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Loaner (recruitment) System

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N8NQH's picture
Loaner (recruitment) System

I don't know how easy/difficult it is in your area to get hams to try Mesh, but in our area the "curious" are somewhat reluctant.  Mainly due to the hesitation of a ham to purchase equipment - with no guarantee they will be able to access our local grid.  Unlike some of you... our area does not have mountain tops with the ability to blanket-cover a wide area.

And it's more difficult than ever now since the Linksys units no longer work on our Mesh system; so the source for cheap / free nodes has dried up.

Our local Mesh group (MVMA) put together a Mesh "Loaner System" to hand out to any ham in our ara that's curious about Mesh. It's a no-risk test run.   I just finished updating it, hence a opportune time to take a pic of it all.

Key items are two nodes, a NanoStation and an AirRouter HP.

Why two nodes ???
We learned that in case the interested ham was unable to connect to our local grid... that it was beneficial during this "test run" that he have a second node to power up.... giving him something to see/click-on the  Mesh Status screen.

The NanoStation has 75' ethernet cable pre-attached (and strain relieved).

The 8 page illustrated guide was generated to be step-by-step, with pictures to help the ham connect the node(s) up and navigate their computers screen without having to ask 100 questions; here is one of the many illustrations:

See that fiberglass 2.4 antenna over to the left in the first pic (attached to a squeeze-type clamp)?  It has a reverse SMA connector on the end and  can screw directly into the AirRouter HP's RF jack.  I have verified a  16-18 S/N improvement just by using this external antenna...clipping it onto a rain gutter outside the home (versus the AirRouter HP sitting inside the home near a window).  Due to the cable loss at 2.4ghz... I had to keep the coax length somewhat short.

We've  now included a BasicTalk ATA, with the AirRouter already configured for it. 

All this equpment can be placed in one carry bag.

K5DLQ's picture
I initiated something simpler

I initiated something similar here in our ARES group.
I have a loaner AirRouter that has all the ports labeled (ie.  PC, PHONE, to PoE, to NODE, to local network, etc.)
I've pre-configured it with a tunnel client to connect to a tunnel server connected to the area mesh.
This way, our operators can practice sending Winlink emails to the Telnet Post Office on the mesh, browse our local map server, access our OwnCloud synced files, access our TicketsCAD system, etc.

Very simple and effective.

Sorry, I don't have any pictures because, well, it's on loan right now...  ;-)

N8NQH's picture
Loaner System

you wrote: Sorry, I don't have any pictures because, well, it's on loan right now...  ;-)

That's good news though !!!

Since our area lacks mountains, it's difficult to provide overall coverage. So it truly is a gamble for hams to purchase equipment before first having a chance to "test the waters".  The Loaner System provides them this chance.

Here's another illustration:

underneath that pic ... there is text defining what each of the status screens blocks represents.

You might think this is going overboard on instructions, but I've noticed that no matter how many PowerPoint presentations are made, no matter how often live demonstrations are offered... a lot of these curious hams want to experience Mesh in their own home... without the need of an experienced person standing over their shoulder.  We have a set of instructions that are very descriptive; includes a Hints page and a FAQ.     Makes ie easy for a ham to make "first contact".  And  of course, the instructions include phone numbers and email addy's... just in case.



Setup - do the NanoStation first
1. Mount the NanoStation outside; either to one leg of  you tower, or to a mast pipe , or to a vent pipe poking out of your QTH roof.  Use the single hose clamp to make the attachment... it does not need to be super tight. If the metal  hose  clamp is not big enough diameter... you can use the supplied long wire tie.  For temporary installation, you need only use one of the two mounting bosses on the NanoStation.
2. The NanoStation is directional; providing 60 degrees of coverage.  Find out where the most likely existing Mesh node(s) are located in your area , and point the NanoStation in that direction (map included).
3. Run the attached 75' ethernet cable inside your home, and plug it into the Power Injectors "POE" jack. Then plug the Power Injectors  power cord into an AC outlet.

4. Prep your PC or Laptop for Mesh use:
disconnect your computer/laptop from any internet source (either disable WiFi on the computer - or unplug the ISP providing ethernet cable from the computer). Whatever   method you use to supply internet to your computer - you need to disable/disconnect your computer  from it..
5. Plug another ethernet cable into the Power Injectors "LAN" jack, and the other end into your computers network port.
6. Launch your computers browser, it should error-out.... as your home-page won't load    (due to there being no internet connection to this computer at that moment)
7. Type in the following URL:   http://localnode:8080   and execute (press Enter)
the following main Mesh Page should appear:


K5DLQ's picture
would you mind sharing your

would you mind sharing your doc with me?  I know it will not all be applicable to our loaner setup since we only use an AirRouter, but, I'd like to see it anyway.

N8NQH's picture


There's no mention of tunneling anywhere in our Loaner System instructions. Although we are not anti-tunneling... it would only  be mentioned if all else fails.

Thanks Tim

Having been the beneficiary of the subject loaner kit, I'd like to thank Tim and the MVMA. Nothing beats seeing what you can contact from your own QTH. The kit had the desired effect on me (recruitment) and I have my first mesh gear on order (NSM2).

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