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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone--this is my first post! This site looks like a great resource, and thanks in advance for any help. Here's my situation:

We have some buildings on a forested property. There is a large "main lodge", which is central, and a few other buildings--one fairly close to the lodge (approx. 50 ft), one further away, about 200 ft, and another one 200 ft beyond that one (400ft away from the lodge).

Each building currently has a LAN for file/printer sharing, all using standard wireless Linksys/D-Link routers cabled to a desktop. The "main lodge" also enjoys a point-to-point high speed internet connection (via a tower to get over the trees).

I am working on sharing the internet from the main lodge to the surrounding buildings--there is lots of bandwidth to go around--AND at the same time keep the existing networks all seperate.

To the closest building, call it building A, this must be easy: it is close enough to use the existing wireless router from the lodge. Question 1: But how do I keep the networks seperate? Is there a way to use the existing wireless router in building A to simply "receive" the lodge's internet and spread it around its own network?

The secont building, "building B", is 200ft away. It gets a very weak signal from the current wireless router in the lodge , which is on the far side of the building (and when the leaves come back there may be no signal...). Is there a way to cable another router to the lodge's main one and put it on the other side of the building to provide a stronger signal to building B? And even if so, the same question of how to use the internet and maintain the seperate network would apply.

Then there is the question of how to further pipe the internet from building B to the next building... but I'll start with those first couple of questions!

I've set up all the individual networks, which have two or three stations each. I'm familiar with IP adresses, Gateways, and the basics. I suspect the answer has to do with VPNs... but a little guidance from experts is always the best way to start! I'm open to all suggestions of how to best set up this scenario.

Thanks again for any help!
 

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I don't think VPN's are the solution here.

I'd start with some hi-gain directional antennas to solve the signal propagation issue. If you put a wireless access point in each remote location, connected to the WAN/Internet connection of the router, you will maintain separation of the individual remote networks from the main source.

As far as connecting two routers on opposite sides of the building, you can do that with the following configuration.

Connecting two SOHO broadband routers together.

Configure the IP address of the secondary router to be in the same subnet as the primary router, but out of the range of the DHCP server in the primary router. For instance DHCP server addresses 192.168.0.2 through 192.168.0.100, I'd assign the secondary router 192.168.0.254 as it's IP address.

Disable the DHCP server in the secondary router.

Setup the wireless section just the way you would if it was the primary router.

Connect from the primary router's LAN port to one of the LAN ports on the secondary router. If there is no uplink port and neither of the routers have auto-sensing ports, use a cross-over cable. Leave the WAN port unconnected!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
OK Sounds great--

Thanks for the tip of how to cable up two wireless routers--I thought I had read that that was possible. Now I know how!

I've never used a wireless access point before. If I understand correctly, they would act as a wireless connection point for the "primary" network, which would provide the broadband, which I could then pipe via the WAPs through the WAN port of the local wireless routers to maintain the existing networks. Is that right?

If that is what wireless access points would do then sounds like a neat and tidy solution. A little hardware intensive though. I don't suppose the existing wireless routers could be configured to act as a WAP and receive from the primary network and at the same time be a router for its own network... I'm sure that's wishful thinking.

So, again, looks like this:
"Primary" Router & Network (connected directly to point-to-point broadband) -> wirelessly (perhaps via high-gain as you suggest) to WAP in remote building -> to WAN of Wireless router, which basically keeps its local network as-is except for the broadband coming through. Correct?
 

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OK Sounds great--

Thanks for the tip of how to cable up two wireless routers--I thought I had read that that was possible. Now I know how!
Yep, lots of things are easy when you actually know how. :grin:
I've never used a wireless access point before. If I understand correctly, they would act as a wireless connection point for the "primary" network, which would provide the broadband, which I could then pipe via the WAPs through the WAN port of the local wireless routers to maintain the existing networks. Is that right?
That is correct.

If that is what wireless access points would do then sounds like a neat and tidy solution. A little hardware intensive though. I don't suppose the existing wireless routers could be configured to act as a WAP and receive from the primary network and at the same time be a router for its own network... I'm sure that's wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking. :laugh:

So, again, looks like this:
"Primary" Router & Network (connected directly to point-to-point broadband) -> wirelessly (perhaps via high-gain as you suggest) to WAP in remote building -> to WAN of Wireless router, which basically keeps its local network as-is except for the broadband coming through. Correct?
Yep. What I'd do is buy one WAP and a couple of the hi-gain antennas and do some site testing to see if it's all going to work. Then you can go for the rest of the equipment once you know it's going to work. You'll also want to be careful about the channels you use, non-interferring channels in the US are 1, 6, and 11. If they're far enough away with directional antennas, you might get away with spacing them a bit closer, like 1, 4, 7, 11. You'll have to experiment if you have more than three wireless links that need to be separate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks a million for your help. I'll pick up a wireless access point and let you know how it goes!

