WDS & standard AP

Hey guys,

First of all thanks for the great work you're doing with OpenWRT it gave a new life to 2 of my old routers. Which I'm now trying to use to get decent wireless coverage through my parents house and garden.

Got 3 routers:
Router: ISP router which does WIFI (channel 6, doesn't know WDS)
Router-1: OpenWrt WDS AP, connected via wire to Router (same SSID and security as Router, channel 11)
Router-2: OpenWrt WDS Client & AP, connected wirelessly to Router-1 + AP has same SSID and security as Router and Router-1 (this will be in a shed to which I can't install an ethernet cable).

As you can see I'm trying to use both Router-1 and Router-2 as range extenders for Router. My problem is when Router-1 goes down (in synthetic tests), Router-2 doesn't see the WDS connection as being down, I'm assuming it picks up the signal from Router and assumes it's still connected, but WDS isn't working as Router is dumb.

Is there a way to have the WDS client on Router-2 only connect to Router-1 (other than using a separate WIFI just for WDS) and ignore Router? Tried messing around with channels (WDS using same channel on both Router-1 and Router-2) but couldn't get it working, also this forces the AP on Router-2 on the same channel which will possibly conflict with Router-1 in a bad way when ranges from the two overlap.

Grateful for any advice!

OK, first, if these two routers are inter-connected via cable, so most probably close, I suggest you turn off the WiFi on ISP router. unnecessary extra WiFi would do more harm than good.

I'm not entirely sure what do you mean by router 1 going down; do you mean when it loses it's internet source?
Anyway, in all cases you need to tell what routers do you have and also about the environment. What brand and model? How far apart are the two routers? Clear line of sights is possible? Concrete or wooden walls?

Ideally, if you have two routers, you could try to inter-connect them in WDS on the 5 Ghz band, and leave the 2.4 GHz for AP clients, if the distance allows good 5 GHz connection (or otherwise you could do it the other way around if it). That's off course if the two routers play a WDS together nicely--that depends on the routers themselves.

I'm completely lost here. The purpose of the WDS is to allow roaming for wireless clients regardless of which AP they are connected two. So You would need to have both APs wit the same settings for wireless clients (ideally on the 2.4 GHz band), and the WDS link between the two routers on the other band, if you have dual band routers. If you have only 2.4 GHz then you could still do, but that halves the bandwidth available for clients.

I thought a WDS client would not connect to a non-WDS AP at all.

The BSSID option can be used to force a client to connect to only one certain AP (based on the AP's MAC address)

When you have a client configured on a radio, the channel selection is ignored. The client will scan through channels to find an AP and then operate on that channel. Radios can operate on only one channel at a time, so all of its APs will also run on the same channel.

I've done a test taking Router-1 offline (unplugged) and Router-2 was still saying it's connected. I've created a separate WDS SSID for the two routers and when Router-1 was offline, Router-2 would correctly say Wireless not associated. This led me into thinking Router-2 is connecting to Router as well.

The "Associated Stations" table at the bottom of the main status page is the best place to check what you are connected to.

It is usually best to turn off the wifi in those "home gateway" combo modem / routers and use something else entirely.

Router-1 is kind of weak in terms of signal through throughput, and both Router and Router-1 are located on 1st level of a brick house with concrete floors (devices on ground level reach them through 1 floor).

Power failure on Router-1 for ex (that's how I simulate it in my tests). Also they're about 10-15m apart, with 2 brick walls in between.

Router - branded ISP router, has very basic settings
Router-1 - TP-Link TL-WR841N(D) v9
Router-2 - TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND

Both Router-1 and Router-2 are 2.4GHz only and I don't mind the loss of bandwidth, it's still better than no internet at all :slight_smile:

Then I would swap routers 1 and 2, and turn the WiFi on ISP router.

Ok, I'll first try the BSSID avenue and if that doesn't work I'll go for swapping and disabling the ISP's.

Thanks for your help, will let you know about the results.

Isn't this a bit of a no-no in terms of range extension? If Router-1 is on channel 11, Router-2 will be on channel 11 as well. They need to be able to connect to each other, so they're within communication range, which means the area between them will be covered by 2 wifis with same SSID and channel.

Does it maybe mean I'm not doing this correctly? As the above situation would always occur with WDS, unless the router has multiple radios ...

Even if you decide to keep ISP's WiFi on, why do you have same SSID as the other AP's? That complicates thing.

If you are not worried about deciding the bandwidth in the house, then you would disable ISP's WiFi, swap the routers and implement WDS between them, and APs for clients on both.

Alternatively, if you want the bandwidth in the house to remain undivided you keep the routers where they are, except that you change the SSID for ISP router's WiFi.

Yes, I wouldn't mind disabling ISP's and the WR1043ND could probably do well indoors, but there's a catch, I don't have stable wifi on it. Sometimes I find the wifi completely unusable or not even broadcasting its SSID. That's why my preference would be relegating it to the garage.

To make matters weirder, my brother has an identical HW revision with the same version of OpenWRT on it and it works fine. Mine (which is going to my parents') has had this problem with OpenWRT 15 and 18.

Ah I thought it was the WR841 that has the bad Wireless.

WR841 has poor range, WR1043ND has issues with wifi :slight_smile: Trying to juggle with old pieces of hardware and I guess that's what you get ...

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This is the winner, tried it last evening and works as expected. I'm going to keep the ISP wifi around for a while and see how it all works out. Still having concerns about the WDS AP and STA overlapping channels, but I'll raise it separately.

Thanks for all your help!

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