Mesh WiFi systems have taken off in the last few years, with pretty much every company that makes routers offering a mesh option or two. But they tend to be on the pricey side, since you typically have to buy two or more devices to get the most out of a mesh system. And like most routers, they tend to run proprietary software.

FreeMesh is designed to be an open source, relatively inexpensive alternative.

For $150 you can pick up a FreeMesh WiFi router and 2 nodes that run an open source operating system based on OpenWRT.

By comparison, an Amazon eero mesh WiFi 3-pack normally sells for $249 (although it’s on sale for $190 at the moment). A Google Nest WiFi 3-pack will set you back $349. Netgear and Linksys have options that cost even more.

The closest price I could find for a mesh WiFi 3-pack was the TP-Link Deco M5, which sells for about $180.

As for software, you could theoretically find an OpenWRT-compatible router and flash the open source firmware yourself. But it’s a lot safer and easier to buy a gadget that comes with the software pre-installed… and according to LinuxGizmos, the FreeMesh router system seems to be the only options for a mesh WiFi system that comes with OpenWRT-based firmware at the moment.

Like any mesh WiFi system, the idea is to set up a network of devices to extend your WiFi network across a large space. You can set up the router in one room, but then put nodes throughout your house to ensure consistent wireless speeds.

As for hardware, the FreeMesh router is bigger than the nodes, has a faster processor, and also features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, compared with the four 10/100 Mbps ports found on the FreeMesh nodes. So if you want a fast wired connection, you’re probably going to want to put the primary router in the room where you’re most likely to need the 10/100/1000 Ethernet.

Here’s a run down of the hardware for the router and nodes.

FreeMesh router

FreeMesh router

  • CPU: 880 MHz MediaTek MT7621AT dual-core MIPS-based processor
  • ROM: SPI 16MB
  • RAM: DDR3 512MB
  • Antenna: 2x 5dBi 2.4GHz, 2x 5dBi 5GHz, 2x 3dBi 3G/4G (built in)
  • Protocol: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac dual band (2.4/5 GHz)
  • Interfaces: 1x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN (Auto MDI/MDIX), 4x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN (Auto MDI/MDIX), 1x USB 2.0 ports, 1x Micro SD Card Slot, 1x SIM Card Slot
  • Button: Reset
  • LED: Power, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, WAN, LAN1, LAN2, LAN3, LAN4
  • Power: DC 12V 2A
  • Size: 11 x 9 x 3 inches
FreeMesh node

FreeMesh nodes

  • CPU: Single Core 580MHz MediaTek MT7620A
  • ROM: 16MB
  • RAM: DDR2 128MB
  • Antenna: 2x 5dBi 2.4GHz, 2x 5dBi 5GHz
  • Protocol: 802.11a/b/g/n dual-band (2.4/5 GHz)
  • Interface: 1x 10/100Mbps WAN (Auto MDI/MDIX), 4x 10/100Mbps LAN (Auto MDI/MDIX)
  • Button: Reset
  • LED: Power, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, WAN, LAN1, LAN2, LAN3, LAN4
  • Power: DC 12V 2A
  • Size: 2 x 3 x 1 inches

via LinuxGizmos and CNX Software



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3 Comments

  1. Neat. Now if we can flash the node firmware onto a bunch of old routers, and if it is indeed possible to join multiple central routers to the same mesh, you might just be able to leave a bunch of those things lying around and cover entire neighborhoods in a single wifi network which also works as a neighborhood-wide VPN with a ton of exit nodes.
    Telecom companies, media companies, and the FBI will hate you and will probably just forbid anyone from using a non-telecom-provided router ever again if you do though.

  2. in Poland I cant using mesh, my internet are my. I cant put internet for neightbor
    I can share internet

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