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Vodafone Mobile WiFi R207 Teardown

Vodafone Mobile WiFi R207
Vodafone Mobile WiFi R207

Here’s one of the old modems from my spares bin, a Vodafone Mobile WiFi R207. This is just a rebranded Huawei E5330. This unit includes a 3G modem, and a WiFi chipset, running firmware that makes this a mini-router, with NAT.

Specs
Specs

The back has the batter compartment & the SIM slot, with a large label showing all the important details.

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

A couple of small Torx screws later & the shell splits in half. All the electronics are covered by shields here, but luckily they are the clip-on type, and aren’t soldered direct to the PCB.

Chipset
Chipset

Once the shield has been removed, the main chipset is visible underneath. There’s a large Spansion MS01G200BHI00 1GBit flash, which is holding the firmware. Next to that is the Hi6758M baseband processor. This has all the hardware required to implement a 3G modem. Just to the right is a Hi6521 power management IC, which is dealing with all the power supplies needed by the CPU.
The RF section is above the baseband processor, some of which is hiding under the bits of the shield that aren’t removable.

SIM Socket
SIM Socket

There’s a socket onboard for a standard Mini-SIM, just to the left of that is a Hi6561 4-phase buck converter. I would imagine this is providing the power supplies for the RF section & amplifier.

Unpopulated Parts
Unpopulated Parts

Not sure what this section is for, all the parts are unpopulated. Maybe a bluetooth option?

PCB Reverse
PCB Reverse

The other side of the PCB is pretty sparse, holding just the indicator LEDS, button & the WiFi Chipset.

Realtek WiFi Chipset
Realtek WiFi Chipset

The chipset here is a Realtek part, but it’s number is hidden by some of the shield. The antenna connection is routed to the edge of the board, where a spring terminal on the plastic case mounted antenna makes contact.

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Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Initial Tests & Benchmarks

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Yesterday, the Raspberry Pi community got a nice surprise – a new Pi! This one has some improved features over the previous RPi 3 Model B:

  • Improved CPU – 64-Bit 1.4GHz Quad-Core BCM2837B0
  • Improved WiFi – Dual Band 802.11b/g/n/ac. This is now under a shield on the top of the board.
  • Improved Ethernet – The USB/Ethernet IC has been replaced with a LAN7515, supporting gigabit ethernet. The backhaul is still over USB2 though, so this would max out at about 300Mbit/s
  • PoE Support – There’s a new 4-pin header, and a matching HAT for power over ethernet support.
Chipset
Chipset

The USB/LAN Controller is now a BGA package, supporting gigabit ethernet. The USB connections are still USB2 though, limiting total bandwidth. This shouldn’t be much of an issue though, since anything over the 100Mbit connection we’ve had previously is an improvement.

CPU & Radio
CPU & Radio

The CPU now has a metal heatspreader on top of the die, no doubt to help with cooling under heavy loads. As far as I know, it’s still the same silicon under the hood though. The WiFi radio is under the shielding can to the top left, with the PCB trace antenna down the left edge of the board.

Power Controller
Power Controller

The power supplies are handled on this new Pi by the MaxLinear MxL7704, from what I can tell from MaxLinear’s page, it seems to be somewhat of a collaborative effort to find something that would do the best job, since they apparently worked with the Foundation to get this one right. This IC apparently includes four synchronous step-down buck regulators that provide system, memory, I/O and core power from 1.5A to 4A. An on-board 100mA LDO provides clean 1.5V to 3.6V power for analog sub-systems. This PMIC utilizes a conditional sequencing state machine that is flexible enough to meet the requirements of virtually any processor.

PCB Bottom
PCB Bottom

The bottom of the PCB has the Elpida 1GB RAM package, which is LPDDR2, along with the MicroSD slot.

A quick benchmark running Raspbian Lite & a SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SD card gives some nice results:

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Cisco EA6700 / Linksys AC1750 Router

Cisco EA6700
Cisco EA6700

Since the boat was still running it’s internal network on 10/100M speeds, an upgrade was decided on, the internal WiFi signal strength was also pretty poor further than a few feet from the NOC.

The new router is a Cisco/Linksys AC1750 model, with gigabit networking, and full 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz Wireless. This router also has a built in media server, print server, USB3 & USB2.

PCB Overview
PCB Overview

Teardown time! Here’s the router with the cover removed. Most of the fun stuff is hidden under the shields, but these aren’t fully soldered down & the covers are removable. The 6 antennas can be seen spaced around the edge of the housing, the main CPU is under the large heatsink upper centre. The radio power amplifier stages are underneath the shields, while the main RF transceivers are just outside the shields.

2.4GHz Transceiver
2.4GHz Transceiver

Wireless N is provided by a Broadcom BCM4331, this provides full dual-band 3×3 802.11n support. Being 3×3 it is actually 3 separate transceivers in a single package, to get much higher throughput rates of 600Mbit/s.

5GHz Transceiver
5GHz Transceiver

Wireless AC is provided by it’s sister IC, the BCM4360, with throughput speeds of 1.3Gbit/s. Both of these transceiver ICs connect back to the main CPU via PCI Express.

5GHz Power Amplifiers
5GHz Power Amplifiers

To get increased range, there are a trio of Skyworks SE5003L +23dBm 5GHz power amplifier ICs under the shield, along with the TX/RX switching & antenna matching networks. Heatsinking for these is provided by a sink screwed to the bottom side of the PCB. The outputs to the antennas can be seen at the top of the image.

2.4GHz Power Amplifiers
2.4GHz Power Amplifiers

The 2.4GHz section is fitted with a trio of Skyworks SE2605L +23dBm 2.4GHz power amplifiers, with a similar heatsink arrangement under the board. Unlike the 5GHz section, the 2.4GHz antenna feeds are soldered to the PCB here instead of using connectors.

Main CPU
Main CPU

The main CPU is a BCM4708 Communications Processor from Broadcom, as for the other Broadcom chips in this router, very little information is available unless under NDA, but I do know it’s a dual core ARM Cortex A9 running at 1GHz, with built in 5-port gigabit ethernet switch.

CPU RAM
CPU RAM

Working RAM for the processor is a Hynix H5TQ2G63DFA 256MB part.

More to come on the installation of the new networking, with it’s associated 4G mobile gateway connection system.

73s for now!