Getting network connectivity to two difficult rooms in my house with OpenWrt

I have a D-Link DIR-835 rev. A1 running OpenWRT as my wifi AP and also ethernet router. I have put the AP in a reasonably central location in my house given the limitations for it being near a cable entry point. But the two back rooms of my house get bad wifi signals; in one a device can connect but bandwidth can sometimes be bad, in the other room it is basically impossible to connect. I have racked my brain trying to figure out how I can get an ethernet cable to one or both of those rooms from the room with my AP but it would be very difficult. I can run an ethernet cable easily between the two rooms that are having problems.

I currently am addressing the problem with dd-wrt (because I could not find good OpenWRT support for this device) running on a Linksys E1200 v2 set to Client Bridge Mode in the room that gets OK wifi. It's router ports offer network to devices in that room and the other difficult room. This works OK for a while and then stops working well and I am mindful of the warning

Client Bridge will never be as stable as any of those modes. It is by design a hack and not a true transparent bridge like WDS. It will cause connection problems for more than a single client.

So I am looking for a better solution.

What are my best options for getting network connectivity to these two rooms?

The dd-wrt page on Linking Routers suggests that Client Bridge is the worst choice from the available options (Repeater Bridge, WDS, Client, Repeater, AP or OLSR) and suggests that Repeater Bridge may be second worst choice. The dd-wrt wiki says that

There is no repeater mode option on Qualcomm/Atheros devices

and my D-Link DIR-835 rev. A1 is Atheros hardware. The dd-wrt page also suggests that to use WDS I should have two AP/routers with the same chipset. I am not opposed to buying a second D-Link DIR-835 rev. A1 if that is my best option.

Does it help that the D-Link DIR-835 rev. A1 can broadcast at multiple frequencies?

I recognize that I am citing dd-wrt info pages. This is because so far in my searching, they contain the clearest connection to the issues I am having and because those are the best explanations I have found so far. My intent, however, is to set up my solution with OpenWRT. For whatever solution is most highly recommended, I am looking for clear instructions please.

I've had acceptable results with powerline networking. You would need one unit near your router connected via ethernet, and one unit in each room you're having connectivity issues with. From the powerline adapters in the rooms with connectivity issues you could then use switches for wired connections, or Wireless AP's to provide Wifi.

I'm also going to purchase a couple of of MoCA adapters for my home, which sends an ethernet connection over coaxial cables which are in my home. Agian, I'll be attaching a Wireless AP at the end of the MoCA connection.


If you only need Internet access in the far rooms, use a routed method which I think dd-wrt calls Client-Repeater. If necessary, it is possible to set up routing between the two networks to access a printer etc.

Better performance would result from using two boxes in the far rooms, connected by cable. One would be the client, which should be located to get the best signal from the main router. The other one would be an AP, operating on a different channel and placed near the users.

I don't know if Broadcom WDS will interoperate with Atheros WDS but you could certainly try.

It does not, "Atheros WDS" is a term that strictly speaking doesn't exist, it's just taken as a synonym for mac80211's 4addr mode. This 4addr is common to all chipsets using mac80211 (as long the chipsets provide the prerequisites) and not limited to just Atheros chipsets, but DD-WRT and its proprietary Broadcom drivers are not using mac80211 and don't support 4addr. Yes, Broadcom has a different WDS implementation, but it's proprietary and only works between Broadcom chipsets using their own proprietary driver.


Thanks @mk24 and @slh for the suggestions and discussion. I have a couple questions.

  1. I think I understand that I can't use my two current pieces of hardware because one is Atheros and one Broadcom. Is @slh saying that routed method cannot be done with Atheros hardware?

  2. If I can use Atheros to do routed, would I have to buy another D-Link DIR-835 or could I buy any Atheros hardware? If I can't do it with Atheros, what would be a recommended hardware I could buy two of to do a routed setup?

  3. To do an OpenWrt routed setup, can you please suggest some pages with very clear instructions


Configure the client station like a dumb AP, that is it only has one network the lan, and the lan IP is in the main router's network, which can be assigned statically or by DHCP. As the name "dumb AP" suggests, the main router will be doing all the routing. You can set this up with the two boxes connected by a cable in the same room.

