Wi-Fi as Ministry | Part 4: BibleBox
TP-Link devices: Make a BibleBox
There are several models in the TP-Link Wi-Fi router series that can be used for Wi-Fi outreach. Of the various models, eDOT has experience developing both the TP-Link TL-MR3020 and the TP-Link TL-MR3040. The difference between these models is that the 3040 includes a rechargeable battery in the device, making it significantly more mobile than the 3020 model. The term “BibleBox” has been coined to describe a 3040 Wi-Fi device that has been re-programmed for outreach.
This Wi-Fi device offers more flexibility for content. The 3040 model is available for about $30, making it one of the cheapest options of Wi-Fi outreach available. Mobile devices can link to the BibleBox using a web browser to view or download content.
Although this option is most likely the cheapest option available, this method does require re-programming the device. This programing process is not for the timid, so if the thought of re-programming a device and possibly having to reset it scares you, seek another option.
- Support for several simultaneous devices (7+).
- Support for multiple document and media types.
- Support for multiple simultaneous streaming devices.
- Content from the BibleBox can be accessed through any device with a web-browser. The BibleBox creates a strong and secure container for your content.
- A 3040 device.
- Appropriate software to re-program the device (see below for specifics of both software needs and instructions to re-program the device).
- A micro-sized USB drive (SanDisk Ultra fit USB 3 recommended—although this specific model is not necessary). eDOT has used several types of USB drives to build a BibleBox, and other than the convenience of size (amount of space available for content) and speed (both of loading new content and of re-programming the BibleBox), has not seen any performance issues with USB drives.
- Ability to follow instructions.
- Patience as the re-programming process is being completed. Please know that the speed of the re-programming is dependent on the computer used to re-program the 3040 and the speed of the USB stick. In our experience, Mac computers are generally the fastest at the re-programing process, Windows computers are on a spectrum, and Chromebooks are the slowest. The SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 will significantly reduce the time needed to re-program the 3040, as well as reduce the time needed to load content, but it will add additional cost.
- This is one of the cheapest Wi-Fi for ministry solutions available. The 3040 is very robust and supports a fair number of simultaneous users.
- The 3040 enables robust security so that users should not be able to hack the system.
- The 3040 allows for local and temporary chat-room capabilities. In some contexts, this may be a bonus.
- This 3040 solution produces a device that is very discreet in size but powerful and able to serve a wide variety of content to mobile devices.
- Technically, this solution requires some effort to produce a BibleBox. The documentation has been tested, and solutions are available if a problem arises. Patience is by far the single biggest necessity when producing a BibleBox.
- The BibleBox is recommended because it offers the lowest-cost solution. Creating a BibleBox is significantly more complicated than the AirStash. Once created, the BibleBox is easy to maintain and allows more devices to connect simultaneously.
These instructions are based on the information given on the website: biblebox.org/makeyourown/. If you experience any difficulties during the process, please consult the BibleBox website, as the site contains solutions for any problem you might encounter. Remember, PATIENCE is necessary in this process.
Please follow the instructions to the letter. In eDOT’s experience, the most frequent cause of problems is impatience, and not waiting until the device is flashed properly.
Gather the BibleBox Hardware
- Portable Wi-Fi router – the 3040. Determine which hardware version you purchased as this will determine which firmware version you will need to download in the next step. The hardware version information is shown under the battery of the 3040. Most frequently, you will have purchased Version 2.x of the hardware.
- USB memory stick (micro size recommended) formatted as FAT32. Preferred device is the Sandisk Ultra Fit USB 3 drive.
- You will need access to a computer that has a functional network port (RJ45). Some newer computers lack a network port, but will have the capability to emulate a network port with a dongle. For part of the installation, you will need access to a network port to connect directly to the BibleBox hardware.
Download the BibleBox Software
Download the following files to your computer:
- An OPTIONAL step: on your computer (in the downloads or documents folder), create a new folder called “BibleBox.” This folder may then be used to store all the files you will download and unzip for the completion of the BibleBox.
- Openwrt Version 2.x. This is new firmware for Version 2.x of the The following link will download a 4MB file called openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-mr3040-v2-squashfs-factory.bin. Download that file by clicking on this link: Ver. 2.x Openwrt.. If you desire, you may download that file into the optionally created BibleBox folder of your computer.
- Openwrt Version 1.x. This is the new firmware for Version 1.x of the 3040. The following link will download a 4MB file called openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-mr3040-v1-squashfs-factory.bin. Download that file by clicking on this link: 1.x Openwrt. If you desire, you may download that file into the optionally created BibleBox folder of your computer.
- LibraryBox files: this is the basic software for the BibleBox. The link will download an 11MB file. Download that file by clicking on this link: Librarybox Files. If you desire, you may download that file into the optionally created BibleBox folder of your computer.
