Hey, that works!

After yesterday’s frustration with the AirPort Extreme (AE) and the horrible AirPort Utility (AU), I had a better idea.

The Linksys WRT54G supports WDS. So does the AE. And we don’t have great signal strength in the front of the house, especially when the microwave is on. And thus an idea was born.

I grabbed the old microwave stand and put it in the library. The AE, shared disk and printer went on it. After a lot of futzing around, I got WDS working. Here’s basics:

  1. I used the Linksys admin page Status->Wireless to look up the wireless MAC address and what channel it’s using.
  2. I used AU to set the AE to the same channel. In Wireless options, I choose Wireless Options: Participate in a WDS network. In WDS options, I choose “WDS Mode: WDS Remote” and put the Linksys MAC in as the WDS Main.
  3. Now came the tricky bit – finding a WEP password that both AU and the Linksys would accept. The problem is that the Linksys admin page wants a string of hex digits, and AU wants exactly 13 alphanumeric characters.
  4. I entered a 13 alphanumeric character password into AU. After restarting the AU browser, I choose “Base Station->Equivalent Network Password” (thanks, Alice) to get the hex string.
  5. I then entered the hex string into the Linksys Wireless->Wireless Security page.
  6. After everything restarted, the AE was on the network, I could see its disk and printer, and Vicki reported good signal strength in the dining room.

Now to hope that I’ll never have to touch the damn AirPort Utility as long as I live.