Following up on Chinese Back Door Cameras – LeFun/BEW/VimTag/Fujikam/SkyGenius

UPDATE (10/25/2016): They are now being sold under the brand name “SkyGenius”. STAY AWAY. These are the same backdoored cameras as before. Theses are the kinds of cameras that were likely used in the DDOS attacks that took place last week. Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LZRFGXN?m=A3G20NDO3H60P2&th=1

I just wanted to make a quick post that these camera companies are removing and deleting reviews on the Amazon pages that alert people to the behavior that I outlined in my previous post: Chinese IP Cameras – The next Trojan Horses? VimTag/BEW/Fujikam

ALL the reviews on the BEW version are gone and the ones I left on the VimTag ones are removed as well. In addition to that they are now being sold under the “LeFun” brand.

[TTT] NetGear R7000 Nighthawk – Wireless and Firmware Issues + Review

Update: NetGear has officially confirmed this to be the case with the issues. Here is their reply: Nifer NetGear Forum Moderator Reply

Welcome to the first Tim’sTechTips article. I figured this would be a good one to start off with since I had issues with this awesome router and was able to fix them.

Just a little background before we get started. Firmware links are at the bottom of the post.

I do not use this router as an actual router and have it operating in Access Point mode so I cannot comment on it’s routing throughput personally. However, I have many friends and co-workers that I have recommended this router to and they have not had any issues with it. My issues started with I upgraded from the 1.0.4.30 firmware to the latest 1.0.6.28 firmware that NetGear released to add support for their Arlo cameras. There are numerous posts showing that they were having issues with the firmware as well, showing that this was not an isolated incident that just myself experienced. Below there is a guide on how to get your R7000 working as intended as well as the correct firmware you need.

As for how much I use the wireless for this router here is what I have running on it:

  • 4 Google ChromeCasts (1 first generation on the 2.4ghz band and 3 2nd generation on the 5.0ghz band)
  • Lenovo Stick 300 HDMI PC (2.4ghz band)
  • 2 Axis IP Cameras (2.4ghz band)
  • Linksys Wireless AC Bridge for a wired 720P IP camera (5.0ghz band)
  • EcoBee Wireless Thermostat (2.4ghz band)
  • Numerous Android Smartphones and tablets (we have a minimum of 7 Android devices connected when we are home)
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (5.0ghz band)
  • Brother MFC-9130CW Printer (2.4ghz band)

As you can see the wireless on this device has a lot running on it. In addition, to that I live in a condo and the competition for the 2.4ghz band is high, luckily my neighbors have yet to discover the 5.0ghz band. Now that all that is out of the way lets get on to the review, issues, and resolution to said issues with this router.

Review

I purchased this router at the end of October 2013 when my old DIR-655 was failing after years of service as an access point. As I stated above I only use this router in access point mode, I run a custom SFF PFsense box for my main router. I will be going over the wireless performance of the router in my environment (3rd-floor condo, Flexi core building). The router is placed in the center of my 1500+Sqft condo for best coverage and performance.

Setup

The setup is OK. By that, I mean that if you are an IT professional you will be a little annoyed with their wizard-style approach to how it sets itself up. I really wish they had the option to bypass the wizard and go directly to the main login page. Basically, just let it time out and click through the wizard and you will get to the main screen.

This router does support acting as a NAS with it’s available USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. However when I tried a few external drives the router would not see them. This wasn’t a dealbreaker for me as I have ‘servers’ in the house but I was just seeing if it would work with the drives I have, it did not (they were generic, externally powered USB drives). From what I read online, this router is pretty particular about what drives you connect to it and none of the ones I have are compatible with it. It did work with every USB2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives I installed on it and I got between 20-30MB/s on the flash drives.

Once you are logged in you can configure it like any other router. There is even an access point mode of operation in the advanced settings section. I am using this option for my home setup. When enabling the Access Point operation mode, the WAN port is bound to the LAN ports, effectively making it a 5 port gigabit switch with an access point built in. I have one device connected to the router for LAN access and the throughput is 90-100MB/s.

Wireless Throughput

I used multiple devices that I had on hand to test the wireless throughput. Here are the average results. The tests were done by transferring an ISO file from my local file server to the device. I was about 100feet away from the router with 1 wall in between the devices and the router. All the above devices were connected and in operation at the time of the test. Firmware was the 1.0.4.30 firmware with the wireless channels set to the least crowded in my building. Speeds are in megabytes per second, not megabits per second.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

  • 2.4ghz – 10mb/s
  • 5.0ghz – 60mb/s

Droid Turbo 2

  • 2.4ghz – 5mb/s
  • 5.0ghz – 20mb/s

Linksys AC Wireless Bridge

  • 2.4ghz – 12mb/s
  • 5.0ghz – 70mb/s

Lenovo Stick 300

  • 2.4ghz – 8mb/s

As you can see the speeds are pretty good on the 2.4ghz band given the load on the router and the interference in the building. The 5.0ghz (all 802.11AC devices) is pretty stellar and I can almost max out my gigabit network through the wireless.