- BibleBox files: this download alters the functionality of LibraryBox and rebrands that software as BibleBox. This download also contains some basic files to use in outreach. Download the file by clicking on this link: BibleBox files. If you desire, you may download that file into the optionally created BibleBox folder of your computer.
Build the BibleBox
- Open the packaging of your 3040 Wi-Fi router and charge it, either by plugging it into a USB slot on a computer or through a USB charger (possibly for another device or in your auto—if so equipped).
- Ensure the USB stick you are using is formatted as FAT32 and contains no other files. During the format process, label/rename the USB stick “BibleBox.” Leave the USB stick in your computer as we will copy files to it in just a minute.
- Locate (usually in Downloads folder or the BibleBox folder you created) and unzip the file called install onto your computer.
- Locate and copy the unzipped install folder and the openwrt firmware file onto your USB.
- Eject the BibleBox USB from your computer.
- Plug the BibleBox USB stick into the 3040’s USB port.
- Make sure the 3040 mode switch is set to WISP. This switch is on the opposite side of the router as the power switch and power plug. Once you change the mode to WISP, you will NOT change it to any other setting. Leave the mode selection on WISP.
- Connect the power supply to the 3040, and using the supplied ethernet cable (in the 3040 box), connect the 3040 to your computer. You should turn off your computer’s Wi-Fi and disconnect from any network to ensure a clean connection to the 3040. If you do not know how to do this, please perform a Google search for your your computer model, including the phrase “turn off wireless.”
- Turn on the 3040.
- Ensure your computer’s IP address is 192.168.0.2. The subnet mask should be: 255.255.255.0. This check will show you that your computer and the 3040 are able to communicate. You may need to check the internet to determine how to check the IP address for your specific computer.
- On your computer, open a web browser and navigate to 192.168.0.1 – this is the 3040 default IP address.
- When prompted to login, use the default 3040 username and password; username = admin, password = admin. The 3040 web admin screen will open.
- Navigate to: System Tools > Firmware Upgrade, and from your computer browse to and select the openwrt firmware .bin file for the 3040 (downloaded earlier).
- Click the Upgrade button and click OK to confirm the upgrade.
- BE PATIENT!! Failure to allow this step to complete is the single biggest cause of failure to re-program the 3040. The browser window will indicate that the 3040 upgrade has finished, but WAIT, the upgrade process will take at least 10 minutes (in other words, the progress bar shown in the browser window does NOT show the actual process of the upgrade). The length of time will depend on the speed of your computer and the USB drive. During the firmware flash DO NOT unplug the power or ethernet cable from the 3040 or computer! Don’t be fooled by LEDs flickering or staying off – be patient and wait.
- Prior to this step, make sure you have either a printout or have an active web-browser screen that explains the steps to manually change your computer’s IP address. After waiting at least 10 minutes,change your computer’s IP address to 192.168.1.2 and then, using a separate page within your web browser, access the 3040 by typing in the address (everything inside the quotes): “192.168.1.1”. If the LibraryBox page appears, the installation is complete. If it doesn’t, wait a few more minutes.
- Do not proceed until the LibraryBox page appears (pictured here), confirming that the installation and re-programing is complete.
- Once the 3040 has finished the firmware upgrade, turn it off and remove the USB drive and ethernet cable.
- Make sure to remove the manually added IP address (192.168.1.2) from your computer. You should also resume using wireless networking on your computer.
- Put the BibleBox USB drive back in your computer.
- It is now time to add BibleBox customization files! On the BibleBox USB browse to the folder named Librarybox. Inside that folder select the following folders – Config, Content, Shared – and delete those folders.
- On your computer, unzip the install_BibleBox file you downloaded to your computer. This will produce 3 folders – Content, Config and Shared.
- Copy these three folders and their contents to the “Librarybox” folder on the BibleBox USB.
- Now you are ready to copy your files for sharing to the /BibleBox/Shared There is a starter folder of shareable files available to download here (100MB, mixed files – audio, video, text, images).
- You can copy various media types into the different folders in Shared, or just place them into the Shared folder itself.
- Put the BibleBox USB back into the 3040 and turn it on. The Wi-Fi router may take several minutes to start up and be ready (again, depending on the speed of the USB drive you purchase).
- Join the “BibleBox files” SSID (select it from the available wireless networks) and in a web browser navigate to BibleBox.lan. You will now be able to view the content on the BibleBox!
- Check out how your mobile device handles the various files you are sharing on the BibleBox.
- Your BibleBox is complete!
Securing Administrative Access to the BibleBox.
Now that your BibleBox is setup you should secure access to the administration of the BibleBox router. This process secures access to the settings of the device. If you desire, you can also set the date and time of the device.
- Turn your BibleBox on.
