Progress Report: Prototype Alpha Radio Mesh Network Nodes

CryptoRights (CAVERN’s sponsoring nonprofit) has a small VERN development team working on the design for the prototype (alpha) hardware nodes that will (go up on rooftops and in attics) to form a mesh radio network. More info is under development at VERN.org.

Here’s a photo of the (early alpha) prototype mesh node hardware we’re using to begin development at 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 asking for tax-deductible donations (see the right side of this page) and preparing to apply for grants. CRF is also developing a crowdfunding campaign to fund the manufacture of two dozen test nodes. We can place them with CAVERN Project volunteers on every side of the mountainous region centered on Cobb, which was selected partly on the basis of the challenging topography!

We will next start work on:
 • 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“).
 • 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. A very large property could operate several nodes to connect (with enhanced privacy) family, employees and friends ‘behind’ nearby hills… and you’d be adding density to the mesh for everyone else nearby as well.

For now, the (most basic) alpha nodes will be positioned up in your attic and will be powered from your house’s 120V circuit. A battery option could keep the unit operating during an extended power outage.

We should have more progress to report soon!

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