. New Extreme is main router

    2. Older 4th gen Extreme is extending main Extreme

    3. Airport Express N (1st gen) is extending older Extreme

    Apple's "extend a wireless network" feature can only extend a signal one time. So, the 4th Gen Extreme is extending the signal from the new Extreme.

     

    But, the AirPort Express is not extending the signal from the older Extreme. Instead,the Express is "joining" the network....It provides no additional wireless coverage in this type of setting, but could be used for a remote printer at the USB port or for use with AirPlay.

  • rick722 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Ok I did not know this I thought you could put more than 2. So if you want to use 3 ethernet must be involved?

     

    In Airport Utility Extend a Network is selected for my Express, but there is also a choice to only Join a Network.  So even thought Extend is selected it just functions as Join?  Should I just change it to Join?

     

    And now if I can only use the 2 Extremes since they are both dual-band there is no reason to really have separate names is there?  Before I did but that was because the Express can only extend one band...

     

    Last I think...in the Airport Utility overview sometimes all 3 airports are coming stacked on top of each other and sometimes my new Extreme is on top and the older ones are side by side underneath does this make a difference? Because I had Excellent for connection on my older Extreme then when I plugged my Express it changed to good???

     

    Thanks Bob for hearing all my questions :-)

     

    rc

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (90,670 points)
    I thought you could put more than 2

     

    You can....but each extender must communicate directly to the main router.  Apple's extend feature works like the hub and spokes of a wheel.

     

    Your new AirPort Extreme is the "hub". The old Extreme resides at the end of a "spoke", and as such it communicates directly to the "hub".

     

    You can have other extenders at the ends of other "spokes", but each one of them communicates directly to the "hub"......not to another extender at the end of another "spoke".

     

     

    So even thought Extend is selected it just functions as Join?

     

    Yes, if you try to make it connect to another extender.

     

     

    Should I just change it to Join?

     

    Up to you. it does not matter.

     

     

    And now if I can only use the 2 Extremes since they are both dual-band there is no reason to really have separate names is there?

     

    Again, up to you. Things are a lot simpler though, if you use just one network name.

     

     

    in the Airport Utility overview sometimes all 3 airports are coming stacked on top of each other and sometimes my new Extreme is on top and the older ones are side by side underneath does this make a difference?

     

    First, I hope you are not using AirPort Utility on an iPhone or iPad, because things do not always appear accurately on those devices.

     

    The "new" Extreme" should be at the top of the stack. The old Extreme with a dotted line between the new and old indicates that the old Extreme is connecting using wireless and extending.

     

    If the Express appears side by side with old Extreme, it is extending. If it appears under the old Extreme, then it is connecting to the old Extreme and it is not extending.

     

    If you experiment with the location of the Express, you might be able to get it to extend the new AirPort Extreme. It will help if it is closer to the new Extreme than it is to the old Extreme.

  • rick722 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Awesome Bob this really clears a lot of things up.  I did come up with one more thing though... :-)  So right now I have my old Extreme connecting with Good and when I hover it says data rate 26 mb/s (last night was 35) and PHY mode is 802.11b/g/n.  Am I to understand this means the old Extreme is only getting the 2.4 band from my new Extreme and then it makes its own 5GHz band from that?  I figured it would actually extend both bands from my new Extreme but maybe I was wrong???

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (90,670 points)
    So right now I have my old Extreme connecting with Good and when I hover it says data rate 26 mb/s (last night was 35) and PHY mode is 802.11b/g/n.

     

    Pardon the bluntness here, but this is just awful. Your connection should look more like 100-130 Mb/s on 2.4 GHz.

     

     

    Am I to understand this means the old Extreme is only getting the 2.4 band from my new Extreme and then it makes its own 5GHz band from that?

     

    No, the old Extreme will extend both bands from the new AirPort. But, since your 2.4 GHz connection is so poor.....and 5 GHz signals are much weaker than 2.4 GHz signals.....my guess would be that the old Extreme is not receiving enough of the 5 GHz signal to even be able to extend it.

