Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


#22

Hi MrTSolar, I’m Adam Longwill, the ED of Meta Mesh Wireless Communities.

Check out the link Justin posted to see where our network locations are. We’re actively expanding our network out in the next few months to be in a better position to provide Internet access to novel projects and low-income neighborhoods for free. We have been aware of GoTenna for awhile but haven’t looked at it in awhile. It used to be that GT was just a ptp solution for communication- but it appears to have come a long way since then. I was unaware of these “Stationary Relays” and am very excited to learn of them.

We have access to a good number of locations that have COMMANDING views of the Pittsburgh area. I’m wondering how many people here on this forum would be funding or donating GoTenna’s so that we could place them at our locations to improve the quality of the GT network in Pittsburgh.

We’ll soon have locations live overlooking about 10 miles of the Allegheny River, Oakland, and maybe even Hazelwood if a new job goes through. We’d be more than interested in looping in the use of GT technology at these and other sites. But I’m just here to test the waters for this idea. Let me know what you think!


#23

My relay was still up when I left the house this morning, so Always-on mode appears to be active now. I’m working on getting it up higher so I can get signal over some of the hills between me and downtown.

I think that’s great what you’re trying to do, and including goTenna Mesh is an awesome way to provide communications alongside internet access.


#24

I think Meta Mesh is making a very generous and useful offer that can really pay off for Pittsburgh. This is a great way to get better access for mesh message service to prime locations that are already set up with power and other useful infrastructure, although it would be even better if the mesh nodes were solar powered.

Doing that would ensure service during power failures or wider emergencies, making it potentially very useful in restoring co-located services like wifi internet. Costs may limit how much solar can be immediately deployed, but having a plan to do so gradually would be wise.

Even for non-emergency services, goTenna Mesh provides a very useful circuit that can be used for trouble-shooting and general comms by an organization like Meta Mesh. Essentially, it can act like what used to be called the “orderwire” in multiplexed high-speed comm circuits, both land- and air-based. I use the term “high speed” advisedly, but back in the day (the day being the 60s to 80s) the orderwire was a phone or radio circuit used by operators and technicians to check the digital circuits, coordinate, and analyze issues – and sometimes just for chit-chat during those lonely hours. The goTenna Mesh could do the same for Meta Mesh, filling in nicely in this role when needed while expanding and sustaining a vital community service.


#25

@bbwr10coqsm thanks for recognizing we’re trying to help!

We do have the capability to wire up solar-powered solutions- although the batteries don’t last super long when being pushed through charge and recharge cycles- it can be done!

All our major repeater points have battery backups at them and we estimate they should last at least a day- and of course they can be made larger. We actually have already produced 3 solar-powered WiFi devices that last for about 6 months. If there is interest, we could organize a meetup to discuss opportunities, the technology of GT, and the interesting uses like BBW suggested in his last paragraph.


#26

Adam,
I’m actually in Urbana, IL working on setting up a community mesh network using goTennas. Over the years, I’ve picked up some of the basics of wifi internet. We hosted one of the early Champaign-Urbana Wireless Internet Network (CUWIN) experimental nodes for a couple of years back in the early 00’s, although I left the technology largely in far more capable hands (among them my friend, Sascha Meinrath, who built such ideas into this http://thexlab.org/team ) after he moved on to even more focused work on media and technology. I’m a historian myself, albeit one with a deep interest in the history of science and technology.

I do encourage people in the Pittsburgh area who share the concerns of many like you about equitable access to community resources like the internet to get in touch with you to see what they can do to assist with deploying it more widely,


#27

I have heard of CUWIN, and have met Sascha Meinrath. We did work for the Open Technology Institute in 2015. CUWIN was one of the earliest Communnity Wireless Networks I’d heard of and modeled PittMesh after- although there wasn’t a lot of info about it. You guys used HSLS for routing and we use OLSR for PittMesh routing!

Glad to hear from you!


#28

Cool, it’s a small world sometimes :smile:
It been a couple of years since I’ve seen Sascha, but I’m sure he’d be excited to know what we’re doing around here these days - and with what’s going on in Pittsburgh, too!


#29

@MetaMeshWC, @JustinG, have you talked with Grant Irving about Pittmesh? He’s the Chief Resiliency Officer for Pittsburgh. It might be possible to get some help from the city to expand both Pittmesh and the goTenna Mesh Network.

