File Sharing In Your Pocket

The idea of a pirate box is pretty simple. All you need is a tiny Linux system with a WiFi adapter, a bit of storage space, and the software that will allow anyone to upload a few files to the server and an interface that will let anyone on the network download those files. In practice, though, a pirate box is a mess of wires and power adapters – not the pocketable device a WiFi file sharing box should be.

[Chris] came up with a much smaller file sharing beacon. It’s not based on a router; instead, [Chris]’ build uses an ez Share WiFi microSD adapter. It’s a device meant to push pics taken by a digital camera up to the Internet, but by configuring the software just so, up to five users can connect to the adapter and pull files down from a microSD card. The build only requires putting power to the correct pins. A LiPo battery and charge controller takes care of this problem.

There are a few shortcomings to this project – [Chris] doesn’t know how to upload files to the device. Maybe someone sufficiently clever can figure out how to make that work. Still, if you’re ever in a situation where you’d like to share some files with people in the same building, this is the device you need.

Thanks [Jake] for the tip.

43 thoughts on “File Sharing In Your Pocket

  1. This is quite neat, that it’s so small! In practice, I’d probably go with the old-rooted-android-smartphone + sftp option these days, But this is nonetheless an awesome piece of simple win. :)

    1. I’ve tried that with a couple of my old Android phones. The problem is that I can’t get them to go into infrastructure mode, only ad-hoc. Most of the portable devices people carry these days do not even display ad-hoc networks by default. So.. nobody notices and/or uses it.

        1. Android’s APIs do indeed let you do this. See https://developer.android.com/reference/android/net/wifi/p2p/WifiP2pManager.html#createGroup(android.net.wifi.p2p.WifiP2pManager.Channel, android.net.wifi.p2p.WifiP2pManager.ActionListener) . From the docs: “This essentially creates an access point that can accept connections from legacy clients as well as other p2p devices. Note: This function would normally not be used unless the current device needs to form a p2p connection with a legacy client”. So I think it should be possible.

    1. The idea of a pirate box is to have an AP attached to it, so it’s like a wireless dead drop. (i.e. not on your local network)

      That said, Direct Connect is the infrastructure we used at my university to have an absolutely massive internal file-sharing network, and works pretty damn well!

      1. Does that mean it doesn’t support browser upload? Or that it checks for the files being images, and disallows if they’re not?

        A simple hack would be just renaming your files with .png as the extension. Blablah.zip.png. Then a script on the server to undo that.

  2. I am not sure to see the point of using a wifi sd card: it would be less expensive to use an arietta G25 (20 euros), and it would provide a more open architecture (instead of a crappy closed non-documented firmware).
    Maybe the power consumption is in favor of the ezshare ?

    1. Your suggested solution appears to need the OS loaded on the uSD card. This has it’s firmware all onboard. Big plus for adding files to uSD. Plus it’s a lot less complicated to setup as it’s all preconfigured and simple.
      Clear that’s a factor as he’s asking how to upload to it.

      I think the concept is a great idea for many legitimate uses too.
      Read captive portal.

    2. I had to lookup the G25, was not familiar with it ( https://hackaday.com/2014/11/01/arietta-g25-has-us-wondering-where-arm-boards-are-going/ ).

      And the only boards I can see (www.acmesystems.it) are selling for 25 euro, add a wifi module for 7 euros, a PCB wifi antenna 3.5 euro, a 32GB microSD card 24 euros and for them to solder the wifi module before sending that is another 2 euros. so 61.5 euros and that is with no power. I can pick up a 32GB ezshare from china with free delivery (15-45 days) for 28 euro.

      The two advantages of the G25 is that when I get bored with it as a piratebox it is still useful hardware to have., and it is open. Open is so much nicer than closed.

  3. TP Link MR-3040 already does this, PirateBox works just fine. Similar form factor with a bigger battery, and file transfers go both ways (along with other stuff). Interesting hack but essentially unneeded…

    1. Those are routers that have built-in Li-ion battery and just happens to support *external* “3g” modems. You can’t get cellular network at those prices anyways. With the right firmware, they can act as access point and share media. My $9 one without battery does that with factory firmware. If not, there is always OpenWRT.

  4. Not as small but a Raspberry Pi A board with a super small wifi dongle can do all this a lot easier. So if someone is wanting to build a small digital dead drop or pirate box you have an easier path to start with and then graduate up to the smaller and a lot harder to hack stuff.

    1. The ‘not as small’ is rather a big point, you can’t put a raspi in your pocket so easily. And don’t forget it uses a lot of power, so you need a large battery and cooling, so yeah then you have something completely different really.

      1. Ok, so build on the pi sodimm-style com, aka Mini-PC RPi, and shrink the board for external items down a bit more or save the “board redesign” money for the SDHC sized edison.

        What’s wrong with using 2 SDHC cards -> one as the controller, one as the storage?

        1. Nothing I suppose, but this is an SD card with a micro-SD card inserted for the storage. So, smaller. There’s no advantage for full-size SD cards vs micro. For the few mm2 this way’s simpler, not as much wiring.

    1. It is alluring that, alieexpress, so many items that are interesting on there. but the wait.. I hate waiting for shipments.
      It’s interesting though that various items there have an indicator of average delivery time from past shipments, so you know roughly what to expect.

  5. Sandisk Connect… No hacking required… it’s a little bigger than a SD card (it’s the size of a USB stick) but you can totally carry it in your pocket… It’s got the battery and it acts as an AP or something… It’s a little on the pricey end though.

    1. Some good tips in this article’s comment section. Thanks for the sandisk one, Interesting item. I knew about the wireless storage devices but not that there were ones that do “8 devices, 3 simultaneous media streams ” as sandisk claims those can do.

      1. I have the “Sandisk Media drive”, I don’t know about uploading but it’s a great tiny pocket portable media streamer.
        We take it in the car on long journeys so everybody can watch stuff on their tablet/phone without having to convert formats and upload to different devices.
        My wife takes it to the gym to watch stuff while working out too as it can just sit in her bag nearby!

        If you had “free” full access people would delete stuff, upload viruses and all sorts of problems. You would need to have a write only upload folder and curate the content, but still a great idea for public file sharing.

  6. So I extracted the firmware, it seems that it’s running telnetd as root with password 5up. Is anyone able to test this as I don’t own this device? It also looks like that it has a UART, maybe someone could use that.

  7. Do you folks really use these kind of things? I can understand the “cause I can” aspect of pirate boxes but cannot understand why someone would walk around looking for them and then trusting whatever content is there to be safe. More for them I guess. Pretty neat and small device I must say.

    1. maybe is possible to create a simple html website on the memory card and just link the files you want to add to a folder on the memory card, about trusting the source, i think is good for sharing stuff when you are at school or at work and you need to share files fast, lets say i work with 5 other people and they all need different files that i have, instad of passing around a flashdrive and waiting for one person to be done with it to get the files, why not use this, turn it on, and all the group can pull down what they need

    2. This would be really neat way of sharing Sermons with the community, for folks that did not, or could not attend a particular Sermon on a Sunday – pirate box – is an unfortunate name for a device, that has many legitimate uses.

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