What's this Mesh stuff? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rick Kirchhof - NG5V   

The home page for the Austin Mesh development SIG is broadband-hamnet.org

Mesh networking uses off the shelf comsumer wireless routers with special firmware to build quick, easy to deploy microwave networks. Think of them as wired computer networks without the wires. The ability to use special software and inexpensive hardware to rapidly set up temporary computer networks almost anywhere is a valuable tool. Any Ham can do this. With the recent shift by served agencies to intense dependence on computers and networked communications, we can bring real value to emergency sites and temporary deployments using these new tools.

The firmware now available allows several modes of operations, all from the same wireless router. Low brightness night mode, Site survey mode, automatic WAN gateway advertisement, signal strength measurement, and selective port forwarding are just a few of the current features.  The mesh node function is the most often used. It allows you to just plug in your device and have it find/shake hands with/route network data to all other mesh nodes within range. Those out of range are also available if another node you can reach can also reach the distant mesh device. Read the release notes for how these useful devices have evolved and what they currently offer. The Linksys/Cisco WRT54GL and related are the current hardware platform, but not all of the WRT54xx versions will work so download the shopping list before you purchase anything. The Goodwill computer store at 1015 Norwood Park Boulevard in Austin has used versions in stock frequently.

Current firmware features include point and click jumps from one node to another, advertising of web servers or IP video to other mesh nodes and greatly simplified configuration and port forwarding setup. As an example, you could place a NAS somewhere on the network and then make a web link to it. This forwards the correct port through the firewall and gives a live link on every HSMM-MESH node on the network where users just click on the link to see the files on their browser. 12vdc UPS units that have become available as surplus make it easy to just flip the switch and join the mesh with your computer.

In addition, the ARCHES system is getting a high-speed microwave overlay for it's core locations. Current equpiment  operating at 1200 baud packet speeds will be supplimented  by HSMM-MESH networks to expand the range of services we can offer to hospitals and other sites. St. Davids South Austin Medical Center and the Red Cross Centex Chapter have  installations of HSMM-MESH working now. The HSMM-MESH development group was originated by TCARES as a special interest group. It has grown to a separate software/hardware development and test organization with thousands of users in other states and even overseas. The web site averages over 5000 visitors per month. Check out the web site at hsmm-mesh.org to learn more on mesh networking.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 19:15