Despite all the devices and interference I have in my building I am able to get a reliable connection in my garage that is 4 floors down on the 2.4ghz band. I can even pick up the 2.4ghz band in my parking lot that is a goo 600feet from where the router is.

Comments/Thoughts

As I stated above I am not using this as a router. However my brother, 2 of my friends, and one of my co-workers are using this as their ONLY router/access point and they are able to fully use their internet lines (25mbps-150mbps) with no issues. The router even has OpenVPN built in so you can setup remote access to your network through it, I have tested this and it works as expected. Given that it has a 1.0ghz dual core ARM CPU it has more than enough power for even a heavy home network. Multiple reviews online have stated that they were getting between 400mbps-500mbps for WAN to LAN throughput.

Issue & Resolution

About a month ago I had updated the firmware to the latest one that NetGear released, this is version 1.0.6.28. The firmware installed correctly and there were no issues right away. Fast forward 2-3 days after I installed the firmware all of our 2.4ghz devices started losing connection. The devices would connect for about 1 minute and then drop off the network. I restarted the router and it would start working for about 30-45 minutes and the same issue repeated. I factory reset the router and reconfigured it with the 1.0.6.28 firmware on it but it kept happening.

I called NetGear support and they recommended to do a factory reset again and that seemed to help for about 2-3 days, then the issue came back. Seeing as the router only has a 1-year warranty I started changing settings on the wireless side myself to get a better connection but it did not resolve the issue.

I looked online and started finding many forum posts having the same issue, 2.4ghz dropping out and 5.0ghz working fine. There were multiple people saying that factory resets were working on the new firmware and there were a few that were saying to roll back to an older firmware if you did not need the “Arlo” support that the new firmware added. I did a factory reset again and flashed the 1.0.4.30 firmware that I was on before the update. After reconfiguring the router with my settings, it has been working for over 2 weeks now with no issues.

The funny thing is that I went to the NetGear site before writing this article to get the firmware files to mirror here and they pulled firmware versions that they had released after the 1.0.4.30 version. I think they realized that their firmware was making the routers unstable. See here: What happened to the R7000 firmware 1.0.6.28?

Closing

All that being said I have and will continue to recommend this router for people that want great performance, reliability, and wireless coverage for their homes. Just make sure you are on the 1.0.4.30 firmware version. Anything after that is unreliable. However, SOME people on the NetGear forum have said that they are having no issues with 1.0.6.28 after a factory reset. YMMV.

I attached the 1.0.4.30 and 1.0.6.28 firmware for the R7000 that NetGear released. They have pulled all versions after 1.0.4.30 from their site as of 2/9/2016.

Downloads

 

Relevant Links

R7000 New Firmware 1.0.6.28 released

R7000 1.0.6 – They should call this the Nightmare WiFi Router, are firmware updates always this bad?

R7000 Firmware Version 1.0.6.28 – strange 3rd SSID

R7000 Firmware Version 1.0.6.28 – Arlo SSID Signal Interference with Existing Signals

R7000 2.4ghz not working but 5ghz is fine

What happened to the R7000 firmware 1.0.6.28?

Re-Pasting the R9 290X and Overclocking/Tuning for better khashes

I originally wanted to do 2 separate posts but due to my work schedule I ended up missing yesterdays post on the re-pasting the R9 290X. Lets get started.

Re-Pasting the R9 290X

After getting this beast of a card I came to the conclusion that all R9 290(x) owners come to, its loud and hot. Seeing as the stock thermalpaste that OEMs use is usually not the best I decided to pick up some Gelid GC-Extreme Thermal paste and take apart the card to replace the paste. This is also the same process for R9 290 owners as the PCB is very similar, if not identical.

Disassembly & Reassembly of the R9 290X

The process was relatively simple. Unscrew the 2 screws on the backplate by the DisplayPort connector. Then remove all the misc screws on the back of the card followed by removing the GPU plate (silver X thing with 4 small screws). Carefully wiggle the PCB slightly to loosen the paste, BE PATIENT! Once this is off clean the GPU with 90+% isopropyl alcohol and a q-tip. Make sure it is 100% dry and apply a small amount of the paste and re-assemble. Make sure all the thermal pads and still in place (16 ram pads, 1 large VRM strip, 1 small VRM strip. Put the card back in and power up. There are pictures at the end of this post that I took during the process.

Before and After

Before I re-pasted the GPU core it would sit at about 90C with a 75% fan speed and being fully loaded. After the re-paste at the same fan speed and load it was sitting around 78-80C. This allowed me to run the fan speed lower (less noise) for the same target temp of 90C. I would recommend that anyone who is fairly technical to do this to get better temps. Also my wattage dropped by about 15-20 watts. Be aware that this may void your warranty. However I have never had issues RMA’ing cards that I have changed cooling on, but your mileage may vary.

Tuning for better khashes

If you do not mine coins then this part can be ignored. The settings here may not give the best gaming results but for mining they yield about 930-970/khashes/s for me. I use the latest beta of the MSI Afterburner program. This works for 24/7 on my card. However when re-starting the miner it does sometimes crash, rebooting before restarting the miner fixes this.

