Wired and Wireless greenfield setup

First, the disclaimers. Although I am relatively computer savvy, I am not a networking expert (that will be obvious if you read the rest of this post). Also, I have read several postings that appear to be trying to get a similar setup working to what I am describing... those posts are enlightening, but I am going at this more from a greenfield approach rather than trying to fix something that I already have.

Quickly, what I want is a wired network for my desktop machines with a wireless access point hanging off of that. I have had way too many problems with wireless routers as the center of the network in the past: some were stable, but would not pass my work VPN; some were unstable and required constant recycling; some worked ok, but only within a short radius. Because of this, I have decided that the center of my network will be wired.

That said, I still need occasional wireless access. My thoughts were to have a wireless access point hang off the wired router. The AP needs to be placed well away from the router to have it placed appropriately to provide reasonable coverage.

I would like all machines that connect via the wireless AP to have access to the machines that are connected via the wired network (appear as one single network) and vice versa to facilitate file and printer sharing etc.

Once the network is reliable, I plan to introduce a NAS and start trying out video streaming, VOIP and other network heavy applications that demand reliable connections.

Some particulars if they are needed: - I have a mix of different OSs on my network currently: WinXP, Mac OSX, Linux and Win Mobile 5.0. Plan to introduce XBox 360 to the mix soon.

- My budget is not huge, but if something would bring about a corresponding increase in reliability (capacity, speed, etc) to the price increase, I would tend to lean that way.

- I use DSL (BellSouth) to connect the network to the internet.

I have several questions that I hope someone can help me with:

- First, does this setup makes sense or should I be trying to handle this in another way (just don't suggest using a wireless router as the center of the network... I want the reliability that wired ethernet brings)

- Does anyone have an example of a working setup like this that I can emulate? I have no problem being told what to do if it removes headaches ;-)

- Does anyone have opinions on hardware selection?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.


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I think you're asking rour questions:

  1. Wired and wireless together/cabling. Yes, I recommend what you suggest, I'm doing it the same way right now; 4 computers connected with ethernet cabling and routers, plus two computers with wireless, one is my laptop I bring from home. You plug a wireless router somewhere into your network, it will have one ethernet cable going to it. I use a LinkSys WRT45G

  1. File Sharing: I think you need to set up a server (if you don't already) and set up a folder for cross platform access (Mac) Windows servers have options for that. The cableing/wireless is invisible to that process. One way to do it, is to set up your file sharing on a server, and test it with a Mac connected thru ethernet cable. Once it works with ethernet, then try it on the same Mac with wireless. Should work the same/be the same. The ethernet cables are invisible, The wireless "cables" should be too.

  2. Printer sharing-How would you set up printer sharing if you're on a wired network? You should do the same thing when using wireless.

  1. Which wireless router? You can visit
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    a review from PC Magazine, PC World and CNet.

Or do you have more specific questions?

Bill (2)

BCage wrote:

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Thanks for the reply. You did answer some of my questions.

Some more specific questions are how do you deal with the multiple DHCP servers? I played around with a couple of wireless routers that I had and I could use one as a switch and the second as a wireless router/access point hanging off the first. When I did this, I ran into problems with machines from each of the two networks being able to see the machines on the other. This impacted file and print sharing. I thought this was related to the firewall configurations, but I was not able to figure it out. I feel sure this was user error or lack of knowledge, but it made me think that the problem was that first router was assigning IP addresses from a different segment than the second and, due to the hardware configuration, there was a firewall between the two. The second router in essence thinks the first router is in the wild; so to speak, so it is restricting access.

What I think I want is for the wireless router to employ a pass through DHCP call to the first router so that it is in effect, one network. Again, I am not well versed in this so it is a trial and error.

Am I making this too complicated in my mind?

The question on hardware really was more about what someone might suggest given the goal of reliability. Just looking through the online descriptions of routers, I have seen some of the routers described as having QoS functionality... should I be looking for things like this? Most of the advanced functionality seems to be targeted one step above home office but the prices didn't seem to be too high (looking at wired routers). In my job, I work at many companies and connect either through their wired network or their wireless networks... they never have the problems that I experience with my home network.

