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Linksys WRT-54 series

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N9UPC
Linksys WRT-54 series

Greetings to all -

I am spooling myself up on the HAM Mesh world and while being new I am running into some confusion. First of all I was looking at the other HAM mesh website and was planning on using a Linksys WTR-54GL (not 100% sure on the suffix) for loading firmware on to it. This would turn them into Mesh NODES as I was told and be in the amateur band. In being referred to the website here I do not see that listed as firmware or a device.

Therefore, is the firmware I would load on to the Linksys WRT-54 series to turn it into a Mesh node be compatible with the ubiquiti or TP-Link ones here if in the same band? I guess my concern is that a split would occur and if using AREDN firmware it can only talk to other AREDN firmware devices. Also vice-a-versa with the Ham Mesh firmware for the Linksys.

Thanks in advance and I am trying to learn here.

K5DLQ
K5DLQ's picture
It will work with one caveat:

It will work with one caveat:   both (all) devices must be on Part 15 channels since the WRT54 devices cannot go to part97 channels.   That is a *HUGE* issue due to all the part15 noise.   I would *STRONGLY* suggest spending $50 on a Mikrotik hAP AC Lite to get started and to learn.  Sell your WRT54's on eBay. 
(This is STRICTLY my opinion and not necessarily that of AREDN, Inc.)

w6bi
w6bi's picture
Also

The other caveat is while both WRT54G mesh code and AREDN mesh code speak DtD (Device to Device protocol, linking them together via Ethernet cable), it's disabled by default in the WRT54G firmware.  You can search for the fix for that on broadbandhamnet.org

But basically what Darryl said :-)

73
Orv W6BI
 

N9UPC
Thanks for the reply...how is

Thanks for the reply...how is the TP-Link devices?

K5DLQ
K5DLQ's picture
they are good.   My personal

they are good.   My personal order of preference is:   Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, TP-Link.   (although, Mikrotik is really close to being my go-to manufacturer)
 

K6AH
K6AH's picture
+1

Yep.  I'm in agreement with Darryl.  The new MikroTik devices we've brought on are performing very well.  Compared to Ubiquiti, they are generally more power and less expensive, particularly for the devices with ​higher gain antennas.

I have personally never deployed a TP-Link device so I can't give you an opinion on those.

Andre, K6AH
 

AA7AU
AA7AU's picture
Opinion: MikroTik vs TP-Link

I *love* my MikroTik hAP however, it was certainly not the easiest thing to do to setup the initial firmware install on it, IMO. In contrast, the TP-Link CPE210 initial AREDN install was a total breeze and easily accomplished. This might be a deciding factor for some new adopters.

- Don - AA7AU

K6AH
K6AH's picture
Try the new Windows procedure...

Until the new Windows procedure became available, Don, I felt the same way.  Now I'd say it's nearly just as easy as loading the Ubiquiti gear.

Andre, K6AH
 

AA7AU
AA7AU's picture
Windoze networking give me a headache

I respectfully disagree, Andre. It's not nearly just as easy to do, and the TP-Link is still a dream to do (did another CPE210 last night). Although these two models are really for two different types of usage, I'd still point a new user at the $40 TP-Link CPE-210 every time.

I just did two more MicroTik hAPac installs today using Win7.  Tried to document the steps in the video on the first pass thru today but ... at the ~8:50 mark where the unit gets restarted as a client ... it gets very confusing with the true order of the steps. My Win7 machine just doesn't like having it's eth0 NIC reset/unpligged/restarted/messed-with and I just couldn't get the client and the server talking together properly thru many tries. Finally made it thru with both unit installs but only by going into total flail mode both times (and I spent my entire 40+ year working career in interactive computer software and systems etc).

As we used to say: YMMV!  I do know, no matter how much I love the units, I'm not volunteering to do another of these MikroTik installs for quite some time.

- Don - AA7AU
 

K6AH
K6AH's picture
Trying not to discourage readers...

Fair enough.  However, since not all Windows computers will exhibit the issues you encounter, I'd prefer not to discourage readers from using MikroTik devices.  I actually believe they currently offer the best device options we have available.

Andre

AA7AU
AA7AU's picture
I agree

I actually do agree with both of your separate comments above, Andre. I do remember the hassles of trying to figure which AirOS was on a particular Ubiquiti device and whether we had to flash-back to earlier AirOS before then using the GUI installer to upload the AREDN firmware, and then worrying about bricking, etc etc. Not to mention, how to acquire a Bullet M2 and NOT a Bullet HP2. It was enough to put-off even the most experienced tech, not to mention a first-time user.

