Mesh/Flashing extender nodes

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Download the Image File For a Extender Node

The extender nodes that we currently support are:

Name Notes OpenWRT Doc Firmware Image
Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 and M5 Newer models need AirOS downgrade before flashing! OpenWRT Docs firmware: pre 2015 or 2015-2016
Ubiquiti Picostation 2 Previous generation 802.11g (not the same as M2) OpenWRT Docs firmware image
Ubiquiti Picostation M2 OpenWRT Docs firmware image
Ubiquiti Nanobeam M2 and M5 NBE‑M2‑13 and NBE‑M5‑16 work but some (earlier?) NBE‑M5‑19 have ethernet port issues. Newer models need AirOS downgrade before flashing! OpenWRT Docs firmware image
Ubiquiti Nanobridge M2 and M5 Same as pre-2015 Nanostation M firmware image
Ubiquiti Bullet M2 and M5 OpenWRT Docs firmware image

Downgrading to earlier AirOS

Anything with version 5.6 of AirOS and above needs to be downgraded to an earlier AirOS version before you can flash it with OpenWRT. If you don't know if you need to do this then proceed to the next section (Flash the Extender Node) and come back here if you get an error saying "Firmware check failed".

If you get this error DO NOT try to flash sudowrt/openwrt through the AirOS web interface. It will succeed and you will be stuck with a partially working system (all changes lost on every reboot) and no easy way to get it fully working.

The solution is to use the built-in AirOS web UI to upload a version 5.5 of AirOS. This will downgrade the bootloader to a point where it's compatible with sudowrt/openwrt. Here's how:

  • Download the v5.5 AirOS firmware
  • Configure your wired ethernet interface to use IP: 192.168.1.10, subnet: 255.255.255.0
  • Plug one Ethernet cable into your laptop on one end and into the "LAN" port of the power-over-ethernet power supply on the other end.
  • Plug another Ethernet cable into your node/router on one end and into the "POE" port of the power-over-ethernet power supply on the other end.
  • Power on the router.
  • Wait for a couple of minutes.
  • Ensure you're not connected to a wifi network that has an 192.168.1.x IP range. Disconnect/disable your wifi if you're unsure.
  • In your browser go to http://192.168.1.20
  • Log in using the credentials username: ubnt and password: ubnt
  • Click the "System" tab.
  • Click the "Browse" button next to the "Upload Firmware" box
  • Select the XW.v5.5.10.bin file that you downloaded earlier.
  • Click "Upload".
  • After uploading you will be asked if you want to upgrade/install the firmware. Click yes/accept.
  • Let the router finish flashing and wait for it to fully reboot before proceeding to flash sudowrt as described in the next section.

Flash the Extender Node

  • Configure your wired ethernet interface to use IP: 192.168.1.10, subnet: 255.255.255.0
  • Plug one Ethernet cable into your laptop on one end and into the "LAN" port of the power-over-ethernet power supply on the other end.
  • Plug another Ethernet cable into your node/router on one end and into the "POE" port of the power-over-ethernet power supply on the other end.
  • Push a pin into the reset hole and hold it.
  • With the pin held down, plug in the power to the power-over-ethernet power supply.
  • Watch the lights on the antenna - they will all flash together a few times, then they will flash up and down.
  • Once the lights on the antenna are flashing up and down, you can let go of the pin.

You should be able to ping the extender at 192.168.1.20.

 $ ping 192.168.1.20
 PING 192.168.1.20 (192.168.1.20) 56(84) bytes of data.
 64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=1.54 ms
 64 bytes from 192.168.1.20: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.826 ms

In your Linux terminal, type:

 git clone https://github.com/sudomesh/ubi-flasher
 cd ubi-flasher
 npm install
 ./flasher.js '<path to firmware>'

The terminal will tell you "The firmware has been successfully sent to the router. In a few seconds, the router should begin flashing its four status LEDs sweeping from left to right, then right to left (or up down, down up). This means that the router is flashing itself with the new firmware. Once the router goes back to having only the power LED lit, the router has been successfully flashed."

Wait until the antenna has only the power LED lit and you're done.

Reconfigure your machine with the following static network configuration.

