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[HELP] Choosing a 2nd ASUS router to extend home network

Discussion in 'Asuswrt-Merlin' started by Mrwirez, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    Hello SNB folks.

    I could use some of you guy's expertise in chosing a second ASUS router to extend my new RT-AC86U. Just for some background details: I just replaced an older Asus/T-mo AC1900. I tried but could never get it to flash any Asus or Merlin FW. I think my kid hooked it up and the firmware had updated to where it wouldn't roll back.. I'm not very experienced at that, etc.

    So.. we are a family of four that live in a multi-level (4) house where some areas just drop off the edge. We cut the cable 5 years ago, but now with the amount of data we use is incredible. We have 3 streaming 4K TVs, 2 PS4s, 1 PS3, 3 MS Xboxes, Rokus, 4 smartphones, 3 laptops, and 3 pCs, and a few tablets. The 2 teenage boys and their buddy's hammer my network.

    My initial idea was to upgrade to the new router and see if there was any improvement, and there is. However, the same old dead spots are still there, just not as bad. I bought a set of TP-Link AC1200 power line adapters with wifi, but that's no working great either. The signal goes up and down and is not steady. Plus, the confusion of different SSIDs for the wife is bad, so scratch those.

    My next plan is to run a CAT5e cable out of my new 86U routers LAN 1 to the WAN of a second ASUS router and keep the SSID all the same, so my family can walk around with their devices and seemlessly connect to the strongest signal..?? I'm just not sure what to buy.

    I don't want to buy a "lower tier" AC router that will make my new router's features less-useable or a waste. Once I determine my needs, I'd like to build a Pihole ad blocker and run my whole network through openvpn through the routers with both using Merlins fine firmware.

    Finally... For my needs does anyone have an opinion on my plan? Will it work like I hope?

    I've been looking around at different routers on sale. Then, I was just going to buy another AC86U, but then I think maybe a little cheaper one such as AC68U or 1900P. The I saw some used AC3100's on ebay for around $120... I'm just confused at this point.

    I'll gladly take any expertise and opinions or critiques that anyone can offer me.

    THANK YOU very much for any help.
    From a net novice


    .
     
  2. jpclarke

    jpclarke Regular Contributor

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    Hi, I have 2 ac-3200 setup but they connect together on the lan side not the wan as you describe.

    One router manages all of the services and the other one is an access point.

    Both have the same SSIDs and it has improved my setup immensely.

    I have both routers in routing mode as I use the features not available in ap mode e.g. sync a hdd from one to the other for backup using rsync.

    Thanks
     
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  3. martinr

    martinr Very Senior Member

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    I have set up only 2 access points (APs) (at different locations) and as jpclarke says, the Ethernet cable runs from LAN port on the edge router to the LAN port on the AP.

    I found that with the same SSID it can be seamless but on the other hand there can be problems. For example, if simply browsing, the transition does appear seamless, but if streaming or connected to a vpn, I’ve found that the transition is far from seamless. So much so that I decided that separate SSIDs was far better.

    As to PiHole, I’ve just graduated from a similar Raspberry Pi based DNS malicious domain/ad blocking system to thelonelycoder’s AB-Solution system. I’d certainly recommend you consider that instead of Pi Hole.
     
    Mrwirez likes this.
  4. elorimer

    elorimer Senior Member

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    Sounds fun. I'm a little surprised that in this mix you don't have an NAS for central storage of movies and music. I'm guessing you are also not accessing your network from outside your network, through a VPN or some means. I'm also guessing that you don't have a system in place for network backups of those PCs and laptops. There are a few things that occur to me, but likely TL;DR.

    The first is that almost all your traffic looks to be streaming from the internet; that is, you are not transferring a lot of data between devices in your network, as you would, say, if you had a Tivo and several Minis instead of cable boxes, or if you were recording TV on a Tivo, then transferring it to a PC to be reencoded and then transferred to an NAS for viewing on tablets and smartphones. That means your overall speed is really gated by your internet connection.

    The second is that most of your devices are not portable and so the walking around bit isn't as important, and the portable devices may not be as data hungry. A repeater or extender might be okay for them, if you wire the others.

