So I finally got here on Wednesday. We’ve been doing lots of cool stuff meanwhile. I’ve installed a VDSL link between the two main buildings, giving us network access in the Villa. The Zyxel Prestige 841C/841 I bought are reliable, if a bit pricey (total cost for this setup: about CHF 600). Then I hooked up 4 WRT54GL’s to the incoming network feed, connected in WDS. This works surprisingly well. I did some testing of throughput:

3: 0.95MB/s
2: 1.30MB/s
1: 2.80MB/s
0: 8.40MB/s

For this test, unit 0 was connected to the Zyxel 841, and units 3 -> 2 -> 1 -> 0 talked to each other through WDS, in that order. Note that unit 0 got about half of the theoretical bandwith (the Zyxels do 19/17 Mbit/sec over a phone line). But as you can see the throughput falls off quite dramatically going from WRT54GL to WRT54GL.

The most intriguing part of this story is that Apple hardware limits WDS to 3 levels. The dd-wrt firmware I upgraded the WRT’s with does not seem to restrict the number of WDS levels at all.

In the final installation I’ve got more of a star setup, with unit 0 talking to unit 1, which talks to units 2 and 3. I should do some throughput testing to see if that different topology makes a difference.

The four units cover most of the left half of the building, all the way from the basement to the 4th (5th if you’re American) floor. I’ve had to limit the transmission power to 100mw (which is up from the default 28mw, but way lower than the maximum 251mw) because of Swiss law. This is a shame, because with one unit in the basement at 251mw I had coverage all the way to the top floor, albeit with a weak signal. Still, it would have meant that the four units would have been enough for the entire building.

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