Portable Internet Mesh Node


I’ve found myself in a few situations where I wanted access to the mesh, but I only had an Internet connection. Usually the available Internet connection is wifi only. Currently there is not out of the box AREDN setup that can do this so I made up this little gadget. It is an Air Router with Air Gateway that connects to wifi Internet, and a TP-LINK access point for wifi to the LAN side of the Air Router. I have Mac Book and usually don’t have my Ethernet dongle with me. This lets me connect via wifi to the LAN side on the Air Router that has a tunnel connection to the mesh using a wifi Internet connection. I can even tether the Air Gateway to my iPhone hot spot and get on the mesh anywhere I have cell service. Pretty slick.

Here are the components you need to build this for yourself:

Air Router HPAir Router that you will flash with AREDN.
Air GatewayConnects the Air Router to wifi Internet.
TP-LINK APWifi AP to connect your laptop / phone to the Air Router LAN.

First thing to do it power up the TP-LINK access point and configure it in AP mode and setup a SSID, password, and static IP. Connect your machine to the Ethernet port of the TP-LINK and browse to http://tplinklogin.net or
Default login and password are both admin. Once logged in select Working Mode and make sure AP is selected.


Click on Network -> LAN. Note the MAC address. In your AREDN node go to Setup -> Port Forwarding, DHCP, and Services. Add a DHCP reservation using the MAC address of the TP-LINK. Enter the IP address from the DHCP reservation into the TP-LINK IP Address field.


The TP-LINK will want to reboot after you click Save. Once it has rebooted, click on Wireless -> Wireless Settings.


The TP-LINK will prompt you that a reboot is needed. Don’t reboot yet, we have a few more settings to do. Click Wireless -> Wireless Security and enter a password for wifi.


Now click Advanced Settings -> DHCP -> DHCP Settings. Disable the DHCP server.


Now click Maintenance -> System Tools -> Reboot. You TP-LINK is ready to go.

Next login to the Air Router. I have a saved configuration you can download here with everything ready to go. You just need to change the IP to one you assign on the LAN in the Air Router and then connect it to your wifi Internet.

The Air Gateway is perfect for this since it connects right to the POE for the Air Router and has 2 Ethernet ports. We configure the radio and one Ethernet port on the Air Gateway to be bridged together. This gets the wifi Internet connection to the WAN port of the Air Router. We connect the second Ethernet port on the Air Gateway to the LAN side of the Air Router. This lets us login to the Air Gateway when we connect to the LAN side of the Air Router to change its settings for the wifi Internet. This way you don’t ever have to mess around with the cabling. Just power up, connect to the TP-LINK AP with your laptop, login to the Air Gateway and connect it to the wifi Internet.

Here are some screen shots of the Air Gateway configuration:





Connect everything up like in these pics:




Plug the TP-LINK AP into the USB port on the Air Router for power. Now you just have 1 power cord to plug into the wall.

This has been pretty useful for me at club meetings, on the road, hotels, etc. If you have any questions on getting yours setup leave me a comment.

One Comment

  1. Derek Eggers June 28, 2016