DD-WRT in Repeater Bridge mode

ddwrt

DD-WRT is a third party developed firmware, released under the terms of the GPL for many ieee802.11a/b/g/h/n wireless routers based on a Broadcom or Atheros chip reference design. — DD-WRT wiki

Today we are discussing DD-WRT and specifically how you can do some cool stuff that you would not be able to do with your current wireless router. Chances are that your home router is compatible with DD-WRT. You can find this out by checking the DD-WRT router database. With DD-WRT firmware loaded, your router is able to do some tricks it might not be able to do before. One of these things might involve the repeater bridge mode, which can improve your WiFi range at home. Since devices are automatically switching between WiFi and 3G, especially since the 3G prices (in the Netherlands) are quite high and/or low data traffic limits apply, this mode is a necessity.

So what is the plan? Let’s assume you have a living room with an (non wireless) Internet modem, a server, a printer and a laptop. In your study you have another three PC’s. You need a Mac, a Windows PC and a Linux computer right? Occasionally you bring your laptop from the living room. Let’s assume your wife (or husband) did not allow you to put a nice fast gigabit cable connection between your living room and the study, because he/she feels the cables do not match the interior design. Obviously there is no arguing and you need to go wireless. The fastest wireless connections you get now follow the N standard with a theoretical maximum of 300 Mbps. In reality you will probably only get a fraction of that, because of the distance you need to cover. In my house I get about 25 Mbit with going one floor up and passing a bathroom. But anyway, this would be the network layout you can build using DD-WRT on you router:

Repeater_Bridge

The funny poles are actually DD-WRT routers and one is configured as the primary. If your modem has wireless and a switch you can just leave that primary router out, since it is just configured as a standard access point. The secondary is actually a DD-WRT router in repeater bridge mode. This means it connects to the access point by wireless and then announces it’s own SSID (e.g. “wifi-study”) whereas the primary announces the “wifi-living”. Now you can use your laptop in the study as well, and connect the PC’s to the router through wired connections. Note that you can replace the antenna with a Yagi antenna and boost the transmission power to get a better reach and a higher wireless speed.

If you run the router in repeater bridge mode, there are a few settings you need to make sure you set correctly:

  1. You must set your encryption to “WPA2 personal” with “AES” encryption.
  2. You must set your wireless channel to a fixed one, so do NOT put it on “auto”.
  3. Please make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

If you do not yet own a DD-WRT capable router you might consider getting one of these new, very fast routers:

  • Netgear WNDR4300
  • Asus RT-AC66U
  • TP-Link TL-WDR4300
  • Cisco Linksys E4200

These very fast routers have awesome specifications and can run DD-WRT perfectly. I have the older, slower Cisco Linksys E2500 and even older and slower Cisco Linksys WRT54GL routers myself, but they also run DD-WRT fine.

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42 thoughts on “DD-WRT in Repeater Bridge mode”

  1. Hi Maurits,

    I have a TP-Link TL-WDR4300 that I want to use in repeater bridge mode.

    I have tried a number of dd-wrt builds from dd-wrt.com and none of them have the Repeater Bridge option under the wireless basic settings tab.

    Do you have any experience setting up this router with dd-wrt?

    If so do you know where I can obtain a version of the firmware that supports it?

    Kind regards

    David

  2. No it is different. The options are as follows:

    AP
    Client
    Client Bridge (Routed)
    Adhoc
    WDS Station
    WDS AP

    I notice you are using build from 6/14/11 which is pre-manufacture date of the wdr4300.

    Earliest build I can find on the dd-wrt.com site is 20453 dated 12/31/12.

    I think the options have changed in the later builds.

    Do you have a site where I can upload a screen grab so you can see for yourself?

    Cheers

    David

  3. @David: It does not have to do with the version, but with the Atheros chipset. There is no “Repeater” mode on Atheros units, but you still can use it as repeater, just set the original interface as “client” and get it to connect to your AP, then create a virtual interface to broadcast the new SSID. Let me know if it works. If not read this first: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Wlan_Repeater#Atheros_Considerations

  4. Hi Maurits,

    Thank you for the time and effort you have put in to helping with this issue.

    I after much trial and error I have finally achieved the desired result.

    The following link gave me most of the additional info I needed along with your advice that “Repeater” mode is not available on Atheros units.

    FYI “Client” would not work for me, but “Client Bridge (Routed)” did.

