Hackable $20 Modem Combines LTE And Pi Zero W2 Power

[extrowerk] tells us about a new hacker-welcoming system – a $20 LTE modem adhere with a quadcore CPU and WiFi, able of functioning fully-highlighted Linux distributions. This discovery hinges on a mountain of operate by a Chinese hacker [HandsomeYingYan], who’s figured out this adhere runs Android, hacked its bootloader, tweaked a Linux kernel for it and made a Debian distribution for the stick – contacting this the OpenStick undertaking. [extrowerk]’s writeup interprets the [HandsomeYingYan]’s tutorial for us and helps make a several extra handy notes. With this writeup in hand, we have unlocked a full new SBC to use in our assignments – at a remarkably reduced cost!

At times when even the easiest Pi Zero is unobtainium (nonetheless all over again!), this is a amazing come across. For a bit around the selling price of a Zero 2W, you get a computer with a comparable CPU (4-main 1GHz A53-primarily based Qualcomm MSM8916), exact quantity of RAM, 4GB storage, WiFi – and an LTE modem. You can stick this a single into a powerbank or a wallwart and operate it at a remote location, make it into a house automation hub, or probably, system some CPU-intensive duties in a smaller footprint. You can even get them with a microSD slot for excess storage – or probably, even more GPIOs? You’re not obtaining a soldering-friendly GPIO header, but it has a number of LEDs and, apparently, a UART header, so it’s not all bad. As [extrowerk] points out, this is fundamentally a cell cellphone in a adhere form factor, but with no the display and the battery.

The modem with its cover taken off, showing the chips on its board.Now, there is caveats. [extrowerk] factors out that you should really obtain the modem with the ideal LTE bands for your place – and that’s not the only issue to observe out for. A buddy of ours not too long ago obtained a visually equivalent modem when we received information of this hack, she disassembled it for us – finding out that it was equipped with a considerably much more minimal CPU, the MDM9600. That is an LTE modem chip, and its features are minimal to executing USB 4G stick obligation with some primary WiFi features. Judging by a preferred mobile machine reverse-engineering forum’s investigations (Russian, translated), seems like the earlier versions of this modem came with the way extra minimal MDM9600 SoC, not capable to operate Linux like the adhere we’re interested in does. If you like this modem and understandably want to procure a several, see if you can make guaranteed you will get MSM8916 and not the MDM9600.

Times of employing WiFi routers to power our robots are extensive long gone given that the advent of Raspberry Pi, but we nevertheless recall them fondly, and we’re glad to see a router adhere with the Pi Zero 2W oomph. We’ve been hacking at this kind of sticks for around 50 % a decade now, most of them OpenWRT-centered, some as small as an SD card reader. Now, when SBCs are difficult to procure, this could be a excellent in shape for one of your future tasks