I have been using the AR150 almost daily on the road for about a month in a hotel.
I have also used it in the office to share files between colleagues and used it once in an airport. In both cases it was aggravation. It’s just not real convenient to have to plug it in for 5-10 minutes of use.
I would like to see the next GLI product come with a battery. Might as well just start with the MT300A as the base tech. I want to add VPN so the more the better. Other than the header it looks like the board could work as is in a bigger case.
I am of the opinion it’s not hard. I do not see a real need to tie the power button or power LEDs to the mobo, though it would be better. None of the competitive battery units seem to have this functionality working under OpenWRT anyhow. It would be just like pulling the plug. I don’t really care if it can charge anything, but I’m sure others will.
Check our MiFi board. It is a battery powered 3G/4G enabled AR150.
You can have options of:
with/without 3G/4G modem
But it only have one Ethernet. No options.
We are making the case. The expected date of release is in 2 months.
You could use a small power bank in the meantime, like the xiaomi 5000mah take a look here Mi Power Bank 5000mAh - Mi Singapore or others it´s very handy to keep one .
I also have been using the AR150 in a semi-travel scenario. When you only use it in ONE location then it works fine, but thats not the case when you travel.
When you travel then you often need to switch between networks, WPA WPA2, Wifi, LAN, you never know what to find. And you need an easy way to reconfigure and switch networks.
For now I find the AR150 a cute box to use with the TOR firmware at a fixed location, or to provide WiFi where there is none, also on a fixed location.
But when you need to connect the WAN side to different networks when you move to a new location that’s not always easy. When there is an option to connect the router to a wired LAN that’s ok, but when you need to connect to Wifi hotspots that’s when things become a hassle. I think the device needs some software to make this process more user friendly to be used as a travel router.
I wonder if the MiFi board can do this more easy. For instance when you travel to a place where there is no 3G and no LAN. Can you then simply pick a hotspot, enter a password and then surf the web? I see a lot of those 3G modems but non of them seem to be able to be used across the border.
I live near the border of 2 countries, and my 3G SIM ONLY works in my own country. And since I’m so close to the border there is also the issue of bad network coverage. So an easy way to switch would be very welcome. But then you also need something like TOR, there are many open hotspots, but also many that can’t be trusted. When you see a Starbucks hotspot then there is 90% chance it is not real. But even when it is real then you would be better off with some encryption.
After my last month on the road this would be perfect, especially if it has the GLI GUI. I am in an office with unreliable wireless and being able to get 4G on a SIM card wold be super. Unfortunately the project will be over before your product gets released. At this point I have found the AR150 to work well with wireless on both sides, so I expect this to be the same. I actually have not used the CAT5 on both sides simultaneously.
I have a battery, and just find the hole plugging it in annoying. In most airports I can just use the cable to a charging station. Just one more thing to unpack, connect, and loose.
@frietpan, I am thinking what is the easiest way to connect to different ssids. There are two problems:
First, it is better to have a LCD for displaying, better a touch screen. So you can do anything using the screen quickly, including scanning ssids, choose, type password and displaying status. Using a smartphone is not a good experience.
Second, it should be a battery powered. So it is ALWAYS ON. This is very important. You cannot wait for 1 minute to let it power up.
So, the problem will fall on cost and manufacturing. For software, a hacker can make this work without problems.
@RangerZ, even plugging a power wire is annoying, so we have a lot of other annoying things, e.g. wifi connection, wan connection, using smartphone to configure the router, and everything.
According to what we discussed above, seems we need:
- Batter powered, this will be true soon. But we will have a lot of troubles for shipping the product with battery.
- Always on and power control. It is best to keep the device powered on or wake up in several seconds. Unfortunately the SoC is not low-power consumption chip. But we have tested, a battery with 5000mAh can power the device with 4G modem for more than 8 hours.
- LCD and touch screen. This will be possible by adding a MCU, I think. This will bring a lot of convenience.
- Tor, VPN for security.
- 4G connection. This will be an option for the MiFi device.
I am thinking to make the reality for DIY using our MiFi. The problem now is to reserve some room for the plastic case for DIY use.
At point 1: I did read story’s about accu’s / batteries being hold at several customs declaration. Maybe you can talk to the people of DealExtreme. They use special routes for that.
At point 2: Maybe it’s an good idea to include a powerswitch which switches the power enterily off? It wouldn’t be a big deal to mee to have such a powerswitch.
At point 3: Maybe a small screen and a rotary encoder to control the things you see on the screen? Then you don’t need an expensive touchscreen and maybe freitpan and I can learn from it with our rotary encoders! Haha!
@ Jeroen : HAHA, I feel that 'm close though i’m not able to see a few things yet.
@ Alzhao : A display would indeed be a comfortable solution. What does a touch panel cost these days?
