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First-install Success with hAP ac lite

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First-install Success with hAP ac lite

I have been trying to get AREDN into a new hAP ac lite.  After almost two weeks of trying, I finally succeeded this morning. 

MikroTik calls the process of loading firmware into a node via an Ethernet port (usually Port 1) EtherBOOT.  Their version of Tiny PXE is called Netinstall.   The setting up of Netinstall to deliver a RouterOS package to a MikroTik node is much like what we do for AREDN with Tiny PXE.  However, Netinstall appears to only transfer RouterOS code to the node.  I tried uploading the rb.elf file, and it would not take it. 

The Netinstall instructions has the following near the end of the procedure:
If the installation does not start (progress bar is not moving or no status is shown), then you can try closing the Netinstall application and opening it up again or try to put the device into Etherboot mode again. If you are still unable to get Netinstall working, then you should try using it on a different computer since there might be an operating system's issue that is preventing Netinstall from working properly.

Yep.  Trying a different PC was the answer for me with AREDN.  I have two Dell Desktops, different hardware but both Win 11 Pro.  Tiny PXE on the larger machine (about 16 months old) would not respond to the node when it tried Etherboot.  Netinstall on this Dell did receive a load request when I was experimenting with it.  Anyone know why?  The other Desktop (about 3.5 years old) worked great with Tiny PXE and AREDN the first time I tried it.   

The AREDN documentation for MikroTik first-installs is generally pretty good, but with MikroTik nodes with RouterOS later than v6.47, I think there is a significant danger when using the Reset during a power-on sequence.  The parameter   system/routerboard/settings/reformat-hold-button   is defaulted to 20 seconds.  It can be set to different times (5-600 sec) by command line entry, but no longer in the System/RouterBOARD/Settings GUI as is shown in AREDN documentation.  Suppose you start the upload with reformat-hold at the default.  If you press Reset, apply power, and wait more than 20 seconds for Tiny PXE to tell you that the something good happened, you can zap the memory of your node (think “brick”, I think).  Here is the MikroTik story:
As an emergency recovery option, it is possible to reset everything by pressing the button at power-on for longer than reformat-hold-button time, but less than reformat-hold-button-max.
When you use the button for a complete reset, the following actions are taken:
EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. Use this only if you have lost all access to the device.
  1. RouterOS, all of its files and configuration is completely and irreversibly erased by nand re-format; ….
To recover your node, it would be necessary to use Netinstall and upload RouterOS code.

There are two easy ways to put a node into EtherBOOT mode.  The first is to go to the RouterOS GUI (log-in to router), select WebFig/System/RouterBoard/Settings  page, and set the boot-device parameter to try-ethernet-once-then-nand.   Click Apply. Click OK.  X-out of RouterOS GUI.  It is done this way in the ARDEN documentation.  Power down the node.  Move the Ethernet cable to Port 1.  When you power up the node next time, it will look for a PXE server on Port 1.  You do NOT need to press and hold Reset during power up.  If you have configured your PC and Tiny PXE, when things work right… within a very few seconds the TFTPd:DoRead message will appear, and you are about done with the first step of first install.  This trick only works once.  When you power up, reformat-hold goes back to nand-first default. 

Another way to enable EtherBOOT is holding the Reset button down and applying power.  The USR light will flicker for about three seconds, then will flash for five seconds, then will be on solid for five seconds, then go dark.  You have about 5 seconds after USR goes out to RELEASE THE RESET.  After 20 total seconds, your node could be reformatted. 
I am not a networking or MikroTik guru, but a learned a lot reading the RouterOS documentation.  I hope this is helpful. 
--Tim K5RA
nc8q's picture
Is there an echo in here?
I tried to install AREDN with a Windows computer and failed.
I tried to install AREDN with a different Windows computer and succeeded.
I tried to install AREDN with a Windows computer and failed.
I tried to install AREDN with a different Windows computer and succeeded.

AREDN Mikrotik First Install

Chuck –

Thank you for your prompt reply to my post reporting success on a  hAP ac lite  AREDN first install. 

Based on its graphics, the AREDN First-Install process for MikroTik is based on RouterOS v6.45.8.  The current RouterOS documentation reports that changes were made to Reset button functionality in v6.47.   Also, the RouterOS GUI for RouterBOARD Settings does not match the AREDN documentation.  Use of the Reset button and the Settings GUI is a part of the AREDN process.  I thought that my experience might be useful for others attempting to bring new MikroTik hardware to AREDN. 

Can you tell me what was the goal of your reply to my post?  I guess I have not had enough coffee yet this morning to see it.

