Wifi settings in repeater mode on Asuswrt-Merlin ➡️➡️

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New Around Here
RT-AC88U running Asuswrt-Merlin 386.1_2, with factory reset after upgrade.

Summary: It's difficult to adjust wifi settings in repeater mode, and often the settings don't "stick", even when it should be possible to adjust them. How can I control repeater mode wifi settings?

[Thanks for providing this great, configurable, friendly, well supported firmware!]

I understand that in repeater mode, the radio used for uplink to the "parent" AP has to be set to whatever channel the parent has chosen, which means "downstream" service from that radio must be on the same channel. However, the other radio should be free to operate on any channel. (For example, if the parent connection uses 2.4G, the 5G radio ought to be able to use any channel it likes for downstream service. And if you're a lucky duck with three radios, you could use one for uplink and freely configure the other two.) Also, non-channel AP settings ought to be adjustable (e.g. "roaming assistant", MU-MIMO setting, etc).

However, in the ASUS and Merlin "repeater mode", wifi setting panels are hidden (the sidebar icon is removed). The only directly available settings are a "mini panel" ("Network Map" > router icon) that only includes SSID and authentication method.

Even though the links were removed, appropriately abridged wifi setting panels are still accessible by direct URL ([IP]/Advanced_Wireless_Content.asp and [IP]/Advanced_WAdvanced_Content.asp), and settings may also be adjusted via ssh login by writing "nvram" variables directly and/or other methods.

But, even using hidden URLs, the settings don't persist well. For example, this device is configured in repeater mode, using a 2.4G uplink:

Since uplink uses 2.4G, the 5G radio ought to be fully configurable; here are the current settings in the "hidden" page:

Note the control channel is "Auto" and reporting 48. If I attempt to change it to (for example) 36 and click "Apply", the usual settings-apply/radio-reset process happens. After getting a cup of coffee and coming back, I see this:

This is indistinguishable from before -- nothing has changed and my edit has been reverted. Even more confusing, if I go to the 2.4G settings, where channel ought to be locked to the uplink channel, it says "Auto" and "Current Control Channel: 10" even though uplink is actually using channel 11! This makes me suspect that these hidden panels are not working properly (which might be related to why they're hidden).

As for "nvram" over ssh, is there a guide to the variables that may be set? Or is it a matter of reading through them all, correlating with control panel settings, and taking some stabs? Is that more likely to work? Or is there a different terminal-based way of making these settings?

In general, the treatment of wifi settings is somewhat inconsistent across AiMesh (settings mostly replicated from the root node, a few configurable in dedicated mesh-node settings panels), repeater mode (settings mostly unavailable, except in hidden pages that don't work), and WDS (settings are fully available, it's up to you to make sure channels are compatible).

Related old threads for reference: [some of these are about stock firmware or adjacent issues]

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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