Has anyone here attempted to build a HotNinja?

I re-discovered this when I was going through notes on my old phone before I wipe it. When I initially found it, I was looking for a wireless communication device without any infrastructure. I was thinking mesh network of some sort and p2p communications.

This is a standalone star network, which could work for very short ranges, but in my use case, I might as well just go talk to the person if I’m already that close.

Still, the HotNinja does serve a purpose, and one that I am somewhat interested in. As it explains on the link above, it could be useful for spreading propaganda. But since it’d be my propaganda, trying to tell people about inexpensive, non-corporate tech, that makes it good propaganda. :grin:


All of these wireless projects like and PirateBox seems to die out as fast as they pop up. It’s disheartening.

If anyone knows of any similar projects, I’d be interested in learning more about them, especially if they are actively maintained. Bonus points if it’s not just one person doing the maintenance!

So lets build a list. Any cheap, portable, wireless device that doesn’t require external infrastructure qualifies. I’ve seen some two-way LoRaWAN pagers and can add linms to the ones I know of when I get back to my computer.

If others here are interested in helpinb maintain any of the projects on the list, you are not alone.

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I remember looking at The Serval Project years ago and wondering about setting up some nodes for disaster communication. Different to Hot Ninja but sharing the 'punk attitude of creating a network and service outside of the usual corpo system.

And now you’ve got me thinking about it again…

I’m having trouble understanding exactly what The Serval Project does. I appreciate their goals, but is this a wifi thing, or a bluetooth network or some custom HAM radio thing…

Does it provide voice communications? Video? Just texting? Any could be useful, just trying to figure out what they are trying to provide.

It’s not encouraging that there has not been a single uodate in over a year and the developer subdomain doesn’t respond… hopefully the project isn’t dead, but if the other offline communications projects are any predictor… well it doesn’t look good.

Anyway, if you like this sort of thing, you will probably want to know about GitHub - UstadMobile/Meshrabiya: Virtual mesh network for Android that operates over WiFi if you haven’t heard of them already.

I found out about them from the Briar mailing list. And if you aren’t familiar with Briar, I think you will want to be. :smile:

The problem with wifi (as in, 802.11) is that it’s very limited range. I mean, if you’re within 100 feet of someone, you might as well just walk over and talk to them in most cases.

The dominate force in the long range (2km+ per hop) seems to be Meshtastic. There are some ad-hoc, non-mesh solutions, but they seem to last a few months before being abandoned. I just started getting into LoRa radios yesterday. They’re super cool.

What attracted me to Serval many years ago was that it didn’t need specialist hardware, any WiFi capable phone or computer could participate. The technology allowed for live voice calls whenever the mesh was able to find a live route between the participants. More importantly text messages and other data could be communicated using a store and forward system allowing communication over unlimited distances and without a stable live mesh connection between all participants. That combination of live communication and Pony Express style packet carrying seemed ideal for setting up off-grid or in emergency response scenarios where participants might drop in and out of the mesh depending on power/location/situation. I’d been looking at setting up a Serval repeater node (so anyone can leave a message and it will keep passing it on to other people accessing the node for a number of rebroadcasts) using a Raspberry Pi but never got around to it. Sad to see the project has apparently gone dormant.

Meshtastic is definitely the big noise right now, and seems to promise impressive performance. Unfortunately it’s pricey to use for a group as you all need the dedicated hardware, and it’s a live mesh so if you are out of range you miss messages. Maybe I’ll give it a go when funds allow.

Thanks for suggesting Briar. I’d not heard of it until looking to see if Serval was still live yesterday. I’ll check it out.

Yeah, projects that range from real time A/V to text messages to store & forward are pretty rare.

The closest thing that I am aware of which is under active development is GitHub - UstadMobile/Meshrabiya: Virtual mesh network for Android that operates over WiFi

It is very experimental, but they are just providing the mesh layer. You should be able to use all your normal apps (Jitsi, Matrix, email, etc.) with that if there’s a server available and all your normal p2p apps if not.

Like Serval, Meshrabiya doesn’t require any extra hardware and runs without requiring a rooted phone, so pretty much any somewhat recent Android device will do.