WS-WN523N2 / WL1369 REV.A Deconstruction

WS-WN523N2First impressions

Pretty tiny and discrete device, the smallest wall-plug range extender I have come across so far. The price vs quality is great as well deal extreme sells them for only $19,85  at this point in time of writing this article. I have seen them cheaper then this as well also under different model and brand names.
Interestingly enough if you order one from dx.com the device is called WS-WN523N2 from a company called win-star, if you look at the label of the device it says WL-1369 Rev.A from a company called Willink and finally if you look trough web GUI pages on the device itself it mentions a company called wavlink and I suspect that this company is the actual manufacturer. After testing I found that it works well as a access-point or a device to enable WiFi on a device that only has an Ethernet port.

A bit more in depth

The webGUI of this device is pretty easy to understand and even for the somewhat more advanced it offers some nice tweak-able settings as well. While testing this device it worked nicely as an access-point, meaning that I used a wired connection to may main router. It works also great to supply an Ethernet device with WiFi, thus connecting one device to the device and connecting it wirelessly to my home wifi network.

As a range extender it didn’t really live up to the task, it handled just 2 devices fine but connecting more to them was getting a little bit unstable (when downloading some files). But to be fair I didn’t suspect much of the range extender function in that regard. Simply because it uses a lot of RAM memory and most of this cheap devices really don’t have enough of it to support the range extender mode. (I’m  also not a big of a fan building networks like this, because a range extender is a hack anyways and for proper working it requires at least two wifi radio’s).

Opening up the  WS-WN523N2

Since it was such a wonderfully cheap device I liked to see what would lie beyond the exterior casing to look for potential to do some other nice things with it. Surprisingly the device was held together with screws instead of the sonic welding you see a lot of similar small gadgets and devices, this meant that I could simply take it apart and putting it back together again.

WS-WN523N2 deconstucted

After taking the mini router apart I was surprised of design of the thing, at first glance the two internal antenna’s stood out they where not simply printed on the circuit board but are actually proper metal antenna’s. This is not that commonly seen on (cheap) devices like this.

The mains adapter that is also enclosed within the router is also surprisingly ok, it is well insulated by a piece of plastic from the actual router board. Some proper design went in to the power supply as well, not as haphazardly put together with some products (e.g. knock off apple chargers). However the RAM memory available is a bit on the low side only 16 Megabyte, although more then sufficient for an access point. The one thing that was slightly disappointing is that the flash chip is only 2MegaByte, this means that porting OpenWrt to the device isn’t possible. The minimum requirement is 4MB.

One thing that surprised me slightly as well, is that the board came with a full working ttl/uart test point on the board itself. But then again it would make testing the router while in production easier as well. To connect a ttl adapter to the board, simply connect the TX RX and the GND to the adapter and leave the 3.3V completely unconnected. After you connected your adapter simply set a telnet client to the correct Comport set the Baudrate to 38400 data bits to 8 stop bits to 1 and no parity and flow control.

WS-WN523N2 ttl board pinout WS-WN523N2 / WL1369 REV.A board specs

Chips of interest

Wireless chip: Realtek RTL8192CE
MCU / ethernet: Realtek RTL8196C
RAM memory chip: Hynix hy57v281620ftp-h
SPI flash chip: WINBOND 25016BVS1G

UART / TTL information

Baudrate: 38400
Data bits: 8
Stop bits: 1
parity: none
flow control: none

only connect the GND TX and RX and leave the 3.3V unconnected.
Some good (cheap) ttl adapters from dx.com are: PL2303HX USB to TTL Converter Module  and the PL2303HX to USB TTL Upload Download Wire for Arduino of course there are plenty of other adapters out there as well.

Boot log / rom dump

Boot log of the WS-WN523N2 / WL1369 REV.A
rom dump: WS-WN523N2.bin

Short conclusion

Great and cheap device to connect a single device to wifi or to be used as access point with a fairly decent range. As range extender there are better choices out there, but in my opinion range extenders aren’t the best choice to extend a WiFi network

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Monday, September 22nd, 2014 Routers

39 Comments to WS-WN523N2 / WL1369 REV.A Deconstruction

  • Maurice says:

    Hi there

    Does this device Cole the said name of the Main routers?
    Or does it creat an own one

    Tnx

    • FriedZombie says:

      Not completely sure what you mean, but if you use it as range extender it does copy the name for the ssid of the main router.

      If you use it as access point, you are free to choose the name of the ssid yourself, but you are free to set it to the same name as the main router.

  • Maurice says:

    Sorry for the typo
    Tnx for your good help.
    Its nice that ssid name can be choosen.

  • Andrey says:

    Hi, Fried.

    It seems I have upgraded this router with another firmware. Original called WN523N2-A1-v4.0831 but repeater mode didn’t work with it. I tried to write WS-WN523N2-B1(W8)-MRE2-B1.344.0.20130809 and after this I can’t connect to the router anymore.

    Is there some way to restore original firmware for this device? Thank you for advance.

  • substorm says:

    I need help. Please tell me default password and login for this device in UART mode. “admin” “admin” incorrect… I want to return to the default firmware.

  • Ricardo says:

    Power on and hold the RESET button for 3 sec then you will be able to access the console in recovery mode.

    • Achim says:

      Can anyone give information on how to use the recovery console – and how to put a new firmware on a bricked device?

      • gamer says:

        There is a serial connector “J15” on the backside of the circuit…. You can solder cables to it and connect it to a serial to usb adapter. (Voltage=3V) than run a serial-console-programm and load your firmware to the flash via tftp. After that you must know the correct position of the firmware and give the router the command to flash it.

