A Little About jmf's Lollipop in Action

jmf on saving money and mobile data

This is why I love having my own little Lollipop: My life requires that I be a little flexible in how I access the internet, but my life also requires that I can always access the internet.

My base Lollipop setup is basically an ordinary wifi router, with more flexibility and features. The devices on my home network are fairly uninteresting: a couple of laptops and a PlayStation. But now they all access the internet by connecting wirelessly to my Lollipop, which is tethered to a cell phone with unlimited data/hot spot usage.

A Lollipop mounted on a wall below a USB hub, above a cell phone on a shelf.

With Network Manager, I have my device configured to select from a list of known hot spots (currently: three trusted cell phones), and adding additional access points is fairly straightforward at the command line, by following our documentation.

I’ve also configured the glorious data-conserving and stress-reducing ad blocker, pi-hole (using our pi-hole documentation). (Ask me about ad-blocking as an accessibility tool someday.)

My VPN via VPN.ac is also configured and working, but a future project improvement includes the ability to detect when a VPN connection stops working (like a killswitch). Currently, Network Manager may indicate a VPN is active, but checking the current IP with curl ifconfig.me will occasionally yield the IP of the hot spot, not the VPN. The workaround for this bug is to periodically check the IP and reloading the VPN connections when necessary.

Despite resolving some recent connection speed issues, I assumed I would never see much more than 4 mbps, which was acceptable for my purposes but not particularly exciting. But I’m thrilled to report that a speed test for a new physical location (about 2 miles from the aforementioned speed tests) yielded 18.2 mbps down and 12.8 mbps up.

I have a few more improvements to make to my home setup, like wifi- and cell-boosting antennas, but the base setup is working so well, I just love it. What started out as a fun project has replaced a bulky router, a cable modem, and a boatload of cables, all for under $100 (not including the cell phone). It also conserves electricity and data compared to my previous home setup.

Tech Specs