Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Home Network

With more and more devices coming in to our homes, building a wifi network is mandatory these days. But with the devices spread across the whole house, a single wifi network isn't enough anymore. I had the same issue. I have built a cost-effective wifi network through out my home, so all my devices have wifi network all the time available to access my local n/w as well as the Internet.

1. Should cover a wider area than a single router could cover.
2. Cost effective.
3. Lower power consumption.

Here is how my home network looks:

There are two wifi networks (ie different SSIDs) in my home; the source being geographically spread out across my home, covers the whole house. The lines shown in red belong to one wifi network (SSID) and the lines in blue belong to the other one. Almost all wifi devices have a configuration to switch to the other wifi network when the connectivity drops on one connection. With that handy, switching between these two networks isn't a big deal for me.

The easy means to expand the range of a router is to buy another router and configure the two routers in WDS (Wireless Distribution System). This lets them share a common SSID and make it look like a wide range wifi. However, due to lack of standardization (yet) on WDS, it is not guaranteed that two routers from different vendors would correctly work on WDS. Given that I already had one router (given by my service provider) of unknown brand, I would have to buy two routers from the same company. That would add up to my cost and power consumption (I would still need to run my ADSL modem, or get one router with ADSL modem). With my EEEBox coming in, and managing to stay online all the time, I decided to make my EEEBox act as a wifi router for me. EEEBox is not multihomed by default, and comes with only one wifi adaptor (that has an external antenna with a good range). The idea was to get a USB wifi dongle on EEEBox and let it allow adhoc connections to it and route the packets via the builtin wifi card to my other router as required. This works pretty well. Now I don't need to power on a separate another device (router) and that too at the cost of just a USB wifi dongle. I got a wifi dongle from Cisco. Btw, the Cisco wireless connection software has issues with multiple wifi network cards!! I installed the wifi dongle's driver/software from a remote machine (remember? EEEBox doesn't have IO devices) via VNC and boom!!! I lost the connectivity on the other card too, leaving me with no idea of what was going on then -- I had to plug in the keyboard/mouse from my other comp and fix this issue finally. More on it later.

When I watch videos via YouTube application on my Windows Mobile phone, it is awesome to think off that my mobile connects to my EEEBox which understands youtube is a non-local address and forwards it to my other wireless router (in a different room), which sends it out to the Internet. All these happen seamlessly to provide continuous video. No, I don't watch videos all the time, but that's the best way to stress-test a network. I get around 16Mbps bandwidth between my two wireless networks -- fair enough.


  1. >>the idea was to get a USB wifi dongle on EEEBox and let it allow adhoc connections to it

    ie, USB wifi dongle and wifi router should be from same vendor ..rt ?Is wifi dongle required only because of your EEEBox and Wifi router are from different vendors (Otherwise could have used the same EEEBox wifi connection for WDS also)?

    >>EEEBox is not multihomed by default
    In order to connect using WDS (bridge mode), does it require to be multihomed ? I don't think so..may be i am wrong :)

  2. hmm, there is a lot of disconnect here.

    I don't use WDS. Afaik, WDS works only between access points (at home, possibly two routers). I didn't want to buy two routers, due to cost. So my USB dongle is from cisco, and my wifi router is from some unknown brand (given by my ISP). In my case, there are two wifi networks (with two distinct SSIDs). On my EEEBox, the wifi dongle is an adhoc node (for SSID A), the the builtin wifi card is used as uplink to my existing wifi router (for SSID B) to connect to the rest of the network and Internet. Basically my EEEBox acts as a router between these two networks (no WDS). WDS is for access points, so multihomed doesn't apply anyways.

  3. I read this post like a story! It unfolded so nicely with a great climax! You can write a technical post very artistically. :-)

    By the way, this a very viable solution indeed. Cost effective and innovative.

  4. Nice.

    I bought an EEE Box as well, and your post gave me an interesting idea. My wireless router struggles to service 4-5 laptops simultaneously, especially if one or more of them run P2P software.
    The problem appears to be the number of active connections, so I'm planning to have the EEE Box act as a second wireless access point and have it bypass the router and directly send traffic to my modem using the USB interface. Let's see how that works out.