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East TN Mesh Network

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KM4TBQ
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East TN Mesh Network

About Us & Helpful Links

This is where we will discuss all issues regarding the East Tennessee AREDN Mesh Network that began Fall 2022. Please do not hesitate to send a Personal Contact Form for individual help with ANY aspect of participation in this regional AREDN group. Important updates will be posted here to keep everyone abreast to the network's status. We are documenting every step of the way, and will hopefully have decent quality videos that help new operators avoid the obstacles that surely await us.

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Links to Website, Video Tutorials and Instructional PDFs:

AREDN OG Website:
https://arednknoxville.com

-High quality, professionally-produced. Strongly recommend subscribing and
watching these videos:


AREDN
https://www.youtube.com/@aredn749

AB7PA
https://www.youtube.com/@AB7PA


-Low quality, but might have something you missed:

AREDN OG
https://www.youtube.com/@arednog




PDFs for printing out instructions, Scroll down to bottom left, Read The Docs:

https://arednmesh.readthedocs.io/en/latest/arednHow-toGuides/firmware_tips.html


 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #1

-60 nodes have been purchased, ~30 are flashed, configured and are online. These include: 
    - hAPac lites+TCs, AirRouters, GLiNets-150,300,750, (indoor routers).
    -Rocket M2s & M5s with Rocket Dishes and Sector Antennas, (outdoor, long/medium-range).
    -Bullet M2s with Omni and Sector Antennas, (outdoor, short/medium-range).
    -LHG 2 & 5 Dishes, (outdoor, long-range).
    -LDF 2 & 5 Dishes, (outdoor, long-range).
    -NanoBeam, NanoBridge & Nano Loco, TP-Link 210s/510s (outdoor, medium/short-range).

 -Switches:
    -Netgear GS108Ev3.
    -Ubiquiti Edgerouter X.
    -Mikrotik GB260 GSP.

-Phones:
    -Grandstream GXP 1610, 1625, 2135.
    -Cisco CP 7942.

-Power Supplies:
    -LiFePO4 batteries and solar panels are currently being tested before large purchases are made. Most nodes will be 100% on solar/battery, but ALL will have battery backup.

-Site Aqcuisition:
    -Several MOUs are already "in-hand" for strategic relay-node sites, while talks are still underway for BackBone sites, (where verbal agreements were 
already made). Several non-HAMs have also agreed to letting us place nodes on their property in various locations around Knoxville, TN.

-Served Agencies:
    -Our group is currently drawing up presentations for various potential served-agencies/clients. We believe it is prudent to be fully operational before approaching any possible clients. Our group member who is also a Fire Marshal will likely carry these presentations out, because he understands the language and needs of these agencies we will be serving.

This localized AREDN Mesh Network is underwritten by Off-Grid Auxcomm Radio Club, but participation in the mesh network does not require club membership or participation. The primary goal of the mesh network is to aid our local Emergency Services in the event of a devastating disaster that disrupts normal communications. OGARC was founded on the heals of the horrendous Gatlinburg Fires of 2016, when our founder KA1TOM was deployed for over 18 hours to aid several agencies with digital communication at the refugee center in Gatlinburg. We were created out of pure necessity, and share the AREDN Founders' vision of community participation in public safety.  

Until Further Notice, We are operating on SSID: southmesh, 10 MHz so the SSID=   southmesh-10-v3
     
 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #2
Despite the fact that recruitment is still not even open yet, (as we are making sure to have all our ducks in a row before bringing new operators on-board), Tom, K1KY, has helped get us in-communication with adjacent AREDN members, and has graciously introduced us to Les, N4LPK. Les is no ordinary HAM like me, he is veteran HAM, a veteran firefighter and extremely experienced with mesh networking. We couldn't have asked for a better partner in the founding group, who undoubtedly will save us time, money and stress due to his extensive working knowledge of building AND maintaining AREDN networks. He was instrumental in the operations in Sarasota FL, and after personally meeting with him, I'm confident that he will help ensure that the EAST TN mesh will be a glaring success. Barry, K4BLB, is also very excited to have such an asset on the team. Barry is a very experienced, top-shelf HAM, and fully appreciates the value of good people.