     

    Do whatever you can to mimimize any obstructions in the direct signal path between the two AirPorts. If the signal must pass through 3-4 walls or a ceiling and a few walls, then wireless may not work for you if you want top notch performance.

     

    It is always much, much better to connect AirPorts using a wired Ethernet connection than try to connect them wirelessly.

     

    If you have a Mac laptop and don't mind spending about 5 bucks on a good WiFi Utility, we can give you some pointers on signal strength and placement for the AirPorts.

     

    I recommend WiFi Explorer for this.  Mac App Store - WiFi Explorer - iTunes - Apple

     

    I have no interest in WiFi Explorer other than that as a customer.

  • rick722 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks again Bob sure I don't mind to spend the money and I have a laptop, what are your pointers?

     

    Ok got it on the distance and I know about the obstructions, unfortunately I have 2 lots and I need to get the signal from one to the other and it has to pass walls (cement at that).  But surprisingly it's working much better than what I had before when using an Express as extender.  Anyways my purpose is to keep the main Airport close to my work computers, and the older one is more for iDevices when roaming around maybe some facebook, etc. so a bit of a drop-off is ok but sure I would like it the best it can be... :-)

     

    Also, not sure how it's being done but I do have 2 5GHz signals so I guess it's catching just enough to extend on the 5GHz band?  But as I mentioned it only says PHY mode is 802.11b/g/n...

     

    rc

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (90,670 points)

    Open up WiFi Explorer and wait for the display to appear.

     

    The really important column heading here is SNR, which stands for Signal to Noise Ratio.  That is by far the best measurement to evaluate signal quality.

     

    Locate the SNR heading, then move down to find your network. You will see it displayed as a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band.  If you have two AirPorts, you will see your network 4 times.

     

    Start with the laptop very close to your "new" AirPort

     

    Use this SNR Chart to evaluate the signal quality:

     

    40+           Superior

    35            Excellent

    30            Very Good

    25            Good

    20            Fair

    15            Low

    10            Very Low

      5            Not reliable

     

    Temporarily, power off the old Extreme for now.

     

    Your signal should be 40+ from the main Airport at this point on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

     

    Slowly walk your laptop about 15-20 feet toward the location of the old Extreme and take a look at the signals at that point.

     

    Continue to walk the laptop very slowly further away from the main AirPort until you see that the SNR is between 25-27 or so.

     

    That is the location where the old AirPort Extreme should be located.  Reason....the Extreme can only extend the quality of signal that it receives. It cannot make a slow signal go faster.

     

    If you need to locate the old AirPort further away, the signal quality will drop very quickly, as you will see.

     

    Once you locate the old Extreme and power it up, you can use the SNR reading to test the signal quality at various remote points.

     

    You always want to make sure that you are getting at least 25 db SNR.....more is better.

  • rick722 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    All clear Bob and basically I was getting SNR of 10 where it was located. :-) I will have to work on the positioning some, although surprisingly it works quite well for "normal" browsing I'm guessing the AE can pick up the signal better than the laptop???

     

    And after I reconnected my older AE yesterday Airport Utility told me "Good" connection with data rate of 156 maybe this is not so accurate?  Still gives me PHY mode of b/g/n but old AE is giving out 5GHz band too so not sure how that works as I was not able to see the 5GHz band from my new AE during my laptop tests.  And on WiFi Explorer for the 5GHz band from my old AE it says 149,+1 as channels not sure why?

     

    Anyways you have helped me a lot it's much appreciated Bob! :-)

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (90,670 points)

    If there is any way that you could consider connecting the AirPorts using a wired Ethernet connection, your network will operate much faster and more reliably with that type of setup.

  • rick722 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks again Bob.  I will consider this and also I shifted things around a bit so now I'm getting SNR of about 22 on my old AE so it's much better now thanks to you! :-)