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Making a network for a large number of people
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abbaZaba
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Aug 23, 2009, 10:04 PM
 
if I have three internet-connected cable modems each connected to a wireless router, and each wireless router has the same SSID and the three routers are on channels 1, 6, and 11 respectively, will this cause problems?

Does something singular have to handle DHCP? can I have one router doing DHCP or as a person moves through the wireless network, will this severe the connection?

can each router be doing DHCP? will each router have to handle a separate range such as 1-10, 11-20, 20-51?

any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
Big Mac
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Aug 23, 2009, 10:11 PM
 
You want only one router doing DHCP. You should be able to extend the network by having the additional routers use the SSID, but one should be the router while the others will be in bridging mode (i.e. with their DHCP turned off). Others will have more complete answers.

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turtle777
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Aug 23, 2009, 10:38 PM
 
Let me get this straight: Each of the wireless routers is connected to a different modem ?
So each of them has a unique IP to the outside world ?

In that case, you are really creating three completely separate networks Each of them would need DHCP turned on.
I'm not sure what kind of problems the same SSID would cause, but sounds like this could be an issue...

-t
     
abbaZaba  (op)
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Aug 24, 2009, 12:09 AM
 
I feel like I am missing something in this equation but I can't figure out what.

as for them having different outside IPs, that is what I thought the separate DHCP ranges would be for: one router doing 1-10, another 11-20, and the last 21-51.

each router/access point is fairly close together. they will be in three corners of the square area, with two being on the second floor in opposing corners. I would think there wouldn't be too much jumping between routers since the moving around area is not far from an access point.
     
Big Mac
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Aug 24, 2009, 06:55 AM
 
Sorry, I didn't realize we were talking about three separate modems. That's a complex setup. I don't think it's going to work with the same SSID.

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Simon
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Aug 24, 2009, 07:00 AM
 
You'll want all access points in bridge mode using the same SSID. Then you'll hook them all up to one router doing DHCP/NAT. That one router is then attached to one cable modem. To simplify, the router doing DHCP/NAT can be one of the wifi access points provided the other acces points are then connected to that access point's LAN ports.

If you have all access points connected to different cable modems they will all be hosting wireless networks on different LANs with different WAN IPs. So trying to roam on a common subnet by using the same SSID will not work the way you expect it to.
     
Big Mac
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Aug 24, 2009, 09:47 AM
 
That's what I would have thought, but with three cable modems he's implying he has three different cable lines/accounts.

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abbaZaba  (op)
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Aug 24, 2009, 11:17 AM
 
I feel like there are going to be too many people using this connection for one cable modem to handle (about 25-30). unfortunately, I have no say in the setup; it is what it is: there are FOUR cable modems. there is a patch panel but providing seamless wireless on different floors with more than one modem, I guess, is unfeasible.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 24, 2009, 11:47 AM
 
I don't mean to be rude, but your plan sounds like it's destined to fail.

I'd get a professional router (e. g. this one by Cisco) that can handle more than one simultaneous connection. You can get them used on ebay for a decent price, but if it is mission critical, I'd rather get a new one. That should also take care of the problem of having to deal with many different users.

Then you put in the four WLAN routers and use them as WLAN bridges that work together to enlarge the network. It depends on the manufacturer whether you can do this and how this is set up.

Alternatively, you can use a computer (doesn't have to be fast) and set up a router + firewall + dns server yourself. It's not hard, there are quite a few simple-to-use projects that do just that, e. g. m0n0wall. Monowall is configured via a web interface, includes a firewall, a DHCP server, two VPNs, NAT, DNS cache and more. It also has wireless support, i. e. it can be used as an access point. If you want to buy a small box, you can do that here or here. The downside is that monowall doesn't support multiple connections yet. However, if the bandwidth of your connection is big enough and you don't need a spare connection, you could make do with one.

