Alpha Lantern Testing

This thread will include information related to the Alpha Lantern, which will be shipping out during the week of 15 August 2016.

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I am an early bird customer. Will the units have wifi and how many computers can feed off it?

Hi @Syed , I have received email about Alpha lanterns being sent out. In email it is said that if we are not scared to test this not-yet-complete product to register on this forum. Is this only thing we have to do to receive product? I’m looking forward to tinker with the device. Best regards from Slovenia

@merculiv There is no software-imposted limit to the number of wifi clients that the CHIP can support. However, it is basically a cellphone processor–definitely not as powerful as the Pi 3. The real limitation to the number of supported clients is in the processor’s capabilities. We’ve tested 8 devices, downloading large files at the same time.

@samob Yes, that’s all that needs to be done. As long as no one opts-out, I’ll send the Alpha Lanterns to the address we have on record (will verify first). Before then, I’ll take an Alpha Lantern apart and show the pictures here.

Will there be options for the Alpha Lantern team to purchase the completed batteries/molds?

Hey @Syed really looking forward to hacking on the alpha Lantern! You mentioned several problems in the alpha lantern testers email, like the temporary battery pack with hacky wiring. Are we going to be getting updated revisions of parts as you guys solve some of these problems or is it just the one device we’ll be using until release?

Will the finished product have improved physical hardware, or is it just mold tweaks at this point? I’m happy to play with half-completed hardware, but I’d rather not end up getting a slower devices as a result.

Yes, definitely. We’re building Lantern in a very modular manner. Several pieces are already commercially available. Once we finalize all of the components, the various pieces that you don’t have in the Alpha Lantern will be available for sale.

@Rob: Unfortunately, we won’t be able to send out updated components as unit costs and shipping would skyrocket for us. I completely understand if you’d like to opt out for right now. The Alpha Lanterns are really geared towards people who are more interested in the software than the hardware.

They will be some components that will be better, such as solar charging mechanism and data-access to the CHIP through the microUSB port.

The performance of the actual processing unit will not change. That we get form Next Thing Co–it’s their CHIP. It’s a 1GHz single core processor, which will not improve in performance for many moons to come.

Can I be involved in the the Alpha testing here in South Africa?

Sounds good.

@TonyWilk Hmm…you make a good point. These test units are going to backers of our IndieGogo campaign. Are you one of them? If not, then we it’s still possible to participate, as we are mostly doing software and satellite link testing.

I would definitely like to get involved in any linking up to satellites and software and content development in any way possible. I have an existing dish from our television service and would very much like to see if it it can be used or adapted for the lighthouse and this would also be a great opportunity to test the Lanterns reception from this area and I would probably try to use it in many areas all over S.A. Unfortunately I was not an IndieGogo backer but I am very passionate about the Outernet and I wish to become involved in any way I can.

Thanks for the quick reply! I do have a Pi3 I can probably mod it with some L-Band antennas and low noise filters at some point? You should have custom parts and or DIY kits to build a lantern via the Outernet store.

Just a suggestion. :slight_smile:

Hi, I didn’t get the survey. Does that mean I will be getting the alpha lantern?

@Syed: Regarding the enclosure shortage for Alpha Lanterns: can the enclosure be 3D printed?

In theory, it can. But it’s a really large part. Roughly 6" x 12". It will require a heated bed to prevent warping. But yeah, I can upload the .stl to GitHub, if you are interested.


I had a big project come up and had to put this aside.

I know nothing about current outernet recievers and such.

I received the parts in the mail. Do you have instructions for use? I know it sounds stupid but I can put pieces together, but then what?

Where do I point it? For how long? Will I just see some wifi? After I connect to the wifi then what?

Please help me with this.

Just was looking here:

Looks like everything I need to know. Just one last thing, can I extend the sat antenna out? If so, what cable can I use. Also which part of the sky do I need it to point at?

That link is a great starting point. You can also check out the user manual at

In particular, you’ll want to check out the DIY L-Band Receiver Manual