Black Swift board – connecting to WiFi network using UART

Hi! Today I’m showing you how to connect to a wireless network using serial console (or SSH over wired LAN, for that matter) in OpenWRT.
bsb_serial_login

Disclaimer: this tutorial is mainly focused on Black Swift boards, which are nice boards running OpenWRT, but I believe it should apply to most of the OpenWRT boards.

Connecting to WiFi using serial connection might be necessary because you’ve got WiFi connection as the only other way to configure your board but you need to connect to the Internet somehow, for example, to download updates. Not to mention it is kinda is hard to change settings on a connection you’re using to change them, one wrong move/glitch and you’re cut off, needing to reboot the board and restart =( Say, you’ve got a Black Swift Pro board with USB-UART embedded, or you have connected an external USB-UART to your BSB Basic, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ve got a terminal at your service, and that ain’t going anywhere – even if WiFi goes down. … I like serial consoles. They’re reliable.

By the way, I’m overriding the UCI configuration. It’s temporary, so not gonna get saved anywhere. For UCI configuration there are many other guides, which I need not repeat here – these are plain old command line tools. If this guide gets outdated at some point, do not hesitate to contact me using comments or e-mail.

Say, your network interface is wlan0 – one can never be too sure, what if you were using an USB-WiFi dongle? If in doubt and things go wrong, check.
Now you need to issue a couple of commands to connect to your WiFi network of choice. I suggest you follow this guide, it has info about using different network encryption types with iw utility. For me, I had to use wpa_supplicant because my network is WPA2 protected. For this, I needed a file with network’s PSK, and that file is usually generated by wpa_passphrase command-line utility. BSB’s firmware provides no wpa_passphrase tool in the default image, however, you can run it on any Linux machine and then just copy the output over.

If you don’t have a Linux PC with this tool nearby, there’s also this option:
1. Take this configuration:

network={
    ssid="MYSSID"
    #psk="passphrase" #network password goes here, but this is not necessary
    psk=59e0d07fa4c7741797a4e394f38a5c321e3bed51d54ad5fcbd3f84bc7415d73d
}

2. Generate the PSK part on this website
3. Fill in the fields according to the field names and save this in a file.

Then, you have to start wpa_supplicant like this:
wpa_supplicant -iwlan0 -cwpa.conf, where wpa.conf is the file you’ve just generated.

Hit Ctrl^Z when you can see it has connected to the right AP to free the terminal, then send wpa_supplicant to background with bg command.
You can use iw dev wlan0 link to verify you’ve connected to the wireless network, if you’ll be unsure about that.

Check if DNSMASQ is running – it’s most likely serving DHCP addresses on the wireless network you just connected to, you’d want to avoid that.
ps |grep dnsmasq
Once you know the PID, just kill it.

Okay, now getting the address by DHCP.
udhcpc -i wlan0

We should have basic connection. Check network connectivity now:
ping 8.8.8.8

However, we don’t have DNS working, the reason is that DNSMASQ is used as a caching DNS server and therefore it made itself a system-wide DNS server, and we just had to shut it down. We need to edit /etc/resolv.conf and replace “127.0.0.1” in there with any DNS server, be it your router, your provider’s DNS or one of public DNS addresses. I chose 8.8.8.8. When done, test it:
nslookup google.com
If the results are reasonable, you’re good to go. Now, set up whatever you need to set up. For me, I finally could do opkg update – I’ll tell you about that one later =)


 

Bonus: connecting USB-UART to the Black Swift board

(Basic, as the Pro boards have USB-UART on the board)
Requirements:

  1. A USB-UART dongle with suitable logic levels – 3.3V max. If in doubt, plug it in and check RXD and TXD lines’ levels from the ground. None should be above approx. 3.3V.
  2. A couple of sufficiently thin wires (I used male-male breadboarding wires, as you can see on the pictures below). If you don’t have headers attached to your BSB, you can solder those wires right into the connection holes on the BSB.

Diagram:

BlackSwiftToUART

You can safely swap the RXD/TXD lines, and you might need to because different manufacturers label them differently. If you plug in the board but see nothing in the terminal, most likely that’s what you need to do.

UART parameters: 115200, 8n1

20160104_023652

Tip – if you don’t have 5V line on your connector, you most definitely won’t burn your GPIO by connecting wires to it accidentally 😉

20160104_031908

I was surprised that my BSB breakout had GPIO columns swapped. I soldered UART wires incorrectly the first time before my gut feeling warned me I should check the pinouts before plugging it all in.

20160104_014908

The wires – beware, they are plugged in wrong holes on this picture!

20160104_032726

End result, up and running great.

Oh, and if you will have problems running a counterfeit USB-UART adapter based on PL2032, like the one I used, I highly recommend visiting this site for drivers. Worked like a charm on Windows 8 x64.

Advertisements

One thought on “Black Swift board – connecting to WiFi network using UART

  1. polovina

    Hi, I fount your post on the Black Swift forum. I am building smt similar, I am trying to establish a serial connection to a display. The problem I am facing, since I need the GPIO10 to function as UART, I somehow need to switch it (from a normal GPIO). It says smt about configuration in the registry, but I am not very familiar with that.

    Do you have any input that could help me ?

    Regards
    Polovina

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s