    I move a lot of data around because of Tivos and the NAS. One network I've laid out in a starfish like Tampa airport: the cable connection (200/40) comes in via a cable modem to the WAN port of my 87U (a gigabit connection) sitting in my home office. Then from 3 of the LAN ports I've run Cat5e to three gigabit switches. Those switches cost me $15 or so each. One is 8 ports, sits in the home office and is wired to two work PCs, two VOIP phones, two printers, and a SiliconDust Prime tuner. An awful lot of my work traffic is thus confined to that switch. A second is an 8 port in the mancave in the basement, where sits a Tivo Mini, a PS3, and Xbox acting as a media center, an NAS that holds backups, music and video, a RPi2 running OSMC, an AVReciever and a Slingbox. The TV there has a Roku wireless. The third is a 4 port gigabit Netgear box in AP mode (G) in the family room, dealing with the Wii, a Roku, and a Tivo. With the exception of the traffic between the Mini and the Tivo, which travels through three switches, most everything is confined to a switch or is traveling through a switch to the router to the internet. Then there is a crazy amount of wireless stuff: 2 smartphones, tablets, echos, but not crazy data use. So, if you have the ability to run the cable, think about a starfish pattern like that. I'm guessing each of those TVs also has a PS3/4, a Roku and an Xbox, and with three runs to switches you could take all that off the wireless at not much cost.

    The other network I don't have the ability to run cable. So instead I did something similar but using wireless bridges to go to two other nodes. The cable (100/30) comes in to a 56U (a brilliant thing for the price) that serves a TV, a Roku, and a Tivo, then I have an RT-N16 in bridge mode serving a Wii, a TV, a Roku and a Tivo. An RT-N66 in bridge mode serves the printer, the office computer, the telephone. The 56U is enough to cover the whole wireless footprint.

    All Merlin, of course. The original RT-N16 with Merlin sold me over the years on the 66, the 87 and the 56, and I've repurposed the older units for the more limited repeater function (also, where security is less of an issue). 54mbps or 150mbps units aren't enough for video in that role. The more powerful 87U and 56U are more than enough for their role, plus each have a samba disk and have duties for OpenVPN, ab-solution, skynet and pixelserv.

    Ok, it is a sickness. The only network issue I ran into was with a Netgear gigabit switch connecting to the Xbox. Its buffer couldn't transition from the gigabit to the 100mbps xbox.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  5. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    Wow, you guys went into some depth.. Thanks! This gives me some other ideas to think about which is great.

    Yeah, I forgot to throw in that I run a Plex Server on a HTPC box I built. Plus, I have a Silicon Dust HD Homerun box for OTA/DVR and Plex for streaming movies and the recordings.

    Maybe for a temporary solution I could use the cat5e to the TP-Link adapters... I can't remember if there is a data input, I'll have to check. Or maybe I'll just pickup a used RT-AC68 and try it. If I don't get good results, I can run more Cat5 cable. Although the wife greenlighted me to purchase another RT-AC86U. Decisions Decisions... ;).

    Thanks guys.

    .
     
  6. e38BimmerFN

    e38BimmerFN Very Senior Member

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    You can also look into wireless media bridge configurations as well. Something to connect streaming wired devices to and provides wireless connectivity. I have a DISH Joey connected this way to a remote AP at that end of the house. Helps in limiting the need for running cabling. LAN cabling is preferred though where supported. ;)
     
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  7. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    I like this idea. What are you using for your AP and what is your main router, if you don't mind me asking.

    That is sort of what I was thinking in my original post. I really don't want to run Cat5 all over my house. It's a 50 year old multi-level and hard plastered everywhere... A real PITA.

    PS what's the difference between a media bridge vs 2 routers lan to lan?

    .
     
  8. e38BimmerFN

    e38BimmerFN Very Senior Member

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    Well I'm currently using both LAN to LAN AP configurations and wireless media bridge.

    I run a LAN to LAN to a old router converted into an 2ndary LAN to LAN AP at the far end of the house. Services a PC and the wireless bridged Joey in the next room for mom. Use a wireless bridge connected to the converted router as the connection for the joey. I didn't want to run cable to the room as I had it before due to moms needs and such. Less cabling is better, LOL.

    Same thing can be used in your house depending on where you can get a LAN to LAN AP closest or central in the remote location. Then you can use wireless bridge as needed as the 2ndary AP would service any wireless bridges or clients as needed.

