[Battlemesh] What hardware still works?

Daniel Golle daniel at makrotopia.org
Mon Mar 7 19:26:04 CET 2016

Hi Franz!

On Mon, Mar 07, 2016 at 03:22:09PM +0100, fboehm wrote:
> Am 07.03.2016 um 14:24 schrieb Daniel Golle:
> >Apart from that, I'm not sure if modularization will truly solve the
> >problem as it would still require that devices are assembled by
> >end-users (and not re-sold as a whole) as well as suitable hardware
> >components (especially SoftMAC WiFi mPCIe modules) being available...
> I think that's the crux of the matter. I for example believe that
> modularization can solve some major problems.

Certainly true, but the fact that most currently sold cheap mPCIe
modules intended for use in laptops are FullMACs (eg. Intel) and most
cheap routers are SoftMACs (eg. Ralink/MediaTek) changes the picture
for me, especially with regard to the FCC lock-down issue and the
fact that most of those for-use-in-laptops modules cannot do anything
else but client-mode in the 5 GHz band, eventhough they most of them
got dual-band radios...

> I don't know exactly how much more expensive a Mediatek MT76 based router
> would be with MiniPCI Express slots. Because it already has separated radio
> chips and PCIe traces on the board. I heard twice to three times. I honestly
> have difficulties to believe it.

External WiFi chips are connected via PCIe wires soldered on the board
in almost all cases today. Some very crappy devices may use SDIO, very
old ones use old-school PCI.
However, I haven't seen many inexpensive boards with mPCIe sockets.

> Of course it looks like a regression to move away from monolithic SoCs. But
> just the capability to select radios for specific use-case is worth some
> extra dollars.

I surely agree, but just because the additional connector providing
the socket only costs a few dollars that doesn't necessarily imply
that the final product price will also just be a few dollars more,
as the volume produced in one round of tooling very significantly
influences the final price...

> Because there is not just one type of Atheros PCI-Express module out there.
> You can pick from low-cost (bad range) to high-end (best range). Starting as
> low as $5 for surplus equipment.

Totally true and for that reason I do like modularity, of course.
The price of a PCIe Wifi chip is apparently not far from the price
of a whole WiSoC device which does have its own CPU and everything...
Cheap USB-powered routers start around $7...

Seen from that side, nice outdoor high-gain PCB-patch antennas which do
provide a back-pack housing for a router board and may also provide a
POE split-off would be a very nice thing to have access to cheaply ;)
Because that's the market-split (indoor vs. outdoor) where mesh
communities could safe the most imho...



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