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Travel Router - ZuniDigital ZTRP150


  02:24:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 2255 words  
Categories: Digital Photography, Travel, Networking, WiFi, Chromebook

Travel Router - ZuniDigital ZTRP150

Link: http://www.zunidigital.com/?page_id=222

Some time before I bought one, I had often wished I had a Travel Router during my travels. And, I know I looked at whether it would be possible to use my Linux laptop as such.

But, then on November 25th, 2011, Black Friday....meaning I was at Chicago TARDIS at the time....I had on the spur of the moment ordered the ZuniConnect ZTRP150 WiFi Travel Router with USB Charging by ZuniDigital from NewEgg.com.

As I recall, it then sat around for months until I finally set it up, in preparation for possible use on my next trip....Gallifrey One in 2012.

The turn hotel ethernet into WiFi for all my gadgets was really nice, since most hotels only allow one device per room to register for its free or pay wireless. (though I heard some allow pay per device....) But, my reasoning at the time was the large number of Eye-Fi cards that I have in my collection, which are unable to connect to such WiFi, even when its free and its just an EULA page that needs to be accepted.

Otherwise, I wasn't too WiFi dependent gadget heavy then....I could use 3G on my smartphone, and my Kindles all did 3G or something (either exclusively or later with WiFi...I had started carrying the Kindle Fire, original, on trips....so it was the first that would benefit from a travel router.)

It was November 23, 2012 that I started my journey into the world of Chromebook (I had preordered it, and that's when it shipped....at first I was traveling with both my Linux laptop and the Chromebook, but for some time now...I've been going with just the Chromebook. Which has been challenging, like now I can't add SSIDs to my eye-fi cards on the road. So, I have to hope that I got the right ones pre-added to the cards. Along with some of the ones I know what will work, like the SSID for my MiFi2200 or later tethering off of my HTC One (I got the 5GB tethering plan, because lower tiers weren't eligible for employee discount and I had been looking to upgrade from MiFi....but hadn't found a reasonable pay as I go, but can't be activated because I don't live in an area that's covered by it.

Though I did consider exiting the Smartphone crowd and getting a contract Mobile Hotspot, but there isn't anything in an Android 4.3/4.4+ equivalent to iPod Touch....or WiFi only smart phone ???

Now, I guess I've been lucky with the ZuniConnect, which has two modes, Router or WISP. It has both a WAN and LAN port, so there's lots of different ways it could be used.

Long before this, I already had a RoadWarrior travel Ethernet cable in my carry on....so I wasn't stuck if the room only had a jack. And, the router mode was all I needed. It was pretty much plug it in and go everywhere that I stayed.

That was until my previous trip....the one to visit my brother and parents for Christmas. The hotel I stayed at didn't have Ethernet in the room. I had never looked at WISP, but knew it was something I was going to need to use eventually.

Well, it was a bust, because WISP is largely a different configuration in the router, because I would see ZuniConnect or something as an SSID sometimes, but not be able to connect to it. Not sure I know how to connect Chromebook to WPS, or if its possible. etc. But, in the end found that the only way to configure WISP is through ethernet. And, none of my devices had ethernet ports. (I'd still be screwed if I had a MacBook Air along....)

So, I made a note to investigate alternative Travel Routers and to acquire a USB Ethernet adapter for my Chromebook, etc. I eventually got both as part of a larger order from Amazon.com on Jan 22, 2014. I got a "Plugable" USB Ethernet adapter, because it was specifically listed as an adapter from Chromebook. And, I got a TP-Link TL-WR702N, Which sounded like it also did all I wanted, had been favorably reviewed and I've been pretty happy with the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND router that handles my Cox connection to the world....doesn't do all the stuff I liked doing with DD-WRT (though I could DD-WRT it)...but its been rock solid, and since I've moved to running nginx reverse proxy on a DMZ host, the 16 port forwarding limitation isn't an issue. QoS might start to become a concern though. But, I still primarily do that through DD-WRT on AT&T connection to the world. Some day I think I want to try pfSense....

But, that hotel stay wasn't a problem since they're WiFi access was controlled by a password that is given out at check-in....so I could connect all my devices to the WiFi without problems.

Anyways....these items sat around in their packages, until the night before I was to depart for Gallifrey One 2014.

The USB Ethernet adapter just worked and wasn't a problem (though I haven't registered its MAC with my network, which only does reserved DHCP ... its on my list to create a guest network, which can be helpful for discovering MAC address of devices that don't have them printed anywhere on them. But, it hasn't been an issue with wireless devices, since those failed attempts show up in my radius log. Which probably also shows up in the dhcp log (I suppose I should set those logs to forward to zen, so I can see them and add them to the appropriate files in CFEngine 3 repository....still haven't gotten cf-runagent working though.)

The TP-Link TL-WR702N was another story. Again it looks like it needs to be configured manual for WIFi Bridging through its ethernet port, but the ethernet port being dual mode LAN or WAN, its out of scope for its built-in DHCP (which is also disabled by default...) Also of annoyance was that its SSID was fixed, couldn't tailor it to my convention, but rather its own convention ending with the last 3 octets of its MAC. Where the default password is the last 4 octets. It does allow you to change the password, along with other encryption settings, or go open. It has a dropdown list for channel, which had defaulted to AUTO. But, it won't allow you leave the page until its been changed to be the same channel as the selected WiFi. Seems its a flaw with all WISP, that they attach to BSSID.... I have two APs at home, both with the same SSID, but different BSSID (of course) and different channels. Yet, my bedroom is still in a hole.... :))

Could be interesting in a hotel environment where there's going to to be many different BSSID/Channels, which might change throughout the stay.

