What is a ConnectBox?

disassembled box

A ConnectBox is a self-contained, self-powered, WiFi based portable media distribution system. It allows users to create a full featured ‘digital library’ from which media (text, video, audio, applications) can be shared on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops in an off-the-grid environment without depending on access to the internet or electricity. Any device with WiFi capability can wirelessly connect to a ConnectBox and access/download content with a simple web browser. ConnectBox will support over 16+ simultaneous 360p video streams/download sessions from different devices.

Where would a ConnectBox be used?

A ConnectBox acts as a local digital access point that isn’t capable of being restricted in traditional ways; allowing information to penetrate areas that would otherwise be unreachable. Educational materials, book study, language learning, audio programs, video content, text materials and applications can be delivered regardless of local internet connectivity or regional/national censorship. If you can provide power occasionally, a ConnectBox can provide the digital resources for learners. While internet access in many communities is unreliable or unaffordable, you can deliver important educational, healthcare and community resources without requiring users to incur additional costs; they connect with the devices they already have.

What is it made of?

A ConnectBox uses off-the-shelf commercial hardware, a custom PCB, custom printed case, a micro-SD flash drive, and software that when combined give you a small, low-powered webserver. The webserver acts as a captive portal, and delivers files that are stored on the flash drive or USB flash drives. It is based on freely available open source software that was developed by a number of different individuals and/or teams of people. It is available with build, connection, configuration and customization instructions for creating and customizing your very own ConnectBox. It runs a small Linux operating system on the hardware that can be tuned with added features and functions.

disassembled box

So how much does it cost?

The amazing thing about a ConnectBox is that it can be built for around $70 in hardware cost depending on the size of the storage space desired. Anywhere from 4GB to 512GB of storage space can be provided. With 64GB of storage space holding some 2,100 hours of audio or 270 hours of 3gp video or 96 hours of mp4 video content.

So what’s so unique about a ConnectBox?

  • Battery Powered – no need for AC mains, power adapters, external batteries. It is self- contained.
  • Its main menus are simple Icons which you can customize for your use. Additionally, more complex webpages can be developed and inserted as your requirements become more sophisticated.
  • It has large storage; capacity limited only by the size of flash drive attached. It contains on board storage space as well as a USB port allowing additional flash drives to be attached.
  • No internet service is required for it to be used.
  • No wires – it is based on creating a WiFi hotspot.
  • It fits into your shirt pocket.
  • No special applications are required on the devices connecting to it. Any device with WiFi and a built-in web browser will work.
  • The user interface dynamically scales to the screen size of the device attached.
  • Built-in administration interface allows for customization of the SSID, host name, WiFi channel and introductory text.
  • You can share any type of files easily.
  • Streams/downloads movies, music, audio files, photos, text files and device applications.
  • Built in statistics for users who have accessed the device and files downloaded/viewed.
  • Can be recharged by simple 5V micro-USB charger, or added external solar panels.
  • It can be branded to your own organizations liking.

ConnectBox Specifications:

  • Storage: Internal flash memory and/or external USB flash memory (fat32 format)
  • LED’s: Green-Power on, Red-Battery charging, Orange – Power Level, Ethernet access/speed (Green/Yellow)
    Orange Power Level: solid – battery full, blink once – 2/3 or more full, blink twice 1/3-2/3 full,
    blink three times – <1/3 full
  • Switches: Power On/Off
  • Power:
    • Internal 6000mAh Rechargeable 3.7 V Li-Ion Battery (59 grams)
    • 5VDC/1-2A external micro-USB connection
  • Usable Battery Life: 6-10 hours on a full charge (~560 ma/H or ~2 W/H) Charging Time: 4 hours’ maximum from empty
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.0 x 1.2 in (98 x 75 x 30 mm)
  • Wireless Standards: IEEE 802.11n (b/g/n)
    • Frequency: 2.4-2.4835 GHz
    • Support 64/128 bit WEP, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
    • Range: Typically 50m (160’) line-of-sight
    • Signal Rate: Up to 300 Mbps
  • Operating:
    • Temp 15C – 40C
    • Humidity 0% ~75% non-condensing
    • Storage: Temp -20C – 50C, Humidity 0%~75% non-condensing
  • Typical Storage Media Usage (depending on encoding & resolution):
    • 3GP format videos (176×144 pixel) ~500 kb/s
    • MP4 format videos (adaptable) ~1.4 Mb/s
    • MP3 Audio format ~64 Kb/s
    • 1-5 page optimized PDF ~200 KB / PDF
    • E book ~1 – 5 MB / book
    • Photo ~3.2 MB/ photo
    • MP3 Song ~3.5 MB / song
    • 5-min Web video ~20 – 30 MB / video
    • 5-min HD video ~300 MB / video

© Copyright 2017
by Global Tech Team