  • IP Address: 172.22.0.10
  • Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0
  • Gateway: 0.0.0.0

See Network Configuration Guides: Linux Mac

If you ping the extender node on 172.22.0.2 and it responds, it should be ready to connect to your home node on the appropriate wired Ethernet port.

 $ ping 172.22.0.2
 PING 172.22.0.2 (172.22.0.2) 56(84) bytes of data.
 64 bytes from 172.22.0.2: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.617 ms
 64 bytes from 172.22.0.2: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.316 ms
 64 bytes from 172.22.0.2: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.398 ms


Extender Detection

Log into your home node via SSH, and tail /var/log/messages

 Sun May  8 00:51:08 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Physical disconnect detected
 Sun May  8 00:51:08 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: Listening on interface eth0.3:
 Sun May  8 00:51:08 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver:   client IP: 100.64.37.3
 Sun May  8 00:51:08 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver:   client netmask 26
 Sun May  8 00:51:12 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Recieved HEARTBEAT for interface that hadn't been ACKed.
 ...
 Sun May  8 00:54:00 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Recieved HEARTBEAT for interface that hadn't been ACKed.
 Sun May  8 00:54:00 2016 daemon.info hostapd: priv5: STA 80:e6:50:0e:fe:6e WPA: group key handshake completed (RSN)
 Sun May  8 00:54:04 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.2: Received lease request
 Sun May  8 00:54:04 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: sending response (with ssl certificate)
 Sun May  8 00:54:32 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Received ACK
 Sun May  8 00:54:32 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Running up hook script
 Sun May  8 00:54:32 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Received redundant ACK
 Sun May  8 00:54:32 2016 daemon.debug notdhcpserver: eth0.3: Received redundant ACK

There should be a debug message in the log from notdhcpserver concerning the extender node.

Troubleshooting

USB to Serial Connection

If you experience trouble flashing your device via the web interface, or via the TFTP image upload method, you'll want to establish a serial connection to troubleshoot further. Methods for flashing your device involving a serial connection may become more common as devices adopt configurations to lock down wi-fi router firmware to prevent flashing.

The following notes describe steps to interface with a Nanostation M5 (NSM5) via the serial interface.

Order a USB to Serial Converter

USB to serial converter devices exist at a cost of $4 - $8 online, with much lower pricing and longer delivery times if ordered from China. Search for "USB to UART TTL", including "5 pin" in the search. Make sure the specifications do not mention anything other than 3.3 volts.

Mac OS X users may need to install a device driver for their device. For example, for devices using the CP210X chip, you can download the CP210x USB to UART Bridge VCP Driver, which is made available as /dev/tty.SLAB_USBtoUART.

Connecting to Serial

You will need to connect the following pins from the converter to the pins on the device.

  • Ground (GND)
  • Serial Out (Transmit / TX)
  • Serial In (Receive / RX)

Begin by connecting the Ground of the converter to the Ground of the device. Next connect the Transmit/TX of the converter to the Receive/RX of the device, then connect the Receive/RX of the converter to the Transmit/TX of the device.

Nanostation M5 (NSM5) Example:

KEDSUM® CP2102 Module STC Download Cable USB 2.0 to TTL 6PIN Serial Converter For STC

Ubiquiti Nanostation NSM5 - Serial pins with connections

Serial Communications Program

You need to install a serial communication program. Linux users can use Minicom.

 sudo apt-get install minicom

Mac OS X users can as well

 brew install minicom

By default the Minicom program will attempt to use /dev/tty8, and will also attempt to initialize the device (expecting a modem) by default.

 $ minicom
 minicom: cannot open /dev/tty8: Permission denied

Run the program so that it starts the program on the USB converter that is connected by adding -D /dev/ttyUSB0, and specify that it should skip initialization by adding -o. Mac users may need to reference a different device (such as /dev/tty.SLAB_USBtoUART).

You can also specify from the command line that it use the baud rate and '8N1' settings specified below by including -b 115200 -8.

 sudo minicom -D /dev/ttyUSB0 -o -b 115200 -8

In Minicom, CTRL-A to get settings, then Press O, to access settings. Mac users will need to discover the proper META key to use with their Terminal program. iTerm uses the 'ESC' key.

