Posts Tagged ‘Belkin N1’

Belkin N1 #F5D8231-4 Pseudo-Review

I got my router today – here’s my immediate thoughts after about an hour of use.

I’m writing this assuming you have not read any of my previous posts.  I hope this helps anyone shopping around / is just curious about this.

This is the Belkin N1 (non-vision model).  Model #F5D8231-4.  I own a 5th revision of the model (v.5).

I bought this used off of ebay for $50 (+$8 shipping).  The MSRP is $129.99, meaning the market price is around $100 new(ish).

I read many of the reviews about this specific router and all the problems people supposedly had with it, many said that it was consistently intermittent (around 5 minutes uptime at best).  I also experienced some very unexpected and unusual problems.

I’m quite experienced with routers;  I’m not good enough to develop custom firmware or hack extra memory (although I’m sure if I had the tools for soldering surface mount ics I would have a good shot at such hardware hacks, should they be possible) or anything like that, but I have configured many wireless routers for people whose commercial tech support failed them and I have done trouble shooting for most common problems for alot of people for money (which makes me a professional, I guess), combined with formal CCNA training (which isn’t that useful for this particular application imo).  That being said – I have never seen the errors I was encountering and to be honest – I’m not sure what remedied them, however, they are fixed and I’m having a good experience now.  My N card is still being shipped from China, so I can’t test the xSpan features yet, but so far things work – which removes a variable should I encounter problems with xSpan.

I took pictures of it right out of the box:

Belkin N1 01

It isn’t in perfect condition, but it appears to have suffered no serious physical anguish.  We will get to the mental anguish it clearly suffered in a moment…

Belkin N1 02

As you can tell by this picture, the dimensions of the router case, based on the stock photo and the other shots were deceiving.  Based on all the 50° – 70° shots I assumed it was shaped a little shallower and narrower, but it’s got quite the generic box form factor.

Belkin N1 03

Typical port layout; 4 10/100 lan port and a wan port, white box is recessed reset and black is 5v supply input.  The blue labeled white button is their ‘wi-fi protected setup’ feature which I guess is like a combination of AOSS and mac filtering for admin privileges or something real gimmicky – I haven’t read much on it and I disabled it because wpa2 is enough security for me.

From the manual:

WPS uses WPA2 (described below) for encryption. It does not
provide additional security, but rather, standardizes the method for
securing your wireless network. You may use either the Push Button
Configuration (PBC) method or PIN method to allow a device access to
your wireless network. Conceptually, the two methods work as follows:
PBC: Push and hold the WPS button located on the back of your
Router for three seconds. Then initiate the WPS procedure on the client
device within two minutes. Refer to your client’s documentation on this
procedure. Pushing the PBC button will automatically enable WPS. The
client has now been securely added to your wireless network.
PIN: The client device has a PIN number (either four or eight digits)
that is associated with WPS. Enable WPS through the GUI shown
below. Enter the client’s PIN into the Router’s internal registrar
(accessed through this GUI). The client will be automatically enrolled
into your wireless network within two minutes.

Yeah, not interested – but I’ll keep it in mind for further research.

Belkin N1 04

Bottom label – has both Macs, Serial and the Pin which has something to do with the white button above.

Belkin N1 05

The lights look real cool on this router – other than that there is only one notable feature here: there is a light that notifies a connection to the modem and a separate indicator for a wan (internet) connection.  This comes in handy when troubleshooting whether or not the connection to the modem or the modems connection to the provider is the problem.  Very appreciated, I’m sure.

Belkin N1 06

Taking a quick peek inside reveals the 3 antennas with magnet grommets (very nice – you may notice these on quality cables because they help with filtering external line noise  – not going into the physics behind inductors and magnets though so google up if you’re curious).  You see 3 samsung chips, which are the nand memory – looks to be a great deal; I don’t know much about the architecture but I can believe that it has exceptional memory, but the firmware probably demands this much, being N draft 2.0 and having all sorts of interesting features.  Custom firmware people take notice (DD-WRT), as I noticed there is minor work being done on the N1 vision but not much else on this chipset.  Nothing else too interesting here for me.

Now on to my experience.

After finding out that the default gateway is 192.168.2.1, I got this in my browser:

(Thanks to ChrisOim who posted his similar error on dslreports.com for the image)

I tried connecting with a different computer, tried 3 browsers, I connected the router to the modem and reset the router multiple times and it made no difference.  I downloaded the firmware but there was no updates for this revision so it won’t take a re-flash; I tried doing it with TFTP but to no avail.

I eventually did a hard reset and then set forced my network connection to a static ip (192.168.2.2) and after a few tries managed to get some stable looking menus.  Occasionally it would screw up and I would have to wait a while and try again.  This went on for about an hour.

