Articles: Networking

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This procedure isn’t difficult. You unfasten the screws you find under the rubber pieces on the bottom panel. The screws are only hidden under the two front pieces, so you don’t have to remove all of them. You can take off the top panel by applying some effort or pressing on the side panels somewhere near the rear panel. You can use either method because the latches that you unfasten by pressing on the panels don’t hold too tight. But you should begin to take the top panel off from the rear edge because there are latches in the front, too.

The PCB occupies almost all of the internal space. This is the tradeoff for the small dimensions of the device. Considering the small vent slits, it is clear now why the router is so hot at work. The main reason for the high temperature is the heatsinks installed on the processor and switch that get both scorching hot when the router is on. The temperature seems to be near the limit after which a fan would have to be installed. But I have to acknowledge that I noticed no sudden failures in the operation of the router during my tests under an ambient temperature of 22°C.

Having detached the cables that go to the WLAN module and unfastened two more screws, I took the PCB out of the case. Most of the components are located on the top side of the PCB, but the flash chip that stores the router’s firmware is to be found on the reverse side:

The components seem to be placed very densely but you can see a large empty space under the WLAN module if you take the latter out (the module is connected to the main PCB via a miniPCI slot). By the way, the PCB wiring is original if you compare it with the reference PCB for the employed processor.

The board assembly is good, except that the indicator diodes and one choke have too long leads and bend easily even when you touch them but slightly.

The router’s main chips are covered with a metallic screen that has two cut-outs for the heatsinks. Hidden under the screen are the router’s processor, memory, and Gigabit Ethernet switch. As I mentioned above, aluminum heatsinks are glued to the processor and switch. This thermal glue doesn’t ensure proper contact: the middle of the switch doesn’t even touch the heatsink. This is not a big problem, but negligence all the same.

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