Taming an Airport Express WDS Network

By Spencer Critchley
March 14, 2009 | Comments: 52

Apple earns enough goodwill with its usually beautiful design and usability that every now and then it gets away with murder. Case in point: the Airport Express.

I recognize that many people are happy with their AE's. I've found that setting up and using just one of them is fairly straightforward and reliable, although the interface design and documentation for the accompanying Airport Utility software are, shockingly for Apple, lousy. (They're about normal for the rest of the industry: confusing, jargon-ridden, incomplete and sometimes, just plain wrong.)

Adding a second AE makes things a little more confusing and lowers the network's reliability. I've gone ahead and added a third, in order to share an Internet connection via a WDS (Wireless Distribution System) network. That, my friends, can make your life miserable.

My home office Airport Express network has spontaneously going psycho enough times now, and I've had enough trouble finding reliable fix-it info, that I thought I'd nail down and publish what works (for me at least) here*.

Some of the following is based on a helpful guide for setting up two AE's posted by "Tesserax" at Apple Discussions.

To prepare:

If you're starting with brand new AE's, fine. Otherwise, if you're trying to fix a problem, resign yourself to blowing the brains out of all the AE's by cold resetting them: For each one, use a paper clip to push down and hold the reset button while plugging the AE in to a power outlet.

For now place all the AE's near each other, plug them in, give them a minute or two to boot up, and then launch Airport Utility (AU). You need to use AU to discover (and write down) the Airport ID (aka the MAC, or Media Access Control, address) of each AE. If they all show up in AU's left hand pane, you can do this by selecting each AE in turn, clicking Manual Setup, and, under the Summary tab, noting the entry for "Airport ID". If all the AE's don't show up, use the Mac's Airport status menu to select the proper network for each one. (Until you link them with one master network, each AE is on its own network.)

Now, start with the AE you're going to use as a base station (Apple calls all of them base stations - confusing). We'll call it MAIN. Make sure it's plugged into power and give it time to boot up.

  • Make sure your Mac is connected to MAIN's wireless network by selecting it in your Mac's Airport status menu.
  • Launch Airport Utility. MAIN should show up in AU's left hand pane. Select it.
  • Click Manual Setup.
  • Click the Base Station tab. Enter a name (in this example, "MAIN") and a password. Note that this will be the password for this individual AE, not the network as a whole, which you will set next.
  • Click the Wireless tab. Choose "Participate in a WDS network" from the Wireless Mode pop-up menu. Give the network a name. Choose a Radio Mode (I'm using "802.11g only") a Channel (remember it) and a Wireless Security standard (I'm using WPA/WPA2 Personal). Enter a Wireless Password (remember it).
  • Click the WDS tab. Choose WDS Main. Select "Allow wireless clients". In the Wireless Remotes area, click the plus sign and enter the Airport ID of the AE that will be closest to MAIN in our network, which you are going to make a Relay (not a Remote). Then click the plus sign and enter the address for your third AE, which will be a Remote. Note that Apple says you can only have one relay between a main base station and a remote.
  • Click Update to send all these settings to the MAIN. Give it a minute or two to restart and we hope, show you a steady green LED.

Next we'll set up the second AE, the one that will be closest to MAIN. We'll call this one AE2.

  • If the second AE is visible in the left hand pane of AU, select it. Otherwise, use the Mac's Airport status menu to select its network, wait for it to show up in AU, and then select it.
  • Choose Manual Setup.
  • Click the Base Station tab. Give this AE a name ("AE2" in this example) and password as before.
  • Click the Wireless tab. Choose "Participate in a WDS network" from the Wireless Mode pop-up menu. Choose the same channel as you did for MAIN from the Channel pop-up menu and complete the other entries as you did for MAIN.
  • Click the WDS tab. Choose "WDS relay" from the pop-up menu. Enter the Airport ID of MAIN in the field for WDS Main. Select "Allow wireless clients". Under WDS Remotes, click the plus sign and enter the Airport ID of the third AE (which you'll be configuring next).
  • Click Update to transfer these settings to AE2. Give it a minute or two to restart.