Oh, how about the notion of "piping" the broadband along--as in from building B to the next one, building C, which only sees a signal from Building B. Would a wireless access point in building C connect to the primary network via building B's WAP? And if not, any suggestions?

Thanks again!
 

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There shouldn't be any reason that using an AP with a directional antenna to direct the signal to building C wouldn't work.

One possible issue with all the routers in the mix is if you need any port forwarding, that could get complicated. :grin: As long as this is for standard Internet access, it shouldn't be an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update--

Hi and thanks again for all your earlier help. You got me started on track and I feel much more educated about networking and network hardware now. Goes to show how people like you make the internet a great resource. (And I can honestly say that I have been an active helper myself in other interest forums.)

The great news is that I have successfully set up nearly all of what I was describing above, and everyone is thrilled to have the broadband, and sharing the cost of it as well.

The part that remains to be set up is the furthest building. I'm about to go ahead and build a cantenna to pipe the broadband from building B to building C. With that setup, the broadband would go--try to follow--from the primary router via 75' ethernet cable to a secondary wireless router on the other side of the building; via wireless from there to building B "client" router; via cable from client router to AP on the other side of that building, via cantenna to building C.

Now, my first question is is that just crazy? The smooth performance on what I have set up so far suggests that that would indeed work OK, but this is uncharted waters for me.

Also, what about the new "wireless-N" line of products, which claims much further range and faster transfers. Should I consider that protocol, i.e. does wireless N really triple or quadruple your effective wireless range? I suspect not. Also, as far as data transfer speeds, as long as you have a good signal, current G technology (well, and even B) seems to not be a bottleneck at all in my experience. Especially if you "tweak" your equipment...

(The coolest part of the process was installing third-party firmware on some linksys routers (totally legitimate), which basically turned those $50 boxes into much more than they are configured to do out-of-the-box--specifically allowing them to be wireless clients, bridges, and repeaters, and also turning up their broadcast strength. This was great since I already had a couple of linksys routers in the mix. If anyone is curious to know more about that I'd be glad to help.)

Oh, and one more quick question regarding cables (after all this wireless talk :grin:...) Is there a big difference in speed say, between a 50ft cable and a 100ft cable? how about 300ft, which I see is the longest cat5 can go?
 

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I'll answer the easiest one first. There will be absolutely no difference in network speed with a hop of any length of CAT5 up to the maximum of 100 meters.

I'd forget the 802.11n stuff until the standard is accepted, there is no warranty that they'll be compatible with the final standard.

I'd do my best to avoid two wireless hops for your network, I suspect you'll see some significant impact at that point. Since 802.11b/g is half-duplex, you'll have two hops that have long turn-around delays. I'd try to figure out how to get that there on a single wireless hop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks again, I was asking about the cat5 cable because I have some apparent impedence on a longer cable--I think it must be the kinks in it from storage.

Incidentally, per your suggestions, I didn't bother with wireless-N and I did succeed in connecting with only one wireless hop (via high-gain)! And so far it's been flawless (we'll see when the leaves come in...).

So now here's the thing: there's a pretty sophisticated network with a copier, printers, and lots of sharing in that far building "C" and I'd like to leave it intact. I have the broadband (from the "primary" network) going into the WAN port of "C"s router, and, again, it works great. Now, my task is getting into "C"s network (through the WAN port) from a location on the primary network. I'm not sure how to go about this. Is VPN the way? I'll do my research but a little direction would be great. Thanks again for all your help!
 

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Actually, what you are probably seeing on the longer cable is a mistake in matching the twisted pairs, or perhaps a poor connection on one of the connectors. I'll bet if you re-do the connectors and pay close attention to the pair wiring, it'll work again. I've run 450 feet of cable in the past (yes I know, more than the spec allows) in a single run and it worked just fine.

CAT5 Cable Wiring Diagram

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CAT 5, TWISTED-PAIR NETWORK CABLES

VPN is not a solution to any of your problems, unless you need a totally private link within your network.

What exactly do you want to "get into" on the "C" network from the primary network?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the cable links--very helpful. It turned out that the apparently slow cable was actually a "slow" router, as in a defective router. It kept dropping the internet and was generally unstable, so back to the store it went (it was a linksys WRT54GR with stock firmware). I exchanged it for a Linksys WRT54GL, put on some new firmware, and it's been a rock so far. And that "slow" cable is suddenly blazing fast like it should be.

What I want to access on network C is simply files on an always-on, standalone computer (i.e. not a server).

I suspect what I will need do is assign a static IP for the WAN on C's router, and then somehow aim there and go through it from the primary network. Also, I had a look at Network C's router (basic D-Link box--Dl 524) and came across Virtual Server settings (currently disabled), with features such as Virtual Server FTP, Virtual Server HTTP, etc... Is that what I should learn about to accomplish file sharing from the WAN?

Incidentally, am I right in thinking that network C, which is behind two routers, is pretty darned safe--effectively double firewalled from the outside world?
 

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It's pretty safe unless you start forwarding ports to file share through the router's NAT layer, that punches holes in your security. :grin:
 
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