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EVDOinfo Tip of the Week #1: Updating your Cradlepoint Router's Firmware

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Friday, 10 April 2009

tip of the week by evdoinfo.com

 

EVDOinfo.com has long been your source for tips, tricks, hacks and suggestions for getting the most out of your EVDO service, and each week we will be highlighting a particularly interesting or popular topic in the "Tip of the Week" feature. To suggest future Tips of the Week, contact us at suggestions@evdoinfo.com or post your suggestions in the EVDO Forums.

 


Updating your Cradlepoint Router's Firmware

One of the best qualities of Cradlepoint is that they provide frequent firmware updates for their routers, providing support for new devices, fixes for bugs, new features, and more. Thanks to the firmware updates, when you buy a Cradlepoint router you can rest assured that it won't become outdated like other routers - of all the manufacturers we've dealt with, Cradlepoint does the best job of allowing customers to purchase one router and keep it current as new devices or new technologies debut!

Many non-techies are intimidated by the prospect of performing a firmware upgrade, but there is no need to be! Upgrading the firmware on your Cradlepoint router is a relatively straightforward process and can be done in a matter of minutes.

Of course, not everyone needs to upgrade their firmware every time a new version becomes available. Before embarking on the task of upgrading your router's firmware, let's first decide whether it is necessary for your situation. If your router is working properly and you have made no changes to your setup there may be no need to do anything other than enjoy the benefits of owning a Cradlepoint. Here are some of the most common situations in which upgrading your firmware is recommended:

  • You're experiencing unusually slow speeds. These types of problems are sometimes difficult to track down but a good way to determine if the router may be responsible is to run two speedtests (go to http://www.speedtest.net): one while connected through the router and one with your mobile device connected directly to your computer. A comparison may reveal that there is something that can be improved upon.
  • You got a new mobile device. When you receive a replacement or new mobile device such as a modem or phone you may find that the firmware on your router does not support that device. This is most likely due to the firmware being released before the new device you have was commercially available. For a full list of supported devices for the latest firmware verisions, see this chart.
  • You're experiencing strange behavior of any kind. As with speed issues a good way to test if a router might be to blame for an issue is to see if the problem can be replicated when the mobile device is connected directly to your computer.
  • You want to take advantage of a new feature supplied by Cradlepoint. For example, last August Cradlepoint debuted firmware version 1.3.1 which provided support for load balancing on the MBR1000 and CTR500.


Before you upgrade your firmware, it is important to understand that upgrading can occassionally cause problems! In most cases any customizations you have implemented to your router settings will be lost when you do an upgrade, and even though Cradlepoint has implemented "settings export" and "import" functions - which we highly recommend using - there is no guarantee that the saved configurations will work with another firmware revision. Also, if the upgrade fails during install or the file used to upgrade is corrupt it can cause the router to not respond. Most Cradlepoint users have no problem installing their firmware updates, but you should weigh the pro's and con's of performing an upgrade before deciding to do so.

With these precautions in mind, let's move on to the procedure itself.

If you've determined that you need to upgrade your Cradlepoint router but know next to nothing about this esoteric process, don't worry: the engineers at Cradlepoint have made this a fairly painless process. Using the following instructions you should be able to get this job completed in about ten to fifteen minutes.

First, you'll need to access the firmware version you want to upgrade to. You can either download the firmware from Cradlepoint's website (http://www.cradlepoint.com/support) or if you purchased your router from 3gstore you may use the Cradlepoint Support CD we provide as a convenience. ***NOTE: You may have noticed that the Cradlepoint router administration panel offers an option to "Check Online Now for Latest Firmware Version" - we do not recommend upgrading your firmware using this tool. We have found that customers have more success downloading the firmware manually from the official support website or using the files on the 3Gstore Cradlepoint Support CD.

When you're ready to begin, connect your computer to your Cradlepoint router either via eithernet or WiFi. In some rare occurrances if your wireless connection disconnects during the firmware upgrade process it can halt the router's ability to complete the process, so if connecting via ethernet is an option we advise connecting directly.

Finally, you should save any custom settings you have applied to your router. A firmware upgrade will most likely clear your custom settings, including wireless security settings, opened and forwarded ports, customized access and administration passwords, restoring the router to factory defaults. From the Cradlepoint router's interface these settings can be exported as a file to be restored later.

Once you have downloaded the latest firmware to your computer or inserted the 3Gstore Cradlepoint Support CD, connected your computer to the router, and backed up any critical settings we can begin the upgrade process!

 

Steps to upgrade your Cradlepoint router's firmware:

1. Open a web browser (do not worry if you get an error message or blank page) and access the router by typing "192.168.0.1" into the address bar and hitting "enter". DO NOT include "http://www." before it - your router is a local device and does not need the world wide web prefix in it's address.

2. This will bring you to the Cradlepoint administrator login page. Log in by entering the password, which by default is the last six (6) characters of the MAC address of the router. The router's MAC address should be clearly labeled on the underside of your router. These characters can be letters, numbers, or even a combination of the two (i.e. "0652f4"). Enter the password and press Enter or click on the Login button on the page. This will bring you to the main section of the router's firmware.

cp login

3. Once you're logged in, select the "TOOLS" tab. From the list of links down the left side of the page, select "Firmware". You will then be presented with the Cradlepoint firmware options page. Ignore the option titled "Check Online Now for Latest Firmware Version."

In the "Manually Upgrade Firmware" section of this page, use the "Browse" or "Get File" button to locate the firmware file. If you downloaded the upgrade file from the Cradlepoint site you can browse to the location you saved the file to and select the file; if you are upgrading from the 3Gstore Cradlepoint Support CD you will browse to your CD-ROM drive, then into the folder that is labelled with your router's model number, and from there to the folder containing (and named after) the firmware version you would like to upgrade to. Select the file ending with the .bin extension. Once the file has been selected, click "open" at the bottom of the window. This will close the window.

cp upgrade firmware

4. Once the explorer window closes, click "Upload". You will be prompted with a popup asking if you really and truly want to commit to making this change. Select "OK" to begin the process. Below the upload button you will see this text:

"Note: Now uploading. The upload may take up to 1 minute."

Once the file is successfully uploaded you will be directed to a page with this text:

"Upload Succeeded. The Personal HotSpot will now be reprogrammed using the uploaded firmware file. Please wait ___ seconds for this process to complete, after which you may access these web pages again. Pressing reload or back on your browser may cause this operation to fail."
CP upload successful

At this point of the upgrade process the changes are being applied to the router and you SHOULD NOT do ANYTHING until the timer on this page has counted down completely. The process being performed is literally the erasing and reprogramming of a chip inside your router containing all of the software that controls it. A good analogy is that this process is much like an organ transplant - you would not want to jostle the surgeon's arm at this point in the procedure. It could be fatal to the router!

Once this has counted down to zero you will most likely get an error message in your browser that claims you cannot connect to a server or that a page cannot be displayed. This is normal. After about 10 seconds, refresh the page. This ought to bring you back to the Administrator login page. For wireless connections you may have to reconnect to the router before being able to browse again. Following Steps 1 and 2 again will return you to the router's interface. You can then click on TOOLS and Firmware to see the current firmware verion that your router is running. It ought to correspond to the firmware version you just upgraded to. Congratulations, you are done!

Once complete, you will be able to apply your saved router settings if applicable and then browse the internet!

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 March 2010 )
 
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