Also, I want to thank Randy, WU2S, who has been extremely patient, helpful and professional while helping me navigate this highly-complex space. He responds very quickly to any and all inquiries I have regarding this venture. I'm sure he's got to be annoyed by all the noob questions, but he does a great job of hiding it. Without all these guys, there is no way we would be this far along with the project. People absolutely make or break an organization or project, and with guys like these, there's no way this will fail. I'm extremely thankful to all the work everyone has put in, and I don't take a single detail of it for granted. Thanks guys, sincerely.

Thomas, KM4TBQ     
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #3

January 2023
-The majority of the nodes are now flashed with the current firmware and properly configured.
-IP phones are operational and PBXs are in the process of being placed online.
-East TN Network is now linked to the Middle TN Network, and in constant communication.
-Numerous battery tests have been performed and have yielded impressive results, (~92-96% efficiency (wH/aH) on LiFePO4 batteries IN COLD WEATHER!).
-Preliminary area mapping has been completed.
-Necessary support equipment is continually being acquired and tested, (tools, cables, POEs, switches, phones, cameras, solar panels, servers, etc.). 
-Two training videos for beginning AREDN are complete and online, accessible to new operators who are being recruited.
-Second-stage plans are being executed for node location acquisition, tower climbers, MOUs and contingencies.
-Planning meetings, (in-person and via telephone), are regularly taking place to ensure all core members share the same goals, vision and expectations.
-Website and credentials are under development and will be live within 60 days.
-Potential member-operators & member-site-owners are being vetted for partnership.
-Safety guidelines, SOPs, etc. are near completion, and will be accessible within 60 days.
-Several influential community leaders are now aware of the project and are in full support.

Overall, the EAST TN Mesh project is going very smoothly and is picking up a lot of momentum. Again, we have not even started to recruit yet, and over 60% of our problems have been solved. A huge thanks to Les-N4LPK, Tom-K1KY and Mark-N2MH for helping us navigate around and avoid countless rookie mistakes with their guidance. There's zero chance we would be this far along without their expertise.

Standby for further updates...
 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #4

February 2023
-Extensive battery/power-consumption testing is almost complete, and is being documented.
-72 nodes are flashed, configured, tested and ready to deploy.
-1200+ feet of outdoor, shielded, cat cable has been acquired.
-We have been meeting with several key people in the communications space regarding partnerships with the project.
-Various technical skills are being learned and mastered, (ie. terminating ethernet cables, soldering, software configuring, etc.).
-Area maps, brochures, videos, SOPs, inventory lists, websites, etc. are being constructed.
-Electrical boxes, batteries, switches and other equipment are being constructed, tested and reconfigured.
-Field day(s), presentation(s) and marketing plans are being drawn up and reviewed.
-Necessary tools and equipment for field operations are being acquired and tested.
-DMR and NPR-70 equipment has been acquired, configured and/or added to some nodes.
-IP cameras are being acquired and tested, some of which are now live on the mesh, (fixed and PTZ).
-PBX building will resume shortly, along with the few remaining radios that need to be flashed and configured.

Overall, the project is beginning to show tangible fruit from our labor. It's encouraging to see active nodes with advertised services actually functioning, which will be used to show potential participants in our upcoming recruitment campaign. Many of our previous questions are being answered through extensive trial and error, along with learning many major, critical lessons. (that are far less costly now, rather than when we are live on a tower somewhere). The entire core team is remaining cohesive, and despite some medical scares, are healthy and charging steadily forward. 

More to come.... 
 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #5

March 2023
-Addition of two IT/ISP professionals to the ranks, and other node operators.
-Succeeded in finding a suitable camera that will be purchased for the node sites, (Reolink PTZ).
-Battery pack/solar design is nearly complete.
-Deployable emergency phone/data kits are under development.
-Final plans are being polished for our first two RF installs, (all components have been heavily used and tested for reliability).
-Cat5 cables measured/cut/terminated for first install.
-Website and domain names have been purchased and are under development.
-High quality business cards have been designed and purchased along with hats and pens for promotion.
-Promo video is well under way, script over 50% complete and 80% of the footage has been acquired.
-Remaining tools, components and equipment have been purchased.
-Inventory lists and logins have been digitized.
-Camera mounts have been constructed.
-Several different adapter-cables have been designed, constructed and tested for field use.
-Problem nodes have been sent to an expert to try and salvage.
-Emails to potential members have been sent out.
-Comprehensive plans are being put onto paper to better organize/communicate the "what/when/where/how/etc".

