Commotion Construction Kit

Commotion Construction Kit promo image

The Commotion Construction Kit is a set of documentation tools that the Open Technology Institute has used in workshops around the world and at home. It is a “do it ourselves” guide to building community wireless networks.

You can use them on your own or to work with a group of people. There is no one right way to move through the activities. You will find tools to help you learn the software and build and mount the hardware, as well as tools to help you organize with others in your neighborhood to plan, build, and promote a network. The modules are designed to be used by individuals or groups for self-guided learning or to teach workshops or trainings. Start to explore anywhere and let us know how it goes for you.

Like the Commotion software, these materials are open source, which means development on them continues and community involvement is critical. This first wave of modules represents a work in progress. The current set of modules are briefly described below.

You can also download a .zip archive file of containing PDF versions of all current Commotion Construction Kit modules and supporting activities.

Getting Started


The first steps in building a wireless network with your community involve organizing and planning. The guides below help with identifying individuals in your neighborhood or community that can help, places to mount equipment, and important organizations to include in the planning process.

During the planning or installation process, you may want to inform the community about the network, or seek further help. The guides below can help with some of the process and graphics used when making an outreach flyer or brochure.

Installing and Configuring

Installing Commotion involves a special process, replacing the firmware on your wireless router. To better understand firmware, and what it does on a router, read What in the world is a firmware?

Commotion is supported on several types of routers. The installation process is different depending on the type. Use the installation guides below, specific to your equipment:

  • Install on a Ubiquiti AirMax Router: A step-by-step process for installing Commotion Wireless on Ubiquiti AirMax routers, which are amenable to changing operating systems.
  • Install on a Ubiquiti UniFi Router: A step-by-step process for installing Commotion Wireless on Ubiquiti UniFi routers, though it is less user friendly than AirMax devices.
  • Install on a TP-Link Router: A step-by-step process for installing Commotion Wireless on TP-Link routers, which are amenable to changing operating systems.
  • Install on a MikroTik Router: A step-by-step process for installing Commotion Wireless on MikroTik RouterBoards. This is an advanced process and requires using DHCP server software.

After installing Commotion on your router, you will need to run through the Setup Wizard and configure the node. Review the configuration and hardware setup guides below for information on setting up the software, and connecting multiple mesh nodes in various configurations.

  • Configure Commotion: Instructions on configuring a Commotion wireless node through the Commotion Setup Wizard and through the administration interface.
  • Common Hardware Setups: How a node should be configured depends on how it needs to funtion on the mesh network. Learn about the most common Commotion configurations.
  • Advanced Hardware Setups: For hardware setups that involve multiple nodes at a single site, or other unique situations, this guide provides examples and configuration instructions.

If you run in to issues with the configuration of your routers, or the connections between routers, you can try these troubleshooting and router recovery guides.

  • Troubleshoot Your Wireless Node: Includes steps to identify and solve the most common problems that may arise with your Commotion router or wireless network.
  • Install and Recover with TFTP: An alternate installation process if the regular approach does not work or there is a problem with installing Commotion Wireless.

Building and Mounting

If you are building a wireless network that covers a wide area, such as a town or large neighborhood, you may need to install some routers outdoors or on rooftops. Consult the guides and documents below for some help on selecting the proper tools, hardware, and mounting kits - as well as a few tips on effective and safe installation methods.

Wireless and Networking

Building a mesh network will involve some knowledge of wireless networking. There may already be members of your community with the knowledge and experience to share, but these materials can be used as guides or tools to further share the information with those that don't have much background.

As networks grow and change, there are often issues that must be resolved. Wireless interference is one of them, and the guide below can help your community learn about how to solve it.

Local Applications

Community or neighborhood networks are set apart by the ability to host unique and local applications. These can be tailored to whatever your community needs or wants, and installed on a computer or server anywhere on the network. The guides below can help you think about how to plan for local applications and set them up on the network.


Creative Commons License
Commotion Construction Kit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Please share any derivative works with the Commotion community by emailing the Commotion-discuss list, or Tweeting with the hashtag #commotion.