This is the beginning of a collaborative effort to build a comprehensive New Users Guide. One of the hardest things for "us experts" to do is know what you need to get things working.

Please take a second and write down the information that you need to get started. As we answer your questions please take a second to come back and update the page with new thoughts on what your next steps in gaining knowledge are.

If you all take a second to write down your questions, we will take the time to answer them. Hopefully everyone will benefit from this process and the end result. -- AdamShand

The New Users Guide

How To Connect To A Node

So you have a wireless card and are itching to use it, how do you actually connect to a node? Well it's really pretty simple.

  1. Make sure that your computer is ready to connect to an AccessPoint (same as it would be to use the wireless at home or work)..

  2. Set your ESSID to or "Any" (depending on your drivers it may need to be "ANY" or "any"). An ESSID of is preferred to make sure you connect to a personaltelco node and not simply a node in the area

  3. Come within range of the node. You can find out where they are using the node maps, once you're in the general area a WirelessSniffer or some WarDriving software will help you determine where the best location is. Typically this isn't needed though.

  4. Make sure that your computer connects to the wireless network (just like it would anywhere else) and that it got an IP address correctly (it should get one via DHCP).
    • On Windows this can be done by Clicking 'Start' then 'Run' and typing 'winipcfg'. Be sure to select your wireless card in the drop-down box.
    • On Linux you really should know how to do this so, 'man ifconfig'
  5. Open a web browser and try and go somewhere (you will be forced to our web page).
  6. Read the terms and conditions, if you accept them click "I Agree ..." to continue and get access.
  7. That's it! It really is rather simple. From this point on browse the internet as you would anywhere else, minus the indoor confinement of course.

The main difference from using a PersonalTelco node from any other wireless AccessPoint you may have used at home or at work is that we run CaptivePortal software called NoCatAuth. NoCatAuth uses your web browser to authenticate to the node. Once you open your browser and try and go somewhere the portal "captures" your session and forces you to our web page where we display the terms and conditions of use and show who is sponsoring the node.

If you have any problems using or connecting to the node please read the NodeFaq and if that doesn't help you might want to post to the MailingList. Be sure you let the list know where you were trying to connect, what your setup is (browser, OS card type), and even when it was if that's possible.

How To Set Up A Node

Just the facts.

You need a few things first:

If you purchase an external commercial AP, like a Linksys WAP11 or Orinoco RG-1000, you'll want to mount it as close to your antenna as possible. You can run ethernet cables longer with less loss than antenna cabling.

If you prefer to build your own AccessPoint using USB Wi-Fi card and have a sectoral coverage for some reason, this IDIOT PROOF design is interesting to implement:

If you're a Mac/Windows person

You're best off getting a cheap 486/Pentium and installing Linux to use it as the router/authentication gateway. (NeedsUpdate -- DanRasmussen)

If you're a Linux person

You're in luck. Them *nix skills will come in handy setting up the NoCat box, and you'll likely end up spending less in the long run. If you're the curious hacker type, you'll probably have much more fun too.

The Simple Table of Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down Ratings

It pays to do your homework when buying this stuff. This list should help you get started.

What Access Point Should I Buy

What PCMCIA Card Should I Buy

What PCI Card Should I Buy


Stumbling around the node

If you're really interested in finding out the coverage or gruesome details of the node you're on software such as Netstumbler, Macstumbler or Dstumbler. These software packages come in very handing for sniffing the invisible signals sent out by a node. Be careful with their usage though, since it is possible to gather information on networks other than PersonalTelco and they may or may not like that.

PersonalTelco does not recommend or endorse driving around, looking for open access points. All public nodes that are part of our network will be clearly indicated as such, with a NoCatAuth splash page and ESSID of

What Is MetaNet

Network Configurations

How do you set up DHCP? -- LonnieWormley

How many network cards do I need in my server? -- LonnieWormley

Do I need a switch or a hub or both? -- LonnieWormley

If you have a hub, it will do the trick. If you are buying new, the only real reason to buy a hub instead of a switch would be money. A switch has dedicated bandwidth for each port, but a hub has shared bandwidth among all ports. "Switching hub" generally refers to a switch.


Be warned that PersonalTelco does not provide WEP or any other type of encryption on any of its public nodes. Besides being an open network, wireless communication itself is inherently insecure. Please keep that in mind when using a public node. No assurances of security or protection of sensitive data are made.

There are ways to secure traffic over a wireless network. For the time being they are the same as those that exist for securing data on a wired network. SSH, SSL and IPSEC as well as various other methods do exist but their succesful implementation in a wireless network vary considerably.

I'm running a linux-based firewall. How can I include a public, wireless node and 1) keep the rest of my home machines safe from the wireless surfers, and 2) still offer some firewall protection to the wireless folks connecting via my node? -- DavidSmith

I've found a way to do this- I'm not using any Linux boxen in my setup just yet (going to make an attempt at creating a version of NoCat for Windows first) and here's how I've got it setup: DSL Modem->Linksys Etherfast Wired Router->Hub->Other Computers & Linksys Etherfast Wireless Router->Wireless systems
By using two routers, I get a firewall between my home LAN and the net, AND a firewall between my LAN the Wireless. I can use the filter in the 2nd NAT router to keep people from say, browsing shares on my LAN, yet still provide internet access to visitors to my house. -- TedSeeber

What are the virus etc risks? All sorts of stuff gets posted here, does anyone check it? AndrewCates


NewUsersGuide (last edited 2012-04-04 13:58:49 by DanRasmussen)