Netopia R-Series

Netopia R-Series routers

Sea-green boxes, eight 10bt ethernet ports on the back in hub configuration (with a switch for cross-over on port 1), space for two expantion daughterboards inside. Serial console port, one additional serial port for external modem. Netopia model line.

Depending on the NVRAM settings, can report itself as an R (router) or D (bridge) model. At one point one could call Netopia technical support, and over the phone recieve a free license key, that would convert an R model into a D model. Last time I’ve called them (Summer of 2003), they were reluctant to provide me with the license codes for two units I was converting to bridging mode.
Their argument was that the serial numbers I’ve provided (and the feature keys are bound by the serial number of the router, which, in turn is locked to it’s MAC) were “too old”, that is, sold to customer over 2 years ago.

Old serial numbers start with 72, new ones start with 80.

These might also correlate to the revision of the logic board inside – older logic boards have two slots for 72 pin RAM soldered on. Newer boards have the pads but no actual sockets.

Out of the box, Netopia unit reports that it has 1 meg of flash and 4 megs of RAM. I’ve attempted to plug in some 4, 8 and 16 meg 72 pin RAM sticks, but each time the router would not report anything over serial console, and eventually would blink all 8 green LEDs corresponding to the 10bt ports about once a second. This might have to do with the type of RAM (I’ve tried double sided RAM, pairs of 8 meg, and singles of 4, 8 and 16) I’ve attempted to use.

Box without any daughtercards inside reports itself as model 1300, so depending on the feature key, it can be either R1300 or D1300.

I’ve handled three types of these units, R7100, R7200 and R9100. The only difference is the daughtercard inside. Otherwise units are identical, with exception of the logic board revisions.

They support firewalling between the hub and the WAN interface, can serve DHCP, and can detect a WAN link failure. If an external modem is connected to the Auxillary serial port, Netopia can be configured to dial out and use PPP as fallback.

Technically they support 10 users, and if one wants more, one has to buy a feature key from Netopia. I’ve never hit the limit, so I am not sure if this is the number of MACs it remembers, or something else.

Technically there are pins on the motherboard where additional hardware can be mounted. Netopia sells a VPN accelerator for these, so it could be a separate encryption module that goes on the inside. VPN accelerator is called TER/XL VPN in Netopia lingo.

R7100 has a single Copper Mountain Networks SDSL daughter card on board. It can synchronise at up to 1.5 megabit to Copper Mountain Equipment. These are the most interesting daughter-cards, as they support back-to-back communication. One unit needs to be configured to set it’s clock source from the network, and the other one to generate a clock source internally, and then, units can be connected over copper pair. I’ve had success synchronizing at 768Kb/sec at a distance of 1.6km over a Bell Canada LDDS circuit (an unbalanced copper pair, primarily used for alarm circuits).

R7200 has a single ATM SDSL daughter card on board. Maximum speed is 2.3 megabit in Nokia Fixed Mode. These can be configured to communicate with various types of DSLAMs, including Nokia and Paradyne gear. I don’t believe that they support setting clock source internally, and thus they can’t be used for private interconnection without a DSLAM.

R9100 has a 10 megabit daughter card, that can be used for routing, or for ATM or IP encapsulation. I have one, but that’s about it. Supposedly these are used to talk to a DSL or cable modem, and do NAT, etc.

R3100 are the same chassis with ISDN daughtercard. Covad used to deploy those with customers. Never handled one myself. Supposedly daughtercards with U, UP and S/T exist.

R5100 are the same chassis with serial V.24/V.35.

R5300 are the same chassis with T1 WAN port. Again, never used myself.

Two daughter cards are installable in a single unit. Daughtercards are identical, and thus if you have two identical routers with a single daughtercard each, card can be removed from one, and added into the other. Model number reported by the firmware changes as a result, and the last two digits of the model number change from 00 to the corresponding daughtercard number.

So, R7272 would have two ATM SDSL daughtercards, D7171 would have two Copper Mountain SDSL daughtercards, etc.
Mixing and matching is possible, and firmware will report things accordingly. If daughtercard is installed in the second slot, first two digits of the model number remain as “13”.

Rxx20 – Has a V.90 analog daughtercard for fallback
Rxx31 – ISDN fallback (or in case of R3131, it would have 2 ISDN ports)

If two identical daughtercards are installed, one might require an IMUX feature key from Netopia. At the last check, Netopia wanted 150 USD for each key. IMUX feature key enables WAN interface bonding, thus, theoretically, if you have two D7171s, both with IMUX keys, and a 4 wire LDDS circuit running between two branch offices, you can bridge the two at 3 megabit. On R9191 and R7272 IMUX feature enables multi-link PPP over ATM as a form of bonding.

“Regular” firmware doesn’t support configuration of second WAN interface out of the box. I theorize that all that IMUX feature key does is it tells firmware to present menus for configuration of the second WAN interface.

Overall, Netopia units can be procured on eBay for ~20 USD a piece, and thus the costs of IMUX feature key are, in my opinion, unreasonable.

Currently latest firmware is 4.11, and Netopia has a list of changes between firmware versions.