Mesh/09 May 2013

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  • alex, substack, juul, yardena, jenny, miguel

Fundamental Questions

Why be on a local network?

  • Overcoming alienation, loss of community
  • Supporting local organizations and businesses
  • Emergency communications (natural disaster, censorship, etc)

Things we need

  • Ladder
  • Binoculars
  • Let's make a wishlist!


  • Omnidirectional on the hilltops with directional antennae, buy 1 donate one to 510pen
  • Mapping collective houses and apartment buildings with rooftop accesss
  • College dorms who'd want a secure network for file-sharing


“TCP/IP was designed to work over any kind of layout and not just the booming voice of the master, which is what we currently have” -yardena

  • meshing protocol handles the routing
  • master mode only useful if you want to appear as a wireless access point
  • ARP (address resolution protocol) cache which identifies the network cards on machines
    • ^data link layer
  • delivery is much less efficient due to needing to broadcast
  • delivery speed is highest to its adjacent neighbors
  • message queues through key value stores
  • bootstrapping list

Low Bandwidth Emergency Communications Project

  • talk to juul, legind or jerkey (often on irc)
  • Played with it Sunday and Monday – what kind of transmitter do we build? The cheap USB sticks don't go above 64 mHz
  • Trying to find a cheap transmitter that can do more than 9600 baud
  • APRS weather stations and some ham operators are already operating at that level
    • NarrowBandFM – use with 50 watt transmitters (5600?)
    • GPS transmits position, with repeaters operated by amateurs until it reaches an internet gateway in Finland which has a map
    • not very disaster proof, only 1200 baud
  • >1mbps OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, similar to CDMA) modulation, which is also used for wifi – spread spectrum technique that uses frequencies which are orthogonal, so you won't get any noise from the adjacent channels (less interference)
  • <$150 transmitter
  • can be tuned into legal frequencies later
  • “ssh is the first thing i'd want in an emergency'
  • → but most nodes are just going to be receivers
  • 49 mHz, kind of abandoned territory – 49 is analog -
  • transmit-capable SDR on new 4G devices
  • build the transmitter, and use the audio port – seeking to design that

relaychum: friend-to-friend darknet

  • every message goes to every node, but the senders are completely anonymous (as are the recipients), *still needs crypto and signing, then a mailbox system
  • indexdb: permanent storage in a browser
  • compensates even on a crappy network
  • once back online, can propagate out to the network
  • written in node.js
  • partition-tolerant darknet
  • public keys from chums
  • chum rings! and also bigger rings
  • every node is relaying traffic, so the identity of the originator can't be traced
  • liquid chat room
  • inspired by homestuck comic - 'pesterchum'
  • creating a trust network
  • by writing it in node it can also run in browsers
  • pushing out public keys to the network
    • don't want that information contained in the key itself
    • could hash the keys


  • What are our costs?
  • Routers, minimum specs:
    • 4MB+ & OpenWRT compatible
    • check seattle meshnet wiki for hardware specs
  • Router donation drive
  • Which protocol?
    • batman-adv vs babel vs. cjdns
    • – has the documentation for batman
    • Babel seems easier
    • Still need to play with cjdns
  • Captive portal
  • Serving less than 1kb locally

Rad Routers

  • WRT54G – rev 2 (NOT rev 3 or 4)
  • Asus RT n10+ series routers are highly reliable
  • WR703N router – half watt routers

Divergence into political philosophy

  • “the whole stupid is greater than the sum of its stupids”
  • amplification of the spectacle
  • the best response is finding alternatives to fear – eg joyful emotion and communitas
  • the generative internet rather than walled, open architecture & decentralized human and machine apis
  • digital citizenship movement
  • redefining the commons
  • revived calia proposal
  • destabilizing foreign governments does go hand in hand with CISPA-type proposals
  • Border routers in Australia

Action Items

  • Meshathon! (future event)
    • Get 3 routers and get them talking to each other.
    • Setting up a tiny mesh can take less than 4 hours
  • David Gothberg talk, “Peer-to-peer Under the Hood”:
  • Awesome Foundation proposal to fund initial hardware
  • Everyone should buy a router (or several) for themselves to play with

Next Meeting

  • Thursday, 5/16, 6pm @ sudo room
  • Playing with new routers, installing OpenWRT and possibly batman-adv, babel