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Posts Tagged ‘router’

TCL T1 (SL-WR5028J) is a $46 Wi-Fi Router with a 2.5″ SATA Bay

January 28th, 2015 7 comments

Many routers now come with one or more USB ports to let you connect 3G dongles or/and storage device(s) to share the data on your local network. If you want to go with a fully integrated solution, and obvious solution is to go with a NAS, but these usually cost a bit more, so instead TCL SL-WR5028J (aka TCl T1) router could make a low cost (and low performance) NAS alternative thanks to its internal 2.5″ SATA bay, and it can be had for just $45.99 on DealExtreme.

TCL_T1TCL T1 specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT7260 MIPS WiSoC @ 580MHz
  • System Memory – 64MB DDR2
  • Storage – 8MB Flash for firmware + SATA bay for 2.5″ HDD (5, 7.5 or 9mm thick hard drives are supported). Max capacity: unlimited… :)
  • Connectivity
    • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi up to 300 Mbps with two external antennas
    • WAN – 10/100M Ethernet port
    • LAN – 2x 10/100M Ethernet port
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Power – 9V/1A
  • Dimensions – 240 x 159 x 45 mm
  • Weight – N/A

The router comes with a power adapter, and a user’s manual in English. The user interface is said to be in English too.

TCL_T1_SATA_Bay

In order to insert the hard drive you just need to lift the top cover, and slide it in there.

Mediatek MT7620 is probably part of the reason for the low cost, but unfortunately it’s also why there’s no Gigabit Ethernet, and for a NAS it can be a serious limitation depending on how many people access the data at the same time, and the type of data. The SoC also supports OpenWRT, so it might be possible to hack the router too, and SATA should not be a problem, since it can only be achieved via a USB to SATA bridge [Update: It’s not clear whether MT7620N or MT7620A is used here, and the latter has a PCIe port too]. Strangely, I can’t find any information about TCL T1 anywhere else on the web.

Thank you onebir! (Which reminds it’s beer time too…).

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Categories: Hardware, Linux, Mediatek Wi-Fi Tags: nas, openwrt, router, tcl

Intel Education Content Access Point Is Designed for Schools with Unreliable Internet Connectivity and Power

January 23rd, 2015 5 comments

Intel has introduced a new device that stores, manages, and publishes digital content for schools with low or intermittent connectivity and /or power.  The device stores training materials in its internal storage, comes with a battery, and can be accessed by up to 50 students simultaneously.

Intel_Education_Content_Access_Point

Specifications:

  • SoC –  Intel Atom Bay Trail-I E3815 Processor @ 1.46GHz with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L-1067
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC, Optional 500GB SATA HDD
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wired Gigabit Ethernet, Optional 3G, Optional LTE
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0
  • Misc – System and 3G/LTE LEDs, Factory reset and power buttons
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Battery – Lithium-ion polymer 7.4v, 4050mAh (up to 5 hours of battery life)
  • Dimensions –  190 x 190 x 30mm
  • Weight – 607 grams

Intel_Education_Router_PortsThe system runs Ubuntu 12.04. The optional 500GB hard drive includes 400GB of preloaded content, and educator can use the remaining 100GB to add their own content via the USB 3.0 port.

Price and availability details have not been released by Intel. You may want to check out Intel Education Content Access Point product page for a few more details.

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Snappy Ubuntu Core is an IoT Linux Distribution for ARM and x86

January 21st, 2015 14 comments

Canonical has announced a version of Ubuntu specifically designed for IoT devices running Linux, with a low hardware requirements, and a new package manager called snappy, replacing apt-get for this version of Ubuntu, which provides simpler, faster, and more reliable updates, stronger security, and allows roll-backs in case something goes wrong. Easy firmware updates are something missing in most connected device, which means they are more vulnerable to potential hackers, but with snappy security updates should be able to make it regularly, so that if something like heartbleed occurs again, you know your router, home automation gateway, connected washing machine, or robot will be soon patched automatically.

