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Porting to New Hardware

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Porting to New Hardware
I'd like to work on porting AREDN to the Mikrotik MetaRouter platform, which supports OpenWRT. What information do I need to get started?
AE6XE's picture
Shoot me an email to connect
Shoot me an email to connect up offline. I have had Aredn partially functioning on some microtik hardware, but there are some critical hurdles yet to overcome.
It can not be done in
It can not be done in metarouter due to limitations inside of the metarouter platform.
AE6XE's picture
Yes, a side discussion is
Yes, a side discussion is taking place that the metarouter does not have access to configure the wlan and is a barrier for AREDN goals.  There will be more limitations.
Yes, unfortunately this is
Yes, unfortunately this is the case. Otherwise it would be perfect - OpenWRT is supported, and channels all the way down to 2312MHz are supported. Perhaps eventually MetaROUTER will support PCI passthrough, or a virtual wireless driver will be written for it, and then we could achieve this. But until then, no such luck.
I am interested in the GL
I am interested in the GL-MT300N-V2 Mango Mini Smart Router (and other products from the same company, some of which have SMA connectors for external antennas while others seem to have internal U.FL/IPX antenna connectors that might be adapted to SMA.  All at a very low price point.

Since these router come with OpenWRT, I was wondering if, or how complex, it might be to port AREDN to them.

Or... as a broader question, is there a rough guide somewhere to minimal platform requirements for porting AREDN? At least enough information to be able to eliminate some of the many options.
AE6XE's picture
There's 2 primary
There's 2 primary requirements:

1) support by OpenWrt or a very close model that is
2) it is 802.11n (don't have drivers for 802.11ac in part 97 yet) with a QualComm Atheros  (QCAxxxx or ARxxxx) chipset using linux ath9k driver

K9CQB's picture
Some GL-iNet router products would be great AREDN platforms...

Some GL-iNet router products would be great AREDN platforms, but the Mango (GL-MT300-V2) is not one of them.
As Joe stated they must be have OpenWRT support (almost all GL-iNet devices are OpenWRT), must be 802.11n-capable, and Atheros ath9k driver compatible. The Mango has a MediaTek chipset, hence the "MT" in its model name. All of the GL-MT-series routers are incompatible. 
However, (pause for effect), their are a bunch of GL routers that I use every day that would be great AREDN devices. Keep in mind the radio front end of these devices are low power (20dBm), but they all have dual LAN/WAN ports and are designed for development and have a large development community (and are cheap). Here are a list of GL-iNet routers (listed in priority order based on my personal interest for AREDN):

1. GL-USB150 "Microuter" w/QCA9331 400MHz CPU, 64MB RAM, 16MB NOR, SISO radio only - It has a built-in USB-to-Ethernet adapter to create what might be (if developed) our first AREDN USB WiFi stick - how exciting would that be? This is the only GL device without 2 Ethernet ports (in fact, it has none, only the USB to Ethernet interface) and its radio is not MIMO.

2. GL-X750 "Spitz" w/QCA9531 650MHz CPU, 64MB RAM, 16MB NOR, 2x2 MIMO on 2.4GHz & 5GHz bands - It has a built-in MiniPCIe card slot for cell modems or whatever and it is dual band - much like the hAP-ac-lite we would not use it for 802.11ac. It has 4 internal WiFi antennas (2 for 2.4GHz, 2 for 5GHz), but can be easily modified for 4 external RP-SMA connectors (1/4" drill bit needed). 

3. GL-MiFi w/AR9331 400MHz CPU, 64MB RAM, 16MB Flash, 2.4GHz SISO only - It has built-in MiniPCIe card slot for cell modems or whatever - oh, it has a giant built-in battery. It has an internal 2.4GHz antenna, but can be adapted to have a single external WiFi RP-SMA connector and external Cellular SMA connectors.

4. GL-AR300M-Ext "Shadow" w/QCA9531 650MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, 128MB NAND Flash, 16MB NOR, 2x2 MIMO on 2.4GHz - This is the cheapest, little 2x2 MIMO router out there. Make sure you get the External antenna version for best results. Don't get the 'Lite' or the dual band version. (this is the closest to the Mango, but has the correct chipset)
5. GL-AR750S-Ext "Slate" w/QCA9563 775MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, 128MB NAND Flash, 16MB NOR, 2x2 MIMO on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz - This router has external antennas but they aren't that good - I converted mine to RP-SMA bulkhead ports and now I can use any 2x2 MIMO, or just 2 WiFi whip antennas on it.

