This Raspberry Pi Is NASty

A piratebox is a small computer, WiFi adapter, and a hard drive. The idea behind the piratebox is to simply put some storage on a network, accessible to all. It’s great if you’re in a group, need an easy way to share files at the hackerspace, or just want to put a modern twist on a LAN party. [Nick] and [Josiah] came up with their own twist on a piratebox, and this one uses a Raspberry Pi Zero W, making it one of the cheapest pirateboxes around.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W, with its network adapter, has all the hardware required to turn into a capable piratebox, so the hardware for this build is pretty simple. It’s just a USB A plug in the form of a USB Stem and nothing else. The software is available on GitHub and broadcasts a WiFi network named SUBZero. Browsing to on this network allows for uploading and downloading files, all without an Internet connection. It’s a cloud that will fit in your pocket, which we’re calling a ‘fog’ or a ‘mist’ this week. Since this is called the ‘SUBZero’, perhaps ‘pogonip’ is the preferred nomenclature.

Of course no Raspberry Pi project is complete without a 3D printed case, and the SUBZero is no exception. There’s a 3D printed case for this Pi Zero, complete with a sliding door for access to all the ports. You can see a video of that below.

39 thoughts on “This Raspberry Pi Is NASty

  1. I do something similar because work blocked all cloud services and transferring files from the “secure” corporate network to the test network got tedious. With USB in/out shuffling.
    Thanks to the RPI zero we have what looks to them like a USB stick (I have to request USB write access yearly) but is actually on the test LAN connected to a ZFS share and is hosting all the TB’s of files we need to do our job.

    1. ssshh, do you have any docs and/or links to help me achieve something similar?
      It is normal/common for VPN solutions to disable access to local networks, so a USB solution gives an interesting way around that, and a way to maintain and check security.
      Thank you, Ian

    1. You didn’t even read the summary, huh?

      1) It’s a WLAN-enabled USB storage device. It’s supposed to look like a regular (albeit slightly larger than usual) USB flash drive, so it shouldn’t have obvious buttons.
      2) It’s a WLAN-enabled USB storage device. Nobody will actually be looking at it, they’ll just be using it to upload/download files, so LED indicators would be a waste.
      3) It’s a WLAN-enabled USB storage device. Why on Earth would it need volume control?

      1. This was an A+ response, the guy under this, even better, ” It has no solar panel, no mesh , Lora wan.. Very not useful device” . Its just not resinating in their brains, this is a embedded linux device that is the size of a pack of gum and as thick as a credit card. It passes for a generic USB device, hence the mini in conspicuous piratebox. People are thinking LED’s because people make those stupid lunch boxes with the lights , the generic “piratebox” theme like on their website. Its crazy to think about what a file transfer would be like over Lora , utter stupidity has raised a small amount of curiosity. Anyway I am sure it would be like dial up , well said to you though I wanted to harm myself when I read that.

      1. Eh? USB to do what now? It creates a mobile hotspot providing a simple web server that allows uploading/downloading files from/to any connected client. It’s Network Attached Storage, except that in this case the network is an ad hoc WLAN that clients temporarily connect to while sharing stuff. The USB port is for power.

  2. At Canadian Tier here in Canada they sell a power brick that has a USB and a SD card slot.
    It has a built in internet server. I have put in a 4T drive with no problems.
    If you use a thumb drive or a SD card it will run up to 5 hrs of sharing.
    All this for $12-$24. I got 4 of them as presents at Christmas time at the $12 price each.
    If I have time I am hoping to reprogram one of them with Linux. The CPU is running at 400MHZ. and 256meg of ram.
    and more.

      1. Haven’t you heard… on the 30th anniversary of the internet, them dang, darn, clickity, click, click Internet servy thangs are just servin’ up the whole Internet everywhere!

    1. Perry,

      I couldn’t find this power brick on Canadian Tire (not tier). Can you provide a link?

      The implication here is that this power brick will plug into the device, power it, AND is a USB hub (one USB port and one SD slot) I’m looking for something like this. I have a Hundai Protocol X8 that is powered/recharged only through its one USB port. I’d like to power it and have a USB port. I’ve tried powered OTG cables, but they only power the USB device, not the computer.

