Recently while thrifting I came across and purchased a KoalaSafe KS150N "Family Friendly Wireless Router with Parental Technology" for approximately CAD$5. I recognized it as a popular type of miniature, USB-powered portable router of which I already have two from other vendors; apparently this was a popular whitelabel type of unit. Given that, I assumed it would probably be easy to install something like OpenWRT if not some other malleable firmware in the same vein. As further research has uncovered OpenWRT actually forms the basis of the firmware the OEM distributes these units with and is therefore also likely the basis of most or all firmwares issued by subsequent resellers. Given its small size and meagre power requirements a use can almost always be found for a router and access point of this sort, despite correspondingly limited and dated capabilities. I plan to return to this topic at length in the future but am extremely taxes for time at the moment so I'm putting a collection of the relevant links I've found here to make it easier to repurpose and write a more complete article about it later on.
Evidently the device was some sort of content filter/parental control that depended on the reseller's (KoalaSafe) cloud infrastructure to function. Interestingly, they chose to push a clean version of OpenWRT as an Over-The-Air Update (OTA) when they went out of business so at least its users would have a usable device instead of just bricking them all - I think that's a move worthy of respect and further investigation/reporting on when I get back to this topic.
- https://ofmodemsandmen.com - This is an interesting repackaging of OpenWRT with focus on providing additional 3/4/5G modem support and webconfig features to the base distribution, though with an evidently long update interval. May be worth a deeper dive itself.