And now the third AE, which we'll call AE3.

  • Follow the same procedure as you did for AE2, until you get to the WDS tab.
  • Under the WDS tab, choose the WDS Mode of "WDS remote" (not "relay"). Select "Allow wireless clients". In the WDS Main field, enter the Airport ID of AE2 - not of MAIN, as you would quite likely assume (more very un-Apple-like confusion here).
  • Click Update to transfer these settings to AE3. Give it a minute or two to restart.

Now, we fervently hope, you have a working WDS network. You'll need to unplug and move AE2 and AE3 to their permanent locations. Feel free to utter a little prayer. If all goes well, when you plug them in again they'll start up and re-create your network as you designed it.

If you find that one or more of the AE's does not discover the others, it could be that it's far enough from its nearest neighbor that it's getting a marginal signal. But you may be able to help it out. If you are working with a laptop Mac or have one available, move it near the marooned AE, use AU to re-enter its settings and restart it: Go to the Base Station menu (not the tab) and select "Restart..." If that doesn't work, you'll probably have to move this AE closer to a neighbor.

If you still have problems, you might try using a different radio channel so as to try to avoid interference. Use AU's Manual Setup to set the MAIN AE to a different channel and then set the others to the same one.

If you still have problems after trying a few different channels, well...

Good luck, good Googling, and let us know what you find.

* I'm no expert, but I gather that wireless networking is inherently a very tricky business, and some of the problems that come up are caused by external factors such as radio interference from broadcasts or other wireless devices. Still, the promise of Apple products is that they solve challenges like this and shield us from the ugly details.


UPDATE, 2009-04-08: I've made the following changes to this post:

1. Thanks to a comment from reader Alan Cifford, I've learned that Apple says you can have only one relay between a main and a remote (see http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2044). So I've deleted the references to adding more than one relay in a chain.

2. For better clarity, in the example network I now call the main base station MAIN, not BASE.


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52 Comments

You don't mention whether you are connecting to each AE via ethernet cable or not, during the set up of each unit with Airport Utility. I seem to remember in the manual for my Airport Extreme that you need to be connected by cable otherwise when you save the changes you might not find the boxes after. I've never tried altering the settings via WiFi so your feed back would be informative.

John,

The first one happened to be on an Ethernet connection, the rest were via WiFi.

I have just ordered an Airport Extreme, Time Capsule and 5 AirPort Expresses. My customer has an old house with thick stone walls, the current wireless system only works in the room where the device sits. After speaking to apple they said that I can just plug in airport express on black spots to boost the network, presumably using wds. The Time capsule and base station will be hard wired, but both need to be providing wireless, they are far apart so they won't be able to see each other wirelessly, but there will be 2 airport expresses half way between them, the other airport expresses are dotted about in black spots. Some of the airport expresses are needed for air tunes also. Do you think this will be a nightmare to configure? Should I use wds? they don't need a fast network, as there ATV will be cabled in.

Paul

It's not mentioned, but remember that when you have two nodes using WDS you're halving the throughput of the wireless network. Three nodes, your thirding it...

I avoid WDS like the plague, have enough issues with throughput on wireless without intentionally bringing it down!

Thanks for this article. It gave me one definite answer I couldn't find elsewhere, and that is what to enter as the 'WDS MAIN' address into a remote AE3 connected back to BASE via a relay AE2. I couldn't believe that Apple would have got this so wrong. Now I know it should say 'WDS RELAY' address in airport utility.


My next reason for writing is to say that I thought you could only have one 'relay' in a chain, this article suggest you can have more.
I had initially tried with 2 relays (before reading that only one was allowed on the Apple site) and it hadn't worked. But then I was probably putting the wrong AEX addresses in, as I assumed when it said 'WDS MAIN', it actually meant that.... and not 'WDS RELAY'!! (can you tell how angry I am about this?)

