What about using a mini router instead of CHIP?

Last week I played with mini routers (like TL-WR703N) and to me it looks like they could do what CHIP does, but much better.

TL-WR703N can run OpenWRT which is a version of Linux for routers. It has USB port so peripherals can be added, including USB flash drive for storage and RTL-SDR stick for reception, so there is a chance that Outernet software can be ported to this devices. Size and weight are also similar to CHIP.

Now the benefits:

  1. Extremely low power consumption. Yesterday I tried how long TL-WR703N can work autonomously using the same power bank that can support CHIP for ~5 hours. TL-WR703N worked autonomously for whopping 22 hours and 39 minutes (with USB flash drive attached and while running airodump-ng in SSH session)!. And that’s not even new power bank, it was made of recycled laptop battery (4 x 18650 Li-ion pieces). According to my measurements it consumes 0.1A @ 5V without peripherals or 0.2A with USB flash drive attached. With solar battery it could run for weeks or more, depending on weather.

  2. More than decent, fully configurable wifi. TL-WR703N uses Atheros wifi chip which has fully configurable wifi module that can work in all possible modes. Power output is configurable from 1 mW to 500 mW.

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My experience with mini routers:
i am running a GL.Inet (WR-703 clone) since months with a modified Librarybox/Rachel. Before that it worked with OpenWRT and dump1090 and cheap DVB-T-stick as an airplane-spotter also for a couple of months very stable. Also, it is already in a nice enclosure!
I agree, it would be nice to have an " Outernet-Extension" in the Open-WRT-repository!

A port for OpenWrt will probably run on raspberry pi zero w also. It will open up a wider usage.

It’s not that we’re opposed, it’s just that there are only so many hours in a day. And when gremlins start popping up (AlphaSat server, Dreamcatcher debugging), we have even fewer. Anyone interested in taking up the challenge of an OpenWRT port?

@Syed , could you please point to the source code that would need to be ported to OpenWrt, particularly language, dependencies/libraries used. LK

Sure thing.


I’ve done development for small Linux router firmware like OpenWRT in my past life. Since I am really having bad luck with the GUI stuff, which was not my specialty, I’d like to help with porting over everything to OpenWRT.

@threekay Are you on GitHub already? We could collaborate there if you are interested.