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 Subject :Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2014-12-11- 15:10:15 
w8erd
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Is there any thought to having mesh software for cell phones?  Vendors are now selling cell phones with wifi connection capability, as an alternative to the normal cell tower.  It would be great to use a cell phone as a ham transceiver on the mesh.  They could do voice, file transfer, chat, video etc.


Bob W8ERD

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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2014-12-11- 17:15:20 
KG6JEI
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Well, the first off limit is the very limited range of a cellular device, where most meshes need high gain and higher power than a cell phone emits in order to reach their distances.  The second issue is one of a technical issue in that basically we have 2 major operating systems for cell phones, Android and IOS, IOS will likely never let us touch the wifi levels so it gets removed from the list, Android doesn't have the programmatic interfaces to setup the connections, and in some cases ya rumored that even the hardware isn't capable of working in full AdHoc as the devices do not need to run AdHoc as part of a normal use case.

Ignoring the operating system limitations for a moment I want to go back to the low power/gain issue. One may be inclined to think "well I will let the local phone speak to a mesh node locally and get its power and gain that way". I've heard of this being done with nodes, this is in my opinion a poor practice. Why do I feel that way? It's simple, you have a node that can talk to a set area, everytimenit transmits it takes away from another node ability to speak to the same remote nodes.  This is easier to picture in a star deployment where you have a central node that all remote (middle) nodes talk to, if that node acting as a middle man has to repeat that signal to go to your phone which is local it will cause that high up node to be unable to transmit or hear other nodes, effectively stalling the entire mesh for an area. It would be inefficient use of the spectrum when we have better ways to do this.

I would recommend having an access point locally, on a different channel than the rest of the mesh, this way you can target the RF to the local event area (meaning you can walk further from your main mesh point) you can operate locally with other users and you can link any wireless device you want to it which can than use all the services of the mesh. WIFI phones connected to a local AP could than be used to make VoIP calls, access status pages, submit emails, etc all without needing to speak the mesh routing protocol and at the same time providing better spectral usage.

Yes this necessitates a second device in your kit, but it can be any device you want, any cheap wifi AP or Router, it doesn't have to be some mesh compatible device. It may be a great use for any Linksys device that gets upgraded to Ubiquiti, or for that Linksys device that was a version 7 that wasn't mesh compatible, any wifi device that shows up at local club meeting etc.  Ultimately I think a setup like this would give you much more flexibility in the long term.


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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2014-12-11- 19:22:47 
KD5MFW
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Bob,

All the smart phones made for a number of years  have included, 2.4 GHz wi-fi and some  5.8 GHz band wi-fi as well.  So, as I have pointed out in several of my presentations, there are millions of potential ham radios sold in the form f smart phones - millions of them.

As for mesh running on smart phones, there has been mesh software available for years.  We do not have a version of Broadband Hamnet mesh code running on smart phones because you can easily link them in with a WRT54 running in Access Point mode instead of mesh mode.  Then the smart phone simply uses its native wi-fi radio and software to tie in with minimal work.  No need to spend months writing a version of the mesh software for the smart phone.  Too many other things to do first.

Part of the problem is a large number of people that own smart phones, don't know how to use all the features.

If you set up the configuration correctly on these millions of smart phones, they can be easily used as amateur radios.   How many hams are aware of this?  Not enough.

I have given demonstrations of setting up a WRT54G with Broadband Hamnet firmware, configured to be an Access Point, then connected it back to back with a WRT54G with Broadband Hamnet, configured as a mesh node.  So the pair acted as a gateway into the mesh.

On the Access Point, you can run with encryption on if you like and use is as a Part-15 device.  We have connected multiple smart phones, via their wi-fi radios to the mesh via the method outlined above.  And you can pass all the types of data you mentioned.

Great idea.  It has been done and is one reason the Access Point configuration is there. You just need to know what can be done with what has been available for years.  The data is no more valuable for having passed through a mesh radio than wi-fi if links where you desire.  One HUGE reason for being a TCP/IP network is so you can tie to similar networks that are all over the world.

So the basic capability you speak of is available now and has been for years.  There are many useful ways to connect networks together.  Mesh radios are something hams should be familiar with, but they are not the perfect solution to all communications challenges.  So don't get hung up with a particular link needing to be a mesh.  Isolated pocket mesh networks can be usefully linked with point to point radios that are not formally mesh radios.  The data does not care.  It just needs a path that works to ship the data.

