NOTE: Another article on this can be found at
High-Speed Multimedia Mesh (HSMM) technology has evolved rapidly in recent years due to the development efforts of the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) open source project. This has changed the complexion of mesh implementations from an experimental, hobby-oriented, novelty into a viable alternative network suitable for supporting high-speed emergency communications and Internet connectivity when “all else fails.”
The AREDN project team recently donated the following equipment to the ARRL Laboratory:
- Two Ubiquiti Nanostation M3’s for 3.4 GHz
- Two Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M5’s for 5.8 GHz
- One PowerBeam PBE-M5-300-ISO for 5.8 GHz
- One AirRouter HP (combination 2.4 GHz and Ethernet switch)
The AREDN (pronounced “r-den”) project is working with ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio to inform the amateur radio community about this high-speed, low-cost networking technology. To further our shared goal of supporting emergency responders, AREDN has donated a substantial kit of mesh networking equipment to the ARRL for their familiarization and deployment. Both groups plan to work together to provide written guidance on the best practices for using this networking capability to provide such services as voice-over-IP telephony (VoIP), streaming video, email, and much more.
ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, describes some of the things that can be done with this equipment. “The AREDN system has repurposed 3.3- and 5-GHz WiFi equipment for use under Amateur Radio. This will allow Amateur Radio to provide alternative modern high-speed digital communication for routine and emergency use. These capabilities, combined with the proven track record of Amateur Radio to deploy communications systems under a wide range of adverse conditions showcase the capabilities of Amateur Radio in a technological world.
“The ARRL Lab has deployed a local AREDN network here at ARRL HQ and plans to expand its scope to include nodes on the W1AW towers and other equipment installed at local police, fire and hospital communications centers.”
AREDN team member Randy Smith, WU2S, notes that amateur radio mesh networking has come a long way in the past three years and the AREDN project is leading advancements even further. “We’ve increased the numbers of usable devices and increased the data throughput speeds. Hams around the country have setup permanent installations which enable Voice over IP telephony, streaming video cameras, MeshChat keyboard messaging, file transfer, and email systems. Much of Southern California is already AREDN-networked and ready to support established relationships with emergency operations centers and disaster agencies.”
Smith also notes that, “in addition to supporting local emergency responders, AREDN mesh networking is a wonderful way to engage hams who are interested in computers, programming and data communications networks. Our focus is on meeting twenty-first century expectations.”
For those interested in assisting the AREDN team, contact Smith at email@example.com. The AREDN project is looking for people who can contribute to:
- Embedded Linux kernel development base on OpenWRT
- Applications development to address the needs of emergency responders
- Production of educational guides and videos to explain application configurations
- Web development to support the AREDN.org web site
Further information and software may be found on the AREDN website: http://www.aredn.org
Ed Hare W1RFI, ARRL Lab Manager and Randy Smith, WU2S, AREDN team member at the ARRL Lab.