Christopher Hunter cehunter at gb-x.org
Sun Feb 28 23:59:33 UTC 2016

I have a TP-Link dual-band effort and discovered that with the original 
firmware that both the transmit power and the receive sensitivity were 
both significantly crippled.  Replacing with dd-wrt allowed the router 
work as it was meant to!

Another approach has been to use the generic dumb wi-fi transceiver 
cards that are available from China for pennies and use them with a 
Raspberry Pi to handle the routing duties.  I also found a nice little 
Chinese board that fits directly to the Pi expansion bus connector and 
gives it two extra RJ45 ports.  The whole mess - including a linear 
(electrically quiet) power supply, some home-brewed colinear aerials and 
a small box to house it all in cost roughly the same as buying a Netgear 
equivalent!  There are any number of Pi-based router projects around.

It doesn't surprise me that the Americans are putting all these 
arbitrary limits on wi-fi performance.  They're paranoid about the 
"threat" posed by long-range wi-fi, and there was a plan to make the use 
of "enhanced" antennas a felony, since (according to the FCC) it would 
allow the router to cause "widespread interference"


On 28/02/16 22:20, Leo Francisco wrote:
> I guess we can only hope that they'll be enough open hardware such as 
> that banana pi that this mess won't be such a big blow. I think it 
> should be a specific criticism of all that choose to lock the hardware 
> down like that. They shouldn't be allowed to sell products with known 
> security vulnerabilities. That's criminal in my view.
> On 28/02/16 19:23, Philip Hands wrote:
>> Mike Brodbelt<mike at coruscant.org.uk>  writes:
>> ...
>>> TP Link is generally decent, ...
>> I agree, but be aware that may be about to change.
>> New FCC/EU rules are coming in about wireless equipment being locked
>> down enough to stop people doing naughty things with their
>> transmissions, and as you can see from the posts with FCC in their
>> subjects here:
>>    http://ml.ninux.org/pipermail/battlemesh/2016-February/thread.html#4379
>> TP-Link have reacted to that by making their US firmware
>> un-downgradeable -- which stops one from installing third party firmware.
>> This is not going to just be TP-Link, so is not a specific criticism of
>> them.  I imagine that any manufacturers that sell cheap WiFi kit into
>> the US will go a similar route.  The FCC apparently claim that they
>> didn't want this result, which just goes to show how limited their
>> imagination was when they set the rules.
>> I'd imagine that it will be quite a while before kit comes pre-loaded
>> with such firmware, but it's probably worth checking (for all
>> manufacturers) before you buy, and also worth being wary about
>> installing firmware upgrades from the manufacturer if you have any plans
>> to use third party firmware.
>> Of course, until they start trying to do a proper job, and lock the
>> firmware into the chip by blowing an efuse, you should still be able to
>> get your soldering iron out, and get access to the JTAG pads, but that's
>> a rather higher hurdle than installing OpenWRT via the web interface.
>> Cheers, Phil.
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