Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Configuring a Wireless Bridge Using Two Apple Airport Expresses

Here's the scenario: You want to setup a wireless network, and you also need to connect a non-WiFi network device to your new wireless network. E.g. you're setting up a wireless network at work, and you've got a network printer that only has ethernet, no WiFi, that you want to connect to your network. For the purpose of this exercise, we'll use this scenario to explain the setup.

Step 1. Buy Two Airport Expresses. I recommend these because they are easy to setup, they work great, and the design is ingenious (it's about the size of your standard wall plug). If you don't have any ethernet cable, you'll need to buy at least one, maybe two ethernet cables. One will go from the cable/dsl modem to an airport express, the other will connect your printer to the second airport.

Optionally: You may want to buy the more expensive Airport Extremes instead of the Expresses, in the event that you want more ethernet ports available. But you can always add on a cheap switch later if you need more ports on an Airport Express.

Step 2. Unwrap both devices, and mark them to keep them straight. Put a sticker or mark one with a Sharpie so you can tell them apart. One of these will be the heart of your wifi network, the one every device connects to -- we'll call this Airport A. It will be connected to your cable/dsl modem.

The other will be connected to your non-Wifi device (e.g. your printer), allowing it to connect to Airport A and the Internet... we'll call this one Airport B.

Step 3. Plug Airport A into power. Plug it into the wall near your cable/dsl modem. You'll see an amber light blinking on the Airport, this is normal.

Step 4. Insert the Airport Express setup CD into your computer, and run the software. After a minute you should see an Airport available named "Base Station xxxxxx," where xxxxxx will be a series of letters and numbers. Select this, and press the Continue button to configure it.

Step 5. Configure Airport A.

You'll have a few options to fill in now:

  • AirPort Express Name: You can name it anything you want, such as Airport A.
  • AirPort Express Password: This is a password on the device you'll need whenever you want to re-configure the Airport Express. You will not be sharing this with others.
  • Select what you want to do with Airport Express: Choose "I want to create a new wireless network."
Continue to the next screen:
  • Wireless Network Name: This is different from above. Other people will use this to identify your WiFi network if you want them to connect to it. (And, hey, maybe even when you don't want them to connect to it?!)
  • WPA/WPA2 Personal: Choose this option and enter a password you will be comfortable giving to your guests to use your WiFi network. For strong security, this should be different from the password you chose on the previous screen. You wouldn't want your guests to be able to re-configure your Airport Express.
Continue to the next screen:
  • Select how you connect to the Internet. For this example, you'll choose the first option, "I use a DSL or cable modem with a static IP address or DHCP."
Continue past the next screen, "Using DHCP," is the normal option for most people. Your ISP will send information to the Airport Express to connect it to the internet using this setting.

Continue to the next screen and after reviewing your choices, press "Update."

The on-screen options should prompt you to finish and allow Airport A to restart if necessary. You should also restart your cable/dsl modem at this time.

You can now connect to the internet by connecting your computers to Airport A.

Step 6. Plug Airport B into power. Plug it into the wall near your printer. You'll see an amber light blinking the Airport, this is normal.

Step 7. Restart the Airport Utility software. If you don't see the new "Base Station xxxxxx" appear, go ahead and restart the Airport Utility software. Within a minute you should see it appear on the left side. Select it and continue on to configure it.

Step 8. Configure Airport B.

You'll have a few options to fill in now:
  • AirPort Express Name: You can name it anything you want, such as Airport B.
  • AirPort Express Password: This is a password on the device you'll need whenever you want to re-configure the Airport Express. You will not be sharing this with others. You should choose the same password as you chose above (not your WiFi password, but the first password you chose for the device configuration), just to keep them straight.
  • Select what you want to do with Airport Express: Choose "I want AirPort Express to join my current network."
Continue to the next screen:

  • Select what you want to do with AirPort Express: Choose "I want Airport Express to wirelessly join my current network."
Continue to the next screen:
  • Wireless Network Name: Enter the Wireless Network name you chose for Airport A here. This is the WiFi network that Airport B will connect to, wirelessly.
  • Wireless Security: Choose "WPA/WPA2 Personal."
  • Wireless Password: Enter the same Wireless Network password you chose above for Airport A's WiFi network. (The password you established to give out to your guests.)
Continue to the next screen and after reviewing your choices, press "Update."

The on-screen options should prompt you to finish and allow Airport A to restart if necessary.

Step 9. Connect Airport B to your printer with an ethernet cable. Follow your printer's instructions for setting up your network connectivity on the printer. When prompted, select "DHCP" and not static IP address.

Step 10. You're done.

4 comments:

Ted James said...

Thanks!

rca said...

Thanks for sharing. It is very helpful.

Hamy said...

Thanks! Just what I was looking for :)

iqrar khan said...

wow so nice blog about to configure two wires cables to airports express.one cables are connected frm dsl/modem to airport and other will connected to a printer of the other airport.
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