*** UPDATED March 10, 2011 *** I just made another application based on this tip. I had couple of old computer speakers and one extra Airport Express laying around, so I put the Airport Express to the bathroom together with the speakers and now I can enjoy music in my sauna and shower. Plus, I can control the music and the speakers with my iPhone and iPad.
Multi-room music made easy
When bringing a home theater PC such as Mac Mini into the living room, people often face an issue with their wireless network coverage in their apartment. They often have a DSL modem and a router in a different room and the wireless signal is not strong enough e.g. to the living room. One solution to that problem is to get another router to extend the wireless network. However, the problem is that you do not want to put another ugly looking router somewhere between rooms to extend the wireless network. So, why not to use the nice looking and small Apple Airport Express to extend your wireless network?
The simplest way to extend the wireless network is with the Apple Airport Extreme or Airport Express base station. In this case, it is a matter of joining to the existing wireless network with another Airport Experess.
However, I learned in practice that extending wireless network with Airport Express is not as straightforward as one might think. There are following key tips you need to take into account when extending the Apple Extreme or Time Capsule created wireless network.
1. Create the wireless network using Airport Extreme, Airport Express or Time Capsule
2. DO NOT SELECT allow extend wireless network from the AirPort utility on the main router (this option is used only for WDS)
3. Setup the new additional Airport Express and select “Join an Existing Wireless Network”
4. Write down the MAC address of the Airport Express that you plan to use to extend the network e.g. 00:1C:10:BD:A8:40
5. Tick the Access Tab on your main router (base station) and add the MAC address of the Airport Express to the access list.
Particularly the last step adding the Airport Express’ MAC address to the Access list of the main router is the key. Otherwise Airport Express is not able to join the network even if you get a green light indicating that all is working (unfortunately, I learned this after couple of hours of frustration).
But what if your existing router is not an Apple brand? Is it still possible to extend wireless network with Airport Express with your other brand router? I came across the following instructions already from year 2005 on how to set up Airport Express with other brand router. I will not cover the steps here, but click here if you are interested in this. However, it seems that many people have reported their frustrated experiences after trying to extend their non-Apple brand wireless network with Airport Express. So, if you do not know terms such as SSID, MAC address, wireless channel or DHCP, I would recommend getting two Apple wireless products as they are designed to less tech savvy users.
All in all, the simplest way to create an extended wireless network is to get 2 x Apple Airport Express routers to use your wireless devices around your apartment. However, if you already have other non-Apple router, it is still possible to extend the network, but it will require a bit more configuration.