MaxnetMesh - South African Mesh network (LibreMesh-based)

Hello again all Freifunkers, it’s me, Deavmi.

I have started a project of setting up a mesh-network in a small city called Worcester in South Africa. I now have holidays and school is almost over so I can finally get started on the project. I am happy to say that my parabolic antenna that I ordered has arrived a while aga and it looks awesome and I cannot wait to hook it up to a wireless router, it says it has a transmit distance of 56KM.

I will be getting this parabolic reflector and antenna on the roof soon and start broadcasting the mesh node accross the whole city to get a lot of nodes connected to me (when people finally discover what a mesh network is, as people in my town I live in are not the most techinical people if you know what I mean).

I have two of these that I am meshing with Takealot.

I have a ricked one of these (sadly :frowning: )

And lastly for the parabolic antenna I will be using this TP-Link router with this co-ax type-converter cable

But I am getting excited and I love the idea behind the open-protocols-based mesh-networking.

Anyway, thanks.

Any advice can be left below or on our IRC room here [Kiwi IRC on #maxnetmesh channel] or on our Telegram Group.

Our site is available at:
IRC Online Client (KiwiIRC): Join channel #maxnetmesh
Telegram Group (Very active): Join Telegram Group

From what I know a parabolic antenna is not really suitable to broadcast for an entire town. You can just send in one direction. Unfortunately you did not post what antenna you are using, but usually the beams opens about 3-5°. Also your receiver would also require such an antenna to allow for two-way-communication, otherwise the return signals are too weak to arrive.

For example on the Berlin Map you can sometimes see a tight bundle of links originating from one point.

Or do you mean something different?

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Wait, surely if you have a device like a phone say now, and it has less of a transmit distnace for its wifi chip as compared to the router it is connecting too, does the device (the phone) have to have the same transmit distance the router has to be able to connect to it. What you said makes sense, although when I think about oin in real life it seems wierd. idk.

I cannot post the actual antenna model as it is currebtkly not in stock on the site and they have temporarily hidden it.

Although that is not bad, people should be able to just point their (if they have big antennas) to mine for instant meshing, obviously theirs would need to be equal or greater in transmit/broadcast strength than my antenna to connect.

Thanks for clearing that up, the physics behind radio now does smake sense to me. :smile:

Well, a phone is bad to compare to. If I try to connect with my phone to my outdoor router (Nanostation Loco M2) which is a sector antenna, the connection will fail at less than 200m distance, even though I have free line of sight.

If I were to connect two of these Nanostations together, I would have a range of more than 5km, as both have superior antennae to a phone which would allow them to „hear“ signals that were more attenuated over the distance as the antenna is more sensitive to signals with less power.

@deavmi do you have contact to one of the wireless user groups: South African wireless community networks - Wikipedia

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Nope. None of the ones are meshes such as CTWUG. Well that is said for the main city-relvolving ones, also I am not really near them, the Western cape has lots of mountains so it will cost lots of money to relay nodes and such over mountains, not saying that I won’t doo that.

Since you start building a true wireless mesh network, not just a VPN which connects hotspots, I suggest reading more about the physics of wifi. There’s a great free book called Wireless Networking in the developing world that covers all the basics in detail.

I highly recommend using equipment with built-in antennas. UBNT and TP-Link offer outdoor routers with parabolic antennas for longshots as well as sector antennas for PtMP links.

You might also take a look at other routing protocols besides batman-adv. I know that gluon is quite straight forward in regards of bootstrapping a mesh community, but I guess your country does not share the same strange legal issues that Germany has. So building a mesh upon centralized „supernodes“ might not be the ideal choice of architecture.


I do not mean to have super-nodes that dominate the whole mesh, I just want normal nodes, I chose this for mine as, well now, I guess it will make long ddistcnace connections to other parabolic long distance users possible as the town I live in is not as dense.

I love the idea of built-in wireless technologies, and that is obviously the main goal of the project…

I have tried out HSMM-Pi (olsr) and (olsr) as they use olsr as compared to Gluon using batman-adv.

Thanks. I will be reading that book soon. :smile:

I’m quite interested in your mesh-architecture! I’d love to see a truly decentralized gluon community that does not depend on supernodes.
Can you elaborate on the current stack? How do you plan to do layer3 (IP-addressing) on batman-adv? How do you connect additional, already existing networks without changing their IPs? Who or what is in control of a default-route?

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Since you seem to be depending on existing firmwares: Did you take a look at QMP or libre-mesh? Both utilize BMX6. There’s also documentation about their concepts/architecture.

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QMP doesn’t supply a web interface from when I last tested it, I tested it a while ago and also today. Also I cannot find downloads for the libre-mesh firmware.

UPDATE: Found the libre-mesh firmwares :

I am definitely going with LibreMesh and will be compiling the source code as of tonight.

UPDATE: It’s going great the compilation.

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