Any good Internet of Things (IoT) platform requires good WIFI support.Anyone looking for WIFI support in WEC, especially under ARM, knows how frustrating this can be. Sure there were a few token legacy drivers out of the box but these, for the most part, were already out of production. Under WEC2013 it gets even tougher as WEC2013 broke binary compatibility with previous versions of the OS. As many previous OS WIFI drivers were only supplied in binary form, this meant drivers written for CE 6 or WEC7 and supplied in binary form will not work under WEC2013. If you were fortunate enough to have the source you could just recompile it and chances are it may work in WEC2013.
We in the MVP community voiced strong feedback to Microsoft and the WEC development team expressing the need for more and better WIFI support. I guess someone was listing as they threw us a bone. We were told the WL127X WIFI drivers from TI were going to be supplied, in source form on several occasions. Unfortunately they backed peddled and only supplied it in binary form and then only for the TI_SDP44XX platform. This is a monolithic driver with its own SDHC controller interface so it is totally useless for porting or use on any other platform. While the marketing folks really talked up this new WIFI support its really “thanks for nothing”. Microsoft did not develop the driver in house but instead outsourced to a company that is not even in business anymore.
So whats left? Well there is still the out of the box Athero’s AR60xx driver and you can still buy this part, although its rather expensive and approaching E.O.L.(End of Life). It has an SDIO interface so it will probably take some work to bring it up. I believe there may even be one or two others out there in the wild supplied by Redpine Signal or others but support is pretty hard to come by.
One that seems to have come in under the radar is a new RealTek USB based driver that seems to have been pushed out as part of the QFEs (Quick Fix Engineering) updates in WEC2013. I have not heard much fanfare about this new driver but to me it’s a god sent. It is based on the Realtek chip set.
The RealTek RTL8192CU is a popular part and you can find USB based WIFI dongles based on it all day long and for not much money. RealTek has a huge market share in the wifi chip arena so I expect this one to be around for awhile.
I have included support in my Beaglebone BSP on Codeplex.
Here are some screen shots showing setup under WEC2013 on the Beaglebone black:
Windows Embedded Compact 2013 setup:
This is the device setup home screen. You can see the “Sun” icon in the top left indicating available networks.
Selecting “networking” shows the “NETRTWLANUI” as an available network adaptor.
Under “Wi-Fi” we see a list of available wifi networks it detected during scanning.
I selected my home network from the list and entered its WPA-Personal pre-shared key.
Viewing the security properties for the selected network.
Viewing the IP properties after a successful connection.
And finally back to the setting screen showing the familiar wi-fi bars showing a strong connection.
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