San Francisco / Bay area


#21

Just got a set today. Planning to set up a stationary node — probably in relay mode — at work near the Ferry Building and add it to the map.

Question for @danielagotenna or someone else: have you gotten any indication whether being on the 20th floor is better than being on the 2nd floor in an urban environment in terms of performance and/or range?


#22

Higher is pretty generally always better :slight_smile:


#23

Along these same lines, simply elevating your Gotenna can often make the difference between getting reception vs NOT getting reception. This is particularly true when using the devices either in challenging terrain and/or at the edge of their range. Another thing that can make all the difference at times is simply taking a few steps. There have been times where even elevation failed to get me reception in one spot, but I got reception WITHOUT elevation a mere 5-20 feet away. Think about a light shining in the woods. Sometimes, taking a few steps is enough to be able to see the light because it is no longer blocked by trees.


#24

A group of us tested GoTenna mesh in the Muir Woods / Mt Tam area in south Marin on 16 December. We had a relay at the mountain theater and on Diaz ridge. We were able to mesh up and send messages from santos meadows, 4 corners, pantoll, mountain Home, Miwok trail. Muir beach was a fail. At least 2 Miles line of sight!

Rowlands47@gmail.com


#25

wow! That is super impressive!


#26

It would be really cool to eventually see permanent goTennas on top of Mt Tam, Mt Diablo, Mt Hamilton, & Mt Umunhum.


#27

THAT would be AWESOME! I actually hiked to the top of Mount Diablo from Regency Drive through Prospector’s Gap last night, and tested my new Mesh units on the hike. Beyond Prospector’s Gap, the units were useless until I came close to the summit (at least without a relay, since I was on the opposite side of the mountain). A repeater could change that, and could possibly bring reception even to areas of the park without cell service. And with the help of nodes in places like Concord, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek, reception could be brought to much of the Diablo Valley.


#28

Maybe we can get some people together one Saturday to hit Mount Diablo from various angles (I’m near the South Gate and Macedo Ranch) and see how much coverage we can get. Maybe someone could go up to the summit. I’ve been wanting to but but that high that fast gives me a headache, I can’t comfortably go much higher than Juniper campground.


#29

I’ll be willing to monitor from the other side of the bay = line of sight to Mount Diablo.


#30

I should maybe make a post the next time that I hike Mount Diablo. I am usually up there on a weeknight evening. Unfortunately, I can’t do weekends due to my work schedule. Not sure if you would be able to get a signal from the west side of the bay, though, as this is over 20 miles. But it’s certainly worth a try.

BTW, I did try to do a shout on a few occasions from the top on Monday evening at around 6:00-6:30, but got no response. Then again, you would probably need to be outside with good line of sight in order to even hope to get reception from that kind of distance.

Anyway, like I said, I should probably make a post here the next time I go up there if anyone wants to see if they can receive a shout (or whether they want to try to shout to me). That way, anyone interested could either step outside with their Gotenna to get line of sight, or maybe set up a node somewhere that has line of sight. It might even be good for me to make a post while climbing the mountain itself (like when I start and when I am nearing the summit) to give an idea of my ETA.


#31

Hey guys - as promised, I’m sharing my notes on creating what @gua742 calls the “Mother Of All Nodes” or MOAN. Since I get laughs and eye rolls every time I call it that, can we figure out another name for this thing? :wink:

OK, so here are the parts I picked up (hat tip to @gua742 for sharing his list):
-12v solar panel [$19]
-12v solar controller [$10]
-12v lead acid battery [$17]
-Lead acid battery charger [$9]
-12v cigarette lighter [$8]
-12w USB car charger [$13]
-900mhz omni-directional antenna [$99]
-N male to UHF female adapter [$4]
-UHF male to SMA female adapter [$5]
-10cm SMA male to female antenna extender cable [$8]
-Waterproof outdoor case [$40]
-Conduit hanger #2 [$2]
-2 screws, 2 washers, velcro, drill, drill bits, screw drivers, and various other tools commonly found in a tool box

Now, it probably would’ve made more sense to get an N Male to SMA female connector since less parts = simplicity = less likelihood something doesn’t work.

Once you have the parts, assembly really is simple. I removed all foam from the box save the lid, as that helped keep the battery in place. Velcro goes on the bottom of the various parts, then drill a couple holes (antenna SMA connectors and wire from solar panel), and mount the solar panel + antenna brackets.

When mounting the antenna, I’d recommend mounting a bit higher than the hole you’ve drilled for the SMA connectors. This allows you to have some distance between the antenna and hole, so your coax isn’t crimped due to lack of space.

Wiring is relatively easy as well, given the solar controller clearly calls out each of the 3 items you’re connecting: solar panel, battery, and whatever you’re charging (in this case, the cigarette lighter) as well as the + and - terminals. For the solar panel, I measured enough wire so it could move freely and make it inside the box to the solar controller (with some slack), then cut the remaining wire+alligator clips. I then used the wire+alligator clips to connect the battery to the solar controller. The cigarette lighter had its own wires, so those were easily connected to the solar controller. Oh, and charge the battery overnight before you use it, just so there’s no question as to whether you’ve wired something wrong, or how much charge the battery actually has to power your MOAN.

