Maxwell Open-Source Mesh Wifi

Maxwell is the first “open” mesh wifi system that is flexible and hackable, but also easy to set up and monitor.

You’re all familiar with mesh Wi-Fi. The various wifi nodes connect to each other and spread the signal more evenly throughout your home or business – essential for covering a large area. There are many decent systems available these days, from Eero to Nest to Velop. But these systems are all “black boxes” – you have no idea what’s going on under the hood – what node is connected to which, how fast the connection between each is, etc. That may be fine as long as things are working well, but when they’re not, you’re stuck praying for an intelligent human on the other side of a technical support line (unlikely!). 

They’re also “inflexible” – the system is what it is and you can’t alter the software, add features, or modify anything. And they usually demand that you make an account with their company, give them some of your personal info, and hand the password/keys for your entire network over to them. Who knows what they’re doing on your network and with your data – and your wi-fi is dead if the company goes out of business or drops support.

Maxwell is an open-source wifi mesh system, based on OpenWRT, the world’s most popular open router OS, based on Linux. A pack of 3 dual-band routers, for $149, will blanket your home in wifi. Tri-band routers are also available for dedicated wifi backhaul. The system can be expanded up to 16 nodes and supports up to 230 clients. It works much like the other commercial mesh wifi systems, but you can ssh into any of your nodes, see what’s going on under the hood, and modify/hack the system to your heart’s content. Setup is incredibly easy – even easier than with the commercial systems. Just plug in the nodes, let them connect, and plug one into your router with an ethernet cable. You can then change the wifi SSID/password from a local webpage – only you have the keys to your network. Nodes can mesh over wifi, and they can also be hard-wired with Gb ethernet cable to each other – Maxwell nodes will automatically choose the best way available to send data to other nodes.

Another key feature of Maxwell is the detailed monitoring that’s made available. A local monitoring webpage collects data from the whole mesh and shows the current network topology, what clients are connected to which nodes, which nodes are connected to which nodes, at what speeds, on which wifi channels, and what path data will take from one place in the mesh to another. You can use this info to debug and optimize your network, adding nodes or adjusting channels where needed, to get the mesh working great.

Maxwell also lets you connect various different types of nodes together, so the system can be adapted to your situation. An outdoor, weatherproof, node is available for extending your mesh out to the farthest reaches of your backyard or pool. POE is supported, so you don’t even need a power outlet outside near your node.

If you’re thinking about upgrading to mesh wi-fi and want a system that works great and is under your control, consider Maxwell Mesh Wifi!