Update 0.1 to The Cheap, Off-grid, Federated Communications, and File Sharing server.
Adding extra functionality to add security and media without the need for the internet.
This is an update to build on the decentralized file and communications server setup I put together. You can find the original article here!
So you have the barebones of information up on your off-grid communications server. You can talk to other people, they can download and read books. With a little more tech you can also add rechargeable security cameras and host your own off grid Netflix for anyone connected to your new network to enjoy. All without the need for an internet connection!
TL;DR: Add Wyze outdoor cams and a Plex mediaserver to add security and entertainment and education in an offgrid setting.
Human beings need something to do and not everyone has the ability to read well, maybe due to a physical or mental disability. Hosting videos can be a really good step to making sure the system is accessible and equitable for everyone to use.
The additions to the system are here:
Wyze Outdoor Security cameras
Plex server with your own library of videos and music
Adding wireless security cameras
Having been into smart home stuff for a while I had been looking for a smart home device that was not owned by Amazon or Google but also not super shady Chinese tech companies. Wyze makes very inexpensive Internet of Things (IoT) devices that have decent enough security (I tried to hack the firmware and its descent).
The bundle comes with the base station and one camera for $60
You can add up to 4 cameras to the system with each additional camera coming in at $50. Look at the website to see all the features. It really is cool, the UI is polished and has a lot of really good features out of the box that even $200 wired security cameras don’t have.
So here is the default diagram of what the decentralized server setup looks like to start.
The cameras need a wifi setup to really work but don’t need an internet connection after the initial setup. So after being set up online they will be able to work on a local LAN without the need of an internet connection, but do require a router to handle traffic. This is awesome because we already have a router to do just that!
Here is the setup guide for the cameras if you were too lazy to read it when you got them.
Boom! So we have a decentralized, encrypted communications server, along with a fully autonomous wireless camera setup. Each camera has a built in battery that lasts a long time. They just have to be in range of the base station. (You can boost the range of the basestation with tin cans over the build in antennas making a cantenna).
Not only that they have night vision and local storage too so if your base station goes offline you can still record activity in the area.
This setup is good for setting up around a camp sight or encampment to give an early warning to people with push alerts to any device on the network. You can share access to the Wyze camera feeds in the app too so you can have multiple people get notifications of movement, sound, or if a person is detected. If for some reason the base station goes down and you have local storage enabled and an SD card in you can still have events recorded on disk.
Now you have a way to communicate over semi-long distances with other people, share books and files and have a security system for the perimeter to keep people in a camp or encampment safe without the need for an internet connection and with cameras that can be setup anywhere.
Entertainment, Education, and Music
Next, you can add a Plex server to set setup to provide a way for anyone on the network to stream videos, movies, and music from a small Rasberry Pi microcomputer. You don’t have to use a Rasberry Pi, you can use any device that can run the server like an old laptop but a Rasberry Pi is small and takes little electricity to run so it is a good option for cheap and small scale stuff. If you have a car to put all of this in or a safe place you could run the server off a laptop or something larger, just have to think about power.
And a full guide and walkthrough on setting up a plex server on a Rasberry Pi
Plex is basically just the server that allows for streaming, you have to supply the server with your own videos and movies. I won’t go into details into downloading free media, but torrents and netgroups are where to start….ahem….
Get your media either ripped from youtube, your own digital movie collection, or downloaded from various places and either put it directly into the media folder on the server or on an external hard drive that you can attach to the server.
Now you can stream movies, shows, downloaded youtube videos and music to anyone on the network, all without the need for an internet connection.
You can also tether a phone to the AR150 router and give everything internet access if needed (Including the people connected to the router). This can be a cheaper way of giving internet access to a broad amount of people in a camp or encampment because you then only need one hotspot plan or phone plan to give internet to multiple people.
You also need a way to charge the battery that run all the electronics. I won’t go into too much detail because all of these things run off USB. You can charge battery banks to walls in shifts to keep things up or get a portable solar panel charger or a foldable charge station to keep everything running. That adds cost but if you are living in Texas specifically you should get a small solar-operated system anyways.