Another reason for writing is to see if a piece of wire might be the answer to my wireless woes. Can an ethernet cable be used to link two AEX's? If I linked by cable what is set up as a RELAY to what is set up as a REMOTE (now with the correct addresses of course!) would that work?

Finally, I read somewhere else that in Airport Utility's 'wireless options' (encountered when setting up a WDS) you can reduce the multicast rate, and setting it lower than the default 2Mbs can help in cases where the signal is weak. Maybe I'll give that a go before running in a long wire!

The ease and joy of having 2 AEX's suckered me into thinking another 3 would be a quick and easy way to make a wireless network. Seriously ... I have spent 20 hours over three sessions trying to sort this!

Alan, it looks like you're right that there can only be one relay between a base station and a remote in an AEX network. Thank you for pointing that out, and see my update note at the bottom of the post.

I too have heard the suggestion about trying different multicast rates. I share your frustration that so much fiddling should be necessary!

Thanks Spencer for the update and clarification.

I haven't returned to setting up my network since I last wrote so haven't yet altered the multicast rate.

I don't think a wired link will work, as I can't find any reference to such a set up on the Apple site.

I should have pointed out I'm running the units in b/g mode to accommodate our iphones and one old Airport Express.

I'm now thinking of an upgrade 'n' PCI card for the G4 Powermac (which has no airport card, but currently has a pci b/g card).

The one by Edimax seems mac compatible and will run in mixed b/g/n mode (of course with some speed overhead compared to running it as pure 'n'). This might give a better coverage with the Airport Expresses set to 'n'?
Speed is not such an issue for me as the network would be mainly for internet/airtunes/printing.

I'd also need to replace my one old Airport Express which is the pre 'n' model.

So looking at around a further £100...hence the reason I'm only thinking about it at the moment!

Does anyone have experience of getting better coverage through thick brick walls using b/g/n mixed mode as opposed to a having a b/g network?


Ok after like 5 hours one 4 tech suppport calls with apple. I still don't have a reliable working solution or answer maybe someone here can help. I have a time capsule i am setting up for a client and it works great when i am in the room with it it gets marginal signal downstairs in the kitchen sometimes (about 30' away) Apples answer was first well just extend the network with a airport extreme. ok that plugged in and setup easy i chose wirelessly extend network this worked like a champ for about 4 hours then no network signal (but says strong signal just no throughput) at all for an hour when after tearing my hair out it just showed up again. this happens at random intervals and lasts anywhere from seconds to hours. Apple tech support next answer is to extend wireles network over ethernet. hours and hours later with many holes in sheetrock i connect the 2 the airport extreme to a black port on the time capsule. and it does nothing to help. I blow away configs with paperclip as per instruction from Apple tech and resetup. stll not working (ethernet connect works like a champ ditectly plugged in so its not the cable even tried a crossovercable just to try that) tried it in wan port on extreme redid configs again still no luck. just about o give up it starts working. does so for a day then starts going up and don again. I have turned of by unplugging all phones, and baby monitor there are no other 2.4gh devices or any other wireless devices i know of, the house is by its slf 1/4 mile from nearest neigbhor I am ready to scrap it all and just install some Cisco wireles and do it the old-fashioned way help please .

can i just extend with ethernet as setup suggests?
why is throughput/signal just dropping for no reason ?
I have followed the techs and the online setups in the config utility i updated the firmware and the software versions i am lost.

I have an update: I'm afraid that my problems returned! I decided I'd invested more than enough time on my 802.11g Airport Expresses, stomped off to the local Apple store and bought a Time Capsule and a couple of 802.11n AE's. That setup has been working much more reliably. I've kept one of the g AE's at the edge of the network, though it knows I've got a skeptical eye cocked at it.

