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Hey all, I'm working on a project where I have about 30 people connecting to a single router wirelessly to perform "computer music." Basically we send packets over the wireless network to synchronize players and such. As we've grown, issues have been popping up where some machines will not be able to synchronize.

I thought one solution would be to get 2 routers and link them up via ethernet. Then have half of the people connect to one router, the other half to the other. Would this actually improve wireless responsiveness? I would obviously have to do some setting up (making sure the channels are different, DHCP is configured properly, etc). Also, would this be seamless (e.g. if I am connected to wireless network A and ping someone on network B, does anything special have to be done or do the routers take care of figuring out where that computer is?).

Many thanks!

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Have you done any test to find the root cause of the unsync problem? Maybe a single better Wireless router will do the trick? –  o.k.w Feb 19 '10 at 7:16
    
Switching from an Airport Extreme to a D-Link DIR-655 improved things immensely. I've only tested with 10 computers though. I hope it scales well! This is more a "just in case" kind of thing. –  Mark Feb 19 '10 at 7:50
    
May be of some use: serverfault.com/questions/72767/… –  sblair Feb 19 '10 at 8:37
    
Also on serverfault, about load-balancing wifi: serverfault.com/questions/113607/… –  Charles Stewart Feb 19 '10 at 9:15
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Is this a serverfault question? –  Charles Stewart Feb 19 '10 at 9:27
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2 Answers

Yes, they should, but there are any number of reasons why they might not. Two to start with:

  1. The wifi signals interfere. Keep the channel numbers apart; they might interfere anyway. Get a signal detector and see where the signals are strongest, so you can tune things to get good coverage.
  2. The wifi clients might not do what you tell them to do: many wifi clients will switch AP if they see a stronger signal, even if that AP is overloaded. It may not be enough to tell the client to prefer one AP, you may have to forbid it from accessing the other.
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Just a thought, what will you be getting to perform the DHCP or are your computers statically allocated? You may need to configure the two wireless routers to have different IP allocation ranges so you don;t get any potential clashes. Of course if they're not handling DHCP this isn't an issue. –  Joe Taylor Feb 19 '10 at 9:27
    
@Joe: As long as they are connected over ethernet it should be fine to let one do the DHCP and turn DHCP off on the other –  AdamV Feb 19 '10 at 16:50
    
@ Ada,V, absolutely, was just highlighting the potential pitfalls thats all. –  Joe Taylor Feb 20 '10 at 0:12
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In order to let them use either access point seamlessly, start by ensuring they have the same SSID name but different channels with at least a separation of 4 clear channels betwen, ie 1, 6, 11 or 1, 7, 13 would be good choices.

Fundamentally you have an issue here that you are trying to send a radio signal to every machine, and it can only do that one at a time, and thenit waits to get s response to make sure the data got through, then does the next one and so on You can't actually talk to them all at once. While for normal use this would not be an issue, for precise timing and synch it might be quite hard. Two or more APs will help, though.

(incidentally you only need a second Access Point, which should be much cheaper than a wireless router which combines access point, switch and router into a single device)

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