Snappy Ubuntu Core Logo

Snappy Ubuntu Core Logo

Let’s go through the hardware requirements first:

  • Processor – 600 MHz processor (ARMv7 or greater, or x86)
  • System Memory – 128 MB RAM or greater (The system itself uses 40 MB RAM)
  • Storage – 4GB flash / storage for factory reset and system rollback

So the hardware requirements are not quite as low as something as OpenWRT, but still lower than what you’d expect from Ubuntu, so you could use an old laptop or PC as a development platform, and Canonical also recommends BeagleBone Black or ODROID-C1 ARM based development boards. The Raspberry Pi board won’t work with Snappy, because Broadcom BCM2835 processor is using an older architecture (ARMv6) not supported by Ubuntu.

Snappy Architecture

Snappy Architecture

Twenty one companies and organization have partnered with Canonical on Snappy Ubuntu Core:

  • Home automation – Ninjablocks (Ninjasphere), Openhab (smarthub framework), Trasibot
  • Robotic – OSRF – ROS robots, , Erle Robotics with Erle-Copter
  • Development Boards – Hardkernel ODROID-C1, Beagleboarg community’s Beaglebone Black, Lemaker (Banana Pro), Udoo, LinkSprite (PCDuino), and Parallella
  • Silicon Vendors – Allwinner
  • IoT frameworks – Kaa, DeviceHive, IoTSys, Resin.io, OpenSensors.io
  • Misc- Riot-OS, Nwave, Fairwaves,  Docker with Weave

As mentioned in the introduction, apt-get is no where to be found in Snappy, as the distribution is using snappy instead, but the command line options remain familiar in some aspects:

$ sudo snappy install docker
docker      4 MB    [=====================================================]   OK
Part          Tag         Installed        Available        Fingerprint       Active
docker        edge        1.3.2.004        -                788b0787b18b1c    *

with various new/different options like info, search, versions and more:

$ snappy versions -a
PART               TAG      INSTALLED           AVAILABLE   FINGERPRINT   ACTIVE
ubuntu-core        edge     14.11.1-20141130    -           4e8c32456ab10
ubuntu-core        edge     14.12.1-20141201    -           7611de9a73923 *
docker             edge     1.1.21              -           34b32c359a08e *
hello-world        edge     1.0                 -           27e98ab23492c *

You can see in the list above two version of ubuntu-core, with one ACTIVE and the previous available for roll-back with the command:

$ sudo snappy rollback ubuntu-core
rolling back ubuntu-core -> (edge 14.11.1-20141130 8337ce7b64821)
Reboot to use the new ubuntu-core.

You can find more example in Ubuntu Developer’s snappy page, and find out snappy can also be used to build software packages from source.

There’s also a work-in-progress web interface called WebDM (Web Device Manager) used to configure the device and install packages. It can be installed with sudo snappy install webdm, but Canonical warns it should not be enabled in production devices for now, as access control is not implemented yet.

WebDM

WebDM

If you want to try it, you don’t even need extra hardware, as a Snappy Ubuntu Core instances can be launched from Azure, GCE or Amazon EC2  cloud services, or run in a Virtual Machine with KVM, OVA (VMWare, VirtualBox,…) or Vagrant. All you have to do is follow the instructions provided here. Complete instructions and a preview image are also available for the BeagleBone Black. There does not seem to be pre-built images yet for the other ARM boards mentioned in this article.

Via LinuxGizmos

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Crowdfunding Report for 2014 on CNX Software Blog

January 5th, 2015 4 comments

Following up on my 2013 Crowdfunding Report, I’ve gone through all 55 Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdunding projects featured on CNX Software between December 2013 and November 2014 (inclusive) to see how well they fared.

Indiegogo_KickStarter

The table below sort projects chronologically as they were published on this very blog.

