Support for ZBT WE826-Q

Has anyone tried to add support for the ZBT WE826-Q?

This is a QCA9533 based router and appears to be very similar to the AP147-010. We are interested in using it with modern PCie modems like the Sierra MC7455.

The ZBT firmware is based on Lede 17.01 so it is pretty old and it's drivers are outdated when it comes to modems released in the last few years.

It has a hardware watchdog controlled by a GPIO pin which requires the pin to be pulsed one a second. ZBT has sent me the details of this and I was able to add this to my build system when creating an AP147-010 image that does work on it except for one problem.

If I build a Lede 17.01 image for this everything works correctly but if I make a 18.06.x build for it the USB system is not recognized.

In the 17.01 System Log you see this :

[    5.269770] SCSI subsystem initialized 
[    5.279536] ehci_hcd: USB 2.0 'Enhanced' Host Controller (EHCI) Driver 
[    5.287781] ehci-platform: EHCI generic platform driver 
[    5.293336] ehci-platform ehci-platform: EHCI Host Controller 
[    5.299332] ehci-platform ehci-platform: new USB bus registered, assigned bus number 1 
[    5.309614] ehci-platform ehci-platform: irq 3, io mem 0x1b000000 
[    5.328370] ehci-platform ehci-platform: USB 2.0 started, EHCI 1.00 
[    5.335679] hub 1-0:1.0: USB hub found 
[    5.339957] hub 1-0:1.0: 1 port detected 
[    5.346816] ohci_hcd: USB 1.1 'Open' Host Controller (OHCI) Driver

but in 18.06.x you get

[    5.425720] ehci_hcd: USB 2.0 'Enhanced' Host Controller (EHCI) Driver 
[    5.441733] SCSI subsystem initialized 
[    5.450530] ehci-platform: EHCI generic platform driver 
[    5.459014] ohci_hcd: USB 1.1 'Open' Host Controller (OHCI) Driver

The USB system is not found in 18.06.x. Something is different from 17.01.

The packages in each build are the same. I have also tried a stock OpenWrt 18.06.5 and a 19.07 image with the same results.

ZBT is not interested in working with us to get a 18.06.x build working, even after repeated requests from the company that wants to sell these routers.

We also have a QCA9533 router from SX-Tech that works with an AP147-010 image built with 17.01 but shows the same USB problem with 18.06.x.

Does any one know anything about what might be causing this problem?

I am experienced in modifying OpenWrt and building images (I run the ROOter Project) so it isn't a newbie problem. I have made images for other AP147-010 clones that didn't have this problem.

Any help or pointers to a possible problem area would be appreciated.

Hi @Dairyman did you make any progress on this? We'd like to connect some vulnerable folk around our area (the new Covid-19 reality) and this seemed like a good shout.

I did finally figure out the problem and have created ROOter images for this router.

You can find it at http://ofmodemsandmen.com/download/GoldenOrb/16meg/WE826-Q-GO2020-03-01.zip

The problem stemmed from a lack of pullup resistors on certain pins of the SOC and a change in OpenWWrt from 17.01 to 18.06.

You might have a look at the ZBT WE826-T (metal case), as a low-cost alternative. Good support for openwrt, as the WE826-family is rather widerspread. Very stable using the EC25.

At ROOter we have been using the WE826-T ever since it was first supported by OpenWrt. It is a well used and supported device.

The big difference to many people is the Wifi between the Q and the T.

The T is MT76 and the Q is Ath9k and most feel that Ath9k is better supported and works better.

I was doing image creation for a company that sells plenty of WE826-T but wanted a similar router that had better Wifi. ZBT did not, and still doesn't, have a firmware for the Q that is newer than 17.01 and that has terrible modem support.

We finally figured out the problem without any help from ZBT as they were uninterested in firmware that wasn't 17.01.

Hey all thanks for this. @Dairyman is exactly right, I'd trust ath9k far more than mt76, which can be so flaky.

I'd like to create my own OpenWRT image that are super stripped down (to give space to some research partners who might want to deploy agents on the router). Are you thinking of getting these changes into OpenWRT? Or could you help me do it? Happy to put in the graft if it helps others.

I have various WISPs as clients, using the WE826 with MT7620 and openwrt. And my custom builds, usually some type of hotspots, also incl. EC25. There _were_issues, in the very past, though.

Thanks for this - will bear in mind

ROOter is a slight fork of OpenWrt with the changes being mostly cosmetic and affecting the Material theme. The actual modem support is done using the usual OpenWrt style packages. There are a few driver patches to make modems work better but it is really just OpenWrt with a bunch of packages added.

To ease making ROOter images I have a build system package that will create an OpenWrt buiild system (18.06.6, 18.06.7, 19.07.0 or 19.07.2) and install all the needed packages. Just by running a single script.

If you know about OpenWrt and want to try your hand at this go to http://ofmodemsandmen.com/buildpkg.html

It includes a tutorial on how to set up and build images.

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Some people find the MT76 wifi quite adequate and are happy using the WE-826-T. Others find it to be somewhat flaky and like the Ath9K Wifi better. All a matter of if it works for you.

We have working images for both the T and the Q routers so people can use which one they want.

Hi Dairyman, thanks for this. Been getting my head round ROOter, well done, such a solid piece of work :slight_smile:

WRT to Q, do I just build the APl47 image in AR7xxx while selecting the package for the wee826-q? Is that what will get me a usable image?

As you figured, you select AP147 as the device then select the ext-rooter16 and we826-q packages. This will create the correct image.

For better support you probably should post on the ROOter forum as we don't always lurk here.