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What To Do With Old 802.11b Equipment?

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the confuse-the-wardrivers dept.

Wireless Networking 249

CyberSlugGump writes "I am trying to declutter, and I have come across my cheap, off-brand, consumer-grade 802.11b wireless routers, PCMCIA cards, and USB adapters. The routers would still be good as 4-port 100Mb switches, and the other devices have at least 32-bit Windows XP drivers available. However, lack of security beyond WEP and the age of the equipment makes me wonder if it is worth any time putting it to use."

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249 comments

I think it's a good question. (5, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 4 years ago | (#32761644)

However, I think the reply to is "trash them". I'm probably not using my imagination enough, so I'm eager to read to suggestions of others. I'm a tech dumpster-diver and even I had to up my standards regarding equipment. With computers, I won't take anything less than 1Ghz++ AMD XP or P-IV, preferably with DDR RAM, but I'm not all that picky since usually you have decide on the spot and can't just open the machine up first.

With networking gear, I don't bother with anything beyond 100Mbps in wired and 802.11g for wireless. It simply is not worth the hassle.

The only thing I really can think of, is use the hardware to make a wireless bridge if you have two locations to connect that are out of range (can-tenna, etc...) A 11Mbps directional link is better than no link at all. That said, considering the 802.11g prices, you can probably just do it with newer hardware that will use less power. 54Mbps gear is already to be found in dumpsters near you.... I'm not kidding.

The other option would be to re-use it for people you can help in the low-income bracket. An older P-III laptop with a 802.11b card and a 802.11b router/access point is better than no gear at all. Still, my experience says that most people -even those in the lower income bracket- don't want the old gear. The few times I did manage to give away refurbished older hardware was to a single-income mom, working as an analyst in the tech sector, so her income wasn't "low" by any stretch of imagination, for her daughters use. (It was a AMD Athlon XP 2800+, 1GB RAM running Ubuntu 8.10 back then... Haven't gotten any news since). The others were just computer enthousiasts (professional or hobbists) who wanted something to toy around with.

Re:I think it's a good question. (4, Interesting)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 4 years ago | (#32761680)

The other option would be to re-use it for people you can help in the low-income bracket. An older P-III laptop with a 802.11b card and a 802.11b router/access point is better than no gear at all. Still, my experience says that most people -even those in the lower income bracket- don't want the old gear at all.

An alternative is donating it to charity. Some of them will probably take it and either give it away or set it up for use somewhere.

Charities involving third-world countries (sorry, "developing nations") may be a particularly grateful bunch, even for old equipment.

Re:I think it's a good question. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762170)

An alternative is donating it to charity. Some of them will probably take it and either give it away or set it up for use somewhere.

Charities involving third-world countries (sorry, "developing nations") may be a particularly grateful bunch, even for old equipment.

It'll end up being "recycled" there anyway if you trash it. It might as well be something they can use, rather than just something which will poison them.

Re:I think it's a good question. (1)

bami (1376931) | about 4 years ago | (#32762214)

>Charities involving third-world countries (sorry, "developing nations") may be a particularly grateful bunch, even for old equipment.

Charities involving third-world countries usually results in dumping lots of toxic stuff into places that don't have the resources to clean it up properly.
Seriously, they are better off with you hauling that stuff to a recycling center instead of having it shipped over there. Computers contain a lot of hazardous stuff, and when they are done with it, just dump it somewhere, instead of properly disposing it in a safe place.

Trash them or donate them! (3, Interesting)

Tirs (195467) | about 4 years ago | (#32761756)

I agree. Trash them, same as you trashed your {2|3|4}86 boxes and your {MSDOS|WIN31} floppy disks.

An alternative is to donate them to some non-profit organisation which sends them to third-world countries; imagine for example how a Haiti school could benefit from some wifi equipment (provided, of course, the NPO also gets a few computers for them!)

Re:Trash them or donate them! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761800)

do you even know how much of a time difference there is tween a 286 and wifi dipshit?

Re:Trash them or donate them! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761860)

do you even know that the degradation of value over time is not identical for all things dipshit?

Re:Trash them or donate them! (0, Troll)

damnfuct (861910) | about 4 years ago | (#32762378)

OMG better save your Athlon XP chips because they are about as valuable as your 802.11b equipment.