--Tim K5RA
nc8q's picture
Somebody else mentioned success with a 2nd Windows computer
Hi, Tim:

I am searching for the other poster that failed to install AREDN firmware many times with the same Windows OS computer.
Then, some days later they tried and succeeded with a different Windows OS computer.
Alas, I cannot find that post. It may have been in an 'AREDN Slack' post.
Last year I posted about multiple failures to install AREDN using the published RouterOS/GUI docs.
Alas, I have not yet found that post.

Some posts disappear?
Chuck -

I posted a few days ago my frustrations with being unable to First-Install a hAP ac lite with a Windows computer.  See
No AREDN Flashing for New hAP ac lite ? | Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (
There were a total of nine entries in the thread when I looked at it a couple days ago.  I checked yesterday, and there are only two posts: my first one and your response.  There were several inputs, esp the one from the Mikrotik guru (an AC7 ??), that I wanted to read to get ideas for more research.  W6BI, the AC7, at least one K7, and you made good contributions.

How can a Forum thread be cleaned out?  I can understand deleting ones own posts, but posts of three or more other contributors?

--Tim K5RA
nc8q's picture
How can a Forucanm thread be cleaned out?
Hi, Tim:
Oh, yeah, I remember some recent posts disappearing.
1. The author can delete their own posts.
2. The 'Webmaster' can perform a 'restore from a backup' or 'surgery'.
The web site was offline for a few hours:
"I had to perform some surgery"

73, Chuck

Image Attachments: 
Forum Backup
I think this is sad.  I guess if I see a good post from here out, I should make a screen shot of it. 

--Tim K5RA
nc8q's picture
see a good post...make a screen shot of it
Hi, Tim:

Great idea. Thanks.

3s, Chuck

Anyone know why?    That is
Anyone know why?    That is my favorite part of the thread. 

Glad you got something working.  l treat computers like I used to treat cars, always had a spare car so I could drive to the auto parts store to get what I needed to fix the other car.

My Avast anti-virus must be turned off to install on hAP
I have successfully installed Aredn V 20231018-d6f6c4b on a few hAP AC Lites for myself and friends in the past few months.  I found that I had to turn off my Avast anti-viral program to allow the Tiny PXE process to work.  Is it possible your 2 computers have different firewalls / virus protection?   Also, I use the process described in the Aredn "Mikrotik First Install Checklist" but have found I need to use the IP address of rather than the recommended in step 4.

More Research!
Thanks to all for the inputs.

I think the contributors to my thread on hAP install failures included K6CCC, K7EOK, W6BI, AB7PA, and NC8Q.  Sad for me that those fine inputs are lost.

I am committed to more research on why this "Big Dell" Win 11 PC refused to communicate the node output to Tiny PXE.  Anti-Virus and Firewall apps may indeed be the issue. I did not realize how many protections I have.  Windows Defender Firewall came with the OS, McAfee came with the machine from Dell, and I put TotalAV in it since I had a license with unused devices.  I thought all protections were disabled for my AREDN work.  Maybe not.

I have ordered a new hAP ac lite, will run more tests, and provide results to the Forum.  Wish me luck.

Thanks again for the interest and the inputs.


--Tim K5RA
Getting devices into Etherboot mode
Thanks, Tim.  The Mikrotik first install doc has been updated to focus on getting the devices into "etherboot" mode, however people choose to do that. Because all of the manufacturers change their minds frequently and different versions of their firmware work differently, it is suggested that folks go to the current source of info rather than us reproducing manufacturers' website info on where it can go stale very quickly. Your research and info in these forum posts is greatly appreciated.
AREDN Procedure
Steve -

My apologies!  I have been working with a hard-copy of the First-Install instructions that I printed about two weeks ago.  I just re-read the on-line version and saw the changes you made regarding Boot Device and powering up.  Excellent.

The step-by-step process a few pages later still uses the Reset-button-before-power-on approach.

Also, there are references to upgrading or downgrading RouterOS, and the graphic that has Factory Firmware and Upgrade Firmware boxes highlighted in red.  I think those are not RouterOS versions, but rather the RouterBOARD firmware versions.  To find out if RouterOS is latest, on the native node Quick Start screen  I found a  Check for Updates  button in the lower right corner.  That brought up a screen telling me the factory, current, and latest RouterOS versions, and gave me the option of updating.  I think the RouterBOARD firmware will upgrade with RouterOS, but if not, there is an Upgrade buttom on the WebFig | System | RouterBOARD page. 

Thanks again for helping me through this.

