Urbana, Illinois


@bbwr10coqsm Amazing work. Besides you and your wife, do you have neighbors, family or friends in the area who have Mesh devices as well or are you really ground-zero? :slight_smile:

(And yes, @Robin is right! If you haven’t already, please fill out this survey to be a local mesh ambassador)


We’re pretty much at ground zero. We have a total of 7 devices, 3 have been fashioned into stationary nodes, leaving a pair of my wife and I, plus a cuple more for other users. I’ve been using one of them for testing along with mine (which almost met its doom this afternoon, but which made a remarkable recovery after some poking at it. )

I have filled out the survey form. Urbana is both big enough to make a fairly extensive and diverse use case and small enough to clearly see the effects of the results of a concerted effort to engage people with goTenna Mesh…


Updating a few things…
We raised our home node, UMESH1, up to ~28’ . This helped its reach some, and put it where it’s easier and safer to work on.

I attended an event with some old political activist friends who are helping a local county board campaign. This gave me an opportunity to introduce them to the goTenna Mesh. They were intrigued by its features and the fact that we’re building a local network to support its use.

I tend to set up to automatically set pins at one minute intervals for 15 minutes when leaving home on an errand or returning after being away. This allows me to check performance and signal at various locations. I leave the GTM on the dash , so it’s not an ideal location for reception, but about the best for mobile monitoring short of duct-taping it to the roof. In reviewing, last nght’s “take” I found that I was getting good reception at UMESH1 of the pin from the location of the town-edge venue I just described. This wasn’t a confirmed message, but was a new record for reception at 2.38 miles. This pointed out two issues I’m still working around.

Raising the home node made its reception and transmission noticeably better than for return paths from mobile GTMs. Eventually, fill-in stationary nodes off-axis from our intial 3-node string will help get mobile GTMs through, but the current lack of more than 2 hops and linear nature of the UMESH network means that mobile reception and transmission tends to lag.

Second, pings and pins seem to be more reliable than messaging in getting through, but don’t tell you much directly about stationary node performance since there’s no direct indication of any intermediate hops when these occur, unlike the “hopping” indication when a message arrives via a stationary node.

Whether it was the raising of the home node or something else, I’ve been getting noticeably fewer test messages that indicate these nodes are at work. In fact, I was at my current work site at the south end of the UMESH when I received an off to work message from my dear partner as she left the house to walk to work. This was apparently a direct jump without stationary node involvement per what was documented on her GTM. Impressive, but not reliable unless you can find and stay in that “sweet spot.” This and observations of the inaction of LEDs in its clear box on the home node when initially transmitting a message makes me wonder if the mesh protocol tries to send direct first, then only goes to a stationary relay when that initial direct comm fails?

Relative lack of sun (better than the week before, though), the relative weakness of signals from mobile GTMs versus those mounted well above ground level, combined with the current general opaqueness of stationary node operation (visible when it happens only to the sender, IIRC) makes you wonder if the stationary nodes are working at all at times. Messaging usually gets through where its expected to relatively easily, although some locations that would seem to have obvious stationary node coverage to assist do not awwm to assist at the same time they lack direct transmission LOS. Again, adding off axis nodes will help with this by providing alternative “looks” for a signal to hop to make it through, but in practical terms this remains dependent on expanding the total number of hops available for a message to move through on its way to its destination.

The final issue in testing is the small number of users. I “simulate” another user by leaving a GTM and phone at one location, but this is only convenient at the two end points. Without the capability to jump from one end to the other of the three-node network due to the limited number of hops currently available, coverage is spottier than it will be with that and a denser mesh network. So I’m working on expanding the user base, which will get easier as time goes on and capabilities come online for the goTenna Mesh.


Try hanging your GoTenna from your rear view mirror instead of the dash. I found that it can really help improve the signal performance.


My custom goTenna case.


I suspect this depends on the vehicle. It will certainly help, and having vertical polarity is also a good thing. I’ve started using this as one of the places I test from and had mixed results so far in our Land Cruiser.

I actually liked using the dash as a resting spot because it’s a somewhat compromised spot. Most users aren’t radio-centric like many of us, so testing like this represents a use case that may be more in line with average reception. If you pick up a signal this way, you also know it’s better than the weakest possible, which also gives a more real-world test.

dennilee’s “case” is spiffy (does that thing even have seatbelts?:thinking:) but like fuzzy dice, hanging stuff from the rearview mirror can at times lead to unwanted attention :policeman:

The GTM is small and non-descript enough it probably won’t be an issue, but something to be aware of if you decide to hang it there full-time.


Here’s an explanation of how the Mesh protocol works from goTenna:

"In the case of goTenna Mesh, the process starts with initial discovery. A user sends a message out in all directions with the intention of finding the intended recipient (or IR). If the IR is not in range, a burst broadcast goes to all other devices in range, essentially asking if anyone local knows the whereabouts of the IR.

Once a relaying goTenna Mesh confirms that it can reach the IR, the path to the IR will be defined and remembered, so messages between the original sender and the IR will follow the same path (again, the optimal path with the fewest number of hops). The networking protocols built into goTenna Mesh — which we’ve named Aspen Grove — will also actively avoid interference and obstructions by finding an alternate path if the established route is compromised."

So, yes, they will try direct comms first, and then try to relay if the recipient is out of range.


Makes sense. I need to do some more testing to see what the current system status is. Here at home UMESH1 is working but it’s on house power not solar. It’s also easy to check, unlike the other 2 that require some effort. So UMESH 2 and UMESH 3 are on uncertain status. They’re hard to test due to the limited number of users at the midpoint node and the inability to test end to end until the new firmware makes the mesh more “hoppy.”

I’ve been too busy to check things lately and the trend seemed to be against the nodes staying up due to the lack of sun and relatively limited recharge capacity of my beginner’s luck solar systems. Had a tooth pulled this morning so may try some testing later this afternoon if I get to feeling better. Right now it’s a bummer :hear_no_evil:

I have been testing bigger battery packs (I have several that are rated at 8,000 mAh and one that is around 25,000!), and they’re ready to go in service next time the nodes get back to ground. And I think bigger solarpanels are in the future for more reliability. I’m thinking about pairing up the panels I already have in inventory once I research how best to do that (they’re Voltaics), so could end up with 2 W +2 W = 4 W and 3.5 W + 3.5 W = 7 W. I’m actually hoping that I can make two sets of 3.5 W + 2 W = 5.5 as that seems optimal and I could do by buying one more 2 W panel and get UMESH 2 and 3 running full-time. Then I just buy larger ones.


It looks like Voltaic makes a combiner box to pair up panels for the V15:



Excellent! I was looking at that thinking it might be what’s needed. That should set me up for the network rebuild. I suspect 5.5 watts into a 8,000 mAh battery box will give a much larger margin of error. Wth a little luck, it might be adequate to last through January’s around here (and November, December, and February, too! :crazy_face: