WiFi on BELA boards

06 August 2017

Through this information, I found out about compatible hardware for wireless connections on the BELA board. Luckily, the local shop had two netgear a6100-100pes ac600 802.11ac USB-WiFi dongles available.

Set up WiFi on the router

I first tried my luck with setting up an ad-hock network but experienced irregularities. Therefore I purchased a TPlink tl-wr902ac wireless router that can be powered over USB, making it the ideal choice for an off-the-grid setup. I configured it to create a wpa-encrypted network with the ESSID fielding. The router also has the option to assign permanent IPs to specific MAC addresses. This is handy because the boards now always have the same IP without having to be configured differently. This will make mass-production easy.

This TP Link WiFi router can be powered via USB and is therefore an optimal choice for a mobile system.

Set up WiFi on the boards

Get dongle’s name (typically wlan1)

ifconfig -a

The relevant part in the network configuration file /etc/network/interfaces looks like so:

# WPA-based network
allow-hotplug wlan1
iface wlan1 inet dhcp
  wpa-ssid "fielding"
  wpa-psk  "XXXX." # passphrase

In case you want to try out ad-hock mode for yourself, this is a configuration:

# ad-hoc network (shaky)
allow-hotplug wlan1
iface wlan1 inet static
#  pre-up sleep 5
  wireless-channel 1
  wireless-essid fielding
  wireless-mode ad-hoc

Controlling WiFi

You can turn WiFi on and off via

ifdown wlan1 
ifup wlan1

Since this uses the configuration in /etc/network/interfaces, it might break if that configuration was considerably changed.

Further, you can check the interface’s state, esp. for its ESSID by running

iwconfig wlan1