I’m not sure what happened, but I eventually managed to get the menu to stabilize long enough for me to configure everything I needed to get WiFi to work – when I logged into the menu using a wireless connection, it was almost perfectly stable – the only problem being when I save settings I have to refresh the /post.cgi to actually apply the settings and redirect back to the menu.  The drawback is that although the wireless is blazing fast and stable even in .11G, it takes forever to navigate and connect to the setup menu through wireless (it wasn’t always this way so I think it’s another intermittent problem thing – it was doing it when I took the screenshot but now near the end of writing this post it’s back to normal speeds….  I suspect it has to do with the ‘check for firmware updates automatically’ setting.)

Belkin N1 Setup Page

Once I realized this I sat down and configured everything the way I wanted it – I looked through all the features and found nothing revolutionary (dd-wrt has settings for tx power and can enable about 6 different router modes and even create vpn subnets that you can place ads on and make revenue from broadcasting an isolated limited wireless connection to the neighborhood).

Lack of CFW support and the boondoggle with the setup menu I experienced in the beginning aside – I’m not upset about this router purchase.  I’m not going to cast a verdict until I attempt to utilize 802.11n xSpan on this, but for now I’m getting very nice speeds in Utorrent – the Upnp is working very nicely compared to my dd-wrt enabled linksys router, which slugged along when there were more than 2 computers running upnp on the network at once, and upload speeds above 20kbps shut the network down to a crawl.  I’m not doing anything heavy in utorrent right now since I’m trying to get my demonoid ratio back in the +1.– range (I’m only .93 right now so don’t hate me for leeching, but we’re talking about 50 gb of data between .93 and 1.0 for my stats), but I’ll definitely take a ratio hit to download something and check how fast bittorrenting is on an N connection with this router  (can’t be any faster than plugging right into the modem, so I’ll compare it to the speeds I got with dd-wrt).

That’s about it.  I’ll post back if I have any epic fails with this device before I get the rest of my .11N hardware, otherwise expect the next update to be an installation of the 3rd antenna in my Aspire one – which may be a multi-day update.

Very excited.

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NetWarBook – Materials Bought

I was bidding like crazy on ebay to get the best deal on a Belkin N1 Wifi N router  – I came close twice to getting an N1 Vision (sweet) for under $100 – but I got sniped both times.  After I had almost given up hope on getting a deal, I found a normal N1 router for $50 +$8 pop up for buy it now right after the auction I lost ended.  Score.

Lightly used but confirmed working and with all the original stuff (not that I give a damn, but it adds to the experience) – shipped from NY.

Belkin N1 Wifi N Router

Belkin N1 Wifi N Router

I also scored a great deal on my AR5008E-3NX.  I shot my best offer of $20 (free shipping) off to China, and got a counter-offer of $21; with free shipping and compared to the other prices on the net, this was a killer deal, imo, so I snatched that bad boy right up.

With the money I saved I managed to afford a $10.45 (after shipping) 12″ UFL to SMApiggy cable, which if you haven’t been following, is for the 3rd antenna used in N cards.

Parts List so far:

  • Belkin N1 Router – $50 + $8
  • Atheros AR5008 miniPCI-e wifi card – $21
  • 12″ UFL to SMA pigtail – $8.50 + $1.95


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Atheros XSpan Research

I’ve done some research on Atheros’ XSpan tech, and surprisingly most of the press releases are only a day or 2 old.

Apparently the 802.11N draft is in version 2.0, which is now professedly extremely stable, but yet still relies greatly on compatible technologies as each company has it’s own style of 11N.

XSpan is actually a chipset technology for their 11N 2.0, and only a few commercial products posses it so far.

The Atheros card I mentioned (AR5008E-3NX) was actually the first N card to be approved for miniPCI-E standards, so I’m pretty solid on picking one up now.
The questions that I’ve now brought up deal with router compatiblity.

Apparently N tech is extremely picky, even to the point of non-functionality between 2 N devices.  You have to have a compatible N variant on both the card and the router.

Luckily I’ve found a handful of routers that are confirmed to be using the XSpan chipset, and the most impressive one I found was the Belkin N1 and it’s smokin’ hot sister, the N1 Vision.

Check out the pictures.
I’m pretty positive I’m spending what little funds I have for this project on this set up:

Atheros AR5008E miniPCI-e card

A UFL to SMA Pigtail cable to connect the 3rd antenna to the card (I own several antennas with ufl connectors on them, from simple little black ones like you would get stock with a pci card, to a badass ‘plate’ dish).  This is where the actual hacking is gonna take place, since I need to dremel a hole in a suitable location on the side of my computers case to mount the connector and route the cable to the card.

Belkin N1 Vision Router – gonna go used and try to score one for less than $100.

I plan on ordering everything today so that it can get shipped out first thing monday.

I’ll post back then.

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