The winter season is ideal for learning or expanding new skills. This winter, HARC will be  holding workshops on Mesh Networking. The purpose of these sessions is to build confidence and skills in utilizing this exciting new technology.

Workshops will be held at Westdale High School, room 124, from 7-9 pm.

If you’ve ever set up your own home wifi, you’re already ahead of the curve. Mesh Networking is a term that describes a type of wifi connection that does not rely on a centralized authority such as an ISP or cell carrier. It’s a way to interconnect computers and other network devices between amateur operators to easily share information, remotely operate equipment, and provide data connectivity where none existed. While a lot of this can be done within the bounds of the non-licensed wifi bands, having an amateur operator’s certificate grants you the privilege of working with higher powers, better antennas and new protocols.

We’ll be working with the mesh firmware developed by and for amateur operators: Broadband Hamnet. Designed to be quickly setup in many configurations, BBHN can be deployed within minutes to interconnect devices across a geographical area, within a building, or at the scene of an incident. Like all mesh networks, BBHN is self-organizing, automatically configuring itself for the best network path between devices. The network grows and adjusts itself automatically as individual ‘nodes’ enter and leave the network.

The first workshop is scheduled for Nov. 27, the Thursday following the November general meeting. This will be a hands-on introduction to the hardware. I have a dozen nodes that need the firmware updated. In helping me with this task, you’ll learn how to connect to a node for administration, how to load new firmware, and how to initially configure a node.

The two hour session is intended as an introduction, so we’ll be discussing the basic capabilities of BBHN nodes and how to put together a ‘drop-box’ for rapid deployment. To get the most from the session, bring your own computer and Ethernet patch cable.  You should know how to adjust your network settings, to switch between DHCP and static IP addresses, and how to connect to an open wifi connection.

If possible, bring your own BBHN-capable router or access point as well. The details of what hardware is compatible is on the BBHN website;  http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/section-blog/37-hardware-faqs/101-supported-hardware.html.

If you don’t have any compatible hardware, come anyway! There will be enough hardware at the workshops to get involved, and the investment cost of hardware can be quite low, from free to less than $100.

Solving the mysteries of what to do with this equipment and knowledge is the subject of future sessions. A second is planned for a week later, on Dec. 4. Depending on the desires of the group, we’ll probably schedule the next workshops in early January, just enough time to find and setup your own nodes.

So mark it in your calendar, Nov. 27 and Dec 4, Westdale High School rm. 124, 7-9 pm

73 de VE3ZX, Ron Pereira