An introduction to Mesh Potatos
I guess to introduce this project we need to explain what a Mesh Potato is, and the best way to do that is to quote the villagetelco.com website:
The Mesh Potato is a new device for providing low-cost telephony and Internet in areas where alternative access either doesn’t exist or is too expensive. It is a marriage of a low-cost wireless access point (AP) capable of running a mesh networking protocol with an Analog Telephony Adapter (ATA).
A few members of NERD Polytechnic are amateur radio nerds, and during a meeting of the Manly Warringah Radio Society a few of us where thinking about how we can link our repeater hut to the Society’s clubhouse a few kilometers away. Glen had read a few bits and pieces about a project to create a mesh network using cheap devices and decided we should snap up a few to see if they will do what we want.
I had read a bit about the deployment of mesh networks and emergency networks in response to disasters like the Haiti earthquake so my interests are to see how these devices could be deployed in an emergency, and if we could create a rapid deployment kit of these devices built into suitcases or boxes. We also have had a desire to build a community wireless network between our houses in Sydney since 1998, while broadband has made this idea unnecessary it is something we would love to tick off our technology bucket list.
So with 3 of these units we are able to now start to show those who care to listen how these devices work, how they can be deployed and how flexible they are in their configuration.
The project so far has the following goals.
1. The design and construction of a self contained Mesh Potato deployment, including a solar panel, charger, battery and the mesh potato in a weather proof container that can be bolted up a tree, on a roof top or left at the top of a building.
2. Confirmation of distances we can achieve successful data and voice communication.
3. A stronger understanding of the different software versions, the features and flexibility.
4. Can the mesh potato be combined with a UHF/VHF Radio Repeater and internet access to extend its coverage into valleys etc.
For technical details of the Mesh Potato visit their website - http://villagetelco.org/mesh-potato/
If you wish to join us in our experimentation with these devices come along to one of our monthly meetings.