Dharma Seed routers

Using a Custom Router to Connect to the Dharma Seed Server

Denon DN-700R digital recorders upload to the Dharma Seed server via FTP. Each venue with digital recorders has an FTP account on the server. Access to the FTP service is not publicly available, it is only accessible via OpenVPN. Dharma Seed provides routers that are pre-configured with OpenVPN client keys so that the Denon can connect and "Archive" the recordings - this is a backup function that sends recorded files of the current media to the FTP server function of the Dharma Seed server. Once received on the Dharma Seed server they are then imported into the Dharma Seed database and made available for labeling.

Choice of Routers

As of December 2018 we use ASUS RT-AC66U_B1 routers. A very similar model is sold as the ASUS RT-AC1750_B1 - this works with the following instructions as well.

We use these because they are old enough to be reasonably priced (<≈$100) while modern enough to be flash-able with Asuswrt-Merlin firmware. Asuswrt-Merlin firmware gives us the access we need to set up the router as a VPN Client using OpenVPN.

We remove the antennas from the routers so that they fit better at the location with easier access to the LAN and WAN jacks in the back, and to disable the wireless functions of the router. We want them used only for VPN connections from the recorder to the server via wired connections. Some models allow the antennas to be unscrewed from the unit; other models require opening up the case, detaching the antennas from the board, and then removing them from the case.

Setting up an ASUS RT-AC66U_B1

Set up router via wired connection

  1. Insert your wireless router's AC adapter to the DC-IN port and plug it to a power outlet.
  2. Using the bundled network cable, connect your computer to your router's LAN port. Ensure that the LAN LED is blinking
  3. Using another network cable, connect your modem to your router's WAN port.
  4. Insert your modem's AC adapter to the DC-IN port and plug it to a power outlet.

Log into the Web GUI

  1. Open a browser and go to 192.168.50.1
  2. On the login page, enter default username/password of admin/admin
  3. Change the password. Contact us if you need access to one that we set up.

Download new firmware

  1. Download the current stable release of Asuswrt-Merlin firmware from https://asuswrt.lostrealm.ca/
  2. The RT-AC66U_B1 uses the RT-AC68U firmware. So, for example, you would download RT-AC68U_384.8_2.zip
  3. Unzip and locate the corresponding .trx file. For example, RT-AC68U_384.8_2.trx

Upload new firmware to router

  1. In the Web GUI navigate to Firmware Upgrade page
  2. Find "Manual Firmware Update : Upload" and browse to the .trx file you downloaded earlier, for example, RT-AC68U_384.8_2.trx
  3. Message is "Firmware is upgrading. Please wait about 3 minutes. Do not power off RT-AC66U_B1 while upgrade in progress."
  4. When router reboots after process, login using new username/password
  5. Note "Powered by Asuswrt-Merlin" at top of screen along with the new firmware version numbers.

Disable both radio bands

  1. In the Web GUI navigate to Wireless - Professional
  2. Choose Band: "2.4GHz"and Enable Radio: "No". Click Apply at bottom of page
  3. Choose Band: "5GHz"and Enable Radio: "No". Click Apply at bottom of page
  4. Confirm both bands are off by hovering mouse over the "wifi" symbol on the top-right of page

Setup VPN Client:

  1. In the Web GUI navigate to VPN - VPN Client
  2. Import .ovpn file: (for example) client14.ovpn, Upload, Upload complete
  3. Set Description: (for example) Dharma Seed Client 14
  4. Automatic start at boot time: Yes
  5. Click Apply at bottom of page

Activate and check connection from router

  1. Set Service state: ON
  2. Are we connected? Look for: Service state Connected (Local: 10.8.0.30 - Public: unknown)
  3. Also see on VPN - VPN Status: OpenVPN Dharma Seed Client 14 - Connected (web.address udp:portnumber)

Test access to Dharma Seed server

  1. Browser: http://10.8.0.1/ shows "Apache2 Ubuntu Default Page"
  2. Browser: ftp://10.8.0.1 requires your FTP username/password to access. If successful you can browse the recently uploaded files in /audiorecordings/
  3. Or use any ftp client to test.

Removing the Antennas from an ASUS RT-AC66U_B1

1. Open the case: Remove the rubber feet, take out the exposed screws, then ease the lid off.

2. Remove the heat sink to expose the antenna connections

3. Disconnect the antenna wires and lift the board out of the case

4. Remove the antennas by compressing the inner fastener and pulling

5. Reattach the heat sink to the board and install in the case

6. Replace lid, screws and rubber feet to complete