AREDN Project Announces Strategic Changes

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by K6AH, Jul 25, 2018.

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  1. K6AH

    K6AH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    [​IMG]

    AREDN forms a non-profit corporation to ensure continuity

    The project saw the need for more formal governance and as a result, took the strategic step of organizing as a non-profit corporation. This will help protect the user-community investments in mesh networking by setting up the framework for long-term resource management, research, and development.

    Our mission is still focused on providing the Amateur Radio Community with software, education, and support to enable them to aid public safety, emergency response and disaster relief agencies with high-speed multimedia data networks.

    Continuing to rely on the financial support of a few individuals is not a sustainable means of supporting the project. Without more widespread support, the community’s growing investment in network equipment and relationships with served agencies is at risk. We expect to obtain contributions primarily from the ham community. We plan to use these funds to cover operating expenses such as web site hosting, setup a test and validation lab, obtain associated test equipment, and address the costs of promoting the project through various marketing channels. We plan to consider grants to fund worthy implementations of AREDN infrastructure as our resources may allow.

    AREDN code repositories on GitHub

    All AREDN source code has been moved to GitHub at https://github.com/aredn/aredn_ar71xx. GitHub also includes an issue tracking feature to capture enhancement requests and defects.

    GitHub is one of the largest open source code repository services with over 40 million users. Anyone with basic knowledge of Linux and Git can now contribute changes and compile AREDN images through an automated build process. If you have a background in application or firmware development, the hurdle to contribute is now substantially lower.

    The move to GitHub helps the project stay aligned with the current version of OpenWRT. This is the basis for AREDN firmware and is supported by over one thousand developers worldwide. These developers release a steady stream of advancements and fixes. Contributors may now focus on those features that make the AREDN product unique and pertinent to the ham community.

    The move to GitHub is already helping our project. We are pleased to have three new developers already contributing. One of them, Andrew, KK4ZUZ, bought a TP-Link CPE210 v2.0 device and discovered that AREDN did not support it. He rolled up his sleeves, collaborated, started coding, and submitted pull requests to GitHub. Thanks to Andrew, we now have support for the CPE210 and CPE510 v2.0 devices.

    Are you interested in contributing? Then become familiar with the GitHub workflow and submit your pull requests. Regular code contributors may take part in periodic developer conference calls.

    ---------------

    Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network, Inc. is a New Jersey non-profit corporation supporting the AREDN open-source software development project.

    The project writes and promotes the development of firmware for re-purposing Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) devices for use by licensed radio amateurs. These re-purposed devices - referred to as “AREDN Nodes” - are deployable by radio amateurs to automatically inter-operate and form a high-speed data network. This network is highly useful to emergency responders and disaster relief agencies during times of local and regional disasters.

    See the AREDN website for further information and software:
    https://www.arednmesh.org

    Or, contact:
    Randy Smith, WU2S
    The AREDN Project
    wu2s@arednmesh.org

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    4X5EB and W1MDM like this.
  2. K2NCC

    K2NCC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the post! In my meager decade or so in the hobby, I've never heard of AREDN.

    Every time I've looked into "mesh networking", it seemed to have very limited service and a bit of a boondoggle to implement.

    Mostly due to limited hardware choices, and very very limited range.
    Particularly one must be careful to not have any commecial value. Just surfing the web and seeing ads would violate the "pecuniary interests" regs.

    Methinks this is one of those great ideas that's outlived it's usefulness.
     
    KX4O likes this.
  3. K3KIC

    K3KIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mesh networks are being used successfully in industrial, commercial, and public service applications. The communications industry went through "mesh euphoria" about 10 years ago but eventually realized that it's not useful for a large public ubiquitous access network. There is a bit of a craze right now among young techies thinking somehow WiFi mesh will become an alternative to cellular access. And they will be freed of those bills.

    Mesh networks do have potential for emergency data networks if networks and their users understand the strengths and weaknesses of such networks. And work to the strengths and around the weaknesses.

    Having experience at Motorola developing and deploying mesh networks and mesh radios I do have concerns with groups that modify firmware on existing radios. My experience is that compliance with FCC regulations can be affected by code changes. One has to wonder if open source development of amateur radio mesh code is qualified prior to release.
     
