AR750 Firmware

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T Gillett

Jul 16, 2018, 6:30:34 PM7/16/18
to Dayo Adesina, village-telco-dev
Hi Dayo

I have produced a trial version of SECN 5 firmware for the AR750 device, including the VT-RACHEL firmware, which you can download here:

Some notes on this firmware below.

The AR750M router works well as a simple classroom router and static content server, and offers the ability to network the routers together on the WAN side via a 5GHz mesh so that if one device is connected to an upstream network resource, then all devices can access the resource via the mesh.

The static content from the RACHEL library (eg Wikipedia for Schools, Khan Academy on a Stick etc) works well when served from a memory device (USB or SD) installed on these devices.

Upstream resources can include an Internet gateway and other local servers - for example you can run Kiwi-X on a local laptop and share a full local copy of Wikipedia.

The firmware also includes web filtering using OpenDNS by default, so there is some protection against inappropriate content for school use.

The firmware has a framework HTML set up for RACHEL library modules to be used on the memory device, but you can readily customise this to suit your own local content.

I would be interested to hear your feedback if you get a chance to try out the firmware.


From the AR750 VT-RACHEL firmware release notes:

This AR750 SECN-VT-RACHEL Alpha3 firmware is experimental firmware to demonstrate the operation of the AR750 dual band (2GHz and 5GHz) device as a VT-RACHEL digital library micro-server.

The device can be configured to operate an Access Point and a Mesh interface on 2GHz and 5GHz bands.

The default configuration has the Ethernet WAN port enabled and operates an Access Point on the 2GHz band.

There is also a MESH WAN mode available.
When used in Mesh WAN mode, the Mesh interface operates on the 5GHz radio and bridged with the WAN Ethernet port.

If all devices are configured for Mesh WAN, then if one device is connected by its Ethernet WAN port to an upstream network (eg an Internet modem), then the upstream connection will be shared to the WAN port of all devices in the mesh.

Alpha3 firmware incorporates a DNS Filter facility for Internet access.


On Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 3:53 AM, Dayo Adesina <> wrote:
Hi Terry,

Quite a while. How are things going? Things are moving on a bit slow and gradual with the Android Tablet project we have been working on. I'd like to pick up our conversation about the possibility of introducing AR750 with some build-in content to some potential customers in the Nigerian market. Have there been any updates since our last email? Should I still be looking at the AR750 as a good choice for a local media server? I know you had mentioned it could not serve as a mesh wifi backbone network or used for local content handling and you were working on porting the SECN firmware to it. Is this what makes it technically a "local content server"?

Is this a good time to proceed with ordering a sample and get to work on building a POC we can use a demo? :-)

I look forward to your response.

Best Regards,

On Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 1:53 PM, Dayo Adesina <> wrote:
Hi Terry,

Thanks for the response. We are currently working with a number of stakeholders in the Education sector as well as Government. Our local partner company is working closely with these stakeholders from a funding and logistics perspective. We are actively working in about 2-3 States in Nigeria, however the opportunities are vast.
A lot of work is still ongoing with regards to the financial/funding structure, however I know the numbers are upwards of 5,000 teachers in one of the States. Time frame could be within the next month or 2 to get things off the ground.

Through other private networks, our we are now getting some introductions to some of the Private Schools.

I would love if you could make the introduction to Infinity, as I believe a similar concept would be viable, more so at the Private Schools. 

Most of the players in the Ed Tech space focus on pre-loading Tablet PCs with National Exams, some Local Education Content, Curriculum, etc. However, I am yet to hear of a solution approach that ties everything together, which is the value we are looking to provide. This is also where I believe your "Lego-like"model can be applied. 

I also believe such an approach would enable us cater to the various needs and demographics, i.e. desktops, laptops (linux/windows), tablets, etc. Perhaps a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model.

Best Regards,

On Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 2:10 PM, Dayo Adesina <> wrote:

Hi Terry,

Thanks for the feedback and sharing more details on the hardware stack. I had been looking at the AR-300 GL-Inet routers, but I think the AR-750 would be a better fit for the purposes as described.