Go to Serial Port Setup, use these settings:

  • Set the serial device (should be /dev/tty/USB0)
  • Baud Rate (Bits Per Second): 115200
  • Settings '8N1' (short hand for 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit)
  • Turn off hardware and software flow control

Reboot the device, and it will let you drop into a command line. You will then have to figure out how to enable the network from the boot loader (Uboot or Redboot) and transfer the firmware to the device to flash it.

Interupting Boot

The device will not detect the key you press unless Minicom is configured properly.

  • To access the Help screen, Press CTRL-A, then press Z.
  • To access the configuration/settings, press CTRL-A, then press O.

From the configuration window, select to view the 'Serial port setup'

 $ sudo minicom -D /dev/ttyUSB0 -o -b 115200 -8
 Welcome to minicom 2.7
 
 OPTIONS: I18n 
 Compiled on Jan  1 2014, 17:13:19.
 Port /dev/ttyUSB0, 21:47:56
 
 Press CTRL-A Z for help on special keys
 
             +-----[configuration]------+
             | Filenames and paths      |
             | File transfer protocols  |
             | Serial port setup        |
             | Modem and dialing        |
             | Screen and keyboard      |
             | Save setup as dfl        |
             | Save setup as..          |
             | Exit                     |
             +--------------------------+
 
 +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
 | A -    Serial Device      : /dev/ttyUSB0                              |
 | B - Lockfile Location     : /var/lock                                 |
 | C -   Callin Program      :                                           |
 | D -  Callout Program      :                                           |
 | E -    Bps/Par/Bits       : 115200 8N1                                |
 | F - Hardware Flow Control : Yes                                       |
 | G - Software Flow Control : No                                        |
 |                                                                       |
 |    Change which setting?                                              |
 +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+

By default the Hardware Flow Control will be enabled. Press 'F' to disable Hardware Flow Control. Press ENTER to exit the Serial port setup window, and then select EXIT to go back to the program.

At this point plug in the Ethernet cable to the 'Main' Ethernet port, with the other end connected to the 'POE' port on the Power Over Ethernet adapter that came with the device. As the device boots up, you'll see output similar to the following.

You'll need to make sure to press a key before it boots the default image.

Picostation M2HP

Insightful post on loading FreeBSD image with help from serial communications. Could be useful with troubleshooting other models.

Nanostation M2

Firmware check failure

The following are simply notes. A solution to this issue is still pending.

Flashing the Nanostation M2 (FCC ID: SWX-M2N) using the TFTP rescue mode will result in a Firmware check failure error.

 $ tftp 192.168.1.20
 tftp> bin
 tftp> put openwrt-ar71xx-generic-om2p-squashfs-factory.bin
 Error code 2: Firmware check failed
 Sent 4609024 bytes in 12.6 seconds

You can boot up the M2 with a serial connection similar to the instructions below concerning the Nanostation M5.

 Board: Ubiquiti Networks XM board (rev 1.0 e012)
 DRAM:  32 MB
 Flash:  8 MB
 PCIe WLAN Module found (#1).
 Net:   eth0, eth1
 Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0 
 ar7240> mtdparts default
 ar7240> urescue
 Setting default IP 192.168.1.20
 Starting TFTP server...
 Using eth0 (192.168.1.20), address: 0x81000000
 Waiting for connection: |
 Receiving file from 192.168.1.10:35456
 Received 4609501 bytes
 Firmware check failed! (-2)

The method outlined for the Nanostation M5 below doesn't work with the M2.

Update the firmware to airOS for XM board firmware v5.6.4.

Serial Connection:

 ar7240> mtdparts default
 ar7240> urescue
 Setting default IP 192.168.1.20
 Starting TFTP server...
 Using eth0 (192.168.1.20), address: 0x81000000
 Waiting for connection: \

Terminal:

 $ tftp 192.168.1.20
 tftp> bin
 tftp> put XM.v5.6.4.28924.160331.1253.bin
 Sent 7537129 bytes in 20.8 seconds

Serial Connection:

 Receiving file from 192.168.1.10:55113
 Received 7537129 bytes
 Firmware Version: XM.ar7240.v5.6.4.28924.160331.1253
 Setting U-Boot environment variables
 Un-Protected 1 sectors
 Erasing Flash.... done
 Erased 1 sectors
 Writing to Flash... done
 Protected 1 sectors
 Will not overwrite u-boot partition! Skipped.
 Copying partition 'kernel' to flash memory:
         erasing range 0x9F050000..0x9F14FFFF: ................ done
 Erased 16 sectors
         writing to address 0x9f050000, length 0x00100000 ...
 Copying partition 'rootfs' to flash memory:
         erasing range 0x9F150000..0x9F74FFFF: .............................................................................................e
 Erased 96 sectors
         writing to address 0x9f150000, length 0x00600000 ...
 
