Meshing with Meraki

By Lachlan Hardy
2009h Monday, 15 October 2007 Permalink
Meraki Mini packaging

Meraki Mini Packaging: Lachlan Hardy

Given all the excitement caused by mentions in Mark Pesce’s phenomenal closing keynote for Web Directions , it’s about time I wrote something about my favourite bit of hardware, the Meraki Mini .

Lisa and I have been using three Minis for our home network for the last 6 months. They’re easy to install, fun to play around with and kinda cute.

Our previous access point (a Dynalink RTA1025W , an excellent bit of kit that still serves as our ADSL 2 modem, firewall etc) didn’t have the range to reach the front room of our house from the very back wall where our phone point is located. I’d been reading about some cool new wifi tech from a couple of startups: Fon , Whisher and Meraki . The latter sounded like it had less complications and dependencies, so I signed up for beta testing.

I bought three Minis because it was the default purchase bundle and I wanted to have some flexibility, but it turns out that two cover the length of our house quite nicely. The third typically ensures strong signal throughout our network, but it gets unplugged and moved around as necessary if we want that powerpoint.

Enough history, let’s set these babies up!

Installing a Meraki Network


Firstly, go buy your beauties . Choose Standard Edition if you just want to do your house or office. Pro is for those whose plans require either more control or billing. Note that Pro Minis cost $100 US more each. There’s no difference in hardware, but they’re charging you for the use to which you could put it (billing…)

Make sure to select the appropriate country type of power adapter when ordering. I spent a whole Sunday afternoon trawling Paddy’s Markets looking for cheap US/AU converters after my Minis arrived. They now offer Australian ones, as well as US, UK and EU, but they didn’t then.

Next, wait impatiently for them to arrive, refreshing the UPS tracking notifications every 1-2 minutes.

Packaging strewn everywhere

Excitement!: Lachlan Hardy

Once they arrive, leave work early, rush home, ignore your loved ones and tear the boxes open.

Put the little suckers together, making sure you’ve got all the bits. Record the IP, serial number and MAC address on the bottom/back of each one.

The Hookup

Configuration is easiest if you plug them all into one powerboard next to your computer. You can move them afterwards without a flutter - the joys of mesh networks!

Grab the Mini of your choice. It doesn’t matter which one, they’re all the same. Connect it to the net. This will be your gateway.

Mine’s connected in through the aforementioned Dynalink, but you can plug it straight into any kind of modem, firewall, router, patch-board or whatever.

Jump on your nearest computer, pull up your browser of choice, open a new tab/window and head to the IP address you recorded from your gateway Mini. Should be something like: This hosts the admin console for that specific Mini. The username is ‘admin’ and the password will be your serial number.

Here’s where you check your signal strength etc. You’ll need it later, when you spread them out. You can also register them to your network here, but it’s probably easiest to do them all in bulk on the main admin console.

A functioning Meraki Mini

Meraki Mini: Lachlan Hardy

Head to and log in to your account. Once you get over the fact that you just bought hardware that has a serious well-developed and reasonably designed site interface, go to the Configure tab and choose Add Nodes. From there, it’s just a matter of plugging in your order details and some MAC addresses (from the back of the repeaters).

You now have a mesh network!

(Okay, you already did, from the second you connected the first Mini to the internet. But now you can see it!)

Playing with Meraki Mesh

Spread your repeaters through the house, making sure you get them in good positions by checking signal strength in the console. Place them as close to windows as you can. Try to face them out into the world. Your place will be covered by proximity, anyway, so you want to make sure that your free public tier is available to as many others as possible.

Check out all the options in the console. Depending on which edition you bought, there are quite a few! You can place your repeaters on a Google map, make private networks, set bandwidth throttles, ban hoggish users, set up personalised messages and branding, analyse your usage data or device use and heaps more. There’s even an API that lets your publish your data ( here’s mine ).

Free The Net

If I know my geeks, and I’m damn sure I do, you’re now champing at the bit to get yourself some hot Meraki-on-Meraki action. That’s awesome. Do it !

But consider this, the true benefits of a mesh network don’t lie in making a sexy little hardware system for your personal use. The benefits come when you convince your neighbours to do it too . And then you and they convince their neighbours. And before you know it, you have free wifi network access at that cafe on the corner or that park around the block with the cool bench. That’s just the start of the vision Mark Pesce was talking about at Web Directions. That’s just the start of everything that’s coming.

Convince your friends. Convince your families. Buy them for friends’ birthdays. Talk to the folks in the local cafes, restaurants and community stores. Give one to your grandma. Tell the user groups you belong to.