My point was that, with all the fantastic progress the AREDN team has continued to make, the ability for a first-time user to pick up a CPE210v2, setup a static port and connect an ethernet cable to it, and then use the TP-Link native GUI to upload and install the firmware in basically one step (without the complexities of tftp) cannot be underestimated.

I *love* my little hAPac-lite MikroTik (have now setup three), especially with all the new features which Joe and your team have put into the current nightly builds. However, I have yet to use any of the other MikroTik devices. The hAp unit seems to be head and shoulders better than my old AIrRouter. I salute the AREDN team for moving out into the MikroTik and TP-Link product lines, Can't wait use MikrtoTik to re-purpose a couple of those old spare DirecTv dishes in my barn up in Idaho!

It's just that, for most folks, the initial install is pretty much a one-time event. I'd rather not see the potential first-time user get mired down in the complexities of negotiating a tftp-client with a Windoze tftp-server, especially given how Windoze is not a single product and all doze different variants can be so damn difficult to network thru/with/to.

I'd much rather see the first-time user have an easy install and then spend their time learning the magnificent magic and potential of the AREDN mesh.

I should have said this before: despite my personal issues with Windoze, I'd really like to thank Ray (KK6RAY) for blazing the way with Windoze and then posting his YouTube video. I'd also like to sincerely thank you and the entire AREDN team for all your selfless efforts and on-going forward-looking progress - it is *very* much appreciated.

Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
- Don - AA7AU

 

K6AH
K6AH's picture
I couldn't agree more...

Thanks, Don.  I couldn't agree more.

Perhaps we can convince ​Ray, KK6RAY, to remake his video now that he has more experience with the Windows process.

Have a happy New Year!

Andre, K6AH
 

ke6bxt
ke6bxt's picture
Why we do not recommend using the Linksys WRT54G Routers
KE0RSX
KE0RSX's picture
Kind of in the same boat...

So, I took on the responsibility of getting our ARES team set up with a Ham Mesh. We have a few members that already purchased Linksys WRT54's along with one Ubiquity router. They had already started setting things up using the old Broadband Hamnet firmware. On researching things yesterday, I discovered this project and told them about it. So now I'm trying to figure out if there's a way of using some of the equipment we already have, along with getting new equipment for use with AREDN (I realize the Ubiquiti router works already).

A couple of questions come to mind. Could I use DtD to link the WRT54's to the AREDN network? That way we could use both the older broadband hamnet, as well as the AREDN as a backbone between our meshes (with the understanding that all new nodes will be AREDN-compliant). Also, in the case of the 5Ghz routers (TP-Link or whichever brand we go with), will they also handle 2.4Ghz traffic, or do we need a separate node for that? This is because we may have older laptops that only use 2.4Ghz, so I want to make sure they are able to connect.

Thanks, and sorry for hijacking this thread with potentially unrelated questions. I'm probably going to make a second thread with my specific situation and questions.

Have a great night, and happy new years. :)
Pattrick.

AJ6GZ
Re-use

You can always use the WRT54G's as regular 2.4Ghz wi-fi access points to provide the laptops access to the Mesh network. Any "regular" acccess point can do this in fact. It would attach to the LAN network on a node and you would want to disable all DHCP, routing, and other features in the WRT54G; basically turn it into an AP only.

It is recommeneded to get only nodes with 64MB of RAM at this time, so no Ubiquiti AirRouter or Loco models which are 32MB. They will work now ok but may become more limited in future software releases. Save 5 bucks on ebay now and pay more later ;) For a new network it is recommened to start with 5Ghz on the mesh side. The performance on 2Ghz is a bit limited with only one good channel and should be reserved for local implentations such as a few buildings or campus or the 'last mile' of the network. However there are plenty of areas where 2Ghz is in place and it does work!

Ian

KE0RSX
KE0RSX's picture
Thank you for the information

Thank you for the information. And it's nice to know that the WRT54's can still be used. In our situation, we're in a town of about 22,000 people. About 11 miles North is another smaller town, and there are two towns (one about 10 miles west and one about 10 miles east of that). The end goal is to have the mesh in our entire county, whether it be one mesh with multiple routers or separate mesh networks in each town connected via the Internet. One thing I'll need to look into is whether the TP-Links, Ubiquities, and MIcroTiks can use an external antenna, or if it's solely a built-in one.

Have a great night, and Happy New Year. :)
Patrick.

KE2N
KE2N's picture
one issue

One issue with the WRT54:  if you power one up near an AREDN node running on channel 0 or below, it will fail to boot up. This is due to an obscure feature in the WRT that listens for an existing link and then tries to go there. But since the frequency is out of range of the synthesizer, it shuts down.  This drove me crazy for a couple of days (it's documented in another posting somewhere).

So yes you *can* use the 2.4 GHz WRT54, but not within range of an AREDN node running on channel 0, -1,-2.   No problem AFAIK if the AREDN node is on another band.

