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Posts Tagged ‘dongle’

A Look at Some USB 3.0 WiFi 802.11ac Adapters with Multiple High Gain Antennas

August 11th, 2017 9 comments

When last week I reviewed Rock64 board I noticed they sold a “USB 3.0 Dual Band 1200Mbps WIFI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (RTL8812AU) adapter” for $19.99. So far I had only seen USB dongles with internal antennas or a single external antenna, but in the case of development boards, which may be used as routers or gateways, it makes perfect sense to get such adapter for higher performance and longer range. The only problem is that it “ships together with ROCK64 fulfillment”, meaning you can’t purchase it separately if you already have some other board to use, so I went to look for alternatives.

ROCK64 USB Dongle (left); COMFAST CF-926AC (right)

One of the first I’ve come across was COMFAST CF-926AC with the following specifications:

  • Chipset – Mediatek MT7612U
  • Interface –  USB 3.0 rotatable port
  • WiFi – Dual band 2T2R WiFi 802.11ac, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n up to “1200” Mbps (867 Mbps @ 5.8 GHz + 300 Mbps @ 2.4 GHz)
  • Antenna – 2x external high gain (3dBi) antennas (270° rotation)
  • Dimensions – 19.50 x 5.00 x 1.40 cm
  • Weight – 410 grams

The page description mentions it works without drivers on Windows, but one seller reports that “it can support win10 system receive wifi signal,but it can’t support win10 system emission wifi signal”. As usual, no mention of Linux, but luckily a quick search found MT7612U Linux driver with support for AP and STA mode, just don’t run iwconfig in AP mode… It requires Linux 4.2 or greater, and as only been tested on x86_64 so far, so your mileage may vary on other targets.

I first found it on Aliexpress for $16.99 shipped, but you’ll also find it on GearBest for $15.99, and Amazon US for $19.99.

EDUP EP-AC1621 AC1900 USB Adapter – Click to Enlarge

During my search I also found EDUP EP-AC1621 USB 3.0 WiFi adapter with four external antennas and the following specifications:

  • Chipset – Realtek RTL8814AU
  • Interface – USB 3.0 OTG port
  • WiFi – Dual band WiFi 802.11ac, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n up to 1900 Mbps (1300 Mbps @ 5.8 GHz + 600 Mbps @ 2.4 GHz)
  • Antenna – 4x external high gain (6dBi) antennas
  • Misc – WPS key
  • Dimensions – 9.0 x 4.4 x 1.4 cm (body); 17 cm long antennas

The device does not connect directly to the USB port, but instead via a one meter USB 3.0 OTG to USB 3.0 type A cable. The description explains it comes with an “easy to use CD setup wizard and compatible with Microsoft Windows XP/VISTA/Win7/8.1/10 Linux/Macintosh”. In case, you’d rather have an alternative driver, you’ll find an 8814AU Linux driver in Github based on the original driver  for Linux kernels up to 4.8 with DKMS support, but there are some commits to make it work with newer kernels.

I found that model on Aliexpress for $41.90, but again you can also purchase it on Amazon US or GearBest (and other sites).You may learn a little more by visiting the manufacturer’s product page.

Various other models are also sold, the important is to check whether the chipset is supported by your operating system, and if it supports the modes (AP, STA, AP+STA) required for your use case. Those type of adapters only really make sense with boards and devices with USB 3.0 interfaces, since USB 2.0 is limited to 480 Mbps.

H96 Pro Octa Core TV Dongle Runs Android 7.1.1 on Amlogic S912 Processor

July 13th, 2017 11 comments

That one will be confusing as H96 Pro is already a TV box, but somebody must have thought that model number was so good, it had to be re-used in another products. So I present to your H96 Pro TV dongle powered by the same Amlogic S912 processor running Android 7.1.1 Nougat. It’s not the first octa-core HDMI TV stick, as we’ve seen MeegoPad A02 (Allwinner A83T) and NEXBOX 809VI (Rockchip RK3368) in the past, but AFAICR I have not come across Amlogic S912 sticks before.

