Broadband Hamnet Notes and Tips

Load / Configure WRG54GL

Loading Ubiquiti Firmware

Intro to Mesh Nets for BARK

Sac Valley Workshop Material

YARS Mesh Presentation Feb 2015

Broadband Hamnet Network Project

The availability of low-cost, ready made 2 GHz hardware and the project at Broadband Hamnet dot org, make it unthinkable that the amateur radio community NOT take advantage of broadband ad-hod TCP/IP networks!

I've recently made it my goal to work with the local ARES groups and the Amateur Community at large, to leverage the benefits of having this technology available at a moment's notice.

I've installed three WRT54GL mesh nodes for experimentation, and have recently acquired three additional Ubiquiti units to convert for longer-range nodes.

My first objective is to use this technology to provide remote monitoring and control for our repeater club, and to use this to support the remoting of the BBS system already in service.

That's not to say that 2GHz is the only band in town. Eventually, I'd like to migrate to 3 GHz, where the noise floor would be much more favorable. Meanwhile, 2 GHz is a fine place to experiment!

April 20, 2014

- Joe, AG6QO
Hardware Notes and Tips


Reference Material

Sac Area Mesh Group
Rpi Notes and Tips

GPIO header

Remote Controlled 12VDC Switch

Working on a Raspberry Pi project to control 12VDC relays for switching on/off each of the nodes serving my Rpi BBS at the repeater site.

Will use the GPIO to drive a couple of opto-isolated darlingtons to drive the relay coils.

The relays will be Normally-On, meaning that their coils will be de-energized in the normal state, to minimize power consumption (with emergency-power situations in mind).

I'll provide a web-page user-interface on the Rpi, using lighttpd webserver and a small bit of CGI programming in C. This way, a mesh-net connection on a private port (with authentication) will allow remote shut-down and power-cycling if needed.

This concept can then be extended to other equipment, supply measurement, etc.

Once this is proven, the BBS can be moved to the hill, and the mesh-net connection can be used to maintain the BBS remotely via telnet, ftp, etc.

May 4, 2014

Programming Tips

BCM2835 C Library

Running CGI on lighttpd

My /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf

Well, the daemon is finished, including a security feature which keeps unauthorized folks from messing with my controls. The bcm2835 library shown in the link at right is working as promised. I still have to create an installation package for the software, but it's now booting automatically at startup via /etc/init.d scripts.
The cgi program (written in C) now has display of success or failure of control state changes.

Next I need to complete the logging of failed attempts at the daemon level.

I have all the parts to build the relay box. Just need some time to assemble it. Been a bit busy at work. The schematic for the relay box is here:

July 8, 2014

Ok. Got the relay driver circuit assembled today, on an Adafruit Pi Plate.

Also, the box assembly is taking shape. Tomorrow, I should be able to assemble the whole thing and it buzz-out. Let's hope I didn't miswire anything!

July 19, 2014

Made a pitch to the BARK directors about putting up a mesh node on the mountain. It was wellrecieved.

October 5, 2014

Presented the mesh node plan at the BARK meeting yesterday.

Received lots of good questions strong interest.

Mesh node AG6QO-600 is now installed at the repeater site and running. It consists of a Ubiquiti Rocket M2 and an Airmax 15db Sector Antenna.

The installation went smoothly and quickly with the help of K6WLS.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to get my neighbor node antenna mounted out in the clear. I quickly placed it in my attic space pointed roughly at 308 degrees true. But it is beaming directly into the structure of my house and the tree outside.

Hence, no connection has yet been made to the new node on the mountain. My next step is to get the home node (AG6QO-500) mounted outside in clear direct LOS with the hill.

If that fails, next will be placement of a relay node at the location of K9RTY.

I plan to take a mobile node on the road and do a bit of field survey work soon. Some of the peaks around here may be shadowing us in the valley. I'm doing a Google Earth survey using the vertical profile feature, in search of another good relay point. Would like to get a node on Crane Peak. Just don't have a clear first Fresnel Zone between here and there.

October 19, 2014

Met with a group of hams in Sacramento yesterday, to share knowledge and ideas on programming, configuring, and deploying Broadband-Hamnet mesh nodes.

The following participated:

I demo'd first a node standing alone, then a with a Raspberry Pi attached. We then accessed the Raspberry Pi via that node. I then installed a WiFi access point on that node, and several of us accessed the node and the Raspberry Pi via our personal computers via WiFi.
Next I powered up an AirGrid node and demonstrated how it automatically joined the network and could be accessed via the WiFi and original node.

We then moved on to programming quite a few LinkSys routers as Broadband-Hamnet nodes, and configured them.

The group had a wide range of knowledge/skills with regard to networking. I explained the various applications and underlying protocols.
There were a lot of questions about applications and keyboard-keyboard clients
More tutorials are needed, focused on specific areas of interest for the group.
A Yahoo Group has been created for the Sacramento Area Mesh Net interest group. It can be accessed here:

. After the workshop, K6WLS and I went to the QTH of BARK director K6JAC to scope out that location for a mesh node.
Jack's got a great little antenna farm there and graciously offered some space on his tower for mesh nodes.

We've got some brackets to make, but it is a perfect location for a node set. Just holding the AirGrid dish at ground level and pointing it toward the repeater site through some trees, we were able to connect to the node on the repeater site some 15 miles away.