--Tim K5RA
K6CCC's picture
NetInstall is rather picky
Reference your first post, NetInstall is rather picky and there are lots of things that will make it fail - especially on a Windows computer.  Apparently Linux is a bit less picky.  At last that's what I read over on the Mikrotik forum where I am fairly active.  I've only had to use NetInstall once and that was on an AREDN node that I was going to put back on RouterOS.  Never had a problem flashing a Mikrotik node for AREDN - but maybe I've just been lucky.
Using Netinstall to Restore RouterOS

I feel that the MikroTik Netinstall application may have been designed for Windows, but supports Linux.  After a half a day of struggling, I found some magic that made it work once in my Windows environment. 

The key may be the Static IP setup.  Use the 192.168.88.x subnet for the IP address, the Default Gateway, the Preferred DNS and the IP Client Address in Netinstall setup.  I think that leaving the Gateway and Preferred DNS addresses blank (which works in AREDN installs) kept me frustrated.  Of course, there may have been something else. 

Also, it is good to verify that Windows Defender Firewall | Advanced Settings | Inbound Rules are enabled for  netinstall.exe  before using Netinstall. I remember a post about Inbound Rules, but do not remember where in our Forum.  Inbound Rules may have been something that kept my Tiny PXE from working on AREDN installs.

I am dry-running a full procedure, and hopefully will have something good soon. 
73 to all,

--Tim K5RA
New Procedure Worked First Time
My new  hAP ac lite  arrived, and I finished details of a procedure to flash AREDN.  Much of it follows the current AREDN instructions.  I added things I felt that I needed to do to minimize problems.  They may or may not be really necessary.  

In a nutshell
1.  Use a simple system of Windows PC, dumb switch, and MikroTik node. Start with connection to node LAN port (Port 2,3, or 4).
2.  Download and start up Tiny PXE.  Download the AREDN init and sys upgrade files to PC 
3.  In the PC, turn off anti-virus, firewalls, wireless ports, VPNs, and all Ethernet except the one wired port.  Disconnect Internet from the system.
3.  Set a Static IP in the PC to be in the node's default subnet ( worked), do ping test, log-in to node, set node password. 
4.  Check versions of RouterOS and the RouterBoard firmware.  If you want to upgrade the node, supply Internet to the WAN port (Port 1 on hAP ac).  Make updates.  Disconnect Internet from node.  You can certainly skip this step, but some things that are defaulted off in the current RouterOS may be defaulted active in an older one.
5.  On node's WebFig page, RouterBOARD Settings, set Boot Device to  try-ethernet-once-then-nand.  
     This exact step what was in the AREDN instructions as of  last week. The node does magic with it. 
6.  Power off the node, move dumb switch Ethernet cable from node's LAN port to node's WAN port (Port 1).
7.  Set up Tiny PXE with IP addresses and the rb.elf file name.  Click Online.
8.  Power up the node.  No Reset button is required.  In about four seconds, the TFTPd:DoRead:rb.elf message will appear.
9.  Follow rest of AREDN instructions to load the sysupgrade file and get the radio started.

The main difference - probably the only difference -  is to ignore the Reset button when powering up the hAP for the first load.  I've done it on two different nodes using two different Win PCs.  Both times, Tiny PXE gave the good news in less than four seconds,  I did not have to hold my breath very long.

It seems to me that our technique of using the Reset button at all could be risky because the hardware takes Reset as a signal to do something ... something which may not be what we want to happen in AREDN.   Another thing, the current RouterOS does not have the ability in a GUI to set Reformat-Hold-Button time, which is something that was recognized as required in the instructions.  Also, the latest RouterOS does not allow you to deselect Protected-Routeboot.  Fortunately, it is now disabled by default.  I checked the RouterBOARD Settings with a command line entry of    > system routerboard settings print   on the RouterOS Terminal page.

 So I've got three hAP nodes up in AREDN.  I am looking forward to working with Paul KA5TYW and Dave N5MXI here in Texas to set up some tunneling and SuperNode things.  

Thanks for all the comments and observations.


-Tim  K5RA
What interests me the most in
What interests me the most in your experiences related in this thread is the comment that you were able to boot into the PXE server without having to hold the reset button in.  That is a clear departure from all of my previous experiences, and I'm curious if anyone else will be able to repeat this procedure.

Both Etherboot methods work
You can use either method. 1) hold the reset button during power-up to get the device into Etherboot mode, or 2) login to the device's RouterOS console and set boot-device=try-ethernet-once-then-nand then simply reboot. Either method will work. The reset button method described in the AREDN docs avoids having to login to the device first before flashing.

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