On the desktop side of things, how easy is it to get the 'used' business grade laptops you mentioned? I came across a linux-based laptop (Pinebook) that I think could be a viable option as well.

Thinking this could be pre-loaded with Ubuntu or Endless. 

I'd like to further explore the campus infrastructure and the possible pieces that can be utilized. From my understanding this would be where any type of "server" application or content resides, is that right? Would love to get a better understanding also of the AP, meshpoint and gateway. I feel this is probably an area that isn't probably well designed or lacking in a lot of existing solutions in those regions.

Thanks as usual for the knowledge sharing.



On Feb 3, 2018 10:26 PM, "T Gillett" <> wrote:
Hi Dayo

I like your Digital Education Solution model.

Following is my 'Lego' model for the physical side of a solution. It is built around three levels - Desktop, Classroom, and Campus.
The underlying idea is to make the solution as simple and robust as possible at each level, minimising the effects of single points of failure.

1. Desktop
What you provide on the desktop is very much driven by local circumstances. Considerations include sourcing, funding, and ability to maintain the equipment locally.
And of course the device has to be appropriate to the age / level of the students (eg tablets appear to be good for younger students, laptops for more advanced).

The desktop devices need to be able to operate standalone to some extent, so it needs to have some installed applications and content to make it reasonably useful by itself.
In addition it needs to have a good, up-to-date browser like Chrome or Firefox so that it can access external content.

The devices need to be robust and hardened against malware. Updating should be simple and automated (although subject to manual control)

Examples of devices that have been used successfully include Android and iOS tablets, and Linux based laptop/desktop distributions such as Ubuntu and Endless.
Windows based devices are preferred in some sites, but generally require a higher level of maintenance, particularly around virus protection. Licencing is also an issue, especially for re-cycled devices.

It is usually desirable to have desktop devices that are wifi enabled for ease of set up and use, particularly for portable devices.
However there are circumstances where conventional Desktop PCs are set up in a designated 'Computer Lab' and wired via Ethernet cable, and this of course is perfectly acceptable. Desktop PCs do have some advantages in being more robust and easy to maintain eg keyboard / mouse replacement.

2. Classroom
I think that it is very desirable to have a wifi Access Point device on a 'per classroom' basis. A reasonably priced device ($20 - $50) running a good operating system such as OpenWrt/LEDE can realistically be expected to serve around 30 concurrently connected desktop devices and so is a good fit for classroom deployment.
Having the wifi AP physically in the classroom means that it can be run at a relatively low wireless power level, and all the client devices will receive a good quality signal. This avoids wifi congestion and makes the networking much more reliable.

In addition, a classroom AP is a good platform for serving local static content from a USB memory stick (eg Wikipedia for Schools, Khan Academy and locally generated content in PDF or HTML form).

The classroom AP is generally configured to operate stand-alone, running a private IP network in the classroom. This ensures that there is no dependency on upstream DHCP servers etc for the classroom devices to operate.
The classroom AP has a 'WAN' port to connect it to upstream networks, either wired via Ethernet cable or wirelessly.

If wireless networking is going to be used at campus level, it is worth exploring classroom devices that have two wifi radios so that one can be used for a local AP and one for the upstream network.
(An example is the GLinet AR750 dual band device

Existing products that are suitable for classroom wifi APs and that can serve local content from USB include VT RACHEL, Pirate Box, Library box as well as proprietary commodity routers (with the caveat about concurrent connections). The open source products can of course be adapted for specific projects.

3. Campus
The purpose of the campus infrastructure is:
 A) to provide simple networking to connect the classroom AP devices to local network resources (eg content servers and printers), and
 B) optionally to provide a connection to an Internet Gateway.

As a minimum, there might be just a network switch with an Ethernet cable run to each classroom AP.