December 21, 2014

Well after Christmas Ken, K6WLS, fabricated a great bracket to mount the dish (AG6QO-700) and the omni (AG6QO-800) on K6JAC's tower. Ken applied his ample aerial skills and got things mounted quickly, while I made a home for the UPS and connected things up.

Unfortunately, even though we could see a remote mesh node, we couldnt tell whether they were our node on the hill. And they wouldnt connect. Signal was too weak. Since we had 15dB of gain on the mountain, and 20dB at Jacks', it was difficult to believe that we couldnt connect. We even began to doubt whether the node on the mountain was functional.

So we planned a trip up there to investigate.

I brought along a dish to see if it would do any better than the sector.

When we got there, we found the sector node operational. We found that the same thing was true there, we could see mesh node IP addresses, but it would not fully connect and resolve node names.

However, the IP address was definitely that of Jacks dish.

So we mounted the dish and fired it up. At first, with the dish pointed on a bearing directly at Jacks, according to Google Earth, there was nothing. Then we rotated the dish and at a bearing about 30 degrees south of the previous, we got a strong signal and a connection to AG6QO-700 at Jack's!

Not sure if the discrepancy is due to bending or reflection from the local peaks or towers, but the connection LQ was 100% and steady!

We now have a rock solid super fast data connection to the repeater site, spanning 16 miles on 600 milliwatts!

January 4, 2015

Postscript: We stopped at the intersection of CR 90 and 24 to see if we could connect to either location with my mobile linksys node with factory antennas. Same deal there. We could see all the nodes at Jack's and the hill, but couldn't connect reliably. The Linksys sytem runs nearly half the power of the Ubiquiti and the antennas have no gain. We will have to try again with a mobile Ubiquiti setup with better antenna.

We then paid Jack a surprise visit and showed him our solid connection using the mobile linksys. Amazingly, when I set the linksys down in the raised tailgate of my Chevy Equinox, it could connect directly to sector node on the mountain!! The open liftgate end of the Equinox was coincidentally pointing directly at the repeater site and must have been acting as a dish with some great gain!!

Last weekend, K6WLS and KG6SJT tried an omni and a dish setup in an attempt to connect to AG6QO-800 at K6JAC's location. They had them mounted on Ken's HF vertical mast. Unfortunately, they had no luck even seeing the nodes at Jacks.

Later, I swung by Jack's with my mobile LinkSys nodes, and verified they were still working. They were.

I then ran over to Ken's and made sure his were functional. They were.

We theorized that either trees or houses were obstructing line of site to Jack's.

So Ken wanted to go to then end of his block where we could literally see the repeater shack 21 mikes away, and try to connect direct.

We threw his inverter in my car with my LinkSys node and WiFi access point, and drove around the corner.

With Ken holding the dish aimed directly athe the repeater site, and me reading the mesh status on my iPad, we immediately connected to both the dish and the sector nodes at the repeater site!

With this renewed confidence, we are now considering how to permanently mount the dish at Ken's, pointing directly at the mountain.

January 11, 2015

Ken and Greg have tried just about every location including every tree on Ken's property. Due to three extremely large palm trees at the edge of his neighborhood, no connection to the mountain or Jack's from his property has been possible

Ken has one more idea up his sleeve, which involves a push-up mast mounted in JUST the right spot in his yard.

We shall see.

On the application side of things, I acquired a TrendNet TV-IP310PI IP Video Camera to try out on the mesh.

I linked it to my mobile LinkSys node set, at the home QTH and accessed it via WiFi access point from my iPad using their mobile app.

While it works, the video is intermittant. Sharing the 2.4 GHz band in our neighborhood (and in my house) causes speed to be rather slow, causing video drop outs.

But! It works, and I got crisp high res video in spurts. This will be perfectly usable at the repeater site for "seeing" what is going on up there remotely.

Who know, maybe with less noise in the open we'll get good performance between the mountain and Jack.

January 25, 2015

Well, last time we were up the hill, we were unable to connect to Jack's mesh node from up there. Last week we went to Jack's to see if we could connect to his dish locally. No dice.

Jack wasn't home, and we were using only our mobile linksys setup, so couldn't come to any hard conclusion about what was going on.

Today, I went back to Jack's neighborhood, with a portable dish setup, to see if I could connect to the mountain node directly.

Anyway, I was able to connect with 100% link quality to both the node on the mountain (AG6QO-900), and to Jack's omni (AG6QO-800), but there was no sign of Jack's dish (AG6QO-700).

It's dead Jim.

So, we'll be replacing this Ubitquiti node after only 5 months in service. Not a very good reliability standard.
At least it didn't cost a fortune.

This portable setup will come in handy tho'!

June 6, 2015

Well,it's been a while.

I bought an airplane, and NTS had a major melt-down, since my last post here. BUT! The BBS, and my mesh net are still going!

Last time I was at the airport, I realized that just aside my hangar at the county aiport, I have a clear, unobstructed line-of-sight view of the repeater site.

So, I took my portable mesh net setup with me to the hangar this morning, and made a good connection with the net cam, powerwerkx control unit, and the Raspberry Pi that I installed up there with K6WLS, last trip up.

The following images (except the one of me in the airplane), were taken from my laptop, which was connected ONLY to the mesh net via a local mesh node. Location of Portable Node

September 3, 2016