 Firmware update complete.
 
 Resetting...
 
 U-Boot 1.1.4.2-s594 (Dec  5 2012 - 15:23:07)
 
 Board: Ubiquiti Networks XM board (rev 1.0 e012)

Attempting to run the same process after performing an official firmware update doesn't resolve the issue.

Nanostation M5

Official firmware from Ubiquity Nanostation M5 (NSM5)

Firmware check failure

Flashing the Nanostation M5 (FCC ID: SWX-NSM5D) using the TFTP rescue mode will result in a Firmware check failure error.

If you attempt to flash the extender and receive a 'Firmware check failed' error, then you have a version of the NSM5 that is protected from being flashed via the default TFTP method. You will need to obtain a serial to USB interface (USB to UART TTL Module Serial Converter, 5 pin) and use it to flash the firmware.

  $ ./flasher.js openwrt-ar71xx-generic-ubnt-nano-m-squashfs-factory.bin
  Accessing http://192.168.1.20/login.cgi
  Connection timed out
  Sending openwrt-ar71xx-generic-ubnt-nano-m-squashfs-factory.bin to 192.168.1.20 using tftp put
  [Error: (Server) Firmware check failed]

When connected to the NSM5 via a serial connection, a similar error is displayed when attempting to load the SudoWRT firmware image.

 Setting default IP 192.168.1.20
 Starting TFTP server...
 Using eth0 (192.168.1.20), address: 0x81000000
 Will reset device configuration (Reset button active after 10 seconds).
 Erasing sector 123..126
 
 First 0x7b last 0x7e sector size 0x10000
 .... done
 Waiting for connection: \
 Receiving file from 192.168.1.10:49763
 Received 4325788 bytes
 Firmware check failed! (1)
Drop into U-Boot Command Prompt

Connect a USB to Serial adapter to the correct pins of the NSM5, as shown above. Unplug the Ethernet cable from the device, and then plug it back in to provide Power Over Ethernet once again, resulting in a reboot of the device.

During the boot process, press a key to during the boot process to make the U-Boot bootloader to drop into a command line prompt.

 U-Boot 1.1.4-s958 (Jun 10 2015 - 10:56:20)
 
 DRAM:  64 MB
 Flash:  8 MB (0xc2, 0x20, 0x17)
 Net:   AR8236
 eth0, eth1
 Board: Ubiquiti Networks AR9342 board (e855-22585.1122.0030)
 Radio: 0777:e855
 Reset: Normal
 Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0
 ar7240>
Running TFTPd

Although U-Boot can support two protocols for transfering files, kermit or y-modem, the bootloader does not support the loadb or loady. Minicom only supports y-modem protocol.

We do not have to resort to a direct serial file transfer however. The 'mtdparts' command that is used to define flash memory partitions can be used to reset the partition table to the defaults before running 'urescue' to start the TFTP server.

 ar7240> help mtdparts
 mtdparts 
     - list partition table
 mtdparts delall
     - delete all partitions
 mtdparts del part-id
     - delete partition (e.g. part-id = nand0,1)
 mtdparts add <mtd-dev> <size>[@<offset>] [<name>] [ro]
     - add partition
 mtdparts default
     - reset partition table to defaults
 ar7240> mtdparts default
 ar7240> urescue
 Setting default IP 192.168.1.20
 Starting TFTP server...
 Using eth0 (192.168.1.20), address: 0x81000000
 Waiting for connection: \

In your other terminal window, run the ubi-flasher script.

