Hardware advice for modest, unusal set-up

My connection to the internet is via a hotspot (currently in the 5GHz band) of my phone. I leave the house, the internet goes with me.

I have a couple of laptops that I connect through the hotspot.

This has been fine, but now I want a small home network. As best as I can describe it, the idea is:

internet <--4/5G mobile connection--> phone [5.xGHz wifi hotspot] <--> router <--> [home wifi connection 2.xGHz] <--> network for devices at home

  • the phone hotspot still acts as the portal to the internet (maybe upgradeable/replaceable in future).

  • the router provides a network of two parts:

  1. internet-facing part of the network. This would be the internet-gateway for the laptops (and any other device I choose) by wifi and/or by cable.
  2. a part of the network that is just 'around the house', like a local internet-of-things kind of thing, including an R Pi security camera, networked storage (for footage and more), USB-connected printer. This shouldn't see the internet. Also connectable by wifi and/or cable.
  • I'd like the devices on the internet connected section to also be able to connect to the 'home' section (e.g. print to networked printer from laptop)

I'm not piping video to smart TVs or anything (yet), so I guess even with the camera the bandwidth requirements are low for now. But there's no harm in future proofing.

I have an 8-port Gigabit switch already.

You can probably tell my understanding of networking is quite poor.

I want to hear suggestions for a solid, cheap low-power-consuming device. Cheap as in <$100 USD (preferably <$100 AUD, inc. shipping).

I would very much love it if installing OpenWRT was pretty simple.

Thanks in advance

Unlikely you find working 5g modem for 100 bucks.
USB3 - can plug 5g modem
USB2 - 4g
In principle you can tether via phone USB, which may or may not charge from router usb

AX53U/AX1800U cheapest
gl.inet least power consuming.
and many more:

Actually, I'm not looking for a 5g modem. The phone is doing that.

I was thinking more:

internet <--4/5G mobile connection--> phone [5.xGHz wifi] <--> router <--> [home wifi connection 2.xGHz] <--> devices at home

I'll edit the question for clarity.

Kind of answer still applies, in your $$$ bracket you may need usb port for wired tethering or potential permanent usb modem. Gigabit ports are on every recommended router for prospective fixed internet connect.
wwan with double nat should work without such port on a cheap sub-spec range extender, even those without openwrt supported.

okay, thanks

GL.iNet GL-A1300 'Slate Plus' has pretty good vanilla OpenWRT support, although the stock "OpenWRT based" firmware will probably make some of what you want to do a bit easier.

Be aware that with GLi products, there will be tinkering required in most cases, some of the stock firmware features may or may not work. GLi firmware is always a work in progress. But most of the time, the devices can be coaxed into a state that works well and remains very stable. I have been using multiple GLi devices as daily drivers for 4 years, if it gives any indication.

Note also that some GLi devices have much worse mainline OpenWRT support than Slate Plus. It really depends on which SoC the device uses, for example, GL-AXT1800 'Slate AX' uses a SoC with mainline OpenWRT support which is far behind Slate Plus. So, with such devices, you are more dependent on the manufacturer firmware to do what you need it to do, because your option for using mainline OpenWRT is limited.

The final issue to consider if you wish to use a GLi device with mainline OpenWRT, is whether all of GLi's patches / bugfixes / etc for the SoC have made it into mainline OpenWRT. For example, sometimes GLi does a bunch of debugging on wifi drivers for a given SoC, and these fixes can take quite a while to make it back to vanilla OpenWRT. So just because a given device has a certain capability with the stock firmware, does not mean that capability works exactly the same (or at all) in mainline OpenWRT.

With all those caveats in mind - it's hard to beat GLi on size, power consumption, and price vs capability.

OP needs to source material locally


I ended up blowing the budget and going for the GL.iNet GL-MT3000 / Beryl AX.

FWIW - Bought on AliExpress for ~$135 AUD (with shipping). (Biggest hassle with AliExpress was getting through their login - its really glitchy. Wouldn't work without an account made with my Google mail, which I would have preferred not to use)

It's the issue with SoC manufacturers, so if you choose SoC carefully with GL you can still get some great stuff. For example MT1300/MT3000/MT6000, they all based on Mediatek SoC and the vendor is supporting open source driver, as a result vanilla OpenWrt can perform much better than GL's firmware.

1 Like

I have a Beryl AX, a Slate AX, and a Slate Plus, so I've got the full gamut in that respect :grin:

With Slate AX for example, I lucked out that some volunteers are working on the effort. I wasn't fully clued in re: looking up the SoC vendor before, but was purchasing with full mainline OpenWRT support viewed as a hoped-for bonus, so from that perspective, things are looking good :slight_smile:

Probably too late now, but the Cudy TR3000 is about the same size as the MT3000, and half the price.