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Wireless Wifi In an RV


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#1 JimmyTheGeek

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 10:51 AM

I live in an RV full time and travel the US and Canada, usually stayin a month or two in each park.  We have a variety of devices that connect to each other and the internet including a work computer (hard wired), a laptop (wireless), printer, 2 phones, 2 tablets, DirecTV Genie and a couple more.  The computers are running Win7 and the portable stuff is Android.

 

I get my connectivity either from the wifi commonly available in the parks we stay at or from a Verizon hotspot when the park either doesn't have wifi or it's too weak to get at the trailer.  Sometimes the park wifi is strong, fast and reliable, but far more often, the signal is weak and the speeds slow.  I'm willing to put up with that because using Verizon is very expensive.  Unfortunately, the park wifi is seldom strong enough to connect individual devices, so I have to boost the signal somehow.  The park configurations are all over the map, too.  Usually 2.4gHz, sometimes 5.  Different security protocols, some with passwords, some wide open.  Some require going through a web page to reach the internet.

 

Currently I'm using a Netgear EX6200 wifi extender with an 8db external omni-directional antenna to connect to the park/hotspot.  While it works ok, I have a couple of issues with it.  First, it has very little in the way of security and I have to treat its network as 'public'.  Second, it uses the park/hotspot's DHCP for my local devices meaning the NAT address the connected devices use is constantly changing.  Every time we move I have to mess with configuration issues.  The printer, in particular, gets really snarly if its address changes.  Finally, the EX6200 has basic security, ie, it creates a secondary network with a password and it has to be configured every time we move.  A small PITA.

 

Finally, my question.  In an ideal world I'd have a router that all my devices connect to.  Its configurable subnet would form a private wired/wireless network that only my devices can connect to and it would be firewall protected from whatever I use as my WAN connection.  No router I've looked at can use a wireless WAN connection as far as I can determine.  So, what I need is a 'box' that will sit between a router and a wireless WAN.  I think the range extender I have will do that, but I'm not sure a router will be happy using it as a WAN even though it would be hardwired to the router's WAN port.  I also have read about wireless hubs, access points (not the right thing, I think) and bridges.  I think a wireless bridge might be ideal since it wouldn't require additional configuration, but it's really hard to find enough detail about how they work to tell for sure.

 

Can you make a suggestion or point me to a place that explains how these various pieces for hardware work in enough detail that I can figure it out for myself.  I've found a lot of info about what each device does.  What I really need to know is how they connect to each other and what configuration they expect.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Jim



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#2 CaveDweller2

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 10:42 PM

http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Repeater_Bridge will give you good information. Mind you, you'll need to go in and fiddle with it each time and I have no idea about those times you need to go to a web page to connect. I have used this firmware and love it. Out of the box there might be a router that will do wireless bridge. And you can have your network on a different subnet than theirs so that's cool =) 


Hope this helps thumbup.gif

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#3 JimmyTheGeek

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 10:37 AM

Thanks very much for the link. 

 

It looks like I misunderstood what a bridge does.  If I understand it now, a bridge integrates two disconnected LAN segments into the same subnet, which is exactly the opposite of what I want to do.  :)  So that was good info.

 

As I've read more, I'm coming to the conclusion that what I really need is a router with built in NAT, DHCP, firewall, etc.  I'll use my existing range extender as the router's WAN connection.  Not a too expensive an experiment, so I think I'll just get one an find out. 

 

What could become expensive is trying to find a router with the right features.  NAT, DHCP, firewall, port forwarding is pretty common, I think.  It would be really nice if the rf channel the router uses is configurable.  Is that common?  Can anyone think of anything that's going to trip me up here?

 

Thanks again for the link.



#4 Wand3r3r

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 06:33 PM

What you are looking for is a wireless repeater not a bridge.  But in your case that is also pointless as its connection to the internet source would not be any better than your individual devices connections.  You can't amplify [Improve] an already poor connection.  Your connection to the repeater would be strong but not its connection to the internet source.  Additionally you would have multiple devices trying to use the single poor connection.  Not productive.

