Author Topic: WiFi File Swap Network  (Read 12359 times)

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WiFi File Swap Network
« on: March 19, 2007, 08:37:55 PM »
Hello again all!  I experimented with this idea at a previous HamFest:  I had set up a Linux powered WiFi File sharing hub at our broadcast station.  I just want to get a feel to see if anyone is interested in me doing this again.  This time, I have a high powered access point and high gain 2.4GHz omni antenna.

The purpose of the file sharing system is not for internet access, although it could be tooled to provide a limited shared connection to the internet if there is enough interest.  If people are interested in internet access, I could rig up my broadband access with Verizon and pipe it into the WiFi network to be available to users at cost (a paypal link would be provided to enable a desired connection to the internet on a per user basis)  This would be simply to cover my data access charges should usage become a high demand.

Otherwise the system would simply function as a "hub" for connecting laptops, or other computers for the purpose of general file sharing at 54mbps.

The server would be "stocked" with a wide range of free, open source software as well as many other Ham Radio related programs of general interest.  This would allow people with laptops or other computers to download these programs at high speed for the purpose of installation or copying for other HAM friends. 

The "hub" would also allow users to anonymously upload programs and data for public distribution over the "hub".

I think this could be a great idea since Ham Radio now enjoys a digital face in it's new age, not to mention that the 2.4 GHz band is considered to be a "Ham Band" in and of itself!

All that would be needed to connect and use the network is a wifi card in your machine of choice.

Let me know what y'all think, I'm armed and packin'!

Offline W1RC

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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2007, 06:06:49 AM »
Cool!  Sure, pack it along with your other goodies.  We may be able to provide you with a high spot for your antenna if your feedline is long enough.  There are several bleachers at Deerfield as you will see on the map of the Fairgrounds.  I am planning on giving all micro-broadcasters access to a spot with good antenna mounting facilities.




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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2007, 09:35:58 AM »
Thanks MrMike,

Yes we have a decent sized feedline for our FM operation as well as a Power over Ethernet setup for the WiFi hub.  The power over ethernet will allow us to place the data radio up near the antenna to keep the feed run as short as possible since there are great losses at 2.4GHz in cables. 

I have also spoken to the members of the "PirateShipRadio" operation about collecting all the funds for our admissions up front and we're in the process of doing that so there should be a check in the mail shortly.

We were wondering, if we might ask if we could be allowed in at least an hour early before general admission so we have ample time to get our antenna launched, tuned and on the air in time for general admission (maybe some people might enjoy a "morning show" while they wait, and we could air important announcements over the dial to better organize a smooth entrance into the event).  I know Hopkinton had an accoustical PA that sometimes was hard to understand because of a lot of echo.  We would be happy to use our talents to carry the same announcements throughout the event as a means of returning the favor.

We'd be glad to assist in any way we can.



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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2007, 01:13:18 PM »
Someone had suggested I post this information, so here goes:

If you are bringing a wifi enabled computer and wish to file swap, here is the info you might need to make a successful connection:

SSID: n1wil
Wifi: b/g  (wifi a, 5.8 GHz will not be offered)
Wifi Channel: 6
Encryption: none, this will be an open network allowing anyone to access and trade files/programs

Helpful hints:  Although we will do our best to locate the antenna and data radio as high as possible, you should opt for a wireless card that has an external antenna for best results.  If you have access to a "can antenna aka Pringles Can antenna, coffee can antenna (google around for this, they're easy to make), yagi (you can easily make a 2.4 GHz beam out of etched PCB!), or other antenna - you will enjoy the highest possible throughput.  To be sure you're connecting to the right net, set your wifi up to connect to the SSID as mentioned above, your computer will do the rest.

If you have all your settings right, when you open your web browser, you should be directed to a web page with info on how to use the system.  No special software will be required

Compatible OS's are: Win2K, XP, Vista, Any version of Linux with web browser installed and Samba client installed and enabled.

Many ISO CD-ROM images that will be available on this system are but not limited to:

Most current distributions of Linux
Other alternative OS's and tools
Many Ham Radio related applications
Radio Mod files

There will be over 100 Gigabytes of stuff to choose from and if you have a program or software that you'd like to share with everyone else, you will be able to easily upload it so others can download and enjoy it.

Any suggestions or comments are most welcome.  If you have an idea for this project, please post that way, we'll have time to implement it.

Offline N1KJN

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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2007, 08:54:56 AM »
Hi N1Wil,

Thank you for offering this service.  If you need any help do not hesitate to ask.  I was also wondering if you decided to offer internet acess what would the fee be? 




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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2007, 09:43:21 AM »

At this moment I am exploring some WAN alternatives that might be more cost effective than piping Verizon Broadband access (Cellular EVDO) internet on the WAN side of the system.  I have been reviewing the costs and have found it to be "expensive" since VZ charges are based on the amount of traffic passed into their network.  One possibility exists that I might be able to sign up for the unlimited plan before NearFest and then just cancel it after the end of the month, and I would get charged a flat fee.  I have done this in the past, but as anyone knows VZW's customer service experience is a pain in the butt.

