Saturday, April 23, 2022

Converted my Asus RT-AC86U router into AiMesh node and linked it to my new Asus RT-AX86U router to form home AiMesh system

Recently, I purchased a new Asus RT-AX86U router to replace my 4-years-old Asus RT-AC86U router. The main reason being I want to take advantage of the RT-AX86U's WiFi AX (a.k.a. WiFi 6) capability for some of the newer devices in my household.

What should I do with my old Asus RT-AC86U router after I have successfully replaced it? Well, I converted it into an AiMesh node to form a stronger, stabler home WiFi with larger coverage area, by creating an AiMesh system with the 2 routers.

Initially, I faced difficulty in getting my RT-AX86U to discover my RT-AC86U AiMesh node via wireless network, in order to add it into my home AiMesh system. I managed to resolve the issue by using a network cable.

Here are the steps to form an AiMesh system, with RT-AX86U as the AiMesh router, and RT-AC86U as the AiMesh node.

  • Make sure both the routers have already been updated to the latest firmware version. I am using  AsusWRT-Merlin firmware for both the routers, and the current latest version for both of them is 386.5_2.
  • Use a network cable to connect your PC or laptop to one of the LAN ports of the old RT-AC86U router. This is for you to use your browser to access the router's configuration web interface. Alternatively, you can also use WiFi connection to access the router's configuration.
  • Go to Administration > Operation Mode and select AiMesh Node. Click the Save button to confirm your selection.

  • Wait for your router to reset and restart itself into an AiMesh node, ready to join an AiMesh network.
  • Use your network cable to connect the WAN port of your AiMesh node directly to one of the LAN port of your AiMesh router.
  • Now, login to the configuration web interface of the AiMesh router, which should be the new router that links your home network to the Internet.
  • Click on the AiMesh button at the bottom of the Network Map page. The right panel will switch to AiMesh function.

  • Click on the Search button to search for your AiMesh node.
  • You should be able to find the old router as the search result almost immediately. If you don't use a network cable to join the routers together, but trying to use wireless connection instead, you might have trouble in finding the AiMesh node.
  • Follow the screen instruction to setup your AiMesh system. This process will take some time (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Once the AiMesh system is successfully established, you will be able to see the content inside the AiMesh function of the new router.
  • Congratulations. If you reach this step, your AiMesh system should be established. Now you can remove the network cable joining the 2 routers, and they should continue to link up with each other using WiFi connection.
  • Put your AiMesh node router to the location where you want to place it, and you are done.
You might want to configure your DHCP to give a fixed internal IP address to your AiMesh node router. You can find out its MAC address used to join the AiMesh system by clicking on its icon under the "List of AiMesh nodes in your AiMesh system" section, then click on More Config.

In future, you can update the latest firmware to your AiMesh node(s) from the AiMesh router's configuration page, under Adminstration > Firmware Upgrade.


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