Broadband Hamnet

Broadband Hamnet


This is a system for creating an amateur mesh network by re-purposing old Wifi routers from the LinkSys WRT54 family. Not all models can be used, but there is a list of the compatible ones here:

I’ve just bought a couple from eBay, about £8 each including postage. Just check that the hardware version number (shown on the serial number label) is OK before you buy.

Linksys WRT54G

If you have any of these old routers spare but are not interested in this project, I’m sure that other club members could give them a good home.


The modification consists of loading new firmware according to this:

You probably don’t know the user name and password. So in order to first log-on, reset the WRT54 by pressing and holding the Reset button. Then connect a PC’s ethernet port to one of the WRT54’s LAN ports, and follow the instructions.

You can get the new firmware from here, under Linksys:
Choose the file that matches the model number of your router

Don’t forget to do the step where you set the node name. This is your callsign followed by a hyphen and a sequence number. I’ve got two nodes going now, so these are G1ERM-1 and G1ERM-2. No other customisation is necessary.

If you’ve completed the firmware upgrade, but the new http://localnode:8080/ page doesn’t appear after a few minutes, try unplugging the ethernet, or even rebooting the PC and router.
Here’s a description of the parameters on the localnode page.

Add HamChat

This is a chat room application that can be loaded onto the router. You can get it from here, under Linksys, then scroll all the way down.

To install, go to http://localnode:8080/
Setup, log in, Administration, Package Management, Upload Package, navigate to hamchat_0.1_all.ipk then Upload.

To access it, go to http://localnode:8080/cgi-bin/ on any browser on a PC attached to a modified router by an ethernet cable.

Multiple mesh nodes

You can also access individual nodes from another node by putting the node name in place of ‘localnode’. So from my shack’s PC attached to G1ERM-2, I can access the Status or HamChat page of G1ERM-1 at the top of the house.

For example,

  • http://G1ERM-1:8080/cgi-bin/ for the hamchat on G1ERM-1
  • http://G1ERM-2:8080/cgi-bin/status for the status page of G1ERM-2

External antennas

Annoyingly, the units use Reverse TNC sockets. An adapter to female SMA is £2.50 including postage here:

In Use

The nodes use WiFi channel 1 (2412MHz) and automatically link to other mesh nodes with the same SSID, which they all do as default.
I have to say I haven’t used it properly yet as I need someone else to connect to. However, I have connected between my nodes. G1ERM-1 is usually on now from the top of my house in the Old Town area. Please connect and leave a message!

Darren G1ERM.