Hamilton County ACS/ARES®

Mesh Project Equipment

Choosing the right equipment for your AREDN Mesh project  is important.  The right equipment can go a long way to making your project successful, while the wrong equipment, well. . 

To decide which equipment to purchase, you first must decide what you want to accomplish.  Here are some things to consider: 

  • Are you connecting wirelessly to an existing mesh network?
  • Is there a node within range to connect wirelessly?
  • Are you setting up a “community” node or just one for your own use?
  • What resources do you expect to be able to access via the mesh network?
  • Will you be hosting your own resources, or using those hosted by others?

 

As you can see, there are lots of questions.  It’s best to start slowly and with simple equipment. With this in mind, We will list a few sample stations.  Before purchasing any equipment for use on the mesh network, be sure to consult the AREDNmesh.org website for equipment compatibility.  Not just any piece of equipment can be flashed with the required software. 

For convenience, I have assigned my own pet names to these.

TheNo Fail Home Station is is often an entry level node.  This is not a wireless node and requires an internet connection to join the mesh network. 

This station can be set up with any desktop router on the equipment list.  Often the MikroTik HAP ac Lite router is used.  You will be able to access resources on the mesh, roam around and check things out.  You can even host resources for others on the mesh. 

Types of equipment that might be used are 

  • hAP ac lite
  • hAP ac lite TC
  • hAP ac²
  • hAP ac³
  • Meraki MR-16
  • Many of the GL.iNET devices

 

After the No Fail Home Station, comes a Home Mesh Access Point node that connects via radio frequencies.  The router you already have can still be used to connect to an outside mounted router node.

With this set up, you can join the rf Mesh and have access to the AREDN mesh if the main internet fails.  You can still share mesh resources.  

The Home Mesh Access Point can also act as a “connection” for other nearby nodes when connecting to the mesh.

Examples of equipment: 

  • Any of MiKroTik SXTsq series, LHG series or the LDF series listed devices
  • Any of the Ubiquiti series listed devices
  • Any TP Link device listed.

 

Next comes the “Repeater Node“.  It is important to understand that all mesh nodes “repeat”.  In this case, the “repeater” node name is used to distinguish a high level access point network node where many users with Home Mesh wireless nodes can connect to a wider area mesh network. 

For this node, a router antenna with a wide pattern, such as a 60 degree or 120 degree panel antenna, or a sector antenna array will be most useful. Be sure to consider the gain of the antennas and the node’s expected footprint. 

  • Exampe devices could include any of the devices listed under the Home Mesh Access Point 
  • Plus these:
    • mANTBOX
    • Nanostation
    • Picostation

A Backbone Node might be the name given to a mesh node whose sole purpose is interconnecting the various “repeater” nodes.  It should also be stated here that any rf node that is within range will connect to any node, even a backbone node, if the devices are set to the same frequency, same SSID, and same bandwidth. in the basic settings menu.

A backbone node might also be one that joins two distant “node islands”.  A node island is a group of nodes that does not connect to any other groups of nodes by radio frequency transmission.   But, when two mesh node islands are joined with an RF node connection of this type, they become one “island”.  Islands only remain islands if they are not interconnected with other “islands” via RF. They may be connected by an internet tunnel.

Equipmet woud include any of the point to point dish style devices of sufficient dBi to make a strong connection. 

When choosing your equipment, always be sure to chose that it operates on the frequencies of the mesh network that you are joining.  You may use different frequency equipment locally to connect your local mesh node components, but remember that the node that connects you to the larger mesh network has to be compatible with the network you are joining. 

     Locally, these parameters are used for interoperability and compatibality purposes. 

     Backbones, Repeater Stations, operate on the 5.8 Ghz band.  The following channel plan is a starting suggestion and may need to be modifed to improve throughput. 

 For Sector Antennas 

  • Channels to be determined with field testing as needed 
  • SSID = southmesh
  • Bandwidth = 10, but may be adjusted between dedicated links to improve throughput. options are 1, 10, or 20 Mhz. 

If you are in the Chattanooga TN area, and need assistance with selecting equipment for  your node, or need help with location, use the contact form on the Contacts page of this website to send us a message.   We will need to know your exact area, either GPS coordinates or address and what you are trying to do with your node.  We can advise if an existing node is within rf range or make suggestions for setting up an internet tunnel.

 

You should review the infomation on the AREDN website at this link  Selecting Radio Hardware.

After you have decided on the equipment, be sure to research how to flash that manufacturer’s model equipment.  Instruction can be found on the AREDN website.

You must follow those instructions exactly.  For some devices, the timing of the various steps has to be very close.  Often, flashing the software can be the most difficult part of installing an AREDN mesh node.  Be patient, allow enough time to work with your setup,  and enjoy. 

Equipment Settings

Operations Under Part 97 Amateur Radio rules.

2.4 Ghz Nodes
Channel   -2
SSID: southmesh
Bandwidth: 10 Mhz

Operating on negative channels moves the device from Part 15 Unlicensed  to Part 97 Amateur Radio.   There should be less channel competition on negative frequencies.

5.8 Ghz Nodes
Channel 149
SSID: southmesh
Bandwidth: 20 Mhz
 
Frequency planning will be necessary for optimal data throughput.   An alternating channel plan may be needed as the mesh grows in our area.   Some considerations  will need to be based on topography and channel congestion.