Question about primary router placement for AiMesh Setup

darkgiants

Occasional Visitor
I have three ASUS RT-AC68U's that I am using in an AiMesh setup. Right now, the primary router/node sits in the middle of my home and the two AiMesh nodes are sitting in two different corners of my home (all nodes are connected through ethernet). My main router/node has a direct ethernet connection from my ISPs modem.

I have a laser printer that does not support wireless printing, but I know when connected via USB cable to my main router, it supports print server (via LPRServer). However, the printer sits near one of the AiMes nodes in the corner of my home, and AiMesh no longer supports print server capabilities, unless changed to AP mode, which I would like to avoid as AiMesh management is easier.

Therefore, I wanted to ask, does it make sense to change my primary router/node to the AiMesh node that is in one corner of my home so I can establish print server while also keeping all RT-AC68's within the AiMesh system? Is there any issue with the primary internet connection being fed to my central node (near the ISPs modem) while the other node acts as my primary router? Also any potential internet performance hits from doing this setup? I would buy a separate print server device, but I figured I'd rather use the RT-AC68U since it supports this feature (just not for AiMesh, unfortunately).

I am also open to other creative/alternative options people are aware of!

Including a quick diagram of my layout below to make things easier to understand and:

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 10.47.50 AM.png
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I have three ASUS RT-AC68U's that I am using in an AiMesh setup. Right now, the primary router/node sits in the middle of my home and the two AiMesh nodes are sitting in two different corners of my home (all nodes are connected through ethernet). My main router/node has a direct ethernet connection from my ISPs modem.

I have a laser printer that does not support wireless printing, but I know when connected via USB cable to my main router, it supports print server (via LPRServer). However, the printer sits near one of the AiMes nodes in the corner of my home, and AiMesh no longer supports print server capabilities, unless changed to AP mode, which I would like to avoid as AiMesh management is easier.

Therefore, I wanted to ask, does it make sense to change my primary router/node to the AiMesh node that is in one corner of my home so I can establish print server while also keeping all RT-AC68's within the AiMesh system? Is there any issue with the primary internet connection being fed to my central node (near the ISPs modem) while the other node acts as my primary router? Also any potential internet performance hits from doing this setup? I would buy a separate print server device, but I figured I'd rather use the RT-AC68U since it supports this feature (just not for AiMesh, unfortunately).

I am also open to other creative/alternative options people are aware of!

Including a quick diagram of my layout below to make things easier to understand and:

View attachment 41533

I believe you must connect your WAN cable to the AiMesh router WAN port.

Given your nodes are wired, you can place them anywhere, subject to desired WiFi coverage/overlap. Otherwise if they were wireless, it would be best to locate them in a star topology around a central router to discourage a wireless backhaul from daisy chaining through another node... 2 hops back to the router instead of just one.

Given the AC68Us are not as powerful as newer routers, you may decide to install a dedicate print server box wherever you need it and not burden the router and router admin with print serving. Me, I'd probably share the printer off a PC until I upgraded to a proper network/wired printer.

OE
 

bennor

Senior Member
Some options if the Ai Mesh Node's USB port cannot be used for the USB printer.
  • Move the USB printer and connect it directly to the main Asus router.
  • Move the ISP modem and main Asus router to where the printer is and move the Ai mesh node to the main router's current location.
  • Buy a print server or make one from a SoC device like a Raspberry Pi. (For example Raspberry Pi + CUPS)
  • Connect printer to a PC and setup print sharing within the PC's operating system.
  • Use a long USB cable, or if that isn't possible, use a USB extender to run the USB cable to the main router.
  • Buy/find an older router with USB port and turn it into a wireless print server or the router to an AP point with third party firmware (Asus Merlin, DDWRT, Tomato, etc.).
  • Some NAS units with USB ports may have an option to enable a USB print server. (For example Synology)
Ask around to friends and family if they have any old routers laying around unused and see if that router has a USB port and can take third party firmware, if so that's a cheap, possible free, method of creating a print server or AP to drive the USB printer. Or hit up the local Goodwill or similar to see if they have any old hardware that can be repurposed.
 
Last edited:

darkgiants

Occasional Visitor
I believe you must connect your WAN cable to the AiMesh router WAN port.

Given your nodes are wired, you can place them anywhere, subject to desired WiFi coverage/overlap. Otherwise if they were wireless, it would be best to locate them in a star topology around a central router to discourage a wireless backhaul from daisy chaining through another node... 2 hops back to the router instead of just one.

Given the AC68Us are not as powerful as newer routers, you may decide to install a dedicate print server box wherever you need it and not burden the router and router admin with print serving. Me, I'd probably share the printer off a PC until I upgraded to a proper network/wired printer.

