Crafting the perfect 5g modem/router with openwrt, for countryside

Hi Everyone,

I'm gearing up to work remotely in the countryside and I'm looking to set up a 5G router with OpenWRT. I already have some hardware that I could repurpose for this, but I want to ensure it's a solid setup without any hiccups.

My initial thought is to utilize a spare Dell x86 Dell Wyse 3040 and pair it with this external usb m.2 adapter .

However, I'm a bit torn between different options for the adapter, particularly regarding cooling and overall performance. Here are the options I'm considering:

  1. External m.2 usb enclosure 1
  2. External m.2 usb enclosure 2
  3. External m.2 usb enclosure 3
  4. external usb m.2 adapter 4

On the other hand, I'm also contemplating using a Raspberry Pi 5 with the same adapter mentioned above. Though, I'm concerned if this might be overkill, especially considering I had plans to repurpose the Pi 5 for an Android box.

Ideally, I'm aiming for an all-in-one enclosure setup to minimize moving parts and cables/extensions, ensuring a clean and reliable configuration.

Lastly, there's the option of purchasing one of the following boards to achieve the all-in-one solution:

  1. CM4 Board option 1
  2. CM4 Board option 2
  3. CM4 Board and case option 3

I'm eyeing the affordable Fibocom FM350-GL and have heard that some folks have successfully integrated it, particularly with Rooter firmware fork.

Any insights or experiences you could share regarding these options would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance for your help.

all in one, no DIY, NR7101 ?

just get one of these and plug it in

how is it any different than the ones, with casings, OP already linked to ?

Too expensive and no upgradability for swapping modems etc

Again too expensive £206 Lmao

and no different to what i linked above.
gl-inet products are very hard to come by in UK where im currently based.
Also the above product you linked has the expensive RM520N-GL which is out of my budget.
5g Cards are very expensive and will likely come down in price when cheaper fibocom cards are released.

Im looking to build a solution which is under £120 and future proof for upgradability
when i decide to swap out the modems

For example i have the ep06 cat6 problem with this router it only has 802.11n)
hence why im looking to separate my modem and router or look at a board like the ones i linked with are module wiith raspberry cm4 boards etc

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keep the we826 as "modem", put an additional device next to it, for the wifi ?
or will the routing performance of the we826 become a bottle neck ?

or swap out the wifi card in the we826, if doable.

Yeah i was thinking to do that, the we826 is not m.2 and only Mini PCIe therefore will not support the 5g module from my understanding, unless someone can correct me if im wrong.

Hence why this project came along for me to sit down and research and design a setup that will be clean and simple.
I read alot of posts of people doing the external m.2 adapter which is cheapest easiest way with their existing openwrt supported routers.

I came across these cool raspberrypi cm4 boards and that gave me the idea to make one myself.
I also like the idea that its near impossible to brick a PI . lol
and the performance is more than adequate.

I have a EA8300/MR8300 as well I was thinking the cheapest easiest way would be just to get those sled adapters and plug it in.
But i dont want a janky setup with many parts around the house if i can resist it.

if i build one , the openwrt will only be used as a dumb bridged modem for the 5G connection. would have the connection going to my EA8300

The WE826 will be repurposed to plug into my car with a 12v and have wifi every i travel. expecially for summer.

you can buy the card alone, without their Quactel RM500G 5G module for like 26 euros, and put your cheapo fibrocom in it. anyway, your choice.

yeah but it comes with no enclosure, i might as well buy the one i linked which is the same thing and comes fully complete with antennas enclosure etc

Thanks for the suggestion though. nice to see more competition from gl.inet
hopefully this drives down prices

Fibocom FM350 may be worth considering.

Thanks for the link for the m.2 development board

good luck
im thinking for the price i might buy one myself to test,
problem it has no enclosure, so its the headache of trying to find something to match or wait until someone design one to 3d print. im not keen on leaving exposes circuit board accumulating dust and accidental damage by someone knock it over.

i found something similar which has CNC case which acts as a heatsink
when you factor in the price of the case, it might be worth as alternative.

Waveshare do a similar box with an ethernet port:

Plus has the full enclosure.

Yeah im aware, i linked this in my original post :))


I just got my 5G Quectel RM520N-GL, RM520NGLAAR01A07M4G, modem working with the Macuzone USB3.0 5G to 2.5G kit.

However, there is no WiFi.
You would have to add that.

Running SimpleAdmin, works great.

My current order setup is the following:

  • Fibocom FM190W-GL (requires recent firmware)
  • MCUZone MR5210P this is a M.2 with PoE 2.5G RJ45, but also USB-C
  • Poynting EPNT-2 case

In my opinion a 5G gateway is placed at different locations than a WiFi router. Additional, it is not the purpose of a 5G gateway to act as router. In my setup I plan to pass along the IP if possible to a robust rooter (w/o WiFi) and place the WiFi access points at places where needed.

I've seen that running a modern 5G modem card as slave instead of in master mode requires to have at least the same power on the m2 host to process the inbound data. Why not use directly the OS running on those 5G modules from Qualcomm? They come along with a decent MediaTek chip and can handle the traffic anyway.