6. GL-AR750 "Creta" w/w/QCA9531 650MHz CPU, 64MB RAM, 16MB NOR, 2x2 MIMO on 2.4GHz & SISO on 5GHz band - It has 2 internal WiFi antennas (2 for 2.4GHz, one is dual band for the 5GHz), but can be easily modified for 2 external RP-SMA connectors. As a bonus, this version is available with built-in PoE module (see drop-down menu while shopping).

7. GL-AR150-Ext-2 "White" w/9331 400MHz CPU, 64MB RAM, 16MB Flash, 2.4GHz SISO only - This is the cheapest router, (besides the USB version) and it is SISO only. As a bonus, this version is available with built-in PoE module: GL-AR150-Ext-2 (POE). 

I'll post later about using Quectel LTE modems with our AREDN devices (MikroTik BaseBox, and possibly future GL-iNet devices: GL-MiFi & Spitz). They have MiniPCIe slots for Quectel EC25 modems that should be easily adapted to work with AREDN. 

* Side note: I would love to adapt the B1300 and especially the S1300 to AREDN, but there is no appropriate OpenWRT support for them.

If you are interested, you can go to GL-iNet's product page:

-Damon K9CQB


Thanks for the feedback. I
Thanks for the feedback. I need a while to think this over and digest what you've written.
K5DLQ's picture
I'm interested in learning

I'm interested in learning about what features are NOT available in existing AREDN supported models from Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, and TP-Link.
What would make "new mgf/model X" a better AREDN node than a supported model?

I'm always curious about these new model support requests.

Also, continuing on Joe (AE6XE's comments), to meet the AREDN mission (ie. EMCOMM), I think the requirements for new models should be:

  • OpenWRT support (or closely related model)
  • ATH9K drivers (802.11n) (** since 802.11ac/ATH10K drivers do not yet exist with part97 capabilities)
  • Outdoor rated (ie. Weatherproof enclosures) (** since we already have 2 capable indoor units with hAP AC Lite and AirRouter)
  • high power (at LEAST 600mW)
  • PoE powered

My $0.02 worth....

K9CQB's picture
Great point. Good reminder.

K5DLQ has a great point. Some very special people put a lot of development time into making candidate equipment into AREDN equipment. They are a limited resource. I like his point "What features are NOT available in existing AREDN?".
For example, I think that developing MikroTik gear has been a homerun, as it has more memory, power, and has some other interesting capabilities (USB ports, MiniPCIe slots in the BaseBox, multi-chip systems in the hAP-ac-lite, etc.). 

So out of all of the GL-iNet devices, the only thing I would promote to develop would be the GL-USB150 "Microuter" USB WiFi stick. After all, we don't have a USB device yet that can be used to allow a laptop or Raspberry Pi or even some phones/tablets to be connected wirelessly to an AREDN network.
But this is more of a 'nice to have' not a 'need to have'.
The closest thing we have in a single device is the MikroTik hAP-ac-lite to act as a WiFi access point on 5GHz, bridging us into an AREDN network. Which I am very thankful for.

-Damon K9CQB


The point of my query was to
The point of my query was to have a better idea of where and when platform expansion might take place, and how I might be able to assist that effort. I think we need to both: make sure the resources available for this project do not get over committed AND, at the same time, make sure we continually push the limits of the project. We have seen what can happen when people get attached to a certain platform and reject expanding it -- that is why we have AREDN.
AE6XE's picture
practically porting ARDEN to a new device
A big part of the choice to do a new device comes down to how much effort it takes.  If a new device only consumes a couple of hours to add the definitions, then why-not?   It's almost free to add it to the list.   However, if it takes days and weeks to add, then this is not likely to happen unless there is a compelling reason.   weeks of effort simply won't happen if existing device options have like capability.     

If a device is already supported by OpenWrt and uses the ath9k wireless driver, then there is a reasonable possibility to include support.

It can be observed that the OpenWrt community is centric on home office devices.  We are adding several devices in advance of OpenWrt that are tower devices centric to our community.   Some are easy, some are hard and take more effort.  

Joe AE6XE 

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