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Maine Mesh Working Group

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Maine Mesh Working Group

A Working Group has been created to try and expand NG1P's efforts with Mesh Networking in Maine.
Rather than re-create the wheel, we will use this forum for exchange ideas and further our developments. Having it posted where experts can offer there guidance will help.
I am re-posting Roger N1XP's great talking points mentioned in a previous email:


A MESH network throughout Maine is a noble and lofty goal.  However, it is not without obstacles, and deployment challenges.  Before running-off to apply for grants, should we not have a meeting to lay a foundation of expectations?   If the project is to be successful, all aspects must be properly and carefully planed.

May I offer the following talking points?

1.  A full 'Systems Management' exploratory analysis is needed:
a)  What is the purpose of the network? 
b)  What are the goals of the network - is it for Emcomm, or for general use, or a combination?
c)  Depending upon use what are the expected terminus points?  Why?
d)  What magnitude of traffic can be expected?
e)  Who are responsible for implementation and maintenance?

2. Define technical system performance parameters and issues:
a)  What bands to utilize?  2.4 GHz singly or mixed with a 3.4 GHz backbone?  ( As an aside, Amateur use of 3.4 may be discontinued in the near future)
b)  What data rate is expected?
c)  What BER is acceptable?
d)  What reliability (Availability) is acceptable?
e)  Tower access is required for true line of site paths, with full first-Fresnel zone clearance, at 2.4 GHz.  Can the group access enough towers for a feasible network?
f)   Path length (between nodes - full line-of-sight) is limited to ~45~55 statute miles before suffering reliability and data-rate degradation.
g)  Unstable meteorological conditions associated with anomalous propagation, in Maine, especially coastal areas, are a serious disadvantage.
h)  Maine's topography and forestation present a particular disadvantage to Microwave signals - it can be overcome with taller towers, a mountain (or two), and shorter node-to-node path distances, at increased costs.

3.  A full business-type plan is required for most grant applications:
a)  Executive Summary
b)  Project Justification
c)  Design Analysis and Plan
d)  Cost-Benefit analysis
e)  Economic analysis. Equipment cost and operating analysis can only be fully complete and accurate upon site identification, engineering path analysis, and equipment design completion.
f)  Project Management Plan
g)  Follow-on (Operating) costs
i)  Professional Tower workers
ii)  Spare equipment
iii) Maintenance
iv) Network expansion

Once a complete plan is in place, now go for the grants.

Experience gained in Virginia with MESH (AREDN) and a career of telecommunications engineering (Digital Microwave and Satellite) lead me to believe a state-wide project is achievable, but will be difficult and costly.  Please understand, a state-wide network is an animal of a completely different color from a single, localized, semi-urban MESH node.  Marginal, long-distance, node-to-node AX.25 V/UHF paths may function and sometimes reliably, but will operate marginally, if at all, at 2.4/3.4 GHz digital microwave. 

Many of you will have additions and comments - Let us convene to discuss the project further.  Cory?



K6AH's picture
Contrarian opinion

Having retired from a career in infrastructure project management, I completely understand your thinking on this, Roger.  However, what I have found in managing and observing others deploy AREDN networks, there is real value in building a prototype network that hams can play with and learn from while you're going through the formal planning phase you describe.  It will attract more hams and keep their interest longer.

Andre, K6AH

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