    The only difference was that I set the default gateway mode to “Auto (DHCP)”

    Link:

    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Repeater_Bridge#Atheros

    I first got everything working with security turned off and then set it to WPA2 Personal / AES afterward.

    I’m getting 144.444 Mb/s on ath0.1 (2.4GHz) and 216.7 Mb/s ath1 (5GHz) which is probably OK but not as good as the 300 / 450 claimed on the TP-LINK website for the factory firmware.

    The DD-WRT version I am using is:

    http://dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv2/downloads/others/eko/BrainSlayer-V24-preSP2/2013/07-24-2013-r22118/tplink_tl-wdr4300v1/tl-wdr4300-webflash.bin

    Comments?

    Cheers

    David

  5. @David: Don’t be disappointed with those actual speeds: The factory numbers are theoretical limits not promises. It sounds like a very nice setup to me! Congrats!

  6. Hi Maurits,

    I’m feeling very frustrated right now. I have followed nearly every single tutorial on YouTube as well as the step-by-step guide on the DD-WRT wiki. I feel like I’m doing it right, but something isn’t working. I’m trying to wirelessly connect my Cisco Linksys E2500 (with DD-WRT) to my Verizon issued D-Link, supplying my home’s internet & WiFi signal. I do not have the dd-wrt firmware on that router and I’m under the impression that you only need it on the router that’s doing the repeating. So I have done everything–renamed my SSID, changed the IP address, etc..followed everything to the tee. Even “joined” my main SSID in the site survey window. It seems like it’s connected but no matter what, I cannot access the internet…which is telling me that something is wrong. I’m using WPA on both and the keys are correct. Very frustrated, having wasted 2 days trying to get this to work…Any advice?

    Joe

  7. @Joe: What is your wireless channel set to? NOT on “auto” I hope? Also, did you turn off the DHCP server on the repeater? What version of dd-wrt are you running? You write it says: “something is wrong”, but that is not a very specific error message. Can you be more specific? I also spent about 2-3 days tweaking before finding out the “auto” wireless channel did not work. That’s one of the reasons I created this post. So, don’t give up! PS: When you find the reason, please share it here 🙂

  8. Hi Maurits,

    It all worked out of the box for me, but now i have a question. How to get the router OUT of the bridged mode, since i cannot access the secondary (DD-WRT) webinterface of my router because it just forwards it to the primary.

    I haven’t tried powering off the primary router yet, will test that over the weekend.

    Thanks for the help.

    Kind regards,

    Ino

  9. Hi Joseph: Let me tell you first please that NOT all of the D-Link routers support ddwrt firmware. In my case I am using the DIR-600 which is really a cheap and nasty router, but finally I made it to work by using the ddwrt buil 14311 sp2 firmware version and it is working in repeater-bridge mode, not just single repeater mode, the single repeater mode is not supported by almost all Dlink routers but Bridged mode is. Try to configure it in this mode and make all of the needed steps as follows:
    Restore Factory Defaults on Secondary (DD-WRT) Router , in this case your dlink
    Connect your computer to the secondary router via wired LAN port.
    Open the address http://192.168.1.1 in your web browser. Newer versions of DD-WRT will
    require you to set a password before you can continue.
    Open the Wireless -> Basic Settings tab
    Physical Interface Section
    Wireless Mode : Repeater Bridge
    Wireless Network Mode : Must Match Primary Router
    Wireless Network Name(SSID) : Must Match Primary Router exactly including exact case-
    Make sure you spell this correctly
    Wireless Channel : Must Match Primary Router (This will disappear once you put it in RB
    mode, and isn’t needed)
    Wireless SSID Broadcast : Enable
    Network Configuration : Bridged
    Save
    Open the Wireless -> Wireless Security tab
    Physical Interface Section
    Security Mode : Must Match Primary Router and DD-wrt only works reliably with WEP or
    WPA2-AES
    WPA Algorithms : Must Match Primary Router
    WPA Shared Key : Must Match Primary Router
    Key Renewal Interval (in seconds) : Leave default
    Save
    Open the Setup -> Basic Setup tab
    Connection Type will be: Disabled
    Set STP for Disabled (Enabled sometimes can cause connection problems) redhawk
    IP Address : 192.168.1.2 (Assuming Primary Router IP is 192.168.1.1 or any other you may wich within the Ip range of your router)
    Mask : 255.255.255.0
    Gateway: 192.168.1.1 (again assuming Primary Router IP is 192.168.1.1, or check your router 1 gateway)
    DHCP Server: Disable
    Local DNS: 192.168.1.1 (if IP of Primary Router is 192.168.1.1)
    Assign WAN Port to Switch : Optionally enable this to use the WAN port as another LAN
    port.
    Save
    Open Setup -> Advanced Routing tab
    Set Operating mode to “Router” (try first in Gateway mode, if it doesnt work change later)
    Save
    Open Services
    Disable Dnsmasq
    Save
    Open the Security -> Firewall tab
    Uncheck all boxes…except Filter Multicast
    Disable SPI firewall
    APPLY Settings
    Reboot the router.

