Site logo

The Tired Donkey

Cocktails, Apple conundrums, taxes and other assorted stuff

Creating a Dual-Band WiFi Network | Mac Hardware | The Tired Donkey

The Tired Donkey

Sitting Donkey
The Tired Donkey blogs about cocktails, ways to get the most out of your Mac at home, work, college . . . wherever. He used to write about the unending abuse suffered by the 51% of Americans who actually pay the federal income tax. But this became too depressing, and, frankly, no one wanted to read it.

Nevertheless, if you came here looking for the Tired Donkey's brilliant analysis of our dim-witted tax system, you can still find his earlier posts. Just check the archives or the
Site Map.

Note: The Tired Donkey is not advertiser supported, and he gets no benefit from any product mentioned on his site.

The Tired Donkey

Archives

Creating a Dual-Band WiFi Network



airportExtreme
As you probably are aware, your speedy, 802.11n WiFi network will be slowed to 802.11g speeds if you have anyone accessing the network using an older Mac or PC that has an 802.11g card. In other words, your network is only as fast as the slowest WiFi card being used on it. If you have nothing but the newest equipment connecting to your network, an 802.11n-only is fine. But if you have any older machines, you should consider a dual band set-up.

The easiest way to run a dual band network is to buy a
new AirPort Extreme base station which simultaneous creates both an 802.11n (5 GHz) and an 802.11g (2.4 GHz) network. But if you already have a 5 GHz base station creating an 802.11n network, there is a fast, cheap way to keep that network running at top speed all the time but still allow machines with older gear to get on board when they need to. This post will show you how.

As usual, please allow the Tired Donkey to begin by outlining the problem. You already have an 802.11n-capable AirPort Extreme base station, but it’s not the newest model which creates a dual-band WiFi network. You also have an older iMac without an 802.11n card, and so your network is always running at 802.11g speeds even though you have the capability to run the network at much higher speed. What to do?
airportextbase

First, you’ve got to get an 802.11g base station. You can use an old flying-saucer-shaped Airport Extreme you have lying around somewhere or an old AirPort Express or just spend $30 on a cheap base station
this one from Belkin. You may also need a couple of Ethernet cables. And, if you are going to be running a network printer on this network, please check the note at the bottom of this post. It’s important.

Once you have your gear, set-up is all that’s left. Here’s how you do it.

_________________________________________________________

WAN Port
1. Plug in your 802.11n base station (made by Apple or another manufacturer) and connect it directly to your cable or DSL modem using an Ethernet cable. One side of the Ethernet cable will plug into the appropriate port on your modem, and the other should go into the WAN port on the base station. On Apple devices, the WAN port is identified with a symbol as indicated in the image to the left; other manufacturers may use this symbol or simply label it something obvious like “Modem Port” (this is what Belkin does) or, helpfully, “WAN Port.”
_________________________________________________________

2. Now plug in your 802.11g base station. To get it connected to the internet, run another Ethernet cable from one of the
Ethernet ports on your 802.11n base station (see picture above to identify this) to the WAN port on the 802.11g base station (again, see picture above).
_________________________________________________________

3. The rest of this post will focus on Apple hardware set-up, but if you are using another brand, you should be able to figure out what the equivalent settings ought to be to make this work. Start your AirPort Utility located in your Applications/Utilities folder and make sure both your base stations are showing up. Select the primary base station and click the “Manual Setup” button.
Step 3-2
_________________________________________________________

4. Click on the “Wireless” tab. Under this tab, the Wireless Mode should be set to “Create a wireless network,” and the Radio Mode should be set to “802.11n only (5 GHz)” (this will ensure that people can’t accidentally connect to your faster network with slower machines and thereby slow the whole thing down). If you had to make any changes in this window, click the “Update” button in the lower right hand corner of the window and wait for your Airport Extreme to restart.
Step 4
_________________________________________________________

5. Select your 802.11g base station and click the “Manual Setup” button.
Step 5
_________________________________________________________

6. Click on the “Wireless” tab. Under this tab, the Wireless Mode should be set to “Create a wireless network,” and the Radio Mode should be set to “802.11g only” (this will ensure that people can’t accidentally connect to your 802.11g network with ancient machines and thereby slow the whole thing down). If you had to make any changes in this window, click the “Update” button in the lower right hand corner of the window and wait for your Airport Extreme to restart.
Step 6-2
_________________________________________________________

7. You are done.
Note, however, that if you have a network printer, you must connect it to the 802.11g base station if you want all computer connected to your network to be able to use it. The Tired Donkey has no idea why this is, but it just is.

Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions by posting a comment.

The Tired Donkey

Sitting Donkey
The Tired Donkey blogs about cocktails, ways to get the most out of your Mac at home, work, college . . . wherever. He used to write about the unending abuse suffered by the 51% of Americans who actually pay the federal income tax. But this became too depressing, and, frankly, no one wanted to read it.

Nevertheless, if you came here looking for the Tired Donkey's brilliant analysis of our dim-witted tax system, you can still find his earlier posts. Just check the archives or the
Site Map.

Note: The Tired Donkey is not advertiser supported, and he gets no benefit from any product mentioned on his site.

The Tired Donkey

Archives