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USB dongle

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USB dongle

I am just curious if a wifi usb dongle can be altered to send and receive on the ham only channels of the 2.4 ghz spectrum? I am curious because, I am looking to work with a raspberry pi zero as a mesh node. I am hoping it can turn into a very very small >25 dollar option for hams who may be interested in ARDEN but who may not pay for a ubiquiti router (of course that will have to wait until the pi zero is actually being sold at 5 bucks). I don't really think the linksys routers are really worth while because their limited memory capacity.  I am not even sure if this is a worthwhile idea or even possible so, I am looking get some different perspectives from you all.  

K3EAL's picture

HSMM-Pi was created for BBHN but it will work with AREDN. Just make the SSID's the same and don't operate on the channel -1 or -2 "ham only" channels. 
*** Edited by Moderator to use normal text size ***

K5DLQ's picture
I think I've seen a few USB

(I think the question was targeted more to the part 97 frequency question than will it run on the RPi.)

I've seen a few USB wifi dongles that contain an Atheros chipset, but, they were in the $25-$30 dollar range.  You'd still need to write the driver to use part 97.

Besides, for around $30, you can get a Ubiquiti AirRouter
Then, you are not having to worry about:

  • acquiring the right usb wifi dongle
  • writing a stable driver to allow it to work on part 97 freqs
  • worrying about said driver corrupting the routing on the mesh for everyone else

Also, if you wanted something outdoor rated, you can find NanoStation Loco M2's for around $40.

That's my opinion.

AE6XE's picture
There might be a USB dongle

There might be a USB dongle based on the same Atheros chips that AREDN could be ported to.   However, we don't have to incur the cost of a (limited, given low antenna gain) USB dongle to turn a Raspberry Pi into a mesh node -- it could be a mesh node and communicate with DtDlink on a cat5 to another Ubiquiti mesh node.  (I do this with my Raspberry Pi, but then I know how to configure without breaking the mesh network routing :) ). 

I think more significantly, there's not really any net gain to bundle services on  core devices of  'the network' when considering reliability and support issues. 

The Raspberry Pi can be put on the LAN of a mesh node to host services.   This is the current direction and best practice.   There's another current forum thread on packaging Raspberry Pi images with pre-configured services to do this.


I run olsrd on my home router

I run olsrd on my home router, an Intel Atom running Debian Linux. You do have to configure /etc/olsrd/olsrd.conf to be compatible with the mesh nodes, but that's no big deal; as a reference, you can examine the olsrd.conf file on a Ubiquiti node by ssh'ing into it.

There are some definite advantages to having a general purpose Linux system as a native mesh node. It gets a full continually updated cache of the name space (kept in /run/hosts_olsr), it gets a full mesh routing table (useful for drawing network graphs, etc, with your own tools), and you can run olsr over whatever type of tunnels you prefer, not just that supported in the AREDN firmware. E.g., I have a olsr link to Mount Carmel HS over an OpenVPN tunnel that I had already set up to provide them with transparent IPv4 and IPv6 service.

Doing this on a system you already use as a router (which is what I do) is especially useful in that you can unify DNS, NAT, DHCP and routing for the regular Internet and the mesh network, allowing your local systems to use both transparently without having to loop all your Internet traffic in and back out a slow port on a Ubiquiti node.

Thank you

Ok, so it really isn't practical (that's ok!). I really don't want to write a whole driver---you are right, now that you all have explained it, I can see why it is much better to keep the pi on the server side. No point re-inventing the wheel after all! I have been working on a few projects for my pi which is why my mind was on that train of thought.

M1BKF's picture
Someone's tried it.

This guy details getting an Atheros-based TPlink dongle to use the ham-only channels.

Yes, TL-WN722N we can use on

Yes, I confirm that TL-WN722N we can use on channels below 2.4 GHz but USB dongle don't working with channel width 10/5 Mhz
I have used TL-WN722N with laptop and Linux kernel modified


Glad to know that it can be done, I am still thinking that I am going to stick with the easiest of the options and just use an ubiquiti device

thanks for the info guys

K6AH's picture
Good call...

The AREDN Team's focus is on helping people implement Emcomm networks... not so much about the tinkering.  You'll find the team much more willing to respond to questions from implementers.  You will find lots of other sites/projects that cater to the experimenter: BBHN, HSMM-pi group, etc.


Yeah sounds good

Yeah that is a good strategy. I am leaning more towards developing an emergency network for my town, I think that I will just keep my pi as a small webserver. There are so many things that could be served on that little thing it is great!

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