I have an Airport Extreme Base Station and 3 airport express. I want to use only one of the airport express to extend the network (WDS), as a remote base station (I don't need a relay). Apple manuals (found on internet, e.g. Designing Airport Networks) are confusing about a specific point: when I set up the remote, I have to give the same channel as the MAIN base station, the same wireless password etc. as mentioned above by Spencer Critchley. But what (network) name do I give to the remote? The same name as the network created by the MAIN? Apple help seems to say this. But if I do this, then how do I select the remote, when I am closer to it than the MAIN? I thought that WDS meant that you have roaming (i.e. automatic hand-over), but it seems this is not the case. If you are far from the MAIN, but closer to the remote, you can select from the airport menu the remote, only if this has a different network name. Any help will be appreciated, thanks!!!

I had this same dilemma, and I thought that if I called them the same thing, I'd end up with one network with two devices powering it and sending information to the computers. Not so! I now have TWO identically named networks, one that shows up as unsecured and one that shows up as secured. Whenever I try to click and switch, my computer reverts back to the unsecured one. I can see both networks no matter how far I get from either base station (I haven't tried the yard yet). Any ideas?

Spencer,
Thanks so much for this explanation of WDS Networks.
I followed your instructions and my network is working just as I hoped it would.
I appreciate you sharing this useful information with all of us who are "network challenged."

It could well be that my questions is already enveloped in one of the above post but I.m using 2 "g" AE as Airtunes on a Linksys WRT54g. It's working great. I'd like to set up the AE that's teh farthest from teh Linksys to extend the range of my system so that I can control my itunes from my iphone. Would I turn the farthest AE into a "remote"? Or a "relay" Can it be a 'remote"or "relay" and a "client" at the same time?

Thanks for your exceedingly useful breakdown on the WDS setup. I'm still vague on the differences between the options "participate" and "join" and when to extend a network and when to create a WDS. Any suggestions on where I can get further details on these nuances? Thanks again.

George and others,

Not sure I have any more of use to offer - after my struggles continued, I ended up throwing in the towel and upgrading to new 802.11n AE's (see my comment of May 11, 2009 above). They've been working almost trouble-free. I did keep one of the old 802.11g's in the new network (to connect to a printer), and it seems happy too.

Thanks so much for this, I was trying to do this exact set up, but getting nowhere fast before I found this page! Works perfectly now.

Spencer - thanks for your post...

My setup is AX to 2 Airport Express devices (all brand new).

A little more stuff for you to chew on...

Do not attempt to use Aiport Utility 5.4.2 to configure WDS - it doesn't work, especially with Airport Extreme. I had to back down to 5.3.2 to configure WDS on AX and no longer have the ability to change the radio channel on AX as it defaults to 1. 5.4.2 will ALWAYS post an error that indicates there are no devices in the WDS setup even if there are!!

I even went so far as to configure WDS using 5.3.2 on all three devices, then upgraded to 5.4.2 to attempt to change the radio channel on the AX....completely blew up! Stick with 5.3.2 until Apple decides 5.4.2 is piece of junk!

Thank-you, Leo! Downgrading to AU 5.3.2 solved my problems! My first attempt to set up a WDS last year couldn't have gone more smoothly, so I couldn't figure out why I kept having issues setting it up again. Turns out it was the newer version of AU that was the issue.

Thanks, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in having trouble with setting up a WDS with Airport Utility 5.4.2. After many hours of trial and error I think I've got my Extreme (g) and two expresses (g) linked, although the orange lights are flashing and Airport utility won't show me any configuration windows. However the signal is strong and stable so I'm leaving well alone. Apple need to get this mess sorted, it falls well short for the price.

Anybody knows if all this configurations WDS (Main - Remote - Relay) works for 5 GHz radio?

Apple offers free phone support with an actual "Apple" wireless specialist for all Airport devices. I highly recommend that you call 800-my-apple when you buy a new Airport. The specialists will be happy to walk you through the setup test it to make sure it's working properly.