    My house is 3500sq ft house two story. I have all the networking equipment up stairs in nearest location while far end I have the 2ndary AP and Joey at that end of the house. I have the Hopper/Joey system on a separate LAN switch so even if I do something with the main host router, the DISH system doesn't get interrupted. Even on the LAN to LAN AP and wireless bridge. Just as long as I get the main host router up and running in a short period of time. o_O

    LAN To LAN AP means your connecting a AP or converted router to AP to the main host router via LAN cable. Wireless bridge is a wireless devices that connects itself wirelessly to either the main host routers wireless or some 2ndary wireless AP for connection then has LAN port(s) on the back of this bridge device that you can connect LAN cable supporting devices to the wireless bridge, like streamers or game consoles or even PCs or laptops that have a LAN port. Helps sometimes when some wireless adapters are not working on a PC or laptop however you can still connect using a LAN port. I carry a wireless bridge sometimes with me when I travel.
     
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  9. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    So let me get this straight, I'm an electrician and I try to visualize everything in "drawings".

    You have:

    • Main router (ROUTER_mode)
    • Secondary router (AP_mode)
    • Tertiary device (Media-Bridge)

    From your MAIN router you ran CAT5e from #1 LAN port to SECONDARY router's #1 LAN port.

    To connect your Secondary Router to the Tertiary device you set this AP to Media Bridge?

    I'm sorry... I am kind of noobish on networking with multiple devices broadcasting devices.

    At your 2nd and 3rd AP devices you plugged the Dish Joey's in via patch cables. Not wirelessly.. correct?
     
  10. e38BimmerFN

    e38BimmerFN Very Senior Member

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    So let me get this straight, I'm an electrician and I try to visualize everything in "drawings".

    You have:

    • Main router (ROUTER_mode)
    • Secondary router (AP_mode)
    • Tertiary device (Media-Bridge)

    From your MAIN router you ran CAT5e from #1 LAN port to SECONDARY router's #1 LAN port. YES

    To connect your Secondary Router to the Tertiary device you set this AP to Media Bridge? No, the AP is set up as an AP for clients to connect to. I have a wireless media bridge device that is connected to the AP. This wireless media bridge then connects it's LAN ports in back to the Joey.
    AP<wireless SSID signal from AP> <Wireless Bridge device connected to SSID signal from AP><Lan cable from back of wireless bridge to back of Joey.

    I'm sorry... I am kind of noobish on networking with multiple devices broadcasting devices.

    At your 2nd and 3rd AP devices you plugged the Dish Joey's in via patch cables. Not wirelessly.. correct? YES

    This is the wireless bridge I'm currently using between the AP and Joey:
    https://www.netgear.com/support/product/wnhde111.aspx
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  11. Wingsfan87

    Wingsfan87 Regular Contributor

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    Asus just released their new AI Mesh feature - https://www.asus.com/AiMesh/. It works like where the main router is the controller. You can connect to the secondary router over WIFI but it also has an ethernet backhaul which I have tested and works great. I wouldn't suggest a 2 band router for Wifi mesh though it cuts the bandwidth down. Tri band only for using Wifi Mesh so it uses one whole band for backhaul. 2 band router works great though with ethernet backhaul.

    Proposed Setup
    Main Router - Asus RT-86U (latest stock firmware Version 3.0.0.4.384.10007 - https://www.asus.com/us/Networking/RT-AC86U/HelpDesk_Download/)
    Secondary Router - Recommended 2 choices for 2 band ethernet. If you want Wifi Mesh I would hold off until they release updated firmware for the 5300's either the AC or GT models. I wouldn't touch the 3200.
    1. Set up your main router.
    2. Second router should be reset to defaults and latest firmware for it as well. Ethernet backhaul plug in ethernet into WAN (must be WAN ) on second router and LAN port on Main router or into secondary switch that also has a plug for the second router.
    3. Main router click on the AI Mesh option and search for the second router. It sets it up automatically.
    4. All set.
     
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  12. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    AWESOME! Funny you brought this up, as I just got done reading about this on Engadget 1 minute before coming back here to my thread. Plus, I picked up a used AC3100 today for $115... Yay.

    Anywho.. setting this up as you say, are just the two (86u & 3100) routers in the mesh configuration enough? I ask because it seems like these mesh routers are in sets of 3's.