Imagine if every web standards geek you know buys these. If every programmer you know does, or all the flash nerds, designers, producers, information architects, producers and usability consultants.

Wifi will be ubiquitous. The network will be everywhere, but who’ll own it? The corporates? The telcos? The government? What about the rest of us?

I’m calling on the people who give a fuck. Let’s make our own network!

Buy your Merakis. Keep the free public tier and leave it called “freethenet”. Make it available to as many people as you can. Place your Minis where they’ll do most benefit and tell everybody you know.

Make this happen. The people are the network. The network is our future. Free the net!


There are 26 comments on this post.

David McDonald
2235h Monday, 15 October 2007 Permalink

Yes, I want a couple of these babies badly … free the net!

Serdar Kilic
2301h Monday, 15 October 2007 Permalink

If I’m reading the website correctly it appears as though the standard edition carries advertising, whilst it’s an option to turn on/off on the pro/carrier models.

2313h Monday, 15 October 2007 Permalink

Let’s do it! I’m preparing a local leaflet drop :-)

2321h Monday, 15 October 2007 Permalink

They’re seriously cool, it’s made such a difference around the house and now that the weather’s getting warmer I plan to work outside… as soon as we get an umbrella!

Nice post btw. I know it might seem like I’m biased but all that aside, I really like your writing style. I wish you’d write more often :)

2351h Monday, 15 October 2007 Permalink

Also, it’s nice to see a company that’s put some effort into developing a quality product with quality supporting components like the site and online dashboard/console, the packaging etc … something that seems to be fading with the new beta fad where stuff gets thrown onto the Internet half-baked. I understand that innovation moves quicker now and there isn’t time to sit on an idea for too long or risk losing it to a competitor … nonetheless, these guys are showing you can successfully implement an idea and do it properly.

Tim Lucas
0034h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

Alright we gotta get this shiz happenin for Slurry Hills

Aaron Gustafson
0101h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

I joined FON a little over a year ago and have been really happy with it. I don’t use that network at home as I already have a beefed-up Linksys I use for internal stuff, but I have been giving neighbors, friends, and such access to the FON router’s public signal and I have used other FON routers while traveling. I like the service so much, I’m considering buying about 50 of the routers to give out to neighbors to create true community WiFi.

I hadn’t really heard much about Meraki until your post, but I may look into them as another option.

0654h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

Can you put a limit on traffic? So that if you’re the only gateway node for 50 miles that you won’t rack up 200 gig of traffic on your ADSL plan? :-)

Matt Allen
0853h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

Ok, so I thought we were geeky. You just trumped us.

Well done, maybe I can work from a dam in a far paddock with a mesh of these bad boys.

Nick Hodge
0926h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink


Well, ordered anyways. Thank the exchange rate!

Time to get Megan Gale UV cream on my face so I can blog outside.

Good evangelism @mpesce and @lachlanhardy

Jacqui McGirr
1136h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

I’ve got the same question as Nathanael B, being in the internet countryside as I am in Manly.

Dumb question from internet hick: If I shared the love here, all on me ownsome, for the beginnings anyway, would it just chew up my bandwidth?

And a ‘love your writing style’ from me too. Want more.

Andrew Barnett
1155h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

Can the advertising bar be turned off on the standard edition? I don’t want every site I view to have that superimposed or wedged in.

Apart from that, this is a product that I’ve waited years to see. If I had money, I’d order instantly.

The other thing I expect to see one day is peer-to-peer mesh on mobile phones, whether over wifi or even if phones could be persuaded to communicate directly with each other using the network frequencies and protocols.

Drew Robinson
1321h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

Lachlan: great post, us Perth peeps are organising our own Meraki Mob for over here (though it probably won’t join up much…), should be an order going in soon.

andrew barnett: check out Terranet in Sweden ( ), which is doing exactly what you’re talking about (with wifi and also current phone spectrum), though their product is only in early prototype phase and they only share information with “business partners” at this stage.

1332h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

i has meraki luv… can’t wait to get some running down elizabeth bay…

Lachlan Hardy
1546h Tuesday, 16 October 2007 Permalink

Serdar, the free tier has a small toolbar at the top for messaging and, yes, advertisements. In Standard you can’t turn that off - but your private tier (for your personal use) won’t have that

Nat, you can limit speeds (both up and down) for the various tiers. You can also block bandwidth hogs. You can’t automatically limit them yet, but I’ve had 32 users in the past few months and I’ve never come close to hitting my 20Gb limit…

I’ve already got over a dozen orders coming in so we can save on postage. Ping me at if you want in on the savings!

