WiFi repeater TL-WA850RE v5.0... should I try?


I've just purchased a WiFi repeater of the model TL-WA850RE v5.0.

The configuration interface is actually the best I've seen in an internet appliance so far, aside from LuCI, which is by far my favorite. So of course, I'd like to install OpenWrt/LEDE on it.

Now, as for support, it appears that v1 of my model is supported by LEDE 17.01.4. However, v2 seems to only be supported by the snapshot, which I'm shy of using. There is no information on v3, v4 or v5.

So I'm basically wondering if it's worth a shot to just try and install it. Is it likely to brick my device? - If the risk is moderate, I'm totally willing to risk it; it's not an expensive piece of equipment. In fact, if v2 were specified as compatible with LEDE 17.01.4, I'd just go ahead and try, but it scares me a bit that v2 is said to be compatible with the snapshot and not 17.01.4.

I understand that assessing risk with things like this is not necessarily straight-forward, but I'm rather new here, so I don't know if this kind of thing usually just works out, or if it's almost certain to fail if I don't follow some procedure that I'm not yet aware of.

If I'm okay with ~30% risk of bricking the device, considering that v1 is compatible with 17.01.4, v2 is compatible with the snapshot and that I have v5, should I try?

You can not conclude from "Version x is supported" that "Version y is supported too".
Without knowing what's inside (SoC, RAM, flash, WLAN chips, ...) your "shot" may well end up in your knee.

Your next steps:

  • Open up your TL-WA850RE v5
  • make good pictures of the PCB with readable chip markings
  • Create a new Topic "Support for TL-WA850RE v5" and post the pictures, together with the bootlog you captured via serial.

The current snapshot is expected to be release as 18.06.RC1 on Sunday, and will probably be considered stable in a few weeks. If you are afraid of trying a snapshot, just wait an install 18.06.0.

@tmomas: Thanks. I'll have to consider if I'm willing to go to those lengths. Not sure how much I want to invest time in it... but I'll definitely consider it. Are there any instructions on how to capture the bootlog via serial? I've never done that before.

@eduperez: Yeah, I think I'll either wait for the device to show up on the compatibility list, or maybe delve into what @tmomas suggested.

Either way, thanks for the responses. :slight_smile:

Based on the GPL tarball for the V5, this seems to be quite similar to the v6, i.e. MT7628-based. I'll get my hands on one this week to check.


My personal method is to grab a cheap 3.3V-capable FTDI adapter. After opening up the router's case, you should see a small set of connection points collectively marked UART, or individually marked TX, RX, Gnd, and possibly Vcc. With the power off and disconnected, attach (solder?) wires to these points and connect them to the adapter in the order Tx-->Rx, Rx-->Tx, and Gnd-->Gnd (obviously, don't connect the named pins all on one device; you'd want router Tx to adapter Rx for instance). You do not need to connect Vcc.

Make sure the adapter is in 3.3V mode; anything else may result in letting out the magic smoke.

At this point, it should be safe to open up a serial terminal (you may want to look up the manual for the one you want to use; I have little experience with this part. I used Cutecom, but I can't recall the settings.) and try common baud rates. PuTTY is quite good if using Windows.

Of course, to capture the boot log, you need to get the router to reboot while it's connected to the computer with the right baud rate.

Last note: If you have an Arduino and a level shifter (or perhaps a resistor voltage divider that you can make from bits in your toolbox), you can use that instead of the adapter. I'll not post that here since I know that the Wiki has/had a guide for that, and I worry that I would forget something important if I write it here. This is actually the method I used, but only because I already had those items, otherwise the adapter is far cheaper.

I used a Sparkfun Bi-directional Level Shifter, but I forget the configuration. I believe I connected the wires as mentioned with a common ground (and to the shifter's ground pin), but through the shifter board using two channels for the two serial wires, and I'm fairly sure I connected the Arduino's Vcc to the board's high side. You might want to research this more if that's the route you take.

New URL: https://openwrt.org/docs/techref/hardware/port.serial
The old url is only for archival purposes and will receive no updates any more.

I am also looking to get the openwrt project onto the TL-WA850RE v5.

I have a TL-WA850RE v5 cracked open and have a pictures of the chips. I have order a 3.3v FTDI adaptor on order and waiting for that to arrive. The board does have some unlabelled open pins that I am assuming is for the serial communication, I will need to figure out which is rx, tx and ground.

I am looking for a bit of help on how to proceed and what the next steps are. Should I open a new thread for this or continue here? If a new thread what forum should I open it in?

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Since this topic doesn't have that much usefull information in regards to adding support for this device, I'd say open a new topic "Support for TL-WA850RE v5" in the developer section of this forum.

See if this helps: https://openwrt.org/docs/techref/hardware/port.serial#finding_serial_console

If you manage to get the serial working, post the bootlog and pictures of the chips used in this device.

I have created a thread in development with a picture of the chip and the boot messages.

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any news about this? i got v6 and i wonder if there are plans to port openwrt to this device



  • This thread was about v5
  • This thread is over a year old

Perhaps, you'll want to make a new thread?

Are you donating your time and equipment for this task?

TL-WA850RE v5 + v6 are both 4/32MB devices and will not get any OpenWrt support due to insufficient flash + RAM.


Closing this topic now since it is drifting offtopic.