DIY project: Assemble your own mesh nodes

Ever had the urge to assemble your own multi-radio mesh nodes? RoamAD has published an interactive guide for building your own mesh nodes. According to Martyn Levy, VP of Business Development for RoamAD, the company makes money from selling the software that operates on the nodes and simply lets customers assemble their own equipment using off-the-shelf parts. Martyn says systems Ever had the urge to assemble your own multi-radio mesh nodes? RoamAD has published an interactive guide for building your own mesh nodes. According to Martyn Levy, VP of Business Development for RoamAD, the company makes money from selling the software that operates on the nodes and simply lets customers assemble their own equipment using off-the-shelf parts. Martyn says systems integrators and wireless ISPs who want to lower their hardware cost (and increase their margin) opt for the self-assembly method, which can be thousands of dollars cheaper (per node) than buying from a mesh vendor.

Here is an excerpt from the RoamAD website:

A RoamAD network consists of multiple intelligent network nodes (INNs), each of which can support up to four miniPCI IEEE 802.11 a/b/g radios that provide both end user coverage and wireless backhaul connections to other INNs and primary and secondary network aggregation points. The use of multi-radio INNs allows separate radios and separate spectrum to be used for network backhaul and end user coverage. INNs perform differing roles that are determined by each INN’s location within the overall network topology.

INNs within any specific network area operate using the same version of INN software and code release. Configuration files are automatically and securely downloaded from the network INS server on INN boot-up, using a RoamAD software daemon to authenticate devices and provide secure communication of start-up files. Each INN also has full gateway functionality allowing fixed connections via the second Ethernet port.

A typical INN consists of an embedded motherboard (with PCI bus, on-board cache, communications ports and 10/100baseT Ethernet interface), 128 MB SDRAM, 128 MB Compact Flash card, CPU (x86 or XScale), one to four integrated Mini-PCI 802.11a/b/g radios and cable pigtails, lightning surge protectors, Power over Ethernet (PoE) or DC power supply (115/240V 50/60Hz power supply), and a weather rated outdoor cabinet.

Go to the RoamAD hardware assembly guide (Macromedia Flash required). If you don’t want to assemble the hardware yourself, contact RoamAD for a list of their partners worldwide who can put them together for you.

Open source alternative: CUWIN

RoamAD is not the first to put out a self-assembly guide. Sascha Meinrath’s Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWIN) has made available open source mesh networking software together with a hardware assembly guide (click here). The open source alternative is even less expensive than RoamAD’s and if you are curious about CUWIN’s installations, go to the CUWIN website to see a list of projects.