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AREDN Donates Mesh Networking Equipment to ARRL

01/22/2018

The Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN — pronounced “R-den”) project team has donated several pieces of High-Speed Multimedia Mesh (HSMM) hardware to the ARRL Laboratory. HSMM technology has evolved rapidly in recent years, due to the development efforts of the 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 communication and Internet connectivity,” said AREDN’s Randy Smith, WU2S. “To further our shared goal of supporting emergency responders, AREDN has donated a substantial kit of mesh networking equipment to ARRL for its familiarization and deployment.”

Smith said both ARRL and AREDN would work together to provide written guidance on the best practices for using the networking capability to provide such services as voice-over-IP telephony (VoIP), streaming video, and e-mail. AREDN was used to provide connectivity during the 2016 New York City Marathon. “The AREDN project is working with ARRL to inform the Amateur Radio community about this high-speed, low-cost networking technology,” Smith said.

The hardware donated includes:

  • Two Ubiquiti Nanostation M3s for 3.4 GHz

  • Two Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M5s for 5.8 GHz

  • One PowerBeam PBE-M5-300-ISO for 5.8 GHz

  • One AirRouter HP (combination 2.4-GHz and Ethernet switch)

ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, notes that AREDN’s repurposing of 3.3- and 5-GHz WiFi equipment “will allow Amateur Radio to provide alternative modern high-speed digital communication” for both routine and emergency applications. “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,” he said.

Hare said the ARRL Lab has deployed a local AREDN network at ARRL Headquarters and plans to expand its scope to include nodes on the W1AW towers, with other equipment installed at local police, fire, and hospital communications centers.

Smith said that Amateur Radio mesh networking has come a long way in the past 3 years, and the AREDN project is leading further advancement. “We’ve increased the numbers of usable devices and increased the data throughput speeds,” he said. “Hams around the country have set up permanent installations that enable VoIP telephony, streaming video cameras, MeshChat keyboard messaging, file transfer, and e-mail systems. Much of Southern California is already AREDN-networked and ready to support established relationships with emergency operations centers and disaster agencies.”

Smith suggested that AREDN mesh networking is an ideal way to engage hams who are interested in computers, programming and data communications networks. “Our focus is on meeting 21st Century expectations,” he said.

Those interested in assisting the AREDN team can contact Smith. The AREDN project is looking for people who can contribute to embedded Linux kernel development base on OpenWRT; application development to address the needs of emergency responders; production of educational guides and videos to explain application configurations, and web development to support the AREDN.org website.



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