Mikrotik routers are great for people who understand networking and want to be able to tweak lots of details (I don’t claim to understand networking very well, but I do like tinkering with networks and services). They are inexpensive and can handle home office needs with ease. Also, a rare case of devices that are not made in China — they are made in Lithuania!
I have an hAP ac3 as the home router, however there are farther locations where the WiFi connectivity is unstable. I thought of setting up a WiFi repeater to move it closer to that faraway place. I wanted to connect the repeater with the router via WiFi due to some difficulties with laying an Ethernet cable between them (yes, a cable would better anyway). My pick is an mAP Lite WiFi router — a tiny, light device.
I tried the repeater command after some other tests. In that case I think I setup a DHCP client on wlan1 to connect to the main network, removed it from the bridge (to separate that network from admin’s LAN), ran the repeater setup — and got a network with an IP in the default network 192.168.88.0/24 and not working internet. I fixed that by changing the WAN interface list to wlan1 (from the default ether1) — so that the default srcnat firewall rule works. This is not what I wanted since I would need to also configure NAT and firewall rules on the repeater as well.
The setup is: wlan1 is used to connect to the main AP and a virtual wlan2 (on top of wlan1) is a repeater AP. In this case there was a (Layer 3) router between them. Basically I needed a (Layer 2) switch, or bridge, between them. Is it possible to do that with WiFi? It took me some time to figure out that it is possible: you connect to an AP but don’t get an IP address from its DHCP server. So I turned off the DHCP client on wlan1 and added both wlan1 and wlan2 to a new bridge — now it worked.
It’s all cumbersome here because I didn’t record my steps, so instead I’ll describe how to setup such a repeater after a configuration reset (it’s easier than after messing up with the config for a while).
Finally I change the repeater’s SSID for easier testing, it’s much easier to know which AP I’m connected to (revert it later):
/interface/wireless/set wlan2 ssid=home_ext
This was very easy. It’s interesting that this did not setup an extra DHCP client or server on the wlan interfaces meaning my initial confusion with the router vs bridge was of my own cause.
However one more step left. I noticed that both wlan interfaces were in the default bridge; that doesn’t look good because the bridge has a DHCP server (for local winbox access) and I don’t need that for the AP:
Both wlans need to be in the same bridge (so that they share the same broadcast domain and connecting a client to the repeater will be the same as if it was connected to the main router), but in a separate one, which I’ll create:
It’s interesting that the main router’s “Wireless > Registration table” shows changing “Last IP” for the repeater’s MAC Address depending on which device used the network latest. However its “DHCP Server > Leases” displays correct leases for both devices connected to the repeater, so that works great.
Note: in this setup, there is no WiFi connectivity for the repeater itself because it acts as a Layer 2 switch (a bridge) between two wireless interfaces and there is no IP address for it (at Layer 3). As a consequence, it doesn’t know the correct time if you turn it on occasionally (no NTP).
An alternative is to use CAPsMAN, which should also provide better seamless roaming between the APs, but I haven’t tested roaming in my setup much. I’ve never setup CAPsMAN, so I did want to waste time on changing the wireless setup and it’s probably an overkill for my use case.