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AREDN and BBHN compatibility

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AREDN and BBHN compatibility
Good morning!

I'm a newbie to mesh net (not to mention networking).  A small group of us in Walla Walla, WA, have been testing out BBHN using both Ubiquiti M2 Rockets and Linksys routers (running completely on 2.4 GHz), but we then heard about AREDN.  I'm quite impressed with the approach and organization for the system, not to mention the available information.  Thank you!

But we haven't made the move to AREDN just yet.  I could do so, now, on the Rockets, of course.  But I am looking at how to deal with the Linksys routers.  As I said, we are experimenting, and using the Linksys routers kept the costs down.  Before we make that leap, I have some questions on the compatibility of the systems.  And there are concerns about not using "perfectly good equipment"; second hand gear may be cheaper, but it may not be the optimal solution for EMCOMM.  On the other hand, some people can't afford new gear.      

I looked around the forums, but I couldn't find this particular topic being addressed (the November 2015 TAPR paper is good!).  My apologies if I missed it....

1.  Can AREDN and BBHN based routers link directly, by RF, if they are on the same band?  I am thinking 2.4 GHZz only, here.

2.  Can a Linksys router, with BBHN firmware, be connected to an AREDN network as either a DtD, or through a managed switch or suitable router?

3.  Am I missing something  basic here?  

Thanks, all!

73, Jeff Stidham, AL1Q
Walla Walla, WA

WU2S's picture
1. Yes - provided they use the same SSID, channel (1 thru 6), and bandwidth (20 MHz).
2. Yes - a switch will be far easier. Linksys devices running BBHN do not nativity support DTDLink and require customized configuration.
Hello Jeff,
Hello Jeff,

Good news for you, AREDN was written by the same programmers that wrote BBHN from versions 1.0.1-3.0.1(also known as 3.1.0). The AREDN project really was just a name change to allow the existing developers the ability to have a bit more freedom to pursue development. The AREDN team knows how to keep the solutions compatible and are actually the ones who coined the program versioning.

Since Protocol version 3 (version 3.0.0 for BBHN) the first digit of the version number stands for what protocol is being used (the protocol is a bunch of standards defined together to make sure devices link.)  Any BBHN v3.X.Y and any AREDN v3.x.y.z will link togtether, via RF (as long as they are on the same RF channel, bandwidth and SSID) and via DTDLink.

It is not uncommon for networks that have started out with BBHN like yours has to slowly roll out AREDN nodes into the system, common replacement points are remote/hard to get to nodes (I know one person where you almost have to get arrested to get to the node as its on the back side of the jail house)  and at major nodes (what locally in San Diego we call midmile or backbone nodes) that can benefit from the ability to better monitor the connections.

Eventually once critical mass is reached one can decide to invoke the features like channel -2 (much less RF noise means better link quality).  I would even recommend trying out these features if you have isolated areas that could benefit from an attempt. Since the whole network can be joined via DTDLink its possible to have devices on channel -2 on AREDN and channel 1 on AREDN or BBHN and be fully linked together into one major mesh.

DTDLink is disabled by default on LInksys devices because of a known fault with the hardware.  It can be enabled manually however to allow DTDLink an to work thought I find its just easier to put another AREDN Ubiquiti node at the same site instead of of a Linksys to Ubiquiti connection.

I can certainly agree with the concern on used devices, I've seen a lot of users pick up old ebay hardware, personally I tend to go for new hardware for anything critical.  I've picked up a few used devices for my test lab since I do a lot of programing for the firmware and need test devices, these are devices that will not in m case ever be deployed to major sites. I've bought new hardware for anything I consider mission critical (in my case midmile and original backbone nodes and my primary remote demo device a NanoStation) but that is by preference as I just don't see the cost for new devices (especially NanoStations used for last mile connection) worth the hassle of dealing with failed hardware.

Onto costs, I will post this Article by Clint AE5CA who I worked with back under the BBHN days where Clint outlines the ultimate costs for Linksys gear. Use of Linksys gear to be carefully considered, the poorer RF characteristics can actually turn people away from mesh as they start investing in the hardware not realizing for almost the same cost as an addon antenna they can get a better performing Ubiquiti node complete.  We have seen a few areas bit by this. I like Jim Kinter K5KTF quote "if it is just tabletop exercise, then WRTs will work just fine and are seriously inexpensive and plentiful. If you want to connect buildings across town, go with UBNT"  This obviously doesn't change the situation you have now, I just point it out to hopefully avoid too much more being invested in the less flexible Linksy devices.

Ultimately the two firmware (AREDN and BBHN) and the multiple devices types all coexist together without issue.

I hope this helps you.

Conrad Lara
Good evening, again!
Good evening, again!

Thank you for your responses.  The connectivity between BBHN and ARDEN was implied, but I thought it best to ask.  

I concur, UBNT is the way to go "cross country".  The Linksys is a good starter, and for other needs, but not intended for the heavy haul.

73, Jeff, AL1Q

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