Once that is working, change the AP mode to AP(WDS), and create a Client(WDS) on the repeater station, bridged into the lan network. Then unplug the cable and restart the client. It should connect by wireless now.

Note that regular users can still connect to an AP(WDS) as regular clients.

There may be some bugs related to WDS in 21.02.

thank you. Can I use two Atheros devices or will I need two devices with a different chipset?

A routed client setup is always possible, as long as you can set a static route on the main wireless router (but it makes roaming between both sections awkward).

For routed client mode, you can get any wireless hardware you like, as long as it is supported reasonably well.

It's WDS/ 4addr that narrows the option a little, towards devices supported by- and running OpenWrt (technically, using mainline- and mac80211 based drivers) - effectively this means Atheros or Mediatek hardware (mix them as you like).

Only two rules:

  • mac80211 based (mainline supported-) wireless hardware
  • running OpenWrt (basically, the important part is the first rule, but most other firmware rely heavily on proprietary drivers - and those don't interoperate with mac80211 WDS/ 4addr)

You can mix- and match QCA/ Atheros and Mediatek hardware as you like, all imaginable permutations.

Thank you for your time and expertise. Reading carefully over both your answers I notice that I was not clear about my exact connectivity needs between the difficult rooms and the rest of the house. I think your answers have been offering me the choice of two solutions depending on my needs. I do need pretty seamless connectivity in both directions because I run media and file servers whose services cross this boundary between main house and far rooms.

  • Does this mean I need to use WDS and not routed?
  • If WDS is the solution to have full network transparency in both directions (for media server, file server, etc), then I have other questions about a third device in far rooms to act as an AP in the far rooms. I will call my device connected to my cable modem and serving as main AP for house "Device A", the WDS client is "Device B" and the third device, acting as AP in far rooms, attached to Device B by a cable is "Device C". Will clients connected to Device C have full network transparency in both directions with device connected to Device A?
  • Can Device C use same SSID as Device A but just on a different channel?
  • I understand that Devices A and B have to be mac80211 based (mainline supported-). Am I correct that Device C has no such restrictions?

Yes device C would be a dumb AP bridged into the single network supported by the WDS bridge between A and B. The OS on device C doesn't need to do anything special.

A symmetric routed solution can also work, and I have found that there are persistent bugs in WDS that make a regular AP-STA link more reliable. The one thing that would not work is auto-discovery of printers and servers across the two networks. However they can be manually configured by IP address.

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I have found the OpenWrt page on routed. Where is the page for symmetric routed? Is AP-STA a synonym for symmetric routed?

The second half of the page, where you don't use masquerade.

AP-STA is a regular wifi connection. Originally it was intended there would be only one device at the STA end, such as a laptop. But by using routing that one device can be designated as the gateway to a whole network or multiple networks.

OK, thanks, I will read the non-masquerading part carefully.

I had a similar problem to you and I solved it using MoCA, since my house is fully wired with coaxial cable.

MoCA is a technology that allows you to run an ethernet network over coaxial cable. I then used the MocA/ethernet network to run the backhaul for multiple enterprise class APs.

If you have a house wired with coaxial cable, this may be an option you might want to consider.

Unfortunately our house is not wired with coax; But thank you for the suggestion

Here is the solution I found.

I bought a second router that can support OpenWrt, a TP-Link Archer C7 v2. The TP-Link is my primary access point. I use the D-Link as a client bridge using WDS supported by MAC80211. I installed a recent version of OpenWrt on both devices and set up the primary AP as normal. Then I placed the D-Link in a place in my house where it gets a good signal and ran a 15m ethernet cable to the room that does not get a signal tacked discretely along the baseboards. I then set up the D-Link up as a WDS client bridge. As noted by MariusMatutiae in those instructions I did have to disable DHCP for IPV4 and IPV6.

At the other end of the ethernet cable I attached a Linksys E1200 v2 running DD-WRT in Wireless access point mode

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