        1. Aaaand still no link… What the poster may be referring to is a RAVPower Filehub Plus Wireless Travel Router. There are two versions, both have built-in WiFi media/file servers:

          There are a more than a few “Travel Routers” with WiFi that also have a USB Host port where you can plug in USB storage which is then served bi-directionally via a Web page. No “Cloud” involved, just local connectivity. I remember using a TP-Link device like that once. It was slow in terms of transfer rates, but it work OK. I needed a password to access the Web page with files and upload capability – a sort of captive portal. There’s also a WiFi enabled USB drive from SanDisk that does this. I tried one and it was a disaster. It tries to act as a proxy allowing pass-through Internet access via another Access Point. It not only fails miserably at that, it over-complicates access to files on the disk itself thus defeating its original purpose. I binned the drive and forgot about it.

        1. Care to share your “script”? I imagine the simplest secure solution would be to enable SSH on the Pi then access files via SFTP/SCP. But that’s not so convenient, so maybe have more than a script, Serve a Web page over SSH/TLS that lists a file directory and allows drag-and-drop and click-and-browse for file uploads. Accessing the page is password protected.

  3. That’s not a Pirate Box!

    The Pirate Box was meant to be left somewhere, possibly sneakily so that strangers would find it, download files and messages off of it and upload new things to share. This, as the author (of the project, not the HaD sumary) says is just a backup solution. It’s a convenient way to move one’s own files around without having to plug anything in. It’s a NAS you can use when you don’t have a network. That’s about it.

    The main difference is the Pirate Box is designed for strangers to find and use. This is not. Here’s how that works.

    The Pirate Box has a landing page. This is much like the walled garden pages one sees on WiFi networks where you must log in or accept a user agreement to get online. There is a built in DNS server. No matter what domain you ask for it returns the Pirate Box’s own LAN IP. That is important because some random person who happens upon it probably isn’t going to think to type into their browser. If it required that nobody would use it! SubZero has no such requirement because the user is expected to know what it is and how to use it.

    A Pirate Box broadcasts an open network. There is no encryption and thus no key required to enter. Again, if you had to know the network key to get in nobody would find the things! And since it’s all about sharing anyway there are no secrets to encrypt. SubZero users should know the password because they own the device (or at least know and have permission from the owner). The directions even say to change the password and make it your own! This is good when you don’t want someone sniffing the files you are storing. It is useless for a Pirate Box substitute though!

    Finally, it’s not called Pirate Box. Even if it were open people might hesitate to connect to some network called SubZero without knowing what it was. To be fair they might feel the same way when they see a network called Pirate Box. Pirate Box has been a thing for several years now though and once someone ventures to connect once they will know what it is when they see it again. For that reason if someone really was trying to write a new Pirate Box like application it would be best if they still name the network Pirate Box.

    So, anyway, I’m not saying anything bad about Sub Zero. In a situation where one cannot plug in a USB storage device and there is no existing LAN for NAS storage I guess it might be useful. (Does this come up much?) I’m just saying this is not a Pirate Box.

    Too bad. I liked Pirate Boxes. I haven’t heard anyone talk about them in a long time. You got my hopes up. Damn you Brian!!!

  4. I’ve heard of someone using parts from scrapped printers to make these.
    Also they are handy if you hard set it to transmit on Ch1 where most microwave ovens emit: the interference will be higher but less likely to be detected if you program it to only turn on when the MW is on.

    1. Interesting. Do you have a reference for that?
      ISM band is 2.4-2.5 GHz. Microwave ovens are nominally 2.45 GHz.
      Channels 7 through 10 have some overlap with the 2.45 GHz center, with 8&9 being pretty much smack on it.
      Ch 1 is 2.41 MHz, at least here (ITU Region 2).
      Where on the planet do Ch 1 and microwave ovens share a frequency?

  5. i thought you were referring to the park in santa cruz, its an old code, but it checks out.
    One concern is if fog is frozen,doesn’t that mean it would take longer to access the data suspended within? too bad there’s no name for sublimated fog ;)

  6. Nice proof of concept but…
    using any sort of Raspberry Pi for network storage is always a bad idea, is damn limited on any point of view for that purpose: is practically unusable.
    I can image the !speed of any file transfert.

  7. Excellent when our team goes camping and everyone takes pictures and video with their phones- not a cellular or Wifi signal in 50 miles, we can all consolidate our media onto one storage device for later compilation. Thanks for the post!

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