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Configure WDS with Tomato Firmware

A Wireless Distribution System is a system that enables the wireless interconnection of access points in an IEEE 802.11 network. It allows a wireless network to be expanded using multiple access points without the need for a wired backbone to link them, as is traditionally required.

This is a cheap and easy way to extend your wireless network coverage. It's cheap, because you can extend your network with couple of routers (which usually costs less that 60$) with the open-source firmware like Tomato including the Linux-powered Netgear wgr614L or other compatible routers. It's easy, because you need only apply a few configuration settings to your routers, creating a repeater bridge to extend your wireless network.

WDS Rules & Regulation

There are a few rules to implementing a functional WDS network. For optimal compatibility, you should use the same routers throughout -- or, in this case, the same firmware, running Tomato on both routers.

Both routers must communicate on the same wireless channel. Both routers must be configured to the same kind of 802.11 network, whether B, mixed B/G, or G. An exclusive G network must use channel 1, 6, or 11.

If you use WPA security, you must set up both routers as exclusive G networks. DD-WRT does not support WPA2 in WDS. WEP security can be used in a network with B support.

WPA security also requires identical SSID assignments for both routers. If using WEP or no security, you can opt to assign different SSIDs to each router. You may have more control over which AP your clients connect to if each has a different SSID.

WDS Step-By-Step

WDS reqquires to configure two or more Access point. For convenience I have described the configuration of two AP for the time being. However the number of AP is extendable. Figure 1 shows the configuration of Router 1 and Figure 2 shows the configuration of router 2.

Step 1: Set the LAN IP address for each router. Click Basic->Network and scroll to the LAN section. The default Local IP Address for your router is, which is usually fine. (The examples here also use, but it doesn't make any difference if you set it differnet - the first three octets of the IP address have to match for the nodes to communicate on the network.)

Assign a new Local IP Address to your second router. The logical choice would be

Step 2: On the same configuration page, scroll down to DHCP server checkbox. I enabled the DHCP server on both routers, but set them to assign addresses in different ranges. Router 1 will assign addresses starting at and Router 2 starts assignments at

You can set these parameters whatever you like, as long as your address pools don't overlap. With this setup, you can quickly tell from any client PC with which access point it is currently associated, based on it's IP address. That's sometimes helpful for troubleshooting.

Router 2 needs the DNS entries assigned by your ISP. Configure the DNS as shown in the image.

Step 3: Disable the Internet connection on Router 2 only. Click Basic->Network and under WAN Setup, set the Connection Type to "Disable."

Step 4: Disable the firewall on Router 2 only. You don't need this to be active because your second router is simply passing traffic to your primary router, whose firewall is active by default. Running both firewalls at the same time could cause unreliable behavior.

Step 5: Set the wireless network mode, SSID and channel for both routers. The operating channel should be same in both the routers. Click Basic->Network Settings. Set your Wireless Mode to "WDS" for both routers.

Router 1 should be configured with the MAC of Router 2 and Router 2 should be configured with the MAC of the Router 1. Please refer to the figure below.

Figure 1.a

Figure 1.b

Figure 1 : Configuration of Router 1

Figure 2.a

Figure 2.b

Figure 2 : Configuration of router 2

Now you have done with the settings. Now you should be able to access internet from the LAN side of both routers.

[Note: ] It is recommandable to back up the router configuration before playing with the settings so that you can go back to your earlier configuration in case you messed it up.

Read More In: WN Series Routers

Tune to Souvik Ghosh's blog for the newest tips, tricks, and how-tos on firmware for your open source router. His advice will help both novice users getting started in the open source world and advanced users looking for advice.

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Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-19 of 19 | Latest Comment

September 3, 2008 10:35 PM

From above, I know it support Relay mode.

Does it support ad hoc mode, namely, it support P2P communication between the AP?

How to configue it if it supports.

View unverified member's comment - posted by Matthew

April 23, 2009 9:41 AM

This is very helpful. Many thanks.

One question, some guides suggest disabling DHCP on Router 2. You suggest enabling but using a different IP range. Any thoughts on the merits of the two approaches? Thanks again.

View unverified member's comment - posted by tonybean

July 21, 2009 1:42 AM updated: July 21, 2009 1:48 AM

thx for this "how-to" but i have one thing to criticize:
you do not mention to disable WAN on router2 AAAND (!) to set the default gateway/static DNS on router2!!!

i have configured both routers 1:1 with this how-to and it worked just fine for one week. yesterday, when I got home I could not access to the internet through router2. my first assumption was indeed a DNS problem but how the hell did it work until yesterday without a default gateway and DNS server set?

well, I googled around and found a WDS how-to for DD-WRT and there they set the default gateway and static DNS!

my very first feeling was right, there was the problem. after I set the default gateway at router2 to (= router1) and the static DNS IPs to the ones from my ISP it worked once again just fine.

but i am really curious how it worked until yesterday without these settings? maybe the NVRAM or whatever still got this values set and through a bug accepted it and worked.

but never mind: the essential thing is to set the WAN TYPE on router2 to "disable" and configure the IP of the default gateway with the one of router1 and set the static DNS IP(s) to those which router1 receives (or you get from your ISP). that is the correct, long term working, set up!

