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Smallest, full-power AREDN node: modified PowerBeam M2

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K9CQB
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Smallest, full-power AREDN node: modified PowerBeam M2

I needed a small, full-powered, AREDN node to mount on a tiny drone aircraft and some small drone boats that run up and down a river. I've also been searching for a small, but full-featured AREDN node for a man-wearable system. So after looking around for a good host device that I could remove from the case and buying and cutting up many different nodes I found the PowerBeam M2 (PBE-M2-400). Here's what I found:

When removed from it’s feed-horn body, the PBE-M2-400 is a tiny radio that has the same capability of the venerable Rocket M2 XW. Both of which are 28dBm power output and 2x2 MIMO radios and have 64MB RAM. The PBE-M2 board, is one third the size once modified. So I bought several of these feed-horns off ebay for about $35 each. Here are the rough steps for making them smaller and more usable:

1. I used a Kukri machete to split the end of the PowerBeam’s feed-horn, causing the horn reflector to come off the end like a cracked coconut.

2. Then I pulled out the board and removed (de-soldered) the vertical fed element and director element. The horizontal director and fed element are printed on the PCB and will be sheared off later to save space. I also yanked the white plastic LED shield off the PCB.

3. I clipped off and de-soldered the test point connectors and scraped the green solder mask to make a good footprint for my 2 .ufl  connectors. I tinned those new pads for ease of soldering.

4. I soldered the 2 .ufl connectors onto the board and then sheared the end of the board off where the LED circuit ends.

5. You can attach RP-SMA jumpers or antennas of your choice and place the modified board inside the enclosure of your choice. These are also ideal for mounting on drones and other lightweight applications with a small battery source and a voltage regulator (boost) to get it to 10-12V on pin 4-5 and ground on 7-8 of the Ethernet pins. It helps to orient antennas ch0 horizontal and ch1 vertical. If you are brave, you can even remove the Ethernet connector to cut more weight for your tiny drone project.

Once modified, I Basically feel that this radio is now just a smaller Rocket M2 XW and would love to market it to my fellow mesh-hams that way. Yes it requires a little bit of hands on hardware modification, but it's kinda fun.
By the way, the Rocket M2 used to be my favorite 2.4GHz free-standing radio until the MikroTik BaseBox 2 came along with 30dBm RF power, a USB port, and a MiniPCIe slot. But I still have great respect for the Rocket.

The photos will follow in the next post as I can never post them when I initiate a new post, only when replying.

-Damon K9CQB

K9CQB
K9CQB's picture
Smallest, full-power AREDN node: modified PowerBeam M2

Here are the photos in order of the above steps (as best I could):
-Damon K9CQB

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K6CCC
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Nice!  

Nice!
 

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