How To Extend Your Home Network.
About four years ago, as my Apple obsession began to take over my soul and my home, I purchased an Apple Airport Base Station to help network all my Apple devices together. However the Airport Base Station has a bit more to it than simply connecting all your devices, with the USB port on the back of the device you can add an external hard drive which then becomes available to all devices that have access to the network, or if you didn’t want to do that you could add a printer. I know most printers now already have WiFi connections within them but four years ago it was pretty cool for all your devices to have access to the printer. Up until about six months ago, my WiFi signal from the Base Station began to weaken and certain devices where unable to connect to the net when up stairs. So in this tutorial I will show you how to extend your home network.
Apple Airport Express.
I would like to point out that this particular tutorial is specific to the Apple Airport Base Station and Apple Airport Express. The Airport Express has recently changed design, however the principle still remains very much the same, the Airport Express now resembles a miniature Base Station. Also in this tutorial I will be showing you how to extend your home network with the Express, it is worth highlighting that the express can be used as a stand alone device for connecting devices on a small network.
Before Extending Your Home Network.
Before you rush out and spend £70 on an Airport Express or any device to help extend your home network, it is advisable to double check why certain parts of your home are not picking up the signal, the are a lot of factors that could be preventing your primary base station from connecting all your devices to the net. If you are unsure what to look for, it is advisable to contact the manufacture of your base station, in this case Apple and ask for their help. I will be adding an article about this very problem, but it is still worth talking to the manufacture just to be on the safe side and maybe save you some money.
The Very first thing to do is take your Airport Express to the part of the house you are not getting a signal and simply plug it in, in my case I took the device up stairs and set it up in my sons bedroom. The next thing to do is log into the Airport Utility by going to Applications/Utilities/Airport Utility and you will see a similar setup to the one above if you have the latest version of Airport Utility as of writing this article. As you can see it shows the Airport Base Station is working correctly via the green dot beside the Base Station icon and that it is successfully connected to the internet via the green dot beside the Globe icon. As you can notice in the top left hand corner of the image it states (Other Airport Base Stations (1)), this is telling you that there is another device waiting to be setup on your network.
Click on the icon in the top left corner (Other Airport Base Station (1)), and it will show you the name of the Airport Express, click on the new Airport Express and the image above will appear. Don’t panic at this stage, although it says at the top that the Airport Express will be setup to replace your base station, you get the chance to change this later in the setup. Name your Airport Express and click the blue NEXT.
After clicking next, you are given three options and for this particular tutorial, you need to click the centre radio button Add To An Existing Network and then click next.
The next step gives you the option of connecting the Airport Express to the current Airport Base Station. Then click Next.
The next step shows the two devices looking for each other, getting ready to connect. Once they have connected click Done on the bottom right.
Finally you are presented with a similar image to when you first started out only this time the new Airport Express is clearly showing and with a green dot next to the icon, indicating all is well. If you have an orange dot next to the device, something has gone wrong and you need to either go through the setup again or locate the problem.
the final thing to do is run to the part of the house where you where once unable to connect to the internet and try again, this is the real proof in the pudding and when the real feel of success appears.
Airport Express Benefits.
Other benefits to the Airport Express are the USB port on the back of the device along with an audio and ethernet connection. Again you can either connect an external hard drive or printer to the Express allowing it to be used across the network. With the audio jack you can add speakers and when playing music from iTunes on your iMac have the music streamed to the speakers connected to the Express. The ethernet port on the back obviously allows you to add another device that requires such a connection. Altogether, you have not only extended your network range, but your network connectivity to third party devices. Of course it is worth mentioning you can add as many Airport Expresses as you like of perhaps an Apple Time Capsule.