August 30, 2009 6:13 PM

i would absolutely recommend it, yes. further, i am not sure whether the standard firmware supports WDS or not! so go fort sure and put tomato on both routers. positive side-effect: you can boost your transmit power on both routers and enable the afterburner ;)

September 12, 2009 5:13 PM

Thanks for the how to, I am experimenting with Tomato and this is very helpful

September 23, 2009 4:13 PM

I am still having issues qith this setup. is there a better step by step for this? I need WDS + AP to work. thanks!

September 23, 2009 4:15 PM

I am still having issues with the WDS + AP setup. I cant seem to connect to the 2nd AP. Is there a better step by step?


October 26, 2009 8:52 PM

I am still having trouble. I have the two networks joined together. wds0.49153 is showing up in each others device list. But I can not ping each other router. I am not sure what I am missing.

October 26, 2009 8:55 PM updated: October 26, 2009 8:59 PM

I followed the instructions. I have wds0.49153 showing up in each others Device list. I can not ping each others IP address. How do you get them to pass traffic to each other.

If only I could delete my multiple posts.

October 30, 2010 6:41 PM

Obviously this isn't going to work, I spent half a day troubleshooting thinking there might be something wrong with my equipment, after giving up I went to the tomato website and found a very easy to follow instruction on how to set this up, it works like a champ and it's got so much range now, this is the instruction per tomato:

How do I use WDS?[toc, link]
Here's an example basic 2-router setup as configured in the Basic/Network page:

#1 - 00:11:11:11:11:11
The WAN port of this router is connected to the Internet.
(configure normally)

IP Address =
DHCP Server = enabled

Wireless Mode = Access Point + WDS
SSID = samessid
Channel = 3
Security = WPA Personal
Encryption = AES
Shared Key = samesharedkey
WDS = Link With
MAC Address = 00:22:22:22:22:22 (the *wireless* MAC of the 2nd router)

#2 - 00:22:22:22:22:22
The WAN port of this router is not used.
Type = Disabled

IP Address =
Default Gateway = (the 1st router's IP address)
Static DNS = (the 1st router's IP address or any DNS server)
DHCP Server = Disabled (the 1st router handles it)

Wireless Mode = Access Point + WDS
SSID = samessid
Channel = 3
Security = WPA Personal
Encryption = AES
Shared Key = samesharedkey
WDS = Link With
MAC Address = 00:11:11:11:11:11 (the *wireless* MAC of the 1st router)
Once you configure #2, you can hook up wired computers on it or use it as a second AP to extend your LAN's wireless range. As long as you configure your notebook not to stick to a single MAC address, it should switch automatically to the strongest signal as you move around.

November 1, 2010 2:14 PM

Instructions in the blog didn't work for me either, so followed the ones from FAQ and it worked. I didn't however find a way for the wired ports to work.

September 28, 2011 6:21 AM

Just another thank you to j2000.
Your method worked for me too, getting a good strong signal through several walls/doors a couple hundred feet away in the garage.

October 22, 2011 6:58 PM

Thanks have been looking for a solution like this for quite some time. Had a problem with getting it from the basement to the second floor. Thought some of the reviews at http://www.wifirepeaterreviews.com were good for using Tomato on but had to try it out for myself.

August 15, 2012 3:26 PM

I too had trouble following the Tomato FAQ, but with the hints on this page:

#1 Set the band to "G" on both devices
#2 Make the SSID's idential
#3 Use channel 1,6 or 11 and whichever one you pick, make both devices use the same one.
#4 use the correct MAC address to link to, look carefully at the status page, its the set under "Wireless".
#5 set all three static DNS IP addresses on the second router to the same first IP gateway address that is on the base router.
#6 make sure that the WAN Internet is disabled on the second router
# and use "Access Point + WPS" if you want both an access point and more broadcasting which for a home WFI network seems to be very helpful.

It's also helpful to have two computers, each one directly connected to a router to configure it and test. If you are using laptops, use a direct wire and turn off your wireless while you configure and test. Then turn on your wireless. reboot your routers and laptops and test one more time before you put it to bed.

September 21, 2012 4:57 AM

Gary P wrote:

"#6 make sure that the WAN Internet is disabled on the second router
# and use "Access Point + WPS" if you want both an access point and more broadcasting which for a home WFI network seems to be very helpful."

you meant "Access Point + WDS" right?

This is how I have Tomato configured, along with WPA/WPA2 Personal and AES encryption.
I have the second router in the garage (WRT54GL - same as the base/main router in the house) connecting and it gives my smart phone a good strong signal - "excellent" actually - and ethernet also works but when I try to connect my phone via Wi-Fi sitting right in front of the base router in the house, it tells me I'm out of range or maybe it will say the signal is "poor" until I move closer to the garage router.

I thought as an Access Point I should be able to make wireless connections from either router.
Have I missed something?

April 7, 2014 2:51 PM

I tried using those configuration, but without wire connection and didn´t work. Any special configuration to work without wire hook up? I´m using two tomatoes firmware on cisco E4200.

April 7, 2014 2:51 PM

I tried using those configuration, but without wire connection and didn´t work. Any special configuration to work without wire hook up? I´m using two tomatoes firmware on cisco E4200.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-19 of 19 | Latest Comment

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