Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society

Join the AREDN Mesh

The beauty of a wireless mesh network such as AREDN is that nodes can come and go as they please with minimal reconfiguration.  Any properly licensed amateur is welcome to connect to our AREDN nodes and any subsequent club or user nodes that join us.

Help Expand the Backbone

If you can provide access to a site (tower, tall building) that may be able to host an AREDN node at low or no cost to the club, please contact the RATS Technical Committee to start the conversation.  We will also provide frequency coordination for local backbone and community nodes.

Connecting from Home

The RATS Technical Committee is here to help RATS members get online.  This is new technology but we will make it as easy as we can.

  1. Start by learning about AREDN.  Spend some quality time on the AREDN web site.  Get a good feel for what the technology is and what it's [in]capable of.  Compile a list of questions and talk to a member of the Technical Committee before getting spendy.

  2. Get a preliminary site survey.  The RATS Technical Committee can handle this for anyone wishing to join the network.  Send us an e-mail containing the street address or decimal coordinates of the location where you hope to install.  Let us know what types of mounting situation are available/acceptable (pole, rooftop, mast/tower) and any other restrictions you may have.  We will use satellite imagery and some fancy tools to determine the likelihood of a usable path between the backbone or another node and your location.  Nothing is guaranteed, but this should give you an idea whether it's worth pursuing further.

  3. Select a hardware vendor.  The Technical Committee directly supports both Ubiquity and MikroTik hardware.  The AREDN firmware is supported on other devices but we do not directly work with these at RATS (they'll still connect to our network as long as frequency and other requirements are met).

  4. Spec it out and source the parts.  The Technical Committee can provide a list of suggested network components for a few different use cases and can assist RATS members with configuration.  Simple wiring diagrams can also be provided.  In all instances, you'll be responsible for selecting and sourcing your mast and mounting solution.

  5. Install it.  Easier said than done, this step will involve setting up your mounting solution:  putting a pole mount in the ground or some other mounting apparatus up on the roof, or installing a mast/tower.  You'll need to drive a ground rod or two, safely pass some outdoor-rated, shielded network cabling through a wall or window into your home, possibly dig a trench for some conduit and cabling out to your pole, and then precisely align your hardware to lock on to the nearest node, using a wired connection to a laptop placed within earshot of your antenna (that's on the roof, up the tower, etc).

  6. Connect.  With some luck, you can plug a network cable into your laptop or desktop computer, shut off your WiFi, pull up your node's mesh homepage, and find the rest of the mesh from there.

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Inc. (RATS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. PO Box 70613, Henrico VA, 23255

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