heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Teapots

Today was the first "vide grenier" of the season. It was actually a "puces". That just means it is a slightly better class of rubbish (read: generally more expensive so-called collectable stuff).

I bought a dinky Chinese teapot. SD card alongside so you can see exactly how dinky:

Along with it, a Japanese teapot of a more regular size:

 

Livebox

I also purchased a Sagem Livebox 2 as a spare. My current spare Livebox is a type 1. It is later than the Wanadoo/FranceTelecom boxes with the pulsing '&' symbol, but it is early enough to be slow and generally ancient.
This box, a Sagem type Livebox 2, is fairly recent. And it is almost identical to the one I am currently using.

A brief memory wipe later, and it appears to start up and function as would be expected. I have not tested it on the phone line, however the other stuff appears to work. It is running the latest firmware.

As this is mine and not a rental, I was not so concerned about breaking the seal. Orange keeps track of which box is which, so I can't slip this one in for replacement if it is 'bad'.
Much to my surprise, four star-screws later, the bottom pretty much falls out with the board attached. No tamper seals, nothing. Huh?

Here is the Livebox 2 board:

And here it is again, this time with annotations:

The Livebox2 is not going to set the world alight with its capabilities. Like the Sky Digibox, it is built to be a "functional" ADSL router. Pretty much the only changes from the Livebox Mini is that it comes with more Ethernet ports, an extra USB port (which works, I should add), and 802.11n WiFi. In other words, it has been revised slightly to keep up with the changes in today's Intenet use.
This box has since been superceded by the "Livebox Play", which appears to be basically this with a fancy display on the front. ☺

 

The CPU (SoC) is a Lexra-made Ikanos VX160 clocking 200MHz. It contains a 32 bit RISC processor that is basically a MIPS R3000 clone without the unaligned load/store instructions. It's the same core device as powered the Livebox Mini.

As I mentioned, the box is a Sagem. There is another, a ZTE built box that is very similar. As a plus, the ZTE has options where it can be controlled remotely with an app. As a minus, it is not supposed to work so well with more challenging line conditions. I'm not sure I would have purchased this if it was a ZTE, but I know Sagem copes with my 4.4km of ancient twisted-pair (that probably predates me!).

The USB hub, an SMSC2502, is a two-port USB2.0 controller that can operate with a low-cost 24MHz oscillator. It isn't exciting, it just does its job. What is worth noting is that the Livebox outputs enough power on the USB port to run a harddisc. The harddisc, when attached, appears as an SMB share and can be accessed by those connected to the Livebox. Playback of some random video clips worked as expected.

It might not be immediately obvious, but there is a way to safely dismount the media prior to removing it.

 

The WiFi card is a mini PCI card offering 802.11b/g/n with the usual WEP/WPA/WPA2 TKIP/AES combinations. What is notable about this is that the WiFi chip, the Atheros AR9223, has changed since earlier versions (which used the AR5416). It appears that the AR9223 can support two TX/RX at the same time using the standard two antennae. Perhaps this has been done in order to support Orange's public-access WiFi network?

Orange has an interesting concept regarding access to its public WiFi network. It goes like this - in order to benefit from WiFi access from public hotspots while out and about (ahem, assuming you can find 'em!), you yourself must provide a hotspot. If you choose not to provide a hotspot, you will not be allowed to use other hotspots.

On this, Orange says:

Votre Livebox est un hotspot du réseau wifi d'Orange et permet ainsi à des visiteurs d'accéder à internet. Ceci n'a aucune incidence sur les performances de vos services et la protection de votre réseau wifi privé est inchangée.
Orange vous assure la confidentialité des données échangées sur les réseaux et en aucun cas vous ne serez tenu responsable des usages des visiteurs.
which translates to:
Your Livebox is a hotspot on the Orange WiFi network which permits visitors to access the internet. This will cause no incidents related to the performance of your services and the protection of your private WiFi network will not be altered.
Orange wishes to assure you of the confidentiality of the data passed on the networks and in no case will you be held responsible for the way visitors use the hotspot.
In other words, with a 2megabit connection I will still receive 260Kb/sec downloads when somebody else is sharing (umm...?) and the fuzz won't come busting down my door for all the kiddie porn downloaded by some random sicko pervert. The latter case makes an interesting question - I ought to connect to the "orange" WiFi AP and see if it has the same IP address as the regular AP.

Orange chose to roll out this service with hotspot activities enabled by default. I turned it off for a while, but now have it back on. This is because I struggle to receive WiFi in my bedroom; stupid Apple hasn't given a geolocation to my AP in months, the GoogleMobile will never come down here, and we are like half a mile+ from the nearest public road. I don't envisage people actually thinking "awesome, here's a hotspot!". If they do, well, good luck to 'em. There's a very narrow "window of opportunity" where you can receive WiFi outside.

Okay - just spent an eternity trying to find my hotspot login (it is the old email address/password) and discovered that Orange, when instructed to cancel one contract and take another, retained the telephone number of my previous phone. And as is typical with Orange, trying to log in to my account options to alter it results in this:

Accordingly, they sent an SMS to a phone which no longer works. Very useful, Orange!
To add insult to injury, Orange told me that my mobile phone email and password did not allow access to the hotspot, I needed the account's main email and password (which explains the farting around). But, when emailing Orange to ask about the ability to change the phone number, I could not email them from the main account login, I needed to log in with the mobile identity. Bear in mind that the (landline) phone, the internet, and the mobile are all bundled in to one contract. It is almost as if Orange are going out of their way to make this difficult!

Anyway. Finally dug up an SMS in the old phone that had the password, so I could eventually log in to Orange's hotspot. This allowed me to pop over to my blog to read the detected IP address (it's on the top right, if you're interested). Accordingly, I could see that the hotspot uses a different IP address.

Gee... So with IP address allocations reaching exhaustion, Orange have made a tweak that allocates two addresses to each router? Um...

 

Moving swiftly on, the 88E6061 ethernet chip is a "six" port switch. I say that in quotes as there are five 10/100 ports and an MII port (MII is to 100, like AUI is to 10). Typically this would be arranged as 1 port for WAN and four ports for LAN. Perhaps it is wired that way internally? It deals with the LEDs, speed negotiation and matching, MAC address learning (for routing), auto-crossover if necessary, blah blah. You can probably near enough build a dinky SoHo hub with this one chip...

 

It is interesting to see that there are two VoIP ports, and the VoIP circuitry is doubled. Orange does not, to my knowledge, support having two different phone lines on a home router. As far as it goes, it is the same sort of hardware as in the Livebox Mini, only twice.

 

The ADSL chip supports VDSL (apparently) and ADSL2+, meaning it should be "reasonably" future proof provided we don't go fibre optic or somesuch. Though, the chance of that happening around here is about as remote as a meteor dropping into the garden in 5...4...3...2...1 <looks out of the window> Nope.

 

The reason for, and the necessity of, a Livebox as a router spare is primarily because we do not have a phone line in the traditional sense. What we have is a VoIP line. Now, pretty much any hardware-compatible ADSL router will work - back in late 2010 I used a WAG200G - however it has no VoIP capabilities, and hence, no phone.

Plus, while it was spectacularly sunny and warm where the puces were, back home (like fifteen miles away!) it was tree-to-tree epic fog that looks like it hung around all day. I was bored, so I took something apart. You know how it is... ☺

 

 

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Paloma, 18th February 2014, 18:30
Hi, Heyrick1973 
 
Your article is very interesting. I wanted to ask you if you think that it would be possible to change the wifi module Atheros to a different one. Would it be impossible with the current firmware? Please, let me know your opinion on this. Cheers. Paloma

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