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Need AREDN Support for BaseBox5 WITH 2GHz Daughterboard

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Need AREDN Support for BaseBox5 WITH 2GHz Daughterboard


AREDN Help Needed to add 2GHz daughterboard to 5GHz BaseBoxes! Present AREDN FW simply ignores this valuable capability!

It seems very obvious that there is great interest BaseBox units, and especially the BaseBox5 at 5GHz, with the addition of the 2GHz daughterboard.

It appears to offer an excellent Single Source Solution, for both 5GHz and 2GHz, both 2x2, integrated on the same boards, ALL in one weatherproof box, and requiring only a single Data & PoE cable. And a perfect match for many installations, such as with an Altelix high gain, dual band, dual mode, omnidirectional antenna.

Just before I discovered the BaseBox options, I had built a "BigStick" like this, but had to use a pair of Rockets M5 & M2, plus a WX proof PoE switch. At least I got a spare port to feed a cross link NanoStation5 at a different channel. BaseBox5 & 2 would have been better...

Also, there are almost no AREDN boxes that natively offer dual band, both active on AREDN at 5 & 2. HAP Lite, just one. A recent inquiry:

The BaseBox5&2 package is just too good to pass up!

How can we encourage our AREDN FW Gurus to a) add this configuration to our AREDN builds, or perhaps b) create an additional SW to enable easy interoperability?

I suspect that the daughterboard PCI is running via a USB interface, and I anticipate that there are already existing drivers and SW that could activate access and use in AREDN.

Has anybody tried, or had any success, trying to activate the daughterboard, and integrate with the main board and AREDN?

How can we add this very valuable capability to the AREDN System?

Please advise, and Thanks!

Gene :)

AE6XE's picture
If you have this hardware,

If you have this hardware, try loading AREDN basebox firmware and work to capture a support download.   I'd suggest not flashing just yet, we can see the hardware from the booted kernel by loading and running the .elf image in RAM.  If we're very lucky, the kernel will recognize both wifi cards, but probably a stretch.   If both wifi cards are working, just need some minor code changes to the UI, to have a selection for ether 2GHz or 5Ghz for mesh RF (whereas the hap ac lite only allows 2Ghz for mesh rf).      Configuring for both bands to be mesh RF at the same time would be a bit more work.


K9CQB's picture
I have this same setup - I haven't tried AREDN yet.

Joe and Gene,
I can send you a BB5 with this 2.4GHz daughter card installed in the MiniPCIe slot. That MiniPCIe slot is just a USB connection, not PCIe. So you may have to load all of the USB library and driver packages just to see it. If Joe wants, I can send him this BB5 w/2.4 card to mess with (I've gotten terribly busy since COVID started). I explained my perfect dual-band mesh node setup in the link that Gene cited above and for $40 extra (the cost of the 2.4GHz MiniPCIe card) you would think that many AREDN users would want to do this.

-Damon K9CQB

AE6XE's picture
Damon,  you sent me another

Damon,  you sent me another device, but unfortunately, I forgot and it is at my other QTH.  I'll be back there in SoCAL in Oct.     Assuming these are different devices, I'll send you my mailing address, good through Oct 2.


AREDN BaseBox5 Blues - No Joy with 2 GHz Module

Hi, Joe!

On the effort to activate the AREDN FW on the MikroTik BaseBox5 _plus_ the added 2GHz module:

Initial Tests: - Initially setup BB5 (vanilla with out 2GHz) with AREDN NB1755 and it ran OK! - Linked with lots of other AREDN nodes close by. - FYI - From cold start power up, responded to pings via LAN port in only50 seconds, including DHCP to terminal. - FYI - Then presented the expected AREDN welcome page with status, etc. - JIC, updated to NB 1819 with same full functionality, including iPerfSpeed. - NOTE - FYI I did collect an AREDN Support File of the _working_ system.

THEN added the 2 GHz module: - BOO! No Joy! >> WEIRD ACTION 1: Continuously went through forever reboots, with cycles every minute or so. - From cold start power up, never responded to pings via LAN port, and failed DHCP to terminal. - Of course, also never presented ANY expected webpages, AREDN or otherwise. - Tried all combos of LAN config, including DHCP, or other statics, etc. Mask JIC.

Next Phase of Tests: - The following steps are _with_ the module still installed! - Tried to use the Tiny PXE Server approach, with Reset pressed with Power Up, and No Joy! - The routerboard never asked for or got the offered rb.elf file. - Yes, I very carefully reviewed and followed Ray's handy YouTube instructions (modified to actually work, previously. Another story...). --- Installing AREDN Firmware on Mikrotik Device with Windows - In short, after extensive testing and timing, etc.... >> WEIRD ACTION 2: The routerboard and Tiny PXE never transferred the rb.elf file! - I had expected that this fundamental procedure would be successful without regard to what FW load was loaded, OR with or without the module installed.

>> WEIRD ACTION 3: My initial assessment is that the installation of the 2 GHz module totally interferes with both the AREDN FW, and also interrupts the fundamental BB initial bootup sequence.

NOTE - I did not try to capture the bootup reporting via the serial console port, yet. The BB evidently has the serial port pin locations, but without any installed pins for my serial cable. And I don't have any stray pins to stuff into the holes yet.

