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|Hambridge does radio hacking at Noisebridge to build networks that are free and resilient.|
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Packet radio is a way of sending digital network traffic over analog radios.
The LoRa Meshtastic T-BEAM device are small battery powered devices that will mesh with other T-BEAM and send messages and other data from your phones, tablets and computers.
- Meshtastic is a firmware for the T-BEAM.
- T-BEAM can connect via wifi and Bluetooth to phones and computers nearby, briding them to another T-BEAM and its attached devices far away.
- LoRa (Long Range) packet radio gear can be purchased for $30.
- LoRa does NOT require a HAM amateur radio license.
- LORA demo video
- T-BEAM LoRa Meshtastic range test video
- T-BEAMs can have batteries that last for about 3 days or pair them with solar panels in a waterproof box for sustainable outdoor routing.
APRSdroid is an Android application for Amateur Radio operators. It allows reporting your position to the APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) network, displaying of nearby amateur radio stations and the exchange of APRS messages. APRSdroid is Open Source Software written in Scala and licensed under the GPLv2. You can use APRSdroid to connect to the APRS network via different means:
- APRS-IS via Internet (WiFi or mobile data connection)
- AFSK (audio connection between your radio and the smartphone)
- Bluetooth-serial connection to a TNC
- Once connected, you can beacon your presence, see which stations (amateurs and repeaters) are around and send/receive APRS messages.
SudoMesh is a project at SudoRoom hackerspace in Oakland to build a resilient open mesh network.
- Hambridge could set up links with SudoMesh to build a cross-bay comms relay.
Resilient Mesh Infrastructure
To make resilient mesh networks that work when power, Internet and telephone networks fail, you need to incorporate some resiliency equipment to keep powering your equipment.
- UPS power supplies can keep equipment running smoothly for a while during brief power outages.
- Solar panels can keep UPS batteries charged up during the day.
- Longer lasting deep cycle car batteries or other battery packs can potentially run through the night to keep equipment working while solar isn't providing juice.
- Allow for enough power to run whatever you'd want to communicate with such as computers, monitors, and phone chargers.
To set up lower-powered radios to communicate over longer distances, relays are used to bridge signals from the low-powered radios through larger radios that serve the radios connected to them.
- A basic relay bridges by pairing two low-cost radios to double the effective range.
- A repeater cable to bridge Baofeng radios together is about $30.
- Baofeng repeater demo video
Starter Project Ideas
Bridge 2 Wifi networks via LoRa
- Purchase 2 LoRa T-BEAMS ($30 each)
- Connect the two WiFi networks to the T-BEAMs via WiFi
- Range test how far apart the networks can get by taking one of them with you in a vehicle.
- Mesh several T-BEAM devices together to bridge reliable networking to areas that can't get reliable cellular reception or which can suffer outages during emergencies.
Set up radios for emergency and data comms
- Get 2 Baofeng UV-5Rs
- Program the channels using the USB cable so you have emergency channels ready
- Write a waterproofed instruction card for how to use it and which channels to use to attach to it.
- Get APRS data working with it using APRSdroid.
- Set your neighbors up to know how to do it and exchange APRS data with you in emergencies
Baofeng UV-R APRS Setup
Hooking a cheap radio up to APRS data is achievable with APRSdroid.
There is a HAM amateur radio license test you should study for and pass to use radio channels responsibly and legally.
- Study the HAM amateur radio test materials
- Do practice HAM amateur radio tests
- Take and pass the HAM amateur radio test!
- ARRL has free information on their website, online training (for a fee), as well as an online store where books and other training materials can be purchased.
-  has a large selection of books and other training materials, featuring Gordon West WB6NOA.
- question pools on the ARRL website.