Re:Trash them or donate them! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761942)

I agree. Trash them, same as you trashed your {2|3|4}86 boxes and your {MSDOS|WIN31} floppy disks.

I still have all of those, you insensitive clod!

Re:I think it's a good question. (2, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#32761868)

If you live in a densely populated area with lots of wifi access points around you, running old 802.11b gear will likely degrade the quality or at least the SNR of the other wifi networks on similar channels around you. So keep in mind that running some old gear in the airwaves around could as well do more harm by degrading the throughput of new gear. The new gear could make much more efficient use of the available spectrum, around you, which is getting to be more of a scarce shared resource.

The only thing I'd consider doing with old gear is piecing together "complete systems" geared towards a single use case... maybe a low bandwidth visual paging system for a golf course or something silly like that.

Three Rs (3, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | about 4 years ago | (#32761986)

Reduce -- too late, you presumably already have replacements
Reuse -- Freecycle etc, charities,
Recycle -- last option.

Re:I think it's a good question. (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#32762036)

I'm a tech dumpster-diver and even I had to up my standards regarding equipment. With computers, I won't take anything less than 1Ghz++ AMD XP or P-IV, preferably with DDR RAM, but I'm not all that picky since usually you have decide on the spot and can't just open the machine up first.

On the other hand I won't take anything greater than a 486. Older computers are just more fun.

Re:I think it's a good question. (4, Insightful)

jqh1 (212455) | about 4 years ago | (#32762086)

... a AMD Athlon XP 2800+, 1GB RAM running Ubuntu 8.10 back then... Haven't gotten any news since).

-- you actually managed to give away equipment without getting tech support calls about it every week for the next 5 years? Please provide more details.

Re:I think it's a good question. (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 4 years ago | (#32762244)

^I'm also interested in this.

Re:I think it's a good question. (1)

master0ne (655374) | about 4 years ago | (#32762508)

second... more details please!

Re:I think it's a good question. (4, Interesting)

tapanitarvainen (1155821) | about 4 years ago | (#32762328)

my experience says that most people -even those in the lower income bracket- don't want the old gear.

There are people who like old gear for philosophical reasons, even when money isn't really an issue. I recently found a good home for an Athlon XP 1500+ (1.3GHz) -based box as an email/www terminal in a used car parts shop (put in a 40GB disk and two 512MB DIMMs scavenged elsewhere and installed Ubuntu in it), and they've been happy with it - suits their business idea of recycling old stuff, they told me.

I can remember many other amazingly old and slow machines that have found happy owners in people who could easily have bought new stuff if they wanted to.

In general, though, I'd discard (= recycle properly) stuff that's been significantly superseded in terms of electricity consumption - if a new one saves its price in one year's electricity bill, there's no point in keeping the old one. But stuff that's just slow by modern standards, like 802.11b gear, may well find a happy owner in someone who ideologically likes recycling and doesn't need more speed (and quite a few people don't). But people in low income brackets are more likely to feel using old stuff is somehow demeaning and reject it for that reason, even if it'd be perfectly usable.

Re:I think it's a good question. (1)

DesScorp (410532) | about 4 years ago | (#32762624)

"I can remember many other amazingly old and slow machines that have found happy owners in people who could easily have bought new stuff if they wanted to."

I've got an old Dell 333mhz Celeron box that I use as a server for a public access wi-fi network for our patrons at work, and many of the access points are 802.11b. Since it's a public, then WEP doesn't even come into it. The Dell has 320 mb of RAM, a 3 gig hard drive, and it runs Debian on XFCE with a minimal installation. Basically it's just a DHCP server and firewall for our patrons while they surf, and it works beautifully. And otherwise, it would be in a landfill somewhere.

As for 802.11b, there are plenty of uses for it in appropriate situations. And while WEP has vulnerabilities, really, how many people know how to exploit them? I wouldn't use it in a situation that required absolute security, but if you've picked a good passphrase, 802.11b is much less of a security risk than standard desktop apps that we 'd never dream of getting rid of.

Re:I think it's a good question. (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 4 years ago | (#32762628)

There's the generational trade off.

