Under £40, basic 2.4ghz, high power AP with usb2 port - does it exist!?

Thanks to mk24 I've been able to get a few WR703Ns up and running as clients on my network and can send opc messages to control LED lights connected to them.

I'm now in the market for a high powered router that will give me coverage of large venues - 25x25m with loads of metal truss throughout. I want to use this as an AP and have 4x client 703Ns, my laptop and an ipad connect at once.

I need:

  • detachable antennas for transport
  • 1x usb port to connect a fadecandy led driver
  • the ability to run fadecandy server (i think this should work on most openwrt units, but im not certain) - https://github.com/nemik/fadecandy-openwrt
  • Ideally it would be black (but I can paint it) :slight_smile:

Not bothered by:

  • dual band - the 703Ns are only 2.4ghz 150mbs and the data I'm dealing with is tiny OPC messages
  • many fast ethernet ports - I only need 1 to connect a rpi
  • massive memory or other features
  • anything to do with the internet
  • soldering - I have enough LEDs to solder and not enough time!

basically it needs to do this one job well and be powerful enough to use in multiple event venues. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

The TL-MR3420 looks like a decent choice but the bug when booting concerns me - https://openwrt.org/toh/tp-link/tl-mr3420

Thanks in advance!

Take a look at the GL.iNet line.

“High power” you should be able to compare by looking at the ERP in the FCC reports, at least for certified units. In general, low cost and power amps don’t mix, so many will be “bare-chip” output.

Good patch/PCB antennas wouldn’t be excluded in my book as rubber duckies might get you a dB or two, not 6-10 dB.

You could probably consider two "regular" routers instead of one high-power device if the location and shape of space allows. That would increase your number of choices, probably for the same initial cost. I am not sure about the running cost though (i.e. power consumption).

Cheers Jeff - some really good and affordable units from them, their travel routers look like a decent jump up from the wr703n too, tons more memory.

Mehgab, for now I'm very limited on install locations so need just one device, even if it's a bit more expensive. Power consumption is not an issue with this one thankfully.

Down the line I want to change my configuration to a mesh network to cover larger outdoor events with the option to keep adding units wherever I need light fixtures.

A mesh is way over my head right now but would it be possible with any router?

In particular AR750, not sure if it fits your budget tho.

I can make it work if its the right bit of kit!

I've just come across mesh firmware for the GL-AR300M-Lite, its is £25.... the router is £16!

I need an extra client router anyway so maybe this is the best way to go straight off the bat and sack of the high powered access point all together...?!

I've got the GL-AR300M-Lite and am impressed by its build quality and performance. From what I understand, it is a partially unpopulated AR300M and may be a limited run (no NAND, no second Ethernet port). The GL-AR300M series has NOR-only variants (AR300M16), as well as those with external antennas (-EXT).

I've also got two AR750S ("Slate") units that I'm also very happy with. One is with me as a travel router running GL.iNet firmware (18.06.1 with additional packages and UI), the other as I work to try to bring up the Linux spi-nand driver under Linux 4.19. While Linux 4.14 (and, as a result OpenWrt itself) doesn't support SPI NAND, 16 MB of NOR is sufficient for many applications. I didn't mention the AR750S as it is probably a bit more than £40 and you didn't state a need for 5 GHz. Once at that general price, I'd recommend the AR750S over its older variant the AR750 ("Creta", no "S") because of the faster SoC and NAND memory (supported by GL.iNet firmware). That said, I recall that the AR750 was available at a reduced price through some channels (Amazon US has it at US$45 right now) and it seems like it would meet your needs.

Mesh is possible with the QCA-based devices (from experience). I don't know about the MTK-based units as I haven't owned an MTK-based router personally. OpenWrt can support mesh with the addition of a couple packages at no additional monetary cost. Mesh (or any "repeater" setup) requires X amount of bandwidth for the clients and another X for the backhaul. On a single-band device, that roughly halves the available throughput. With a dual-band device, one can use band 1 for clients and band 2 for the backhaul and mitigate the effect, if that is important to you.