What is a wireless client bridge?
In ‘Wireless Client’ mode, the router acts like any other wireless client that connects to an access point. Client mode does not require administrative access to the primary router. However, your client router must know the wireless SSID, channel, and password of the host router. The host router you’re connecting to does not have to be a Tomato powered router. With client mode, the primary access point can be any type of router.
In ‘Wireless Client’ mode, you can only connect wired devices using the LAN ports on the back of the router. This mode can be handy if your host router is on the main floor, and you have wired peripherals such as a desktop computer on the second floor. Again, notice that I said “wired peripherals”. Remember, we are in ‘client’ mode, not wireless ‘access point’ mode; therefore, the router does not broadcast a wireless signal. Client mode only allows Internet access to devices connected directly to the router’s LAN ports.
In ‘Wireless Client’ mode, the client router is on a different subnet and has DHCP enabled. As a result, the DHCP pool is controlled by the client router, not by the primary access point. Consequently, you’ll need to know the subnet of the primary access point so that you can assign an IP address (in a different subnet) to your client router.
This works almost opposite from an Ethernet bridge. With an Ethernet bridge, the client router remains in the same subnet with DHCP disabled. As a result, the the primary access point handles routing and IP’s for all devices, regardless of which router they’re connected to.
TIP: In ‘Wireless Client’ mode, devices connected directly to the main access point will be able to see all client devices connected to the client router. However, the devices connected to the client router will be unable to see computers connected to the access point. Basically, if your neighbor is connected to your network with a client router, he’ll be able to see your stuff but you wont be able to see his. This problem can be fixed with some simple firewall rules but you’ll need to learn some basics about IP tables before you attempt that. For now, let’s focus on the bridge.
Get The Subnet and IP Address of the Host Router
If you have administrative access to the access point, you probably already know what the IP address is. If not, the easiest way to find the IP address is to connect directly to the primary access point using a laptop or other wireless computer.
In Windows 7, open the command prompt and enter: ‘ipconfig / all’
The IP address of the access point is located next to ‘Default Gateway’. So, you’ll want to ensure that you assign your client router a different IP address in a different subnet (192.168.2.1, etc).
Wireless Site Survey
To configure your client router in ‘Wireless Client Mode’, navigate to: Tools > Wireless Survey
Click ‘Refresh’ to display the wireless access points in the area.
Locate the access point you want to associate with. In my case, I want my client router to connect to the primary (host) router, which is broadcasting a wireless SSID named ‘Tomato_24’. Make a note of the SSID. If you do not have administrative rights to this access point, you’ll need to acquire the password.
Now, navigate to: Basic > Network
First, ensure that the WAN setting is set to DHCP. This will allow the host router to assign a dynamic IP address to the client router that you are configuring now.
Under the LAN section, enter an IP address with a different subnet. If the access point has an IP address of 192.168.1.1, you might enter 192.168.2.1, etc. Ensure that DHCP is enabled and select an IP address range, say 192.168.2.100~149.
Configure the client bridge
Scroll down to the Wireless settings:
Set the wireless mode to ‘Wireless Client’. Enter the wireless SSID, and security credentials and click ‘Save’.
TIP: If your host router is using the security setting ‘WPA2 Personal’, you should first try to match that setting on your client router. If that does not work, try choosing ‘WPA / WPA2 personal’ as shown in the image above. Also, even if the host router is set to broadcast ‘N-only’, I suggest setting your client router to network mode to ‘Auto’.
When you click ‘Save’, Tomato will reboot the router and begin operating on the new subnet. Assuming that your client router can receive the wireless signal, you should be able to browse the Internet from a wired computer. Keep in mind that any device you connect to the client router must be done using one of the LAN ports on the back of the router.
And because you just changed the IP address of the client router, you may need to renew your computers IP address to reflect the new subnet. You can do this a few different ways: restart your computer, reset your Wireless Network Interface Controller, or go to the command prompt and enter two commands.
First enter ‘ipconfig /release’ and hit enter.
Then, type ‘ipconfig /renew’ and hit enter again.
Congrats! You have successfully setup wireless client bridge mode on your Tomato router!