Dark Pi

Raspberry Pi based self healing modular darknet

About

Imagine a world where the internet is no longer free. Imagine a world where everything you do online is tracked, logged, and reported. Imagine a world where a thoughtless comment on a forum could get you fined, imprisoned, or even killed.

We aren’t there yet, and I hope we never are. But even in a brighter future, imagine free wifi anywhere in a major city. Imagine having slow but reliable communication with the outside world, even in the event of an emergency.

These futures are both potential environments for the application of self healing wireless mesh networks. Enter DarkPi, a conceptual device based on the Raspberry Pi.

The general concept: Package a Raspberry Pi with a lithium ion battery, a solar panel, an induction charger, a charging regulator, and a long range wifi antenna. Add an open source IDS such as the Bro IDS or Samhain. Configure so that it integrates to any open wifi hotspot within range.

The hoped for result: A wide scale, easy to deploy darknet that can provide easy communication in case of disaster, carrier specific filtering of sites, or even the need for anonymity, such as in a hostile country. The hardware under consideration is low cost, fairly simple to assemble, and hopefully fairly durable.

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9 Comments

  1. John says:

    I love the idea to use a solar panel. There are so many potential benefits of this technology, even aside from the ‘big brother’ reasons.
    Some additional links I found:

    http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-next-net
    http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=1140
    free book: http://www.intechopen.com/books/wireless-mesh-networks
    http://www.ptawug.co.za/
    http://www.open-mesh.com/
    http://hsmm-mesh.org/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FidoNet

    Looking forward to seeing the next update or news on how I can help (unfortunately I’m not a networking expert).

    • jakimfett says:

      I definitely agree with this being useful for alternate reasons. For example, in the case of an emergency such as the Katrina hurricane flooding a few years ago, emergency response teams could carry one or more of these units. With enough deployed around an area, an “alert network” of sorts could be established, or even provide survivors a way to alert family members that they are safe. Or, by placing them around in a 3rd world environment, you can provide easy internet access for developing nations.

      Thanks for the links, I don’t have time to look through all of them right now, but I know at least one or two of those links are in my “mesh networks” links folder on my desktop at home. I’ll get more info up once I’m no longer working from my netbook.

  2. OldGeek says:

    Thank you, sir. Many would be interested in your idea of a self-fixing mesh darknet. I’d operate a node here in Vancouver, if filtering, security, and technical considerations were tight. Please keep it up; if you can’t finish it, maybe someone else will build upon your partial start.

  3. David says:

    Hi Jakimfett, excellent idea for DarkPi – here in Italy this week we had quite a few deaths from earthquakes, the cellphone system went down and twitter was trending asking people to de-password their WiFi such that ad-hoc comms use could be made. A simple cheap darknet could well help in these situations.

    I just have to ask on behalf of other potential users – vulnerable activists in authoritarian regimes that are *not* being politically supported for regime change: why does DarkPi’s IP address resolve to 64.90.49.109 (amongst another 20+ sites) with a CA92821 postcode. Surely, as you are US based, you will have to comply with CALEA in any disruptive technology communications based sensor-network that you are designing? My Raspberry Pi type B would like to grow up to be a grey node!

    best regards, David

    • jakimfett says:

      David, I’m glad to hear that you are excited about this, and the use that you identified is exactly where this could be deployed by rescue crews or even just citizens to assist in the rescue and rebuilding efforts.

      Thank you for calling my attention to the issue of CALEA. As you noted, I am based in the USA, but my hope is that this will be considered a hobby electronics project, not “telecommunications manufacturing”, and as such will not be required to be wire-tappable. I put up a blog post specifically addressing this, and would love to get your comments on it.

    • jakimfett says:

      I had no clue something like this was out there. I’m browsing through the site, and it looks like this is exactly what I was going for. I’ll post a progress report going over what I’m thinking for the future of the DarkPi project.

  4. AJ says:

    What you need is a Pi image with a preconfigured install on it with everything you need to set up a mesh with the minimum of tools, headless/preconfigured to identify local nodes, with only power and some sort of USB based wifi tech? cheap and mass produced components which can be set up and deployed with the least effort/cost.

    • jakimfett says:

      Aj, that is indeed what I’m aiming for. Right now, I’m working with off-the-shelf hardware for the wifi capabilities, but my goal is a Pi expansion board for the wifi. I’m also intending to use the Pi model A, because there’s very little reason to have an ethernet port for something like this.

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