OE
Some options if the Ai Mesh Node's USB port cannot be used for the USB printer.
  • Move the USB printer and connect it directly to the main Asus router.
  • Move the ISP modem and main Asus router to where the printer is and move the Ai mesh node to the main router's current location.
  • Buy a print server or make one from a SoC device like a Raspberry Pi. (For example Raspberry Pi + CUPS)
  • Connect printer to a PC and setup print sharing within the PC's operating system.
  • Use a long USB cable, or if that isn't possible, use a USB extender to run the USB cable to the main router.
  • Buy/find an older router with USB port and turn it into a wireless print server or the router to an AP point with third party firmware (Asus Merlin, DDWRT, Tomato, etc.).
  • Some NAS units with USB ports may have an option to enable a USB print server. (For example Synology)
Ask around to friends and family if they have any old routers laying around unused and see if that router has a USB port and can take third party firmware, if so that's a cheap, possible free, method of creating a print server or AP to drive the USB printer. Or hit up the local Goodwill or similar to see if they have any old hardware that can be repurposed.

I appreciate the response! I should mention that I would prefer not to run and maintain additional hardware, and given how things like Raspberry Pi's are not readily available or just parts, in general are inflated, it seems a bit pricey for a simple task.

Is there anything wrong with using the WAN port coming in directly from my current main router (in the main room that is connected to the modem) and using that cable as the WAN for my new primary router in my AiMesh Node next to the printer? Or would there be possible performance hits with the main router being so far out and not having a direct WAN connection from my modem. Due to wiring, it would require a new installation of cable lines to get my modem in this room, and the distance is far enough that long USB cables wouldn't be feasible.

Or of course, is there anything wrong with running that one node next to the printer in AP mode and having it share the same SSID as my primary router?

I would upgrade the printer, but it is a Brother laser printer and it honestly performs like a champ and I have no reason to change it... and similarly my current RT-AC68U's, it has served me fine so far and I only would want to change once things like WiFi6 and all those other standards mature.
 

bennor

Senior Member
Is there anything wrong with using the WAN port coming in directly from my current main router (in the main room that is connected to the modem) and using that cable as the WAN for my new primary router in my AiMesh Node next to the printer?
Not sure I quite understand. Are you asking if you can take the Ethernet Wire that runs from the main router to the Ai Mesh Node next to the printer and connect that line to your ISP modem Ethernet port? If so the answer is yes, but you create another possible issue to deal with by doing so.

What you could do is simply disconnect the main AC68U router and move it to the printer area. Connect the existing Ethernet wire that was previously for the Ai Mesh Node to the main router's WAN port and connect the other end to the ISP modem. Now comes the new issue. How do you plan on connecting the two Ai Mesh nodes to the main router in its new location next to the printer? If you don't want to use WiFi then you'd have to daisy chain the Ai Mesh nodes by running another Ethernet wire from the main router's networking port that is now next to printer to the former main router location next to the ISP modem where the Ai Mesh node (that was next to the printer) was moved to and connect that new Ethernet wire to the Ai Mesh node's WAN port. One would then connect the existing second Ai Mesh node WAN port Ethernet wire to the first Ai Mesh node's network port next to the ISP modem. (edit to add: the following screen capped image is from this YouTube video explaining how to setup a wired backhaul Ai Mesh setup that illustrates daisy chaining the Ai Mesh nodes to the main router. Once everything is up and running, connect the USB printer to the main router's USB port and enable the print server feature within the main router's GUI.)

AsuswiredAiMesh.jpg
 
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OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I appreciate the response! I should mention that I would prefer not to run and maintain additional hardware, and given how things like Raspberry Pi's are not readily available or just parts, in general are inflated, it seems a bit pricey for a simple task.

Is there anything wrong with using the WAN port coming in directly from my current main router (in the main room that is connected to the modem) and using that cable as the WAN for my new primary router in my AiMesh Node next to the printer? Or would there be possible performance hits with the main router being so far out and not having a direct WAN connection from my modem. Due to wiring, it would require a new installation of cable lines to get my modem in this room, and the distance is far enough that long USB cables wouldn't be feasible.

Or of course, is there anything wrong with running that one node next to the printer in AP mode and having it share the same SSID as my primary router?

I would upgrade the printer, but it is a Brother laser printer and it honestly performs like a champ and I have no reason to change it... and similarly my current RT-AC68U's, it has served me fine so far and I only would want to change once things like WiFi6 and all those other standards mature.

You already know how to wire up AiMesh. If you want to run the necessary cables, you can locate your router and nodes wherever you want, subject to the usual spacing for WiFi coverage... not too close, not too far, not too many.

The issue you will have is not uncommon... currently only one cable in each direction. You will need to run multiple cables together... the ISP cable to the router WAN and the router LAN back to the node or nodes, depending on whether or not you choose to daisy chain the far node through the near node.

OE
 

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