Date Project Crowdfunding Site Funded?
Pledged amount / Goal
Expected Delivery Actual Delivery Comments
2. Dec. 2013 Micro Python Kickstarter Yes
97,803 GBP / 15,000 GBP
03/2014 04/2014 Available @ https://micropython.org/store/#/store
5. Dec. 2013 Plugaway Kickstarter Yes
$162,835 AUD / $50,000 AUD
04/2014 - People upset because of lack of updates. Project might be dead, and backers lost their money
6. Dec. 2013 AIRTAME Indiegogo Yes
$1,268,332 / $160,000
05/2014 12/2014 People have started received the beta versions, after a massive 8-month delay
7. Dec. 2013 Crystal Board Kickstarter No
$14,574 / $200,000
04/2014 - The project appears to be dead
10. Dec. 2013 Smart Power Strip Kickstarter Yes
$109,012 / $100,00
04/2014 - People are really upset, because of delays, and especially lack of updates, or incorrect update (e.g. “shipping soon”. Now shipping is schedule now until April 2015
11. Dec. 2013 Iteaduino Lite Indiegogo Yes
$14,778 / $2,000
01/2014 01/2014 Being an Arduino clone, it just works as expected, based on user’s feedback
11. Dec. 2013 Pivotheat SMART Indiegogo Yes
$159,613 / $100,000
06/2014 - Shipping is now expected by January. People are disappointed by delays and lack of updates
13. Dec. 2013 LOGi Board Kickstarter Yes
$114,126 / $6,900
04/2014 05/2014 You can get the board @ http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-69129
21. Dec. 2013 NavSpark Indiegogo Yes
$63,735 / $27,000
03/2014 05/2014 Updates still done after shipping. No specific complains from users. NavSpark community setup @ http://www.navspark.com.tw/
17. Jan. 2014 Yacy Kickstarter Yes
$17,451 / $10,000
04/2014 06/2014
19. Jan. 2014 ICE xPC Indiegogo No
$10,734 / $300,000
07/2014 - Flexible campaign, but people have been refunded
11. Feb. 2014 Keepod Unite Indiegogo Yes
$40,801 / $38,000
04/2014 05/2014 You can now give and/or get Keepod on http://keepod.org/collections/all-keepod-products
13. Feb. 2014 Webee Boss Indiegogo Yes
$73,373 / $50,000
04/2014 12/2014 8 months delay
14. Feb. 2014 Fin Ring Indiegogo Yes
$202,547 / $100,000
09/2014 - Fin is now scheduled for May 2015, or 8 months delay!
19. Mar. 2014 MicroView Kickstarter Yes
$573,760 / $25,000
09/2014 08/2014 One month early? Too bad the first shipping lacked the bootloader…, and the returns are still being handled
21. Mar. 2014 USB2Go Kickstarter No
$13,963 / $50,000
10/2014 - Website sill up: http://www.usb2go.org, not clear if the project is still alive
25. Mar. 2014 Rufus Cuff Indiegogo Yes
$359,463 / $200,000
04/2015 - WIP, and updates are frequent
15. Apr. 2014 Digispark Pro Kickstarter Yes
$103,569 / $10,000
07/2014 09/2014 Shipping has taken place over 4 months (September to December). The board is now available @ http://digistump.com/getpro
22. Apr. 2014 ButtonDuino Indiegogo No
$1,226 / $4,500
08/2014 - It can be pre-ordered @ http://buttonduino.site44.com/ with shipping Late January 2015.
23. Apr. 2014 MotherBone PiOne Kickstarter No
$4,270 / $60,000
08/2014 - It might be available @ http://aplusmobile.com/MotherBone.html
30. Apr. 2014 Arduissimo Indiegogo No
5,031 Euros / 29,600 Euros
11/2014 - Another indiegogo campaign is in progress: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/arduissimo-reloaded-multicore-cortex-m3-arduino
30. Apr. 2014 Dimple NFC Sticker Indiegogo Yes
$87,098 / $43,000
08/2014 - People are losing patience, especially as update are not forthcoming
9. May. 2014 ANTVR Kickstarter Yes
$260,834 / $200,000
09/2014 12/2014 Three months delay
22. May. 2014 VoCore Indiegogo Yes
$116,194 / $6,000
