RT-AC86U newbie questions and suggestions

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mirkuma

New Around Here
Hello SBN community, newbie here, please be gentle with me.
1st of all, I hope that I have post in the correct forum/topic.

I would like to learn and play with my new ASUS router and eventually use AiMesh mode and VPN (if my ISP will agree to put ONT modem in Bridge mode)


I have a few questions:

1.)
I have just purchase new RT-AC86U (2020 model, made in China) that is running stock ASUS fw 3.0.0.4.384.32799 out of the box.
I would like to clean install latest 384.19 Merlin fw and I'm confused regarding Merlin’s note about backup and restoring JFFS on RT-AC86U if proceeding from older fw.
Do I need to go through backup and restoration process of JFFS for the new unit or can I just upgrade and trigger Factory default restore after upgrade? I assume there is nothing in JFFS portion for now.

In the GUI there are 2 options for Factory default: RESTORE and INITIALIZE, can someone please explain to me which option should I use?

2.)
I currently run RT-AC86U in AP mode (DHCP server is running on my GPON ONT G640W optical modem) and it runs nice using WiFI Smart connect.
Another RT-AC86U is also coming this week. Plan is, to use them both as AiMesh in AP mode if successful, if not just as second AP (I have two flats about 180m2 each to cover).

It seems that at the moment there are a few options for me:
A.) Upgrading both to latest Merlin and use Merlin AiMesh on them,
B.) Upgrade both to the new official Asus 386 fw with AiMesh 2.0
C.) Wait with Mesh until 2.0 is coming to Merlin fw, and just leave both as they are on stock fw until then.

Can you guys please suggest, based on your experience, what will be the best thing for now and which fw version is preferred (I see a lot of problems and bugs across forum).
I use to run Apple Airport Extreme Base Station gen2, that was rock solid, set and forget unit, but there was lack of coverage and bandwidth, that is now much better with RT-AC86U.


Thank you for your help and comments in advance.

P.S.
For now AIMesh will be used in AP mode (putting modem in Bridge is in a long term plan, as my network needs to be reconfigured and routers repositioned if one of RT-AC86U will acts as main router).
 

Jeffrey Young

Senior Member
I can't help you with your second question as I don't use AiMesh (the benefit of a 900 square foot house).

For your first question, since this is a new 86U, you have nothing of importance, if anything at all, on your JFFS to backup, so just install .19 and have the router initialize the JFFS via the GUI (From the Administration->System page, check "format JFFS partition on next boot" and reboot the router).

For the factory reset, restore is used if you have a saved setup to restore to your 86U, otherwise initialize will just reset the router to factory. Again, since you don't have a saved setting file yet, just use initialize.

Cheers
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Hello SBN community, newbie here, please be gentle with me.
1st of all, I hope that I have post in the correct forum/topic.

I would like to learn and play with my new ASUS router and eventually use AiMesh mode and VPN (if my ISP will agree to put ONT modem in Bridge mode)


I have a few questions:

1.)
I have just purchase new RT-AC86U (2020 model, made in China) that is running stock ASUS fw 3.0.0.4.384.32799 out of the box.
I would like to clean install latest 384.19 Merlin fw and I'm confused regarding Merlin’s note about backup and restoring JFFS on RT-AC86U if proceeding from older fw.
Do I need to go through backup and restoration process of JFFS for the new unit or can I just upgrade and trigger Factory default restore after upgrade? I assume there is nothing in JFFS portion for now.

In the GUI there are 2 options for Factory default: RESTORE and INITIALIZE, can someone please explain to me which option should I use?

2.)
I currently run RT-AC86U in AP mode (DHCP server is running on my GPON ONT G640W optical modem) and it runs nice using WiFI Smart connect.
Another RT-AC86U is also coming this week. Plan is, to use them both as AiMesh in AP mode if successful, if not just as second AP (I have two flats about 180m2 each to cover).

It seems that at the moment there are a few options for me:
A.) Upgrading both to latest Merlin and use Merlin AiMesh on them,
B.) Upgrade both to the new official Asus 386 fw with AiMesh 2.0
C.) Wait with Mesh until 2.0 is coming to Merlin fw, and just leave both as they are on stock fw until then.

Can you guys please suggest, based on your experience, what will be the best thing for now and which fw version is preferred (I see a lot of problems and bugs across forum).
I use to run Apple Airport Extreme Base Station gen2, that was rock solid, set and forget unit, but there was lack of coverage and bandwidth, that is now much better with RT-AC86U.


Thank you for your help and comments in advance.

P.S.
For now AIMesh will be used in AP mode (putting modem in Bridge is in a long term plan, as my network needs to be reconfigured and routers repositioned if one of RT-AC86U will acts as main router).
B. The current AiMesh 2.0 beta is RC2-7.


See my install notes for some helpful clues.

OE
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Thank you both for kind replay in all the informations.

@OzarkEdge: I was refering to this fw: Version 3.0.0.4.386.40451 2020/10/22
I was under impression that this is official stable version.
Yes, that is released AiMesh 2.0 firmware... I trust it is stable. I have not tried it since I am using the bit further along RC2-7 without any trouble.

OE
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@mirkuma you may find the following guides in the link in my signature below helpful too.

M&M Config, amtm Step-by-Step Guide, etc.

