Friendly Neighborhood Hotspot

Free Public WiFi! Free Public WiFi!

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I have a 25Mbps internet connection at home. But I almost never saturate it, and of course when I'm not home, all that bandwidth goes to waste. Why not help out my neighbors by providing a free access point?

The plan is to hang this spare 802.11b router off my main access point, set it up for "Free Public WiFi", and let anyone connect to the Internet to check their email or look up directions or whatever.


The idea for this setup came from reading a post a while back on, which paints a Utopian vision of a world in which free WiFi is everywhere and you never have to use your data plan to check your email. Well, I have a spare router, so let me join your revolution!

What about users doing illegal stuff?

Well OpenWireless says I'm probably safe, so that's good enough for me...

Why post to

Because part of this project is replacing the existing rubber-ducky antenna with something better designed for neighborhood coverage! I want to serve the block, not just the next-door neighbors.

  • 1 × Netgear MR814v2 Spare router
  • 2 × Female N Connector For linking the router to the new antenna
  • 1 × Male N Connector Used for new antenna
  • 1 × Length of thick copper wire Antenna
  • 1 × Short length of PVC, with endcaps Antenna radome

View all 6 components

  • Troubleshooting...

    Greg Kennedy02/29/2016 at 03:56 0 comments

    And now for the main reason I put this post on it doesn't work.

    Well, at least, I don't think it works. After rigging all this up and plugging it in, I'm not seeing any appreciable increase in distance. In fact, I think I may have made things worse. I seem to get the same distance whether I've plugged the antenna in or not.

    It's not a bad connection. Multimeter in connectivity mode gives the good beeps, 0ohms resistance, from inside the router board all the way to the tip of the antenna. Well, it could be connection issues, as in something intermittent or not shown by my simple test, but I'm not sure.

    It's not the radome either (I think). Just using the bare wire doesn't make it go any further.

    So... how in the world do I fix this? I don't even know what I'm testing for. Keep in mind my tools are limited (multimeter, tablet with WiFi Analyzer installed). Bad impedance match in the connectors, feedline, etc? How would I check that? Wire lengths wrong? How close do they have to be, really? I'm just thoroughly stumped here.

  • Modify the Router

    Greg Kennedy02/29/2016 at 03:48 0 comments

    Remove the existing antenna. The idea is to put on a jack so I can connect antennas myself. Since N type connectors seem to be the go-to these days, here's my fancy hack job.

    The existing antenna line was removed and wired to the connector instead. Still needs to be bolted to the body after some plastic cutting.

  • Build an Antenna

    Greg Kennedy02/29/2016 at 03:42 0 comments

    Time for fun hardware stuff. Hop over to this page:

    and build it. This is a design for a 2.4ghz "collinear antenna" using twisted copper wire. Exceedingly simple, just solder one end into your N connector, make a couple turns, and stuff into PVC pipe.

    Here's mine. I went with the "longer dimensions" version for MAXIMUM COVERAGE.

    In all its glory:

    Close-up of the wire soldered to the cup:

    Close-up of a couple twists:

  • Router Setup

    Greg Kennedy02/29/2016 at 03:26 0 comments

    Configuring the router is pretty simple. I have a fancypants real router that does all my internal home connection, and so I just use this one as a bridge.

    Configure the SSID as "Free Public WiFi". Disable DHCP, let the main router hand those out. Make sure to disable wireless admin access and also setup firewall rules on Main Router to prevent these clients from getting into the internal network.

    Did you know: if you do happen to have one of these routers (MR814v2), you can actually flash the v3 firmware to it? This will enable WPA-TKIP. Read more here:

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Die, Master Monkey! wrote 02/29/2016 at 04:23 point

The perception of such a danger is why these must be installed in every neighborhood everywhere! ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no

tomwsmf wrote 02/29/2016 at 01:47 point

Over 16 years of  serving up free community wifi to the city of Portland and they have only had a few cases of folks being  buttheads. Be safe but do not stop sharing. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ian Klatzco wrote 02/28/2016 at 20:04 point

Aren't you concerned about some naughty someone downloading things they shouldn't be on there?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Greg Kennedy wrote 02/29/2016 at 04:04 point gives me some reassurance that I would be OK...

  Are you sure? yes | no

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