GPU Settings

  • Fan Speed – 80%
  • GPU Core – 1000mhz
  • GPU Memory – 1500mhz
  • Power Limit – 35%+
  • ULPS Disabled
  • AMD PowerTune Disabled (keeps GPU at full speed all the time, may not be stable without this)

CGMiner Settings

  • Intensity – 20
  • Worksize – 256
  • Thread Concurrency – 32765
  • Vectors – 1
  • GPU Threads – 1

TP-LINK Archer C7 Follow Up – New Firmware

Last week I wrote an article on the new TP-LINK Archer C7 802.11ac router. I was having some throughput issues with their latest official firmware so I found a beta firmware on a .de site and that seemed to fix the issues. Then the following day the TP-LINK support sent me an email following up on the review. They then provided me with a new beta firmware that further fixed the wireless throughput issues and improved stability.

softwareupdateI installed this about a week ago and since then the router has been stable and the throughput issues have been ironed out. I have about 10 devices on the 2.4ghz network now and have had Apple devices on it without any issues. I am running it in a 20mhz bandwidth mode now since there is too much overlap in my condo building but I still manage to pull in about 25mbps up and down.

Now the 5ghz band has improved in stability and throughput is consistently between 400mbps and 600mbps. I am very happy with the performance of the 5ghz band with this firmware. It’s nice to finally have a wireless connection that is more than capable of handling large file transfers without a dropout and at high speeds.

If you want to try it on your TP-LINK Archer C7 hit the download link here: TP-LINK Archer C7 130812 Beta Firmware

TP-LINK Archer C7 Review and Fix

Overview/History

For the past 2 years I have been running 2 separate access points to facilitate a 2.4ghz and a 5ghz wireless network. Since I moved into a condo a year and a half ago I have had to rely on the 5ghz band to provide me with fast wireless access since there are over 20 SSIDs on the 2.4ghz band in my living room. With all the sales on equipment on Black Friday and all the other holiday sales I saw the TP-LINK Archer C7 router on sale for $100. I managed to get $5 off with a NewEgg.com promotion and then on top of that there is a $20 mail in rebate. All in all I got an 802.11ac router for just under $75.

TP-LINK Archer C7 Router

Now I suspected that there may be some weird issues since it is a cheaper router but I was actually pleasantly surprised at it’s performance. Now I am only running this as an Access Point (DHCP disabled) and not as a router so I can only comment on it’s wireless throughput and stability.

Network Setup

For my main router I am running a custom built Atom powered embedded solution with PfSense 2.1 running under the hood. All my switches are 8 port HP ProCurve 1410-8P gigabit switches.

I am running the 2.4ghz on Channel 1 with a width of 40mhz and I am running the 5ghz channel on channel 36 with a width of 80mhz. There are separate SSIDs for each band.

The wireless card in the laptop I am testing with is the Intel 7260-AC Mini-PCIe card in my Asus X202E laptop. Android testing was done with a HTC Droid DNA running the Venom 4.2.2 ROM v2.0.3.

I should add that I have friends over all the time with different Android devices, iPhones, and laptops. So far they have all been able to connect and use the wireless network without any issues.

2.4ghz Band Performance

In my heavily saturated 2.4ghz enviroment with a 40mhz channel width I regularly see speeds of 15-30mbps on the downstream and the same on the upstream. I am very happy with the 2.4ghz performance and range. I am able to pickup my 2.4ghz network almost 500ft on the ground from my 3rd story condo. My previous DD-WRT powered Linksys Valet M20 AP barely could manage 10mbps on a good day in the same conditions. Some users were complaining of low signal on both 2.4 and 5ghz bands but this covers my 1500sq feet condo and my friends same condo above me through the flexicore ceiling just fine.

802.11ac File Transfer

5ghz Band Performance

Luckily the 5ghz band in my condo is almost completely untouched at the moment. There are only 2 other SSIDs on this band and they are both at the higher end of the spectrum. Since I am using a lower channel number these do not affect me.

Now the 5ghz channel is running in full 80mhz AC mode and the speeds are great. On the download and upload I manage between 300mbps and 600mbps. These speeds are great and it reliably transmits files over the LAN without any issues.

Firmware Issues

Until today I was getting random slow downs and some dropouts from the router on all the devices that I am using. I already checked that the router was not getting too hot to rule that out. Then while searching to see if anyone else has this issue I managed to stumble upon a beta firmware on the TP-LINK .de site. I flashed it on my router and appears to be working the best without these issues. I have posted a copy of the firmware for download here: TP-LINK Archer C7 130625 Beta Firmware.

Conclusion and Thoughts

This is my first 802.11ac and TP-LINK router. I have seen these before and they also seem to usually get supported by DD-WRT or OpenWRT at some point so that is why I decided to give them a try. For the more advanced users that would want to tweak more this router may annoy them as they have some more common settings locked down (channel width selection on the 5ghz band, b/g/n/ac mode selections are limited). But for the average user who just wants a solid 802.11ac router or access point this is a good solution. If I have any other issues with this router or the above mentioned firmware proves to be unstable I will post an update.

All in all I am happy with my purchase and it is nice to have the 802.11ac in my home. It’s also nice to only have 1 AP instead of 2 separate ones. Thanks for reading!