Using a router as a wireless embedded platform

If you’re going to make your next project wireless, you don’t need an XBee, WiFi shield, or even a Bluetooth module. Turning old hardware into a dev board is extremely easy, as [Taikson] shows us by adding an I2C bus to a Fonera router. (Spanish, here’s the Google translation)

To add an I2C bus, [Taikson] took two pins that originally went to a router status pin and soldered on a pair of wires. [Taikson]‘s router is running OpenWrt, so adding support for I2C devices is just a matter of changing a few kernel settings.

As for what you can do with a router development platform, the sky’s the limit. Last year, [Taikson] controlled a quadcopter from within a web browser with a similarly modified I2C-enabled router. It’s a clever hack, and with a little bit of work it should be possible to add a few sensors or even a camera to his quadcopter.

Comments

  1. Nomad says:

    And the shackspace hackerspace in Stuttgart is all like: BT;DT

    http://shackspace.de/wiki/doku.php?id=project:white_box

    We’re opening our entrance door with a fonera AP.
    Though the wireless stack on the firmware that we are running right now is buggy as hell. Under some conditions errors are caused and it writes those events to the log. The logging activity is monitored and makes the portal beep every time. The last time someone moved around mp3 files and each time a file was transfered, the portal beeped :D

  2. GCL says:

    Interesting idea.
    There is (or was) a site on Source Forge who discussed the ideas, http://hri.sf.net and it promoted much of what he’s got in mind there.

  3. DarkSky says:

    There are also other cheap routers, for example some Tp-Link models, that offer (apart from the processor gpios) 400mhz mips cpu, 32 mbyte RAM, even USB host. I have 2 of them running custom builds of OpenWRT and they are doing pretty well.

    • lwatcdr says:

      Any links to the TP-link routers? Aslo any gotchas like only V2 works with open firmware?

      • Robert says:

        The TL-MR3220 (check the OpenWRT wiki) is probably the cheapest (<$40, sometimes $25; check Amazon & newegg) and nicest. They've got USB 2.0 and wireless-N. I use a handful of these with 3G modems and some mesh VPN software and they haven't had any problems yet.

        There's also the TL-MR3020 which is similarly spec'd but much smaller and USB powered. They're not as cheap as the other but still well under $50.

    • lwatcdr says:

      Another option that I don’t see used much is the Pogoplug. It uses linux and can be reflashed, is pretty cheap, not as cheap as some routers but still cheap, and you can add Wifi to it with USB and or IO with a USB printer port or serial port.

  4. Tyler says:

    This is very commonly done in industry as a prototyping platform. Sometimes, the lights on the routers are just used as GPIO’s.

  5. RobinJood says:

    There’s a company called omnima that sell these ‘router’ type boards purposely for use by hackers/embedded system people.

    I’ve got the old LAN model (comes with USB ports that can support a wifi stick). But they now have a wifi model – http://www.omnima.co.uk/store/catalog/MiniEMBWiFi-p-16180.html

    Usually you can get a used router with similar hardware much cheaper on ebay. But if you don’t want the fuss of “hacking” something and want USB ports built in then the omnima board is perfect.

    Although with the raspberry pi available soon (for us mere mortals who didn’t get lucky in the early batch even if we were sitting there hitting refresh) these kinda boards wont be needed!

  6. tokala says:

    I used an old Dlink DSL-502T with Open-WRT to control my garden watering.
    The router has 33 GPIO ports and I used optocouplers, to run relays, to switch the valves. The values are from washing machines and use 12V to switch the water off and on. The system also fills up the dogs water bowl each morning.

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