To implement the campus network wirelessly, you might utilise a centrally located wifi AP or Meshpoint to which the classroom AP devices connect in a simple 'hub and spoke' model (ie a single wifi hop to each classroom - this ensures good network performance and ease of maintenance).

It should be noted that 2.4GHz wifi networks have only three independent wifi channels (1, 6 and 11), so some care is required in designing a wifi based network to avoid wifi congestion. The 5GHz band is better in this respect, but older client devices often don't have 5GHz wifi capability.

For campus level content, products/projects like IIAB / XSCE can provide an extensive range of content.
Keep in mind that these devices are relatively complex (eg a PC level mini-server) and will require some level of local technical capability to operate and maintain them.

The Internet Gateway device can be simply the service provider's modem/router, connected via Ethernet to the campus central switch / wifi AP-Meshpoint.
The local network operated by this device will see just one device per classroom (ie the WAN port of the classroom AP) rather than every individual desktop device. This keeps the network simple and robust.

Providing an Internet connection for tens or even hundreds of desktop devices in a school can be a daunting prospect.
But it has been demonstrated that with a little care, Internet links with even 1 - 5Mbps can adequately service several classrooms.
Simply scheduling classroom activities to avoid congestion helps greatly.

The nature of school usage often means that there is repeated downloading of the same content, so edge caching of data can be very effective in reducing the amount of data being downloaded, thus improving performance and reducing costs. (For example, providing caching for the popular Reading Eggs website can reduce data usage tenfold)
Given the ongoing cost of data, it may well be worthwhile to invest in a campus level cache device.

Hope this is useful. Happy to flesh out details of particular areas that you might be interested in.


Bill Vodall

May 22, 2019, 5:36:33 PM5/22/19
> I have produced a trial version of SECN 5 firmware for the AR750 device,

> The AR750M router works well as a simple classroom router and static content server, and offers the ability to network the routers together on the WAN side via a 5GHz mesh so that if one device is connected to an upstream network resource...

Related to the AR750 and apologies if this is too aggressively trying
to bypass the instructions and warnings.

In a process to update some MP-02 units, I noticed the AR150 (GL-Inet)
was supported by SECN. Having just worked thru a Ham Radio (AREDN)
MESH using the impressive little AR150's - I had the idea that it
would be good to test updates with a cheap and easy to replace AR150
instead of risking the precious MP-02 units.

The instructions say to install the Factory version of OpenWRT prior
to installing SECN - to get a base install of OpenWRT. But the
GL-Inet units are already running OpenWRT - if somewhat customized by
GL-Inet. Is the OpenWRT in an AR150 close enough for an SECN
sysupgrade or do I have to take the extra step with installing the
factory OpenWRT?

GL-Inet Software is currently version 2.27 - which would upgrade to
3.017 if I pushed the button. That's probably a GL-Inet version and
not related. Once again I'm hoping to save a few minutes and go
straight from 2.27 to SECN 5.0.

Thanks all - for bearing with my query and all the incredible work
making the software what we have today.


T Gillett

May 22, 2019, 6:43:09 PM5/22/19
to village-telco-dev
Hi Bill
Yes you can go straight from the GLiNet firmware to SECN.
The instructions are a bit generic and expect that the device is running some proprietary non-OpenWrt firmware.

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Bill Vodall

May 22, 2019, 8:18:55 PM5/22/19
> Yes you can go straight from the GLiNet firmware to SECN.
> Terry

It worked! Thanks. I had to do a 10 second reset, perhaps due to
missing the don't save the settings flag. After that SECN 5 runs on
the AR150.

Still some tricks to figure out but that just takes a little time.


PS. Sorry about cluttering this 750 thread. That's another thing I
missed resetting.

Jenner Smith

May 22, 2019, 8:57:21 PM5/22/19

Ok , thank you very much.


Sent from Mail for Windows 10


T Gillett

May 22, 2019, 10:06:52 PM5/22/19
to village-telco-dev
Ahh yes...  it is important to clear the Save Setting checkbox.

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