So this morning the postman brought my first Ubiquiti Nano Station purchase, which I got for under £40 on ebay. So I thought I would give a brief overview of my experience of flashing this unit with the AREDN Firmware. 

This write up is not intended as a step by step guide, I will write one up soon with each step clearly set out. This is more just general experience of my process and what I encountered doing the first one.

 

Now to set the scene, I would consider myself a geek and have spent most of my adult life playing with electronics and computers as a hobby. I can do some coding, website building and the like. So I am not a complete beginner. All that said this was a very simple process to get the unit flashed, did take me two attempts, but I will explain what i did wrong on the first attempt.

So the guide on AREDN documents list a few steps which are required to get the firmware loaded. Unlike the TP and GL devices, on the ubiquiti devices, you can not use the vendor’s admin portal to simply upload a file and reflash the unit. 

However, they do have what is called a TFTP Server built-in which will make the process much easier.

You first need to fire up the Ubiquiti unit via a POE injector and then connect a laptop/pc (sure you can use a mac but I’m not a mac person)

As we have now plugged the laptop directly into the unit, there is no DHCP server to assign an IP address (normally done by your router) so I set a static IP address of 192.168.1.21

The default IP for most Ubquiti devices is 192.168.1.20 so I put this into the browser and I got the standard admin portal. Good so the unit is working and I can communicate to it.

Next I had to put the device into “Flash mode”. Which requires you to hold down the Reset button with a small screwdriver, whilst plugging in the power. Then continue to hold the reset pin until the unit enters flash mode, indicated by alternating LEDS on the back 1&3, then 2&4 in a flipflop fashion. 

Good so far, now to flash using the windows inbuilt TFTP client. which is a command line string entered onto the CMD line.

Oh I should of mentioned, I had already downloaded the Factory Firmware from AREDN website!

So I entered the code, and hit enter. nothing first time.

Nothing Second time. 

Ok try again from step 1. 

Again nothing, no errors or response on the screen and the unit just staying the flash mode…

Hmmm ok. So I decided that rather than use windows TFTP client I would download another client that I have used previously with success called TFTP2.EXE (google it)

Its a simply file transfer app that sends the file but does give you a visual indication of the process. 

OK, so this time flashed mode again, select the correct IP and filename in the TFTP2 App, hit “upload”.

Blue bar travels across the screen, then “ERROR, No Response from the remote device”… Hmm ok.

And then this is where I realised I had made a mistake. There are several versions of the firmware available on the AREDN website. I had, in my rush, selected the first one for “UBIQUITI NANO M5”

However closer look at the label on the back of the device and I saw

“FCCID: SWX-M5N”

Checking the other firmware on the website I found one for “UBIQUITI NANO M5 (WX)”

Not the same but lets try this one. And bingo, uploaded, displayed “Success” message and the LED’s started blinking in a new fashion as the firmware was installed.

Gave it a couple of minutes to install and reboot itself, you know its finished when only the right hand LED remains on steady.

Now, the laptop network interface needs to be turned back to DHCP instead of static. Reboot everything once again. and check if I can access https://localnode.local.mesh

Yay! We have a working AREDN node.

Now the unit can be configured and set up with my callsign, node information, freq, power etc.

The plan now is to set up a Raspberry Pi with various server software such as MESHCHAT, 3CX PBX, Email Server and various others ready for the network to grow. 

But for now I can do no more until the next Ubquiti units arrive from ebay.

Please feel free to post any questions or comments in the forum.