Mesh/Blog

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Sharing Internet with the Neighborhood

I (Maxb) put a bullet m2 on my roof as an extender node. We have a bunch of these big ol 2.4ghz antennas which I think are pretty high gain and my house has some upstream bandwidth to share, so if you're in the neighborhood and need some wifi, feel free to come by and get on the network.

PeoplesOpen.net-Extender-Node-Bullet-M2-1.jpgPeoplesOpen.net-Extender-Node-BulletM2-2.jpg


Downtown Oakland Access Point

We spent last Sunday installing a 2.4ghz AP pointing NW towards the street at 1212 Broadway in Downtown Oakland in the Clef offices. They have a 1gbps connection in their 12th story office and they were willing to share, so we set up a Nanostation M2 pointing towards the street in an attempt to create an open AP. The tricky thing about setting up APs is that while our antenna is quite strong and has high gain, the majority of devices that would connect to it are weak and have low gain (mobile, laptops, etc). We're going to do some monitoring and testing of how usable the signal is on the street, and we may have to do some adjustments and add another antenna. It may be obvious, but one of our members is quite a cable management specialist :)

Alpha Testing Network

We've been doing alpha testing on our what's looking to be the network v0.2 for the last couple months. A lot of our firmware/etc code has been tightened up and we're starting to get good results. There are obviously a lot of metrics that are worth considering when evaluating the success of a network, but uptime is a good start, and we're finally getting 90%+ uptime on all of our nodes. That might not sound impressive, but these are pieces of hardware that are hosted at various folks houses, so coordinating the reboot of a router that's in someone's living room can be a challenging ordeal. For those that are interested, graphs from our monitoring server are available here:

Smokeping (latency graphs) http://monitor.sudomesh.org/smokeping/smokeping.cgi?target=Mesh

and

Cacti (traffic and some hardware measurements): http://monitor.sudomesh.org/cacti/graph_view.php?action=tree&tree_id=1&leaf_id=45

Cacti Graph of PeoplesOpen.net traffic for 10/26/2015
Cacti Graph of PeoplesOpen.net traffic for Sept-Oct 2015

We've been uploading the latest versions of our firmware as binaries to:

http://builds.sudomesh.org/builds

Home Node firmwares are for TP-Link wdr3500, 3600, and 4300 as well as MyNet N600 and N750 routers. Extender Node firmwares are known to mostly work for Ubiquiti Picostation M2, Bullet M2 and M5, Powerbridge M2 and M5, and Nanostation M2 and M5.

We're in need of a handful of new folks to host home nodes and possibly also extender nodes. To be a good home node host, we ask that you be:

  • Willing to share some amount of your bandwidth. It doesn't have to be a lot, but 1-2mbps can go a long way for someone who doesn't otherwise have any connectivity.
  • Reliably in contact so that we can ask you to do simple things like reboot the router (hopefully rarely if at all), and check connectivity
  • Interested in providing some feedback as to how you think the experience is and how it could be improved

To be an extender node host we ask that you be all those things and also have access to your roof and/or another high point on your house/building/etc and be willing to mount a (pretty small) antenna there and run an ethernet cable from your home node (probably near your router) to that roof location.

If that sounds like you, get in touch: https://sudoroom.org/wiki/Mesh#Join_Us

At the moment, we're providing the hardware, so you'll be hosting $50-$150 worth of equipment which in many cases can significantly improve coverage in your own home!

Building out our backbone...

After a dark fall of struggling with various issues with batman-adv and our tunnels, our coding crew decided to switch to Babel. While integrating the new protocol into our firmware, we've been actively researching potential sources of bandwidth to feed the network and mounting rooftop nodes in strategic locations. Every Sunday, we've been building out the backbone of our network from Kensington to West Oakland - contact us if you've got a spot with great line-of-sight!

Our first major node in Kensington has excellent line-of-sight to both Oakland and Richmond:

Sudomesh dish mount with Oakland in the distance
Sudomesh dish with Richmond in the distance

If you're interested in helping out, we're always looking for donations of gear and equipment, as well as committed volunteers and financial support (even 25 cents a week adds up as we prepare to launch).