Basically, we are about to start the big game. There is very little to show for the work that's been done over the past several months. That's all about to change when we get our first few RF links properly installed, and the kinks are worked out. I don't think we will be able to keep up with the demand once the word gets out that the mesh network is operational. This is why I want several of us proficient, so new operators and clients aren't waiting around for months to get on the mesh. I'm very excited for the next few weeks, and can't wait to see these operators in action. This is their world, and I'm looking forward to learning from them. Hopefully this is my last update without a live RF connection.

Stay tuned...
 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #6

April 2023
-First half of first RF install was successful, (hAP, PTZ cam, solar/battery backup, fan-cooled electrical box). Waiting on the tower builder so we can install the RF radio... It was online until the latest FW update. Quick youtube videos give an overview of this install.
-Website is live and functioning.
-Several new videos have been posted with more still being edited.
-Several more Node-Site-Owners have come onboard, and are awaiting installs-some of which fill important gaps
-Several Node-Site-Owners are now pursuing a HAM license and will soon become operators.
-15+ RF installs are in the "hopper".
-Numerous solar panels have been purchased for the first 8 installs.
-Proper lightning suppressors have been purchased.
-Networking with Army officers in outside regions is underway for redundant tunneling and spreading AREDN to major cities.
-Networking with clubs and plans for field day demonstrations have been initiated.
-NPR-70 Equipment has been purchased for worst-case-scenario, deployable, "last mile" nodes.
-New operators have come on board and successfully got onto the mesh.
-Weather Station and aircraft tracker have been added to the mesh as services-which work flawlessly.
-Various electrical equipment has been purchased for the next few dozen installs, (backup switches, thermostats, alarms, etc.).
-Served Agency's deployable EmComms case is completed-video on youtube.
-Several operators are obtaining large towers for RF radios at their QTH.

Minus the setbacks from the latest FW update-3.23.4.0, we are on schedule according to our Phase estimations. Since the tower builder is in no hurry to complete the job he has been paid for, and is on year four so far, other RF installs will be moved up in order to fulfill our commitment to the operators and agencies taking part in the mesh. Setbacks and issues were predicted from day one, so we learn from them and continue to steamroll. This is precisely why we have a decentralized, redundant network; so one person or other factor does not inhibit our success. The group is remaining cohesive, and is more determined than ever before. The newest operators have already proven to be extremely competent, and have increased our value right out of the gate, while advising on technical issues, fixing website problems and physically getting involved. I'm very surprised that every single guy is top notch. Usually it's 10% or so, but 100% of our operators are competent, dependable and bring a unique skill-set to the project.

Until next time... 

 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Progress Report #7

Q2-June 2023 Update


-HAMVENTION node deployment was ultimately successful, many lessons learned. Interest for AREDN has been sparked with Club presidents in major cities.

-Several AREDN OG members put on a presentation for METERS club, adding more node operators to the Roster, and new nodes on the mesh.

-Several youtube videos have been produced and published, reaching hundreds of new viewers so far which helps expand AREDN and ham radio as a whole.

-Several members put on a live AREDN demonstration at summer FieldDay, and gained numerous new operators and network participants.

-New active nodes have gone live and plans for several new RF links are under way.

-The "Doctors' Phone" has been completed and will be presented to our first served agency Q3 2023.

-Lightning arrestors have been procurred and are ready to be installed.

-Further solar panel testing has taken place.

-Another Reolink PTZ camera has been purchased and tested- ready for installation.