    K2NCC likes this.
  4. K6AH

    K6AH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hams in Southern California counties have built and are utilizing a ~450 node mesh network based on AREDN software, operating in the ham 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 3.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz microwave allocations. It has the potential to support multi-megabit Emcomm traffic from the Mexican border, north to Ventura, and east to Palm Springs/Indio. Hams in most other large metro areas are starting to do the same. This isn't theoretical, its in use daily for VoIP telephone, email, chat, video surveillance/conferencing.etc.
     
  5. K3KIC

    K3KIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is there a system level document on what is being deployed? If so I'd be interested to look it over.
     
  6. K6AH

    K6AH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Supported devices include the entire AirMax "M" Series of Ubiquiti and the CPE210 & CPE510 TPLink wireless routers. Specs are available online from their respective manufacturers. Additional manufacturers' devices are in development.

    As for the SoCal network topology, it generally follows a 3-tiered (Backbone, Mid-mile, Deployed node) strategy. Nodes are automatically configured with network params, so coordination is not required. Hams simply load the software, enter their callsign along with a few environment variables and it joins the mesh. Part 97 ID requirements are fulfilled automatically by the software.

    More info can be found on the project's website at: arednmesh.org

    Andre, K6AH
    Project Manager
    The AREDN Project
    k6ah@arednmesh.org
     
    NR9V likes this.
  7. W4EDF

    W4EDF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think one thing to keep in mind with AREDN and any other Part 97 based mesh networking solution is, connection to the Internet is not implied. As such, any ads through surfing would be a non-issue. The benefit of a mesh network, over that of older packet technology is the ability to transmit data quickly. This is very important in a disaster situation, where digital images captured from a phone can be in excess of 8MB. As far as range, you certainly have a line-of-site issue but that would be the case for any communication in those bands but mesh also makes it easier to overcome those obstacles.
     
    K2NCC likes this.
  8. K6AH

    K6AH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Those who have implemented this technology are getting up to 50 miles between nodes and it's not uncommon for deployed nodes to link up with the network across distances of 15-20 miles. Complaints of limited range hearken to the BBHN days when the Linksys WRT54G was the only box that supported the software. The AREDN Project's broadening the support to commercial Wireless ISP devices has turned an interesting novelty into a viable offering capable of delivering critical network services to disaster agencies.

    This isn't to diminish the challenges with microwaves frequencies. Line-of-sight is an absolute requirements (and while I've personally used reflections and knife-edge retractions to make weak-signal contest contacts, to my knowledge no one has successfully used that technique with mesh); any encroachments into the 1st & 3rd Fresnel Zone will cause significant signal degradation; vegetation can all be challenges.

    We are fortunate in SoCal to have mountainous terrain in most counties. This bodes well for multi-tier network architecture as I have espoused in QST and TAPR articles. I'm certain this has contributed to the rapid adoption into SoCal. Although flat-landers are still doing well by utilizing water towers, communications tower, etc.

    I encourage the ham community to try this out. If there's an AREDN mesh in your area, buy a Ubiquiti NanoStation M for the band supported in your area. The entry price is about $75.

    Andre, K6AH
     
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  9. K3KIC

    K3KIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    With Motorola radios that were at the maximum legal power (30dBm), directional antennas, and radio chip sets very similar to those used in the Ubiquiti radios we could reliably get links of 40kM with maximum modulation rates. These of course were mounted on high locations. Using mounting locations from 14 to 25 feet, the same radios, and Omni antennas we would see only about 750 feet of range to maintain maximum modulation rates. In trees significantly less.

    Radios mounted below 20 feet can see "traffic fade" if located adjacent to busy roads.
     
  10. K6AH

    K6AH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The maximum modulation rate currently achievable across an AREDN RF link is 144Mbps (802.11n). As you point out, this rate can be difficult to achieve in the environment I described in my earlier comment. However, data rates, down to 1 Mbps, or lower, are still useful in passing disaster traffic. So while a network implementation might strive for a maximum throughput, there is no shame in settling for, say, 50 Mbps. I have a 50 mile backbone link running at 50 Mbps.
     

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