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Theoretical frameworks and simulation environments are proven to be very useful in evaluating conventional wired settings. However, due to the inclusion of various deficiency parameters which naturally exist in wireless channels modelling the communication behaviour in MANETs become much more complex. To overcome these major problems and create a realistic test platform for MANET research, we propose the use of inexpensive OLPC XO laptops that provide by default a Linux-based open source operating system, multi-hop mesh networking capabilities and a configurable wireless adapter. We believe that a design based on this hardware can substantially reduce the cost and time spent during the implementation and deployment of MANET testbeds and help researchers to focus on the systems to be deployed rather than the testbed itself.