Tag Archives: Asus

David Nichols’ Tweetster, a wireless Twitter display

David Nichols made this awesome wireless twitter display by combining a hacked Asus WL-520gU wireless router with a Sparkfun serial-enabled LCD display.  The router is running the same OpenWrt distribution I used for my Wifi Radio project, plus a USB thumbdrive that provides some additional flash storage space.  I really like the custom laser cut base that holds the LCD display and the router!

For more pics and info, check out David’s flickr set for the project.

via Make: Online – Tweetster – Wireless tweets display

Building a Wifi Radio? Leave a comment here!

Did my Wifi Radio project inspire you to buy a wireless router and start hacking?  If so, I’d like to hear from you!

Leave a comment below and let me know how your project is coming along.  Even if you’re not building a Wifi Radio but used my firmware or tutorials as a starting point (a great example is the Tweet-a-Watt), I’d love to hear from you.

If you have photos of your project, you can share them with the world by adding them to the Asus Wireless Router Hacks photo pool on flickr.

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Wifi Radio Cost Breakdown

Many people have asked me for a cost breakdown of my Wifi Radio project.  Well, here it is!

I added a link to possible sources for as many parts as I could.  However, there were a few things I scrounged from local surplus electronics stores and couldn’t easily find a good equivalent online.  I’m not expecting everyone to copy my design exactly (not everyone has a woodworking shop at their disposal), so use these numbers as a rough estimate only.

If you shop around you should be able to beat the listed prices on many items, so I see this as sort of a worst case scenario.

To flash the wireless router and create a minimal radio (with no user interface), you will need:

Total: $65.48

To make the LCD display and tuner interface, you’ll also need:

Total: $52.06

(This is on the high end, the interface can certainly be built for less by using scrounged/surplus components.)

To make the finished radio, add:

  • Volume and tune knobs – ~$2 @ HSC
  • Cool tuner knob$8.55
  • 5V/12V power supply brick – $10 @ Weird Stuff
  • 5-pin mini-DIN power connector – ~$3 @ HSC
  • Power switch – ~$1 @ HSC
  • Cheap set of PC speakers (gutted for the speakers and amplifier) – $5 @ Weird Stuff

Total: $29.55

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot…

  • An awesome friend named Tony with a full woodworking shop in his garage who will make you a killer wooden enclosure for free – $priceless

Grand total (excluding the box) – $147.09

If you take out the cost of the development tools, namely the FTDI cable and the USBtinyISP, the total comes out to $105 (without the box).

By scrounging materials and using parts from your junkbox you should be able to reduce that figure even more, but obviously the grand total hinges on what kind of enclosure you use.  Not everyone has a friend with serious woodworking skills willing to donate time and materials, but use this as an excuse to get creative.

I wanted a box that showcased the time and effort that I spent on the electronics inside, but that doesn’t mean an old boombox from the Salvation Army couldn’t work just as well.

When I first started this project, my goal was to keep the total parts cost under $100.  On paper, it looks like I came pretty close to that, thanks to the donated box and excluding the reusable development tools like the FTDI cable and AVR programmer.  To be honest, I probably spent twice that amount on spare power supplies, extra knobs, a second router to bring to NOTACON, and a bunch of other stuff that I didn’t end up using in the final project.  But I’m pretty ok with that.  I think this just highlights the fact that:

If you just want a Wifi Radio, it will always be cheaper to buy one off the shelf. But if you make your own, it will be infinitely more rewarding.

It certainly has been for me.  🙂

WL-520gU for $34.99 after rebate @ Newegg.com

ASUS WL-520gU Wireless Router with All-in-One Print Server/ DD-WRT Open Source support

Newegg.com is currently offering the Asus WL-520gU for $34.99 after rebate. This is the lowest price I have seen in a while, so if you’ve been debating picking one of these up to play with, it might be a good time to buy.

The WL-520gU is the very hackable wireless router I used in my Wifi Radio project.  It’s also the router used in LadyAda’s Tweet-a-Watt and the subject of a talk I gave this year at NOTACON.

It’s interesting to note that Newegg recently added the words “DD-WRT Open Source support” to the product title, so obviously they are aware of how many people buy these routers just to toss the stock firmware and throw on DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWrt, or the oleg.wl500g.info firmware instead.

ASUS WL-520gU Wireless Router with All-in-One Print Server/ DD-WRT Open Source support

Looking for Asus WL-520gU Wireless Router Hacks

Have you created a project or hack based on the Asus WL-520gU or WL-500gP Wireless Routers?

It doesn’t matter if it was inspired by my project or developed independently – I’d love to hear from you!

I’m putting together a talk for NOTACON and I’d like to feature as many projects as I can to spread the word about how powerful, flexible, and affordable these routers are, especially when coupled with a Linux package (DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWrt, etc.) and USB devices.

If you’d like to have your project included in the talk, leave a comment or contact me directly.