 $ ./flasher.js /home/redconfetti/Projects/mesh/openwrt-images/nanostation-m5/2015-2016/openwrt-ar71xx-generic-ubnt-nano-m-xw-squashfs-factory.bin
 Accessing http://192.168.1.20/login.cgi
 Connection timed out
 Sending /home/redconfetti/Projects/mesh/openwrt-images/nanostation-m5/2015-2016/openwrt-ar71xx-generic-ubnt-nano-m-xw-squashfs-factory.bin to 192.168.1.20 using tftp put
 Firmware flashing begun!
 The firmware has been successfully sent to the router.
 In a few seconds, the router should begin flashing its four status LEDs sweeping from left to right, then right to left (or up down, down up).
 This means that the router is flashing itself with the new firmware.
 Once the router goes back to having only the power LED lit, the router has been successfully flashed.

In the terminal running Minicom you should see the firmware successfully flashing.

 Receiving file from 192.168.1.10:52289
 Received 4325788 bytes
 Firmware Version: XW.ar934x.v6.0.0-OpenWrt-r47662
 Setting U-Boot environment variables
 Un-Protected 1 sectors
 Erasing Flash.... done
 Erased 1 sectors
 Writing to Flash... write addr: 9f040000
 done
 Protected 1 sectors
 Copying partition 'kernel' to flash memory:
 
 First 0x5 last 0x14 sector size 0x10000
 ................ done
 write addr: 9f050000
 Copying partition 'rootfs' to flash memory:
 
 First 0x15 last 0x6e sector size 0x10000
 .......................................................................................... done
 write addr: 9f150000
 
 Firmware update complete.
 
 Resetting...
 
 U-Boot 1.1.4-s958 (Jun 10 2015 - 10:56:20)
 
 DRAM:  64 MB
 Flash:  8 MB (0xc2, 0x20, 0x17)
 Net:   AR8236
 eth0, eth1
 Board: Ubiquiti Networks AR9342 board (e855-22585.1122.0030)
 Radio: 0777:e855
 Reset: Normal
 Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0 
 ## Booting image at 9f050000 ...
    Image Name:   MIPS OpenWrt Linux-3.18.23
    Created:      2015-12-01   0:03:51 UTC
    Image Type:   MIPS Linux Kernel Image (lzma compressed)
    Data Size:    1135619 Bytes =  1.1 MB
    Load Address: 80060000
    Entry Point:  80060000
    Verifying Checksum at 0x9f050040 ...OK
    Uncompressing Kernel Image ... OK
 
 Starting kernel ...
 
 [    0.000000] Linux version 3.18.23 (sudowrt-builder@build-test2) (gcc version 4.8.3 (OpenWrt/Linaro GCC 4.8-2014.04 r47662) ) #2 Mon Nov 5

After it reboots if you see the first line mention 'sudowrt-builder', the device is booting the SudoWRT firmware build.

You can press ENTER once it is finished, and it should drop into the command line for the SudoWRT system.

 [   25.650000] jffs2: Newly-erased block contained word 0xdeadc0de at offset 0x00000000
 [   25.660000] done.
 [   25.660000] jffs2: notice: (993) jffs2_build_xattr_subsystem: complete building xattr subsystem, 0 of xdatum (0 unchecked, 0 orphan) and.
 
 BusyBox v1.23.2 (2015-11-30 18:48:50 EST) built-in shell (ash)
 
 
   ._______.___    ._______.______  ._____  .___    .___ .______  ._____  
   :_ ____/|   |   : .____/:_ _   \ :_ ___\ |   |   : __|:      \ :_ ___\ 
   |   _/  |   |   | : _/\ |   |   ||   |___|   |   | : ||       ||   |___
   |   |   |   |/\ |   /  \| . |   ||   /  ||   |/\ |   ||   |   ||   /  |
   |_. |   |   /  \|_.: __/|. ____/ |. __  ||   /  \|   ||___|   ||. __  |
     :/    |______/   :/    :/       :/ |. ||______/|___|    |___| :/ |. |
     :                      :        :   :/                        :   :/ 
                                         :                             : 
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  sudo mesh v0.2 (fledgling.extender)
                               based on OpenWRT 15.05 (Chaos Calmer)
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  “When your rage is choking you, it is best to say nothing.” 
                                             - Octavia E. Butler, Fledgling
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 root@sudomesh-node:/#