But, I ran into a problem. I couldn't not get my Chromebook to connect to the Ethernet port. It didn't do DHCP, but Chromebook has options to set things manually, but Chromebook still wouldn't connect. I suspect there's something Chromebook expects to get answers for to determine that the connection makes sense, and the TP-Link doesn't do it. At first I thought the Chromebook was expecting a fully usable Internet connection....which doesn't make sense, since its able to use captive portals, though often the captive portals only block http/https initially, or provide/leak enough to satisfy my Chromebook.... That was until this Gallifrey One trip....

I tried my Linux Laptop, but after fiddling around inside, I decided that there's no way to preconfigure it for my trip and since Chromebook doesn't like its not fully configured state to access its configuration web interface. I wasn't going to have any luck. Though wonder if its the enhanced web interface security that TP-Link had rolled out sometime ago. I know when I had upgraded my TL-WR1043ND to it, even though there wasn't anything really to be gained by upgrading....it had made the interface inaccessible to me. Found that I had to go direct to its IP and only by its IP. Can't use the DNS name I've configured for it, and can't use proxy (so no remote reconfiguration via my reverse proxy, which I hadn't thought of as something I would do, until just this second. In the past when I've needed to attempt such, I would use an ssh tunnel.

Anyways...I abandoned the TL-WR702N.

I figured, that I wasn't going to need it for Gallifrey One.....I was wrong.

I don't know if they've made a change or its because of the room I got, but I soon found that there was no Ethernet cable or jack. Its possible they've made a change since I was last here, since while I was troubleshooting my connection issues, I saw that it allows you to connect up to 6 devices per plan. So, that was a fall back option...except for my Chromebook (more later.)

Since there was no ethernet jack....it meant that I was faced with trying to setup WISP mode on the Zuni. Which I had never looked at, so didn't know what to expect. At least I had still thrown the USB Ethernet adapter into my carry-on. So, I could at least try. Well, I found plugging it in it saw that I immediately showed connected on Ethernet connection. Since it still had the manual configuration settings for IP, wasn't able to get Chromebook manual DNS to work....and neither auto nor google worked with the TP-Link. It had been left as auto, which got the Zuni's IP. I changed the IP to auto and it picked up the first IP in the DHCP range for the Zuni. And, I could then run the setup wizard for WISP.

But, then when it came to the captive portal....the redirect to plans page would timeout. I tried all sorts of fiddling on the ZuniConnect, but it wouldn't work. That's when I tried connecting to hotel's SSID using my Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and found the link about additional devices which took me to page that said I could have up to 6. But, when I tried using Chromebook direct to SSID, it also had wouldn't connect to the secure page to access plans. Running diagnostics from crosh was vague, it reported that the site had a valid cert, and it said what kind of secure connection it was, but connection to site failed (timed out) by HTTPS, but succeeded by HTTP. Of course, I needed HTTPS to work. Eventually, I used Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 connected by WiFi to ZuniConnect in WISP to access my WiFi plan, so that my Chromebook could get online (and enable me to write this blog post &#59;D )

Guess things will stay this way for the time being. I'm using its USB charger feature to charge my smartphone and my tablet. This trip its my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, previous trip was my Nexus 7....found that even though the resolution should be the same....my regular game "The Secret Society" shows up better on the Galaxy Note 8.0 than on the Nexus 7. Namely, it the friends area....it shows 6 panels at a time, instead of 2 at a time. Though it taking forever to get into is kind of pain....I had resorted to bumping the screen timeout to 30 minutes and just leaving it....sometimes it still not in when it has timed out, but at least it hadn't swapped me out of the game so its still trying to get in when I wake it up again. Othertimes, its not quite that long.... just enough that Talismans that I have activated at the start, expire before I finally get in and out of Friends....)

Should dig out other USB charger so that everything I have will be charged...though I got camera battery chargers everywhere right now. Plus not sure I have enough micro-USB cables for everything....meant to pick up more, but forgot.

Wonder if should see if a spare ZuniConnect ZTRP150 can be had somewhere....NewEgg doesn't have it anymore and sounds like they won't. Can't find it on Amazon.com. Zuni's online store is also out of stock. Nothing on eBay.... Guess I'm on still on a quest, but not as its replacement....as its backup.

OTOH, I had read about fqrouter2? while I was using one of my free gogoinflight passes on the flight to LAX. So, that might be something to investigate when I have time or when I'm desperate.... :oops:

Not sure what the future holds for Chromebooks....I was originally thinking that I would be looking for a new one this fall, so that I'll get another 2 years of perks from it. But, that a new laptop is the likely priority now. Intrigued by the possibility of getting a (multi-)touchscreen ultrabook, installing FreeBSD as its host operating system...but still running Windows 8 in VirtualBox and its multi-touchscreen is still usable through the enhancements in VirtualBox 4.3. Hopefully FreeBSD supports all the stuff in such an ultrabook, and the touchscreen support doesn't require the Extension Pack. Still lacking WebCam in my windows VM at home.... Otherwise I suppose I'd have to do Linux something instead....which might actually be preferable, unless I work out a better way to manage ports at home.... Oh well, back to Gallifrey One.

Oh yeah....the ZuniConnect ZTRP150 had one annoying quirk with WISP mode. While it magically picked up the SSID I used in router mode during the wizard setup. It forces '-WISP' onto the end. Which means my Eye-Fi cards won't be able to use it in this mode, as they aren't configured for any such SSID. WIll have to fix this with my Eye-Fi cards for next time....

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