Karma Go Home WiFi

If you happen to purchase a Karma from this post, do us both a favor and use my referral link:
https://yourkarma.com/invite/andrew3976
You'll get $10, I get $10.

Here’s what it looks like:

IMG_20151113_221108036
Karma Go is top center-right; Client Bridge bottom right; Home WiFi bottom left

 

The New Rural ISP

Karma (an MVNO that piggybacks off of Sprints LTE network) just last week announced a new data plan option for your Karma Go hotspot device. It’s called Neverstop, a $50/mo option which allows 3 devices to have unlimited data while on your Karma account with your access capped at 5mb/s. While they say that this service isn’t planned to replace home internet connection; it *is* a home internet connection for those that didn’t have access to your traditional ISP before!

I live in a semi-rural area, just barely outside the range of any traditional cable or DSL ISP connection. Sure, I could get satellite, but that’s burdened with: contracts, high cost, data usage caps, speed caps, installation fees, device rental fees, and frequent congestion. It’s not worth it. Historically I have done the mundane route of using cellphone hotspot mode, hanging it up in a corner window, and connecting my devices to that. This has been a pain because there are so often hotspot usage caps that are difficult to circumvent, and your cellphone will be commandeered until you’re done using your internet.

Using Karma Go as-is

For your average use-case, you would simply authenticate all of your devices to the Karma Go, and then use it as-is… but I am not your average use-case. Due to how Karma Go handles individual connection, it’s not possible for two devices to talk to one another while connected to the same hotspot. But that setup isn’t going to fly if I try to use Karma with either a device that doesn’t have a web browser to login with (think Nest or IoT), or devices that require local cross-network communication (think Chromecast or a home NAS).

Welcome the best of both worlds!

To support my needs, I needed to setup my own oasis of WiFi that is powered by my Karma Go device. How to do this? Well, with two Linksys wrt54g routers (a little dated, but still work great)! I have flashed these devices with custom firmware provided by DD-WRT, and configured one of them to connect to my Karma Go in Client Mode, I then also set the device to use its what would-be WAN port as part of the switch. This then has a short ethernet patch cable that jumps into the WAN port of the other router, which is configured as your typical home router.

The Secret Sauce

To make everything talk nicely together you have to be running on different subnets so that the NATing can work properly. My client bridge is setup to operate on 192.168.2.x, and then the home network is 192.168.1.x… works great!

You may have noticed that I left out one critical piece. How did I authenticate my Client Bridge configured Linksys router to use my Karma Go account if the Linksys doesn’t have a web interface? I’m sure there are more than one ways to do this, Karma’s blog even suggests that you can simply contact them to setup one of these devices. But I like doing things my own way.

I figured that if a device is authenticating to the Karma via a browser, but doesn’t require the browser for usage, it must be operating on a lower level. My guess was that it keeps track of your computer’s network card MAC address. So I took note of what my Client Bridge MAC address was, powered off the device, and looked up the terminal command for spoofing your MAC address on your Mac computer (windows and linux computers also have this ability, but you’ll have to find out how on your own, google it).

I wrote down my Macs MAC address, then used this command to swap it’s MAC to appear like my routers:

sudo ifconfig en0 ether 00:e2:e3:e4:e5:e6

(assuming my Routers MAC is 00:e2:e3:e4:e5:e6)

I then went to the login page of my hotspot, and logged in! :

hotspot.yourkarma.com

(the above link will only work when you’re directly connected to your Karma Go device)

I then reset my Mac’s MAC back to what it was before, and plugged my Linksys router back in. As expected, it connected to the internet, and has been streaming unrestricted since!

I connected my Chromecast to my new home network setup, laptop, cellphone, you name it! Works great. I did a speedtest, and sure enough: ~4.7 mb/s down ~2.7 mb/s up.

10 thoughts on “Karma Go Home WiFi”

  1. Great post. I have been doing Google trawls for the last couple of days in search of precisely this information. I want to get this setup working for my mother, who also lives in rural territory and is saddled with a slow and expensive broadcast ISP.
    I have been trying out various configurations on my DD-WRT router using both client and repeater modes, but the missing piece has been authentication. Thanks for (hopefully) getting me over the hump.
    Cheers.

    1. Hey George!
      Best of luck with your setup. Make sure you using at least SP2 on DD-WRT. Let me know if you hit a snag, and I’ll see what I can do. So far my system has been quite robust, I’ve unplugged either of the routers, and once power is restored everything just comes back online.

  2. Thanks for the post. I ordered a Karma Go hoping that I could get this to work. When I saw your post, I got a dd-wrt compatible router as well. I got it all hooked up in an hour or so. One note – you don’t have to run the second device as a router. If your device supports it, you can run it as an access point/switch eliminating the need to NAT your network twice and simplifying a bit.

  3. Have you run into any timeouts where re-authentication is required? I’m thinking about making the jump but I don’t want this thing dumping the network connection frequently. Have you had to re-authenticate since Nov 14?

  4. Of course, they have limited the 5mbps to what they claimed would be 2-3mbps on their site as of last week. But in the past couple of days it’s gone down again to 1mbps! It was a nice idea but I’m returning mine. I can barely browse the web or do my work. Better off sticking with my 2.5mbps DSL (which I’m now glad I didn’t cancel right away).

  5. Hello Andrew!
    Is this setup still working great for you? I’m interested in dropping my cable in a rural town because it goes out all the time. Would you say this setup still works well with little downtime? Thanks in advance.

    Ryan

    1. I’ve switched away from Karma now, because of the price changes. But I do a very similar setup with an old T-mobile phone running hotspot and the router hop. Similar reason as you: I don’t have internet in my area. This method has been working great, almost seamless.

  6. I never required a router. I just got a HooToo TripMate and in 3 minutes, was using my Chromecast.

    Are you using the Premium Features now? I decided not to as I want it “open” for neighbors as passerby to use so I continue to get the credits. ^_^

    1. With the change from ‘unlimited’ to ‘pulse’ my internet usage stretched beyond financially acceptable limits at Karmas current prices. I do keep checking back at their offerings though.

      I currently use a similar setup, but with the new T-Mobile One plan and a spare cellphone added as another line with WiFi hotspot always turned on. It’s a bit slower, at 3G speeds, but for basic internet traffic, it’s not bad. With their video streaming “binge on” feature, I can still watch movies over that speed too.

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