If a machine can run Linux kernels 2.6.18+, then it can use cpufreq to take advantage of processor slowdown techniques.

Windows Vista+ can do some of the same thing to save power, also Windows 2008+.

The second you add in a hypervisor kernel, however, throw away all of your green savings as they grab systicks to themselves and you'll save nothing, kvm-in-the-kernel notwithstanding.

The number of older machines that can save juice is somewhere between zero and none if they're 32-bit or less.

Re:I think it's a good question. (1)

cjb658 (1235986) | about 4 years ago | (#32762738)

Do old computers use more power than new ones? Power supplies have been increasing their wattage in the last 10-15 years.

ebay (4, Insightful)

kaptink (699820) | about 4 years ago | (#32761670)

Simple

Just like any other crap, bundle it all up and put it on ebay. The alternative is landfill.

Re:ebay (3, Insightful)

tiberus (258517) | about 4 years ago | (#32761750)

The alternative is landfill.

Of course you meant to say recycle it.

Re:ebay (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32761792)

Or in civilized parts of the world return them for recycling. I'm not sure about the rest of the country how yous handle it, but here in WA you can take that stuff back to pretty much any major electronics retailer and they'll recycle it for free. Since around here manufacturers have to pay for recycling, all we have to do is drop it off and they cover the tab. Sure we ultimately pay for it ourselves, but having the manufacturers handle it ensure that it's done efficiently.

Re:ebay (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 4 years ago | (#32761902)

Or ensure that it gets sent to a landfill in China... :(

Apparently a lot of stuff destined for "recycling" winds up in one of the most polluted towns in the world instead.

Or Africa (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | about 4 years ago | (#32762562)

If you read any of the UK tech websites, a lot of landfill bound computers get shipped to Africa as "donated" computers, the companies doing the dumping get HUGE tax breaks, and the country where these are dumped get Heavy Metals in their water table.

A quick google search says this is happening in Nigeria and Nairobi

http://makeitfair.org/the-facts/news/news-item-1 [makeitfair.org]

Re:ebay (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 4 years ago | (#32762254)

Sure we ultimately pay for it ourselves, but having the manufacturers handle it ensure that it's done efficiently.

In fact, since you already paid for it when you bought it, you might as well get your money's worth.

honey pot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761690)

Honey pot

Sell or donate (1)

yogidog98 (1800862) | about 4 years ago | (#32761702)

Sell it on craigslist or ebay, or donate it to charity and buy a stick of gum with the tax deduction.

tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761710)

Why isn't this tagged "doorstopper"?

Dump it in the garden (4, Funny)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 4 years ago | (#32761730)

Throw it away and don't feel bad about it. New Jersey isn't even at 10% capacity yet.

Re:Dump it in the garden (1)

ma3382 (1095011) | about 4 years ago | (#32762062)

Name your source. Pretty sure New Jersey is just as full as the rest of the trashy states.

Re:Dump it in the garden (5, Funny)

wonkavader (605434) | about 4 years ago | (#32762312)

I know this guy. He says NJ is 9.46% full. He's a guy who knows these things.

He suggests you place the cards in the trunk of a older domestic vehicle, then have the car crushed into a cube. That cube will be melted down and recycled. This is, he says, a way to keep our beautiful state from becoming too full of... "network cards". And since the "network cards" get recycled, it is also good for the environment.

If you're squeamish, he could do it for you, for the right price.

Re:Dump it in the garden (1)

damnfuct (861910) | about 4 years ago | (#32762404)

Don't forget that we haven't even begun to tap the huge garbage-dump potential of the grand canyon.

Re:Dump it in the garden (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#32762524)

I've seen Jersey Shore. I'd have to say that Jersey is full up.

Electronic Recycling (3, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | about 4 years ago | (#32761738)

If it is not useful to yourself or anyone you know don't just throw it away, find a local electronic recycling depot. In some places that can be hard, but at least if you have a Best Buy near you they will take it.

Re:Electronic Recycling (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 4 years ago | (#32761842)

When I've researched the electronic recycling services, many seem to charge to take your gear. Even the one or two I recall that would take your stuff would make you pay for shipping. For the PCMCIA cards that may be a trivial amount, but depending on how much gear you've got and how much it weighs, it can add up fast.