Thanks, Keith. In my experience Apple's support is very good, and I especially appreciate the emphasis on support as part of the retail experience in Apple Stores. Gotta say though that Airports come with a much higher *need* for support than is typical for Apple. I've found the 802.11n AE's to be a lot more reliable than the previous generation once they're set up. The setup process itself still seems touchy, and gets complicated quickly if things don't work out initially.

Nice face O'reilly!

This was really helpful. I ended up using the principles here to get my new Airport Extreme and old Airport Express to create one wide wireless network in my apartment. They are out of wireless range with each other and are connected only via ethernet (through a powerline extender). I now have one unified wireless network. It works brilliantly! Thanks!

I'm trying to set up the same thing (two out-of-range AirPorts connected via powerline network) but running into issues. What settings did you use on the two base stations to get them to create the same wireless network in separate areas? Thanks!

Worked like a charm thanks! I had "Main" on create a wireless network and the other on Participate on a WDS network :)

All fixed!!!

I'm using an Airport Extreme Base Station and two Airport Express. Airport Utility Version 5.5 does not allow me the option of selecting "Participate in a WDS network" under the wireless tab. I can only select "Create a wireless network" or "extend a wireless network". I have selected the former on the AEBS and checked the box below it "Allow this network to be extended".

On the first AX, I have then selected "extend a wireless network" as the wireless mode and checked the box "allow wireless clients".

On the second AX, I have selected "Join a wireless network" and checked the box "allow ethernet clients".

It appears to be functioning but will update if it doesn't! Incidentally, I have reverted to the AEBS as a result of a dead Time Capsule. The life span of the TC appears to be 18mths due to insufficient cooling and when they die, they die. If you're considering a TC, try googling "Dead Time Capsule" before you part with your money.

You just have to hold down option when you press the arrow

I also have upgraded to the new N airport express. As I understand it turning off WDS and simply extending the network uses much less bandwidth and should provide a faster connection to the clients connecting. So I tried it - it works but is even more flaky than the old .11G and WDS setup. So I am going to switch WDS back on.

Does anyone know if the "Interface Robustness" option has an effect between the basestations or just between the base station and connecting macs?

Owen Bieleski : option-click on wireless mode to get the WDS option back.

Also, make sure you pick the right MAC address as your "Airport ID". New AEN has three: ethernet, 2.4GHz and 5GHz. If you have an old b/g AEx like I do, the 5 GHz MAC isn't gonna help much.

Thanks for the tip on setting up the "Main" ID on the third AE with the relay's Airport ID. That made all the difference to an ongoing network outage in my flat. My wife will be best pleased ;) Cheers.

Just a quick thank you! I was having a heck of a time until I read that you needed to have the WDS setup on the same channel! Thank you!

Thank you, Spencer. It's amazing the help one can find by some judicious Googling. All I needed to do was set up AE with an added remote (no relay) and was going up the wall with frustration trying to figure out Apple's instructions on their support pages. Now it's all fine. So thanks...

Just wanted to add my thanks to the chorus -- I was having a nightmare of a time configuring 3 AEs to play nicely with a Time Capsule. The relay/remote instructions you laid out were key. (I remain unimpressed with Apple's less-than-helpful set up instructions...).

Thanks again.

Thank you Spencer!!!! Your guidance was invaluable. I just wanted to boost the signal strength in my house and was adding one AE as a remote to my Time Capsule. Being a Apple product I was lulled into thinking this set up was going to be easy, which once I found your directions it was, but that was only after I had spent many hours trying to follow Apple's instructions, calling Apple Support only to be told I had a bad AE and to return it, exchanging the AE for another, only to be faced with the same issues with the "new" AE. Your directions were clear, took me step by step. I now have green lights and strong signal strength where I need it. Thank you, thank you!!!!

This is a great article. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much!

Terrific article. Very helpful and much appreciated.

