Mesh Yourself Into Your Wi-Fi with Maxwell

Maxwell is the first open source mesh Wi-Fi solution to allow hobbyists and hackers to take full control of their home networks.

A new project for open source mesh Wi-Fi has quietly popped up on Crowd Supply and it's quite exciting. Most of us are familiar with the concept of having to use some sort of mesh Wi-Fi network solution in order to have Wi-Fi available throughout the entirety of our homes, such as using a bridge to create another access point in a space where the signal from the main router can't reach. The downside to using these out-of-the-box solutions however is that all of the protocols for the mesh networking are proprietary and closed source. The Maxwell project is runs an OpenWrt image to provide users with full and unfettered access to their networks to add/configure extra satellites to their network up to 17 mesh router nodes and 230 simultaneous clients.

Maxwell doesn't require any sort of Bluetooth to access or cloud backend like other solutions, it's secure and offers full transparency, which is necessary commodity in the age of dwindling privacy in the digital world.

Because a user has full access to the embedded Linux image running on the main hub, a simple SSH into it allows for the user to see what devices are connected to the network, the reliability of each device's connection, and when the device is connected. This also enables real-time reconfiguration of the network since OpenWrt has a fully writable filesystem with optional package management.

Given the recent reboot of the OpenWrt community in 2018 when they merged back with the LEDE community (Linux Embedded Development Environment), there is plenty of great support that will be available to Maxwell users along with active bug fixes rolling out regularly.

Maxwell will also be a great tool for teaching yourself the fine details of computer networking. The project is now live on Crowd Supply, ranging from a set of three dual-band nodes for $299 to three tri-band nodes for $369. Additional nodes can be purchased separately as well.

Whitney Knitter
Working as a full-time SDR/FPGA engineer, but making time for the fun projects at home.
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