Like was said in the summary, the routers would be to (optionally) add alternative firmware on them and repurpose them as a firewall or network switch. the PCMCIA cards either pay for recycling, sell on eBay, donate to charity, or throw away. IME that pretty much sums up the options.

Re:Electronic Recycling (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#32762284)

The value of the materials you get out of the recycling aren't worth enough to sustain the recycling business on it's own, hence the cost. Shipping is a couple of bucks via USPS and typical recycling cost is 25 cents/pound.

Re:Electronic Recycling (1)

toxonix (1793960) | about 4 years ago | (#32762088)

Best buy will take it. And throw it away for you so you don't feel bad. (this is not a fact, just speculation)

Best Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761742)

Free Wifi for the homeless

Donate it to the third world ! (3, Informative)

assemblerex (1275164) | about 4 years ago | (#32761804)

http://www.computeraid.org/ [computeraid.org] refurbishes and ships this stuff to africa and beyond!

Re:Donate it to the third world ! (2, Funny)

damnfuct (861910) | about 4 years ago | (#32762520)

...where they return to our lives through 419 scams!

PULL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761806)

BANG!

Nerd skeet shooting

Freecycle (5, Informative)

Myopic (18616) | about 4 years ago | (#32761816)

When you don't want old computer equipment, you give it away on your local Freecycle. I thought everyone knew that.

NB: does not work with CRT monitors.

Re:Freecycle (2, Informative)

flippy10 (1846544) | about 4 years ago | (#32762052)

Yeah. If you want to get rid of CRTs... you might have to end up PAYING someone to take it away.

Re:Freecycle (1)

east coast (590680) | about 4 years ago | (#32762178)

Goodwill took an old 17 inch CRT from me just a few months ago, no questions asked. It still had some life to it but not much. The guy didn't seem to care either way.

Re:Freecycle (1)

flippy10 (1846544) | about 4 years ago | (#32762360)

Hmmm... Might have to try that. I'm sure somebody out there needs 'em right?

Re:Freecycle (1)

tiptone (729456) | about 4 years ago | (#32762748)

We had a community garage sale a few weeks back, where you leave anything that doesn't sell in a box out at the street and a donation truck comes by in the evening and picks it all up. I had a 15 or 17" CRT that had been laying around for years that didn't go for $5 in the garage sale, but disappeared from the donation box before the truck showed up to pick it up. I'm not sure if somebody needs 'em, but somebody is taking 'em just the same. :)

Re:Freecycle (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#32762620)

I was at a salvation army last weekend. 10 CRT monitors for the price of 1.

Re:Freecycle (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#32762564)

CRTs respond quite well to a 30-06 or a dear slug...

Re:Freecycle (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 years ago | (#32762732)

Not as long as Wal-Mart has a dumpster out back, I won't.

Re:Freecycle (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#32762064)

Craigslist also has a section for free items.

Re:Freecycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762090)

> NB: does not work with CRT monitors.

Not true. Someone came to pick up and old CRT (20") which worked. He was just fixing up a friends computer and they had no funds... Now we are all happy.

mischeif (5, Funny)

SethJohnson (112166) | about 4 years ago | (#32761824)

Set the WIFI broadcast name of the router to something like, "George Hamilton cheated on his SATs!" where "George Hamilton" = your boss's name. Take it to work, plug it in, and hide it under your desk or someone else's. Can be used for all kinds of passive-aggressive complaining at work.

Re:mischeif (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762138)

What about those of us who don't work for George Hamilton?

Re:mischeif (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762286)

If the area isn't dense with Wi-Fi APs, that might be humorous, may crowd out existing traffic, so at least do a scan first and check if there is enough free bandwidth before sticking APs up.

Of course, having an SSID up with a transparent proxy (routing Web page traffic and doing the mischief of your choice) makes a great honeypot system, especially if you slap WEP on it, so wardrivers have something to attack.

think local (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761846)

Flash it with something like DD-WRT that will let you use better encryption and allow for mesh networking, then get together with your local community and help them setup a community based wireless mesh network from your donation and other locals who have extra tech lying around unused.