Sudomesh dish mount and happy ethernet wire/RJ45 termination.

Here's to growing a network from the ground up, together!

We're meshing at the Omni!

It's been a crazily active summer - apologies for the lack of updates! Sudo Room (and by extension, Sudo Mesh) has relocated to the Omni Oakland Commons at 4799 Shattuck. We're excited to be a founding member collective among an array of groups that have moved in together to create a radical commons in Oakland.

The Omni building and logo

If you've been wanting to plug in and help out, or simply reconnect to the group, tonight is a great night to come by and check out the new space!

Announcements

  • We'll be having our monthly general meeting today, starting at 7:30pm at Sudo Room. Please add to the agenda! - https://pad.riseup.net/p/sudomesh
  • Juul, MaxB and Alex have been working hard on crushing bugs and levelling up our mesh firmware. We've deployed a test network within the Omni building and they are successfully meshing as I type! \o/
  • We've procured a 75 foot antenna tower that will be mounted in West Oakland to become a core relay spot for routing traffic on the mesh.
  • Noemie has put together a fantastic sudomesh / people's open net video and is currently soliciting feedback. Check it out @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qva1SQSBDyE
  • Paige made a rad flyer design and two versions of the flyer for a) general ways to participate in the project and b) promoting upcoming info sessions. Check them out here: https://sudoroom.org/wiki/Mesh/Flyers
  • Stickers!! The round 'Mesh the Planet' and rectangular PeoplesOpen.Net stickers have been printed and can be procured at sudoroom (atio the white shelves next to the staircase) and/or one of our Tuesday/Thursday meetups!

Code - so much code this summer!!

  • Juul created ipk-builder: https://github.com/sudomesh/ipk-builder
  • MaxB, Ron, and Juul have been updating the service browser: https://github.com/sudomesh/service-browser
  • Juul, MaxB, and Alex reengineered the node-configurator: https://github.com/sudomesh/makenode
  • MaxB, Alex and Matt fixed the exitnode
  • MaxB created sudowrt-firmware-images for temporary storage of firmware builds
  • Matt added a patch to sudowrt-firmware
  • Alex and MaxB have been fixing our fork of tunneldigger
  • MaxB fixed sudowrt-packages
  • Juul updated ubi-flasher
  • Juul added fixes to meshnode-database
  • Matt created svg-animations for mesh presentations

Wiki

To Dos:

  • Test current mesh setup in the Omni building
  • Create online ordering system and shipping label automation
  • Create 'How to Care for Your Node' guides
  • Outreach to spaces that can host info sessions and presentations
  • Work on local apps and services that will run on the mesh!
  • More at: https://sudoroom.org/wiki/Mesh/ToDos
    • Please update the list above with specific tasks!

Help Out!

Recommended Reading

Mesh Hackathon @ The Omni, July 5-7!

This weekend, Sudo Mesh is having our first mesh hackathon at sudo room's new location in the Omni! Join us at 4799 at any point this weekend, starting at noon until we tire today[1], and noon on Sunday and Monday. We'll have rotating orientation sessions every hour on the hour both Sunday and Monday, so feel free to come by even if you're brand new to the project!

First all-nighter in the new sudo room!

Here are some of the things we plan to work on:

  • Designing network diagrams and educational curricula.
  • Debugging exit node issues.
  • Setting up our network at the Omni, the new home of sudo room!
  • Outreach to various community stakeholders and interest groups relevant to the mesh (eg; rock climbers! Ham radio enthusiasts! Librarians!)
  • Research and test deployment of mesh apps.
  • Getting our books in order (finances, blog, calendar, 501c3 app, etc;)
  • Making swag (stickers! buttons! whatever you can think of!).

Whether you're a core team member, an occasional collaborator, or just interested in learning more about the mesh, you are welcome!

[1] We are being powered by Sudomate.

--Tunabananas

Developer Launch!

As of last night, we've officially launched version 0.1.0 of the mesh firmware, a.k.a. Snow Crash.

