Urbana, Illinois, Now a goTenna Mesh Ambassador City!


Chatted with a prospective node host this afternoon and it looks like UMESH 9 will also be going up in the next couple of days during this spate of nice weather. A great way to celebrate my 1 year anniversary in the mesh community! :sweat_drops: :boom: :dizzy: :grinning:

UMESH 9 will add some redundancy in an area that needs it.

I think the last 10 days may have dimmed out at least one node. Short days and a persistent really thick cloud cover may have taken their toll. I’ll be checking on things, as well as putting up the 2 new nodes between now and Sunday.


It was a frustrating day in some respects, but we made a lot of progress in the end. Got one node up successfully (in the end). Ha dto delay

First, went to set-up UMESH 9. The node host took it up and tied it down on the chimney. He remarked on the great view towards the north and took a few pics, so may have some of that to post soon. Usually I like to spend a little more time with a new host and make sure the node is all squared away, but I was a little pressed for time because of scheduling two nodes in one day. I had trouble connecting home and decided to see if I could solve for things before the second appt of the day. A check was somewhat inconclusive but pointed toward the home relay and suggested loss of power during the recent gloomy period. I got it back in relay mode eventually, but it still seemed flaky at that point, so I vowed to come back later and sort it out as best possible.

A brief time later, I arrived at the site of UMESH 8, talked with my climber and we jointly decided the ladder just wasn’t going to be long enough. The node host has gutter cleaners coming, so we came up with a plan to ask them to set UMESH 8 in place. It remians pending, but will be done soon.

Still, wasn’t a complete bust, as after a long chat about what the mesh was my climber suggested another potential node site in a great location that he will check on and let me know. I’m not calling it UMESH 10 yet, but we’re very close. With 8 nodes up, we’re now 25% of the way to our goal of 32 nodes to mesh Urbana. With 3 more (one site in hand, one possibility, plus one more) we’ll be 1/3 of the way to our goal.

After supper, I headed back out to determine whether or not the home relay was up. It sure was and a drive around the mesh showed that the newly minted UMESH 9 seemed to be functioning well, I noted with some relief.


After some analyzing and testing, I narrowed the potential problems area that was causing a lack of connection from north to south down to two nodes and checked them both today. Happy to see a nice full battery pack and a live goTenna Mesh relay in UMESH 3. Found a full battery at UMESH 2, but it apparently lost power in the depths of the our long nights and needed a reboot. Then things were working well in the brief time I had for testing, but will do more testing when the local snow event subsides over the next 48 hours that is just beginning. For now, I will keep the coverage map the same, but will update if I find expanded service to the southwest which is possible.

Was just thinking, there was one difference between the two relays that might have made the difference and kept the one on the air when the other one lost power. UMESH 3 had a 6 W panel, while UMESH 2 had a 2 W and a 3.5 W panel paralleled together for a total of 5.5 W. Did the 1/2 watt difference make a difference? Looks like it, but would require more testing to confirm. However, for coping with the short winter day lengths around Latitude 40 North, this does suggest that 6 W might be as low as you’d want to go to avoid those pesky service interruptions when relying on solar panels.


It was a gloomy day when we put UMESH 9 up, but these are still nice pics of its place up top of everything. The host of this new relay node was just sizing it up for how to tie it down when he snapped this pair of pics I’m sharing with their permission.

Pic courtesy of UMESH 9

As you can see, solar power is catching on in the Midwest. Of the 8 solar-powered nodes on the air now, two of our hosts have decent sized solar arrays. There are some real possibilities for sharing data between solar arrays with goTenna Mesh.

Pic courtesy of UMESH 9

These pics remind me I need to finish the wood before final assembly in the next group of nodes built to this design. We have nodes looking for homes right now, so if you’re in Urbana, let me know through a Direct Message here or by texting me on UMESH at 92290810565183 and we’ll see what we can arrange, despite the weather. The vital linking relay node I fixed yesterday is now a hump under 6"+ of snow and it still gets the signal through.:tada: Right now I’m looking forward to the sun coming out and clearing the solar panels off.

And thanks again to the great folks at goTenna who are supporting the build-out of UMESH by providing the essential ingredient for 21st century off-grid communications, the goTenna Mesh.


I had a chance to go out and do some network evaluation today, mostly to check on the effects of the 8" of snow we received over the weekend. When the snow first came down, it’s effects were very minor, mostly involving needing to resend a message where it was typical to get a confirmation returned after a several hop connection.

Things aren’t so good two days later. Apparently, the melting of the snow compacted it, which had a bigger effect on RF signals getting out consistently. I was able to ping on second try in places while needing to retry the send message 5 times or more before I got a confirmation on some links. Others were mostly unaffected. I suspect the way the signal goes and the position and thickness of the snow on the waterproof container makes a difference.

Be patient with things. We’re hoping the melting gets the snow off the solar panels on the relay nodes before battery life becomes an issue.


I had a chance to check to see how we fared through this miserable week for solar energy locally. I’ll just say there seems to be significant network degradation. Right now we’re facing Winter Storm Warning for the next 24 hours, 4 to 6 inches of snow with winds to 40 mph.

This provides a great opportunity for someone with rooftop access somewhere in the twin cities to offer a helping hand to your fellow meshing citizens. If you can safely brush snow off a node, all the better! We’ll persist. :cold_face::dart: