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By - Craig Mullins

AREDN Mesh Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network How To Guide

Just wanted to get something started and will update it later…

AREDN Mesh Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network
AREDN Mesh Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network

AREDN Mesh Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network How To Guide

Here’s a current AREND map to see all the nodes in your neighborhood. They Have Google Earth KML files as well as a live map. They have software and drivers for 2 GHz nodes 3 GHz nodes 5 GHz nodes and 900 MHz nodes…

Here’s the current AREDN Facebook page. Current unofficial AREDN Facebook Group. Current AREDN website. One man I have had a lot of contact with is Orv Beach, W6BI, one of the AREDN Ambassadors. He’s quite the helpful fellow! Aredn Forums to ask questions.  Link to AREDN presentations. And a lovely how to section.

Here’s the latest AREDN network getting started guide & Documentation. Read it from start to finish.

So what do do first. Check the AREDN map link above and see if anyone might be in your area. Not seeing anyone? Check the regional forums and see if there is a group somewhere. Ask around at your local ham radio / Amateur radio club and see if they know anyone who has a node up. You need to do this step first to see what equipment you’ll need to buy and what settings to use because you all need to be on the same frequency, SSID,  WIFI Channel, and Channel bandwidth to chat. More on that later. If your the first person to set up an AREDN Network in your area…. Congratulations you get to choose all this.

So generally… You would use 900 MHz if you don’t have good line of site or you are in an area with lots of trees or you need to penetrate thick walls. Downside is a lot of devices are on that frequency so you get a lot of interference.

2.4  GHz is more line of site then 900 MHz and has a lot of noise as well. Think of all those home routers.You have 11 potential channels in North America, but the general accepted standard is to use channel 1, 6 or 11 so really you only have 3 channels as options. You also get the option of channel – 2 if you are a licensed ham. Use -2 first as only people with an amateur radio license can use that frequency.

Most people now days are using 5 GHz for AREDN. Less interference. Less noise. More channels. Check the Wikipedia page for a full list of channels. Be careful because some channels are only used indoors and some have to comply with dynamic frequency selection (DFS) and transmit power control (TPC) rules.

Most people are using 10MHz for channel bandwidth. The higher you go’ like 20 or 40 channel width the higher speed your network will perform but you will get more noise and interference. So 20 MHz may actually be slower then 10 MHz. If your in a remote area you might be able to get get away with 20 MHz channel.

Next thing to do is map out your home address and see if you’ll be able to set up a node or how far your node will actually go. A lot of software option exist for this. An easy one to use is the ubnt wireless link planner. You need to use this because you generally need line of site to communicate with different nodes. Here’s a quick video tutorial by by Darryl Quinn K5DLQ on using Ubiquiti’s RF Path Planning tool.  This is a good resource for modeling different devices, antennas, antenna heights, and locations.  Best of all, it’s absolutely free and easy to use! It’s from 2015 so the software is quite a bit different but it will give you the idea.

Here’s a Ubiquiti Help article on Planning an Outdoor Wireless Link. There are important factors, such as Fresnel zone and Fade Margin that you need to be aware of.

Here’s an interview with Andre, K6AH from the AREDN Team. Andre shows us how to plot AREDN node propagation predictions using the Radio Mobile software. Another site related to Radio Mobile. This would have been presented at Hamvention inside of the AREDN booth this year in 2020 but was cancelled because of Covid-19.

Next this to decide. What hardware to use. Here’s the AREDN supported hardware list.

Here’s a video by KC0EUW Steve on AREDN Radio Selection & an article on Comparing SISO and MIMO Radios Definitely use a MIMO radio if you can and choose 64 MB of memory or more if at all possible because the 32 MB radios may not work soon on the network. And here a link to an AREDN Mesh Forum post by Andre, K6AH and an awesome Excel spreadsheet where you can filter what you want. All talked about on the video below:

Here’s a beginners guide to getting set up… AREDN MESH Networking Beginners Info by Orv Beach, W6BI, our AREDN Ambassador

Orv Beach, W6BI, navigates us through the interface of the AREDN software and explains the options that are available to node operators. This is part two in the series.

Here’s a link to the node software installation instructions & where you can download the current software  to update your new access point. Here are two resources on How To Install AREDN Firmware.

Once you get all that done and your node all setup. Mount it outside. Your good to go. You can just leave it at that if you want.  You can access it with your laptop connected directly to the Access Point (AP), but you won’t be able to just directly plug it into your home network. You will need a special managed switch that supports VLANS.

Here’s an article that explains it a bit more. It’s one of the most complicated parts of an AREDN Node.

Here’s some article on specific switch configurations:

Netgear VLAN Switch & another
Edgerouter VLAN Switch
Cisco VLAN Switch
Ubiquiti ToughSwitch

Meet other people:

I’m based in Pleasanton and have a node on my house going towards Livermore. Livermore has a location at The Switch / Robot Garden. We are hoping to get something going on a mountain. But it’s growing everywhere. For Northern California: Oakland has AREDN, San Francisco, Sacramento, Tracy, Morgan Hill, Campbell, Richmond, Redwood City, Belmont, San Mateo, Alameda, Berkeley, and probably many more cities I missed. It’s growing.

Southern California has some huge networks…. San Diego County, Riverside county, Orange county, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County.

Adding Services to make your mesh network node useful….
Web Cameras
Web Servers
Chat Software – MeshChat, Internet Relay Chat, Internet Relay Chat Daemon (IRCd),IRC Servers and IRC Clients, Jabber, XMPP servers, eJabberd, Prosody, Let’s Chat, Mattermost Team Edition (open source alternative to the commercial Slack communication tool), Matrix Homem, Synapse, etc.
Ticketing services Help with emergency management or event tracking
inventory mangement
FTP Servers
Messaging servers
IP phones
Store documents and pictures
Name database of people
Raspberry Pi
video conferencing
GPS tracking
surveillance camera streaming
computer aided dispatch
deployed resource management
weather station reporting
sensor monitoring and control
repeater linking
Drone Control

Tunneling to a node

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