Mesh Stations provides the basic communication and storage infrastructure to the community cluster, they form the core network that all other stations rely on for communication and storage.
Mesh Stations give your Private Cyberspace communication bandwidth at revolutionary price points by combining free yet featureful software (e.g. OpenWrt) with low cost yet powerful hardware (e.g. Raspberry Pi).
There is NO power supply (available separately for about AU$12). This is great for plugging into USB ports in the car or laptop.
Note there is another GL-AR300M16 model with external antennas, so has "Ext" at the end of the model name (GL-AR300M16-Ext). Although its removable antennas enables higher gain antennas to be swapped in to reach more neighbours when placed outdoors, in such a situation we prefer to add an extra high gain USB WiFi Adapter to the plain GL-AR300M16 model instead.
Look out for frequent special deals, we bought a few at ONLY AU$33.06 in Jan-2023. If you are not a Prime member, ordering one more unit will get you free transport.
2. Price Performance
Unless you really need GL-AR300M16's small size and low power, the GL-AR750 (MS23) is a better deal with power supply, microSD slot and 5GHz radio.
For hardware hackers, I2C and UART headers inside the GL-AR750 enables it to be expanded with thousands of add-ons.
Accessing the built-in headers is NOT for the faint hearted, you have to pry open the case yourself.
Note location of the headers are just underneath the 5G antenna, so if you are attaching cables to them, then do NOT screw the cover back fully, leave a gap so the cables do NOT touch the antenna above it.
To access the headers jumper cables can be used and the lid needs to be risen so the 5GHz antenna does not touch the cables.
The 7mm vertical gap is enough to for the cables to not touch the 5GHz antenna at the underside of the cover.
Looks OK from the top, but still need sticky tape or cable ties to secure the now loose cover with the main unit.
Despite the manufacturer saying that the microSD in the GL-AR750 only supports up to 128GByte, the GL857L chip inside supports SDXC which can go up to 2TByte. MicroSD cards up to 1TByte has been tested to work.
9. SPI Flash
Macronix KH25L12835F - 16MByte internal serial flash memory.
Plug in the WAN port of the GL-AR750 to the network and power on the GL-AR750. Using your computer's WiFi, search for the GL-AR750 WiFi SSID, which is normally in the format of GL-AR750-xxx. The default WiFi password is goodlife.
In the left sidebar, click on More Settings > Advanced and click on the install Luci on the right hand side. Do not close the browser or turn off the GL-AR750 until the pop-up window that shows Luci has been installed successfully is displayed.
Click on the URL and after entering the password and click on the Login button, go to System -> Backup/Flash Firmware -> Flash new firmware image, locate the openwrt-ath79-generic-glinet_gl-ar750-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin previously downloaded and Upload.
WIFI AUTOMATICALLY DISABLED AFTER FIRMWARE UPGRADE - MORE TESTS NEEDED
IMPORTANT: you must tick the Keep settings and retain the current configuration otherwise the WiFi will be disabled after the firmware upgrade has been completed. DO NOT turn off or disconnect the power until the firmware upgrade has been completed which normally takes approximately for 5 minutes. During the firmware upgrade, Power LED blinks first for some time, then it alternates between steady and blinking until it finally steadies.
If the GL-AR750 WiFi is not detected after the firmware upgrade, you will need to plug in a LAN cable from your computer to one of the LAN ports on the GL-AR750.
Step 2: Set up OpenWISP (can also be built into the firmware)
To install the packages needed, login using the LuCI web interface, click on System -> Software -> Update lists button. There are three software packages needed:
Once the "Update Lists" process has been completed, in the "Filter" field, type in "openwisp" and the three openwisp packages will be shown. Click on the Install button and once the installation for the package has been completed, the button will be greyed out.
Once all the three packages have been installed, reload the page, and go to System -> System to change the Hostname according to your preference. Then go to Services -> OpenWISP
Enter the Shared Secret: you can retrieve this from OpenWISP admin panel (same as Server URL above), in the Organization settings or contact your network administrator.
Click on the Save $ Apply button.
The router should be automatically detected by the server. If the router is not shown, please reboot the router. In the example below, three routers are detected.
Step 3: Adding a USB drive
Use your laptop/desktop computer to format your USB device. Use the default name and format options. This prepares the USB drive for the process below, which will erase those settings (again). Warning: This initial formatting will erase the entire USB drive.
SSH into the router and enter the following command into the SSH window to install the required packages: opkg update && opkg install block-mount e2fsprogs kmod-fs-ext4 kmod-usb-storage kmod-usb2 kmod-usb3
Enter ls -al /dev/sd* to show the name of all attached USB devices. The list may be empty if there are no USB devices.
Insert the USB drive into your router. Enter ls -al /dev/sd* again, and this time you should see a new /dev/sdXX device. sdXX is the device name of your new USB device. In the example below, the USB drive is sda1.
Make an ext4 filesystem on the USB device using the device name you just discovered. Note: Be certain you enter the proper device name - this step will completely erase the device. Based on the USB drive detected above, the command is mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1
Create the fstab config file based on all the block devices found by using the command: block detect | uci import fstab
Update the fstab config file to mount all drives at startup by using the command: uci set fstab.@mount.enabled='1' && uci set fstab.@global.anon_mount='1' && uci commit fstab
Mount the device by using the command: /etc/init.d/fstab boot
To confirm whether the USB device has been detected and mounted, open OpenWrt web interface, select System -> Mount Points. If correctly configured, it will be shown in the Mounted file systems menu. If the USB device is not detected, the router may need to be rebooted.
Connect only one cable to the router, and leave the other port (LAN or WAN) unconnected .
Open the terminal of your computer, e.g: the MS-DOS Command Prompt and type "ping 192.168.1.1 -t"
There should be NO response, as the device is bricked.
Press and hold the Reset button firmly on the router first and then power on.
The 5G LED will blink 5 times before becoming steady, at which time the 2G LED shows up steady as well. Now release the finger, the terminal will show Reply from 192.168.1.1 from the previous "ping" command.
Use Firefox or Chrome and go to http://192.168.1.1. to enter the Uboot Web UI, browse to the location of the firmware downloaded and click on the Update firmware button.
Wait for around 5 minutes.
DO NOT power off your device while upgrading.
Note During this process, 5G LED initially blinks for a while, followed by both 5G and 2G rapidly blinking. Then only power LED remains steady for a while, followed by some blinking on power LEDs again, until it finally remains steady. Only then you will be able to access the router via 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.8.1 again.