A Pirate Box for sharing files

pirate box

This is [illwill]‘s Pirate Box, the newest addition to the network over at NESIT, the Meriden, CT hackerspace.

A pirate box is a completely anonymous wireless file server, kind of like a wireless version of a dead drop. It’s the perfect device for transferring files at a LAN party or hackerspace. The guts of [illwill]‘s portable server comes from an old Fonera router NESIT had lying around. After installing OpenWRT, connecting a few batteries, and finding a wonderful lunch box / treasure chest enclosure on ebay, [illwill] had a portable file server perfect for sharing files.

The pirate box isn’t connected to the Internet. Instead, users can connect to each other and the 16GB USB drive by simply connecting to the router’s WiFi and opening up a browser. All web page requests are redirected to the Pirate Box page, where users can chat and share files. The folks at NESIT uploaded a few public domain files to their pirate box, but they’re anxiously waiting to see what files other users will upload.XVID.AC3.HQ.Hive-CM8.


  1. svofski says:

    I love the idea but 16GB is not much for some.XVID.AC3.HQ.Hive-CM8[PROPER]

  2. geekmaster says:

    Can I actually get the youtube embed right this time?

    I wish I could edit my previous post instead of reposting until I get it right…

  3. SteveHaD says:

    Could make it smaller and more portable by just using an Android phone. Get a used one for cheap and stick a 64gb micro SD card into it. There’s already apps out there that can turn your android into a hotspot and just dump your frontend files on there (there’s already support for php and python and probably more languages).

    16GB seems a bit low and the whole sandwich box thing seems kinda bulky. But otherwise it’s a cool idea.

  4. opps says:

    For the people with deja vu , This isnt a repost,but very close.


  5. illwill says:

    yea the usb space is kinda of small but was trying to keep the whole project around $20. The lunchbox was $8, the usb drive was $9, and the sticker was $3. Buying the paint made it over the amount but it was def worth it and I have a more left over for future projects. But it was a nice weekend project to play around with and to use for public events we attend.

    • things says:

      I appreciate the project and understand the limit. I too am willing to spend no more than 20 dollars on projects I don’t have a direct need for or may fail in process.

  6. anonymous by desire says:

    I’d go for more concealment and use a false bottom and position the antenna inside close to an end. Fill with your lunch and no one would be the wiser.

    • NewCommentor1283 says:

      firstly: neat idea and build

      one thing tho… needs to be out of range of
      anyone with a possible virus on thier computer!
      otherwise you end up with a “dirty needle”

      or build in a stereo/lights/usbpower/ect…
      then u got big batteries and never get
      asked why a lunchbox with your lunch
      weighs as much as…..well……batteries!!!!!

      EDIT: upon further inspection,
      he was able to run it from only 4 AA’s…

      i had 6 C or D batteries in mind,
      or maybe a 6V lantern bat,
      to make it run unattended somehwere
      out of access for a couple days… hehe XD

      • fartface says:

        That is easy. Just refuse connections from windows computers.

        • NewCommentor1283 says:

          lmao his sarcasm is ***_actually_*** technically correct.
          well, 99.9% of the time anyway.
          and anyone who can easily defeat said feature has probably already sent people, viruses through facebook.

          PS: you do NOT have to actually accept the friend invite to get the virus. usually people do not know they have the virus and that it is inside their display picture on the webserver. you get infected just by viewing the list of invites and the file is downloaded into your temp folder.(one of many).
          removing the virus from the computer is useless because next time you or any1 that is a FB friend of you logs back in the computer gets reinfected.

          • Pilotgeek says:

            This is why it’s a great idea to use group policy to set all temp folders to non-executable.

          • er says:

            NewCommentor1283: can you provide a link that evidences a virus of the sort you describe and shows which up to date operating systems would be as easily compromised by it as you indicate? In other words: it looks as if you exaggerate.

          • c3p says:

            Virus via a jpg that is displayed on a modern pc?
            Yeeeeeeah, sure.

          • MrX says:

            c3p why do you think chrome and firefox have been shipping their own image / drawing routines instead of using the windows API? Because exploiting the windows graphics subsystem to execute a payload has already happened.
            Google for “gdi32 exploit”
            Granted, latest versions of windows are not affected anymore but that does not mean Microsoft won’t mess up again in the future…

          • catzburg says:

            It’s also why facebook reencodes JPG images…. all jpg images not just user uploaded ones but everything that shows up in the news feed too

  7. noouch says:

    Dead dropping this in a crowded place is a sure fire way to get all manner of federal agencies investigating your ass for placing an “IED”…

  8. ey says:

    For a larger LAN this would quickly choke under the input/output traffic of many users. But a box that big could hold a more complex setup with multiple wifi devices and harddisks and some automatic (wired) syncing between the harddisks.

  9. DosX says:

    Yeah, Pirate box never fails.

  10. Hirudinea says:

    Your next project should be to put an self-powered HD in a thermos.

  11. xorpunk says:

    I did this with a gumstix and 128GB thumb drive once. It got 20 hours off a li-lon cell and fit in a 5x4x2 box.

  12. Haku says:

    What sort of power drain does a small router+usb stick like that have? ie how long does it run on those 4x AA’s.

    • MrX says:

      If I remember correctly, running the fonera 2200 from 8 rechargable 2000mAh AAs (1.2V nominal, gives ~9V for the fonera’s internal regulator) makes it last for ~3h, with normal router usage.
      If weight is not a problem, just slap a cheap leadacid battery there and you are golden : )

      • Haku says:

        I’ve got a few old ebike batteries that can’t power my ebikes very far but they should still be useful for powering low voltage circuits for a long time, I’ll have to see what they’re capable of this year.

  13. BotherSaidMayans says:

    Solar charger, or even a wind generator from recycled PSU fans.
    Also another workaround is to switch between n pendrives using a 4016/66 QBS as one chip can switch up to four active devices.

  14. crashsuit says:

    For anyone looking at building one of these, here’s a USB-powered WiFi router that just came out, maybe it’d be useful:


  15. David says:

    Perhaps it’s too late, but shouldn’t this really be named a “pirate chest”, since it may contain treasure, rather than a “box”, which might contain a beating heart?

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