09/2014 11/2014 The module can now be purchased on Vocore website: http://vocore.io/store
30. May. 2014 WifiDuino Indiegogo No
$12,710 / $23,000
10/2014 - The project has been cancelled
30. May. 2014 AsiaRF AWM002 Indiegogo Yes
$7,386 / $6,000
07/2014 08/2014 Many people complain about the lack of documentation. I also got one module, and It was not clear I needed to provide power with 3 different voltages when I backed the project.
2. Jun. 2014 miniSpartan6+ Kickstarter Yes
$80,897 / $7,500
08/2014 12/2014 Four months delay
5. Jun. 2014 EzeeCube Indiegogo Yes
$146,666 / $75,000
12/2014 - Shipping is now expected by February
12. Jun. 2014 Soap Router Indiegogo Yes
$261,318 / $42,500
02/2015 - Shipping expected for January 2015 in the latest update.
However, they changed the product specs, and some people are upset
13. Jun. 2014 Console OS Kickstarter Yes
$79,497 / $50,000
12/2014 12/2014 Beta version release
14. Jun. 2014 Papilio DUO Kickstarter Yes
$62,707 / $30,000
12/2014 - Delivery scheduled for January
28. Jun. 2014 Amptek Icon Kickstarter No
$3,626 CAD / $55,000 CAD
10/2014 - Icon board can be purchased @ http://www.semiconductorstore.com/Amptek/
17. Jul. 2014 MicroNFCBoard Kickstarter Yes
20,885 GBP / 20,000 GBP
10/2014 01/2015 Shipping scheduled for 8 Jan 2015
24. Jul. 2014 Immedia Blink Kickstarter Yes
$1,069,386 / $200,000
05/2015 -
29. Jul. 2014 TouchPico Indiegogo Yes
$869,827 / $55,000
10/2014 - Doing FCC/CE certification now
2. Aug. 2014 VolksPC Indiegogo No
$1,519 / $80,000
10/2014 - It’s unclear whether the project will go forward independently
11. Aug. 2014 Atomwear Kickstarter Yes
$13,740 CAD / $12,000 CAD
11/2014 12/2014
13. Aug. 2014 Squink Kickstarter Yes
$100,380 / $100,00
04/2015 -
20. Aug. 2014 Raspberry Pi Slice Kickstarter Yes
227,480 GBP / 90,000 GBP
11/2014 01/2015
20. Aug. 2014 STACK Box Kickstarter Yes
$87,500 / $65,000
12/2014 12/2014
25. Aug. 2014 RPISoC Kickstarter No
$14,323 / $20,000
01/2015 - The project is still going on outside Kickstarter → http://www.embeditelectronics.com/blog/uncategorized/going-forward-with-the-rpisoc/
1. Sep. 2014 xWiFi Wi-Fi Module Indiegogo Yes
$12,649 / $4,500
11/2014 12/2014 Some people complain it did not work out of the box
15. Sep. 2014 Com1 Android Wear Watch Indiegogo No
$?? / $ ??
01/2015 - Project taken down following Google request
16. Sep. 2014 WeIO IoT Board Indiegogo Yes
$37,437 / $10,000
11/2014 01/2015 Should ship this month
Can be pre-ordered @ http://shop.8devices.com/weio with shipping scheduled for February 2015
19. Sep. 2014 MOD DUO Kickstarter Yes
$82,781 / $65,000
06/2015 -
30. Sep. 2014 MicroDuino JoyPad Kickstarter Yes
$27,007 / $20,000
11/2014 11/2014 On time, but some people are still waiting for their package.
1. Oct. 2014 MatchStick Kickstarter Yes
$470,310 / $100,000
02/2015 - Developers unit have shipped to backers in November 2014. I expect them to keep their schedule promise
7. Oct. 2014 TinyScreen Kickstarter Yes
$128,813 / $15,000
01/2015 - Shipping still scheduled for January, or February
9. Oct. 2014 The Egg Kickstarter No
$18,489 / $500,000
12/2014 - A new Kickstarter campaign is planned in January 2015
29. Oct. 2014 Zero+ IoT Wi-Fi Board Indiegogo No
$624 / $25,000
02/2015 -
6. Nov. 2014 Maker Club 3D Printed Robots Indiegogo Yes
12,018 GBP / 10,000 GBP
07/2015 -
14. Nov. 2014 Xped DeB Kickstarter Yes
$29,288 AUD / $18,5474 AUD
04/2015 -
19. Nov. 2014 DWA8 Wi-Fi Module Indiegogo No
$465 / $5,000
N/A - Available on Taobao
20. Nov. 2014 Jolla Tablet Indiegogo Yes
$1,824,055 / $380,000
05/2015 -
25. Nov. 2014 Imp Computer Indiegogo No
$12,092 / $100,000
03/2015 -

