[FoRK] poor man's PAN

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Sun May 26 10:43:57 PDT 2013

On Sun, 26 May 2013, Eugen Leitl wrote:

> On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 02:30:30AM +0200, Tomasz Rola wrote:
> LiIon has a lot higher energy density than lead-acide.

Sure. I was just joking :-).

> > Myself, I would go for battery in a rucksack (so, 10kg is not huge 
> The nerd factor is Too Damn High! Sorry, no backpack, just 
> something the size of an old smartphone, and no wires.
> And no utility belt a la Batman, please, either.

Ok. Frankly, I didn't considered building my own PAN, at least not in this 
year/5y timespan (during last few years - actually more than few but I 
won't tell how long, because I'm ashamed to have such dreams and not 
pursue them - I had some wet dreams about wiring some old iPAQ PDA and bat 
ext and some electronic dildo stuffed with sd cards, not sure if this 
counts). However, as I started to think a little, I would say privacy is a 
must^2 (it's a power, not footnote). So I wouldn't touch a thing if I 
couldn't install custom firmware on it. Nowadays, we can be rather sure 
custom rom doesn't really guarantee anything, but so does a lock in a 
door. Anyway, I don't want some random clucker from half a world away to 
fry my intimate parts for fun.

So, I would rather sacrifice some lightness and mobility but increase 

Since we are talking cheap (we both, I assume), I guess a good starting 
point - at least for me - is some cheap wifi router. I use TPLink MR3420, 
it can do bgn wifi and they claim it can use 3G modem if it's connected to 
the usb host port on the device. There are custom firmwares for it, but I 
am yet to install. It also sports 5 100Mbps ether ports and one to wan or 
cable. I use it on a daily basis, connect with phone, ebook reader and 
some old laptop (all of this in bg mode), plus few normal ether devices. 
It works for me.

Of course this TPL wants some power, I think it could be adapted for car 
charger and 12v bat. I have seen folks were soldering various stuff to 
their router's mobos - like, putting usb host when there was none etc. I 
have this host already builtin, but with bigger box there is bigger chance 
to custom build. Just in case I want to do this.

For a strict personal/close to the body stuff, I would rather design some 
cable-based and shielded solution, with optional wifi turned off by 
default (powered off, too). Optionally, as fiber glass goes down, some 
cables could be replaced with light.

So if I had to do this right now, with a goal of having this up and 
running in a month - RPi or better Beagle Bone, good usb cables (I wonder 
what it takes, to hand-shield a cable - alum foil and duct tape or some 
more?), some additional stuff that plugs well into usb host. Plus a 
tablet, plugged to this Beagle thingy, too. For wifi, maybe some usb 
dongle. For some more speed and stuff, perhaps some stripped off wifi 
router - I believe it's just a plastic box, so it doesn't shield or 
anything, can be safely stripped. All packed into the rucksack - sorry for 
this. For better protection, paper, foil and duct tape... Would need 
testing, checking in case it catches fire or something.

Anyway, all Linux based. So not very bad. Except the tablet. The need for 
tablet makes all this a dubious expenditure of time, money and energy. I 
mean, all this only to carry a camera with me? Ridiculus... But as I've 
seen some folks are turning old laptops into tablets, maybe this is a way 
to go. At least in such case I would have a say about what gets into the 
box. And a huge bonus, ability tu run Linux on bare hw, pc grade - with 
good floating point etc.

Just my 0.06 zlotys (with $/zloty exchange rate == 1:3 or something). I 
don't know if it makes any sense and even more, I am sure it doesn't. So 
don't blame me if your belt turns into ring of fire or something :-).

BTW, sd cards are getting cheaper and ssds are just overhyped sd/cf cards 
to me, so I don't bother.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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