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Thread: ROOter: How to build a very fast and very clever 3G 4G LTE USB router

  1. #1

    Default ROOter: How to build a very fast and very clever 3G 4G LTE USB router

    Hi guys and gals,

    Haven't been here for quite a while, so hi again from Australia.

    Thought you may be interested in a little project that was spawned in a Whirlpool Australia thread and has snowballed rapidly into creating a bunch of pretty heavy hitting 3/ 4G routesr, using OpenWRT as the core.

    The fundamental objective of the project is to support late model high speed 3G, Cat3 and Cat4 LTE modems to enable them to run at their full 42Mpbs, 100Mbps and 150Mbps potential, whilst router connected.

    You have probably discussed these issues somewhere in your excellent forum.

    Very few of the commercial offerings support speeds greater than 25Mbps. One shining example is Sweden's Dovado range.

    PPP the traditional USB connection protocol limits USB transfer speeds to 25Mbps. Different manufacturers use different fast protocols and the one manufacturer may use several different protocols in their product range.

    There is the additional problem of poor to non-existent modem information, provided by router manufacturers in the router GUI. We all need MDMA style info at our fingertips.

    Enter the ROOter.

    The ROOter is the brainchild of a bunch of Whirlpool enthusiasts and the deployment is the product of the brilliance of our Canadian programmer, Dairyman.

    Read the Whirlpool WIKI for the history and development and link to the current discussion thread.

    Visit the brand new open source firmware distribution site maintained by Diaryman (our Canadian guru) where you will find the firmware, along with detailed information and tutorials. There are details to make your own build or simply download the appropriate router bin file and flash your router.

    We have learned much in our short journey.

    Please drop into the Whirlpool thread and say hi.

    I will also endeavour to field answers to any questions in this thread.


  2. #2
    Super Grandmaster MickZA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Port Elizabeth


    Thanks for sharing, I'll definitely be monitoring the Whirlpool wiki.

  3. #3


    Even better, flash an old router and make a ROOter.

    You won't be disappointed.

  4. #4

    Default ROOter screen snaps

    Here are some ROOter screens snaps showing some of it's novel features.

    The ROOter already works with an extensive range of USB modems (and routers) and if yours doesn't work, the chances are high that it soon will, as the ROOter captures essential USB modem data (with a little bit of your help).

    They demonstrate:

    1. Modem connection information and keep alive function

    2. Bandwidth monitoring

    3. Signal cell information

    4. Cellular mode

    5. AT command execution

    There's plenty more.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the info. I am now the proud owner of a 3420 V2 ROOter!

    Seeing as I have already embarked on a steep learning curve with these little routers I though "what the heck" I may as well do it. Now to start playing with the additional functionality.

    I particularly like the setting where you can keep the 3G connection alive. This is essentially exactly the issue I was battling with that started it all off.

    I went for the Black Widow version but will in all probability look at the Huntsman beta as well as soon as I know my way around.
    Last edited by Mars67; 30-05-2013 at 03:26 PM.

  6. #6



    We don't have a whole lot of experience and feed-back with keep-alive in real life situations and it doesn't de-power the USB modem at restart, like Dovado's routers, so it may not recover from every freeze; however that is something that is on the 'to do' list.

    Huntsman is stable.

    Beta really means new, not universally tested features, but the core is the same.


    John k

    PS I see there is now a bit of activity from South Africa in the last 24 hours ...

    Looking forward to your feed-back and contributions.

  7. #7


    Some feedback. Before something would happen that would cause the router to lose connection with the modem. The modem would then just sit there with a double blink green led and the router had to be rebooted to fix it. Now with the ROOTer software I set it to keep alive and reboot and so far it has been able to reconnect every time. It looks really promising. I am using an E173 modem as I do not have LTE available in my area as yet.

    I'm going to go for the Huntsman version now.

  8. #8


    The TP-Link WR1043ND Gigabit router does not support 3G with native firmware, since it is on the supported list and it has a USB port can I turn it into a ROOTer with 3G/4G support?
    Last edited by Dirk44; 31-05-2013 at 09:32 AM.

  9. #9


    Long history lesson begins ...

    Any router which supports a USB port can theoretically be programmed to support a USB modem.

    The majority of routers use a Linux operating system.

    The ROOter uses OpenWRT Linux as it's core OS. Many of the ROOter features (e.g modem support) commenced life in a basic Linux operating system.

