How I added an Airport Express as a WDS relay via Linksys and Belkin hardware
aka How I spread the love to the kitchen.
Part One.

Preamble.

I like my music. No, I *really* like my music. I’ve usually got something playing in the house, whether on Bose headphones, Harmon/Kardon soundsticks or an old iPod 3G and JBL Soundstage in the kitchen, music is never far.

The second most usual place I listen to music is in the kitchen. I have the iPod sat on a JBL Soundstage on top of the fridge. However, keeping the iPod updated is a chore (everything being stored on a Mac Mini with a few terabytes of storage sat under the tele), and I have this spare Airport Express sat here doing nothing…

It’s not quite that simple. I have an Airport Extreme N router as my main wireless base station. The Airport Express is only G speed. If I connect it, my wifi drops range and speed.

I set up wifi Internet Sharing on the Mac Mini, which was ok, but didn’t play well with other hardware (like the Belkin Skype phone and Wii) and the range wasn’t enough to get through to the kitchen. The kitchen is an extension to the rear of the house, with some pretty thick (previously) external stone walls next to where the speakers are.  Good old fashioned solid brickwork, damn.

Anyway, amongst the other spare bits of ‘puters and wires, I have two older routers. A Linksys WRT54G and a Belkin F5D 7230-4, so let’s set up a WDS and get a signal to the kitchen… easier said than done.

First off, the Linksys was bricked, so I spent an evening reviving that. Secondly, the Belkin too didn’t want to play ball, but wasn’t bricked by me messing with firmware. I initially bought the Belkin to replace the Linksys cos I kept messing around with the open source firmwares and bricking the router every few days. There was no firmware for the Belkin, so no temptation to mess. However, recently there has been advancements in micro firmware for the Belkin… so I bricked it properly this time. One restore back to the official Belkin firmware later, and we’re ready to go.

My Virgin Broadband modem plugs into my Airport Extreme (192.168.0.1) in my front room. The Mac Mini connects to this too, via ethernet.

My desk space is in the back room, with a MacBook Pro laptop. The Airport Express is another room back, in the kitchen extension. Other devices on the network, iPhone, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, Asus EEE, and the wife’s PowerBook. All of these are G spec wireless devices, so you can see why I’d like to keep my laptop (and wireless Time Machine) on a faster N spec connection.

Stay tuned for the next installment when I’ll get round to typing up exactly what router had what settings entered for the umpteenth time to make it all work…