DIY Project: WiFi + USB Drive = Your Own Mini-Internet and Communication Hub

Posted on Jan 23, 2013 in Constitutional & Liberty Issues, DIY Projects, Emergency Preparedness & Survival, Science & Technology, Social Networking

Kevin Hayden –

Source: Activist Post by Tony Cartalucci, Truth Contributor

Worried about draconian Internet laws? Creeping surveillance? The Internet is still a tool of tremendous power, but a deep rot has set in. We have caught it early and we are fighting to stop this rot, but there are other options we can begin exploring to hedge our bets and enhance our current efforts.

piratebox2Image: The PirateBox in use on a handheld device. Once the PirateBox is up and running, either on a standalone device like the one pictured to the right (background), or on your laptop as described here, it will appear as another WiFi network for people in range to connect to. Once connected, files can be freely shared, and there is even a chat client users can communicate with. It is just as useful as a file server for a small business, as it is for circumventing the draconian criminalization of Internet file sharing.

Want to get started right now? Easy tutorial and download links here *

In last week’s, “Fighting Back Against the “Intellectual Property” Racket,” the “PirateBox” was introduced. The PirateBox transforms a laptop, router, or single board computer into a mini-Internet hub where files can be freely shared, and even features a chat program so users can communicate.

Q: How is this different than my router-based LAN?

A: PirateBox doesn’t require a router. It takes any device with a WiFi modem, and turns it into the router. This includes mobile devices – meaning that unlike your typical router, it can create a network anywhere you can carry your mobile device – from your home or office, to a train, or even on a jetliner. 

Additionally, any device wishing to connect to your local network, doesn’t need to be configured. The PirateBox network shows up in your WiFi connection list like any WiFi network you would normally encounter (like in a cafe).

You simply connect to that network, open your web browser, and the PirateBox interface shows up as your homepage where you can share files and chat inside the browser – users do not need to install or configure anything at all on their computers – and it works across platforms (Apple, Windows, Linux). If you want to connect to the Internet, you simply open up your WiFi connection list again, and pick the network you usually use for the Internet. Switching back and forth takes seconds.

Q: So what? So you can make a local network – why should I care? I like the Internet better.  

A. The Internet still is and will be a useful tool. But if we have the technology to begin hedging the risk of depending entirely on it, we should do so. That is the idea behind using software like PirateBox and mesh networks as inspiration for building a parallel Internet by and for the people, undermining and circumventing efforts by special interests to curb our liberties and freedom.

A “collapse” or Orwellian nightmare should not be “prepared for,” but instead be prevented by building up a myriad of alternatives that ensure that even in the worst scenario, we have options that avert total disaster. Like segmenting the hull of a ship, by creating alternative communication networks, both centralized and decentralized, we increase our ability to weather a wider range of adversity.

It is a lite version of the mesh networks described in December 2012’s “Decentralizing Telecom” where independent mesh networks featured many software alternatives to emulate popular online programs such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and others. The PirateBox is an introductory project anyone with a WiFi adapter and a USB thumbdrive can do on their own with a little motivation and an hour to experiment.

In a busy office, a PirateBox can serve as a simple local wireless file server and chat client. In an apartment complex, it can become the center of a social experiment, an opportunity to reach out to neighbors and organize constructively, or just for fun – building badly needed local communities back up.

Instructions for perhaps the easiest of PirateBox’s implementations can be found on blogger, designer, and activist David Darts’ website here. The instructions are nearly foolproof, and a lot of the common problems ran into are described and their solutions linked to throughout the explanation.

The PirateBox does not connect to the Internet, nor does it operate from your hard drive. It works entirely on the USB thumbdrive you install it on, simply using your computer’s WiFi to network all who are in range.

Hayden’s Note:

I’ve written about the importance of communication on numerous occasions. The PirateBox is a simple, inexpensive, no-tech-skills-needed way to create a small network with the ability to infinitely expand, share files, and even chat. As long as you can power up a laptop or phone, you can have this communication hub at your disposal. Think of the possibilities here: camp network, disaster communications, private file-sharing, or even open office sharing. There are numerous advantages to having this up and running, along with understanding how to deploy it when needed.

Ideally you’d want to make a dedicated, standalone PirateBox to serve your space, office, and neighbors. A great place for beginners to embark on this is at your local hackerspace. If you don’t have a local hackerspace, look into starting one up.

Protesting is important, but protesting alone will not stem the problem at its source. The rot will continue to spread unless we develop tangible tools to pragmatically excise it and repair the damage it has already done.

The problem of corporate monopolies ensnaring and subjugating us through their telecom monopolies can and is being solved by solutions like mesh networks, the PirateBox, and the onward march of open source software and hardware, simply displacing proprietary products and services. The best way to ensure success is to have as many informed and constructive people as possible join in the problem-solving process.

Since posting about the PirateBox, LocalOrg has received several success stories of people who have either already been using it, or have looked into it, prompting this follow up. Continue sharing your success, and if you would like, contact us and have them covered here on LocalOrg.

Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own atLand Destroyer ReportAlternative Thai News Network and LocalOrg

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