    Hopefully this will help you to setup your wifi conecction. Saludos.

  10. @Mato: You should have the router setup with different IP addresses. Did you configure them like 192.168.0.1 (primary) and 192.168.0.2 (secondary)?

  11. I have a Netgear CG3000D-RG Wireless Cable Gateway as my primary router. I also have a Netgear WNR834B v2 router running DD-WRT v24-sp2 (08/07/10) mini – build 14896.

    I configured DD-WRT as a repeater bridge and I’m able to use my wired ports, but the wireless broadcast is not working. My primary router is set to channel 11 and I’ve set my repeater bridge to the same channel. I’ve noticed the repeater bridge broadcasts on channel 9 and stays on that channel even when I reset it. Is there a bug with DD-WRT? I will try to change my primary router’s wireless to channel 9, but this setting is slower.

    Has anyone else seen this problem? Please advise.

    Thanks,

    Brandon

  12. @Brandon: Did you try to use the wireless site survey to see what channels are in use? Try to select an unused one (on the primary router).

  13. @Brandon: You are welcome, go to “Status”. then “wireless”, scroll down and click “site survey”..

  14. I ran the survey and it shows my SSID as channel 9 with a button to Join. Is this SSID of my primary router or repeater bridge? Should I click the Join button?

  15. @Brandon: You are probably logged in on the secondary router (bridge). Make sure the primary router goes to an unused channel.

  16. Yes, I have an ethernet cable connected to my repeater bridge and I’m logged into it. How do I make sure my primary router goes to an unused channel? Thanks for your help!

  17. OK, I understand. My primary router is NOT running DD-WRT. I just have my repeater bridge router using it to extend my primary router’s signal. Since my primary router is not using DD-WRT, can I still do the settings you mention?

  18. Thank you for your patience as I’m very new at network configuration. I really appreciate your step-by-step directions.

  19. @Brandon: Yes, please change the channel on the primary router and then repeat it on the secondary as described.

  20. For my clarification, should I simply change my primary router to broadcast on channel 9 to match the site survey I received from my repeater bridge?

  21. @Brandon: Yes, try that. I believe the repeater will and should repeat on the same channel.

  22. Thanks for your response. I connected an ethernet cable to my primary router and changed the wireless channel from 11 to 9. After rebooting the router, I could longer connect to the internet. I lost the IP address in the basic settings. When I reverted back to channel 11, I was able to connect to the internet again.

    I then connected my ethernet cable to my repeater bridge and ran a new wireless site survey. I saw channel 9 again for my SSID. This time I clicked the join button and got the message “Successfully joined the following network as a client: NETGEAR CG3000D-RG

    I’m currently testing to see if my repeater bridge is now broadcasting wirelessly. Any thoughts on what I did? Right or wrong steps?

    Thanks!

  23. @Brandon: Good. It is working if you see both the SSID of the primary router and the SSID of the bridge on the device you connect to the wireless. Also both should give you Internet access when you connect to them.

  24. The wireless appears to be working on my repeater bridge along with the ports. I don’t have a separate SSID for my repeater bridge so the same SSID will broadcast throughout my house.

    I’m open to any suggestions to anything I did since I’m new to DD-WRT and basically been learning by trial and error.

    Thanks again for all your help!

    Brandon

  25. @Brandon: Seems it is working then. I recommended to not use the same SSID, since some devices may expect session handover in such a case. If it works stable for you, dont change it, because using one SSID is more convenient.

  26. Hi Maurits

    I have a TP-Link TD-W8951ND modem router. I want to install dd-wrt in the router to use the repeater bridge mode.
    I’ve been searching the web to see if my modem will support dd-wrt without any result.
    Could you tell me if it’s okay to download dd-wrt? I read somewhere that if the router does not support .. it could do damage to the router.

