LTE FIX receives a significant number of inquiries regarding the use of hotspots and cellular routers--and, in particular, how best to build one. The whole cellular concept may seem a bit confusing for those unfamiliar with these devices and/or technology. We have all been there--at some point or another!
COMPONENTS AND TECHNOLOGY
A few of the more common questions are best answered by explaining some basic concepts which, with a little investigative homework, will help in selecting the right equipment for your particular needs and application.
A hotspot, while related to a cellular router, is different. While unique in their design, and even useful under certain conditions, they are somewhat limited in functionality. Moreover, hotspots are not designed to play the full time role of a router.
In a nutshell, a router's function is to route and manage services to various devices (i.e., phones, laptops, PC, camera, etc.). A router generally has no way to access to internet and depends on a modem for this function. The modem connects to the service provider's network and passes the service to the router who then distributes it to the devices.
Some routers have internal (on board) modems while others connect to an external modem via cable (i.e., USB, Ethernet). Still other routers have internal slots on its router board ("PCB") for installation of the modem. These modem slots are generally in the form of a mini PCI-E.
The WE-WG series of routers are equipped with a mini PCI-E slot on the router PCB for the modem. The Sierra Wireless MC7455 in the most popular modem for these routers. It is a mini PCI-E Cat 6 modem and is compatible with the vast majority of cellular carriers.
M.2 form factor modems (i.e., EM7565, EM7455, EM7354, etc.) are also used but require a Mini PCI-E to M.2 adapter for installing in a Mini PCI-E slot. Some prefer using the USB to M.2 adapter and/or enclosure and connect the M.2 modem to a router via USB cable.
The WE-WG routers also have a SIM Card slot for an active SIM card. The information on the SIM card is read and used by the modem for authorization to connect to the carrier's network.
Some cellular routers need custom firmware in order to properly communicate with the modem. Most prefer using GoldenOrb (aka, ROOter). Updating the firmware a relatively simple process and we have some good tutorials to walk you through the process.
The WE-WG routers requires a full size (Standard) SIM Card. Most phone and hotspot SIM cards are Nano or Micro and requires the use of a SIM Card Adapter.
Cradlepoint makes a great cellular router, but they do not play fair with Spint SIM card swapping. They are practically "plug and play" units when used with AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile, but must be provisioned by Sprint to work on their network. See this TUTORIAL for various configurations on one of our favorite Cradlepoint routers.
Good signal strength is important for hotspots and cellular routers to function properly--much like the service for a cell phone. Thus, what may be adequate for phones may be lacking for hotspots and cellular routers.
In locations with less than optimal signal strength, external antennas are often required to transmit and receive better signals. Selecting a proper antenna is another important variable. Conducting a search on this forum or the LTE Hacks Facebook group for "antenna" will return a considerable amount of useful information. Again, do your homework.
Cellular carriers use different frequencies and bands to broadcast their signals. An external antenna must include the range of frequencies used by your carrier.
Some cellular service providers work better in some locations while not at all in others. It is worth using the TOOLS that are available to determine what providers work best (or at all) at your location. If you do not have adequate cellular service, you cannot have a functioning internet device. It is that simple!
BUILDING A LTE ROUTER USING GOLDENORB | ROOTER
This tutorial will address the steps necessary to build and configure a router using GoldenOrb (aka, ROOter). While we focus on building the WE-WG series of routers, the concept and building process are equally applicable to routers supported by GoldenOrb.
NOTE: We encourage everyone to help others by sharing their project or router build via tutorial.
1. Install the Mini PCI-E or M.2 Modem in the router. Tutorials are available for a few routers:
2. Install the latest version of GoldenOrb | ROOter by following THIS TUTORIAL.
3. To configure GoldenOrb and a Sierra Wireless modem (regardless of the router being used) refer to the bottom section of this TUTORIAL.
PROBLEMS WITH CONNECTING OR RELATED ISSUES: RECHECK YOUR STEPS and FOLLOW THE TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE. It will resolve 95% of all issues.
How To Tutorials related to Routers and Firmware
1 post • Page 1 of 1