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Extend your AirPort Network with AirPort Express
Pages: 1, 2

Finally, the AirPort Express Assistant will automatically configure the base station to use the new AirPort Express to extend its range (see Figure 10).


Figure 10. Completing the configuration
Figure 10. Completing the configuration.

That’s it! After a brief restart, the AirPort Express should display a green light (see Figure 11) and you are now ready to go!

Figure 11. AirPort Express ready to go!
Figure 11. AirPort Express ready to go!

AirPort Express functionality is transparent to the user – the wireless network names of both the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express are identical.

Examining the Configurations

If you are the adventurous sort who wants to understand what goes on behind the scene, however, you can examine the various settings set by the AirPort Express Assistant using the AirPort Admin Utility application (located in the Applications/Utilities folder).

If you have configured the AirPort Express as explained in the previous section, you should now be able to see the two base stations as displayed in AirPort Admin Utility (see Figure 12).

Figure 12. Using the AirPort Admin Utility
Figure 12. Using the AirPort Admin Utility program.

Let’s first examine the Base Station (10.0.1.1). This Base Station is the AirPort Extreme base station connected directly to my cable modem. Notice that in the WDS (Wireless Distribution System) tab, the option “Enable this base station as a WDS” is checked and the “main base station” option is selected (see Figure 13). This enables the AirPort Extreme base station as a main base station for other remote base stations.

Basically, there are three options available for WDS:

  1. Main base station – the base station directly connected to the Internet.
  2. Remote base station – connects to a base station and thus extends its range.
  3. Relay base station – acts as an intermediary for a main base station and other remote base stations.

Since I also want my wireless clients to be able to connect wirelessly to my AirPort Extreme base station, the “Allow wireless clients on this base station” is checked.

To add more remote base stations, you can click on the “+” button. The MAC address (00:11:24:08:af:e9) shown in Figure 13 is the MAC address of my AirPort Express.

Figure 13. Configuring the AirPort Extreme base station as a main base station
Figure 13. Configuring the AirPort Extreme base station as a main base station.

On the AirPort Express (10.0.1.232), you’ll notice that under the Internet tab, the “Connect using” option is set to AirPort (WDS). The MAC address (00:03:93:ef:29:be) specified is the MAC address of the AirPort Extreme base station. You also need to configure the IP address of the AirPort Express, either manually or by DHCP (see Figure 14).

Figure 14. Configuring the AirPort Express for WDS
Figure 14. Configuring the AirPort Express for WDS.

Under the Network tab, notice that for wireless network extensions, you have to uncheck the “Distribute IP addresses” option (see Figure 15).

Figure 15. Disabling DHCP for the AirPort Express
Figure 15. Disabling DHCP for the AirPort Express.

Finally, in the WDS tab, select the “remote base station” selection for the “Enable this base station as a WDS” checkbox (see Figure 16).

Figure 16. Configuring the AirPort Express for WDS
Figure 16. Configuring the AirPort Express for WDS.

Final Thoughts

The AirPort Express is a cost-effective way to extend the range of your wireless network. While Apple claimed that the AirPort Express’s WDS is only compatible with an AirPort wireless network, there have been reports of successes with non-AirPort wireless network. For now, I am just happy that I am able to access the Web in my bedroom!

Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) http://weimenglee.blogspot.com is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions http://www.developerlearningsolutions.com, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.


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