    Specific OpenWRT software must be tailored to support each Routers hardware configuration.

    So in theory any USB router supported by OpenWRT, can be transformed into a ROOter and anyone who understands Linux and Lua can start making some magic.

    We have identified a core group of popular OpenWRT supported routers and Dairyman has created ready made .bin files for ROOter flashing.

    There are also tutorials for the adventurous, to create their own custom ROOter using any suitable OpenWRT supported routers and the modem etc support scripts.

    Read the WIKI in conjunction with the OfModemsandMen website to gain a better understanding of it's evolution and features.

    Flash ram size and processor speed describe a routers capability and are fundamental to a ROOters performance. These details are tabulated for the ROOter supported routers. Another fundamental is the power (current) that a ROOter can provide to the 5v USB port. Fast 3G and LTE USB modems can draw in excess of 800mA in certain circumstances. There are practical solutions to deal with USB power shortfalls in the tutorials

    The Spider ROOter softwares to date, work with 4Mb flash RAM routers, due to some very clever code compression.

    This current Huntsman series is almost at end of life, as there is simply no more space to add new features in 4Mb flash RAM routers.

    BTW a new Huntsman release is available 2013-06-01.

    The ROOter change log reveals the new features of this release.

    Hope that helps?

    PS I'm no expert. I'm just another enthusiast with a few vague ideas, that cut his teeth building yagi antennas in search of better 3G performance. It's amazing how much you learn along the way. So this is for everyone.
    Last edited by Wahroonga Farm; 01-06-2013 at 12:07 AM.

  10. #10


    The Channel locking guide is re written with additional channel information:

    There will be another Huntsman release shortly which provides a feature to use only PPP to connect to the modem.

    This will enable a number of 3G Huawei modems to connect properly. It limits the max throughput to 25Mbps, but all the other ROOter features are available.

    So a nice little fall-back for some modems. It will primarily benefit Huawei modems

    Try it.

    MR3420 V1 -

    MR3420 V2 -

    In the Modem->Connection page there is a new entry that says Force Modem to PPP Protocol

    Note: This will solve the problem with the E3131 and E173 not working with NCM and should make the E353 work properly as well.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Fourways, Johannesburg


    I can confirm that "very fast" does apply.

    Changing to OpenWRT nearly doubled the performance of my 3420v2. Exactly why is a mystery, but I'll take the benefit just the same.
    I'm here because you can never know too much about data comms

  12. #12


    Quote Originally Posted by lotus123 View Post
    I can confirm that "very fast" does apply.

    Changing to OpenWRT nearly doubled the performance of my 3420v2. Exactly why is a mystery, but I'll take the benefit just the same.
    Because 99% of router softwares use only the PPP protocol to communicate with the modem.

    However if you plug the modem into your laptop the connection manager will ensure that the high speed drivers and fast USB protocol is used ... just like a ROOter.

  13. #13

    Default Huntsman 2013-03-03 released

    Huntsman 2013-06-03 Force PPP mode added. This feature provides support for the E3131 and E173 if it is turned on.
    - The Modem Configuration tutorial has been updated to reflect this new feature.

    Download from:

    Note: This will enable a number of 3G Huawei modems to connect properly. It limits the max throughput to 25Mbps, but all the other ROOter features are available.

    It is a nice little fix for the odd Huawei modems that won't connect.

  14. #14


    It was discovered by Coltect on a rainy Sunday, that by removing IPv6 compatibility but including OpenVPN capability, that considerable flash RAM space was freed.

    Some words of wisdom from Dairyman.

    The 4Meg routers with IPv6 have reached the end of the line for features. No more free memory to work with.

    So they can stay frozen and I'll have one set of config files for them.

    The 4Meg routers without IPv6 can then continue to be developed along with 8Meg routers with IPv6. This would be another set of config files.

    Since the build is all automated it won't make any more work after I get it set up.

    So we'd have firmware for the 4Meg routers with and without IPv6 and for 8Meg routers with it.

    Not too bad and it allows more development on the 4Meg routers with the extra memory. Maybe Band Selection and SMS can be included.
    We now have an ongoing development path which includes OpenVPN, that should meet everyone's needs.

  15. #15
    Super Grandwizard ginggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006


    Do you think it would be possible to squeeze the iBurst USB driver in there?

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