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AREDN Mesh Go Kits at B2V

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K6OLI
AREDN Mesh Go Kits at B2V

On March 23rd, 2019 we supported the annual B2V Relay Cup race. We tested our mesh field deployment capabilities and had 4 mesh stations at Stage 9:

1) Early Warning (Mile Out)
2) Mesh Repeater (Rocket with Altelix Omni)
3) 200m Warning
4) Stage 9 Comm Tent

Everything was configured for 5.8 GHz.  We used only one channel without any problems, but we did have nodes pre-configured as a cross-channel repeater, had that proven to be necessary.

We also had a tunnel again. This year we bridged wirelessly from 200m Warning to the Verizon COW, instead of using a hardwired Ethernet cable. The tunnel was running on a Mikrotik hAP, the bridge device was a simple GL iNet Mango..
We called a station in Pasadena via Linphone on iPhone, sent and received Winlink messages, and the Pasadena station watched video streaming from Early Warning (Mile Out) of runners passing by. 

Thanks to the new Part 15 access point feature in the hAP lite (thanks Joe!) our Go Kits have shrunk in size and increased in capability. We also took advantage of the new auto sensing feature, which optimized throughput about 2 minutes after the Mesh repeater node had connected.

Speeds on the mesh were in the 55 Mbps - 60 Mbps range.

Video was smooth and clear across the board. We also watched runners passing by Early Warning (Mile Out) from our small-is-beautiful setup at 200m Warning.  The Bioenno solar panel kept the batteries topped off.

Setup was easy and testing on Friday took us less than an hour, including travel time between sites. All in all very successful and fun!

A couple of take-aways:
- Well trained, smart operators make all the difference. Setup and testing were a breeze.
- Ad hoc networks require an understanding of the nodes and their capabilities as well as the terrain. We had both.
- The best technology is useless without smart operators. Like in every deployment we ran into glitches but we fixed them quickly, as a team.

Our mesh repeater site also had line-of-sight with Stage 10 and at only 6 miles distance it would have been an easy connection to make.

Overall the mesh did exactly what we wanted it to do: it acted as a force multiplier by providing VoIP, texting, chat, Video and Winlink email to everyone at every station on our team.

A final word of caution: training matters.  Untrained operators can turn a deployment into a Charlie Foxtrot in a New York minute.
We had an easy time setting up an ad hoc network because we had well-trained, smart operators who understood what they were doing, were willing to experiment and had a clear sense of the field operations parameter space they operated in.

Train, practice and deploy together often!

73,
Oliver K6OLI

K4KDR
Congrats - camera type?

Congrats on the successful event, Oliver.

What cameras were you using?  And do they run a built-in web server, or was some other device/app making the video available to viewers?

Thanks!

-Scott,  K4KDR

K6OLI
Generic PoE ONVIF Cameras

Hi Scott,

we were using pretty generic PoE cameras we bought at Amazon for around $40. I prefer cameras that run on 12V (IPCC, SV3C, etc.) but other cameras can be made to work. They all have a built-in webserver, but the plug-ins are often pretty dodgy, so we avoid them.

We prefer VLC player for streaming (rtsp), because it is widely available and easy to use on laptops and smartphones. We took quite a lot of snapshots with VLC, too.
Another convenient option is iSpy (ispyconnect.com) which can display multiple cameras at a time and is pretty easy to set up, especially with ONVIF cameras, and has lots of features including recording. Orv W6BI recommended that at SCaLE and it works!

73,
Oliver K6OLI

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