PirateBox at Yorba

The strangest item on my desk — at the moment — is a PirateBox.

What is a PirateBox, you may ask?  At first glance it appears to be a Jolly Roger lunch box plugged into the wall.

But it’s more than that; it’s a wifi network for sharing files locally. All you have to do is point your wifi-enabled device at the “PirateBox” network, open a browser and try to load any page. You’ll be directed to a list of files to download and given the opportunity to upload your own.

At the moment, it’s filled with an assortment of video game music, an important textfile about Pascal, and a free album by gangsta nerd rap superstar ytcracker.

It’s all anonymous, at least as anonymous as any unsecured wifi network can be. The device isn’t connected to the internet so you have to be in (or very close to) our office to use it.

I built the box using an router capable of running open source firmware, following directions on the official PirateBox wiki. The storage is all on a cheap USB thumb drive.  Everything was installed and assembled at our local hackerspace, just around the corner from the office.

As far as hobby electronics projects go this one is pretty simple to do, relatively cheap (less than $150 USD) and occasionally exciting as unexpected new files show up.

2 thoughts on “PirateBox at Yorba”

  1. could you send more pictures and or some blueprints specs i would really like to do this and would like to build one….i want my box to have at least 100gig capacity…..

    what router do you use and recommend ?
    What are the US laws regarding this activity?
    Is it technically not illegal because the files are anonymously on a conveniently unsecured network?

    Are there clubs that do stuff like this but with a password secured router?and the flashdrive you use, how does it connect to the router just directly into the back of it or did you need adapters?…..
    Birdman thanks you.

    1. The PirateBox wiki (linked to in the original post) has all the plans and photos you can ask for. They have several different versions of this, including one that uses a “wall wart” computer and various versions for different routers.

      The router I used was the Buffalo one mentioned on the PirateBox wiki. It was a slightly newer version, so I had to hunt around to find the right image for it. Still, wasn’t terribly difficult to get everything up and running.

      I’m using a tiny Flash drive but in theory I think you could use a hard drive as well. It’s just plugged into the router’s USB port.

      I’m afraid I can’t answer too many questions about the project because I’ve only built one! You might be better off asking these questions on the PirateBox forum. The folks there were super helpful when I was building mine.

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