Sometimes you just need a node.
It could be for testing coverage and signal strength at a location.
It could be an weekend event outside your usual mesh network or in a remoate area.
It could be an emergency situation, with regular communications down.
The small size of the goTenna Mesh and its handy straps make it easy to deploy it to serve all those needs and more. Slinging it up in a tree or leaving it exposed on a high point will work – it’s somewhat resistant to moisture. But for better results with all but the briefest of uses, some protection from the elements seems a prerequisite.
I’ve been building stationary relay nodes out of Pelican-clone boxes. These are very portable, but not exactly something most of us would stash away for emergency use in our pack. They could be pulled up into a tree, but they are heavy and somewhat out of balance for suspending in trees with their ungainly solar panels, etc.
I tend to save stuff, as you never know what it will come on handy on a project. This one popped into my head earlier this evening, but others may have similar example of lightweight, improvised, or emergency rigging to help a relay node work better under less than ideal conditions away from home. I’ll bet there are a lot of such ideas in Puerto Rico, for instance. Feel free to add your thoughts or creations.
This is what I call a Firefly.
It’s a 23.5 oz plastic jar for tropical fruit salad by a well-known company, but similar containers are widely available. Just don’t use glass.
You’ll also need a 62" bootlace or similar light cord; a 6" ty-wrap; an extra container lid; and a goTenna Mesh in Relay Mode. A battery pack like a Voltaic V-15 will extend the node life between chargings. You could even sling a solar panel underneath, if you create a way to avoid it spinning on its line.
Drill quarter-inch holes in the lid and bottom of the jar. Fold the bootlace in two, and thread the folded end through the lid and hole in bottom of the jar. Knot the cord on both sides of the jar lid, then tie a loop to accommodate the goTenna strap in one bootlace freeend. Finally, thread the ty-wrap up through the hole, then route it back down through a slender slot punched in the plastic slot of the lid. It should look something like this.
With the Ty-wrap partially threaded through the lid.
Don’t cut the loose ends of the Ty-wrap or bootlace. You need them to assist in pulling the lid back down and out of the jar when servicing it. It should luck something like this when unshucked from the jar.
Then you pull the cord up to seat the lid inside the bottom of the jar. If all you need is a day’s worth of coverage, then the goTenna Mesh unit has you covered.
Need more? the Voltaic V1 battery pack will just slip inside the jar’s mouth if you pucker it up a bit. You can use bigger jars here, but I think this is about the smallest jar that can accommodate bother the radio and goTea Mesh
Things are pretty packed inside, but everything fits well.
With the extra batteries aboard, it’s a good thing to take the extra jar cap and thread it on to keep everything in the jar.
A knot can be tied near the top of the bootlace loop to keep from having to restring the guts of the Firefly every time you take it apart.
The semi-clear plastic housing is tough, RF-transparent, and lets you cut it as needed. You can observe the operating info LEDs from the ground, depending on how far up you get it. It’s small and portable. All you need is a long rope and you can quickly get the relay high up, as can several other methods. The whole package weighs more the the goTenna, so helps with penetrating the tree branches and getting it back down through them. The Firefly is priced right, rugged and will serve your needs for protecting a relay “on the fly.”