I finally built my dedicated PirateBox. Originally, I had hoped to make one out of a MR3420, but I decided on a much smaller and cheaper WR703N.
This router was not only smaller and cheaper, but also consumed less power and had better range than I expected. At it’s most basic, all that is really needed to set it up is the router, a USB drive, and an Ethernet cord. Which was good, because the rest of my stuff hadn’t arrived yet. The tutorial on David Darts’s wiki is very detailed and excellent at taking you step by step to arrive at your PirateBox. It guided me through the process very well.
After getting it set up, I only had the USB cord and the router to roam with. The only way I could power it though was to plug it into my computer, the wall, or my car adapter. At this point, because people were unfamiliar with it, I really only used it to show others how it worked. And despite the scary name and graphic, it was a tool for liberty that they should embrace.
Once the rest of my stuff came in, I built the battery pack. Chaka Hamilton had made a great How-To on putting one together. In the forum, people using a battery pack with 8 AAs got days of use out of it. That’s what I wanted, something I could set up and not worry about it running out of juice. At Skycraft in Winter Park, I picked up a ten AA battery holder (they didn’t have an 8 AA holder). The rest of the parts for the battery adapter I either had already or bought at RadioShack. Making the battery pack was the most difficult part of the whole PirateBox project. However, it was vital to have a way to make it portable.
Once it was all together, I tested it, and it was good to go. However, to maximize the portability, my PirateBox needed a final and essential element — a box. I searched my room for all sorts of containers, finally settling on a cigar box which comfortably houses the entire set up. It’s been a few days, and nothing has been uploaded t it by any strangers yet. I’ve set it up for a few short periods. When I visit a place I know I’ll be a while (like the barber), I’ll set it up in my car. I’ve also taken it to work and a few meetings. The battery pack finally died (it lasted a very long time) and everywhere I took it, it had great range. It was a lot of fun to build and I highly recommend trying it out. Also, next time you’re looking for a free wifi network and you see “PirateBox,” you should connect. You never know what you’ll find.