If this were a live FonBar, you would log in to the hotspot through the form above.

El Cheapo in production

August 28, 2006

Martin posts the first pictures in his blog of the long-awaited “La Fonera” (we affectionately call it the ”El Cheapo”) in production in Chinese sweatshop:

Martin Varsavsky- “The key feature of these Foneras is that they give out two SSIDs, two networks, one if FON’s and the other is called “My Place” and has a key that the FONero can share with
his family and friends.”


In other words, the dual-SSID firmware is for this router ONLY, and not for the Linksys routers. While we were not specifically told that the Linksys and Buffalo routers would never recieve this feature, we were told that fon was responding to our need for “dual-SSID FIRMWARE”. They kept their mouths shut and let us assume what we wanted until the last possible moment.



They also left out some other dissapointing omissions from the Cheapo’s specs. More to come in the entry documenting first recipient’s descriptions.

Interestingly, Martin’s previous blog entry is entitled “Are Americans more Gullible than Europeans?” :lol:


Working on better cooling

April 7, 2006

I have put a nice, flattish 2? heat sink onto the router’s cpu. The box im using is too shallow for a tall one. The heat sink gets suprisingly hot so I added a 12v fan. I’m more concerned than ever about heat now, so I have put off installing my router outside until I have devised a better cooling system that will survive the conditions. I’m probably going to build a forced-air system with tubes to guide the air across the heat sink and i’ll make an effort to put the router in the shade.

Too bad aluminum foil is out of the question!

Here you see from the dust buildup that my fan really is doing a bit of work. I took these pictures months later, and gave the fan and heatsink a good cleaning.

This little 12v CPU fan comes from a very old computer. It’s a bit smaller than the standard “small” CPU fan you see these days. I basically selected it because it was the quietest fan I had that would fit in the space. The heatsink is also much flatter than most others. I’m not sure what it came from since I have drawers full of used stuff like this.

Which WiFi Channel is Right For Me?

April 6, 2006

In North America, one should always use either channel 1, 6 or 11 because all of the other channels overlap the frequencies of adjacent channels. In other words, using channel 4 interferes with everyone nearby using channels 1 AND 6! If you live in Japan, you may also use channel 14, but if you live in some other countries, it may not be legal to use any channel other than 11.

Here’s a more complete chart of the channels and how they overlap. 1-11 are all that are allowed in the USA, 12-13 are also used in EU, and 14 is also used in Japan. Looking at the chart, notice that Ch 14 is not offset the same way as the other channels. This is not done just for illustration purposes here. Ch 14 starts on the same frequency that Ch 11 ends on, without the usual gap of 5 mhz, so that in Japan one can choose from FOUR different channels that (relatively) do not interfere with each other. 8)

The maximum number of available channels for wi-fi enabled devices are 13 for Europe, 11 for North America and 14 for Japan. In North America, only channels 1, 6, and 11 are deployed for 802.11b/g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi#Channels

The following chart indicates which channels may be used in a variety of countries:

Please note that this chart may no longer be accurate. It has been stated that Spain’s restrictions are much less now, however their terminology does not specifically address wifi channels and needs some interpretation. Please consult these resorces if you are interested:




Boosting the range of FON hotspot with a zoned router cluster

March 30, 2006

I was dreaming up a way to build a cheap, powerful, long-range omnidirectional AP while remaining under the power level required for “amateur” radio so I could escape licensing fees, etc., which the goverfink would demand.

I came up with a ring of 3 or 6 (or 9, etc.) separate household routers arranged in a ring and divided from each other by metal walls, like pie-slices. Each would be set to a channel other than it’s two neighbors (1, 6 or 11), and thus would be able to serve a narrow sector of area with far more range than an omnidirectional antenna alone could.

This might not work if the gov considers the overall wattage of an array of antennae, instead of just the max power of an individual transmitter. Does anyone know how they stand on this in the US?

Imagine the potential if someone lived atop a hill in a reasonably populated area and set up an array of XMAX APs this way?
This picture might represent the triangular zones each router would serve, showing how each one would still leave two channels available for private wifi networks in each area:


Thirty-six days after I ordered the router, they tell me it was shipped. I’d allready recieved it five days ago!

March 28, 2006

—– Original Message —–
From: “Movement FON” < info@fon.com>
To: “AustinTX” < austintx@fon.cjb.net>
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 12:03 PM
Subject: Order Update
> Movement FON :: Shop
> ——————————————————
> Order Number: 1xxxxx
> Date Ordered: Monday 20 February, 2006
> The comments for your order are
> Your order has been updated to the following status.
> New status: Sent
> Please reply to this email if you have any questions.