Metro WiFi (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761880)

One great thing about 802.11b was the range. Grab some pringles cans, make some antennas, and start a neighborhood wifi co-op where everyone shares their broadband connections in exchange for access.

Weird Stuff Warehouse (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 4 years ago | (#32761882)

In Silicon Valley, you take stuff like that to Weird Stuff Warehouse [weirdstuff.com] , which handles both surplus and electronics recycling. They're more into commercial gear, though; if you want previous-generation 1U servers, they have plenty.

Hoarders... (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 4 years ago | (#32761896)

Where's a link to an IT Hoarders episode when you need it? (damn work firewall)

Try updating firmware of routers and cards (1)

mastropiero (258677) | about 4 years ago | (#32761918)

WPA with TKIP is compatible with a number of .11b devices. A firmware/driver upgrade is usually what you need to support it.

If that doesn't work, then recycle them.

Still Could Be Pretty Useful, I Say. (5, Funny)

flippy10 (1846544) | about 4 years ago | (#32761920)

Don't throw it out. Make a secondary network for music streaming. Compatibility permitting, put OpenWRT onto the router(s). Make a WAP for your car. Portable WAP via a small power supply. Practice cracking WEP keys. Annoy people by leaving it unsecured, but not connected to the Internet. Give it to someone who needs it. Turn off the wireless and create a protected subnet on your network. Make it make you toast. Set it up and yell at it when you get angry. Routers are tough, they can take it.

Re:Still Could Be Pretty Useful, I Say. (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 4 years ago | (#32762560)

Practice cracking WEP keys.

I just use other people's default FIOS installations for that.

Re:Still Could Be Pretty Useful, I Say. (1)

damnfuct (861910) | about 4 years ago | (#32762582)

Annoy people by leaving it unsecured, but not connected to the Internet.

hahahahaha.. Or somehow set it up so it only allows the user to go to some lame website.

Freegeek (3, Insightful)

GlowinOrb (835527) | about 4 years ago | (#32761926)

If you happen to be in Portland, Freegeek does good things with your old stuff.

802.11b has WPA (2, Insightful)

stas2k (951288) | about 4 years ago | (#32761956)

Actually 802.11b has WPA support albeit only with TKIP ecncryption. It worked for me on linux prism hostap drivers after I updated card's firmware. So maybe you could use it, you don't need much bandwith if you just browse and SSH from your wireless devices. :)

Re:802.11b has WPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762262)

Security Issues with TKIP [wikipedia.org]

Use it for free wifi perhaps. (1)

PeopleMakeMeLOL (1717442) | about 4 years ago | (#32761974)

If you know the owner of a business such as a hotel, coffee shop, fast food place etc, donate it to them. They can be easily configured to make sure the entire area is saturated, and with DD-WRT you could block workgroups [or anything for that matter] as well as set them up on different channels but same SSIDs. For just web browsing it would do fair enough IMHO.

Range (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32761978)

If range is what you're after, 802.11b has g and especially n beat. The routers with their limited encryption support are probably worthless, but USB adapters are definately still useful. Of course b is useless for file sharing but it should be fine with e.g. VNC and VoIP.

Should support WPA if they support WEP (3, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 4 years ago | (#32761990)

WPA was designed as an intermediate standard which would function on WEP-only hardware. That's why WPA uses TKIP instead of AES (which is what WPA2 uses). The devices may require firmware updates (which, of course, may not exist or may no longer be available) but the hardware itself is capable of WPA.

Re:Should support WPA if they support WEP (1)

jbigboote (1544809) | about 4 years ago | (#32762340)

WPA was designed as an intermediate standard which would function on WEP-only hardware. That's why WPA uses TKIP instead of AES (which is what WPA2 uses). The devices may require firmware updates (which, of course, may not exist or may no longer be available) but the hardware itself is capable of WPA.

tell that to my Linksys WCG200. there are no firmware updates to give it WPA, though it is 802.11g. I have the original two-antenna model, and bought it myself, so my cable company has no claim on it. I really like the design, but there are very few all-in-one solutions for cable broadband, and none use 802.11n yet, so I am finding it hard to justify upgrading.

