Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Related to Modems, Hotspots, Dongles ONLY
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56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:10 am

Hello, I would appreciate an advice from knowledgeable folks regarding whether or not I need to build a custom router for 300$-400$. Sorry for the very long post just want to provide all necessary info on the subject.
This summer I plan to go on 2 month long vacation in Europe and most of the time will stay in pretty rural area. I will have to take my laptop with me (that's how I could get 2 moths) and therefore need an internet connection that could be used for VPN, RDP, SSH, moderate downloads and web browsing. Stability has priority over speed, i.e. 15-18 Mbps down and 3-5 Mbps up would be enough, I think I would not go over 50-70GB of data in 30 day period. There is DSL connectivity available but it is really slow like 3Mbps down/1Mbps - this is close to nothing.

Local data/hotspot plans are very different from North America - very depriotorized, with pretty limited traffic. Situation is slightly better when it comes to unlimited (capped at 50-70GB) smartphones / VIP plans but those plans don't support smart phone tethering/modems i.e. I will not be able to connect the laptop. Its worth mentioning that all those plans are pretty cheap and I am ready to pay the premium for what I need but I simply cannot because this is not how it works over there.

Now equipment:

a) I really like my Samsung 10 (global version), all required bands, aggregation, private DNS, 2 SIMs, the network provider does mind against using it on unlimited smartphone plans. It has very decent hotspot implementation, wifi sharing - works great with captive portals in hotels. Main problem is the lack of external antennas and therefore it cannot provide stable connectivity in the place where I plan to stay. Another issue is that it is quite problematic to root it and therefore selection/locking RF bands and doing some other useful things like changing DHCP range of built-in hotspot for example is not possible;

b) My laptop supports certain models of Sierra m.2 modems but I think it is too much hassle to install it and use external antenna with it i.e. it looks like to be the least attractive scenario

c) get MOFI4500-4GXeLTE-SIM4-COMBO. It supports all necessary bands, uses Sierra Wireless modem, allows modifying TTL, band locking, full control over the router settings. I read its manual and watched some youtube videos and it is not clear if one can modify Sierra Wireless settings like IMEI if required. It seems the general consensus is that Quectel modems are simpler to deal with. With MOFI I can use different antenna setups and I think it will work satisfactory unless the provider detects it (I am guessing since I don't know that sure). If it happens then most likely it will become useless because as modem it will not provide satisfactory speed. Some people say that MOFI WiFi is not very good - I don't care in this case. It is interesting that MOFI does not support WiFi sharing in case if the captive portal requires authorization otherwise it would be very versatile travel router.

d) build a custom router, it can be either M2M NEXG H721 or WE826-GO 4G (it closely resembles MOFI!), any WiFi card and the modem either Sierra or Quectel. If Quectel supports changing IMEI then it definitely will be Quectel E12 since it supports all bands (on the other hand I never did that and I can only guess how useful it can be in my situation - may be I am totally wrong about it and I don't need it at all). In other words I am getting all what I need if I go with a custom setup. Although I am not sure if WiFi sharing would be possible. But if the modem configuration is the same as in MOFI then I would rather go with MOFI just to save some time.


And finally. I spent some time reading local forums in Europe - looks like the general trend is to get a cheap Huawei 3G modem (sold by the local providers), change the firmware to fix TTL (most adventurous users would even change IMEI to make it look like a table or a smartphone) and use it on a smartphone plan.

What I do not understand is why all those wireless network providers don't want to make extra money on people like me (with special needs so to speak) - let's say, typical plans could range between 15-50$. Let me pay 100$ or even more but make it simple and usable. Then I would forget about building my own router to tweak TTL etc and will buy the equipment straight from the company providing the service. Win-win siutation!

What would you say?
Thanks for the reading.

gscheb
Posts: 287
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:37 am

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by gscheb » Tue Feb 25, 2020 7:16 am

If you get a Mofi and something is wrong with it their customer support is terrible. Still trying to get a refund out of them because mine was bad. Not saying the don't have good ones but if you get a bad one they don't stand behind their product at all. Please avoid the Mofi company. That mofi is WE826 with a MC7455 Sierra Wireless card that is all it is.
Here recently bought a Quectel EC25-AF from AlliExpress for $35. Took 3-4 weeks for it to get here so need to plan ahead if you do that. Then bought the WE826 Go from ltefix store and some upgraded antennas from there. Installed the Quectel EC25-AF made an adjustment for the led light to come on. Have a working router for $115. Now is not the fastest most upgraded modem to have but if you will be throttled anyway might not matter. You can band lock it to certain bands with at commands.

56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Mon Mar 09, 2020 6:52 pm

gscheb wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 7:16 am
If you get a Mofi and something is wrong with it their customer support is terrible. Still trying to get a refund out of them because mine was bad.
I decided to go with MOFI and received one 3 days ago (GPS version / 520 CAD).
I wonder what was wrong with your device?

I have been actively testing it and so far I could not find anything seriously wrong with it (I have a couple of network related questions and I already contacted MOFI tech. support - we will see how it goes) - as long as I manage (mentally) to ignore the fact that this is a bit outdated device, i.e, performance wise, by my modest standards, it was a great device 2-3 years ago.

