The Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network is based on open-source software that runs on off the shelf hardware. Compared to the MESH networking we experimented with several years ago it has some great advantages, especially with the hardware capabilities. Some of the advantages over HSMM-MESH I see are.
A choice of 4 amateur radio bands 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 3GHz, 5.8GHz
Ability to run in amateur-only segments of the bands free of creating and receiving QRM from Wi-Fi networks
Built-in PoE (Power over Ethernet). So only 1 cable required.
Ruggedized hardware for mast-mounting. At these frequencies, good coaxial cable is very expensive. Mounting the entire device on the mast and powered over a single inexpensive Ethernet cable is a great advantage.
Ability to leverage old satellite dishes. Some models are designed to be mounted where you'd normally put the LNA provided high gain for low cost (some units is saw were $39 US).
The limitation, of course, is that these units are mostly line-of-sight (LoS). The MESH network (automatic relay between nodes) overcomes some of this limitation but point-to-point connections that are LoS are needed. This would generally mean mounting in a high location clear of obstructions.
This video clearly explains the technology, limitations, design considerations and use cases. At only 17m it's worth watching and food for thought.
If anyone is interested in experimenting with the technology let me know.
Here's a short article by K1CE from the ARRL "ARES Letter" on October 21, 2020. It provides yet another reason to use technologies like AREDN - preservation of Spectrum for radio amateurs. While the range of these devices is limited to near line-of-site, the high speed and lower power consumption are very compelling. We need people in high places (literally) to make this vision a reality. It would work very well from apartment balconies, towers (of course), hilltops for mobile operations, etc.
K1CE for a Final: Use or Lose the SHF Bands; Increase Data Speed, Modes for Keeping Up with Needs of Served Partner Agencies
The FCC's decision to delete the amateur service from the 3.3 - 3.5 GHz allocation sent a chill down my spine. The message is clear: we must use our super high frequencies (SHF) or risk losing even more access. There is ever-increasing demand by our served partner agencies for higher speed data, digital voice and image transfer, the kinds of data rates that are made possible by the greater bandwidth afforded by our access to the SHF spectrum. There are many forward-thinking amateur groups around the country that are exemplary.
The 5 cm amateur band was recently used for filing a wildfire report - on September 8, 2020, two hams in the Puget Sound region of Washington State were watching the live camera feed from the Mt. Baldy HamWAN site and spotted and reported a wildfire in the surrounding forest. The Ham Wide Area Network is a system of commercial microwave radios tuned to the 5.65-5.925 GHz amateur radio band. Data speeds between the link sites vary depending on the path, but speeds four orders of magnitude faster than 9600 baud packet is common. Video cameras with PTZ control have been added to many of the link sites.
The use of HamWAN as a backup emergency communications system throughout the Interstate-5 corridor in Washington is growing. The Washington Emergency Management Division EOC, the Washington State Department of Transportation Southwest Region EOC, two county and four city EOCs, three hospitals, and one Red Cross office already have permanent connections (so far).
The Northwest Ohio Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) Mesh Steering Committee (Lucas County ARES) conducted a drill focused on setting up individually-owned AREDN Mesh gear, troubleshooting and operating the ancillary gear (phones, cameras, laptops, self-contained power boxes) on an individual basis. Numerous law enforcement officers from Wood County as well as from Lucas and Monroe counties in Michigan were enthusiastic about the Mesh Networking capabilities.
In Colorado, the Boulder ATV club installed its new 5.9 GHz, FM-TV beacon transmitter on a government building for the purposes of encouraging microwave experimentation; to get hams to try ATV, especially with the really low cost FM-TV gear now available for drones; to be used as a known signal source for testing antennas and receivers; and to increase usage of our microwave bands, to help prevent their being taken away from us.
Use it or lose it. Add microwave apps to your ARES toolkits. There is a wealth of information from ARRL to get you started. A quick click on any search engine will lend more.
Copyright © 2020 American Radio Relay League, Incorporated. Posted with permission.
I think the following:
A bunch of category 5e or better cable: I have a lot of indoor rated cable which would be fine for testing or temporary use. I'm planning to get some outdoor cable for other applications so a bulk buy would be reasonable to do. I will need a lot of it. I have recently learned the art of crimping RJ45 connectors.
A PoE switch. An 8 port switch with 4 powered ports is about $50 Canadian. I have one already.
At least 2 devices (one at each end). As I mentioned 39 USD. Some devices with more capability are more expensive. There's a list of MicroTik devices here but not all will be supported. The most expensive is $300.
A high place to attach it. That would be the most expensive part for many, but for testing not required.
We'd also have to pick a band. 5GHz is probably the most popular around, and has the most bandwidth available but I'd like to study things a bit more before deciding on that.
It would be really nice to have some megabits. The use cases around situational awareness, video feeds, telephone systems all look really good. I would pony up some money to get started at my end. We have several people (VA3DCY, VE3IBW, VE3NRT and others) who could build infrastructure to support various types of applications and services, plus gateways to the Internet.
I would be interested, but what cost to get started?