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The Guts of the New StoryBox are Set

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Having found the perfect container for my new PirateBox, I now have the desired wiring in place (thanks to my friend Ken in Colorado) to operate what I will put into play soon as a new iteration of the 2011 Storybox.

What you see above is a new power supply, a rechargable dual port USB power pack (Ablelink from Amazon). The container is about 4 inches deep, and most power packs are about that size, but because the USB port sticks out of the end, it would make it impossible to close the back of the box (well it could be done with some wedging diagonally).

This new one is 2.8 inches square, so it leaves more room for a USB cable to plug in the back. Typically it is connected via a standard to mini USB to the TP-LINK 3020 router (right) that runs the PirateBox- turning it one and off was always done by the oldest method- pulling or inserting the cord.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

The new part is the wiring in the middle. Ken cut open the cable, and wired into the connection a small switch and an LED light. We thought about mounting the switch to the side, but realized it would make removing the parts trickier (I will likely need to remove the USB on the router to transfer files). The battery and router are attached with velcro.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Ken was clever with setting up the LED light. We thought of gluing it to the side of the router, but again, the removal would make that dicey. So he inserted it into a square piece of styrofoam, cut so it wedges itself in tight, and aims the light out the old camera’s aperture.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

So now, all I need to do is to flick the switch on, and it sends power from the battery to start up the PirateBox. It takes about a minute to start up; once that is done, I can pull up the slider switch on the old camera that sets it into bulb exposure mode. When I click the camera shutter, the aperture opens, and the LED light shines through.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It’s neat, eh? Of course not critical, but I love the way the innards work now. Plus it will look more suspicious at airports.

So now the real work is to redesign the PirateBox web pages to fit the ideas I have for it as a StoryBox. I am hoping to skip trying to get PHP installed, I am curious if I can, but I get the idea that the tiny web server might end up trying to do too much, so I am looking to see how much I can do in HTML, JavaScript, Jquery, and maybe the built in python.

One thing I was intrigued by is running a wiki on the system – this would allow visitors to go beyond just uploading media, or looking at media, but to create content in the wiki out for the media. I found a really simple python wiki called MonkeyWiki and managed to install it. It offers a theming option that I will explore next.

I also want to redo the directory structure so I can again have nicely presented galleries of media. Last time, I did this through a process of offloading newly added content, processing the files (making thumbnails of images, converting any weird sound files to mp3) and creating some directory data in javascript form (JSON would be better, eh?). I’d like to see if I can learn some python to add more features, like a dynamic generated .pls file based on the uploaded audio files.

Also, I have an idea how to stage a mini database of prompt questions for uploading, some questions that will help people know what kind of media might be appropriate to put “in the box”.

The insides of the enclosure are ready, now I just need to shape the inside of the digital content. Looking forward to taking this on the road on my New Zealand trip later this month… a staging for something even bigger (shhhhhhhh).

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. How did you manage to get MonketWiki to work on your StoryBox?
    I’ve tried, alot, but failed every time – I’m a NOOB

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