My relay is down again. I would definitely recommend larger than a 3.5 watt panel if you expect more than 3-4 cloudy days in a row. I’ll let it recharge a bit today then power it back up tonight if it’s not raining.


#30

Yes, I’ve met Grant. We’re working with HACP to get on some of their buildings. We’re interested in putting gotennas on these locations.


#31

a 3.5 watt panel is definitely not going to cut it. you should get a small 50 watt panel.


#32

I took the relay down for now. Yesterday and today were clear sky and sunny. The panel was still facing south, but the Voltaic pack and the Mesh unit are both dead. They turn on, just have almost no charge left.

Between this and the lack of range from a low-hanging branch, I’m removing the relay until I can get a better solution put together. To have contact with places I want, I have to get the unit higher up, which pretty much means I’m buying a tower. To keep the Mesh unit powered up, that also means a custom battery pack and a much larger power source (not quite 50 watts, but I do have two 15 watt panels doing nothing right now).


#33

mmmm I don’t know if you need to buy a tower. Can’t you put it atop your roof?

I’d recommend you purchase a UBAM mount https://www.streakwave.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=UBAM and figure out a way to hang it off of that in your protective case. or just Pipe Clamp it to the UBAM.

As for power- this is a solved problem. You need to get

A 50-w solar panel

A small battery

A charge controller

A weather resistant box

A 12v to 5v converter

And a usb micro charging cable

And that should take care of it if you put it together right.


#34

I would, but the house is in a valley. That’s why I’m working to get it high up on top of the hill. At the house, the signal doesn’t make it further than the end of our road.

I have plenty of options for power, that’s not a problem. I just had issues with this because I scaled down to keep the size of the relay compact.


#35

Check back next week to confirm, but I suspect a single 15 watt panel should be more than enough for any single goTenna Mesh needs.

I’ve got 6 watt and 5.5 watt arrays up right now that seem to be doing the job after earlier falling short a bit in this project with 2 W and 3.5 W panels. In sunnier climes they would likely suffice on their own, but this area is generally not thought of as a vacation destination for that reason, plus no mountains, beach, or forests. Great flat terrain for radio, though, unlike Pittsburgh, which has its own obvious charms to finding the high ground, the holy grail of a sweet spot for reception and transmission.


#36

We’ve got our four units in. I’ve been playing with them for a little while. I’m correct in understanding that they’re automatically in relay mode just by being turned on (and unpaired) correct?

Is there a way to test the range of a relay node? It would be great if I could see what relays my personal node can hit and what their signal strength is (COUGH @Rahul_Subramany)

I’ll be keeping mine on and hanging out with it through the evening if someone wants to hit up GID: 9303 0236 5095 47


#37

When turned on by holding the power button, they enter normal mode, where a phone can be paired by Bluetooth. If you triple click the power button to get a solid light, then triple-click again, it enters relay mode, where Bluetooth is turned off and the unit’s sole function is to relay messages. Both modes always relay other messages. The only difference between the modes is one lets you pair a phone (and receive pings and messages), the other does not.

The best way I’ve found to do range testing is to pair a phone to the node and send messages to it from the mobile node. Messages have the advantage over Ping of showing if it needed to relay or directly hopped.

What’s your highest node? If there’s a few minutes where the wind calms down, I might try flying the drone up and sending you a Mesh message.


#38

I have repeatedly tried to get this to work but can’t. I hold the power button down and it turns on and it flashes about 2x a second. Pressing the button 3 times makes no change. None of my 4 gotenna devices work the way you describe it above. I cannot get my devices to come out of the constantly flashy state or “normal mode.”

Clearly I’m doing something wrong.


#39

Have you updated the firmware? The update will allow you to setup relay mode, as described by @MrTSolar

To confirm your firmware is up-to-date, or to update your firmware version, take the following steps:

  1. Select ‘Settings’ from the Side Menu.
  2. Select ‘About’.
  3. If you need to update your firmware, you’ll see a blue button to update the firmware. Tap the blue button.
  4. If you don’t need to update your firmware, you’ll see the latest firmware version listed with no blue action button.

Currently, the latest firmware for goTenna Mesh is version 0.13.48.


#40

You’ll need the firmware update as Virginia pointed out. The older firmware only responds to long presses of the volume button.


#41


We have officially deployed our first mesh node high atop HackPGH overlooking the South Side and we have confirmed that it works well from about a mile away.