Of course, if you know just a little, you can also configure your own little server that does all that and is more flexible. It's not that difficult to get things up and running. Then you have one central server that does the load balancing (distributing the requests amongst the four different lines), acts as dhcp server and as firewall.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Aug 24, 2009 at 12:00 PM. )
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abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 3, 2009, 10:11 AM
 
alright well it ultimately ended up that one modem is connected to an 8port switch and then three routers (two netgear, one belkin) are connected to the switch.

netgear1 is on channel 11 and is set to handle a DHCP range from 192.168.0.2-196.168.0.10
it's address is 192.168.0.1
netgear2 is on channel 6 and is set to handle a DHCP range from 192.168.0.12-192.168.0.20
it's address is 192.168.0.11
belkin is on channel 1 and iss et to handle a DHCP range from 192.168.0.22-192.168.0.50
it's address is 192.168.0.21
they are all broadcasting the same SSID. the DHCP handling works as it should, however I can only access the Internet when I am near the netgear1 access point. I know I am connected to that access point because of my macbook's NAT address and the fact that System Preferences shows I am using it as the Router.

however, when I move closer to either of the two other access points and renew my DHCP lease, I get a new NAT IP which is to be expected, and the new access point starts handling the DHCP range as expected, however I am unable to access the internet and I cannot figure out why.

if I have the setup going like this:

do I need each access point handling a DHCP in a separate range? should I turn DHCP off for two of them so something is handling DHCP? if I understand correctly the switch isn't handling DHCP.
     
Simon
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Sep 3, 2009, 10:33 AM
 
Can't you put the access points in bridge mode and have only the switch handle the DHCP/NAT stuff?
     
abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:40 PM
 
I was unaware a cheap netgear switch can handle DHCP/NAT. this is only an 8port Netgear switch, not something very industrial
     
Simon
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:44 PM
 
I don't know if that model can. But it would be the easiest thing to do I guess.

Actually any AirPort Extreme could do that. I could act as the first wireless access point and the switch to the modem all in one. Just hook up the other access points to its LAN ports.
     
turtle777
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I don't know if that model can. But it would be the easiest thing to do I guess.

Actually any AirPort Extreme could do that. I could act as the first wireless access point and the switch to the modem all in one. Just hook up the other access points to its LAN ports.
But the APE could not bundle the three router's internet connection and make it appear as one.

-t
     
Simon
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:49 PM
 
I'm not sure I understand. Why not?

Modem connected to WAN port, the other two access points connected to the LAN ports. Run DHCP/NAT on the APExtreme, run the other two in bridge mode. All access points have the same SSID, but different channels. Done. No?
     
abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:49 PM
 
The switch is a FS608 netgear. I do not think it can do DHCP...
     
abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I'm not sure I understand. Why not?

Modem connected to WAN port, the other two access points connected to the LAN ports. Run DHCP/NAT on the APExtreme, run the other two in bridge mode. All access points have the same SSID, but different channels. Done. No?
that's fine and dandy but I do not have an Airport Extreme. the only other piece of hardware that I have right now is an Airport Express but I am not sure how that would fit into the equation.
     
turtle777
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Sep 3, 2009, 12:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I'm not sure I understand. Why not?

Modem connected to WAN port, the other two access points connected to the LAN ports. Run DHCP/NAT on the APExtreme, run the other two in bridge mode. All access points have the same SSID, but different channels. Done. No?
ModemS (pl.)

Originally Posted by abbaZaba
...three internet-connected cable modems...
How is that supposed to work? For starters, the APE doesn't have three WAN ports.

-t
     
abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 3, 2009, 01:24 PM
 
sorry, turtle, I mentioned that I ended up abandoning the idea of using Dual WAN modems. I am just using one modem connected to three access point through a switch. but that leaves something not being able to handle DHCP
     
olePigeon
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Sep 3, 2009, 01:25 PM
 
You need a multiport WAN load balancing router. It isn't true multiplexing, but it'll at least move traffic over multiple Cable or DSL connections to ease congestion. Anything with more than 2 WAN ports will probably be expensive.

Otherwise, you'll need to manually set the gateway on each machine and determine who's on which modem.