Hall of Shame

Last year, it was clear FocusWill Coolship project was a disaster, and the project owner clearly did not deliver the goods and kept silent. This year, I could not find project that I’m 100% sure failed with money being lost, but at least Plugaway Wi-Fi smart sockets could be a project where backers lost their money. The sockets were supposed to be delivered in March 2014, but nothing so far, and the last update in November is only about the API, nothing about delivery despite backers complains.

AFAICS, nobody lost money with Com1 Android Wear smartwatch, but they should have known better, as Google asked Indiegogo to take the project down, because only Google partners can develop and manufacture Android Wear devices.

Stats and Projects Delays

Out of the 55 campaigns, 15 project failed to reached their funding targets. Most projects without a successful crowdfunding still carried out, with 4 to 6 projects completely dead. That means 72% of projects got funded via crowdfunding, 90% of projects get manufactured (assuming the ones still under development will succeed). AIRTAME got the most funding with over $1,200,000 raised, but has not been so successful in terms of product delivery with 8 months delay.

Many projects are delayed, but Smart Socket Strip may take the delay crown, with a massive 1-year delay for the project, and backers upset of the constant postponing (or lies) about delivery dates. Fin Ring is also pretty bad, as the September 2014 promised delivery is now expected to occur on May 2015.

Hall of Fame

This year several project managed to deliver working products on time, although sometimes shipping was have taken place over a few months.

  • IteaDuino Lite Arduino clone was delivered right on schedule just a year ago.
  • MicroDuino JoyPads were delivered on November 2014 as promised
  • The first version of Console OS Android operating system for PC was released on December 2014.
  • STACK Box Home Automation / IoT Gateway were sent in December 2014. There aren’t many feedback for now, as most people are still waiting for delivery, or have just received their device.

Many other projects shipped with just one month delay, and still got good user feedback, and an active community around them, such as Micro Python, LOGi boar, VoCore Wi-Fi module, NavSpark. MicroView was also on schedule, and even slightly ahead of schedule, but unfortunately, Sparkfun shipped several boards without bootloaders, and they are still handling the returns.

That’s all for today. If you’ve had good or bad crowd-funding experiences, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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Zome ZMT-330A is Both an Android TV Box and a Wi-Fi Router

November 10th, 2014 7 comments

A few months ago I wrote about SinoVoip BPI-R1 board powered by Allwinner A20, and being a sort of hybrid media player / router system running Android with 5 Gigabit ports, Wi-Fi, HDMI output and SATA, but now somebody made an actual product which they call an “Android TV Box Wi-Fi Router” sold under the model name ZMT-330A, and based on Nufront NS115 dual core processor.

Android_wi-fi_routerZome ZMT-330A specifications:

  • SoC – Nufront NS115 dual core Cortex A9 @ 1.0GHz + Mali-400 GPU
  • System Memory – Nufront: 512 MB DDR3 (1GB optional); Wi-Fi module: 32MB SDRAM (64MB optional)
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC Flash  (8 /16 GB optional) +  micro SD slot; Wi-Fi module: 8MB SPI flash (16MB optional)
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Video Codecs and Containers – AVI, H.265, VC-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DIVD/DIVX, Real8/9/10, RM, RMVB, PMP, FLV, MP4, M4V, VOB, WMV, 3GP, MKV
  • Connectivity – 2x 10/100M Ethernel ports (LAN and WAN), 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 2T2R up to 300 Mbps with two external antennas
  • USB – 2x USB host port, 1x micro USB
  • Misc – IR receiver, reset (recovery?) button, and power button. 5x LEDs on front panel.
  • Power – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A
  • Weight – N/A

Based on these rather strange specifications, it would seem Nufront NS115 is handle the Android 4.2 part, and there may be a separate Wi-Fi SoC with 32 to 64 MB RAM and 8 to 8 MB SP I flash running a Linux? OS to handle the router part, which does not make a lot of sense. Nufront NS115 is also a relatively old processor (about 2 years old), and I reviewed an HDMI TV dongle based on NS115, and found it to be OK, but with not-so-good video playback capabilities. I thought the chip was dead in the water, but it’s still around apparently, and hopefully they’ve improved some of the shortcomings. If you’re a looking for a system with processor with some (GPL) source code, you can give it a pass.

Zome ZMT-330A can be purchased on Aliexpress for $69.99, but the seller has no feedback, and I could not find this device anywhere else.

Thanks to Gabe for the tip.