Although less time and money has been spent recently compared to previous months, we are still on schedule according to our "phases prediction". Some very important pieces of the pie have fallen into place, and Q3looks like a very exciting time for new installs and RF links. Internet has been installed at new areas, which will accelerate the installation of RF nodes there. As we build out these mesh islands, appropriate backbone and relay sites are still being sought out and negotiated with the land owners.The website has been running smoothly now for several months, and has already proved to be an asset for communicating with new members. In the future, we will be doing quarterly updates rather than monthly updates to save time.

Stay tuned for updates from Q3 2023.

K5DLQ
K5DLQ's picture
Looks like a great start!
Looks like a great start!
Congrats.
 
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Thanks buddy, it's pretty
Thanks buddy, it's pretty exciting. YOU helped make it happen.
k1ky
k1ky's picture
Congrats Tom!
Looks like you guys are getting it together!  I have a bunch of nodes that we are getting ready for the Cleveland TN area. This will go a long way toward filling out our Statewide coverage.
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Fantastic... an exciting next
Fantastic... an exciting next few years awaits us. I hear your callsign mentioned often, K1KY, You are held in high regard around here. Good to finally run in to you. on the right mountains, Knoxville to Cleveland is only a few hops with dishes. Hopefully we will make good progress that I can post here. That way, we can coordinate with each other. Is "southmesh" the best SSID, or is there a newer/better one? feel free to email us for anything: arednog@proton.me.

73,

Thomas, KM4TBQ 
k1ky
k1ky's picture
Yes, SouthMesh
Yes Tom - In order to connect via RF, our nodes use "southmesh" as the SSID.  We can take the further discussion and coordination direct.
wb4bsd
Why is southmesh used as an
Why is southmesh used as an ssid?
k1ky
k1ky's picture
southmesh
The "southmesh" ssid was established for our Tennessee MESH network long ago when we established the system.  It signifies our desire to be a region-wide system (RF-wise) that's not necessarily limited to Tennessee as well as being interoperable with visiting nodes during exercises and disaster response operations.  Any node with "southmesh" as the ssid will be able to participate with other nodes via RF that are within range of each other that match the ssid being used.. 
N4LPK
East TN Mesh Network

Hi Tom:
I am interested in helping to expand the system in East Tennessee. I help to build and maintain the system in Sarasota Florida before I moved up here. I am in Kodak and currently I am tunneled into the KK4WAS server.  I certainly would like to see RF stations built for the Sevierville area so if there is away I can help with that then I am willing to help.  

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Asset
It looks like you will definitely be an asset then. Let me know if you didn't get my email response.
N4LPK
Asset
I did get your e-mail
KG7ERA
KG7ERA's picture
Wanting to learn more
Hey all,I'm a younger guy (25) that just passed his general. I live in lafayette, which is about 35 miles west of cookeville and 50 miles north of nashville. I would love to learn more about this, and noone in the Macon Area Ham Group knows much about it.
 
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Congrats
Congrats on your General. Fortunately for you, you fall into TOM's/K1KY's area, (Nashville). I would be more than happy to help you, but Tom is far more experienced in this realm. I don't know of many HAMs that have more AREDN knowledge than him, and he's extremely accessible. Send him a direct message on here, and I know he would be more than happy to help you get started. But, if for some reason he's busy or something, let me know and I'll do what I can to help you. I'm brand new myself, and can tell you that there is a plethora of knowledge in these forums, so if you put in the time, you'll learn a ton here. Keep me posted. 73
Thomas, KM4TBQ
 
KG7ERA
KG7ERA's picture
I sent K1KY a direct message
I sent K1KY a direct message and look forward to hearing back. 73
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Good deal. If he's tied up or
Good deal. If he's tied up or otherwise unavailable, let me know and I''ll do what I can to help you out.
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
Did Tom get you sorted out
Did Tom get you sorted out alright?
KI4FZT
Status of East TN?
Is there actually a working mesh network in existence?

Our interest is in multiple aspects. A location, Buffalo Mtn, where we may be able to place a Winlink RMS gateway also needs internet access. Currently would no be available only via connection to a mesh network. We would also want to work on mesh connection to the EOC in Roane County to help provide that location with redundancy for internet connection.

So what say ye? Where are we? We need to look at possible linking points.