Googled and found this company. They offer 2 port, 3 port, and more multiport WAN routers.

http://www.peplink.com/
( Last edited by olePigeon; Sep 3, 2009 at 01:28 PM. Reason: New link)
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Simon
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Sep 3, 2009, 04:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by abbaZaba View Post
that's fine and dandy but I do not have an Airport Extreme. the only other piece of hardware that I have right now is an Airport Express but I am not sure how that would fit into the equation.
And none of your three wifi access points has LAN ports? That could work too.
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 6, 2009, 02:13 PM
 
@abbaZaba
That layout is not very good. You should definitely have a central DHCP server. And a firewall. Again, putting an old computer (a 486 is already fast enough!) in between modem and switch that handles routing, firewall and dhcp will be much better. If you use one of the distributions I've linked to, configuring them is no harder than configuring a router, things like monowall have a relatively simple web interface.
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abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 10, 2009, 12:00 AM
 
Will this setup work?

     
Simon
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Sep 10, 2009, 03:01 AM
 
You want the switch itself running DHCP, not something downstream of it.
     
turtle777
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Sep 10, 2009, 03:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
You want the switch itself running DHCP, not something downstream of it.
Why does that matter ?

Doesn't DHCP propagate itself throughout the network ?

-t
     
Simon
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Sep 10, 2009, 03:27 AM
 
Can the switch be operated in bridge mode, IOW as a dumb hub?
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 10, 2009, 04:28 AM
 
No, I think that will not work. As mentioned by Simon, the problem is that you will likely have problems with DHCP again. Why not do it like this:

The server in the middle doesn't have to be a server in the traditional sense, if you have a good router, then the first two boxes are actually one. Or, as I've suggested before, you can download a router BSD distro and use an old computer. It doesn't have to be powerful.

Note that the DHCP server is connected to the internet before the switch. The base stations indicate your access points. They should work in concert, i. e. one acts as master and the other extend the ranges. If you have wlan access points from different manufacturers, there may be problems.
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Simon
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Sep 10, 2009, 05:08 AM
 
Oreo, that all sounds fine, except for this one bit (unless I'm misunderstanding you).

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
The base stations indicate your access points. They should work in concert, i. e. one acts as master and the other extend the ranges. If you have wlan access points from different manufacturers, there may be problems.
IIRC the OP wants several wifi networks that should appear as one large network. He also mentioned has Ethernet connections to all wifi access points.

In such a case and according to your drawing you want those wifi access points all connected to the switch with the DHCP/NAT business happening upstream (either in the switch or in the 'server'). That means the wifi access points should ALL be in bridge mode with no master and no range extension or any other WDS stuff.

So you connect the WAN ports of all the wifi access points to the switch, put all in bridge mode, give all the same SSID, but apply different channels to each one. What users will then see is "one big wifi network". They will all get IPs from one DHCP server (either the switch or a dedicated 'server') and they will all be on one single LAN subnet connected to the WAN through the switch and modem.
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 10, 2009, 07:56 AM
 
Yes, you're right, the drawing is inaccurate.
I thought that you still need a master access point that determines the SSID and channel and several slaves. And you're saying that instead, you need to choose different channels for each and the rest will just work?
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Simon
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Sep 10, 2009, 08:07 AM
 
If the access points are in bridge mode and you have an upstream router/server taking care of DHCP, yes. Then, you give all access points the same SSID but different channels. This involves no WDS or any other kind of extension.
     
ghporter
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Sep 10, 2009, 09:07 AM
 
Simon is describing a classic "roaming wireless network." The key to this working is having all the access points connected to a central router that handles ALL routing and DHCP-so configuring wireless routers in bridge mode is essential. Having the routing centralized AND having only a single DHCP server ensures that all of the access points are on the same subnet.

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OreoCookie
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Sep 10, 2009, 09:13 AM
 
I understand, thanks for the explanation.
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Simon
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Sep 21, 2009, 05:07 AM
 
Update? Which solution did you end up going for? How's it working?
     
abbaZaba  (op)
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Sep 21, 2009, 11:53 AM
 
we ended up by two 16 port switches and patched in all the wall outlets. Modem->Router->Switch->wall outlet

we had to double that setup so the third floor and the second floor are using different modems, so they are not on a LAN together which is not ideal but no other way to deal with that. setting up the wireless was a snap since the DHCP is handled by the routers; it was just a matter of setting up the access points.

I still have trouble getting my old(er) Airport Express to join the wireless network and act as an access point. I'm not sure why, but it is always really picky when it comes to that task.
     
   
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