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TP-Link TL-WDR7500 (Archer C7) 802.11ac Router Review

September 28th, 2014 14 comments

With several new Android devices coming with the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi, I decided I should buy a new router with AC1200 class or greater and Gigabit Ethernet support, and with a budget of $100. Xiaomi Mi Wi-Fi Mini router almost matched my requirements, but unfortunately only comes with Fast Ethernet ports. TP-Link Archer C7 selling for $96 Amazon US exactly matched my budget, and outmatched my requirements being an AC1750 router with 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two USB ports. Since Amazon won’t ship to my location and shipping would have gone over budget, I expected to find it locally for a slightly higher price, but it ended up selling for over $200 here, allegedly because of a lifetime guarantee. Finally, I ended up buying TP-Link TL-WDR7500, the Chinese version of Archer C7 with 6 Wi-Fi antennas instead of 3, for $94.32 including shipping on Aliexpress.

I’ll take some pictures of the device, explain options to change the Chinese web interface into English, compare the Wi-Fi range to my existing router (TP-Link), and perform some transfer test using 802.11n and 802.11ac with Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta, and HPH NT-V6 Android media player both supported 802.11ac thanks to AP6335 wireless module.

Unboxing Photos

When I received the package I was surprised how big the parcel was, and it felt massive compared to the size of mini PC packages.

TP-Link_TL-WDR7500_Router_Package

The complete package is in Chinese, so this router is definitely designed for the Chinese market only. Based on the text on the package, it’s indeed an AC1700 router with a throughput up to 1.3Gbps @ 5 GHz, and 450 Mbps @ 2.4 Ghz.

Chinese_TP-Link_Archer_C7_Package_Content
The router itself is quite big, and the 6 antennas (3 for 2.4Ghz, 3 for 5Ghz) explain why you’d need such as large package. As expected all documents are in Chinese.

TL-DWR7500 Router and Accessories.

TL-DWR7500 Router and Accessories.

The router comes with a 2m-meter blue Ethernet cable, a 12V/1A power supply, a user’s manual in Chinese, a warranty card, and another small paper listing where traces of lead, mercury, cadmium… may be found.

TP-Link TL-WDR7500 Router (Click to Enlarge)

TP-Link TL-WDR7500 Router (Click to Enlarge)

TP-Link TP-WDR7500 router looks pretty neat once it’s installed. You’ll get a bunch of LEDS on the front panel (left to right): Power, System/Status, 2.4 GHz connection, 5GHz connection, 4x LEDs for LAN ports, 1x LED for WAN port, and WPS. On the back panel, we’ll find a power jack, a power button, two USB 2.0 ports with LED for mass storage (FTP, Samba…), a WAN port, four LAN ports, and a WPS/Reset button.

Bottom of Enclosure (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of Enclosure (Click to Enlarge)

On the case’s bottom you’ll get a sticker with loin details, S/N, and MAC address. You’ll also notice two holes for wall-mounting the router.

TP-Link TL-WDR7500 / Archer C7 Review

Setting up the router

So I’ve installed my new router close to my old one to perform range and performance testing.

TP-LINK TL-WR940N_Archer_C7TP-Link TL-WR940N is wall-mounted, beer can optimized, and comes with 3 external antennas for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi (no 5Ghz support). This is actually equivalent to TL-WDR7500 router with 3 external antennas for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, and three more with 5GHz.

Once everything is connected, you’ll need to access the router with Wi-Fi or Ethernet using the router IP address (192.168.1.1), and login credentials (admin/admin). Provide the computer/device you use to connect to the router support dual band Wi-Fi, you should see two new ESSID: TP-LINK_5GHz_F9EB0E and TP-LINK_2.4GHz_F9EB0E for respectively 5 and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.

TP-Link_Archer_C7_ChineseFor most people, using the Chinese interface may be a problem. But luckily there are several options:

  • Use TP-Link Archer C7 simulator side-by-side the Chinese router.
  • Use Greasemonkey add-ons in Firefox with TPlink-WDR7500-UITranslate script
  • Download and flash Archer C7 firmware. There are several version of Archer C7 and TL-WDR7500, so you’d have to make sure you install the right, or you may brick your router.
  • Install OpenWRT. Depending on the model you bought, only 2.4 GHz may be supported, and the latest version of the PCB may not be supported yet. According to the router interface. mine is “WDR7500 v2″, the earlier model. I haven’t open it, so I can’t confirm. You can find picture of the PCB on OpenWRT. The wireless SoC used should either be Qualcomm QCA9880-AR1A (v1) or QCA9880-BR4A (v2).

