Detailed specs for the Asus WL-520GU uber hacking platform

October 27th, 2008 by Jeff

Asus WL-520GU Wireless Router

In my previous post about the Wifi Radio project I’m working on, I concluded that the Asus WL-520GU wireless router was the perfect choice for an embedded wireless platform, thanks to its builtin 802.11g WiFi, Linux support, and extremely low cost. (In fact, the price after rebate has dropped since my last post – now would probably be a good time to buy one if you’re thinking about hacking it into something eventually).

Here are the specs on this router, based on an inspection of the hardware and the stock firmware Linux kernel boot log (the complete log is here).

  • CPU: Broadcom BCM5354KFBG SoC @ 200MHz (240MHz?)
    • Builtin 802.11g wireless transceiver
    • Builtin 10/100 ethernet switch
    • Core supports 2 serial ports, only 1 is available on the PCB (installed 4 pin header shown in photo above)
  • RAM: 16MB Samsung K4S281632I SRAM
  • Flash: 4MB MX 29LV320CB
  • One USB 1.1 port (USB 2.0 support is broken according to the folks at OpenWRT)
  • SiGe Semiconductor 2528L discrete RF Power Amplifier IC
  • One external TX/RX whip antenna (RPSMA), internal diversity RX antenna on PCB
  • Internal 3.3V DC-DC converter
  • PCB Dimensions: 4.0″ x 5.6″
  • Supply: 5V @ <2A

Here are some images of the PCB, click for a larger version.

Asus WL-520GU Wireless Router Asus WL-520GU Wireless Router

Here’s a closeup of the Broadcom BCM5354 SoC – the brains of the router.  It is surrounded by a 4MB MX flash chip above and a Samsung 4MB SRAM chip on the right.

Asus WL-520GU Wireless Router

Overall this is a great little router and an even better platform to build an embedded Linux system, provided you don’t need USB 2.0 support.  If you do, look at the WL-500gP v2 instead, it has two working USB 2.0 ports (in addition to much more flash storage and RAM).

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14 Responses to “Detailed specs for the Asus WL-520GU uber hacking platform”

  1. [...] Update: I posted detailed specs for the WL-520GU and a couple more photos. [...]

  2. Cyk says:

    Hi.

    Are the signals for the second USB port of the BCM5354 available
    on the board?

    cheers
    karl

  3. Jeff says:

    Karl – I’m going to guess no, because the difference between the WL-520gU (with 1 external USB port), and the WL-500gP V2, which has 2 external USB ports, is that the WL-500 has a USB hub on the PCB. I could be wrong, but based on Asus using a hub on the 500, they must have had a reason not to bring out the second USB port on both products…

    But I could be totally wrong. I haven’t looked specifically for it.

  4. uuuu says:

    Do you have any specs on the WL-500gP V2?
    Do you think you would be able to install Debian on this (on internal flash, or usb drive, or both.)

    thanks

  5. Jeff says:

    The Wl-500gP V2 is very similar to the WL-520gU, but with 2x the RAM and flash and 2 USB 2.0 ports.

    I have no idea if anyone has ported Debian to the Broadcom5354. My impression is that Debain is too resource heavy, but it’s worth checking out. I’d start at http://www.debian.org.

  6. Angel G. says:

    I `ve got usb2.0 hi-speed to work on Wl-500gP V2, so it is possible one to do so on WL-520gU. What actually I came for is to try MightyOhm`s OpenWrt build, because I couldn`t get usb sound working.

  7. Jeff says:

    You might want to read this

    http://oldwiki.openwrt.org/OpenWrtDocs(2f)Hardware(2f)Asus(2f)WL520GU.html#head-c1714ddef85786025ab710153d3fe2c4b1312930

    which says that USB 2.0 on the WL-520gU is unstable. I haven’t tried it myself.

  8. Matt D says:

    I would like to build a single site internet reciever using a US Robotics MAXg router. It has a Broadcom BCM5350KPB5 core with an amd AM29LV160DM 2mbyte flash and an EtronTech EM638325TS-6 8 mbyte memory plus wireless radio and usb port, reset switch and 4 plated through holes for the serial header.
    Is there enough here to follow your excellent plans to build an iternet radio receiver? Any problems or suggestions?

    • Jeff says:

      This is a USR5461. The OpenWrt wiki lists it as a work in progress (may be supported but probably still has some kinks) here: http://oldwiki.openwrt.org/USR5461.html. There is some info about patches requires to get it to boot, but it may work out of the box with the latest Kamikaze release or the dev trunk.

      The biggest problem with that router is that 2MB flash isn’t really enough to do much with. You might be able to strip OpenWrt down to a bare minimum install and get mpd and it’s associated libraries to fit, but it will be really, really tight. You won’t be able to follow the tutorials here word for word but you can use them to get a feel for what is required. You’ll definitely need to compile your own firmware and deselect as many packages and modules as you can.

      So in short, it might be possible, it will be considerably more work than the WL-520gU, and there’s no guarantee it will even work when you’re done. Have fun! ;-)

  9. harmony says:

    Anybody has successfully upgrade Asus WL520GU to 32MB or more?…
    The BCM5354 should be able to support more than 16MB, rite?

    • BillGeo says:

      More memory?
      That will be nice.

      But how are you going to do it (hardware-wise)?
      Solder one more memory chip module? Is there provision for that on the PCB?
      Replace the existing chip? Better get your soldering skills (and tool) honed up first!

      But, as I said… it would be nice!

      • hinny says:

        just replace ram chip with a 32MB chip and then modify CFE to show correct memory addressing.

        • Koplimi says:

          “modify CFE”
          How do you do this exactly?

        • ossus says:

          Hey

          Could you be more specific? We all know it is the way, but we need part names , or such to choose a memory module for that. Have 2 gc and one gu so i want to solder something on the PCB already :D

          And a cfe mod could be hard to do, at learst for me …. suppose need to make a new cutom build of a firmware :O


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