So after a few days of reading, struggling, failing but yet succeeding and failing again, reading through other people's threads and just a general frustration, I finally have success and figured I'd write it down to help someone else in the future. I registered just for this, if this isn't allowed, then please delete. Mods: feel free to edit as time goes on and things change.
All this was done basing on using a MicroSD card
Section A: MicroSD card prep and First Install/boot
- Go to https://downloads.openwrt.org/snapshots/targets/mediatek/mt7623/ and download the latest FULL build snapshot being released (file name will be bpi_bananapi-r2-squashfs-img.gz)
- On windows : Using some kind of image flasher (I used balenaEtcher) write that image to your microSD card (not very big needed, I used a 4gig I had laying around). You'll notice a couple of pop-ups about formatting drives and stuff, ignore it all.
- Safely eject it from your PC.
- Install it into the BPI-R2
- Plug in the power, Ethernet port from your pc to a lan port on the BPI-R2 (not into the WAN). and plug in the WAN also, we're going to need internet to do a few things.
- Power it up. To power this thing up you actually have to hold the power button for a few seconds, lights will come on, so on so forth but give it a minimum of like 5 seconds.
- Wait 20 to 30 seconds for a full boot depending on your microsd card
- Check you PC to see what the ip of the gateway is now that it's booted
NOW here's where I was having a huge issue, the image does not come pre-installed with a web interface, so no matter what I did, going through the browser to try and configure the device failed, SO I kept thinking this thing wasn't working or the image was bad. BUT what we need to do is install an Web UI so here we go:
- Open up Putty and ssh to that ip. login as 'root' no password will be needed as one has not been set
- Time to get our UI (installing the LUCI ui): type in 'opkg update' without the ' and hit enter, after it updates all the package locations it will go back to a prompt, type in 'opkg install luci'. Once done and sitting back at a command prompt, you can now login through the web UI. BUT HANG ON THERE"S MORE if you want.
- If this isn't your first time using openWRT, take advantage of it and install all the LUCI packages you want: 'opkg update' again and 'opkg list luci-app-*' to get a list of them, and 'opkg intall luci-app-whatver_the_name_ of_ the_app_is
- NOW you're good to go, feel free to reboot if you want, but you are booting off of the microsd. eMMc is in the next portion.
Section B: Writting it to the eMMc
Now if you did all of the above, you have a perfect running openWRT with the packages you want and maybe you even changed some settings already. You can stop there and keep going for the rest of time or lets get it onto the eMMc.
- Grab your USB to TTL device (this assumes your kit came with one, some call them FTDI flashers, all we need is the communication aspect of this to see what first boot says)
- ON the USB device, leave it at 3.3v (don't know if this mattered as we are powering the BPI-R2 it from it's brick, but just to be safe LEAVE IT AT 3.3V). Plug your wire leads into GND (ground), TXD (transmit), and RXD (receive). On the BOARD, connect the same thing (it's by the SATA port) BUT MAKE SURE THE TXD AND RXD are now opposite, so TXD on the USB is connected to RXD on the BOARD, and RXD on the USB is connected to TXD on the BOARD and connect it's ground to ground.
- Plug the USB device into your PC, you will probably need some driver of sort, unfortunately I don't know which (check bellow if some kind soul posted it) I already happen to have it, cause I use these things to flash 3d printer boards, smart devices, fix phones, etc etc
- Check you PC to see which COM port is now available (this is now a communication device so we need to know which port.) In Windows you can find this in device manager under PORTS
- Start PuTTY and pick serial as the connection method this time, put in your COM port and change the speed to 115200 and hit OPEN.
- A terminal should pop open and look blank as heck. If the BPI-R2 is OFF, now is a good time to turn it on (see above on how), if it's ON, hit enter, should pop up with a command prompt like it did when you SSH'd into it, type in 'reboot' and watch it reboot.
- On boot, in the beginning it will have an options menu pop up that you will have like 3 seconds to make a choice, if you move your cursor, the time stops and you can select whichever one you want.
- Seeing as you did all that work to the microSD, write it to the eMMc by choosing that option, it will take no time at all and then, without you even noticing it, it will boot into openWRT.
- Once the web UI is back up, feel free to eject your microSD (put it in a safe place in case you need to do this again, OR when you go and upgrade)
- Try a reboot, look at the Putty shell and watch it go through automatically booting from the eMMc.
- Carefully unplug the USB device from the PC, now unplug the wires from the BPI-R2.
- Put the top of your case back on and enjoy your BPI-R2 running openWRT.
Section C Adding WIFI
- COMING SOON, the built in wireless device is currently not working (from what I've searched and read) but I have a compatible add-on card coming in and will figure this out and update.
Again, thanks to the devs that work on this project, the devs that added this to their snapshot build, and the the wonderful dev that made it all into one flash-able image.