Though this makes me wonder, the routers are running some kind of openwrts firmware, it would be interesting if someone had the chance to unsquash/decompile it for backdoors because from a sigint perspective (especially in the horn of africa) being able to tap into these networks (like via uav recon ops) will probably be on the table.
Edit: Looks like they are funded by the New American Foundation with Eric Schmidt as chairman, interesting…
I mean, my word, you think the interference on your WiFi from neighbors is bad now...
I wasn't saying they wern't good reasons, mostly just pointing out that the economics aren't getting any better (for consumers or companies), you know, C.R.E.A.M and all that…
>and none of them are "we already spent so much money on them".
Gotta love absolutes:
>…The rapid expansion of this so-called distributed generation deprives utilities of revenues while leaving them liable for maintaining the grid.  , NRG Energy chief David Crane
Unless you could point me in the direction of a repo that looks like this (posted in this thread, and project I've been following along with others), that corresponds to the binary I posted above.
I hope this helped. OpenWRT's build system is a beautiful, but complex being.
But at least from you even mentioning deterministic builds, must mean that the thought has crossed your minds? I know the Tor project has to deal with concerns like that, and I figure firmware providers for mesh-networks will increasingly have to deal with the same.
These sorts of things have piqued my interest lately and right now I'm in the middle of digging through the linksys e1000 firmware (from yesterdays hubbub, too bad the script didn't work for me :/) and my cousin telling me about open ports (10080,1780,51000) on 192.168.1.1 on his network with some interesting traffic (his words). So, if I hear any stories relating to traffic on ports from postings online relating to this firmware, I'll probably take a look for fun (though there are probably many other people better at these things like yourself).
Also try a newer version of binwalk [-1] and/or the 2.0 branch 
1. Find the PARTs
2. Extract them
3. unsquash: unsquashfs -d image/ squashfs.bin
4. Make the changes.
5. squash: ~/code/commotion-openwrt/commotion-openwrt/openwrt/staging_dir/host/bin/mksquashfs4 image/ squashfs-made.bin -nopad -noappend -root-owned -comp xz -Xpreset 9 -Xe -Xlc 0 -Xlp 2 -Xpb 2 -b 256k
6. pad: ~/code/commotion-openwrt/commotion-openwrt/openwrt/staging_dir/host/bin/padjffs2 squashfs-made.bin 64
7. mkfwimage: ~/code/commotion-openwrt/commotion-openwrt/openwrt/staging_dir/host/bin/mkfwimage -B XM -k kernel.img -r squashfs-made.bin -v XM.ar7240.v6.0.0-OpenWrt-r36682 -o openwrt-ar71xx-generic-ubnt-nano-m-squashfs-factory-DR2-tn.bin
If you are modifying a sysugrade image:
Extract 0-1048576 (bytes): that's the kernel
Extract the rest: that's the squashfs
Put them back together with
( dd if=vmlinux bs=1048576 conv=sync; dd if=squashfs-made.bin ) > openwrt-ar71xx-generic-ubnt-bullet-m-squashfs-sysupgrade-DR2-custom.bin
These are just my notes. Feel free to contact me if you want more information.
I used dd to get squashfs filesystem by itself[i], and
unsquashfs [unsquashfs -v
unsquashfs version 4.2 (2011/02/28)][i^2] but that gave that error, then I tried compiling with lzma,xz, lzo by their selfs and neither worked. But your right about the old version of binwalk, I was using v1.2.1.
How much do you think the whole setup would've cost if you did it yourself? I ask because I've always thought that the cost of the special hardware for a mesh network was the major limiting factor.
Surely the main way people access the internet is through 3G either directly on the phones or on mobile broadband. When I was in Hargeisa in 2008, 3G connectivity was common, and I would assume that it is still the case (though its possible Abaarso doesn't have a very good mobile connection).
The ISPs then distribute their internet connection to their customers via DSL, 3G, etc.
I don't know if that's true or not but I'd be willing to bet that most of the cellular towers there (providing 3G/mobile broadband) are themselves using microwave backhauls, quite possibly the same one(s) carrying the "Internet connection".
Ground loops shouldn't be a problem as the APs have transformers that don't use ground at all so there's no ground connection to mess things up.
If lightning is a big issue you might need surge protectors on the lines. Is a Cat6 cable inside a plastic conduit that susceptible to getting hit by lightning though?
IANAE (electrician), but per my understanding, putting copper cable inside a PVC (or other plastic) conduit is among the worst things you can do; it gives the strike only one place to go: down the copper.
EDIT: I found a comment on a CCTV forum site that corroborates this: http://www.cctvforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=79496&sid=0e2686464...
This also goes for ethernet between buildings. Surprisingly enough if the building is poorly grounded the best path can be over your ethernet to a different building.
The ethernet transformers don't really help. They are just another part to get melted off the circuit board if there's a close lightning strike.
Surge protectors pretty much exist as a sacrifice to protect your more expensive electronics (switches and routers).
But yeah I helped on the Montreal meshnet and I think we either have or really want to have a RONJA link, because it's cool as hell as well as very useful in general.
This is not my area of expertise by far, so I'd love to know what I'm missing.