Internet at Burning Man 2007

Since 1999 the The Embassy camp (In Camp I Am) and Tachyon Inc brought Internet access to Burning Man. We are pleased to have the opportunity to do this again! We've also had great success and fun using the equipment at the Oregon Country Fair. This page is a basic FAQ to help folks get connected at BurningMan.

To connect, choose internet as your SSID, or sometimes internet1, internet2, etc...
SMTP servers: or

Mailing lists, We have two lists. To subscribe send mail to with "subscribe" in the body of the message. -- for general discussion. -- for announcements only.


What will we provide?

We offer wireless Internet access to a high-speed satellite link. The satellite runs at 2 Mbit/sec downstream and 300 Kbit/sec upstream. The wireless network runs at 1 to 11 megabits/sec (each link runs at 11 if it can, and automatically steps down when that fails). The wireless network should cover the entire Playa area, and be usable from roaming laptops as well as in camps.

You're responsible for bringing all the equipment needed to hook up, and if we happen to have some extra radios or cables we'll be happy to loan them out.

For a few folks located in Center Camp who are close enough to run cable, we will permit runs of 10Base2 (Coaxial cable).

How can I get connected?
If you have just a laptop or two, buy a PCMCIA wireless "802.11b" network cards for each laptop. The cards run between $50 and $100 usually. They look like an Ethernet PCMCIA card except there's no wire to plug in. Generally they have a little flat antenna, which either hangs out the PCMCIA slot, or is attached to the laptop cover with a little cable.

Also another good way to get connected is to bring a PDA with a PCMCIA or compact flash slot, or built in wireless capability. This is a lot more convenient and more suited to the harsh desert environment.

If you have a big camp with a lot of people who want to be on the Internet, you have more options; see below.

How much bandwidth can I use?
Don't worry about doing ordinary email, web accesses, etc. Please talk with us (at The Embassy camp) if you want to do major downloads or uploads (e.g. a large library of MP3s, an entire copy of the Linux source code, etc).

There will be several art projects using the Internet link for interaction with the outside world, including streaming video and live, interactive audio of Burning Man events so the world can get a feeble glimpse of what these crazy yahoos are doing way out there in the desert. Some of these projects will require significant bandwidth while they're running. If the network seems congested or unresponsive to you, it may be because one of these art projects is using most of the bandwidth. Consider suspending your accesses, and doing something else for a while. I'm sure you can find something interesting to do at Burning Man!

Which brand of wireless 802.11 card should I bring?
If your machine is a laptop, get a wireless PCMCIA card that supports "802.11b" networking with "DS" (direct sequence). Look on the box and check for "Wi-Fi" compatibility. There are lots of choices known to work well. Cisco AIR-PCM342US, Lucent Wavelan or Orinoco WL Turbo Silver (PC24E-H-FC) with firmware 6.06 (latest downloadable) is known working, as is Zoom Air Model 4007. The Lucent Orinoco Gold card will also work, depending on what firmware is in it. We are testing many more versions of cards.

When you buy these cards you'll get Windows software drivers. Break open the package before you come to the desert, and install the drivers on your machine so you're sure they are there (and sure it won't require inserting your Windows CD for further updates). If the vendor has a later version of the driver on their Web site, we suggest downloading it and installing it BEFORE you get to the Playa.

For a Macintosh laptop, use a standard Airport card (about $75) which installs under the keyboard, and the Airport software included with the card.  In OSX System preferences/Network Preferences,  Show: Airport, Configure: Using DHCP (leave other settings blank).  You may also wish to find and download MacStumbler which helps you detect wireless networks.

[Sorry, I don't recall how to set it up under OS9 - it's easy, I just haven't used OS9 in years.  Viva BSD!

If you run Linux or another free OS, check the Linux PCMCIA page to determine which cards are supported (look under "Supported Cards" in the "Wireless" section). Don't buy an unsupported card. You may have to install a later version of the PCMCIA support code. Do all that before you go to the desert.

I haven't tried any of the *BSD's. If someone sends instructions we'll install them here.

If the machine isn't a laptop, the PCI and ISA versions of the above cards also work.

Here are some links: Aironet, WaveLAN/Orinoco, or BreezeCOM. The Wi-Fi site is helpful. Check out their press release that lists gear certified to be compatible. We will use Direct Sequence (DS) gear only, and not Frequency Hopping (FH).

What equipment should I bring to put a whole camp on the Internet?
Bring a Cisco/Aironet bridge like we are using: Aironet BR500 or Cisco-AIR-BR342 or similar Aironet/Cisco product (there are some antenna variations). Put it up in a high place in your camp, or if it has an external antenna, put the antenna high up. Wire 10-base-T from the bridge to an Ethernet hub, and plug your equipment into the hub. Configure all your gear for "Get an IP address automatically" (except perhaps the Aironet bridge). Don't forget to bring portable power for both the radio bridge and the hub. (12V hubs used to be easy to find; find one and power it from a car battery.)

This gives you two benefits. Anybody with ordinary Ethernet gear can plug in, AND, whoever brings wireless gear (like the PCMCIA cards for their laptops) will get a strong signal from your local bridge. You'll also be improving the connectivity for your neighbors.

If you want wireless pcmcia cards and airport equipped macs to work better, but don't care about wiring up any traditional Ethernet around your camp, the above bridges will work fine; or you can get a cheaper box. Get a Cisco/Aironet access point AP4500, AP4800 or Cisco AIR-AP342 or similar as a repeater for better signal strength and performance. We do not know of any alternative repeaters (airport?, etc) which work, but tests are yet to be made. If you bring one, we'll get to find out.

How should I configure the radio gear on the Playa?
There is only one parameter that you'll need to set to join our network. This is the "SSID", or Network Name. Set it to one of the "internet" SSIDs in your area, they are all in lower case. Here is the list of valid SSIDs: internet, internet2, internet3, internet4, internet6, etc... 

We are running an unencrypted network, so you don't have to set any keys.

Configure your machine to "Get IP Address Automatically" or "Use DHCP" or "Use BOOTP". Our server will automatically assign you an IP address when you boot your machine and connect to the net. This address might change from time to time; if you need a fixed address (i.e. if you are running a server), let us know (email and we'll arrange to give you one.

If you're configuring an Aironet bridge for your camp, check with us -- there are probably more things to set beyond the SSID.

Other helpful links?
Wireless LAN resources for Linux
Aironet driver for Linux (4500/4800) series
Mobile Planet
Cisco / Aironet product literature and here
Zoom Telephonics
Farallon SkyLINE

The Internet at Burning Man is brought to you by The Embassy Camp. Our mission is to bring the spirit of the Oregon Country Fair to Burning Man. Particular people working on the Internet project include John Gilmore, Clif Cox, Ralf, Muehlen, and Harvie Branscomb. Send us email at (Internet at Burning Man) if you have questions or comments, or visit us at 2:30 on the Esplanade.