ThexBerryPi – A Raspberry Pi WiFi Repeater

Disclaimer: This is currently just a personal project, I don’t intend to release anything currently.

 

Recently I ran into the issue of subscription WiFi service that charges a per-device fee, basically after connecting to an open gateway you would see a captive portal page that offers you purchasing options or login if you have already purchased. If you log in and someone is already logged in with that username it boots you off immediately.

I have a good deal of devices and while they don’t all need access all the time I’d prefer to not have to log in each time I want to use one.

Worse yet I have some devices that are not able to complete a captive portal, such as a Chromecast. I don’t like leaving them out in the cold :(

On top of that sometimes wifi only works in that one magic spot, or works best in one particular area.

A standard wifi repeater solution will fix that last issue but not the first two, or the cost.

 

Essentially, the Pi runs a NAT. Boom: Problem solved.

Now all the traffic as far as the AP is concerned will be coming from the Pi, no matter how many devices I have connected.

Additionally, I can authenticate straight through captive portals from any device, and it will then be authenticated for all devices (since it’s really just authenticating the Pi’s MAC Address).

I wrote a small PHP website for scanning access points and appending new entries to the wpa_supplicant.conf as needed.

 

I didn’t stop there, though. I repurposed an old Blink(1) device and I bought a PiGlow board for it. The PiGlow board displays signal strength to the AP and number of clients connected, the blink(1) just shows a basic status of the device (helpful when first booting up). Both LEDs can be disabled through the website, to prevent annoying lights in a hotel room.

 

The Pi its self requires two WiFi antennas, one to be the AP and one to be the client. I attached a Plugable 4-port USB hub and some 90 degree USB adapters, attached it all with some velcro to the Pi (in a case). The Pi is powered via USB from the hub, so the entire thing only requires 1 cable (other than the 2 short USB cables from the hub to the Pi: one for power one for data).

Here’s a picture of it:

20150521_194645 - Copy

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How To Install Windows 7 from USB Drive (No Software Download)

There are a lot of guides on the internet for how to install Windows 7 from USB, and a lot of them involve installing questionable software from random websites that you don’t really need.

This is a great guide I’ve used for years: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_to_install_windows_7_beta_a_usb_key

Here is a condensed version of that step-by-step guide:

  1. Format & Partition your USB drive
    1. Open an administrator command prompt
    2. Run: diskpart and type the following commands (replace # with correct numbers)
    3. list disk
    4. select disk #
    5. clean
    6. create partition primary
    7. select partition 1
    8. active
    9. format fs=ntfs quick
    10. assign
    11. exit
  2. Download Windows 7 ISOs, Extract them to temporary folder and run (replace X: with correct drive letter):
    1. CD to iso folder
    2. cd boot
    3. bootsect.exe /nt60 X:
  3. Copy all files from ISO to USB thumb drive

Windows 7 ISO links: http://www.w7forums.com/threads/official-windows-7-sp1-iso-image-downloads.12325/

Windows 7 SP1 Media Refresh (SP1-U) Ultimate x64 English: http://msft.digitalrivercontent.net/win/X17-59465.iso

 

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Fixing an Across International 1.9 cuft Vacuum Oven for Deep Vacuum

So recently I’ve been working with a brand new Across International 1.9 Cubic Foot Vacuum Oven.

To measure a deep vacuum I use a Fieldpiece SVG-2 Digital Vacuum Gauge, it reads in microns of mercury.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to pull a vacuum that the digital gauge could read anything but OL (Over Limit).

I was using a 9 CFM Yellow Jacket SuperEvac Vacuum Pump and tried running it for 9 hours straight! No luck.

Then I opened the side panel of the unit and found this:
ai-before

From the internal shutoff valve there is a T-Junction to the Vacuum Outlet and a Gas Inlet on the back:

ai-back

 

From what I can tell there is only a little plastic cap between open air and my vacuum, no gaskets or anything..

So I  just removed the gas inlet connection, luckily the hose was just barely long enough:

ai-after

Problem solved! I can now pull a deep vacuum, no problems.

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1000′ Ethernet Cable Spool Tester Hack

IMG_20141119_140441

For those of us who crimp our own Ethernet cables testing to make sure the cable operates properly is just part of the process.

1000 foot spools of cable are very useful, and even cheap testers today are very convenient.

When doing long runs of cable you can save yourself some time and footwork by carefully opening your box of cable and finding the beginning, usually it is tied into a knot somewhere.

I cut the knot off crimped a head onto the end and fed that wire through the handle hole. Now I can test a new wire after crimping only 1 head on by putting my tester on the end coming out of the box.

Someone pointed out to me that 1000BASE-T networks have a maximum length of 100m (328 feet), well below the 1000 feet in the spool.. However, it seems to work fine for testing. This is probably not a good idea to use for anything else.

 

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Roll your own Dropbox

So recently I’ve been wanting my own Dropbox clone.

I wanted:

  • File storage for private documents
  • Cloud-based “access anywhere” style
  • Web + Mobile + Desktop clients
  • Direct linking public files
  • My own hard drives; No limits.

I tried a few solutions.

AeroFS seemed like it was really close to what I wanted…But it was so closed, operated on “magic” instead of logic…Bottom line I could not disable or run my own relay server without paying them thousands per month in license fees (according to an e-mail I got from them), so all of my huge files were being passed through their incredibly slow relay and taking days. Uninstalled.

Enter BTSync, a free Bittorrent-based syncing solution.  Essentially you give it a folder you want to sync, provide or generate a hash key for that folder, and voila you can share that folder with anyone else who also has that hash key.
It has a mobile client that works superbly, currently I set it to sync all of my photos to my desktop PC so they are just instantly available for me with no delays.It has a linux server that turns the entire solution into a cloud-based system if you have the infrastructure for it.

So far, it has been working brilliantly for me. Give it a try, it’s super easy to setup and works great.

 

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Thexcraft Custom Modpack

So I’ve created a custom modpack using Technic, it’s now super duper easy to get playing on our server.

The instructions are here.

I’ve created a custom Launcher background & logos, a custom mojang logo, a custom minecraft logo, and a panorama background of our starter town.

Check out the pics here:

http://i.imgur.com/uJNK4n6.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/3kuPe4N.png

http://i.imgur.com/PBT6xQw.png

 

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New version of Direwolf20 Pack

We’re now running on Direwolf20 Pack v5.2.1

Here are instructions on How To Install

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