Complete guide to compiling OpenWRT

Regular reader [MS3FGX] recently wrote a guide to compiling OpenWRT from source. You may be wondering why directions for compiling an open source program warrant this kind of attention. The size and scope of the package make it difficult to traverse the options available to you at each point in the process, but [MS3FGX] adds clarity by discussion as much as possible along the way.

OpenWRT is an open source alternative firmware package that runs on may routers. It started as a way to unlock the potential of the Linksys WRT54G. But the versatility of the user interface, and the accessibility of the Linux kernel made it a must-have for any router. This is part of what has complicated the build process. There are many different architectures supported and you’ve got to configure the package to build for your specific hardware (or risk a bad firmware flash!).

You’ll need some hefty hardware to ease the processing time. The source package is about 300 MB but after compilation the disk usage will reach into the Gigabyte range. [MS3FGX] used a 6-core processor for compilation and it still took over 20 minutes for a bare-bones distribution. No wonder pre-built binaries are the only thing we’ve ever tried. But this is a good way to introduce yourself to the inner workings of the package and might make for a frustrating fun weekend project.

Cheap WiFi bridge for pen testing or otherwise

Twenty three dollars. That’s all this tiny pen-testing device will set you back. And there really isn’t much to it. [Kevin Bong] came up with the idea to use a Wifi router as a bridge to test a wired network’s security remotely. He grabbed a TP-Link TL-WR703N router, a low-profile thumb drive, and a cellphone backup battery; all cheaply available products.

No hardware hacking is necessary to connect the three components. The only other preparation needed is to reflash the router firmware with OpenWRT and load it up with common pen-testing software packages like Netcrack and Airhack.

[Kevin] calls this a drop box, because you find an Ethernet jack, plug it in, and drop it there. You can then connect to the router via Wifi and begin testing the wired network security measures. We’re sure images of espionage pop into your head from that description, but we’re certain this can be useful in other ways as well. If you ever find yourself with an Ethernet connection but no access to Wifi this is a quick way to setup an AP.

Extend your personal weather station’s reporting capabilities

This Nexus wireless weather station has an array of weather sensors that you mount outside and monitor on the LCD screen. It also has the ability to stream the data over USB, but that feature is only supported in Windows and the companion software leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s a technique that will let you unlock the potential of the data by streaming it to your Linux box or directly to the Internet.

It turns out that grabbing the data via Linux has been made quite easy thanks to a package called TE923 (translated). With the base unit connected via USB, the software will pull down a string of colon-separated data which will be easy to parse using your favorite scripting language. But what if you don’t want to tether this to a computer?

The project goes one step further by using a Carambola board. This is a WiFi board with a USB port on it. It runs OpenWRT so getting TE923 going is as simple as building the package. The best part is, any wireless router that runs OpenWRT (or DD-WRT, etc.) and has a USB port can substitute for this board. With the module connected to the station, data is pushed to the Pachube website to serve as a custom web readout.

[Thanks Saulius]

RAM upgrade for WRT300N router

[Heli] had a WRT300N wireless router sitting around collecting dust. He decided to squeeze at bit more entertainment value out of it by seeing if he could pull off a RAM upgrade. He managed to double the router’s RAM and posted a walk through (translated) to help you do the same.

Swapping out surface mount RAM chips isn’t the easiest thing in the world and you must wondering what prompted this. It seems he wanted to run the LuCI package on the router but it was slow (or even incapable) of booting with the stock hardware’s 16 Mb. He first sourced some pin-compatible replacement chips from an old Pentium III computer. While his soldering iron was hot, he also wired up a JTAG header, which connects via the red wires just visible to the left. When he first fired up the unit he was happy that it was able to boot, but it still only detected 16 Mb.

It turns out you’re going to need to roll your own kernel to get it to take advantage of the upgrade. Source code for OpenWRT is easy to find and there’s plenty of guides for compiling it. If you try this, make sure to read [Heli's] post carefully as he’s got some important configuration information that will help you to avoid bricking your router.

Using a router as a Linux-based PID controller

espresso_machine_pid

[Nathan] had an small router kicking around and thought that he might as well put it to good use. He had always been interested in getting a better handle on his espresso machine, and figured that the router would be a perfect Linux-based PID controller.

He installed OpenWRT on the router, then disassembled it in order to get access to the router’s GPIO pins. He built a small PCB that allows him to get temperature info from the machine to the router using i2c. [Nathan] put together a PID package for OpenWRT, allowing him to control the machine over SSH, though he may build in a user-friendly web interface sometime in the future.

He says that most espresso machine PID controllers he has seen come in the form of big ugly boxes slapped on the side of the machine’s case, though we have to disagree with him on that point. Opinions aside, he is going for a minimalist design, and while he says that he is only about half way through the project, we think things are looking promising so far.

When everything is said and done, we hope to get a much closer look at all of his code, schematics, and more information on the router he used as well.

Measuring home networks with BISMark

The Broadband Internet Service BenchMARK is an open source initiative to put tools in the hands of the common Internet user that will make measurement and analyzation of home network traffic easier. It targets LAN and WAN network utilization by measuring latency, packet loss, jitter, upstream throughput, and downstream throughput. Of course gathering data isn’t worth anything unless you have a way to present it, and to that end the Project BISMark team has been developing a web interface where you can view the usage of anyone who’s running the firmware.

The project builds on top of OpenWRT, which means that you should be able to run it on any router that’s OpenWRT compatible. This includes the ubiquitous WRT54G routers and many others. We remember when DD-WRT added bandwidth monitoring as part of the standard release, which really came in handy when the stories about ISP bandwidth capping started to hit. We’re glad to see even more functionality with this package as it can be hard to really understand what is going on in your network. After the break you’ll find a video detailing the features of BISMark.

[Read more...]

Wifon is back and better than ever

wifon_v2

Hackaday forum member [Emeryth] recently posted his newest creation, the Wifon 2.0, which is an update to a project we featured last year. The second iteration of the device looks to make several improvements on the already solid concept.

Ditching the simple 16×4 LCD, version 2 sports a full color 320×240 touch panel LCD. A faster STM32 micro controller replaces the Atmega88 he used the first time around, allowing him to create a much more advanced user interface. The micro runs the ChibiOS/RT real time operating system, which enables multitasking, making the entire project a lot easier. Like the first version, an original Fonera performs all of the pen testing, though this time around he has ditched the vanilla DD-WRT distro for Jasager, which is purpose-built for running the Karma attack.

The project is coming along nicely, and [Emeryth] says he has a few simple apps running on the device already. He has found that running several applications on the device simultaneously is testing the practical limits of the Foneras capabilities, though he may add more memory to the router in order to squeeze a little more life out of it.

[via Hackaday forums]

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