NOTE - I did _not_ try to restore the factory MikroTik FW for testing, as reportedly it automatically recognizes the added module and runs fine with both 5 GHz and 2 GHz radios. I recall Damon tested this.

Soooooo, got any good clues? Better ideas?

And I'd be grateful to let you Whack on this Mole! Please advise good shipping address? UPS is preferred.


Gene :)

N3EV at arrl dot net

KE0FYY's picture

Just wondering if there is any update on getting the 2GHz daughter board recognized. For such a small add on price, if that could also be fully recognized and meshed, this platform could be gold!

AE6XE's picture
There was success in getting

There was success in getting the 2GHz daughter board recognized.   What we found were a bad batch of boards from Mikrotik with a bad data in the eeprom-flash.  When sourcing a newer board, it worked.   Another group I exchanged email with loaded RouterBoard OS back on and can demonstrate the board didn't meet the specs, so Mikrotik accepted the boards back for replacement.   The vendor didn't explicity say what the failure was, but that was the conculsion drawn. 

I need to find the time to recode the setup UI to allow for 2 wireless interfaces...


K9CQB's picture
This is gonna be awesome, Joe. You are my hero.

I'm sorry I've been so busy this year and haven't been able to help very much. Thank you, Joe.
I'm so excited to get this dual-band-mesh node capability. Imagine a battery/solar powered node with a 5GHz PtP dish and a 2.4GHz Omni to provide a large community with mesh access. The tower space (physical space) and battery power difference between running a single BB5 w/2.4GHz card compared to running 2 mesh node with a DtD link between them is probably considerable. I also want to put one of these on top of my van with a dual-band Omni for tactical deployment of AREDN.

 - Damon K9CQB 

Yeaaa! Next Step Clues Please?


Thanks sooooo much for pursuing this vexing problem, with exciting potential! Gee, even Damon agrees! (Yeah, his great examples are to blame for convincing me to buy two sets to build with!)

Can you Please clarify a few little issues?

1- AREDN FW Status:

At the _present_ or _foreseeable_ time, do either the AREDN Stable or Nightly builds _allow_ loading and viable operations of the BB5&DB2 _combo_, in _any_ useful manner?

- Does _anything_ work at all, OR does it just boot loop or quit or whatever?

- IF _not_, then we can only build a _solo_ BB5 with 5GHz?

--- And in future we would have to _rebuild_ with added 2GHz DB and upgraded FW?

- OR IF the present FW actually _allows_, it would at least run just the 5GHz, and ignore the 2GHz DB?

--- We hope to build a (limited function 5GHz) "combo" now.

--- Then await the potential _later_ FW upgrade which would enable the 2GHz DB.

--- Then we would be able to employ _both_ 5GHz & 2GHz DB in future (without a _rebuild_)?

- Of course, Please keep up posted on your progress and needs for the working combo FW!

2- Replacement of Flawed 2GHx DBs:

We understand the concerns and issues regarding the evidently flawed DBs. Sorry to hear, but not unknown, and sometimes flaws sneak through QC! Given that situation....

- You mention that you were able to exchange Bad 2GHz DBs for Good ones. Great!!

- Can you please advise the best and easiest way for us to also exchange Bad for Good?

--- Need the Contact Clues for the Right Guys at MikroTik, OR whomever is the right target?

--- And the Right Method to exchange? Phone call? Email? Ask for RAN or other procedures?

3- Related Exchange Options:

As an associated note, since you already have loaner 2GHz DBs from me, and likely Damon,

- Could you please consider exchanging those DBs for us?

--- That would provide good working DBs for your testing as long as you need them. And simplify for us, too.

--- Yeah, we still need our own Exchange Clues as above, since I still have another DB here, and I bet Damon has more too?

Please advise, and Thanking you in advance for all your great work and support!

Gene :)

K9CQB's picture
I think my cards were good. Joe can confirm.

Gene, I think the 2.4GHz card that I sent Joe is actually the one that worked. I could be wrong (Joe?).
Also, there are also 2 different 2.4GHz MiniPCIe cards available, a low power and a high power version (I've documented the model numbers elsewhere). I sent Joe the high power version. I'm not sure if that makes a difference either.

-Damon K9CQB

AE6XE's picture


1) the current nightly builds work with this device including the daughter 2GHz board.     However, the configuration to use both at the same time for mesh RF needs to be encoded into the UI.   One might manually edit config files until then, but this gets a bit complex as the routing and firewall settings also need to be updated -- this is a new zone-interface and additional row-column to the matrix of routing and firewall rules will need to be added.   We can't simply bridge the 2 wireless interfaces together and munge all traffic on both RF bands -- would be loss of performance or inefficient. 

2) This is the process another group used to return the boards:

"Hello, Joe! I've already deleted all emails with details of that
problem. But I'll try to recall something. As a result we've returned
all that cards (~50 units) back to Mikrotik. RouterOS has been able to
work with that cards, but shown a much less transmit dBm's than what
has been specified on the Mikrotik's website for this model. It has
been good news for us, since it is a better reason for return than
"ath9k failed to manage these cards". Mikrotik guy has asked us to
send him a supout.rif and some time later they have accepted to get
the cards back. The end of the story. We think that Mikrotik has
flashed an invalid content to that eeproms."

3)  It my take some effort to exchange boards.  It's best that if I spend my time, I spend it on coding the UI for this, so better if I send the bad board back to you all for consolidation and do 1 exchange. 


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