Snow Crash login screen

The plan is to have ~20 people with networking skills run nodes from their homes for 1-2 months and report any remaining issues. We'll then fix those bugs and do a wider release of ~60 more nodes.

What's currently working:

 1. Sharing limited Internet bandwidth with peoplesopen.net
 2. Private access point with no bandwidth limit and mesh access
 3. Automatic node meshing with batman-adv
 4. Simplified web admin interface that lets node-owners change bandwidth sharing settings and passwords.
 5. Automated configuration of new nodes using easy web interface.
 6. Automatic printing of stickers with instructions and default generated passwords.

To those of you who have already taken nodes home, here are a few notes:

1. sudo mesh has root access to your nodes since we manage updates per default. If you want to manage your own node and don't want sudo mesh to have access, you can disable our root access by removing /etc/dropbear/authorized_keys on your node.

2. Please report any bugs on our github. If you know which repository the bug pertains to, then go to the issue tracker for that repository. If you aren't sure, then just add the bug here: https://github.com/sudomesh/sudowrt-firmware/issues

A compiled version of the firmware is available here: http://build.sudomesh.org:8080/latest_images/atheros/

Keep in mind that the nodes have to be configured using the node-configurator after being flashed with that firmware and that the firmware only trusts sudomesh SSL certificates. We'll release a less secure version for developers who just want to play around as soon as possible. For now you can configure your nodes at sudo room with the help of one of the core team.

In the following is a list of the repositories directly relevant to this release of the firmware. All of these repositories have been tagged with "sudowrt-0.1.0" so you can get the exact versions used in the release.

Mesh the planet!

--via Juul

How to Participate: All Hands on Deck!

We are always excited to have new volunteers join the team! From designing flyers to developing software, doing research and documenting what you learn, fixing broken hardware to hitting the streets and spreading the word, there's something for everybody who wants to participate.

We meet weekly on Thursday evenings starting at 7:30pm at Sudo Room, your friendly neighborhood hackerspace. Come on by and jump in!

You can also participate online via our mailing list, our chat room, contributing to our code on Github, and adding to this very wiki.

Donations are always appreciated and keep us sustainable. We accept donations via Gittip (anonymous weekly micropayments), through Bitcoin, and in-person at our weekly meetings. Sudo Mesh is currently in the process of acquiring non-profit status, so your donations will be retroactively tax-deductible. If you'd like to donate materials directly, check here for a list of hardware we'd love to have.

We also need gung ho folks to climb rooftops and mount nodes!

For press inquiries, please contact info (at) sudomesh (dot) org!

--Tunabananas

Deployed our first node!

Sudo Mesh's first mesh node!

Today we finished installing our first backbone node! It's running Sudo Mesh v0.1 Snow Crash, and will soon be linking up with two neighboring hacker houses. :-)

Here's Juul's reportback:

Pete and myself installed a Nanostation M5 on a 20 foot aluminum flagpole in West Oakland. The node is about 14 feet above the roof of a two-story building. The total cost of this install ran to about $145 including all materials.

Bill of Materials:

  • One Nanostation M5 loco
  • One 4 foot wood beam of 3.5" by 3.5"
  • Three 5" by 1/4" bolts
  • Three 5/8" washers for bolts (optional)
  • Three 1/2" washers for bolts (optional)
  • Two 5" hose clamps
  • 30+ feet of outdoor shielded ethernet cable
  • Two shielded/groundable ethernet plugs
  • A bunch of zip ties

The optional washers make it easier to tighten and untighten the bolts (otherwise they dig into the wood).

Material sources:

  • Nanostation from Amazon
  • Flag pole from Harbor Freight
  • Everything else from Home Depot

--Tunabananas (talk) 21:21, 31 December 2013 (PST)

hello world!

it's been nearly a year since we first started meeting - our tiny group. so much learning, so much progress!

we've launched the peoplesopen.net! && meshthepla.net!

check out our code - namely forks of openwrt running batman-adv for routing and incorporating wlan-slovenia's tunneldigger for secure vpn connections, as well as an admin interface written in lua.

--Tunabananas (talk) 06:54, 28 December 2013 (PST)