Mesh/Interviews with other meshers

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Interesting questions to ask

Some questions we may want to ask existing groups.

  • What kind of hardware do you use? Do you limit to only certain models, or only a, b, g or n, or only 2.4 ghz or 5 ghz?
  • What do you do about wifi channels? Is the whole mesh running on a single channel. If not, how do you bridge the different segments on the mesh running on different channels?

From the #freifunk channel on

<Juul> I noticed that freifunk community profiles don't contain the wifi channel. How do the routers decide which channel to use? Just based on the channel of the network with the specified ssid? I noticed a node on the freifunk map that had something like as its ssid. Isn't it really problematic to have different nodes using different channels?
<alice> Juul: sure, the local community must agree on one channel
<bob> Juul: if no channel is given in the profile cannel 1 is used
  • Do you use IPv4 or IPv6? Why?
  • How do you assign IP addresses? It seems like DHCP doesn't really work for OLSR, but for batman-adv there is a hack to make it function.
  • How do you do mapping of nodes? Is that part of the mesh also decentralized (Freifunk uses a central server).
  • How do you handle firmware upgrade. Do you rely on users to update their firmwares or do you have some other mechanism?
  • Does your mesh attempt to use multiple internet gateways "simultaneously", e.g. by allowing each connection to a new server to go through a new internet gateway, or by using tricks like splitting http downloads across multiple TCP connections and downloading in chunks?
  • Do you use squid proxy or similar on internet gateway nodes?
  • How do you handle bandwidth shaping / quality of service on internet gateway nodes?

Seattle Meshnet Interviews

These are anonymized IRC logs of chats with Seattle Meshnet folks. Alice is Juul (talk).

Interview 1 - April 2013

* Now talking on #seattlemeshnet
* Topic for #seattlemeshnet is: Seattle Meshnet | | We're not always around, so be patient
* Topic for #seattlemeshnet set by at Thu Mar 21 12:01:16 2013
<Alice> Hiya
<Alice> I'm from the 510pen (five-one-open) Oakland mesh group
<Alice> What kind of solution are you thinking about using for longer range directional links?
<Alice> I see that you're using Ubiquity Nanostations
<Bob> hello
* Bob pokes Paul Eve 
<Alice> do you have any idea how far two of those pointed at each other can reach, line of sight?
* anon gives something to other anon
<Bob> I don't
<Alice> We're playing around with small satellite dishes right now
<Bob> 15km according to
<Bob> Paul would be the man to talk too
<Alice> ok
<Alice> that sounds almost too good to be true
<Alice> perhaps that's in ideal conditions
<Bob> I'll see if I can get them back here
<Alice> thanks :)
<Bob> Alice, they also have a subreddit
<Carol> Title for - The Seattle Meshnet Project
<Bob> I'm not actually in Seattle myself
<Eve> ok
<Eve> uhh
<Eve> i have no scrollback
<Bob> one sec I will ezcrypt
<Eve> mk
<Eve> oh thought you said Portland meshnet
<Eve> hey juul
<Alice> hey Eve 
<Eve> re: longer range directional links
<Eve> proly nanostations
<Eve> we've got quite a few of them
<Alice> cool
<Alice> how'd you get funding?
<Eve> Several members just owned them beforehand
<Alice> ah
<Alice> so you think two nanostations pointed at each-other will be able to give decent link quality in an urban environment over 1 mile or so?
<Eve> if they're up high enough
<Eve> However, TBH this is more Paul's field of expertise
<Alice> ok
<Alice> we're looking at using small recycled satellite dishes with usb wifi adapters in the point of focus
<Eve> Bob, i presume you texted Dan too?
<Alice> the gain on those thinks are great
<Eve> yeah
<Alice> have you talked to some of the people running big established meshes, like freifunk or the athens mesh?
<Eve> nope
<Eve> at least not me
<Alice> ok
<Bob> Eve, yes
<Eve> When seattle gets more hardware up I proly will
<Eve> but i do more software stuff
<Eve> we did a group buy of MirkoTiks
<Eve> powerful 5GHz omnidirectional things
<Alice> ah
<Alice> have you decided on a mesh routing protocol?
<Alice> ok, I must admit I haven't looked much at CJDNS
<Alice> so, given my limited understanding of CJDNS routing, it seems to me that packets aren't necessarily routed in the most optimal way, given a mesh network?
<Alice> CJDNS routing is based only on the addresses right? and the addresses are not linked to physical position?
<Alice> ah, upon further reading it seems like it _is_ routing based on physical proximity as well
<Alice> guess I'll have to read the code to really understand it
<Eve> shit sorry
<Eve> got distracted
<Eve> yeah
<Eve> check #projectmeshnet, #cjdns for questions specifically about CJDNS
<Eve> i gotta go, dinner
<Eve> cya
<Alice> no problem, thanks :)

