Node upgrades on mesh

The mesh network needs to be upgraded in two ways:

  1.  All nodes need upgrading to the latest software AREDN v3.16.1.1
  2. A backbone needs to be developed to reduce mesh traffic, by isolating sub-nets.

Mesh users around Wellington are being asked to provide access to nodes to allow the upgrading to take place.  We have found that over the air upgrades are not always reliable, so it is best to do these in situ.

Working Bee 30 September

The committee had a working bee on Saturday 30 September and can now report that the temperature control system is complete (just the cowlings need to be painted and mounted and the filtration system installed).  In addition, the station is running off batteries with the solar charging system under test.

We spent most of the time upgrading Ubiquiti nodes to AREDN v3.16.1.  Further work to recover dead mesh nodes and to run out software upgrades on the Wellington mesh network is planned over the next fortnight.  There will be a further working bee over Labour Weekend to upgrade the network and begin to install a backbone (non-mesh) between significant nodes, so as to partition the network and reduce unnecessary hops.

Fitting out of the Enclosure

Inside the Remote Site enclosure
Inside the Remote Site enclosure

Bernard ZL2BD has been busy over the summer installing the equipment for th Remote Site in the enclosure.

The enclosure (a ply box with inside and outside layers of fibreglass) is shown fitted out with:

  • Wellington Amateur Radio Club (www.zl2wb.com) transceiver (Icom IC7410)
  • Solid-state linears and power supplies (donated by Kordia Ltd)
  • Switching regulators to provide 230v DC, 24v and 12v DC for the various items
  • Two solar panel regulators
  • Wiring harnesses to connect to the huge battery bank.

Progressive testing is imminent – any noise problems will be dealt with as they arise.  A range of jobs remain including:

  • Completing the antenna switching equipment
  • Completing and testing the SCADA software to operate remotely (SCADA = Supervisory Controller & Data Acquisition). Frank ZL2TTS has been working on this.
  • Cooling circuitry – both assembly and installation.  The cooling equipment will be mounted on the enclosure’s front panel.

This work is not too far off being completed and the QHUG team will then move to a test period to ensure everthing works correctly, before antennas are constructed and the equipment is installed in the remote site.

Mesh node expansion

Mt Climie small
Installation of an Airgrid M2 at Mt Climie

Mesh nodes on high points will extend the Wellington mesh network into areas where remote sites are likely to be feasible, including the Horowhenua (on the West Coast north of Wellington) and the Wairarapa (to the East of Wellington over the Rimutaka mountain range).

In the photo above, amateurs from several branches cooperate to install a mesh node on top of Mt Climie, which looks down over the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley.  The Mt Climie node gets traffic from another high site at Colonial Knob (near Porirua).   James ZL2ET already has an experimental node outside Carterton in the Wairarapa working through Mt Climie.

Transporting signals from the Remote Site

The dyanamic nature of the mesh (Thanks to Wikimedia)

The new QHUG DX and Contesting remote site will be able to be controlled remotely and have audio will be able to be sent to and from the remote site from anywhere in the Wellington Region via the rapidly developing Wellington Region Broadband-Hamnet(TM) network.

The first three nodes in the mesh network were established in mid-November 2014.   Even at this early stage, the vision was to create a transport mechanism for a remote HF DX/Contesting site.   A of the end of October 2015, there are over 30 nodes in the mesh, which stretches from the Kapiti Coast through to Porirua, Upper Hutt and North Wellington.   Quartz Hill User Group has already committed resources (in the form of Airgrid M2s) to bring the mesh to potential remote site locations in the Wairarapa (accessible from the new node on Mt Climie) and the Southern Horowhenua (accessible from new nodes on Mt Field that will be up and running shortly, courtesy of Kapiti Branch 69 NZART).

More details on the mesh network will be provided here shortly.  For those operators not yet on the mesh, check out more information at Broadband-Hamnet.co.nz.   For those already on the mesh network, checkout diskstation/wordpress/  for more details.