Friday, August 24, 2012

HSMM-MESH™ firmware ports

As announced by the QEX Magazine editor back in 2010, there are some groups of amateurs in Texas working together to implement a mesh network of HSMM nodes.

Think of this as similar to the D-Star network, but operating at a much higher data rate. The groups in Austin include ARES, Roadrunner Microwave Group, Texas Emergency Management, and Red Cross. There is also a fair amount of work being done in Dallas and Plano. Glenn Currie, KD5MFW, gave a presentation to a standing room only group at the Austin Summerfest this past Saturday, so interest is growing significantly.

The group doing the heavy lifting of developing software and hardware has been very busy over the past couple years. And there has been a large following.

Their custom ham radio HSMM-MESH™ firmware has been limited thus far to the Linksys WRT54G series of hardware.

There have been many requests to expand support for Ubiquiti devices and other hardware platforms. The WRT54G series isn't really in production anymore. But one can usually find them at thrift stores relatively cheap.

The Ubiquiti Bullet, Nanostation and other devices are readily available for about $75 each. Ubiquiti products use the Atheros chipset, where as Linksys WRTs, use Broadcom. Custom ham only channels and channel widths are possible with the Atheros chipset, but not currently available for Broadcom.

Fortunately Brian, KY9K of Yelm, Washington has come up with some development grade HSMM-MESH firmware that will support other devices:

HSMM-Mesh: Development Firmware with OLSRd v0.6.3
Mon Jul 30

I've uploaded my development HSMM-Mesh firmware to my server:

This is identical to the official HSMM-Mesh v0.4.3 release with two exceptions:

1) Integrates OLSRd v0.6.3 - fixes byte ordering in the secure module.

2) Domain changed from "" to just "us.mesh".

Since the new version of OLSRd fixes a byte-ordering bug that affects the WRT54G/GS units, this version will not interoperate with the official HSMM-Mesh release. The changes are all hidden under the hood and don't change the user operation.

The huge upside is that this version will talk to hardware from other vendors. I've got it talking to a Ubiquiti Bullet an a pair of D-Link DIR-825s on the bench right now.

If you've got time and some curiosity to spare, give it a whirl. Works great for every test I've done, but I'd like to get some extra eyeballs on it.


I fully expect this will become the default firmware image hams will gravitate to as they upgrade existing nodes.

In a related note. The Network World website has a recent entry titled "Home Wi-Fi routers could operate as emergency network, say scientists."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monitor Curiosity with Cheap SDR ?

Perhaps you have read about hams using cheap USB TV tuner dongles as a basis for software defined radio.

It’s a very neat project that opens the door to a whole bunch of radio experimentation.

Here is a hack-a-day blog that provides a pretty good getting started guide. It includes the ins and outs of setting up the GNU radio software.

Once you have that going, give it a test drive:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
>From: Trevor .
Date: Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 4:47 PM
Subject: [FUNcube] 437 MHz - Curiosity - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Frequencies
To: FUNcube Group

My thanks to someone who emailed me earlier this evening.

Curiosity transmits around 401 MHz but the transponder on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has a CCSDS Forward Frequency in the 437 MHz Amateur-Satellite Service band.

We well know that 435-438 MHz is shared with the Military but 432-438 MHz is of course a Space SAR Band and I understand General Space usage extends beyond that.

This paper describes the operation of the MRO (see page 34 onwards)

73 Trevor M5AKA