Interview 2 - March 31st 2013

* Now talking on #seattlemeshnet
* Topic for #seattlemeshnet is: Seattle Meshnet | | We're not always around, so be patient
* Topic for #seattlemeshnet set by at Thu Mar 21 12:01:16 2013
* anon has quit
* anon has joined
<Paul> Hia Alice!
<Alice> hey Paul :)
* anon gives something to other anon
* anon gives something to other anon
<Paul> how goes it?
<Alice> good good. just applied for some funding for our mesh project
* Alice crosses all the fingers
<Alice> i was told to talk to you yesterday
<Alice> i was wondering what kind of actual range you can get with two ubiquiti nanostations pointed at each other in an urban environment
<Alice> line of sight
<Alice> I've heard that buildings/trees/etc close to the line of sight will still interfere. Honestly I don't know much about how the radio waves propagate and how much clear space is needed along a path.
<Alice> your hardware wiki page says 15 km, but that sounds too good to be true
<Merlin> Alice: Yeah, the range is a bit insane
<Merlin> Although trees and buildings will effect the 2.4 and 5Ghz ranges quite a bit
<Paul> yeah
<Alice> how can the range be so great when it's only a 160 mW device?
<Paul> trees and hills are what prevent the range from being 15km
<Paul> 160mw?
<Paul> are you taking about one of those old Nanostation 2 rdios?
<Paul> *radios
<Alice> the nanostation 5 loco says it's 22 dBm
<Alice> for 24 Mbps and below
<Paul> I know that a Nanostation M5 has a lot more kick than that
<Paul> Yeah, the nanostation 5 loco was new in 2006
<Paul> look at its successor, the Nanostation M5 loco
<Paul> it does 23dbm iirc
<Alice> the M9 does 28 dBm
<Paul> I still have a pair of Nanostation 2 locos in use, but they barely make it 2 blocks with all the RF interference out there today
<Alice> cool
<Paul> yeah
<Alice> have you experimented with parabolic dishes?
<Paul> the M5 & M2 do 27dbm or so
<Paul> yeah, a bit
<Paul> pair a nanostation with an old satellite dish, a metal strainer, or an old wok, and you can go even further
* anon gives something to other anon
<Alice> ah cool
<Alice> thanks :)
<Alice> we were thinking about using usb wifi adapters with woks and maybe a raspberry pi
<Alice> not woks, i mean satellite dishes
<Alice> there are a lot of directv and similar small dishes available for free
<Alice> but getting them high enough might be a problem
<Alice> it's a lot easier to put a nanostation on a tall pole
<Paul> yeah
<Paul> exactly
<Paul> whereabouts are you located btw?
<Alice> Oakland, CA
<Paul> mmm
<Paul> To give you an idea of an Omnitik and a nanostation's coverage, take a look at this
<Arthur>  it looks to me like this project does not use cjdns.  Is that right?
<Carol> Title for - Page not found «  Project Byzantium
<Paul> yep, thats correct
<Arthur> ok, thanks
<Alice> byzantium uses babel
<Paul> haxwithaxe has requested that we add a few features to cjdns before it gets baked in to byzantium
<Paul> And we added those features as of about 2 months ago
<Paul> cjdns is planned for v0.4a
<Arthur> ah, so it may eventually be included in byzantium.  kuhl.
<Paul> yep
<Alice> Paul, cool. what am I looking at?
<Paul> Alice: oh, its a coverage map of one of our nodes
<Paul> it has an omnitik at the center, and is assuming your using a Nanostation M5 to connect in to it
<Alice> ah awesome
<Alice> ah awesome
<Alice> Paul, how high up was the omnitik and nanostation?
<Paul> oh, the omnitik is on a 20ft flagpole from Harbor Freight Tools
<Paul> and the map assumes you can get a Nanostation (or equivalent radio) up 20ft on your end
<Alice> is the map measured or calculated?
<Paul> Calculated, although from testing it seems to be fairly accurate
<Alice> nice! it was calculated using one of the free ligowave tools?
<Paul> yea
<Alice> cool.
<Alice> thanks for all the info
<Alice> I'm looking at the Ubiquiti Airgrid M5
<Alice> it looks pretty awesome
<Paul> yea, although its single polarity
<Alice> isn't that a good thing?
<Paul> not really
<Paul> its half the speed of a Nanostation
<Alice> ah
<Paul> 300mbps vs 150mbps is a pretty big diffrence
<Paul> although in practice its really more like 100mbps versus 60mbps
<Alice> that's better than i expected
<Alice> how did you decide on the omnitik?
<Alice> and is it the UPA-5HnD ?
<Paul> Nah, its the U-5HnD, the only additional feature on the UPA version is POE out, and it doesn't work too well
<Paul> and the fact that we got the U-5HnD's for $30 a pop was also very helpful
<Alice> oh, how'd you manage that?
<Alice> if we get this grant, we'd be looking to buy maybe 100 of them
<Alice> another question: are you putting openwrt on the omnitiks? 
<Paul> Oh, we found a seller who was looking to get ri of them
<Paul> *rid
<Alice> ok
<Alice> would you still recommend them at ~$80 which seems to be their retails price?
<Paul> he still has 60 or 70 of them though, although I wouldn't buy 100 of them or base my network on them exclusively
<Alice> ok
<Paul> and they can't run OpenWRT at this point, although they have more than enough ram, flash, and cpu power to run OpenWRT
<Alice> ok
<Alice> are any of your group hacking on that?
<Paul> yea
<Paul> they also work down to 4.8ghz and up to 6.075ghz according to Eve 
<Paul> so that is moderately interesting
<Eve> that's just what the WebUI said
<Eve> no idea if it actually does it
<Alice> yeah, probably not a good idea to base a mesh on any one type of hardware
<Paul> yea
<Paul> get a mix of Freestations, Nanosations, Omnitiks, and whatever else is cheap and robust, at least that is what we've been doing