Since I use Firefox as my main browser, I just installed the script as it’s fast and easy, and it automatically translates the left menu, and the most important settings.

TP-Link_TL-WDR7500_English

However, anything below DHCP server has not been translated. So it’s enough for basic settings, but for more access settings you’ll probably want to find a better option. The script limits itself so some IP ranges, and when I changed the default subnet to 192.168.2.x, I had to edit the script within Firefox to add 192.168.2.0. It’s very easy to do.

TP-Link TL-WDR7500 Signal Strength and Range

I haven’t kept the default ESSID in the router. My older TP-Link router is CNX-TRANLATION (2.4 Ghz), and I’ve configure TL-WDR7500 with CNX-SOFTWARE (2.4 GHz), and CNX-SOFTWARE_5G (5Ghz). In this part of the review, I just walked about with my phone (ThL W200) checking the signal strength in various locations with Wifi analyzer.

My Office

My Office – 1 wall about 6 meters from routers

Wife

Wife’s Office – 2 walls, about 18 meters from routers

Garden

Garden – 1 wall about 14 meters from routers

Street

Street – 1 wall about 50 meters from router

It’s quite clear both router have about the same range, and signal strength at various locations. The only small difference is that on the street, CNX-TRANSLATION (TL-WR940N) had a tendency to come and go, whereas CNX-SOFTWARE (TL-WDR7500) signal appeared to be more stable.

I was unable to test 5GHz 802.11n/ac range, since I don’t own any mobile devices supporting it.

TP-Link TL-WDR7500 Throughput Testing

Finding out a router range is interesting, but the reason to buy a 802.11ac is not really about improved range, but rather faster throughput. So I’ll put two Android TV boxes to test, transferring a 278 MB from SAMBA to their internal eMMC and vice-versa using 802.11n (2.4 GHz) with both TL-WR940N and TL-WDR7500 routers, and 802.11ac with the new router. I used ES File Explorer for this purpose, repeating the tests three times, and averaged the results.

The first device under test was Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta Android mini PC with Rockchip RK3288 processor and an AP6335 module with an external antenna.

Tronsmart_Orion_R28_Meta_Wi-Fi

Throughput in MB/s

OK, so that’s quite disappointing as 802.11ac is much slower than 802.11n… The 5GHz connection was initially set with a speed of 433Mbps (as reported in Android Settings), but it fell to 117 Mbps after a while. Orion R28 Meta has an external Wi-Fi antenna, but for some reasons the signal is not “Excellent” but only “Fair”, almost like if there’s a bad contact with the external antenna.

Let’s move to HPH NT-V6, another media player based on Rockchip RK3288 processor with AP6335 module, to see if performance is any better.

HPH_NT-V6_Wi-Fi

Throughput in MB/s

Performance in underwhelming again. The 802.11ac is connected at 292 Mbps, and the results are a bit better than Orion R28, but it’s not the real picture as I discarded one of the transfer which dropped to around 10 KB/s over a 17 Mbps connection. You may wonder why there’s no result with 802.11n using TL-WDR7500. The reason is simple: two of the three transfer were very slow and even stalled at times, so I canceled them. The transfer that went through took 3 minutes 50 seconds with an average of 1.20 MB/s… The connection was more stable with my older router @ 1.92 MB/s, a very average score among Android mini PCs, as the best device

The best device I’ve tested can reach 3.84 MB/s on average with 802.11n, so it’s clear disappointing that I haven’t been able to go faster with any of the devices I’ve tested over 802.11ac. Having said that it’s very difficult to draw a conclusion regards the performance of either TL-WDR7500 router, and the two Android TV boxes because I don’t have a reference platform that’s known to work properly that could help pinpoint the bottleneck in these tests. But at least I’ve learned that 802.11ac does not always beats 802.11n.

USB Mass Storage and Gigabit Ethernet

To complete my review, I connected a USB 3.0 hard drive to one of the USB 2.0 port on the back of the router to test both USB transfer speed, and Gigabit Ethernet. Normally I get about 30 MB/s transfer rate if my drive is connected to USB 2.0, but I only got 7.3 MB/s over a SAMBA connection, and quickly realized the LED on my Gigabit Ethernet switch (D-Link DGS-1005A) indicated a Fast Ethernet connection with the router… The Cat5e cable between the router and the switch is is 15 meter long, so I thought maybe it could be an issue. I brought my router closer to try several cables and I could get a Gigabit connection with some, but not all. Again, I can’t be sure 100% of the reason for this issue, but based on experience I’d tend to think the problem is related to with Gigabit switch, which has been picky with other devices too.

