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Smart 3G router runs Linux

Dec 7, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Opengear has begun shipping a line of “smart” Linux-based cellular routers. The ACM5004-G routers support remote management via 3G, offering console server functionality and control of devices with serial, USB, Ethernet and digital I/O interfaces.

First announced in March, the ACM5004-G was touted at the time as being the first serial device server to offer remote monitoring over 3G cellular network devices. The ACM5004-G offers network administrators all of the functionality of Opengear's console servers, such as power control and distributed site management, and makes it accessible through a 3G connection, says the company.

Opengear ACM5004-G
(Click to enlarge)

Opengear now bills the ACM5004-G as the first of a new category of smart cellular routers, said to be particularly useful for managing new types of distributed smart infrastructures used to manage gas pipelines, traffic flow, and utilities. The device is more broadly aimed at any deployment that requires "secure, full-proof remote connection and management across all the devices at the remote site," says Opengear.

Unlike most 3G routers, the ACM5004-G offers remote control access to everything in a server closet or data center, not only Ethernet devices, claims the company. The ACM5004-G is said to offer remote management of devices with serial, USB, Ethernet and digital I/O interfaces.

Primarily known for open source Linux console servers, such as the CM4000, Opengear was founded in 2005 by uClinux pioneer Bob Waldie. Like the other members of Opengear's ACM5000 line of serial device servers, the ACM5004-G is designed to centrally manage and monitor network devices and power status.

Extending this capability to work over 3G cellular networks is important, says Opengear, because a growing number of serial device servers are in locations without LAN access. (See our previous ACM5004-G coverage, as well as the related links at the end of the story for more Opengear background.)

The ACM5004-G offers support for "ubiquitous" routing with network forwarding and IP masquerading, port forwarding, and firewall port filtering rules support, says Opengear. Other features are said to include secure VPN networking with OpenVPN and IPSec, sensor monitoring, and alerting. 

In addition, the device offers out-of-band management of serial console ports, servers, and other devices, and can monitor remote UPS systems with the embedded Network UPS Tool (NUT), says the company.

ACM5004-G, front and back
(Click on either to enlarge)

The ACM5004-G runs Linux on an ARM9-based, Micrel KSZ8692 processor clocked to 250MHz. The router ships with 32MB DDR RAM and 16MB of flash memory, says Opengear.

The device is equipped with four RS232 serial ports with a Cisco pinout, while one version instead provides four RS232/422/485 ports, says Opengear.

A 10/100 Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 port are supplied, with the latter targeted at users who want a USB drive for offline logging and stored configurations, says the company. It appears that a local FTP/TFTP USB storage key may be available as an option for device configuration files.

In addition to these ACM5004-G models, Opengear offers several variations with external DC power supply options.

(Click to enlarge)

Several of the models offer four TTL-level digital I/O ports, while a G-I version swaps out two of those ports for dual high-voltage digital output ports. In addition to providing the 3G cellular interface, available in either GSM/UMTS or CDMA/EV-DO flavors, all the models ship with an external antenna.

The ACM5004-G ships with a +9V to 30 VDC or 9V to 24 VAC external power source, and runs on less than 15 Watts, says Opengear. The company is also said to supply several SDC models that ship with an external 48V DC power supply.

The 4.0 x 3.5 x 1.1-inch (10.2 x 8.8 x 2.8cm) router supports operating temperatures ranging from 41 to 122 deg. F (5 to 50 deg. C), with extended temperature models supporting temperatures of -31 to 165 deg. F (-35 to 74 deg. C), says the company.

Other hardware features include internal temperature monitoring, while several models offer environmental sensor support, including dry contacts for leak detection, smoke alarms, vibration sensors, and door contacts, says the company.

For security, the ACM5004-G offers RSA certification and FIPS140-2 compliance, says the company. The device is said to ship with a Linux development kit and source code.

Stated Bob Waldie, CEO of Opengear, "A growing number of our customers have been asking for a next generation cellular smart router. While there are quality wireless solutions in the market — like Digi's ConnectWAN and Sierra Wireless' AirLink — that provide masquerading, forwarding and filtered access to remote devices, they don't provide the functionality, they aren't as easy to use and they don't provide the security of our solutions."


The ACM5004-G is available for order, here, in a variety of different models starting at $675 and ranging up to $785. Options include external DC power supplies, environmental sensor support, extended temperature versions, and RS232/422/485 ports in place of RS232.

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