As I mentioned before, I am not as concerned about the wireless connections. If that connection fails on occasion, that is not a big concern (annoying, yes), but with this configuration, I am trying to isolate the wireless so that when it flakes out, it doesn't impact the primary, wired connections (like when I had a wireless router as the center of the network).

I guess I am really asking how companies solve this. All my efforts to date with home/office equipment has been less than encouraging... is this a training effort on my part or a matter of spending a little more money and getting better results.

Thanks for any input.


bill wrote:

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Had that problem when I was using multiple wap/routers.. Ended up with the second having dhcp turned off, and plugging it into a lan port... When I assigned the second starting ip address, i left the first three octets alone (so it was on the same segment) and just changed the last number..

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Peter Pan

Yes, sort of.

You're on the right track regarding having one DHCP server if you're going to have just one subnet. If you're using WPA security on the WiFi then it's not unreasonable to use just one subnet. But if you're going to leave the wifi unprotected it's a good idea NOT to have it on the same subnet. It's OK to do this (assuming you want to share the wifi or something) but it's not without adding configuration work.

When you tack on wifi to a wired network the 'simplest' way to do it is as an access point. That way it's just a connection, not a routing point. It merely passes the DHCP packets onto the wired network. It's common to also disable all server 'features' on the wifi router and let it operate just as an access point. Then plug a wired connection from the existing network into one of the LAN ports on the wifi router. This to avoid any features that might depend on using the WAN port on the wifi router. This works pretty well.

QoS is great, if you've got all devices involved supporting it. That includes the uplink gear at your ISP. It's a way for higher priority traffic to get passed through faster in the event of other activity. This is important for stuff like voice over IP. But it's not going to be terribly useful if your ISP isn't also supporting it. Sometimes the router hardware will be better in order to support the features (more CPU speed, ram, etc).

-Bill Kearney

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Bill Kearney

This is an interesting topic as I have a similar situation.

I have a 4 pc HPNA network that I've had for years. I needed this because in my high rise apt, there is no way to run cables, however we have phone outlets all over. Never a problem and the interconnection and WWW speed is full tilt.

I now got a laptop and wanted to attach it to the "wired" lan, and accomplished this with a USRobotics wireless router in addition to installing a USB wireless dongle on the closest PC, not the gateway as it has the router connected. The gateway PC, so to speak, is simply there to connect to the ISP/VOIP/Wireless router and is there to always maintain an internet connection.

My laptop can wirelessly connect to the PC with the dongle but can't always get into the LAN. I sometimes use VNC for that and it works pretty well.

Is there a simpler way to achieve this project so that My HPNA LAN remains as is and the laptop connects wirelessly into that lan to share files, printing and such. I know I can go wireless completely, but at the moment I have other projects to work on.

Thanks in advance for any advice....


Reply to

Ahhhh... now it is starting to make sense. Thanks for the detailed replies. I am assuming that I can use one of my existing wireless routers and shut down everything so that I turn it into an access point. I will definitely keep WPA on the wireless, but your reply does make me think I might want to have a second subnet. Since the implied benefit there is that the two are kept at arms length, although, where I live there is little threat introduced by my wifi spillover.

My guess is that if I set up a separate subnet this would prevent wireless connected users from using services (printers etc) on the other subnet; which is part of what I was hoping to have available. Would this impact the internet sharing capability?


Bill Kearney wrote:

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Just a follow up if anyone is reading this thread.... changing a wireless router to an access point was a piece of cake... turns out all you have to do is make the connection using the LAN ports on both the router and the wireless router. Turn off the DHCP server and set it up to get its own address via DHCP. The only weird thing that I ran into was that the wired router didn't seem to pay attention to the IP issue for the routers. It issued one ok, but nothing showed up on the DHCP table. At first I though this was odd, but ok, but then it appeared that the DHCP server issued the same IP again to one of my computers... not good. I flipped the method to be static IP and put one in and all is well; at least on the DLink. The Linksys complained that I could not assign an IP from the same segment on both the WAN and LAN side... funny, that was ok when the DHCP server was dishing it out. Played around with the assign range to force an IP in the low range for that router and then bumped up the start number for the next IPs to be issued. No the best solution in the world, but it is working for now.

Thanks for all of your help.


BCage wrote:

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