 

Now if you could situate that repeater half way between the internet source and you, you could get better access but given a mobile situation I don't see that being possible.



#5 YeahBleeping

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 11:38 PM

I have a DGL4500 gaming router that does way more than I use it for.  I think what you may be looking for is a way to increase the strength of the wireless signals.  This router has 3 ' modes ' for signal strength and if you wanted you could connect a wifi antenna to the router to increase the strength even more. Head over to the Dlink Site and go to their wifi demo pages.  This may be the ' extended ' router your looking for.



#6 CaveDweller2

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 12:12 AM

One side of my bridge was 192.168.2.x that was bridging from the 192.168.1.x.(had to change it when I got wireless stuff that needed to print lol ) So you can certainly run DHCP with another subnet. But yes you need a router to do this.


Hope this helps thumbup.gif

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#7 JimmyTheGeek

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 09:24 AM

Thanks for the replies.  It's really difficult to ask questions clearly.  Let me try again, because I'm stuck.

 

I do not have a performance issue.  I have a configuration issue.

 

I have a router and I have access to a wireless LAN segment that has access to the internet.  I have no control over the wireless subnet, its addresses, security, topology, nothing.  It doesn't belong to me.  It changes, often drastically, once a month or so. The good news is that the the owner of the subnet gives me a password to use it.  Free.  At that price, I'll accept the limitations since the only alternative is Verizon, and that's very expensive.

 

My question is:  How do I connect the WAN port on my router to the wireless subnet?  What "black box" will allow a router to use a wireless LAN as an internet gateway?



#8 Wand3r3r

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 11:39 AM

"How do I connect the WAN port on my router to the wireless subnet?"

Answer: you don't.  It is not physically possible

 

"What "black box" will allow a router to use a wireless LAN as an internet gateway?"

Answer: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/netgear-universal-wi-fi-range-extender-with-ethernet-port/2733324.p?id=1218349687077&skuId=2733324



#9 CaveDweller2

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 12:05 PM

In my house - I have Uverse but the wireless modem/router they provide doesn't have a signal much further out of the room where it sits. So I set up a D-Link router with the DD-wrt firmware installed to do a wireless bridging so I could get wireless coverage all over. It does this by using virtual wireless connections. The main connection connects to the uvese just like any other device, I put in the passphrase and connect. Then the virtual wireless connection broadcasts other wireless signal that is much stronger. I used to have it setup with different IP addresses but then I had wireless things that needed to print and at the time I had a wired print server. Its all changed but it works and can't be bothered to switch it back.

 

In your case - Your side of the router used as a bridge wouldn't change.It would have it's own setup, which all your devices would connect to. All you'd have to do is go into the router and set up the other side of the bridge with the park's wifi info. It will make the connection, like it's any other device. The difference is that there is another side that uses that connection to give your side of the bride internet access.


Hope this helps thumbup.gif

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#10 Wand3r3r

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 06:29 PM

"All you'd have to do is go into the router and set up the other side of the bridge with the park's wifi info."

 

Usually routers that have a bridge function, it only pertains to the LAN not the wan. In this case the RV router would have to be doing the bridging which I don't see happening.  A repeater on the other hand takes the RV wifi signal/logon and with that connection rebroadcasts [repeats] with its own SSID that Jimmy would attach to.



#11 JimmyTheGeek

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 01:24 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I'm going to try a router attached to my existing repeater.  I can't see why it won't work from what I've been able to learn about it.



#12 beagle72

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Posted 29 January 2015 - 12:06 PM

It sounds like this discussion is getting overcomplicated. If your existing repeater has an ethernet jack, plug it into the wan port of any typical consumer wifi router. That should be it. The repeater should bridge the RV park's network to the new router's WAN; the new router will create an internal network with NAT etc for your devices. That's really all there is to it. Connect your personal devices to the new router and they will see each other and you can maintain a fixed configuration regardless of the WAN connection.

 

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