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The Beginnings of a Chicago Build Out

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KV3T's picture
The Beginnings of a Chicago Build Out

Hey All,
I have proposed to, and gotten approval from, a local club in the north Chicago area to start the process of an Aredn build out.  Attached below is the approved proposal.  I would appreciate any and all feedback, but am specifically looking for insights on hardware selection and the pairing of antenna and transceiver selections.  This proposal has already been approved, so improving the proposal specifically is not important.  Just the ideas and hardware in it.

I have redacted some of the identifying info to remove club info, names, and site locations.  I'm not sure if this is important or not, but that info isn't critical to the help I'm asking for here, so better to be safe.

We are now in the buying phase and would love to have more seasoned eyes look over the selections, and make any recommendations that might have been gained from similar deployments, and by those that have spent more time with it than I.

So the format makes sense, I was asked by some of the board members to propose it in a two step process.  The end goal is to deploy these at some of the clubs repeater sites or at some other non-club assets, but sites which the club has access to.  Being in flat Chicago, the sites are very valuable, and great lengths are taken to ensure the owners aren't inconvenienced by our presence.  So this hardware will initially be a big demo kit, intended to get people excited about what we are doing, and to help the club members learn more about this part of the spectrum they have privileges in, but aren't accustomed to using.

Thanks in advance for the help,

WU2S's picture

Hi Casey,
Here are some ideas to consider:
1.The stubby antennas you plan to use with the Rocket M2 may not be a good idea. See the Forum posts at and at
I know that the Ubiquiti Omni antenna for a Rocket is expensive (about $250), but if you feel you need an omni, that is the way to go.

2. As a former Chicagoan, I know the weather can affect antennas severely. The Milrotik Light Head Grid in your plans is a great unit. However it may suffer in freezing rain or sleet as the ice builds up on the grid.  If you can accommodate this limitation in your demonstration network, then the LHG is a good inexpensive device to start with. For a more permanent and robust installation, I recommend considering the much more expensive Rocket Dish with the optional radome.

Good luck with your installation. I hope to visit Chicago later this year and maybe have the opportunity to see your network in action.

Randy WU2S


KV3T's picture
Randy, and all.

Randy, and all.

Thank you for your time and links.  I read through those thread and they provide a great deal of additional info.

Consideration #1)  Thank you.  I figured someone would bring this up.  The Rocket M2 in this demo setup is really just a way to connect one of the GL.inet in close proximity (maybe 50') to the M2.  This would never be a real deployment antenna configuration.  It is only for the demo station.  I actually have this exact setup running in my house now, and it works exactly how you would expect.  Just fine, for less than a block and line of site, or a few hundred feed through a couple of walls.  That is good enough for now.  If the M2 makes it to deployment on a site, I'm not sure what that would look like / where / how / what its purpose would be, so I didn't want to ask for a big spend on a permanent antenna, that might not be used in deployment.

Consideration #2)  This is useful insight that I will take into consideration.  I have not had these issues on any gear I currently maintain, but at the elevations some of this might go onto I'm sure it would be much worse.  I will take this back to my cohorts that I have gained from the club and see what they think.  I suspect we will proceed with the LHG for now /  the demo setup.  Like you said, it is inexpensive.  But keep this in the back of our minds moving forward.

Anyone / anything else?  I think we are going to cut a PO this week.

Also, purchasing.  Any thoughts?  I have an existing relationship with Baltic Networks which is semi-local.  They can handle a tax exempt order since the club is a not for profit.  Are there any other / better options out there.  Maybe someone that has supported the community in some way or otherwise is a good fit.

And lastly, it was brought up that the tripods that I had in the proposal are only +6' tall.  We don't want to spend a ton of money, and already have the miliary mast stuff in the club inventory, but we are looking for something quick and easy to operate.  Ideally stand alone.  Is anyone aware of a self supporting mast that is more in the 10' to 12' range.  Something to get it cleanly over the heads and out of the way of passers by / someone standing in between the two stations / etc. 

Thanks everyone for the time and consideration.

Randy, I'm quite confident there will be nothing to look at this year.  Between the pandemic and various other factors, I think at best we are doing ground level tests, and maybe a club presentation on AREDN.  I would hope for a more permanent setup, something you could rely on being there, next spring at the earliest.  But once it is up and running, I'll be sure to put them on the map and notify in the regional forum.

Speaker stand

I use speaker stands instead of "masts" for portable AREDN. A typical fiberglass mast isn't going to be stable enough for a long dish shot, even if guyed (and people will talk into them). I have an Ultimate TS-88B. It's 9'2" and very stable, but it's also pricey! Plenty of room for other stuff on the pole too like a Nanostation, SXT, or Wi-Fi AP.


Very interesting. As a fellow

Very interesting. As a fellow Chicagoan I have been working on saving up to at least set up one node at my house in Bidgeport. Also I might be able to get IIT's Ham Club (A student org not much of a real club)  involved in having a node up on top of the largest building on campus which may be interesting.

Hi Casey

Hi Casey

I read your post with interest and, whilst still early days, hope you post your progress and any issues as you go along. AREDN is really only starting to gain interest here in VK land lead by several guys up in VK2 and VK4.

I've just started testing a node here in VK3 and are interested in how you get along with the club in particular as I'm interested to see if any of my club members are interested in getting nodes up.

Good luck and hope to follow your progress.


Melbourne, Australia

KV3T's picture
Wanted to give an update. 

Wanted to give an update.  The nodes have been ordered and had to sit in my basement for about a month until I could get around to it.  I now have 7 nodes running in my basement 3 mine, 4 the clubs.  The networking / routing / vlan side isn't set up yet, but all of the nodes are setup, updated, and running well.  I should be able to get the switches configured and all of the stations fully setup in the next few days.

We wanted to get this out and demoed to the club this fall in hopes of approval to deploy them in the spring, but due to covid everything is on hold.  We have had terrible weather here this week, but the hope is some nice weather and time will align such that I can do some additional testing on my own.  I have a small tower at my QTH that gets me about +30' AGL, but have obstructions all over the place, so I'm not terribly optimistic testing from the ground to my tower, though after final deployment I should be able to hit one of the deployed nodes.  I just need to get off the ground to see my tower from further than a half a block away.

I'll try to post updates moving forward, but for the time being we are in holding mode.

KV3T's picture
All, I have excellent news. 

All, I have excellent news.  I heard tonight that the sponsor club has approved the first anchor node.  It will be a 5Ghz sector located at the very north end of lake shore drive up at roughly 600' AGL.  Our tentative plan is to locate our 19° sector antenna pointed roughly 320° from the top of that tower to cover most of the north shore suburbs.  We also apparent will be getting access to a 200' AGL site in Deerfield.  I just learned about that tonight, but hopefully we will be able to get sectors at both locations pointed at each other which will provide a good general coverage of the north shore of Chicago.  I also have my eyes on a couple of other sites, and know of a few people that are very interested in linking up to our mesh, so I'm very optimistic that this will turn into something real.

I'll keep this group updated.  If anyone else is in the area and wants to join in the fun, I'm still good on QRZ.

All the best,

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