        • Achim says:

          Thank you for information and help – can you tell me the necessary commands in console connection to load an rom image file at proper position?

  • komw says:

    Is there possible to get a password to root? I have a simmilar wifi repeater. It is a simple chinesse device (is immposible to get an manufacturer website, or firmware).
    There is a serial, and I only get “rlx-linux login:” prompt. It would be great if I could use a root console in this device.

  • George Kok says:

    Hi. Can I connect 2 wired (ethernet) devices in order to connect them at the wireless network? Or only 1?

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  • TuPP3 says:

    I messed up the whole firmware while trying to do TFTP update. I cannot access the router via UART anymore. Does anyone have dump of the original flash memory chip so I can rewrite the whole flash memory?

    Would be a shame to throw 20€ device to trash just because the firmware is messed up.
    I think I rewrote it to wrong address.

  • Angel says:

    Could anyone make a dumb-proof step-by-step tutorial for flash a firmware using a ttl adapter? I have a bricked unit too… 🙁

  • Greg says:

    I picked up a very similar device at the weekend from Aldi. Its a Maginon WLR-510 and is based on a very similar Win-Star board to the one you write about, its the WS-WN567N5-A2. Different memory chips:

    ESMT M12L2561616A, which is 32 Mbyte
    SPI Flash GD25Q16, which is 2 Mbyte

    I followed the instructions in your post for getting a serial console. I soldered three connectors to GND, TX and RX and used a TTL-232R-3V3 lead to get console access.

    HAs anybody progressed beyond this point? Am happy to experiment if anybody has suggestions. for things to try.

    Thanks for a helpful and clear post Fried and those who have followed.

    • Greg says:

      Hi Fried, how did you get the ROM dump?

      I reset my device with the serial cable attached I get to the Realtek bootloader and find there is no FLR option to read the current content of ROM (I only have a write option, FLW).

      Many thanks.

      • FriedZombie says:

        Well the method I used at the time might be a little crude, but I desoldered the flash chip.
        After I did that, I soldered some wires to it dead bug stile. And hooked it up to a buspirate. And dumped the rom that way. (soldered the chip back after dumping.

        Dumping in circuit works as well, with an ic clip, but I didn’t got one at the time. I do have one know though, got one very cheaply of ebay. But needed it to rewire it to be compatible with the buspirate.

        • Greg says:

          very helpful – thank you

        • Pitt says:

          Hi FriedZombie,

          Can you tell how much bricked my device is? 🙂
          I know all those methods with TFTP @ 192.168.1.6 etc, I have wires soldered to have TTL and I was succeeded to have terminal communication, where I have flashed device with firmware, starting address 30000… after reboot device constantly have LAN, WLAN & POWER LEDs on. Reset button doesn’t do anything now, no TFTP reactions, no TTL output. I have even tried to break boot sequence by typing ESC on TTL terminal – no reaction.

          Do you think I’ve overwritten boot area? Is the only option to reflash the chip your way? I’ve no such equipment to do this (at least yet).

          Thanks in advance

  • Angel says:

    Hi Fried,

    I still have bricked my device. 🙁

    Could you (or somebody) help me with the process for flash the right firmware with a TTL adapter and putty?

    Thanks very much.

  • Angel says:

    Nobody? Help me please, I can’t do it by myself.

    • Schlechter says:

      Hello. Friends, I have similar bricked router. When I connect it by Putty&UART, I see next log:

      blah-blah-blah…
      init started: BusyBox v1.13.4 (2013-07-19 15:03:34 CST)
      Generated PIN = 84927378
      sysconf init error!
      rlx-linux login: check es ok
      check ws ok
      **************************
      ** Check HW Error! **
      **************************
      :360
      rlx-linux login:

      A question:
      Anybody know what is default login/password for this case??
      (Not admin/admin, it’s checked)

  • Pawel says:

    Hello everyone
    I have a big request
    How to upload this flash step by step
    I have broken such a device and looking for help

    Thank you very much for any tips

  • barbanikos says:

    Hi Fried,you seem to know your way around the thingy,
    Mine is revB1 with a fairly identical board but I can’t get it to reset no matter how long I hold the button pressed.(after having lent it for an extended period of time to a friend who used it with no problems in ap mode).
    Any ideas on resetting it or even accessing setup without low level interventions(with which I am unfamiliar).I wouldnt call it bricked just yet…

  • Mario says:

    Hi,

    I bought a WN523N2 but is not working correctly with its power supply.
    It is working correctly using a different power supply.
    Can anyone tell me the value (if present) of R6b reference on power supply module (220v version)?

    Thanks,
    Mario

  • Ron says:

    Hello,
    After less than 2 years, the device stopped suddenly working, all the lights were out. After opening it and saw nothing special, i closed it again and now the power light flashes but nothing else lightens up. What could be the problem?

  • David says:

    Also mine expired suddenly after about 2 years…seem to be a programmed death ? someone know the voltage to supply to the board for external alimentation ?

  • Mario says:

    5V, better slightly less, than over 5 volt.
    I solved my issue changing one of resistors which determine the output voltage. The problem was output voltage too high (about 5.4V)

  • Michalis says:

    It suddenly died with no signal of power. After a capacitor replace (it seemed ready to burst) it works fine again. The actual DC voltage is 3.9V .

  • Manuel Castro says:

    Anyone have the root password? I’ve done brute force in different ways but without success.

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  • Thorsten says:

    Hi, can you tell on which pins the rx and tx are connected? on my board there are no test points.

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