It runs modified openwrt barrier breaker v14 (as far as I know its final release was in 2014) and by default the device comes with preconfigured links to openwrt repository which currently does not exist (not a big deal if you know how to fix it).

It's interesting that it uses Ralink WiFi chip. I was looking for a Ralink based USB WiFi dongle, found several made by Alpha Network on Amazon and was thinking about getting one to use it on Kali Linux for pen testing (mostly out of curiously).
As the result of it, MOFI has several interesting WiFi features such as choosing 1-14 channels for 2.4GHz (1-11 for US, 1-12 for CA) and different country codes (potentially leading to change of output power from 1000 to 100mW - that should be verified yet). Switching to channel 12 (20MHz width) in 'n' mode made some difference in WiFi transfer speed, but Samsung S10 (global version) does not see the channel 12 at all while Intel Centrino 6300 (the really great but also a bit outdated WiFi adapter in laptop) has not problem with channel 12 and 13.

56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:52 am

Another unpleasant surprise.
Decided to setup dynamic DNS, freedns.afraid.org in my case. There are several ways to achieve that, I used a custom service (you provide a URL that includes an authentication token and a special service (can be wget/curl or a custom script) periodically calls it to refresh the information about your external IP on the remote DNS server.
I used https link and nothing really worked. In case of custom service MOFI uses wget-ssl, the system log was referring to "WGET error = -4", /var/log/ddns/.. log was more verbose: "Unable to establish SSL connection".

Resolving freedns.afraid.org... 204.140.20.21, 50.23.197.94
Caching freedns.afraid.org => 204.140.20.21 50.23.197.94
Connecting to freedns.afraid.org|204.140.20.21|:443... connected.
Created socket 3.
Releasing 0x0047e700 (new refcount 1).
Initiating SSL handshake.
SSL handshake failed.
Closed fd 3
Unable to establish SSL connection.


I think this is the result of running a very outdated version of wget-ssl (wget is just a symlink to wget-ssl) - v 1.16. It contains the following SSL/TLS options:

HTTPS (SSL/TLS) options:
--secure-protocol=PR choose secure protocol, one of auto, SSLv2, SSLv3, TLSv1 and PFS.

TLSv1 - ? May be this cause of the problem because TLSv1 has been disabled on many websites several years ago.

I tried to use curl - it worked fine with the same https links, it is easily understandable since it supports the following TLS versions:

-1, --tlsv1 Use TLSv1.0 or greater
--tlsv1.0 Use TLSv1.0 or greater
--tlsv1.1 Use TLSv1.1 or greater
--tlsv1.2 Use TLSv1.2 or greater
--tlsv1.3 Use TLSv1.3 or greater

---

I checked the available repositories for barrier breaker - wget-ssl v.1.16 is the latest version ( although I could find the newer version of openssl)

So, unless I am seriously mistaken custom service for Dynamic DNS of MOFI4500 relying on the stock version of wget-ssl cannot work with https and this is sad.

56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:36 am

Hello,

just in case if someone is wondering how quick (encryption wise) can be OpenVPN running on MOFI.
This is result of encryption benchmark ( openssl speed -evp aes-128-cbc) running on different devices:

----------------
MOFI:

OpenSSL 1.0.1j 15 Oct 2014
built on: Fri Jan 10 16:04:24 EST 2020
options:bn(64,32) rc4(ptr,char) des(idx,cisc,2,long) aes(partial) blowfish(ptr)
compiler: mipsel-openwrt-linux-uclibc-gcc -fPIC -DOPENSSL_PIC -DZLIB_SHARED -DZLIB -DOPENSSL_THREADS -D_REENTRANT -DDSO_DLFCN -DHAVE_DLFCN_H -I/home/mofidev/witi-default/staging_dir/target-mipsel_24kec+dsp_uClibc-0.9.33.2/usr/include -I/home/mofidev/witi-default/staging_dir/target-mipsel_24kec+dsp_uClibc-0.9.33.2/include -I/home/mofidev/witi-default/staging_dir/toolchain-mipsel_24kec+dsp_gcc-4.8-linaro_uClibc-0.9.33.2/usr/include -I/home/mofidev/witi-default/staging_dir/toolchain-mipsel_24kec+dsp_gcc-4.8-linaro_uClibc-0.9.33.2/include -DOPENSSL_SMALL_FOOTPRINT -DOPENSSL_NO_ERR -DTERMIOS -Os -pipe -mno-branch-likely -mips32r2 -mtune=24kec -mdsp -fno-caller-saves -fhonour-copts -Wno-error=unused-but-set-variable -msoft-float -fpic -fomit-frame-pointer -Wall -DSHA1_ASM -DSHA256_ASM -DAES_ASM
The 'numbers' are in 1000s of bytes per second processed.

type 16 bytes 64 bytes 256 bytes 1024 bytes 8192 bytes
aes-128-cbc 6273.25k 7203.07k 7484.25k 7583.76k 7577.60k

----------------------------

pfSense 2.3 / FreeBDS / Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU N2930 @ 1.83GHz x 4