Free Geek the stuff (1)

psyopper (1135153) | about 4 years ago | (#32761998)

Please don't bin the stuff, it's horribly contaminant to the environment. Recycle it through your local electronics recycler, in Portland we have a non-profit called Free Geek that will even work to give it a second life before it gets tossed. - www.freegeek.org

Turn off the Wireless (2, Interesting)

Reed Solomon (897367) | about 4 years ago | (#32762020)

you can usually turn off the wireless on most wireless routers and just use it as a regular old wired router, if it comes to that. but other than that, im sure you can donate it to the goodwill. I love goodwill. I got me a Samsung HT-XQ100 with digital optical in and a center speaker bar for $13 the other day and it works great for decoding digital audio from my WDTV box.. the only thing that didn't work was the DVD player doesn't load CD's or DVD's.. oh well, already got a DVD player anyways.. also got a famiclone for $1.50, whee... I don't need an 802.11b router, but there must be someone out there who could either use one of might enjoy hacking one to death.

In the San Francisco area (2, Informative)

Megahard (1053072) | about 4 years ago | (#32762034)

Donate to ACCRC [accrc.org] . A recycling shop run by Linux geeks.

Anything not broken (1)

node_chomsky (1830014) | about 4 years ago | (#32762048)

... should not be thrown in the trash. (and broken things should be fixed) I am certain someone who has far less toys than you do can actually put it to better use than you ever did. It's amazing how much we take our own access to communications technology for granted. I am certainly against hoarding and excessive consumerism, I simply think we should make better use of what we already have before we start throwing perfectly good gear in the trash. Many old wireless routers can be made useful again with an alternative firmware like dd-wrt. I am using older routers as repeaters around my house to extend my network's range. Security isn't as tight as it could be, but certainly effective enough for my concerns and circumstances.

What to do with a hammer? (1)

Korbeau (913903) | about 4 years ago | (#32762074)

I've come across a hammer in my toolbox. Any idea what I could do with it? Is it worth any time putting it to use, or should I just leave it in my toolbox?

(PS: aside from being cynical, this post also answers the OP question - using 802.11b equipment along with a hammer can be a whole-lotta fun ;)

Don't donate it! (3, Insightful)

jmaslak (39422) | about 4 years ago | (#32762080)

Trash it (well, recycle it anyhow). Nobody wants the junk. Seriously.

The idea that some third world country is grateful to get insecure, unstable, junk computer equipment...well, that's offensive. Rather than shipping your toxic (literally) junk halfway around the world, if you want to support computers in third world countries (hint: more than 802.11b access points, they need things like water and sewage), simply donate MONEY to an organization that is involved in these things. If education and improving the world is your goal, I'd recommend Unicef.

Also, 802.11b uses radio, which means it needs to comply with whatever country's laws you send it to. US channels are not necessarily the third world's channels, and it's best to actually work with the government rather than assuming "They should be grateful weather or not is compatible with their usage of radio spectrum - Look at me, the rich person, doing nothing about their hunger, but giving them my trash I'm too cheap to recycle!"

I've worked for non-profits, the other suggestion here. We had lots of people offer us worthless junk for tax write-off purposes. Apparently our mission was not important enough to have reliable computer equipment (we only fed the hungry, so we apparently, unlike business, didn't need a computer with things like a warranty). Anytime you have "free" equipment, if you don't have a plan in place to replace/repair it when it breaks, it's not worth having - because you will end up depending on the equipment, which will be a disaster when it fails (and you have no money to fix it).

Re:Don't donate it! (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#32762228)

simply donate MONEY to an organization that is involved in these things.

Yeah, because we all know that money goes directly to the people you want to help... (yes, there are some good charities but the vast majority puts most of the money in administrative fees or gets hung up somewhere)

Look at me, the rich person, doing nothing about their hunger, but giving them my trash I'm too cheap to recycle!"

This attitude is the reason why most people don't donate to the homeless or charities, if I have excess stuff that is working, someone can probably use it that isn't me. If I have money, I can use it because most of us don't have much of it at the moment.

Plus, there are a lot of countries where the people are just poor, not starving, but just poor and really, old computer equipment could probably help them escape poverty. I know I got my start in computers by playing with old hardware then figuring out what made them work and changing it, chances are someone poor can do that too.