This was very helpful in getting me fixed up. I've created a tutorial about how/why I scrapped WNS and instead wired my network:

http://www.gravityswitch.com/blog/setting-up-a-multi-node-wireless-network_113/

Thank you so much! Wireless network properly extended now. However, now I have issues getting a reliable Internet connection for devices connecting truth relay Aex. Internet seems to e working just fine when connected to the Main AExtreme, any ideas?

Excellent article! I followed each step and the network is running great! Thanks so much for taking the time to write and share your knowledge.

Thank you so much for the very detailed instructions. My apartment is quite large and has multiple thick concrete walls, hence the need for a WDS network.

I managed to get the WDS up and running, and am able to get a wifi signal where I wanted to, at first anyways. However, as soon as I get a signal from RELAY rather than MAIN, internet access would be very sporadic. wifi signal would still be strong initially but after about 10mins, I not even have wifi signal. On my iPhone, I would have the network name picked under setting, but there on the main screen, there would be no wifi indicator.

Help...anyone?

Thanks! My system is a bit unusual, but these instructions were nevertheless helpful. I am running a Linksys WRT54G v.4 with Tomato firmware as my main WDS connected to a Clearwire modem. The Airport is far away and seems to be acting well as a remote with no relay. I have connected a Seagate Docstar to the Airport via ethernet, and all is well.

I have to offer my thanks as well, had all sorts of trouble just trying to set up two Airport Expresses to extend my network and music.

A combination of hard resets and the manual configuration instructions you gave got it working. I was also having the Airport Utility bug where it wouldn't find any of my equipment, even though the wireless network was accessible.

This did it though, thanks for your post!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!! This is the only tutorial for this that explains it clearly and properly. You're the best. Did I say, thank you? Thank you!

Thanks from me too!! I just bought a new airport express v7.2.1, and had an old one v6.3. I was able to create a WDS using the old one as the main (connected to 3rd party router via ethernet), and the new one as the wireless relay to my I-Mac which was getting a poor signal from the 3rd party router with only one airport express.

Istumbler showed me what channels not to use because of neighbors routers. Love it for the signal to noise stats! Saves frustration and time for sure.

One important point with this setup - for best bandwidth make sure to set the WDS main to bridge mode so that the 3rd party router does all the routing instead of the WDS main. This means you will see at least 3 LAN devices on your 3rd party router client list - the two airport expresses and the i-mac itself. This made over 100% increase in u/l and d/l limits for me over using the default 10.x.x routing of the express, and only required running the setup again and rebooting the two nodes.

So WDS gets a thumbs up from me despite what others have said - why? it has shown to be the only way to get any reliable wpa2 signal to my apt in a large house. This I WPA2 WDS 11G Network consistently gets me 5 megabits d/l and 1 megabit u/l with 30ms ping 6ms jitter, and no hang-ups! Ya not spectacular for the hd video streaming folks but pretty sweet for 2 node WPA which has 24 megabits as the theoretical ceiling not taking into account the encryption bloat. I am impressed considering so many others have had problems!

Sorry for the long winded post but this has gotta help others..
Mark

Hey,

Thanks for all the help on this site - really appreciate it!
The 'option click' was a great one - thanks Apple!

However, whilst i have followed everything to the letter, I have a weird error.

My Airport Extreme is setup as a base and I have entered into it the id for an AirExpress.

The AirExpress is setup as the remote, and I have entered into it the 2.4GHz id for the AirExtreme (not the 5GHz id).

The AirExtreme has a green light (i.e. it is finding the AirExpress on the network), but the AirExpress has a yellow light and claims a WDS error, saying it cant find the WDS main.

Strange.

The main is definitely finding the remote, because if i go into the remote and put in the wrong id for the main, the main throws up an error.

Hoping someone can help me out, thanks so much in advance!

I am interested in setting up a WDS, but, in my Airport Utility/Wireless tab/Wireless Mode pull down....there is no "Participate in WDS network" to be found.
All I have is "Create a wireless network or Extend a wireless network. I have yet to find anything in my whole utility app that is labeled WDS. What's the deal?

