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mAX Routers: Bridge Mode Setup

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Question
How do I setup the mAX routers as Wi-Fi extenders for my existing home network?
Answer
NOTE: This article applies to the mAX W21, W121, W122 Express, W30, W130, W31, W133, W61, and the W161 Routers.

The mAX routers can be used as Wi-Fi extenders by enabling bridge mode.  This is an ideal setup to install a Mesh Wi-Fi network to an existing router or Wi-Fi cable modem.  As a result, routing functionality is disabled on the mAX unit and mesh functionality is limited.   

Wi-Fi clients connected to the Wi-Fi network (SSID) of the bridged mAX routers will be part of the primary network managed by the existing router or Wi-Fi cable modem. 

This document contains the following sections: 

Requirements:
  • Existing router or Wi-Fi Cable Modem with active Internet Service.
  • Enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the iPhone or Android device.
  • The SURFboard Central app is downloaded onto the mobile device.
  • Power on only one mAX Router at a time during the first time setup.

Setup Considerations:
  • Initial installation must be performed on all mAX units to configure bridge mode.  
  • Up to 3 mAX units can be installed.  Multiple mAX units are needed for the Mesh Wi-Fi network.
  • DO NOT bridge the mAX units when there's only a cable modem in the network.  mAX unit will need to be in router mode to create and manage the home network. 
  • mAX unit is not compatible with other Mesh Wi-Fi networks.
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First Time Installation
  1. Download the SURFboard Central app from the app store on an Apple or Android mobile device.  

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  2. Tap the SURFboard icon then tap the Get Stated button. 

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  3. In the next few screens, tap the Allow button to access the Location and other services of the mobile device.  It is required to use the SURFboard Central app to perform first-time setup installation.  For more information on the location services or to change the Location Service in the mobile device settings, refer to article # 18476 - SURFboard Central: Location Services
     
  4. Tap the box for SURFboard Mesh SURFboard mAX, then tap the Next button.
     
  5. Tap the appropriate model and tap the Next button.

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  6. Tap Sign Up to create a new account in the Welcome screen and complete the account verification in the following screens. 

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  7. Tap Skip Optimization.

    Right click on the image to save it to your computer.

     
  8. Remove the router(s) and power supply(s) from the retail box. 

    NOTE: For the Mesh System with two mAX routers, either of the routers can be used to connect to the existing router or Wi-Fi cable modem with the exception of the W161.  The W161 labeled as Main Router on the back must connect to the home router device.
     
  9. Plug one end of the Ethernet cable into the port labeled WAN in yellow on the bottom of the mAX Router and plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into one of the LAN Ethernet ports of the router or Wi-Fi cable modem. 

    NOTE: To avoid Wi-Fi interference, it is recommended to disable the Wi-Fi network on the existing router or Wi-Fi cable modem or place the mAX unit far away as possible.
     
  10. Starting from the Let's setup your network screen, tap the Next button until the Setup Information screen appears.

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  11. Tap the Next button to connect the mobile device to the mAX router.

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  12. The SURFboard Central app is connecting to the mAX Router.

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  13. Tap the Join (iOS) or Connect (Android) button to connect the mobile device to the mAX Wi-Fi network.   

    NOTE: Bluetooth is used to connect the mobile device to mAX W30 and W31.  The screens will vary for Bluetooth connection, proceed accordingly.

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  14. The mobile device is successfully connected to the mAX Wi-Fi network.  Tap the Next button.

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  15. On the next few screens, the mAX router attempts to connect to the Internet and perform a firmware update.  
     
  16. In the Your system is up to date screen, tap the Next button to create a Wi-Fi network.

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  17. Enter a wireless network name in the SSID Name field.  The SSID character must be alphanumeric (letters and numbers) between 1 to 32 characters long.
     
  18. Enter a wireless password in the Password field.  The password needs to be 8 to 64 characters long.  Use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols for strength.
     
  19. Tap the Next button.

    Right click on the image to save it to your computer.

     
  20. The mAX Router is creating the Wi-Fi network.

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  21. Tap the Join button to connect to the Wi-Fi network. 

    NOTE: It may be required to access the Wi-Fi Setting in the mobile device to connect to the Wi-Fi network. 

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  22. The mAX Router is registering the device to ensure the features stay up to date.

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  23. Congratulations, the mAX Router Home network is successfully configured.  Tap the Continue button.

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  24. The Wi-Fi management feature is being set up.  Tap the Get Started button.

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  25. A few items moved from the Home screen to the My Network tab, tap the > icon.
     
  26. A new My Experiences tab has been created, tap the > icon.
     
  27. Parental Control and smart devices are managed in the My Experiences tab, tap the That's it icon.

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  28. In the Install Additional Satellite prompt, tap the Install Now button to create a Mesh Wi-Fi Network.  Follow the wizard to complete the satellite installation.

    NOTE 1: Up to 2 satellites can be installed and satellites must be installed prior to enabling bridge mode.

    NOTE 2: tap the I do not have a satellite link if no additional mAX router is available.

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  29. The Network is being optimized, tap the OK button. 

    NOTE: The Wi-Fi network connection may be disconnected during this time.  Please reconnect to the Wi-Fi network through settings if not connected.

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  30. The mAX Home screen, displays the My Network, My Devices, My Experiences, Network Speed, and Network Health.
     
  31. Connect all client devices to the mAX Router.

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  32. Proceed to bridge modem setup section to bridge the mAX router.  
 
Bridge Mode Setup
  1. Disable the Wi-Fi network on the Wi-Fi cable modem or router to reduce Wi-Fi interference or move it far as possible from the mAX router. 
     
  2. Tap the My Network icon at the bottom of the screen.

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  3. Tap the Network Settings + button to expand the card, then tap the General Settings link.

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  4. Swipe the Bridge Mode slider to the right to enable bridge mode.  

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  5. On the Alert box, tap the Continue button to reboot the mAX router for changes to take effect.

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  6. The changes are taking effect.

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  7. On the Alert box, tap the OK button and reconnect the mobile device or tablet to the mAX Router Wi-Fi network. 

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  8. The bridge mode setting is now enabled.  The cloud icon in the top right indicates the app is in a remote session.     

    NOTE: Allow up to 5 minutes for the mAX Router LED to become solid blue. 

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  9. Connect all client devices to the mAX Wi-Fi network.  The client devices will receive an IP address for Internet access from the Wi-Fi cable modem or router.
     
  10. In this example, the Samsung phone is connected to the mAX SSID and appears on the 3rd-party router's client list. 

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  11. The IP Address the Samsung phone received is 192.168.68.111 from the 3rd-party router.

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Disable Bridge Mode
  1. Tap the My Network icon at the bottom of the screen.

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  2. Tap the Network Settings + button to expand the card, then tap the General Settings link.

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  3. Swipe the Bridge Mode slider to the left to disable bridge mode.  

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  4. On the Alert box, tap the Continue button to reboot the mAX router for changes to take effect.

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  5. The changes are taking effect.

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  6. The bridge mode setting is now disabled.  Tap the My Network icon at the bottom of the screen.

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  7. The My Network screen displays the mAX router.  The app session is no longer in remote management as the cloud is gone in the top right.  

    NOTE: Allow up to 5 minutes for the mAX router LED to become solid blue, then pull the screen down to refresh the mAX router's online status.

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