Anytime you have "free" equipment, if you don't have a plan in place to replace/repair it when it breaks, it's not worth having - because you will end up depending on the equipment, which will be a disaster when it fails (and you have no money to fix it).

Just learn how to salvage. The majority of my desktops were built from old parts found for $.50 at a garage sale, an old HDD there, an optical drive here, etc. just wipe whatever OS is on there and replace it with a suitable replacement. Puppy Linux is always a good bet.

IPSec (1)

devaaasimon (793695) | about 4 years ago | (#32762108)

You can always set up the routers in no-security mode and then make the clients use IPSec http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipsec [wikipedia.org]
If you connect to the internet via a software router it is even possible to disallow any connections out-of-the-house without proper authentication.

Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762110)

I spent a fair bit of time in Africa, and I couldn't believe the junk they begged me to try to resurrect because they were so desperate for tech. If there was someone who would pay for a cargo ship to go to Africa, then we should give all our old but still good tech to them. It will actually be put to use rather than sitting in a closet until it is finally trashed.

At some point old stuff becomes trash (2, Insightful)

Toasterboy (228574) | about 4 years ago | (#32762130)

At some point, the hassle of working with old junk and making it work, putting up with how slow it is, dealing with failing electronics, and so forth isn't worth it.

I have 17 Pentium 3 class systems in my basement in a render farm. Sure, it's neat to have so many systems. But for my purpose, a single $300 quad core box literally has more compute power, more memory, more memory bandwidth, and uses way less electricity. Plus you don't have to maintain a billion systems. And it takes up less space. And there's no heat problem. I haven't replaced the pile yet, because I'm not doing that much 3D lately, but I will, and it will be awesome to be rid of so much clutter. I also have a bunch of Sun boxes. They were fun to get working, but they use too much power, and it's an absolute hassle to fiddle with them, maintain software on several platforms, and so forth. My free time is valuable; I don't want to waste it doing menial maintenence on crappy hardware.

Off brand low end consumer gear is barely designed to last 3 years, let alone past life expectancy. Most of that 802.11b gear is pretty limited in what it can do, and barely worked when it was new. It's not like you can install dd-wrt and turn them into a mesh.

Best case scenario is probably hooking up somebody who has no wireless and no resources up, like your local church or whatever. If it breaks, meh, they had low expectations to begin with. It may not even be worth doing that though, because a lot of older consumer routers break when subjected to the network behavior of newer versions of Windows because they can't handle scaling window sizes with the default settings, and it's a support chore to dink around with the settings on every machine that comes along in a non-enterprise environment.

Bottom line is that old junk starts costing you more to use than buying new stuff would.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762142)

You could always start a company and sell it for 10 times its worth, just like Apple.

If it has a router, disable wireless (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#32762144)

If it's a wireless router, disable the wireless and keep it around as a backup router in case another fails, or as one to deploy at friends/family when they need to share a connection with multiple computers.

I had an old Linksys 802.11b access point whose wireless didn't work. I opened it up, removed the handy WiFi PCMCIA card, and use it as a router. Removing the non-working WiFi card reduced power usage by about one watt.

Open, anonymous access point with TOR (4, Insightful)

xororand (860319) | about 4 years ago | (#32762150)

You could use one of the old wireless routers to provide free & anonymous Internet access to others by routing all the traffic through TOR.

1. Disable any encryption & access restriction like MAC filters
2. Plug it into a separate ethernet port of a server / machine that's running 24/7
3. Route all the traffic through TOR [torproject.org]
4. Throttle its traffic (QOS)

When your neighbor's Internet breaks down some day, they will be thankful for the free, albeit slow, Access Point of yours. Thanks to TOR, you don't have to fear any consequences for any mischief that's conducted over your AP.

Freecycle (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 4 years ago | (#32762216)

Freecycle them or put them on Craigslist in the free section. Someone will come get em.