I've probably refered to these instructions half a dozen times the last couple years. Very helpful, even after I've gone though it so many times. Thanks!

Hey Spencer! Thanks for this very lucid post on setting up an AirPort WDS. I have just gone through more or less the same process, and I recognize your agony. This is something Apple should make much more intuitive, with a simple visual interface.

My story (also known as 'my rant"):

I had previously set up am Airport WDS network in my three-story home as follows -- a Time Capsule in the attic as the main Base Station, one AirPort Express on the second floor (1st floor for Brits) as a relay, and another AirPort Express in the living room downstairs as a remote. Part of my brain died while setting this up, but in the end I got it to work, more or less as your describe here.

Then last week the middle AP Express died. I bought a new one and reconfigured it just like the old one (I had made notes of all the settings). Nope. Nada. No network.

Finally (just yesterday), after three days of frustration, reconfiguring ALL the Base Stations, and having another part of my brain die... I got things working again. Again, in the same manner you outlined here.

During the setup process, I had each one of the Base Stations disappear on me at least once (update settings, restart, and it never shows up again in the AirPort Utility; manual restart or unplugging from power source necessary to make it reappear). Even going with my MacBook to each one and connecting it through Ethernet and updating the settings through a wired connection didn't help.

Why is this so hard? With all the set-up details and ID codes to fill in and get right, I feel like I'm in Windows hell. Can't they just make this easy? (Maybe I'm being naive, maybe it's impossible...)


Spencer, can you help me out with this next question?

I read here (http://www.tuaw.com/2008/04/06/802-11n-upgrade-to-airport-express-makes-wds-a-whole-lot-simpler/) that Apple, back in 2008, had made it much easier to set up a WDS network. All you have to do, they say, is select "Extend a wireless network" as the Base Station mode, and voila, there is your WDS network. This apparently works only on a 802.11n network.

Is this true? I have found (in my first round of setup misery) that if I just "extend the network", the signal doesn't travel all the way down from the attic to the living room. I think the Time Capsule then tries to reach the living room directly, and the signal cannot penetrate that far.

In the WDS setup, as I understand it, the main Base Station (my Time Capsule) transfers the signal to the next one (upstairs bedroom), and THAT one then beams the network down to the living room.

Is this correct? Do you know if the whole "extend a network" really is something different from a WDS setup?

Thanks for your reply. I'll gladly contribute any further experience on my side, and hope this page will help many other users going into the AirPort WDS fray... ;-)

Thank you. Your instructions worked for me. I connected an old Airport Express and a new Airport Express together this way.

Thank you so much. I was getting ready to blow out my own brains. This wasn't the usual experience of "It just works"!

Unbelievably, years after writing, your article it is still useful and necessary. This is an unfortunate oversight on Apple's part – simple changes to Airport Utility could probably save countless hours of customer frustration.

Part of my challenge was mixing a first-shipment AEX with a late b/g-model and an early n-model – I won't go over all the ways that won't work, but suffice to say that WDS does work – if you're patient.

Shouldn't the walk-through set-up in Airport Utility be able to recognize the mixing of units and direct the user to the proper set-up? I tried the walk-though first, then moved on. I know what I'm doing and it was frustrating. Joe/Jane Average will surely find the experience more frustrating than I – at least I knew what was wrong, that it *should* work and I persisted.

Complicating everything was the problem that only the n-model is able to connect via PPPoE with my new internet service – even though the original b/g connected by PPPoE without trouble to my old service – different service, but same provider. It was luck that I had the n-model laying about and tried it on a whim, as getting connected to the provider with the old models was frustratingly impossible.

Other attempts to make the three AEXs play well together failed and WDS seemed like my only hope, but that didn't go well either, at first.

My big error was the common 'WDS Main' field on the remote unit.

Thanks for the article.

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