OpenSSL 1.0.1s-freebsd 1 Mar 2016
built on: date not available
options:bn(64,64) rc4(16x,int) des(idx,cisc,16,int) aes(partial) idea(int) blowfish(idx)
compiler: clang
The 'numbers' are in 1000s of bytes per second processed.
type 16 bytes 64 bytes 256 bytes 1024 bytes 8192 bytes
aes-128-cbc 34378.25k 39339.11k 40375.21k 40631.98k 40818.01k

------------------------------
pfSense 2.3 / FreeBDS / Vmware on Intel CPU @2.93GHz x 1
openssl speed -evp aes-128-cbc
OpenSSL 1.0.1s-freebsd 1 Mar 2016
built on: date not available
options:bn(64,64) rc4(16x,int) des(idx,cisc,16,int) aes(partial) idea(int) blowfish(idx)
compiler: clang
The 'numbers' are in 1000s of bytes per second processed.
type 16 bytes 64 bytes 256 bytes 1024 bytes 8192 bytes
aes-128-cbc 494366.73k 535659.85k 545280.97k 546268.06k 546390.23k

---------------------------------

Windows 7 / Vmware on Intel CPU @2.93GHz x 2
OpenSSL 1.0.2l 25 May 2017
built on: reproducible build, date unspecified
options:bn(64,64) rc4(16x,int) des(idx,cisc,2,long) aes(partial) idea(int) blowfish(idx)
compiler: x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc -I. -I.. -I../include -D_WINDLL -DOPENSSL_PIC -DOPENSSL_THREADS -D_MT -DDSO_WIN32 -static-l
ibgcc -DL_ENDIAN -O3 -Wall -DWIN32_LEAN_AND_MEAN -DUNICODE -D_UNICODE -DOPENSSL_IA32_SSE2 -DOPENSSL_BN_ASM_MONT -DOPENSSL_BN_
ASM_MONT5 -DOPENSSL_BN_ASM_GF2m -DRC4_ASM -DSHA1_ASM -DSHA256_ASM -DSHA512_ASM -DMD5_ASM -DAES_ASM -DVPAES_ASM -DBSAES_ASM -D
WHIRLPOOL_ASM -DGHASH_ASM -DECP_NISTZ256_ASM
The 'numbers' are in 1000s of bytes per second processed.
type 16 bytes 64 bytes 256 bytes 1024 bytes 8192 bytes
aes-128-cbc 499599.85k 534246.37k 539293.01k 541645.42k 539969.82k


-----------------------------------

Conclusion: aes-128-cbc encryption of MOFI is very slow (understandable) and I don't see how useful it can be in present time

56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:28 pm

Just measured power consumption of my MOFI.
It comes with a very small (110-220V - great for traveling) 12V 1A power adapter. For voltage measurements I used a DMM UT-139C with min/max function and the current clamp UT210E for the current measurements.
Typical current consumption - 130mA- 180mA, max - up to 260 mA (could be more in short spikes, the clamp is not very fast, just up to 10 kHz). But the min. voltage drop is 10.46V - this is not very good (i.e. if high stability is important then a more powerful supply may be required).

56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:23 pm

MOFI4500 has an interesting option "USB Tethering for phone SIMs"
I am not sure how and/or how well it works, but the predefined config contains 7 APN names plus "Auto", "Select Default Profile". The documentation says nothing about this option but if one wants/needs to add his APN which is not on the list he can do that by editing the file etc/3g_db.lua

Just use SSH / Midnight Commander or SFTP/SCP and connect to MOFI. Find the file and edit it - the simplest way just to add a copy of the existing APN and modify it to your needs. Example:

{ ["gsm"] = { "rogers-core-applq.apn" }, ["name"] = "Rogers (rogers-core)", ["dns"] = "" }, - existing
{ ["gsm"] = { "EXACT APN NAME" }, ["name"] = "DESCRIPTIVE NAME OF", ["dns"] = "" } - yours

be careful with the format not to screw up the database or what is eve better make a copy first and if something does not work, just use the copy of the original file.

56387f
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by 56387f » Thu May 07, 2020 12:50 am

One way to set up a custom DDNS would be to use cron. MOFI makes it very easy - go Advanced/System/Scheduled Tasks and add the following line

*/5 * * * * /usr/sbin/xxxx.sh

which means - run the script xxxx.sh located in /usr/sbin every 5 minutes. Don't forget - after you copied to MOFI (you can create it on your PC) or created the script xxxx.sh, you must assign to it the correct access rights 100775 (you can install and use MC (midnight commander) and use Chmod command from the menu File).

The script should either include wget (as we already know the wget-ssl in MOFI has a problem with HTTPS) or curl (works with HTTPS) command to refresh your IP (your DDNS provider may have examples).

Didneywhorl
Posts: 619
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:37 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Do I need to go with a custom built router or should just get MOFI 4500?

Post by Didneywhorl » Tue May 12, 2020 9:55 pm

Fantastic follow up details. Please don't be discouraged by lack of responses. I'll likely never get a mofi4500, but for people who do, your doing great work for them as well.

Good stuff!
LTE noob, for sure. Learning though.

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