Cracking open the goTenna mesh is not easy!! Holy cow, the flash-welding or whatever these guys do, keeps that thing locked up tiiiiight! That’s great for wet weather, but not so bueno for h/w hacking. We ended up using a dremel to crack open the seam in the plastic shell, which, when paired up with the other things we tried, ruined it.
IMG_20171020_145442

Once inside, we realized the power button had fallen off, and it didn’t appear as though it was soldered on too tightly. So, be careful when cracking yours open - it’s easy to jack something if you’re not delicate. Here’s what the board looks like once you’ve got it opened up:
IMG_20171020_134319

It’s not too hard to find the antenna and ground, although figuring out how to wire a tiny SMA coax cable to both is somewhat interesting. We pulled off the business end of the cable, and delicately soldered a tiny piece of wire to the ground (ie. the shielding around the coax), then soldered to the ground on the board. I say delicately, because too much heat on the ground shielding could melt through the shielding and jack the entire wire. From there, the main antenna was connected to the printed antenna on the board. If you’re looking at this photo, the soldering on the left is the antenna, and the right is to the ground:
IMG_20171023_094706

Once that was done, we wrapped the top of the board with some Kaptan tape and placed the goTenna in the box, ready to wire up with everything else.

From there, it’s really just powering the unit on and testing it out. As you can see, things in there are somewhat organized, but the goTenna unit is still flailing about, nekkid. I’d love to 3D print a case for it, if someone has the skills to whip that up!

IMG_20171020_145559

Also, it’s worth noting that I’m not an electrician or electrical engineer, so before you go playing with electricity, talk to someone that actually knows what the heck they’re doing :slight_smile:

Not unlike @gua742 I still need to weatherproof this thing, but will hold off on doing that until I can properly test it out and see if I’ve hosed it up somehow. Speaking of which, if you see something that I screwed up, do let me know, so I can fix it.

IMG_20171020_145524


#32

Looks good. I keep questioning the resulted impedance when connecting a second antenna without disabling the first. I haven’t heard anyone talk about that. It might only be an issue in my own mind. My other thought is that at the very least leaving the second antenna is wasting RF. For anyone else thinking about doing this get a proper soldering iron with temperature control or see if you have a local hackerspace where you could borrow one.

Are ther any fuses?
The dark case might absorb a lot of sun and create heat.
I might toss something in the box to manage moisture. Damprid or rice in a brown paper bag.
You could look for a way to protect the other gear inside the box in case the battery leaks or just make sure to mount it so the battery is at the bottom.


#33

Yes, temperature is a concern, and welcome idea on how to address it.


#34

The alternate name for the MOAN is the DASS-RS; Deploy Anywhere Self Sustaining-Repeater System, per @gua742 's introductory video to the unit.


#35

SO BAD ASS!!! I think it’s awesome you did it! How is it working?!


#36

Don’t need to change the name, just the pronunciation.

Instead of MOAN rhyming with loan, think of it as having two syllables (MO/AN) and pronounce it as ‘Moe-Anne’.


#37

We put a relay node in an oak tree on Sonoma Mountain, had one node 5 miles away in Petaluma, and I drove south checking out connectivity until last contact in Bahia, 15 miles from Sonoma mountain.

We are looking at a permanent relay node on Sonoma mountain.

I experimented with trying add some directivity by placing the node at the focus of a TP-link 2.4GHz parabola. I think it worked better, but hard to derive any metrics! See

Best regards,
Rob Rowlands
415 894 9036


#38

Use an insulated case and paint it white.


#39

Hey guys! I’m a new goTenna mesh user and I’m located in the San Jose region, work in the north, sleep in the south. Viewing the imeshyou site there appears to be a lot of gotenna mesh units in the general vicinity but I’ve never been able to hop any units. Is the map constantly updated? What happens if a user stops using their device?


#40

Welcome!

The imeshyou site isn’t real-time, so it requires manual updates from the mesh owners themselves.

Unfortunately many people don’t keep their gotennas on, so the network isn’t as robust as it could be. The second issue (for now) is that shouts don’t repeat, so range is really limited to only people who have gotennas relatively close.

My hope is that with multi-hop shouts, we can place one of these on Sunil ridge with a half-decent antenna and cover most of the Fremont area, and possibly even San Jose by being line-of-site. With another few on Mt. Diablo, Oakland hills, and of course SF, we’ll have some huge progress in creating a very usable mesh.

The other problem is that there is only one shout “channel” currently. I’m thinking that will change to multiple channels soon as shouts could cover hundreds of square miles when it moves to multi-hop.

Best bet right now is to have a meetup for gotenna users to exchange contacts and create a common group chat.