Bringing WiFi into a Mobile Hackerspace

2013-11-23-00.04.14

[Philipp Protschka] has a pretty awesome mobile hackerspace (MHS) trailer. The only problem? How do you get WiFi when you’re inside what is basically a Faraday’s cage?

He didn’t think he’d have a problem, since he has a fairly powerful router (Netgear R7000 Nighthawk), not more than 20m from the trailer. But as soon as he shuts the door, he loses all connectivity — he can’t even see his SSID. Leaving the door open a crack results in a signal with a speed of about 54Mbits — not bad, but when it’s cold outside this really isn’t an option.

The solution? Install a WiFi repeater with an external antenna. He’s using a TP link station with two antennas — he’s removed one and hooked it up to a rugged outdoor antenna that gives the MHS a bit of an FBI van look — awesome. With the repeater in place he’s suddenly got access to over 24 SSID’s in the neighborhood from inside! It’ll also be extra handy when travelling because with the extra range it means he’ll be able to hook into local WiFi networks with ease.

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200 pound, WiFi deploying robot ran over my foot

[Adam Bercu] and [Dan Landers] from Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA brought a very, very cool toy to Maker Faire this year. It’s a two hundred pound WiFi repeater deploying robot able to amble across unforgiving terrain and my foot.

The robot is controlled through a web interface with the help of a front-mounted web cam with pan and tilt controls. All the signals are sent through a WiFi connection to a node.js web server; not the best way to communicate with a robot over long distances, but [Adam] and [Dan] have a few tricks up their sleeve.

On the back of the robot are two Pelican cases loaded up with a battery and a Linksys WRT54G wireless router. When the robot reaches the limits of its range, it activates a solenoid, dropping a WiFi repeater. This repeater has enough battery juice to stay powered for about a day and a half, meaning the robot can make multiple trips to deploy a wireless network through some very hostile terrain. Perfect for disaster and search and rescue operations.

There are two videos after the break: the first is [Dan] going over the capabilities of his tank bot and the second is a short demo of the bot tearing up the grass at Maker Faire.

[Read more...]

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