Otherwise you can go the brave route like Nick Hodge and pony up yourself. You’ll get them a bit quicker

0022h Wednesday, 24 October 2007 Permalink

Repeaters? Are you kidding me? Do you realize how slow a network would be if it relied on repeaters all over the town? And we’re talking about cheap ones here. Nice dream but there’s no way you can get any decent speed/bandwidth on a network if you just put repeaters all over the place.

0219h Wednesday, 24 October 2007 Permalink

Hmmm …. this is seriously cool. And maybe even easy enough for me to install!

patrick h. lauke
0455h Wednesday, 24 October 2007 Permalink

how does the idea of sharing your bandwidth/connection jibe with some ISP’s terms and conditions (namely not reselling/subletting bandwidth)?

Lachlan Hardy
1500h Wednesday, 24 October 2007 Permalink

Thanks for that injection of ‘can do’ attitude, Christian! I’m sure we’ll work something out.

Glad you’re interested, Mike. Let’s free NZ too! ;)

It’s a good question, Patrick. If your contract states that kind of thing then they’d probably argue that giving it away for free is against their terms of service.

I think many short-sighted ISPs would argue that.

I don’t have enough money to back everybody up if they tell their ISP to go jump, but I’ll say this. I don’t reckon they’ll notice for a while. Probably a significant amount of time

I’m not going to worry about it for now. I looked for such a clause in my contract and couldn’t find one, but that’s pretty irrelevant given that all such contracts all the provider to change the terms as they please.

The other thing I’d say is that I’d love for folks who have first-hand knowledge of such clauses, or who are contacted by their ISPs about this stuff, to share that knowledge with the rest of us. Forewarned is fore-armed and all that ;)

2017h Friday, 11 January 2008 Permalink

We have started FreeTheNet in New Zealand:

2138h Wednesday, 16 January 2008 Permalink

Meraki experience.

Hi, I thought I would share my experience with Meraki OUtdoor. I have two and fitted them with a 10Dbi omni-direction antenna, and then used Netsumbler to work out its maximum range. I got about 600m as the working average but the signal was definately no good at working its way around trees or buildings. The antenna I have is mounted on the roof of the house about 6m above the natural ground level and it is entirely flat country around me. To improve the signal to the 1km to 8km touted either requires a directional antenna or the addition of an amplified to increase the signal from 200mW. I think 4W is the maximum that you are allowed to use at home. There are a couple of calculators that will allow you to make an theoretical estimate of range.

1658h Sunday, 24 February 2008 Permalink

I have ordered 3 meraki mini outdoor units for use in adelaide. I am interested in modifying them – however Meraki has changed their EULA to ban modifying the software.

Can a product that is based on GPL code be allowed to have this clause?

Doesn’t that interfere with the “Freedom to Tinker” right the GNU Public License grants us?

I am interested to see if any other meraki users in australia have modified their units.

please explain
2148h Tuesday, 26 February 2008 Permalink

Hi to every body.

This is all great to hear that you can get free Internet excess. One thing i don’t understand if it’s free Internet why does the one that controls the network charges other users to have access. That not FREE. You still have to have Internet provider to have connection to Internet and you have limited megabytes of download. I don’t understand, if you have users using the network to excess Internet before you know it you have reached you limit on downloading.

How does one install Meraki minis. Do you have to have Meraki mini for every individual computer in that case each users has to by one, but when you go buy one you are advised to buy two. You are trying to promote a product that is not clear. Not everybody is computer literate and most people don’t really want to read 2000 pages of information on a product. Make it simple use an example of connecting other computers to the network and please by all means illustrations is the best way to go. I went to Meraki site and I could not find any simple information about this product. They can scream and say how great this is and if we all do it together we can change the way Internet is. For god sakes tell us what the fuss is about in simple language.

2058h Sunday, 02 March 2008 Permalink

I have 2 Meraki’s powered up in my home. 4 more on the way including the outdoor version. I am selling my unused bandwidth until I have paid off the hardware cost and then I am going to flick it over to ‘freethenet’.

Here is a blog post that talks about my experience with the Meraki: ‘Meraki promises, Meraki delivers’

0407h Friday, 23 May 2008 Permalink

Can I run this without an internet hookup?

I.e. a completely anonymous wireless mesh darknet for a dorm or college?

Lachlan Hardy
1748h Thursday, 21 May 2009 Permalink

Unfortunately, they require internet access to function. You cannot use them as a standalone wireless network.

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