WL-700gE Serial Port Mod

The Asus WL-700gE is an interesting device. It provides NAS, streaming and routing services thanks to linux. In their quest to modify the WL-700gE to a more flexible platform, [Eric] documented adding a serial port to its not so spacious innards. (FYI, Standard serial/RS-232 signals are around 5 volts ok, more like 12. I was thinking of the max 232/n variety) Asus was kind enough to provide through hole mounts and a TTL interface right on the board with console access already turned on.

I hadn’t realized it before, but the Siemens phone USB data cable is a nice cheap source of USB to TTL serial interfaces. Ironically, replacing the cable on the data unit was actually more difficult than adding the port to the router.

14 thoughts on “WL-700gE Serial Port Mod

  1. Since this thing is already on the network, and is running linux, why just use SSH? The Dropbear SSH server is only like 100kb…

    Or, if you guys were really hackers you would have used a small usb enabled PIC to do the serial-> usb conversion. There is plenty of room on that board to add the like 5 parts you would need.

  2. #3, if you’d read the article, he describes exactly what they need it for:
    “Okay, seriously, the real work of replacing the Asus provided firmware lies ahead. Brett Neumeier has already demonstrated progress on it.

    Now that we have a serial console, it should be possible to build our linux, flash it onto the system, watch it boot, see where it crashes, and make some changes, re-flash, watch it boot, see where it crashes, lather-rinse-repeat. This will be a time consuming and tedious process, I’m sure. At times I expect it to be down right infuratingly frustrating. My hope is that in the end we have a powerful linux server in a tiny package and, more importantly, a deeper understanding of linux, cross-compiling, and embedded systems in general.”

  3. From what I read about the machine, it may have a nice selection of features, but they are poorly integrated and the ui is bad. There are also lots of bugs.

    I can see why they would want to do this. Its a machine with great potential: If they complete this project, I’d probably buy one myself.

  4. I agree with the uC solution for direct USB. I’ve also though of using cellphone data cables for cheap usb to serial. but really theses days they go for the same price than “full blow” usb2rs232 adaptors on ebay (like 1£ -pounds sterling if the egines messes that up – + S&H from Hong Kong ;P). The direct uC solution would probably cost around the same or a bit cheaper if you can grab the parts locally and/or have some laying around. It would have the added bonus of a direct usb cable in the back of the machine :D Not to mention the hack/geek factor++

  5. Great to see the interest!

    Yes, direct mini-usb jack on the chassis would be way nicer than the usb serial cable hack, I agree. But I’m a hardware novice. If someone would post pictures and instructions, that’d be great!

    OpenWRT is a great project. We even donated a WL-700gE to the OpenWRT project so that they could get some real traction with it. We hope they get 100% support soon. Their goals are not the same as ours (for instance, we want only a bootloader in flash), but obviously we want to cheer them on.

    So far the only patches I’ve seen to support much of the hardware for the Asus WL-700gE are against the 2.4 kernel. Our efforts involve porting to the 2.6 kernel.

    Brett Neumeier has made great strides. He helped me rebuild the Asus “GPL” “source” tarball, and flash it on the system. Also, when last we VNCed together, he was demonstrating how to get network booting to work so we can boot new kernels over the network (thus no need to re-flash for every change) and in that session we worked through mounting a root filesystem over NFS.

    So progress is slow, but non-zero.

    Wish us luck!

  6. The reason why it builded on 2.4 is because 2.6 hasn’t got a stable wireless driver :(

    Take a look over here some guys have made great site on how to set up openwrt on it, And I must say running it for 2/3 weeks now. It turned my device in one bad ass router capable doing almost anything :)

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.