Gigabit Ethernet has been introduced in 1999, so I was naively thinking after 15 years it should just work with no problem, but actual testing showed it was not the case…

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SinoVoIP BPI-R1 Board Based on AllWinner A20 Features 5 Ethernet Ports, a SATA Interface, and More

September 2nd, 2014 15 comments

SinoVoIP, a company known for its Banana Pi board and related spamming, has been working on another AllWinner A20 product called BPI-R1 (Banana Pi R1), a router/NAS platform that features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports, a SATA interface, HDMI, audio output, and more.

SinoVoIP_BPI-R1_Router
BPI-R1 Board specifications:

  • SoC- Allwinner A20 dual core Cortex A7 processor @ 1 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – SD card slot up to 64GB, SATA connector for hard drive or SSD up to 2TB
  • Video output – HDMI, LVDS/RGB via DSI connectors
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm stereo jack, and on-board microphone
  • Camera – CSI connector possibly interfacing with their upcoming BPI-D1 camera
  • Connectivity – 5x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) ports including 4x LAN ports, 1x WAN port, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (RTL8192CU module) with two antenna connectors.
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x micro USB for power
  • I/O Expansion Headers:
    • 26-pin header (but not fully R-Pi compatible) with access to GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI, CAN, PWM, 3.3V, 5V and GND pins
    • 8-pin header with UART7, 2 more GPIOs, and power signals
    • 2-pin header for UART0 Tx and Rx.
  • Misc – Power and reset buttons, Power and user LEDs, IR receiver, Battery connector
  • Dimensions – 148 x 100 mm
  • Weight – 83 grams

The company will provide Linux and Android 4.2.2 images and source code for the board. They also claim BPI-R1 is an “open source router”, but based on their previous products, that only includes the software, not the hardware.

AllWinner_A20_Router_NASThe board is expected to be available in October 2014 for $65. OS Images should eventually become available in the Download section of Bananapi.com, and source code in their github account. Further details may be available on SinoVoIP BRI-R1 product page.

Thank you Lalith!

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$25 GL.iNet 6416A is an Hackable OpenWRT Router with Easy UART and GPIO Access

August 25th, 2014 6 comments

There are plenty of low cost routers supporting OpenWRT, but GL.iNet 6416A has several advantages compared to devices like TP-Link WR703N. Both are based on Atheros AR9931, but GL.iNet router has more memory and storage (64MB RAM + 16MB Flash vs 32MB RAM + 4MB Flash), two Ethernet ports instead of just one, and 6 GPIOs, the serial pins, and power signals (5V, 3.3V and GND) are all easily accessible via though holes or headers. Gl.iNet 6416A can be purchased for about $25 on DealExtreme or Amazon US, and it used to be listed on eBay, but is now out of stock.

GL.inet_6416AGl/iNET 6416A specifications:

  • Wi-Fi SoC – Atheros AR9331 MIPS processor @ 400 MHz
  • System Memory – 64MB RAM
  • Storage – 16MB Flash
  • Connectivity – 2x 10/100 Mbit Ethernet ports, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-FI up to 150Mbps
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x micro USB port for power
  • Debugging – Serial console via UART header (GND, Tx, Rx)
  • Expansion – 6 GPIOs, 5V, 3.3V, and GND.
  • Misc – Reset button, LED indicator
  • Power – 5V (micro USB)
  • Dimension – 5.8 x 5.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Weight 42 grams.

The device is also said to support USB webcams (MJPG or YUV), and USB mass storage with FAT32, EXFAT, EXT-2/3/4, and NTFS file systems using the stock firmware. There are also Android and iOS apps to manage the router.

GL.iNet_6416A_Board

GL.iNet 6416A Board Description – Source: Stian Eikeland

6416A router, and its little brother, 6408A, with 8 MB flash, are now part of mainline OpenWRT. You can also follow news and access short tutorials for the board on GL.iNet website, and check out the product page.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip.

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