Outdoor 3G / 3.5G Router

Last updated 2014:04:20.

You like this project? You have further questions? Send me an email! The address is on the main page at www.2xlc.de.

Outdoor 3G / 3.5G router

FAQ

What is the router used for?

This router is used to connect the house of friends of mine to the Internet. They live on the country side and it was not possible to get any other Internet connection (e.g. DSL). The only other option would have been to get Internet via satellite. Usually the cell network providers would sell "disadvantageous" hardware - everybody in the small village was complaining that there was no way to get a reliable, fast internet connection. So this caught my attention and I started a project to at least provide my friends a fast connection... :-)

Is the router PoE enabled?

Yes. We only use one Ethernet cable for power / data.

Is the unit set up to survive any extrem weather?

Yes, indeed! We have used only industrial style hardware / enclosures that withstand at least -30 - +70C. The area where the router was installed gets pretty cold during winter time and it is hot during summer.

Is it also possible to build a 4G router?

Yes. You just have to buy a 4G card (e.g. Sierra Wireless) instead of the MU609. Refer to the RouterOS hardware compatibility list for details.

How much throughput do you get over a 3G / 3.5G connection?

As we only had a prepaid SIM card the speed was limited by the cell provider to 7.2 MBit/s. Testing the router I therefore did not expect more than 7.2 MBit/s (obviously). We have seen downloads of around 800 KByte/s (HSPA / HSPA+). The MU609 card is capable of supporting higher bandwidths in case your contract allows it.

How much does the project cost?

The router consists of a Mikrotik RB411U, MU609 UMTS Mini-PCIe card, enclosure and a UMTS antenna as well as the required cables and pigtails. In total it has cost ~ 290 Euros. You might get it cheaper in case you buy used hardware.

Partlist

The following parts were used for the project:

Amount Name Description Cost (Euro) Total
1 RF Elements StationBox (R) ALU Outdoor enclosure compatible with RB411U 32.00 32.00
1 Mikrotik RouterBOARD 411U Router board (this is the tiny computer). 60.00 60.00
1 Huawei MU609 Mini-PCIe UMTS / HSPA+ card Used for internet access over the cellular network. 69.00 69.00
1 Pigtail NF (Female) Used to hook up the MU609 with the antenna. 5.00 5.00
1 UMTS antenna with N-connector (PA-2000 (from www.wimo.de) Used to increase the signal strength of the cell network. 90.00 90.00
1 Low loss cable (N/N) High quality cable to connect the antenna to the enclosure. 26.00 26.00
1 Power supply (24V) Mikrotik power supply. 6.00 6.00
1 Mikrotik PoE converter To supply power to the RB411U via Ethernet cable. 5.00 5.00


The following tools are required:

Name Description
Small PH screw driver For the screws that hold the MU609 Mini-PCIe card / RoutherBoard.
HEX screw driver For the screws that are used to fix the enclosure.


Assembling the hardware

ATTENTION: The MU609 card may break in case you don't handle it carefully (e.g. electro static discharge etc.).
DO NOT CONNECT THE BOARD TO THE POWER SUPPLY WITHOUT HAVING ATTACHED THE ANTENNA TO THE MU609 !

- Insert the SIM card of your cell network provider into the SIM slot of the RB411U board.
- Remove the two small screws of the Mini-PCIe slot from the RB411U.
- Insert the MU609 Mini-PCIe card into the Mini-PCIe slot of the RB411U and fix it by using the screws again.
- Insert the RB411U into the enclosure and fix it with the screws provided with the enclosure (we screwed it to the postition marked with "A").
- Connect an Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port of the RB411U, run it through the cable gland and close the cable gland tightly. In case the gland is too wide (e.g. cable not thick enough) put some insulation tape around the Ethernet cable until the cable gland closes tightly around the Ethernet cable.
- Insert the pigtail connector (N-type) into the appropriate opening of the enclosure (one is still open) and tightly close it (but not too tight as it might break).
- Connect the Hirose (R) connector to the "M" (=Main) connector of the MU609 Mini-PCIe card (you should hear a gentle click noise).
- Connect the antenna cable to the antenna and the other end to the enclosure. Be careful: Do not bend the antenna cable too much as it may break...

RouterOS configuration

I will not provide a full description of how to configure RouterOS as the configuration always depends on what you want to do. But even though when I tried to configure RouterOS to detect / work with the Huawei MU609 I ran into some smaller issues as the card was not properly detected. Here is a short summary what you have to do: The following applies to the Huawei MU609 I used that uses firmware / revision: 12.105.29.00.00. It may also be applicable for older / newer firmware revisions.

- Upgrade to RouterOS 6.x (I used version 6.12 which was the most recent, stable version in April 2014). Do not even try to configure it with RouterOS 5.x as it will not work in any way.
- The card will only be detected with one port - do not try to configure it, it will not work this way as the cards' IP stack is used.
- Access RouterOS via ssh and type the following command: /port firmware set ignore-directip-modem=yes
- This will disable the usage of the cards' internal IP stack.
- Reboot (!)
- Afterwards the card shows up with seven ports.
- Set up the ppp-client connection to use data-channel=2 and info-channel=4 (the settings from the Mikrotik Wiki did not work for me - they may be applicable for older firmware versions of the card).

Pictures

Antenna, Router and cables Working Huawei MU609 in RouterOS
Outdoor UMTS router opened up Seven ports visible in RouterOS