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Airport Express WDS with third party NAT / DHCP Network
This hint describes how to add an Airport express to extend (WDS) an Airport Extreme network that uses some other (wired) host (e.g. a broadband router) to provide DHCP and NAT. The Airport Express Assistant will let you set up WDS automatically, but it insists that the master airport uses NAT and DHCP, and has a static IP address, which means you have to form a separate subnet for the wireless portion of your network.

Before I installed the Airport Express, I used my DLink 504T broadband gateway to provide NAT and DHCP services for the network (including the Airport Extreme). I want to continue with this setup, since it lets me share itunes between my wired computers and my wireless ones -- but the Assistant doesn't like this configuration. However, it is possible to configure the airport express without changing the DHCP configuration of your network.

First, select your Airport Extreme base station using the Wireless icon in the top right hand corner of your desktop. Open the Airport Admin Utility, and select your Airport Extreme. Note down the Mac address at this point. Now click Configure, and:
  1. Take a backup of the configuration: File -> Save A Copy As
  2. take a note of the channel it transmits on.
  3. In Internet, check that it's configured using DHCP. If it isn't, stop reading this document now -- it's not for you
  4. Change the Security to either none or WEP (see note below).
  5. In the WDS tab, select Enable this Base Station as a WDS main base station, and Allow wireless clients. Don't select any remote Base Stations at this point.
  6. update the base station
Now connect to your Airport Express and back it up, using the procedure above. Next, do a factory reset on your Airport Express (see below), and wait for it to reboot (about a minute). Click on the wireless icon in the top right hand corner, and select to connect to the Extreme. Now use the Airport Admin Utility and connect to your base station - the default password is 'public'. Next:
  1. Enter a better password
  2. Give your Base Station a name
  3. Choose a network name (SSID) - it can be anything
  4. Select the same channel as the Airport Extreme
  5. In Internet, Configure using DHCP
  6. In Network, do not Distribute IP addresses.
  7. In WDS:
    • Enable this base station as a remote base station
    • Allow wireless clients on this base station
    • Enter the MAC address of your Airport Extreme (you took a note of it before
  8. press Update and wait for it to come back online
If that all worked, your Airport Express should now start up and after about one minute, a green light will come on. If it doesn't, then you'll have to try something else - or restore from the backups you made to get the old configuration.

Caution: I haven't tested these exact instructions, sorry -- but I got mine working!

Note 1 -- Hard reset: unplug your airport express and hold down the reset button while plugging it back in. Keep the button held down until the light flashes green 4 times, then unplug and re-plug the extreme. Wait 1 minute for it to start.

Note 2 -- Using WDS at all prevents you from using the more secure WPA security on your wireless networking. If you follow these instructions, you are doing so at your own risk -- don't blame me if someone hacks your WEP network!
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Airport Express WDS with third party NAT / DHCP
Authored by: hoss on Sep 20, '04 12:30:17PM

Can't seem to get this working properly with my D-Link 624 following the directions provided above.

Has anybody else been able to get this working? I'd love to use the AirPort Express but I really don't want to run an ethernet connection to it if possible.

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Airport Express WDS with third party NAT / DHCP
Authored by: matx666 on Sep 20, '04 01:34:44PM

No, me neither. I have the same Dlink-624... AirTunes works, and my stereo in the other room is happy, but the bridging trick does not work out of the box. I have not tried renaming it to the same as my dlink with the same password. has a page all about different tricks and tips, but only one mention of a dlink in there. (

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Airport Express WDS with third party NAT / DHCP
Authored by: nicol on Sep 20, '04 10:20:39PM
As it happens I was wrestling with this problem a couple of weeks ago, with a twist. Broadband comes into my house via DSL to a wireless base station (2Wire) , i.e. NOT an Apple. It runs DHCP through the air and to all devices hanging off an ethernet hub to which it is cabled.

Lessons learned after hours of experiments:

There is no easy way to get the Airport Express to extend the 2Wire network.

I have an Airport Extreme base station. I jacked it into the hub, and noted the DHCP address the 2Wire gave it. I know from experience that these addresses are highly stable once assigned.

I configured the Extreme base station to treat its own IP address as static, and to run NAT and DHCP, in the same 172.16/16 space as the 2Wire manages. Clients on the Extreme's network can't reach the outside Internet, but I can (and did) configure the Express to use the Extreme as a WDS base, and the Extreme to serve as a WDS base (that allows wireless clients, and names the Express as a remote WDS base). This established the WDS link between Extreme and Express, and I then reconfigured the Extreme (under "Network" in Airport Admin Utility) to (i) Distribute IP addresses, (ii) sharing a fixed range of IP addresses that again overlapped the 2Wire network's space.

So the trick is that remote devices (at least the Apple laptops in the house) can get an IP address from the 2Wire network when they are in range of it. Switching over to the Extreme's network they retain the IP address, and can surf the Web. The ethernet hub bridges IP traffic between the 2Wire and Extreme networks, e.g. I can scp between devices on the two networks.

So I'm not entirely sure of all the nuances involved in making this go, but here's the settings on my Extreme when the lights came on and the Express actually extended the network

- enable encryption (using WEP)
- channel 10
- mode 802.11b/g compatible
- connect using Ethernet
- configure TCP/IP using Ethernet, manually
- IP address (the one reliably given out by the 2Wire)
- submask
- Router address : (the one found on devices under the 2Wire network)
- Domain name : (the one used by the 2Wire network)
- WAN Ethernet Speed : Automatic
- Distribute IP addresses
- Share a range of IP addresses (using only DHCP)
[I specify a range at some distance from the cluster of IP
addresses the 2Wire gives out. A /16 is a big place for a home network]
"Port Mapping"
nothing here
nothing here
nothing here
- enable this base station as a WDS main base station
- allow wireless clients on this base station
- the Express base station is listed as a WDS remote base station

The Express was configured to extend an Extreme, using 128 bit WEP for security. It does seem to have gotten its IP address from the Extreme base station.

So if I were to get broadband via a cable modem, my guess is that this basic schtick might work if the remote devices have IP addresses configured manually, in the address space managed by the cable modem's DHCP server. Naively running a connection through two NATs appears to be problematic and so we can't run NAT through the Extreme, but that's what the Express assistant wants to see to configure WDS. That's the only time it checks though. IP addresses are remembered mostly once assigned, and so if you can get a client a legit (from the point of view of the cable modem's IP space) address, the modem isn't going to be picky about where that address came from.

Just my $0.05 worth, YMMV.

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Airport Express WDS with third party NAT / DHCP
Authored by: macwellgh on Apr 16, '05 12:52:56PM

I don't think the DI-624 is compatible with WDS.

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Airport Express Connects To Network But Not To Internet.
Authored by: r0nster on Aug 02, '05 07:29:24AM

Hi there,

I'm a user of 867 Mhz PowerPC G4. I have problems with connecting to the internet via Airport Express.

I used to be able to connect to network (D-Link router) AND to the internet using DHCP. However, after I reformatted my comp and used ethernet for a couple of weeks, I can now only connect airport express to network/router but not to the internet.

Tried pretty much all that I know to try & solve the problem but to no avail.
Tried configuring the DHCP manually too but still doesn't connect.
Tried renewing DHCP lease too.

If anyone can help me in this matter, i'll be most grateful.
Thank you!

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