Probably time to revisit the air-dropped WiFi mesh node idea

The recipe so far:

- Cut-away drogue
- Flip-up 5V solar panels
- 18650 battery pack
- Hacked travel router
- Spray painted PVC tube
- 2 End caps
- Spring-loaded, sheet metal legs

+ Maybe an ESP32 to handle maintenance like flipping the solar panels down and up again via solenoid to get rid of snow/debris accumulation

Follow

@cypnk now you got me curious what you are talking about lol.

@jordan31 Many, many, many moons ago, I had a chat here with a bunch of other hackers about creating an auto-syncing, auto-connecting, self-healing WiFi mesh network

The air-dropped node idea came out (wasn't my idea originally) and it seemed the most feasible in a disaster area where human intervention wasn't possible

Basically, you can drop a few of these which will link up to each other and provide an ad-hoc hotspot for others. The node closest to the internet backbone will provide backhaul

@cypnk so reestablishing communication to the outside world during a disaster?

@cypnk well as you said it would also create a network inside ground zero for communication between those affected. Its an interesting idea.

@jordan31 Yes, and even if for some reason the solar panels don't deploy well, or if there's obstruction or some other issue, the design is such that it can stay powered for at least a few days

@cypnk make it hamster powered lol. Or use thermal energy. Though that would have some real pains to work through on using it safely, and would be expensive.

@jordan31 Yup, exactly

And the second reason is that a lot of places that can benefit from internet are also impoverished. I've seen copper theft happen in a lot of places where Internet is newly installed. A mesh node is cheap to replace and there's nothing to dig

@cypnk wouldn't sat still be best for this since they are outside of the area, and can handle communication within and to outside the area? Though they would be expensive to launch unless they used something cheap like cube SATs.

@jordan31 For long-term, absolutely. I'm really hoping SpaceX Starlink becomes a thing soon. I think the costs will come down after mass-production takes hold

For short-term connectivity where no receiver is available and the time needed to launch a sat isn't practical, these can be deployed within 24 hours at most

@cypnk @jordan31
Cool idea. I've wondered if mesh networking could provide a benefit in my area; DSL in many places, nothing in others, places with rough terrain and relatively few people.

Something like Scuttlebutt (scuttlebutt.nz/) appeals, where it doesn't need regular, real-time connectivity. Get a message out, store-and-forward style, occasionally by sneakernet.

Maybe you'd want some sort of gateway to the world, opportunistically, not aimed at browsing and Netflix.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Fosstodon

Fosstodon is an English speaking Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software.