Since I switched from AT&T Uverse to a local cable company for Internet, and had already made other wiring changes in the house, I needed a new location for our cable drop (the wire running from the utility box to the house). As installing it next to the incoming phone wires made the most sense, I went that route, and set up a “network shelf” in the basement to hold my various networking equipment. This had the effect of clearing off equipment, and several irritating flashing LED lights, from my main computer desk.
Without getting into an expensive wireless access point (WAP), I wanted to make do with the routers I had on hand. By now, I have accumulated four Linksys routers. One was a somewhat erroneous purchase, but it now plays a central part in my reconfigured network which utilizes three routers, and the fourth is available either as an emergency backup, or I can enable it under a new subnet to offer guest access, as well as provide access to older devices which use 802.11B/G and/or WEP encryption. That way, I can turn it on when needed, then disable it when not.
For good wireless throughout the house, I needed to have two routers active, one on either side. With my new networking shelf located in the basement, the signal would have been poor.
My erroneous purchase was a used Linksys E2000. It seemed to be a nice gigabit router, until I hooked it up and realized it only had one radio. I could only run the wireless at 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz, not both simultaneously like in my WRT400N (which has two radios). I bit the bullet and found a Linksys E3000, which offers the gigabit routing, dual radios, and the bonus of a USB port which I can connect to a printer.
Thinking it through, I need gigabit access between my main desktop computer and my Synology NAS, along with a Seagate Central I use as a network backup drive. What I did was set up the E2000 as my primary router, which connects to the Surfboard cable modem. The radio is disabled in the E2000. As it has only four Ethernet ports, two of those needed to be reserved for my auxiliary routers, which now act more as a simple switch/wireless access point. The other two accommodate my Synology and Seagate network boxes.
The E3000 is in the room with me at my main computer desk. The WRT400N serves duty on the other side of the house, albeit only at 10/100 network speeds.
But, one thing that annoyed me with my previous setup was that I had so many different SSIDs floating around that it was a pain to connect to! I had two routers with two radios each (2.4 and 5.0). Why should anyone have to enter so many passwords to connect to one network in the house?
My solution was to set up the SSIDs similar to how cellular network towers operate: the wireless device has one login, but will connect to the strongest signal it finds. To do this, I create the same SSIDs on each router (2.4 and 5.0 have different SSIDs). The key here is to use different channels for the radios. I keep one router on the low channels, and the other on higher channels. As I pair the channels to get 300N speeds, this was a bit tricky given our “noisy” neighborhood, but it is working perfectly here!
The only drawback is that I never know which router I am connected to. Most of the time, I know I am connected to the strongest signal. Yet if I come in from the car and walk in the side door, the phone’s tendency is to pick up the first, strongest signal it finds, which is the router on the other end of the house from my desk. I can tell if I use an app on the phone which shows the MAC address of the router I am connected to, but in most cases this is not important. I eventually end up on the stronger network anyway! And it is nice not having to constantly give out our network password to everyone in the house.
One final note. How are these routers all connected together by Ethernet? Since these routers have autosensing ports, I simply connect the incoming Ethernet from the primary E2000 router to port #4 on the back of a remote router. Why not use the WAN ports? The routers have a feature where, if you connect using one of the LAN ports, any address on that router will be part of the same subnet that is set up on the primary router. And because of this, I have each router set up with its own IP address, and can access and configure any of them from any computer in the house. 10.0.1.1 will get to the primary router, and 10.0.1.3 accesses the E3000 in my work area. 10.0.1.2 finds the WRT400N on the other side of the house. Since DHCP is enabled only on the primary router (the E2000), all routers, and devices attached to them, can share across the network.