A Tale of Two Meshes

Back in 2011 we got some money from Dan Skripka and ordered a selection of Ubiquiti mesh hardware for our Lab. We liked the idea of a backbone network on 5 GHz, as 2.4 Ghz has just three non shared channels and was congested. The noise floor on 2.4G with thousands of cell phone carrying people at an event is quite significant.

We put up a test link and decided after a year the range was bad and the weather reliability was not so great. The value of short range radio links on a 26.2 mile race course across two cities was debatable. I pushed hard for the use of Part 15, as our served agencies were hospitals, EMS, a race and a law enforcement agency. The Great Crypto Debate was not started. We used home made OPENWRT +OLSR builds and /24 blocks to match our existing D-Star DD mode network. One of our served agencies noticed some infighting on one of the ham radio mesh software sites. I told them that was not an issue for us.

Then one day (2017?) our new Race Director said, looking at me, “you know- our start line is in Minneapolis and our new Race Operations Center is in St. Paul. Some start line video in here (the ROC) would be good.”

So we had a mesh omni antenna in downtown St Paul, overlooking the finish area. And we had good access to a site in Minneapolis. The distance was 9.1 miles, ~125 db of path loss. I tried to request a new antenna for our St Paul site in conjunction with a certain large professional football game. That request bounced all over and was rejected. I tried again with our EMS leadership. They asked of this was “all hazard” or was just for hams. I said not just for hams. We got the site.

As it has turned out, we have used our TWINSLAN Part 15 Medical Command mesh for law enforcement and video feeds used for nonprofit events. I told the hospitals crypto was fine if needed. Jitsi, an open source conference bridge uses SSL I think. I get a call a week from COMLs telling me I have no idea what I am doing.

Early in the lockdown we had a meeting and some outdoor events with some local hams. I was getting the same speech “your network is private and commercial”. And they wanted the passwords. So, we decided the best answer for general ham use was a plug and play ham radio mesh- AREDN(r).

Standards were published (ch. 180, and -2) and a 10 MHz bandwidth. Peace has been restored and when we need live streamed video with sponsor messages (as we did three times for public service events in February) or hostage rescues we are good- we use our Part 15 backbone. And when hams want to connect up their home networks via tunnels we are also good on AREDN. Problem solved.

3/13/21- I did attend about half of the MNVOAD State conference. There was a presentation by the Red Cross on the Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC). The idea is these are set up in response to disasters and persons impacted can go in, and sign up for services. The enrollment process may/does involve sensitive personal and or medical data. The speaker talked at length about the importance protecting the privacy of this data. There was a discussion of the community recovery process being lengthy – like 120 days. https://nationalmasscarestrategy.org/multi-agency…/

Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) Planning Resource

NATIONALMASSCARESTRATEGY.ORGMulti-Agency Resource Center (MARC) Planning Resource

73s’s, NY9D

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