How I Unbricked a Nanostation M2

How I Unbricked a Nanostation M2 Ryan Elliott / AI6NE Most of this is taken from this webpage http://www.fusionnetwork.us/index.php/articles/general‐ tutorials/how‐to‐recover‐a‐bricked‐ubiquiti‐nanostation2‐or‐picostation2/ and https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=69631 First off, make sure your network adapter and Ethernet cables are working properly. You’ll need a TFTP program. Windows has a built‐in TFTP console. Look online on how to enable or find it or download one. Download firmware version XM.v5.5.11.28002.150723.1344.bin from the internet. I have a copy if you need it. Email me at ai6ne@sbarc.com. Remove Ubiquity label from lower part of the back of the body. I used a heat gun to soften the adhesive, then a razor blade to pick the corners to start peeling it back. I did not fully remove it, just peeled it back enough to remove the screw under the label. Remove the screw. Insert a flathead screwdriver or putty knife between the case and the sleeve at the base of the electronics. The circuit card is attached to the sleeve. There are two small plastic pins on either side of the screw you just removed. You need to push in the sleeve and push out the case until the sleeve can be pulled out of the case. Then, slide out the sleeve and circuit card. Attach jumpers from a 3.3V FTDI USB to Serial interface to the upper header (closest to the LEDs) on the back of the circuit card. Use the pinout below: HSIN connects to FTDI TX pin HSOUT connects to FTDI RX pin GND connects to FTDI GND pin Start a terminal emulator. I used PuTTY. Set serial speed to 115200. Other places say 9600. If one speed doesn’t work try the other. Settings are as below. Baud Rate: 9600 or 115200 Data Bits: 8 Stop Bits: 1 Parity: None Flow Control: None Set network adapter per below: IP Address: 192.168.1.22* (* the last digit can be 0‐255 as long as it’s not 20) Netmask : 255.255.255.0 Preferred DNS server: 192.168.1.20 Power up node. When you see anything on the terminal emulator, start pressing any key to interrupt the bootloader. Some say Ctrl‐C. Any key worked for me. Do this until you get a “ar7240>” prompt (or similar) on the emulator. Type “urescue ‐f ‐e” and hit enter. It’ll set default IP to 192.168.1.20 and a few other things, then show “Waiting for connection: /” while it awaits new firmware. The “/” character will spin. Open your TFTP program (or use tftp… Continue reading

Mesh Network Meets the Telephone

We now have the capability to use VOIP (Voice Over IP) telephony over the mesh network, and even have a functioning PBX system with voicemail installed. It is very simple to use. Some of us have purchased Grandstream 1620 0r 1625(POE) telephones from Amazon or other sources. These  phones are simply office style desk telephones. They run about $50. Others are using “Softphones” which are software programs you run on your computer that lets your computer act like a telephone. You can use either an inexpensive USB headphone/mic, or simply use your build in speakers and microphone. To use the PBX system we must first set up the account for you. We’re all using our callsigns as our extension numbers, so it will be easy to remember extension numbers. For example, to call me at home, you simply dial K6BPM, or to call me at my office, you dial K6BPM2. This make is very simple to use. Setting things up on your end is simple. If you are using a Grandstream phone, you just plug it in and that’s it. If you are using a Softphone, you just need to give it an account name and password, and you’re in. You’ll have all the niceties you’re use to like call waiting, missed call lists, notifications for new messages, etc. Using voicemail is exactly like what you are probably used to using at your job, or maybe even your home. You call in, enter your password, then check your messages. You have all the tools available to you as you do on commercial voicemail systems like recording greetings, message forwarding, mailbox folders, etc. Surprisingly, it all works pretty well! As we get everything dialed in, I expect it will get better and better! If you haven’t yet got on the mesh, maybe this will interest you! – Brian – K6BPM

The Mesh Goes Over the Mountain

On Sunday June 5th we reached a new milestone in the mesh network buildout. Tom – KA6SOX, Eric – KG6WXC, and Scott – KM6COI all spent their Sunday up on Santa Ynez Peak installing mesh nodes to allow us to reach Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley. They installed one node pointing at Gibraltar Peak, and another pointing towards the Solvang area. We likely reach much further than Solvang too but have not tested limits of coverage yet. One of our goals has been to reach into the north county area, and this brings us one step closer. Our members in the Santa Ynez Valley can now link up with us in the greater Santa Barbara area and participate in mesh activities and nets. In other news, we are now linked with the Ventura County mesh network group. They have been doing this for awhile and have a few more nodes than we do, but we’ll see what we can do about that! With the Ventura county link, our range has extended to well over 60 miles. The Ventura group even has a Sunday evening MeshChat net and the Santa Barbara crew can now participate.   We are also adding services like crazy here and now provide an SBARC web forum, three different email platforms including the Winlink 200o system, a packet radio gateway, three NTP time servers including one that synchronizes via GPS satellite signals, IRC chat, and more. And, there is still plenty of things to explore!   Photos courtesy of Scott – KM6COI Post expires at 3:26pm on Friday July 8th, 2016 but will still be available on Club News page.

