Progress Report: Prototype Alpha Radio Mesh Network Nodes

CryptoRights (CAVERN’s sponsoring nonprofit) has a small development team working on the design for the prototype (alpha) hardware nodes that will (go up next year on rooftops and in attics) to form the mesh radio network we’re developing for 2020 and beyond.

Here’s a photo of the current (early alpha) prototype mesh node hardware we’re using to begin alpha testing in our satellite lab:

Each harmless little prototype consists of:
(1) a CPU (RaspberryPi running our custom Linux OS) & SD Card Memory;
(2) an Antenna (USB) and
(3) a Battery (also USB).

Pretty simple… so far! Three prototype nodes (see bottom photo) have been built for development and lab testing. Just buying the components for these first prototypes on AmazonSmile, the total is around $150 each, which is why we’re working on designs to get the per-unit cost way lower so anyone can easily afford one. The more nodes, the denser the mesh, and thus the better the mesh’s performance and reliability, resulting in a safer community from wildfires, big storms and other emergencies. CryptoRights is now gratefully accepting donations (see the right side of this page), applying for grants and planning a crowdfunding campaign to fund the manufacture of up to 100 test nodes so we can place them with volunteer operators around every side of the mountainous region centered on Cobb — which was selected partly on the basis of its challenging topography!

Also, we’ll soon start work on:
(4) 100% Off-Grid Operation (a big project goal) by adding a Solar Panel (or existing panel tie-in) and a compact Charger/Inverter (make yourself a ‘wikiname’ login at the Harmless Little Project and see “SoRad“).
(5) Weatherproof Enclosure: once the technology is ready for outside testing, it will have a weatherproof enclosure that can easily be mounted onto a roof, bolted to a tower or even screwed onto a deck rail or tree branch if that’s what you have handy. Yes,if you have a very large property, you could operate several nodes to connect (with enhanced privacy) to your family and nearby friends ‘behind’ the hills… and you’d be adding density to the mesh for everyone nearby as well.

For now, the (most basic) alpha nodes will just plug into your house’s 120V power (ideally, up high in your attic) and the Battery will keep the system operating in case of a power outage.

We should have more progress to report in October!

N.B.: If you are subscribed to the Announcement list, you’ll know as soon as we begin asking for the first few volunteer Alpha Node operators.

Author: Dav

Dav works on the Harmless Little Project (HLP) for the CryptoRights Foundation (CRF) at their CIPHR ThinkTank near Cobb. He's co-lead investigator for the VERN mesh network component in the HLP architecture and lead developer on the VERN Community Organizing Toolkit. As a member of the Cobb Area Council (CAC) Communications Committee, he is the liaison between the CAC and the ThinkTank's Cobb Area VERN research and development (including this CAVERN website). Dav regularly volunteers as a FFLA fire lookout for CALFIRE at the Konocti Tower in Lake County.

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