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How To: Setting up WDS Bridging / Repeating

Gather the MAC addresses

 

As I described earlier, WDS links are MAC address based. Some products have a mode that doesn’t require you to enter the MAC addresses of each network member, but I recommend that you disable that mode and enter the MAC addresses. This will keep your bridge (and LAN) secure by not allowing "anonymous" APs to join your bridge. It will also, in my experience, give you the best chance of getting things working, especially if you’re trying to mix equipment from different vendors.

If you’re using WinXP’s built-in Wireless Zero Configuration utility, you’ll note that it only provides the SSID of in-range APs. And the MAC address found in the Network Connection Details of your wireless adapter’s Network Connection properties is no help either, since it shows the MAC address of the adapter, not the AP that it’s connected to.

The easiest way to find the MAC address of your WLAN’s access points is to fire up the client utility that came with your wireless card. Somewhere among the utility’s tabs should be one that shows in-range APs, and hopefully their MAC addresses. This is sometimes called Site Survey or, as in the case of the NETGEAR WG511T’s utility shown below, Networks.

(By the way, as good wireless security practice, you shouldn’t use the obvious SSID’s as I did !) If your client utility doesn’t provide MAC address info, the next place to check is the admin interface of your APs. Be careful if you use this method, because some products show the MAC addresses for both the Ethernet and wireless portions. If this is the case, make sure you record the wireless MAC address.

Now that you have the MAC addresses of the AP’s, you can make a table similar to Table 1.

DeviceSSIDMAC addressIP address
Belkin F5D7130belkin54g_100 30 BD 91 BB FA192.168.3.250
ASUS WL300gWL300g00 0C 6E 34 9A AE192.168.3.230
Table 1 : AP Info summary

This table contains all the info you’ll need when setting up and testing your bridge. You really need only the MAC address info when setting up the bridge, but the other info will come in handy when you go to check that the bridge is working.

With your table in hand, and everything else ready to go, it’s finally time to set up WDS.