Wireless "repeater" / network "extender" out of two old routers?

A recent posting in another thread bashing old routers made me remember a probably very bad idea that I've been wanting to try out. Maybe someone here has already gone through it and confirm how bad it is or give me some pointers to pull it through.

I have a few ar71xx/ath79 routers that have still decent 11n 5GHz radios. Does it make any sense to put two of them back to back, literally duct taped together (I know... fancy...), one as an AP, the other as a client, to make a "repeater" out of them?

Something like this:

backbone --band 149-- old-router (client) --ethernet-- old-router (AP) --band 36-- far-away (client)

I saw a couple threads for using a single router as a repeater, but that would mean using the 2.4GHz band which sucks not only because of throughput but also because the neighbour's microwave kills it every time they pop popcorn.

I'll try it out once I get some time for it, but... any pointers? Does it make sense to try to make it work at level 2 networking (would probably make a mess of network broadcasts)? Would it only work if set up for level 3 networking routing (would probably make it slower)?

Maybe you could ask your neighbour kindly to close the door of the microwave when he/she is poping their special popcorn so your WiFi will survive the meal :popcorn:

And if your neighbour is not cooperative your best chances for your WiFi to "survive" is on channel 1 :signal_strength:

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Ha. We tried everything. Not sure who's microwave it is... but it must be radioactive because even cordless phones were affected. Pretty suspect that WiFi would have issues at 7:00AM and 6 at night every day. Over the years we moved away from 2.4GHz and now everything runs on 5GHz (and we have an old 900MHz cordless for the wireline). Since 5GHz range is so limited, that's why I'm getting creative with this.

Technically you could do that, but I'd consider that a waste of electricity - yes, using a single radio for client- and AP uses at the same time incurs the repeater effect (halving your throughput), but that often isn't a problem towards the edges of your coverage area. You'd gain more by using a single 802.11ac device though, especially in congested environments (wasting less frequency spectrum for yourself and your neighbours).

There is a wide array of early draft-n devices and later models, especially the earlier ones can be more trouble than they're worth. This variation is smaller among 802.11ac devices, you generally get more consistent and better results that way.

Of course your can (and should, if possible) repeat the 5 GHz band.

Yeah, that's a good point. Each one of these consumes in theory 7W. At current rates where I am and running 24h that's about $0.50/month each. Not sure if a newer model would do any better... but a fancier router running at 14W might just break even.

These are draft-n, so this is something to consider. Never had any compatibility issues with them, though, even when using WDS (which I don't use anymore).