CAVERN v1 (the subject of this 2018+ wiki collaboration with the Cobb Area Council) is based on FRS and GMRS radio technology, which are both great for getting radio novices started on how to communicate with each other, but somewhat limited in terms of power, range and their community-connecting capabilities (and GMRS requires taking an FCC test and paying a fee). Still, CAVERN v1 is extremely important in terms of organizing and training people to become Volunteer Emergency Radio Network operators who can then both beta-test and expand CAVERN v2 and CAVERN v3 (which will just be named VERN ...but more on that later).
CRF's plans for CAVERN v2 involve distributing new hardware to the CAVERN volunteers who have been using their FRS and GMRS radios and becoming a radio network. That new hardware will be a special-case prototype variant of the Harmless Little Device (HLD), which is a node in a highly distributed, strongly-authenticated, software-defined radio (SDR) mesh network connecting many such nodes in a huge mesh that can carrying communications over any kind of topography and which easily maintains those connections by routing around damaged nodes. The CAVERN v2 variant of the HLD is named "SoRad" (for SOlar RADio"), currently being prototyped on a tiny computer (the popular, inexpensive Raspberry Pi) which will connect in a large mesh to lots of similar nodes located on peoples' rooftops (or any location with good solar exposure). In the CAVERN v2 phase, all participants can mount a SoRad unit on their roof and it will automagically connect with all of the other SoRad nodes within radio range. The denser the mesh, the better, so we're trying to keep the per-node costs down so that everyone can afford one. CRF will release the SoRad node design as free, open source hardware (FoSH) for personal and non-commercial use. Commercial users will pay a modest licensing fee to support future development and improvements.
These individual SoRad nodes will connect everyone in the mesh network, however far that mesh might extend, and form a 'Supernet' that operates in parallel with (and sometimes on top of) the Internet and cellular networks. We want the initial SoRad prototype mesh-net to cover the entire Cobb Mountain area --including all adjacent neighborhoods and towns. Ultimately, because the mesh does not require Internet access, this Supernet could connect all of Lake County. Indeed, it could someday provide even better connectivity than the current 'Internet' to every person on Earth, regardless of governmental structures, thus uniting all of Humanity into a global force for self-help, self-governance and justice (remember: CryptoRights is a human rights org ;).
Each of the SoRad nodes is a fairly sophisticated embedded Linux server which will provide strong cryptographic authentication and handle any kind of packet-switched digital traffic, including:
Standard and emergency VERN transmissions;
- Internet traffic (connecting people located way out 'in the sticks');
- Telephony services;
- Messaging apps (for iOS and Android smartphones), as well as (and this is extremely important);
First-Responder Communications (on special channels) so that fire crews, even those working out in remote areas, will never be cut off from their command/coordination centers... Vital agencies like CalFire will be able to communicate with local residents, Law Enforcement and state agencies and the mesh will route around any damage to the communication infrastructure from fire, flood, high wind and accidents (e.g. caused power outages, etc).
This page will be updated periodically with news and information on CRF's progress building a SoRad prototype. And, eventually, it will be the portal for everyone to go get their own SoRad node. Please stay tuned, make a donation to CRF (501c3) and help us to create this vital, citizen operated communications utility of the future.
Great news! The first three prototypes of the SoRad nodes are currently being built and lab-tested by CRF's lead researcher. We plan to install them this Summer at the CryptoRights Foundation's CIPHR ThinkTank property in Cobb and to begin the preliminary developer alpha testing. We'll be looking at WiFi/radio characteristics, antenna performance, range issues, upgradability, battery life, software robustness, environmental effects, etc.
More news will be sent out to the subscribers of the CAVERN Announcements List. To subscribe to that mailing list, please go to the CAVERN Announcements List subscription page and follow the easy instructions there. The list's main information page is here.