Humidity and temperature inside equpment boxes mounted outside.

March 26, 2006

I had an idea for making my own moisture absorbers out of coffee filters stapled shut with a few spoons full of kitty litter (mostly powdered clay) inside.

Another fear I have is what will happen when it starts to get hot outside. The router as manufactured has parts that are held in place using HOT GLUE!

I have a couple of spare 3v or 5v laptop cooling fans, and i’m thinking of ways I could use them to my advantage. One on the CPU with a heatsink might help a *little* even though the box will be closed. The surface of the box itself works as a heatsink. I might put another fan at a hole on the bottom to force an air exchange too.

Modifications: Power Over Ethernet (POE) 5

March 24, 2006

Here’s an overview of the POE “injector” adapter I built. As I said above, I could have put a DC power receptical into the side, so I would not have to cut the router’s power cord, but I was impatient. I reattached the DC plug though, so I can still plug it straight into the router if I am no longer using POE.

Here is a closeup of the converted ethernet cable extender. This was the best shot I could take of it, i’m sorry for the poor quality. The wires inside are not twisted-pair, which is why it is never recommended to use these. You’ll never get 100Mbits across that gap, but i’m sure it will be no problem for sharing the typical 1.5 – 4Mbit internet connections (in the USA).

The left side is the “energised” side which connects to the cable leading to the router. The right side, leading to the cable/DSL modem is physically disconnected from the DC power because those 4 wires are simply cut off. I didn’t bother insulating the soldered wires because I found that when I stuffed them into the corners and snapped the adapter shut, they stayed put. Ordinary POE solutions involve building TWO adapters, but my substitute for the “extractor” adapter was soldering jumpers on my router circuit board. The white-striped wire from the AC adaptor was the positive (+) side. I just used a power drill to make the hole for the DC wires.

For an even better tutorial on building your own POE kit, let me direct you again to one of the best I have seen anywhere:http://www.nycwireless.net/poe/

Good luck with your projects, and have FON!

Modifications: Power Over Ethernet (POE) 4

March 23, 2006

jwardell: I wonder though if that power rating is assuming the default 28mW broadcast power, and how much more it does in fact use if you set it to 300mW.

Good question, but from what i’ve read, there is little to gain from boosting it beyond 70, which is still safe in regard to generating extra heat. If you set it to 300, you might get people to pick up your SSID from a mile away, but their poor little laptop wifi card doesn’t have the same power to broadcast back to it!

I’m still “bench testing” my modified router set to 70mW, and with DC power running through an 80 foot ethernet cable. The power supply is barely warm, so I know that even after the extra resistance, the p/s is not under any strain.

Modifications: Power Over Ethernet (POE) 3

March 22, 2006

I was thinking that i’d really love to put one of those ethernet-connected webcams up there with the router, for a high-up, panoramic view of the yard. Too bad they’re too expensive right now. If it runs on 12v, I might even power it off the POE too, as the standard 12v power supply that comes with the router is actually more than twice as powerful as it needs to be.

Modifications: Power Over Ethernet (POE) 2

March 22, 2006

I’m not sure this will be my permanent enclosure, because it’s not as watertight as I would like, but it sure does look cool. Too cool, in fact. I think I may have to put black electrical tape over the lights because they would look too conspicuous in the clear box, in the dark, up in the tree where you can see it for a couple blocks all around.

This is a tackle box, for holding fishing supplies. It has dividers molded in the plastic. I marked the outline of the router onto the top of the dividers and then cut those walls down *halfway*, giving the router a snug fit and an “embedded in ice” look.

The only external hole in the case is on the bottom. I’ll seal it on the top and sides, but leave the whole bottom unsealed just in case water does manage to drip inside, so it can quickly run out again. This will also act as pressure relief for when the air heats and cools.

I took care to give the ethernet cable gentle curves and so it goes through slots in 3 places in the divider walls. The whole thing is light enough that I feel comfortable hanging it from the ethernet cable itself, though I will need to build some kind of tension-relief for the part that drapes over the top of the tree limb. It does not really matter to me if the cable eventually breaks; it is very old and it is only CAT4 anyway. It was salvaged from a Motorola laboratory 10 years ago. It was probably state-of-the-art when installed there :)

We’ll see how this goes. If I decide to put the router up looking like this, I will seal the edges with a glue gun, or perhaps epoxy. I am also aware that I have a very irritating squirrel up there, so I hope he does not chew on it!