PC Engines APU2

Hardware requirements

All of these parts are available internationally from PC Engines.

Storage Module

The APU can boot from an SD card or an m-SATA SSD. These instructions are written assuming you will use an SD card because they are easier to flash from another machine. However, we do frequently build Paradrop routers with SSDs to take advantage of the higher storage capacity and read/write speeds. The 4GB pSLC module listed above is known to be very reliable, but you may also prefer a larger SD card.

Preparing the SD card

  1. Download the latest build of the Paradrop disk image

  2. Insert the SD card into the machine you used to download the image and find the device node for the card. This is often “/dev/sdb”, but please make sure, as the next command will overwrite the contents of whatever device you pass.

  3. Copy (“flash”) the Paradrop image to the SD card.:

    xzcat paradrop-amd64.img.xz | sudo dd of=<DEVICE> bs=32M status=progress; sync
  4. Remove the SD card and proceed to assemble the router.

Please note that in order to make the SD card bootable, it is not enough to copy the disk image file to an existing filesystem on the SD card. Instead, one must overwrite the contents of the SD card including MBR, partition table, and data with the provided disk image. In Linux, you can do this with the dd command. If you are using Windows, we suggest using the win32-image-writer tool. Follow the Sourceforge link to download the installer.

Connecting to the Serial Console

If you know the IP address of the router, e.g. because you have access to the DHCP server upstream from the router, then you can skip this step and proceed with the steps for activating and using your router described in the section Quick Start.

If you do not have network access to the Paradrop router for any reason, you can always connect a serial cable to the 9-pin serial port. The default configuration is 9600 8N1. If you are using PuTTY under Windows, make sure that you have entered the correct COM port for your serial cable. It may not be “COM1”. You can use the chgport command or open the Windows Device Manager tool to find the correct COM port. At the login prompt, the default username is “paradrop” with no password.