In area’s where 3g and wifi-hotspost are not available a LAN (RJ45) would also be welcome.
This MiFi device sounds interesting already.
Alzhao, I do not have a problem with the time to boot up. For a laptop it’s about the same and for a phone a lot less. the problem with no battery is I only have 8 hrs from the time I unplug the unit. There are times that I can not use the unit, like while on a plane, where it probably needs to be off any how. I would rather have the switch.
As for the configuration, I would rather have an APP that is only a connection manager for my phone. That would make it easy to store settings too, and deal with the usability issue. BTW, I have used the old iPhone app with my AR150 and it does connect, not played with it however. I do not object to a display if it can come in at a good price.
Again I think the big CPU is very important in the long run, but I would be very happy to have the AR71 for general compatibility
Thanks for listening!
@RangerZ, using touch screen to configure is much easier for using the app. Also the APP is difficult to develop. And sometime you cannot connect. Actually for the connection manager, we can just have the data stored on the router, because it is basically ssid, encryption, password, etc.
A touch screen is better than a rotary controller, because you need to input the password. This could be difficult for rotary controller.
alzhao, we’re using GL-AR150’s for IoT control purposes. So I’ve some suggestions for incremental improvements.
- Don't need two network ports. It's nice but makes the case larger.
- Keep the GPIO pins and the 2/3-position rocker switch. These are really useful.
- Provide external battery pack, controlled and charged by router. Battery packs can be sold/shipped/added separately.
- An external LCD or e-ink screen might be useful.
- Bluetooth LE would be useful.
Most critical for us is battery power (keeping GPIO, which MiFi seems to have dropped?).
Anyhow, thank you for the excellent devices, we are really enjoying the AR150 already.
Hi, For the MiFi board, we can add GPIOs in next version.
But we cannot satisfy all your needs, for example keep it small. Adding GPIO and battery charger will increase the size. If you don’t need any Ethernet port, the size can be smaller.
The mifi case will be much larger. It will host a battery pack.
For external battery, you have to have a hard case for protection, so why not just use a power bank, which is widely available and cheap enough.
External LCD, yes, maybe. The problem is still the size.
Bluetooth is not a big issues. We can use USB or serial to connect it to the board.
So, if you don’t mind size, the final mifi board will work for you:
- It provide batteries, and battery charger
- we can add more GPIOs,
- unfortunately we want to make it dual Eth port, not single Eth port as the current version,
- Bluetooth can be designed in PCIe module and replace the 3G/4G modem, but there will be modem.
- We don't have LCD now, but in the case we do reserved a cover which can be designed as LCD later.
If you do need some small and nice device for your special purpose, design some board using our Domino core, only reserves what you need. Then design a case. But actually I have no idea how it should looks like.
alzhao, thank you for the fast response!
Here is a video showing our demo.
Yes, we’re using powerbanks: the problem is the extra circuitry and wires, which add volume and are fragile (the microUSB connector falls out easily, causing power loss). In fact the lipo battery is small, we may try a 3D printed case to fit it under the AR150. We will experiment with other connectors for power.
This looks cool…
Are you using BATMAN mesh? You said it is stable for several days, which is very good.
How long does the lipo battery last? It should be around 20 hours for a 5000mAh battery.
For these nodes, actually we can use without any RJ45 which will save a lot of space and power. We can build something using Domino Core fast, if not considering the case, which is actually very important for your application.
Does Zyre works in Bluetooth mesh? Maybe we can build a bluetooth mesh for the local network and use the MiFi device for gateway and Internet connection.
We’re using Zyre clustering (zyre.com), no mesh. The nodes talk to a separate access point. I’m writing an article on it; the software is here: https://github.com/CodeJockey/glar150. It does work well, 100% reliable messaging between nodes.
The battery is rated 5,600mAh but I think it’s around 2,000mAh or less. It does last 12 hours anyhow.
Right now Zyre is using WiFi for discovery/transport, which is fragile in some cases. I’d love to make pure peer-to-peer mesh/star using BLE, using a MiFi gateway like you suggest.
Our research focus is IoT, and the AR150 makes a nice basis for this.
I see. If you are using mesh, you could use without the access point then.
Does Zyre work on bluetooth devices? Or do you see there is a way to port the software?
I’m not sure what mesh is possible without an AP. If we could get TCP and UDP over 802.11s working then Zyre will support that automatically. Otherwise we could use adhoc but that’s rather slow. So we plan to make Zyre work over Bluetooth, which it does not yet.
I have tested mesh on AR150. It works very nice without AP. This helps a lot because if you build this in the field, you don’t need to worry about if the nodes are connected to the ap or not. The mesh built a LAN network and Zyre should works good.
Interesting, what is the mesh protocol you’re using? Do you have examples of code using it?