Re:Freecycle (1)

themib (315187) | about 4 years ago | (#32762414)

I've been a member of Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/) for a while now, and I've gotten rid of a lot of my older technology that way. I totally recommend it. :)

Blend it (3, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 4 years ago | (#32762250)

n/t

Donate to a hackerspace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762270)

Donate it to your local hackerspace. Someone may use it to do a cool project that doesn't need WPA1/2 security.

http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces

-Anonymous Coward from HacDC

Donate it to Russian Spies (1)

abarrow (117740) | about 4 years ago | (#32762282)

It sounds like they could use some upgraded equipment.

How much security do you need? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 years ago | (#32762358)

I would expect if you really thought it over you could come up with some uses for that hardware that don't require the latest, greatest, sexyest security. For example, you could probably build a lower-power print server using the 802.11b stuff; do you really need the best possible security for a print server?

Another possibility is to ask around and see if you can find someone who lives in a less-densely-populated area that could safely use less secure hardware. You might know someone who lives in the boonies, far from a road, who would appreciate a free network upgrade for whatever internet access they have (or don't have).

Or you could just put the whole lot up on ebay. I'm sure whats-her-name would appreciate the campaign contribution...

I'll see your B and give you an A (2, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | about 4 years ago | (#32762382)

The submitter doesn't know what to do with his 802.11b networking equipment, and says it's outdated? What the hell should I do, then, with my closet full of 802.11a adapters?

Seriously -- I got some Intel equipment for $5 a piece, originally $300+, and used it to build my first wireless network. It was a real Frankenstein's Monster of a setup, too: a dialup connection, a Coyote Linux box, and this crazy grey box that was so inefficient, it had a cooling fan built in. The thing didn't even have any sort of basic wired router/switch capability. It sat on top of the fridge for a couple of years... until we went to move it and saw that the warmth had turned it into a magnet for roaches. You've heard of a Roach Motel? This was a high-rise Roach Health Spa. That particular 802.11a adapter went straight into the burn bin (plastic and all).

Sadly, though, I still had three more units. At $5 each, I'd bought four.

To answer my own question, though, of what to do with them... I dropped them off before business hours at a local PC repair shop last week, along with a half-dozen old PCs that the kids were tired of tripping over. I hope they'll be able to put them to good use. After all, who's going to be able to eavesdrop on an 802.11a wireless connection?

craigslist (1)

Brandonski (605979) | about 4 years ago | (#32762448)

Take a picture of the lot of it in one big messy pile. Put it on CL for $20. There's bound to be some geek who's mom raised the rent on his basement "command center" the same day he spilled a can of Jolt on his draft-n router.

Municipal Free Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762504)

Donate it to http://www.austinwirelesscity.org/ or similar in your area. It makes the telecoms mad....

Donate them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762530)

You could donate them to someone putting systems in in a third world country.

For example : I am going to Uganda next year to install a bunch of computers and put SOAS (OLPC OS) on them. I could use the equipment to network some of the systems together.

If you want to donate them I can get you a tax write-off through the organization I am going with.

marckarasek at gmail dot com

Marc

What should I do with my old 802.11 cards? (1)

EMR (13768) | about 4 years ago | (#32762580)

Yeah that's right.. No bloody A, B, G, or N. the RAW real original 2MB cards. I actually got them for free as we asked the company that made them for some "samples" so we could do testing on them.. And they sent us 5 with 2 PCMCIA "ISA" cards :) But that was so 1998.

Create a public access point (1)

acedotcom (998378) | about 4 years ago | (#32762608)

I agree with an earlier comment about putting dd-wrt on it if you can. but also put it on your new router too. Then setup QoS, connect your routers together and let people outside of your network have a sandbox with free internet. just set the QoS super low (like 100kbps down and 10kbps up) so it doesnt affect your day to day use. your neighbors will appreciate it and your router will like not being thrown away

Fatal flaw (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#32762648)

I thought B was found to have a 'unfixable' security flaw years ago?

Give them to all your neighbors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762656)

Give them to all your neighbors for free wifi going forward. Tell them to be certain to use WEP encryption for security.

Give it to Goodwill (1)

gafisher (865473) | about 4 years ago | (#32762706)

Your local Goodwill will take it, clean it up and either find a good home for it or dispose of it responsibly. They might even come and pick it up if you've got enough stuff, and in the process you'll be helping the folks who Goodwill helps. I'd call it a Win-Win-Win if it didn't annoy the Mac users.
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