H96 Pro HDMI TV stick specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a male connector with HDR support
  • Video Codec – 4K H.265 and VP9 @ 60 fps, 4K H.264 @ 30 fps
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (2.4GHz), and Bluetooth 4.1 + EDR
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – TBD
  • Weight –  200g (TBC, probably a bit lighter than that)

As mentioned previously the stick runs Android 7.1.1, and ships with a micro USB cable for power, and a user manual in English. I’m a bit sad they somewhat crippled a 4K TV stick by not using a 802.11ac WiFi module. The product page claims that you can power it from your TV or projector USB port, but that may not always work, as such USB port may not deliver enough power for the stick to work reliably at all times. In the past, I could not even boot using that method with other TV sticks. So plan for an external USB power support to make sure. I would have thought by now that MHL would be a more common features in such TV dongle since many TVs now support MHL. Thermal management may also be an issue in such tight package.

I first found H96 Pro TV dongle GearBest where it is sold for $53.15 including shipping, but Aliexpress has better deals, including one seller offering it for $46.99 shipped.

Always Innovating Unveils Open Source Android 4.0 HDMI Dongle STB

January 10th, 2012 No comments

Always Innovating announced the “HDMI Dongle”, an open source portable STB that runs Android 4.0 on a Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor clocked between 1 and 1.8GHz with 256MB to 1GB of RAM, a microSD slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a remote control that provides NFC & accelerometers.

Texas Instruments OMAP4 STB HDMI Dongle

Always Innovating IPTV HDMI Dongle

The HDMI Dongle is a device of the size of a USB stick that can be plugged into any HDMI port to transform a any HDMI (and USB) capable TV into a smart TV. The USB port is used to power the device.

The company says the HDMI Dongle is “technically compatible with GoogleTV”, which probably means it is not yet supported, but a software upgrade could enable Google TV for Android 4.0.

The device provides a full-compatible Android experience and any application for this operating system can run on the dongle. The HDMI Dongle can stream and decode from the Internet 1080p H.264 video.

NFC & Accelerometer Remote

Always Innovating HDMI Donel Remote


The user interface is controlled with a 9-button remote control for easy navigation, and voice recognition for text input. The accelerometer located in the remote control enables a set of gravity-based games. The remote control also features a NFC chip to offer a tap-to-share experience.

You can have a look at the video below for a demo of the device in a Hotel room.

If you are following this blog, you may have read my post about the “Roku Streaming Stick” which is also an HDMI dongle to stream videos. The difference is that the Roku device support MHL, so it is directly powered via HDMI and you do not need to have an extra remote as the dongle can be controlled by your TV remote. The downside is that there are not many MHL-enabled  TVs (I contacted the MHL Consoritum and they provided with the list: a whooping 15 TV) and they are expensive. Roku also uses its own closed source software stack running on Linux whereas the “HDMI Dongle” is open source.

Always Innovating offers the HDMI Dongle to OEM on a licensing basis, so the final product will not be manufactured by this company. Having said that, they already have at least one customer, since they expect the HDMI Dongle to be available during Summer 2012 for between 49 to 99 USD.

If you are interested in licensing the HDMI Dongle you contact them at http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/company/licensing.htm to order the reference design which comes with an Open Source software solution including Angstrom, Ubuntu and Android.

OMAP4 Google TV HDMI Dongle

HDMI Dongle PCB

As the product has not been released yet, I think they only provide the source code to licensees for now. Once product retails, the source code will probably be available on Always Innovating Git Repository. They already have some code for their previous products and provide the modified source code for Android, Chrome, Meego, Open Embedded, Ubuntu and some Tools.

The company also mentions that the HDMI Dongle could be used inside a tablet or MID device thanks to the expansion header to interface to camera and LVDS screen. The PCB also provides all the features of a tablet including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, battery management, camera and NFC connectivity.

For further information, you can visit Always Innovating HDMI Dongle product page.