Happy New Year and 73 DE KI4FZT
Bill
nc8q
nc8q's picture
A location, Buffalo Mtn, where we may be able to place a Winlink
"A location, Buffalo Mtn, where we may be able to place a Winlink RMS gateway also needs internet access. "
Thoughts:
A 'RMS gateway' does not require Winlink® and not even MS-Windows©.
A 'RMS Gateway' does need internet access, but does not need to be on a mountain.
A 'RMS Gateway' can be a service anywhere on the local AREDN network.
If a 'RMS Gateway' service exists on a local AREDN network, it can be automagically detected by a 'Winlink® client' station.

73, Chuck
 
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
The network is not installed

The network is not installed yet. We're getting all the equipment sorted out first, and you can track the project's status here on this page. We fully intend to link up with the Nashville group, so naturally Roane county would be one of the first hops as we head west. If you know of any property owners with suitable locations for placing a node, definitely let me know. We are supplying the equipment in order to make it easier for a property owner to say yes. Node sites are and will be the biggest hurdle of the whole project. We have a few fantastic locations under verbal agreement already, but we need more than just a few. 
Thanks or reaching out, and I hope we can make something happen. 73

Thomas, KM4TBQ
 

KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
RF Link
I would like to know the exact site that you have/might have access to in Roane county. Our next install is at a decent height, and when I was running some scenarios for it using heywhatsthat, It appears that we definitely have the range to reach Sweetwater, TN, maybe farther. However, this is greatly dependent on which side of a mountain you are on, of course. If your location(s) work, we can do an install within weeks, not months. If we have to set up 2-3 to get it to the EOC, we can make that happen. Let me know ASAP. The node-install waiting list is piling up quickly, but this could be squeezed in with the current island we are working on, which so far is three, maybe four nodes.
W8UFO
Hello! Great Progress!
Hi everyone,

I'm relatively new to Knoxville, having moved from the Tampa, FL area about 2 years ago.  I'm glad to see AREDN Mesh being worked on and wanted to plug in as I'm a big proponent of a non-internet based RF network being available.  I'm a business continuity, disaster recovery, and resiliency geek by day and like astronomy, bicycling, cooking, gardening, ham radio, outdoor activities, photography, and technology.  I also enjoy videography and teaching/training.

I don't have a node set up yet, but hoping to do so and connect from the I-40/Papermill area.
 
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
great location
Hey Scott, I sent you a message on slack, so I won't reiterate everything here, but we're very happy to have you. One of our MOU sites is very close to Papermill, so unless you're behind a hill, you should have a great connection. Even if you are obstructed, you'll eventually be linked via RF, because we've purchased and configured enough equipment to cover the entire area. The next major challenge will be finding willing, node-site-owners with ideal properties. I'm working on a video as we speak, that will hopefully convey the value of having a mesh network in our area, and will bring in a lot of new participants. I'm also working on material to better explain our process and general operations to potential members of the network. If you're a money-bags, we'll be needing a lot of LiFePO4 batteries and 12/24 volt solar panels in the future because all of our critical nodes will be on battery backup at a minimum. Speaking of which, Shields Electronics on Middlebrook pk has (as of a week ago) seven more 24 volt/80 watt panels, and he said he could cut us an even better deal if we wanted to buy the rest of them. I bought one to test out, and will buy some more (maybe this week). They are $70, which he told me is 50% of their cost, but I'm going to offer him $50 each just to see what he says. We'll link up soon, and don't hesitate to ask if you need help with anything. TOM-K1KY is our state expert, and he's very accommodating and helpful, so if I can't solve your problem, no doubt he can.73
KM4TBQ
KM4TBQ's picture
latest project being tested.
hAP + rocket + RPi + DMR + IP Cam (~20 watts with fan and IR on).
W8UFO
Nice!
That looks like a great package!  Hopefully testing is going well.
W8UFO
Panels / LifePO
I wish I was money bags :).  I just had to replace my furnace/air conditioning system.  Let me know what he says to the $50 offer on those panels.  Hmmm.....I wonder if one of those would work for my greenhouse (aeroponic vertical tower, fans, lights, etc.).  Now you got me thinking.

I've got Final Cut Pro and some other video production tools...so if you need help let me know.
 

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