Blogs » Digital Babble » Geeks volunteering for a good cause


I was reading Tech Republic last week, (which is a great resource for us geeks in the IT biz) and I came across these great photos of the organization called Geekcorps.

Geekcorps is non-profit organization based in the U.S. that was launched by Ethan Zuckerman, the founder of Tripod Inc., a Silicon Valley Web hosting and building site.

According to an article on Tech Republic, Geekcorps is "a volunteer group of techies and business professionals who travel to underdeveloped countries to teach e-commerce and technology. The Geekcorps can be likened to a techie Peace Corps or a “dot org,” as Zuckerman calls it."

When the volunteers go to some of these countries the tools and equipment they have to work with are limited, so I was fascinated by how these volunteers are able to adapt and make do with the simple tools they can find.

Take for example this modification of a Linksys WRT54G:

Source: Geekcorps Mali page


GCM’s objective was to create a low-cost method of connecting a PC to a wireless network, a method that would help us reduce the cost of connecting Malian computers to the Internet. Also, from a sustainable development perspective, we wanted to use materials that could be easily found or made in West Africa.

The actual documentation of the router that was modified is in French, but you can translate it by using AltaVista's Babel Fish Translation page.

Here's another DIY design:

Source: USAID


The "do-it-yourself" antenna design, developed by USAID partner Geekcorps, uses materials that are easily available in Mali, including plastic water bottles, used motorcycle parts, window screen cuttings and coaxial cables. This approach minimizes the technical skills needed to build the antennas and significantly reduces costs. The first tests - performed using prototypes assembled from materials costing about $1 per antenna - concluded that the antennas provided clear signal and a reliable Internet connection. To further reduce costs, the radio receivers were powered by cell phone chargers and mounted with the antenna directly on the antenna mast, eliminating the need to purchase expensive cabling to connect the antenna to the receiver.

Thanks to this design, a community can now build a wireless Internet antenna and power the receiver for about $3, compared to about $100 if using commercial equipment.

I think the efforts of this organization are pretty cool, proving that not all geeks are hermits who eat Doritos and frag all day.

To find out more about Geekcorps, make sure to visit