Mesh radios are shine in some situations, but part of the strength of a system is how flexible it is.  There are a variety of ways to link various data networks.  You can mix wired and wireless networks (that is what an Access Point is -  it is the Point where the wired network Accesses the wireless network or the other way around if you like.

I would encourage you to set up a WRT54G mesh and WT54G Access point and connect them back to back and tinker with a gateway into the mesh with smart phones.  It is fun and it works fine within the limits of the range of the radios. 

I think every ham that has a smart phone and an interest in Broadband Hamnet should set up a mesh gateway and link their smart phones into their mesh systems. Why show up anywhere with a smart phone and not have it tied into your mesh? The phone is with you most of the time anyway.  Add it to your station!

Have fun.

KD5MFW

-Glenn


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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2014-12-12- 08:45:02 
w8erd
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Joined: 2013-05-28- 15:31:02
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Thanks for all the great information! I will use a Linksys wireless router to make this work.

Any references to specific settings and connections needed for the routers and the phones?


Bob W8ERD

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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2014-12-12- 16:22:11 
wa7nwp
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Joined: 2013-02-26- 11:54:25
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I didn't see this mentioned yet.. SERVAL Mesh is running MESH directly on the phone hardware. http://servalpaul.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/serval-mesh-092-is-out-on-google-play.html However, not only are they having trouble supporting newer devices with Serval, but as has been mentioned here it's probably far more practical to just use smart phones (and Pads and chromebooks and whatever) to access the network as a standard WIFI client. Bill
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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2015-01-22- 10:04:18 
w8erd
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Joined: 2013-05-28- 15:31:02
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I am having good success using a Linksys wifi router connected to a Linksys mesh router, as was suggested here. Using Linphone software.

What would be the advantages of replacing the Linksys wifi router with a Linksys mesh router using its

access point mode?


Thanks!


Bob W8ERD


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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2015-01-22- 12:19:02 
KG6JEI
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The main advantage of the mesh node firmware mesh_ap mode is it is there in an emergency if you need it but otherwise I think the Linksys software will have more features on it and will be better set to handle users (such as encryption, access control, etc) than the mesh software.

I think a dedicated AP is the better choice for a designed go-kit but he downside to this is you've taken a device that could maybe run on the mesh (though with Linksys going EoS this is less of a concern) and dedicating it and making it so itndoesnt run mesh compatible firmware so it is a trade off between field flexibility for users or for mesh deployment.   

Of course using a dedicated AP is a great use for devices that otherwise don't currently run the mesh firmware.

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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2016-03-25- 22:53:53 
KI6HGH
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Joined: 2014-04-02- 00:16:15
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Bob W8ERD, and everyone else.     As luck your post came up the first time I logged into this board. Your comment "Is there any thought to having mesh software for cell phones?" was not the original question I was going to ask. I have several old unused cell phones and wondered if it was possible to install a VOIP program on them, so I can access the MESH network (using my friends raspberry Pi Asterisk server? So basically what I am asking, is can I use one of my old WiFi connectable cell phones on the mesh network and how. My ideas on this is is a cell phone running an VOIP app (what app that is the question?) to a Access Point, that being connected to the MESH router (somehow?). We have had his system up and running with 2 of his Cisco internet phones. I was able to run an FTP server on my computer also, but was unable to advertize it. I am new at this game, I have 2 (WRT54's)nodes that work nicely with my friends nodes and one I have managed to brick! Any help would be appreciated; Steve Morse KI6HGH

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Last Edited On: 2016-03-25- 23:08:30 By KI6HGH for the Reason
 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2016-12-07- 16:06:19 
AJ4FW
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Joined: 2014-04-22- 04:45:01
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Has there been any further activity in using the MESH with linphone and the free pbx on the pi. If so is there a comprehensive how to?
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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2016-12-07- 16:06:22 
AJ4FW
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Joined: 2014-04-22- 04:45:01
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Has there been any further activity in using the MESH with linphone and the free pbx on the pi. If so is there a comprehensive how to?
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 Subject :Re:Cell Phones and Mesh.. 2016-12-07- 16:06:33 
AJ4FW
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Joined: 2014-04-22- 04:45:01
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Has there been any further activity in using the MESH with linphone and the free pbx on the pi. If so is there a comprehensive how to?
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