    What are the advantages of this over the old set up we've been talking about in layman's terms, lol. I'm not up to speed yet on mesh networking tech.

    I want to thank all you guy's for helping me out too. Everyone on here has given me great ideas and examples. I really appreciate it, and I actually enjoy hearing how people choose to go about the networks in their own house... Good stuff and Happy New Year!

    .
     
  13. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    Ah, ok I see how you did that now. There are really a bunch of ways of doing this I see... Thanks
     
  14. Wingsfan87

    Wingsfan87 Regular Contributor

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    So what's your layout?

    1) Where would the main router be located? You said 4 level house?
    2) In that type of scenario you should definitely use a wired backhaul. Mesh for 2 band router wouldn't be all that great. Can you have an Ethernet cat 6 go the the top level of the house sorta central? I would keep the primary router main/middle floor and have a the secondary router as a new AI Mesh node using ethernet on the top floor. This would give best coverage on all floors. Have a rough floor plan layout you could provide that shows the rooms and levels and spots where you could put the routers with ethernet drops or cable runs?
     
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  15. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    Yep, the new set up will be as you suggest, the top floor will get the AC3100, which will be here by Tuesday.

    The way my house is, is like you took a 4-story house (basement included) and slid each level over by half in opposite directions. Each level has 6 steps to the next level, turn 180° and up 6 more steps to the next level... etc. If that makes sense.

    My basement get some signal but its really not necessary. I can get cell/data coverage for calls down there and what not.

    Floor layout:
    1st/Grnd = Family rm & office
    2nd floor = L-rm, Kitchen, D-rm
    3rd floor = Bedrooms = baths

    The cable modem is in the basement and I ran a cat5e cable up to the living room, then I ran another cat5e from the living room to our master bedroom..

    In the living room I have my new AC86U with a TV and a small HTPC plugged into #1 & #2 LAN. The family room & office gets really good wifi.

    I've moved my routers all around over the years, and found my living room is the only place where all the 3 levels gets decent wireless coverage. The weak spots being a couple of bedrooms up top have some dead spots. So the RT-AC3100 is going into my master bedroom via cat5e. [I have a box of cat5e from a job I did, plus the necessary jacks and strip & crimp tool].

    Eventually, I'd like to run another cable to my office to a small switch or another router.

    So what do ya think?

    .
     
  16. e38BimmerFN

    e38BimmerFN Very Senior Member

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    Yep many ways. Could use PowerLine adapters as well.

     
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  17. Wingsfan87

    Wingsfan87 Regular Contributor

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    My suggestion is putting your main router on the Ground/First Floor and put the secondary router on the 3rd floor. That would give you the best coverage from what I can tell with your description.Also if you can put the routers up high on the wall on a shelf or dresser etc. That would also help.

    The AIMesh with the ethernet backhaul works well. Tested it at one of the local small offices I assist with two AC68U's. Signal is great and the fast hand off is really good. It was really seamless streaming no drop in service and I could instantly see when it switched. The offside is you can't use Merlin's firmware yet with AIMesh but from your setup using stock would be just fine.

    Your router also includes the IPSEC VPN, Let's Encrypt, and Alexa/IFFTT support on the latest stock firmware as well.
     
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  18. Vishnu Rao

    Vishnu Rao New Around Here

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  19. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    Thanks for the tip!

    Man, I've tried repeatedly to convert my tm-ac1900 over with ZERO luck. Is there anyone at SNB that will do this for me for a modest fee?

    After I get my new 86U and used AC3100, (arrives Monday) both up and running, I'd like to get my tm-ac1900 converted over to an rt-ac68u.

    .
     
  20. Mrwirez

    Mrwirez Occasional Visitor

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    Darn sorry @Wingsfan87 I'm not sure how I missed this nice link you left. It looks much easier than some of the others I've seen. I will give it a shot once I'm done. That will be my 3rd router for my AiMesh... If I can ever get control of the Internet from my wife and kids long enough.

    Does anyone know of noobish friendly guides for fine grain ASUS router settings?

    There are many settings in the web-ui settings I could probably use, but don't know what they mean or how to use them. Like I want to "roll my own" OpenVPN (guessing a server) for the whole house. I want to set up AB-Solution for network-wide AD blocking that runs on the router.

    Thanks ... again!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2018