Getting WDS setup and working -
So how do we get all this setup? Well, to illustrate how it all goes together, we will take a look at how to setup WDS using some actual hardware. Our WDS network will consist of one TRENDNet TEW-639GR wireless N Router, two TRENDNet TEW-638APB Wireless N Access points and two TRENDNet TEW-664UB USB Wireless N adapters.
To get started, you need to do a little planning. You will need to decide on the name of the SSID for your network as all devices will need to have the same SSID. You need to know the MAC addresses of all of the devices and also know the ranges of the devices. This is pretty easy as this information is available online and also usually on the box or in the manual for the wireless router that you have.
The reason that you need this is to prevent conflicting signal overlap. Conflicting signal overlap is where two or more access points have equal (and strong) signal strength overlapping a certain area. For example, if you are 10 feet from AP number one and are receiving 90% signal strength, while at the same time getting 90% from AP number two, you will have a problem while your wireless card tries to connect to both (as they will both have the same SSID name).
Thankfully this is rarely a problem as you would not setup a WDS network in a small area like that, but it is still something to be aware of.
After you have this information, you want to establish where you want to put your Router and Access points. Taking a look at our mythical layout, you can see the obvious places to put our Aps and main router. The spots chosen are far enough apart to give excellent coverage, but not too close to create problems. Of course, this is not to scale and we have drawn arbitrary range circles, but the idea is the same here.
With this idea in mind, you start off with your main router; in our case this is the TRENDNet TEW-639GR. On the TEW-639GR the WDS setup is on the wireless page; here you need to enable WDS and then enter the MAC Addresses of every other device in the WDS group. You also need to make note of all settings on this page as you will have to copy them exactly on each AP in the group for WDS to operate properly.
Once you are finished setting up the base station then you will move to the external Aps. As we mentioned, each of these will need to be setup with identical wireless configurations (including identical SSIDs). This is down to even small items like the secondary channel, Operating Mode, channel bandwidth, etc. One other very important item is to ensure that the time on each is in sync. If the time between nodes is off by more than 5 minutes, you will lose connectivity. One item that must be a little different is the MAC Addresses that are put in each external node. These need to be the MAC Addresses of the other points in the WDS group, as you can see in our over simplified diagram below.
Further Reading: Read and find more Networking content at our Networking reviews, guides and articles index page.
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