Users in Panama City, FL and the Florida Panhandle


#1

Hi everyone. I’m a brand new goTenna Mesh user and was wondering if there were many fellow users in the Panama City, FL and Florida Panhandle area. For anyone who’s paid attention to the news lately, our area was hit by a massively powerful hurricane that caused widespread destruction. Part of that destruction was massive damage to both Verizon’s and Sprint’s mobile networks as well as all our wired ISPs. Had we had a functioning mesh network using goTenna Mesh units, communication likely would have been much, much easier.

While much of the mobile and wired infrastructure has been restored, there are a lot of people who are likely terrified of something like this happening again. In beefing up my own preparations I decided to test out goTenna Mesh units and see about adding them to the kit. But we need more people to cover this area.

I’ve checked the map, as well as added my own node, and there are a few users listed. Are there any others in this area who simply haven’t added themselves to the map? Does anyone have suggestions on how to get more people onboard?


#2

I am just a bit to the west, in Fort Walton Beach, and picked up a four pack of gotenna recently as well. I have kept one of them in my car in relay mode, but don’t really expect this to be anything more than a way for my family to keep in touch over short range, should cell service cut out. Relying on random other users for hops seems like a fairly unreliable idea, especially in loosely populated area like this.

Ultimately, it’s going to take a bunch of families who happen to be near each other also using gotenna in small pockets, maybe at just the neighborhood level to start building out a stable network. Maybe talk to your local home owners association and try to get a node or two stood up?


#3

Yes, relying on people to just pop up and start replying in an emergency situation is not reliable. Keep in mind that goTenna Mesh is a lot like email. You don’t want to start building your Contacts list in the middle of an emergency. It’s a good thing to start making the effort to reach out to others well in advance of need.

A good observation.

A good practice is to list your GUID in the node info you can enter when placing it on the map. That way others know how to reach out to you, even several hops away. Getting those GUIDs from those around you into your Contacts list is a useful practice that starts the ball rolling toward building a local network.

Starting this thread is another way to connect.

Another good idea. Ultimately, if you get a node up high enough, you’ll be pretty amazed at the reach. Make as many connections as you can, maybe start a Meetup, post on your local library’s community board, or check in with the local Ham community, even if you’re not a licensed operator. But especially foster relationships with those who have a suitable tower or a three story house where most are 1- or 2-story, my, that’s all the better.

Good luck, you need it down there. And you need some alternatives like mesh when the luck runs out.


#4

I figured I should experiment a bit first before I start recommending others get on board. So far they’ve worked pretty well for my own tests, although I haven’t found anyone else with one yet. But trying to encourage more people to join the movement is certainly a goal!


#5

Okay, I went back and added the GID for my node to my map entry. Although there isn’t exactly a place for it, so I just sorta stuck it in the description. I clicked around to a lot of other nodes on the map and didn’t see any other examples, so hopefully that’ll do the job.

Do you happen to know if there are any suggested/approved ways to get a goTenna mounted outdoors, up high, without necessarily breaking it open and adding an external antenna? The good thing around here is that it’s pretty flat. The bad thing is that we usually have lots and lots of pine trees that can block things. Although, since the storm, we have way fewer trees than we used to.

Thanks very much! I think our community is on the way to recovery, but it’s certainly going to take a while.


#6

This is a recent suggestion on how to improve the map. Some concerns have been expressed about how “fresh” the map is. Well, it’s crowdsourced, voluntary, and depends on users to keep it updated. Frankly, with so much human work fixing all those potential issues required, it does have its limits. It was never intended as the sort of “real-time” features many expect from everything these days or it just doesn’t convey enough “earnestness” or something, despite the fact that such things are largely automated. I like the fact that the map is made by human effort for the most part.

Yes, just working the GUID into the textual description you can enter works fine.

Thing to remember is that Shouts do NOT relay, so even where a network exists, you can’t just do the CB radio thing and ask if anyone “has a copy?” Emergency Shouts do relay to the max number of hops available and one could be used in a pinch to ask for others to send their GUIDs (be sure to include you own in such a message) back that way, but only in a real emergency and then only in this very limited way, like once, while noting those hearing the message should reply via a direct message addressed back to you via the GUID you just sent. Otherwise, if everyone started using ES as a party line it would risk tying up a vital emergency link just when it’s needed most.

Collecting GUIDs that way sounds like a very stressful project in the middle of an emergency, which is why folks should build their emergency Contacts list now, before you really need it.

There are several ideas in this thread: https://meshcommunity.gotenna.com/t/meet-firefly-lightweight-improvised-portable-relay-nodes-easy/1847

The battery in a GTM lasts about 24 hours. You could change them by taking them out of a waterpoof case and charging them every 24 hours. Or you can rig a battery pack, charge it via a solar panel, or rig a feed line down to a source of power like I do on my own node here.

Glad I can help organize some thoughts on this. Every situation varies and most plans tend to crumble some once the storm hits, so it’s important to be flexible, diverse in terms of your resources, educated, and well-supplied as you can be.


#7

I really think it’d be helpful if there were just dates of when the nodes were last added/updated. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything for accuracy, but it at least gives you an idea of when someone may have been using their GTM. Adding a GID field would be pretty helpful too for those who’d like to share them.

Oh, there are some really good ideas in there. That’s given me some ways that I can possibly get some of my family members who have houses to put their GTMs on their roofs with little maintenance. I need them to buy some units first, though. I also saw in one of the DIY threads that there were people creating models to 3D print for various cases, so I’m looking forward to giving that a shot too.

It’s certainly appreciated! I’m trying to get people involved before the memories of having no means of communication fade. It’s a tough sell, though, especially when everyone is strapped for cash. While I was fortunate that I didn’t have much damage following the hurricane, a lot of my friends and family weren’t so lucky and are rightly more concerned with taking care of their families and fixing their homes. I do know that a few people I’ve talked to are interested, so hopefully we’ll have a bit more of a network in the future.


#8

Just bumping this up a bit in case anyone from our area is researching goTenna and mesh networks. If you do happen to be in the Florida Panhandle and are interested in setting up mesh networks, have GTMs and want to exchange GIDs, please send me a message! I really think this would be good for our area!


#9

If I recall, we have some users in Apalachicola. Paging Apalachicola Meshers!


#10

I just wanted to add a small update to this thread. I noticed several new nodes added to the map for the Panama City, FL area. Please consider adding your GIDs to your node entries too so we can work on expanding and testing the mesh network in this area. I know not everyone is interested in using their GTM units with people other than family/close friends, but since our area still lacks a substantial network I feel this could be really helpful to test coverage.