- Using the same method you use to connect to any new wireless network, connect to the “BibleBox files” Wi-Fi SSID with your laptop. Once you are connected to the BibleBox files wireless network, telnet into it (on a Mac use Terminal, on a Windows machine try PuTTY) by typing the command: telnet 192.168.1.1
- Run the BibleBox advance setup script by typing: box_init_setup.sh
- Then simply follow the instructions to set a password. If you take the time to set a password, make it memorable and secure. If you use a password manager (a good idea), allow that program to select a strong password for this device. Here are two links that will help you develop secure and memorable passwords (these sites suggest a minimum length of 8 characters, our general recommendation is a minimum of 12 characters):
- Select option 1 for Setting Password and Enable SSH.
- Once you’ve setup your password you will login to the BibleBox via SSH: ssh firstname.lastname@example.org
- Now your BibleBox is secure with your chosen password.
- While here, select option 2 and set the date and time.
Secure BibleBox Network with WPA2 (PSK)
Follow these steps to protect access to the administration pages of the BibleBox with WPA2 (PSK) encryption. This step will require the use of Terminal on a Mac or PuTTY on a PC:
- SSH into the BibleBox with this command: ssh email@example.com
- Type the following sets of commands (you may want to copy these commands directly into Terminal or PuTTY):
- root@OpenWrt:~# uci set wireless.@wifi-iface.encryption=psk2
- root@OpenWrt:~# uci set wireless.@wifi-iface.key=”your_password”
- root@OpenWrt:~# uci commit wireless
- root@OpenWrt:~# wifi
- This will set the BibleBox with your password and enforce WPA2 (PSK) encryption to access the administrative pages.
Install h5ai on your BibleBox:
h5ai presents the content of the BibleBox in a pleasing and familiar structure, similar to a Windows desktop folder. Each file or media type is represented with a recognizable icon that visually indicates to the user the type of file being displayed. This presentation of files is much preferred over the standard BibleBox file structure presentation.
The h5ai can be installed using the following steps:
- Download the h5ai-setup.zip file which includes 2 files – h5ai_installer.tar and install_h5ai.sh. This download of _h5ai from BibleBox.org contains an options.json file with options already set for best use on the BibleBox TP-Link MR3040 router.
- Unzip the h5ai-setup.zip file and copy the 2 files in the contents to the root folder on your USB.
- Plug the USB into your BibleBox and turn it on.
- Connect the BibleBox ethernet cable to your computer (remember to manually set an IP address on your computer as 192.168.1.2).
- Connect to the BibleBox using SSH.
- After logging in, from PuTTY or Terminal (OS X) run the following commands:
- cd /mnt/usb/
- chmod 755 install_h5ai.sh
- sh install_h5ai.sh
- After the BibleBox has restarted, browse the shared folders to confirm the changes and that _h5ai is working for you as intended.
- You can then put the USB back into your computer and delete the h5ai_installer.tar and install_h5ai.sh files from the root folder on the USB as they have all been copied to the BibleBox itself.
- Remember to remove the manually set IP address from your computer and resume using wireless.
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 From this point forward in the documentation and notes, reference will be made to the model #: 3040. This always refers to the TP-Link TL-MR3040, but is easier both to type and to read. When reference is made to a “BibleBox,” that reference stands for a 3040 model that has been re-programmed using the instructions given here.
 Using a Gomadic charging device with the 3020 does enable it to be as mobile as the 3040, and probably even exceeds the battery life of the 3040. The Gomadic battery pack will require additional cost and the Gomadic unit adds additional weight and bulk to the 3020. If the prime consideration is ease of portability between the 3020 and 3040 models, the clear choice should be the 3040 model.
 This article was written in 2015. The author does not know how long the manufacturer will continue to produce the TP-Link TL-MR3040 model of Wi-Fi device. If it becomes out-of-date, it is likely that another device will be given as a replacement. The good folks at biblebox.org continue to search for and test new equipment to continue this outreach ministry. If you find that the 3040 models are no longer available, please contact us to update us. Since first writing about the 3040, BibleBox has subsequently tested similar re-programming on several additional models of TP-Link devices.
 Any system can be hacked by a determined hacker. The 3040, if built according to the instructions and employing the security features explained, will be reasonably safe from hackers.
 After the installation of openwrt, this default will change to 192.168.1.1.
 If you modify the location or names of any of the Shared folders on the USB you will need to edit the html files on the webpages so links continue to work correctly. This is NOT recommended!
 This doesn’t secure the Wi-Fi network (an additional step to be considered next).
 NOTE: Terminal and PuTTY are applications which enable you to login to the BibleBox device and change software installed on it. Terminal is already installed on your Mac and for more details on PuTTy check out – http://the.earth.li/~sgtatham/putty/0.60/htmldoc/Chapter1.html
 This should be obvious, but make sure that you replace “your password” with a secure and memorable password of your choosing. Don’t actually type: “your password”.
 Testing various options in the options.json file of _h5ai lead to the settings in this file. If you want to modify it yourself, know that showing file previews, enabling selected downloads as packages, displaying folder trees, all makes browsing files on the BibleBox SLOW).
 Ignore the .DS_Store file – that’s a file from a Mac.