    Thanks, Jim

  27. When using DD-WRT as Wireless Repeater Bridge, are you supposed to join your AP’s network shown in the Site Survey? I’ve Googled conflicting information on this step.

    Also is it recommended to use a Virtual SSID with the same name as the AP SSID? The same name prevents jumping among connections. Any other thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Brandon

  28. @Brandon: I think you should use Site Survey to connect. I do recommend having the same SSID on both, but if you experience broken connections or other problems then try to differentiate to solve the problem.

  29. I hope someone can help me fix this problem since I’m a few days from loosing my mind.

    I have a linksys E2500 that i flashed with both dd-wrt mini and mega.

    I successfully configured it to work as a repeater bridge.

    [u]PROBLEM[/u]:
    The linksys e2500 stops transmitting SSID after a few minutes after configuration and only start transmitting when I do a reboot. some times its stable for a minute, other times a few minutes. but I’ve never gone a whole day w/o it stopping to transmit its SSID.

    [u]WHAT I’VE TRIED[/u]
    1. setting both routers to auto frequency
    2. setting both routers to a specific frequency
    3. flashed two different versions of dd-wrt (mini and mega) (dd-wrt.v24-21061_NEWD-2_K2.6_mini-e2500.bin and dd-wrt.v24-21061_NEWD-2_K2.6_mega-nv60k.bin)
    4. tried using both WPA Personal AES and TKIP
    5. I’ve also tried disabling both router securities

    Any help would be deeply appreciated. Thank you for reading!!

  30. Hello Maurits,
    I am not able to connect to my secondary router even with a wire connection (I am pretty sure I was able to when I first set it up a while ago. I had to use this secondary router for my security camera since it requires a wire connection, but the wireless speed on the secondary router was not any faster than connecting directly to the primary one, so I did not use its wireless capability).
    My primary router is a Comcast-supplied one (using 10.0.0.1) and my dd-wrt is an old Linksys WRT40G. Lately, my wireless connection to my bedroom has gotten so slow that I want to give the secondary router another try, but I am not able to get to it to see its configuration and, perhaps give it a different SSID.
    Could you tell me how to get on to the secondary router in order to change see its configuration. Thanks so much.

  31. I have a question… I have a belkin.a8f wireless router connected to my modem (pioneer) ISP. My signal is weak outside and was thinking of placing another router out in our barn. My problem is… we have security cameras that transmit through the belkin.a8f SSID in the house – very weak outside to the security cameras. How do I transmit this SSID to a router out in the barn but keep the same SSID and the subnets the same? The cameras will not pick up through a virtual SSID – they are reading off the belkin SSID in the house. So, I was wondering what DD-WRT program can I use to repeat the belkin SSID tag to the router out in the barn and keep it the same belkin SSID and subnet to the router, so the wireless cameras pick up the correct SSID which I hope increases the signal strength on the cameras. Thanks.

  32. @Carey: Thank you for commenting. This does not sound exotic to me. Just put the router in the same subnet and put it in repeater mode with the same SSID. That should work. No special configuration or software required.

  33. Hi,

    My wrt54g seems to be working, I can connect my ipad to its ssid and I can get out on the web. One question, why can’t I connect to its control page (192.168.1.1) wirelessly? and second, why does the WAN status show disabled on the dd-wrt?

    Thanks
    Alex

  34. Update
    It does let me connect wirelessly to 192.168.1.1, but still no WAN, it says its disabled. I have not tried to connect to it wired. I will try it later, but if it did connect when I was setting it up then I did connect wired to it, so that works too.

  35. @Alex: Thank you for commenting. You probably use the wan port as lan port (this is a setting). Also disallowing the admin interface over Wifi is a good (safe) setting. I would suggest you keep it that way. Let me know if this answers your questions.

  36. Hi. My router router has been setup with this instruction. After I click apply setting button, my router is not working. I can’t enter to dd wrt web gui. I did rest and try again. Still not working. Any suggestions please.

  37. @pskw & @Dan: Sorry for the late reply. In case anyone is having the same type of issue: Try to reset the router (using the reset button on the back and a paperclip) to get it reset to default settings (which is an insecure, open, wireless network). After that retry the steps to set the repeater up. You probably made a mistake somewhere.

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