About PNK (Portable Network Kit) Stand-Alone Communications Platform
A Portable Network Kit (PNK) is a collection of off-the-shelf consumer hardware that can be configured easily to make your own local Wi-Fi network. You can see and connect to a PNK from your phone or computer, just like any other Wi-Fi network.
The PNK connects devices in a small area – anywhere from one building or public square to about a half square mile if you add or “mesh” additional Wi-Fi devices to create a wider range. If you add additional kits, you can mesh them together to create an even wider range.
The most basic version of a PNK costs around $500 for the Wi-Fi gear and a couple of small chargeable battery packs. A more versatile kit to provide connectivity in an emergency can cost up to $3000 including large solar panels and high capacity battery packs. Also, as you add routers and access points to expand the PNK range, the price goes up, and each additional router/access point requires a power source (small battery pack).
Online and Offline Modes
> Online (global)
When you have at least one connection to the Internet, such as a working Ethernet cable or mobile tower, the kit can share that connection out so multiple people can use it to access the Internet.
> Offline (local)
When there is no connection at all to the Internet, the kit can work in island mode, sharing services and content from a local server (a tiny Raspberry Pi computer). Imagine a radio station that only reaches your neighborhood — except that instead of only broadcasting out from a central transmitter, everyone can both send and receive messages, files, and information using their phones or computers. In island mode you CAN’T access cloud-based services like Facebook, Gmail, or Whatsapp.
Have fun and we hope that people will adapt, customize, and share their own versions of PNK!