USB WI-Fi Adapters with 5GHz supported by OWRT on Pi3

I'm working on creating a wireless router that will connect to a 5 GHz WI-Fi network as the WAN, and provide a 5 GHz AP for Wi-Fi clients.

I have the Pi 3B+ which supports 5 GHz bands. I can use it as the AP or client network, but I need one additional Wi-Fi USB adapter with USB support.
I have OpenWRT installed and running with one wireless interface:

  • Model Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Plus Rev 1.3
  • Architecture ARMv8 Processor rev 4
  • Firmware Version OpenWrt 21.02.1 r16325-88151b8303 / LuCI openwrt-21.02 branch git-21.295.67054-13df80d

5 GHz for Raspberry has always been problematic in my experience --- I spent a lot of time a few years back trying to get on with a Realtek chipset to work reliably without success.

What are the recommended options for 5 GHz USB WI-Fi as we enter 2022?

Pick different hardware, there is no reasonable option to accomplish that within the RPi ecosystem.

@slh - Ok, I'm open to different hardware. I can find plenty of other uses for the Pi!
My use case is portable/travel, so something like an X86 notebook is not a good choice. I've tried "Travel routers" like the TP-Link TL-WR902AC, that is still hanging around after many years. I've purchased a few but they are never able to do a good job with the wireless WAN and wireless LAN scenario. There was a thing called the Zuni ZR-301 years ago, which had excellent functionality with two Ethernet ports, but was never progressed beyond the 2.4 GHz 802.11g initial offering.

ipq4019 might be an option, e.g. map-ac2200.

Some of the gl.inet devices?

They're going to be bigger than the 902ac, thought.

The MAP-AC2200 slh suggested is probably ~15cm across, or more. It's however an excellent unit, the only thing it's missing, is an USB port, IMHO.

My version of an OpenWrt dual-band WISP travel router is based on GL.iNet GL-MT1300 router and Comfast MT7612U WiFi USB adaptor (got one from AliExpress).

Both devices are MediaTek-based ("AC1200" WiFi) with well-supported Linux drivers. I whiteness nearly zero loss in tethered WiFi speed.

You'd need to install kmod-mt76x2u and usb-modeswitch packages, then you essentially have a quad-band router (2x 2.4Ghz + 2x 5Ghz) where each radio is individually configurable.

In my opinion, GL.iNet GL-MT1300 is an amazingly capable device and a great value for money.

Hope this helps!

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@noseratio, thanks for the post. I was unaware of the GL.iNet GL-MT1300.
It seems rather expensive (at least from Amazon in the USA)
About twice the price of 902ac, but maybe worth the investment?

The external Comfast makes the setup a bit unwieldy, although not unworkable. With OpenWRT, does the GL-MT1300 alone support WAN over WI-Fi, while also providing a wireless LAN? For example, the WAN on 2.4 GHz and LAN on 5 GHz?

If you don't mind the slower wifi, the GL-AR750 might be an alternative, can be bought used for ~$30.

Yes, you can always use one of the radios as wifi client to some WLAN, then the 2nd to retransmit the signal.

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GL-MT1300 plays in a completely different league when compared to TL-WR902AC. It's a dual-core CPU device with 256MB RAM and gigabit ethernet. Despite it's small size, it can easily rival a typical SOHO desktop router.

With OpenWRT, does the GL-MT1300 alone support WAN over WI-Fi

Yes.

@noseratio, if you're familiar with the MT1300, can you comment on the current status of some of the issues mentioned in the review by SCE (Germany on May 17, 2021) on the Amazon page linked above?

  • Shipped with older OpenWRT - 19.07.7, and issues with proprietary Mediatek-7621/7615 driver if OpenWRT is updated to current?

  • Limited or broken support or DFS channels, or issues with setting regulatory domain.

Another post mentioned that the provided GUI is proprietary closed source, but OpenWRT is used underlying. Do you use the GL.iNET GUI, or have you replaced it with Luci?

That's a weird statement, at that date, there was no 21.02, nor 19.07.8.

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@timg11, I just flashed the current OpenWrt 21.02.1 (https://firmware-selector.openwrt.org/?version=21.02.1&target=ramips%2Fmt7621&id=glinet_gl-mt1300, SysUpgrade image) using Uboot method and then installed kmod-mt76x2u and usb-modeswitch.

TBH, I didn't even bother to check what the factory firmware MT1300 comes with. With OpenWrt v21.02.1 I'm having zero issues so far.

Yeah same here. Experienced slow speeds and connection drops with the stock firmware on a 750s. After switching to OpenWrt v21.02.2 I have 0 issues and everything has a much better repsons. Even running AdGuard Home stable on it without any issues.

I've combined it with a rtl8812au based WiFi adapter btw.

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Hi is the usb-modeswitch package actually required ?

What does it actually add to mt76x2u function ?

This particular USB WiFi adapter by default appears as a CD-ROM with Windows drivers. usb-modeswitch fixes it.

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ive used gl.inet since mango all the way up to the flint and never again... no matter the firmware when I try to mwan3 three mobile hotspot devices, after a week or so the unit crashes... now using raspberry pi and works as expected!