The wireless range offered by your Internet router will vary depending on which Wi-Fi standard it supports (802.11n routers are better than Wireless-G routers) and also the router’s physical location. You may have bought a new Wireless-N or Wireless-AC router but if there are any thick walls around, they will obstruct the Wi-Fi signal.
Expand your Wireless Network Range with a Spare Router
The 802.11n routers, also known as Wireless N routers, offer a higher Wi-Fi range but even if you get one of these, the wireless signals may still not reach certain areas of your home because of all the physical obstructions.
What should you therefore do to ensure that the Wi-Fi signals are available in full strength in every corner of your house including the lawn outside? There are quite a few options.
You can easily extend your Wi-Fi network with additional networking hardware like Wi-Fi repeaters and Wireless Access Points. The other inexpensive option is that you get hold of an old wireless router, one that is longer in use, and connect it to your existing (main) router using an Ethernet (Cat5) cable.
Use a Second Router as an Access Point
Here’s how I have setup the wireless network at my home using 2 routers connected with an Ethernet cable. The main router is Wireless-N router connected to the ISP’s ADSL modem. Then there’s a second wireless router (Wireless-G) that is connected to the main router over an Ethernet or Cat-5 cable. The main router is in the ground floor while the second one is on the first floor and the entire premises get a good Wi-Fi signal.
Let’s call our main router MASTER (this is the router that is connected to the ISP modem) and the other one as SLAVE (the second router will work as a ‘repeater’ to increase your wireless range).
Open command prompt in Windows, type the command ipconfig /all and note the value of “Default Gateway.” That your main router’s IP address. If you are on a Mac, open the Terminal window, type the command route -n get default and make a note of the gateway value.
For this example, let’s assume that our MASTER router’s IP address is 192.168.30.1 and the Subnet Mask is set as 255.255.255.0.
Step 2: Open your web browser and type the router’s IP address into the address bar. If you are using IE, you might want to add http:// to the address else IE may throw an error.
You’ll now have to provide the user name and password for accessing the router settings. This will vary depending on your router’s manufacturer – just Google for “<brand name> default router password” or try the standard combinations like admin/admin, admin/password and admin/<blank> (no password).
Step 3: Once you are inside the router settings, switch to Wireless Settings and make a note of the Wireless mode, the SSID and the channel.
If you have protected your Wi-Fi with a password, also note down the security mode used (WPA, WEP or WPA2) and your password (or secret passphrase). Close the browser window.
B: Configure the Second Router as a Repeater
Step 4: Next we need to configure SLAVE, our second router. First reset the router to factory defaults by hard-pressing the reset button with a pin for about 10 seconds.
Now connect the SLAVE router to your computer using the physical Ethernet cable. Put one end of the cable in any of the LAN (Ethernet) ports available on the router and the other end in your computer’s Ethernet port. Make sure the router is powered on.
Step 5: Open the browser again and type 192.168.1.1 which is likely the the default internet IP address of your SLAVE router. If you are not using a Linksys router, try 192.168.0.1 which is the default IP for Netgear and D-Link routers.
Once you are in the router settings, you need to change the values of the Wireless mode, the channel, the security mode and the passphrase such that they match with your MASTER router. You make use a different SSID name for this router.
Then go to Setup – > Advanced routing and change the current mode from Gateway to Router. In some routers, this is listed as NAT and in that case, you need to disable it. Next disable DHCP Server since our main router will handle the task of assigning IP addresses to devices connecting to the wireless network.
Finally, change the IP address of the SLAVE router to any free address in your LAN. For instance, if the IP address of MASTER router is 192.168.30.1, you can safely assign a fixed IP address of 192.168.30.2 to SLAVE. Also make sure that the Subnet mask is the same as determined in Step 1. Save the settings of the SLAVE router and close the browser window.
C: Connect Two Routers with a Cat-5 Cable
Now that we have configured the routers, it’s time to connect them with an Ethernet cable. Your MASTER Router probably has five (1+4) ports. The WAN port (or the Internet port) should be connected to the ISP modem. Pick any of the available LAN ports on the MASTER router and connect it to any of the LAN ports on the SLAVE router using an Ethernet cable. We’re done.
Since the two routers are part of the same home network, all your shared folders, music libraries, photos, and other files will be accessible from all computers and mobile devices that are connected to the network.