One of my oldest and favorite projects is my little mr320 Piratebox.
It’s a simple little device, just a small 802.11n wireless router with a 32G thumb drive for storage and a USB battery pack. But with the Piratebox software installed, it’s my own little personal internet cube. Anyone who connects to its wifi will be redirected to a simple web server with a chat room and a forum. Users can also upload and download files to share.
Since the device has no external dependencies, I like to imagine it as my personal ISP of last resort. In a pinch, I could provide any group of people with an easy way to share data between devices. More than that, data could be indexed and discussed by anyone on the network.
The PirateBox project has awesome docs, and many different configurations, so I won’t bother explaining all the details here. There are lots of possible options and modifications, but I never got around to playing with them much. Maybe I’ll make a future post on that.
Unfortunately, I rarely get others accessing my PirateBox. This is usually because the only public place you could normally access it is from a particular area of a public trail near my house. The one time I did get decent usage was visiting an outdoor event at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. I was super excited to see people actually using the chat room! The fact that they were mostly doing drug deals only made the interaction more amusing.
So, given the right circumstances, or the end of the world, this little device can be something between a fun communication tool and a self-contained internet Arc. But today, like most days, it’s just sitting there waiting for a trail goer to notice it.