SBARC’s Mesh Network Taking Shape

We continue to make progress on building out our mesh network each week. Last Saturday, we got the node installed at the club station at Red Cross Headquarters. Theo KK6YYZ climbed the tower and ran the cable with assistance from Michael K6RQV, Brian K6BPM, and Bruce KG6NRW helped out there at the end. A WiFi adaptor was installed and any member should be able to come in with their tablet or smartphone and browse the mesh network by connecting to the mesh WiFi SSID. Some of our members with more complicated installations are also making progress. Because of their more distant locations, Frank K6FLD and Eric KG6WXC decided to go with Ubiquiti Rocket MS2 radios with high gain dish antennas. Frank needed a custom mounting solution and we worked out the details using inexpensive EMT conduit on the Digital Modes Net. Eric, who lives in an HOA controlled building decided to paint his dish a nice “Dish Networks” shade of grey. Good luck disguising that! Out next phase will involve installing nodes at the K6TZ repeater site on the Mesa. We could still use some help funding this area as these will be SBARC sponsored and we need these to provide coverage for members who live on the Mesa and unable to see Gibraltar directly. We are also installing a tunneled node up on Santa Ynez Peak so that we can bring in our members in the Santa Ynez Valley. If you can help SBARC with this project, your contribution will be gratefully accepted! In addition, Tom KA6SOX will be adding special shielded enclosures and cabling to the Gibraltar site nodes to provide interference protection. For more information about our mesh network project, please click here. Brian – K6BPM Post expires at 8:11pm on Friday July 1st, 2016 but will still be available on Club News page.

Mesh Services Update April 29, 2016

Well a few of you have discovered the website and the chat server and used them! People should just check in from time to time so we know everyone’s alive. I ran into some problems with the NTP (time) server. I didn’t get a chance to work on it much this week. But I got the GPS module functioning and able to maintain accurate time even if satellite coverage is lost temporarily. That is important for an indoor installation without an outside antenna. The NTP daemon that installs with Raspbian is not natively capable of acting as a Stratum 1 (GPS synchronized) NTP server. So I have to make a few changes to the code and recompile. Luckily I found someone else that did this a couple of years ago, and while the code is not the same, the principle is. So that shouldn’t take long once I get into it. I was trying to think of a way to set up a mail server to users could communicate privately, but it relies on normal DNS very heavily and it would take too much work. So instead, I am going to set up a bulletin board type forum server using another Raspberry with SMF, MySql and Apache. This will allow users to create private accounts and exchange private messages as well as host conventional public forum functions. I think this will fill the bill and ultimately be a real helpful addition to the mesh network. There’s talk about hooking up with Ventura county sooner rather than later, and on up to Santa Ynez Peak soon as well. So when we can integrate with the larger mesh, I want SBARC to have a full compliment of services we can show off! -K6BPM

Keeping Time on the Mesh Network

These days we’re all used to our computers always having the correct time. Periodically, they simply connect to the Internet and get the correct time from an Internet time (NTP) server. Our local mesh network is designed to work “off-the-grid” without an Internet connection. This is a problem. All of our nodes and devices running services need to know the correct time. MeshChat servers record the date and time anyone posts a message. So does the SBARC mesh website. So how do we keep all these devices synchronized with the correct time? To address this problem, I am building a Raspberry Pi (RPi) based stand-alone NTP Stratum 1 server. Since it cannot connect to the Internet to update the time, I decided to synchronize it using GPS. Adafruit makes a perfect add-on board for this that plugs into the GPIO header that offers full access to GPS signals including the time. So every few seconds, the Raspberry “reads” the incoming GPS signals from whatever satellites it can “see” and adjusts it’s internal time. Normally, to get a good GPS “fix”, we need to connect to at least 5 or more satellites. However we can get an extremely accurate time reading from just one satellite. To allow other devices on the mesh to synchronize the time, a little programming is required on the RPi so it can be used as an NTP Stratum 1 server. It operates exactly the same as a time server does on the Internet. So instead of using something like time.windows.com as a time server, we can use k6bpm-ntp.local.mesh as the time server for our mesh connected devices. Connection speeds will vary node to node. While the RPi will be accurate to the millisecond, the various nodes using it may be off by a second or two because of latency delays due to connection speeds. But that’s okay. We don’t need millisecond accuracy for our purposes. In fact, we can be a minute off and it won’t hurt anything. I will probably locate this at my house when I am through testing it. I have a very fast connection (25Mbps+) to the Gibraltar nodes there. Everyone is free to use it for their “NTP Server” when setting up their local nodes.

Nanostation Shielding and Mounting

I installed my NanoStation today at my home QTH using one of these kits from RFArmor. I was really impressed with the build quality and general utility. Not only does if provide RF shielding for your Nanostation, it is also a mounting system with options for mast mount (which I used) or wall mount. All mounting hardware is included. According to the manufacturer, these shields provide a lower noise floor, cleaner signal, superior signal to noise ratio, fewer wireless retries and errors, higher sustainable air rates, and up to 50% increase in performance. They are $27.95 and available here: https://www.rfarmor.com/index.php/nanostation-kits.html.