 

KE0RSX
KE0RSX's picture
How close were they? And what

How close were they? And what did you finally do about it? The plan would be to connect the WRT to the AREDN node via Cat-5/6 cable.

Have a great day. :) Happy New Year.
Patrick.

AA7AU
AA7AU's picture
A personal opinion

Patrick:

My personal advice to you now I pass along which I got from others much earlier on when I insisted that I also kinda wanted to use some old WRT54s (which I already had) for a rural mesh: "Put those units aside and get hardware which will run AREDN and build from there. Do not start on the wrong foot." I'd also say: Tomorrow is 2019, go forward not back.

I am [still] building out an isolated "Mesh Island" in a small, remote, river valley, Idaho town of ~3,000 people in a large county of ~8.000. We are continuing to build out, but we were very successful in initially linking approx 8 scattered nodes using used Ubiquiti Bullet M2s (bought inexpensively on EvilBay) with a variety of inexpensive omni (<$20), sector, and yagi-uda (<$20) antennas and using AREDN. The original 120* sector antenna pointing down at the valley was on a Bullet on top of our local mtn top at ~9200'; overlooking town (4000'). We initially covered 7-8+ miles north of town to that end of the river valley, and the same distance to the south. This is not a hub-and-spoke design, the principal cenrtral area around town has most of our nodes all "meshed" together.

That started a couple year back (my mtn top is pretty much inaccessible by people in its second heavy winter) and it runs great. Our primary node is a Bullet, with a cheap omni, on the roof of our 2-story regional hospital. It "sees" 6-7 other nodes with 100% connection around town and out to 6 or 7 miles out.

With our newer hardware we are doing even better. We are just about to expand our mesh out (hopefully this late spring,PTP) to our other three distant mtn tops where we already have UHF-linked 2M repeaters. We do NOT use tunnels or Internet connections for anything other than special remote maintenance. I do use an old AirRouter and a brand new MikroTik RouterBoard (with internal antennas) as end-points (and tunnels) for remote support and GoKits etc.

As I've written here before, I find the new TP-Link CPE210 outdoor unit with built-in MIMO antennas have terrific performance [for some but not all], especially for starter units ... but you need to plan for your overall line-of-sight design. Remember that your are hopefully building a multi-path *mesh*

You are very lucky to be starting up now. With all the new firmware advances the AREDN team has made with new hardware and new mfgrs, you have an incredible set of choices, including lots with all kinds of external antenna options, many at now very reasonable pricing. My strong advice is take good advantage of that. Otherwise you will struggle and struggle and struggle with that old antiquated gear/firmware and find little of any support for those problems.

Good luck going forward.

Happy New Year everyone,
- Don - AA7AU

nc8q
!?  Loco models which are


!?  Loco models which are 32MB. !?
The datasheet indicates that the Loco M9 and M5 are 64 MB.
The early loco M2 (XM?) may have been 32 MB as the datasheet indicates, but
my two (more recently purchased) locoM2 XWs are 64MB.
I use my 64MB locoM2 in my mesh-go-box to tunnel home and reach our local mesh network.
It provides WiFi access for my laptop (+linphone) and old ipad2 to reach mesh network resources.

Chuck

AJ6GZ
32

Mine must be an XM. I did find it a trash can! :)

K5DLQ
K5DLQ's picture
Just one final comment...  if

Just one final comment...  if you deploy on part15 channels and have sub-par performance,  PLEASE don't give up on MESH.   Please try again with UBNT, Mikrotik, TP-Link gear on Part97 freqs for a true experience.
 

wa2ise
wa2ise's picture
I still have a few WRT54s

I still have a few WRT54s running mesh on channel 3 (which if I got it right, is still inside the ham band), and I connected them to my Ubiquiti nodws via DtD.  See
http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/documentation/202-dtd-linking-on-linksys.html on how to do this  And I haven't had any trouble that I could blame on the Ubiquitis causing the WRT54gs to not network over the air.  I have a few WRT54gs running OpenWRT running a web page, these WRTs ethernet wire connected to the mesh WRTs.  See http://www.wa2ise.com/radios/WRT54Gv2USBmod.html on how to set an OpenWRT WRT54g to serve up web pages.

K5DLQ
K5DLQ's picture
Channel 3 is in the shared

Channel 3 is in the shared Part15/part97 space.   VERY noisy.    For 2Ghz band, only channels -1 and -2 are in EXCLUSIVE Part97 space.
 

wa2ise
wa2ise's picture
Sure is.  I only have the RF

Sure is.  I only have the RF paths less than 20 feet.  Not exactly DX...  I use DtD for more reliable linking.
 

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