Ideally, what i would LOVE to do is partner up with someone at the fest who might have a 2-way satellite system that has internet capabilities.  I could simply uplink my WAN side to that system and share the bandwidth (and would give credit on the portal page as well as work out some kind of deal if need be)  If such a person has access to a link such as that and is interested in sharing it (either for a fee or not) I would be interested in hearing from this person.  My portal system has bandwidth management on the WAN circuit so they wouldn't have to worry about their service being "sunk" by the demand coming in from the wifi portal. 

If I go it alone, I would charge only enough to cover my costs and not be looking to generate any profit.  If VZW unlimited costs me 40 - 50 dollars to get it turn on for that month, I would simply charge about $5 for each connection and if there was an excess $$ amount, I would gladly turn that over to MrMike to support the next NearFest.


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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2007, 05:10:15 PM »
This all sounds like fun, and I am fairly sure that some people from the Linux group would utilize the Internet bandwidth for checking email and such.

We could lend our servers to the network, to improve the bandwidth for distro download, etc.

By the way, we met a couple of Hosstraders ago at your radio station.  I enjoyed talking to you.


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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2007, 03:30:00 PM »
Thanks for your offer to share server resources with the WiFi file swap net.  I don't anticipate that there will be much demand on the system (since the WiFi radio can only pass data at 54mbps total.  The server has a NIC on it that is 100mbps so it won't really be operating to full capacity even though the wifi tower might be accepting a lot of concurrent connections.  But thanks for offering.   8)

At the moment, the prospect of getting internet on the WAN side of the system is not looking promising, but I have not given up.  If that fails, then the wifi net will simply be a wifi LAN that will enable easy and convenient file sharing among wifi enabled computers.  A kind of "wifi napster" of sorts.

If you guys plan on being outdoors, and located near our radio broadcast tent, feel free to string some CAT5 to one of your hubs to take advantage of the full 100mbit transfer speed if you have stuff you wish to upload or download from the sharing server.

I have seen some photographs of the site we might be setting up on, and it looks GOOD!  looks like we'll be able to get the broadcast AND wifi antenna up really high so that all can use the sharing hub.

Good things are in the making!

Looking forward to meeting again at the fest.



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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 07:55:26 AM »
If you do have the capabilitys to put up wireless internet for a 5$ fee, i would like to talk with you about possibly setting up an echolink node for everyone at the event to use. i have all the equipment, all i need is internet



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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2007, 09:29:09 AM »
This sounds like a very interesting idea, however there are 2 challenges to overcome:

1) If I was able to get access to a cellular WAN connection, there is not enough sustainable bandwidth for an echolink channel to be used while others might be using the internet via the WAN port. 

2) Cellular WAN technologies as of yet still have far too much latency to make VOIP viable even if there is sufficient bandwidth.  VOIP requires sustained bandwidth and a very low latency to be reliable and doable.

3) It is looking more unlikely that I will be able to acquire a WAN connection in this way due to the desire of Verizon to lock me into a commitment for a data contract - something that's just not possible since it would only be needed for 2 days.  I am in the process of exploring other possibilities, but so far no good ones as of yet. 

In the event that no WAN connection is possible, the system will still be launched with the intent to serve as a wireless file swapping hotspot - enabling users to download and upload software and programs of general interest.  It will be a grand wifi "experiment" of sorts. 

Another possibility I am willing to entertain is if someone out there ALREADY has a verizon data card with an unlimited data plan, and is willing to loan the use of it to serve as a WAN for this project.  If so please post by all means.  If such a person exists, and is willing to provide the use of their card for free, then the internet would be freely routed & distributed over the wifi system for all to use without charge.

Thanks for your idea, while very interesting, I don't think it's possible at present.



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Re: WiFi File Swap Network
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2007, 12:35:51 PM »
We just scored a NICE 15db antenna and will be hooking it to a high powered access point for serving the File Swapping system.  We expect this antenna will provide sufficient service area to cover the populated area of the fairgrounds!  The access point and antenna will be elevated HIGH into the trees and powered over the ethernet line that goes up the rope.

As an added BONUS, anyone with a laptop or computer can also upload MP3 audio files for broadcast on our 90.5FM station.  This is a great opportunity to contribute and enrich the on-air programming!

In the fall, we will add a VOIP (Voice Over IP) repeater!  This will allow you to use the system to talk with others via the 2.4GHz system and have separate "chat" rooms even!

Only files of MP3 type will be accepted.

Acceptable File formats for all other uploaded files are:


Any other file type will automagically be deleted from the system shortly after upload, so if you are sharing software, etc, please be sure to upload in these file formats only.