With a new router for a new customer, this is what I do (and when you get your second RT-AC86U, I would do it for both, myself):

Fully Reset Router and Network

I would not use the ISP supplied router as the DHCP server for any network I have control over.

Place the first router in Router Mode and use the secondary router (I would be using your current one) in AP mode.
 

mirkuma

New Around Here
@L&LD thank you for the guides. I will read them all.

So you think that is better to disable ISP supplied modem/router DHCP server although that I cannot yet put ISP modem in Bridge mode?
This means: disabling DHCP on ISP modem, connect it to RT-AC86U trough WAN port and configure RT-AC86U in Router mode and enabling its DHCP server. In this case, I’m having double NAT. Can this be problematic or can still work ok in home environment just fine? I assume in this case, my RT-AC86U network should be on a different subnet (for example, ISP modem on 192.168.1.1 and AC86U on 192.168.2.1)?
 

Jeffrey Young

Senior Member
@L&LD thank you for the guides. I will read them all.

So you think that is better to disable ISP supplied modem/router DHCP server although that I cannot yet put ISP modem in Bridge mode?
This means: disabling DHCP on ISP modem, connect it to RT-AC86U trough WAN port and configure RT-AC86U in Router mode and enabling its DHCP server. In this case, I’m having double NAT. Can this be problematic or can still work ok in home environment just fine? I assume in this case, my RT-AC86U network should be on a different subnet (for example, ISP modem on 192.168.1.1 and AC86U on 192.168.2.1)?
You should not be double NATed once the ISP Router is put into bridge mode. As a bridge, the ISP connection should just pass through the equipment to your 86U. Any authentication will need to be handled by your 86U. Depending on who your ISP is, you may also have to adjust the VLAN setting in the IPTV tap under the WAN section.
 

mirkuma

New Around Here
Thanks, I know that the best option is to put ISP modem in Bridge mode.
I was asking for the time until all is set to put ISP modem in Bridge mode, and I must also confirm with my ISP that this is actually possible.
Until then my plan was, that I still use ISP modems DHCP server and put both RT-AC86U to acts as AP.
I was under impression when reading @L&LD post, that also in this case (ISP modem runs DHCP) is still better to put one Asus in Router mode, and live with double NAT, until ISP modem will be switched to Bridge mode. Thats why I was asking about preferred configuration under double NAT.
 
Last edited:

Jeffrey Young

Senior Member
Ok, my bad.

For a typical home network, there is no issues with being double NATed. As long as you keep separate subsets on each router as you pointed out.

The only issue you may have is if you want to call your network from the internet side (VPN for instance). Otherwise, there are tons of folks double NATed.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
You can go back if you wish.

  • Make a backup config file from the router GUI.
  • Make a backup of the JFFS.
  • Make a backup of any USB drive used for scripts (better yet, I would put this drive aside and use the whole thing as a 'backup' and set up a new one 'fresh' instead for the new firmware).
  • Download the version of the firmware you currently have on the router now.
  • Put all the above in a safe place and then flash the new firmware.
  • If you have any issues, flash the old firmware, reset to factory defaults, and restore the backups you made to get you back to where you are today.
  • Do not use the backups you make on the new firmware base.
  • Start from scratch on 386.xx (if you need to).
 

mirkuma

New Around Here
@L&LD Thank you for fast replay.
Can you just let me know if JFFS backup is needed even for fresh/new router without any custom scrips. Or can I just format JFFS if needed after fresh flash if I don't have any scripts (Not sure if I can do this with ASUS fw tough)?

  • Make a backup config file from the router GUI. Done, used Administration - Save Setting
  • Make a backup of the JFFS. Don't know how to do it, will read your guide, but do I need to do this also for new router without any custom scripts?
  • Make a backup of any USB drive used for scripts (better yet, I would put this drive aside and use the whole thing as a 'backup' and set up a new one 'fresh' instead for the new firmware). I don't have any USB with scripts connected, so I can most probably skip this.
  • Download the version of the firmware you currently have on the router now. Done.
  • Put all the above in a safe place and then flash the new firmware. Done
  • If you have any issues, flash the old firmware, reset to factory defaults, and restore the backups you made to get you back to where you are today. OK, for settings/confing, not yet for JFFS.
  • Do not use the backups you make on the new firmware base. OK
  • Start from scratch on 386.xx (if you need to). OK
 
Last edited:

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
No backup is needed at all. I would suggest a clean install is always superior. :)

A backup though helps, timewise, with getting back to a configuration that was proven/known to work. ;)
 

mirkuma

New Around Here
Thanks to all for your advise, instructions and help.

Both RT-AC86U (2020 and 2019 model) updated to the latest official ASUSU 3.0.0.4.386_40451 fw and now running AiMesh via Ethernet Backhaul Mode, in AP-AP mode, DualBand Smart Connect enabled.
So far no problems (up to 20+ wired and wireless clients, 214MB RAM free & almost no CPU usage), all running nicely for 2 days, also the WiFi range is excellent. Still brodcasting both 2,4GHz and 5GHz radios :cool:

Screenshot 2020-11-15 at 09.59.15.png


Will stay on stock for now, as I'm still waiting that ISP modem will be switched to Brigde mode and one of RT-AC86U will then run in Router mode instead of AP (so I will have to reconfigure my network soon and reset both RT-AC68U to configure Router-AP AiMesh).
 

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