Open Source Wireless Mesh Extenders

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[15:10:15] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Quick update from Oz: We are pushing towards running an Indiegogo campaign in July/August to raise capital to productise the Mesh Extenders and hopefully get enough to finish off everything Serval Mesh. Primary goal will be around $300k, but with stretch goals to at least $2m. Working on script for some more outback filming for a 90sec intro video for Serval which will also be a key asset for the Indiegogo campaign. Filming will be Tuesday morning local time, so I need to get cracking. Basically we are using the last of our discretionary funds in Serval to do all this. Interesting but surprisingly painless process to get the University to approve me to go fund raise for an external organisation (Serval Project Inc.) while getting paid by the University. We will be aiming to get some good media and blog/tech coverage, and will talk to you all again soon about whether any of you are able to help with promotion through your various networks. Anyway, it is fun to get back into media mode after a long stretch of (vital) technical work.

[15:13:45] EAS: PG I meant to suggest you need to discuss funding opportunities with Hivos / Digital Defenders Fund, I think your work fits squarely into what they're looking for -

Happy to make an intro if you think this is helpful or whenever you're ready [15:21:55] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Paul and Esra - I am thinking of positioning OSE in the particular space of 'manufacturing support for open source projects.' Does this exist yet? I am thinking that the microfactories we create position themselves as for-hire facilities but only to open source projects. Paul, let's hit up the Hivos or any other Venture Philanthropy source (ie, not-for-exit), or, let's join your campaign - and I would suggest Kickstarter instead of Indiegogo if we believe the funding will succeed. I suggest we position this as fabrication of mesh extenders - ie, general Open Source Pick and Place Circuit Fabrication, etching, milling, laser cutting, 3D printed cases, etc - both for industrial and DIY applications. Localized microfactories. My timing on this is to stabilize OSE so I can play like this within 3 months - so July/August is too early, but in a month or 2 from that, I'm game for pushing the Open Source Microfactory all the way.

[15:23:18] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - Kickstarter is a pain if you are in Australia, but I am open to hearing why you feel KS is better than IGG. IGG's flexible funding looks quite attractive to us right now. [15:26:32] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: I don't have data to show, but does not KS have much greater following? Plus, the All or Nothing is a sign to your supporters that you intend to succeed, so it appears to produce more commitment. I would choose KS because IGG is simply less visible.

[15:26:32] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: I don't have data to show, but does not KS have much greater following? Plus, the All or Nothing is a sign to your supporters that you intend to succeed, so it appears to produce more commitment. I would choose KS because IGG is simply less visible. [15:27:35] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - Here is our challenge: We MUST succeed if we are to continue our current level of progress. This makes me want to have a safety net, but I agree that this can be counter productive. [15:28:16] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: When do you NEED to do the Indiegogo? Can you delay by 2 months? [15:28:33] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - On the visibility angle, our goal is to generate the traffic to IGG ourselves through media coverage etc, but I do agree that KS is more visible and would make this job easier. However, our short time-frame makes it impractical to incorporate in the US in time. [15:29:01] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - We run out of cash in late August, and I am supposed to be teaching in late July, so delaying by 2 months is not practical financially. [15:29:48] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - We need to lock in ~$200k - $300k by late July, ideally. The campaign can still be in progress at that time, of course. [15:30:27] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: How much time will you spend teaching? Will you have time for Serval? [15:30:50] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - About 1/2 my time will go down the toilet. [15:31:21] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - The main problem is that it will reduce my mental space, and ability to drive new opportunities. [15:31:29] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Why did Shuttleworth not fund you the 3rd year? Did you get 3 years? [16:32:43] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - Only funded for 1 year for reasons I understand. Nonetheless, it is inconvenient ;) [16:34:06] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Were you not able to convince them that it's a matter of time before it succeeds, or do you think there are valid reasons why the technology will have limited use? [16:37:38] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Transparency baby! [16:39:20] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MJ - I think the main concerns the ability of me+Serval to generate and sustain a viable profitable business. There didn't seem to be concern about the potential of the technology. [16:40:17] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Can we say honestly that point-to point line-of-sight towers and local meshes can cover full internet connectivity if the main internet backbone did not exist? [16:41:06] Paul Gardner-Stephen: I don't think we can say that, but that doesn't mean that the mesh doesn't have tremendous range of applications. Just like bicycles won't replace cars everywhere. [16:43:20] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Can we build phones that have the same speed of communication as standard wireless routers? Is that technology available off-shelf? [16:45:25] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: So is this possible: 2 communities 20 miles apart - collaborating realtime on 3D Cloud CAD (4M speed required), or 2 communities 20 miles apart doing video sharing at 10M connection - can this happen with mesh with 2 point-to-point towers? And can we have 150 people on each side of the tower - for a small-scale 2-point internet?

[16:48:27] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Ah, between two locations you can establish a simple Wi-Fi long-shot link that would give you 10mbit/sec - 100mbit/sec without great trouble. [16:48:42] Paul Gardner-Stephen: The trick is you need to aim the antennae, and have them high enough to clear any intervening obstacles. [16:49:00] Paul Gardner-Stephen: This is "mesh backbone" if you like. [16:49:12] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Serval is concentrating primarily on "mesh last mile". [16:49:22] Paul Gardner-Stephen: to complement the backbone type stuff. [16:50:17] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: So mesh last mile - can you use the standard wifi band between phones? [16:50:32] Paul Gardner-Stephen: No, the range is too short. [16:50:47] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Ok, but you can between rooms, right? [16:50:48] Paul Gardner-Stephen: That is why the Mesh Extender is important- it has 10x - 100x Wi-Fi range. [16:51:08] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Mesh Extender is the different, but slower band, right? [16:51:15] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Correct. [16:51:37] Paul Gardner-Stephen: It is fine for text messaging, voice mail, and asynchronous file exchange, even of quite large files. [16:52:20] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Can you have wifi band + repeaters (like point-to-point towers) basically get you a completely wifi-speed mesh over, say, a village? [16:52:47] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Yes, Wi-Fi mesh networks scale to about 500 nodes at present. [16:54:02] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: So your whole point is to develop the Mesh Extender band system, not Wifi band system? [16:54:16] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: What is the frequency of the Mesh Extender band? [16:55:11] Paul Gardner-Stephen: No, our point is to develop the Mesh Extender system to complement the Wi-Fi stuff. [16:55:32] Paul Gardner-Stephen: MEs run on the 915MHz ISM band in USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and a few other places. [16:55:57] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Use fast Wi-Fi where it can reach, and gracefully fall back to the slower 915MHz link when Wi-Fi can't connect. [16:56:10] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: .915Ghz compared to the 2.4Ghz? [16:56:12] Paul Gardner-Stephen: The Mesh Extenders have both 915MHz and Wi-Fi radios for this purpose. [16:56:25] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Yes, 0.915GHz versus 2.4GHz [16:57:08] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Is the main problem statement to have 915 and 2.4 able to communicate with one another, such as 2.4G reception and .915G emission?

[16:58:38] Paul Gardner-Stephen: That is part of it. We have to bridge between the two different media. Another part is the mesh protocols that can do this, and make use of the low-bandwidth links on the 915MHz band. We have some tricks we want to implement that will get potentially 50x throughput compared to the baseline possible on the 915MHz band when there are many devices communicating. [17:00:01] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Do you have any technical writing on the algorithm for achieving that? It appears to be a general signal processing problem. [17:00:50] Paul Gardner-Stephen: It actually boils down to radio firmware and accurate timing on the mesh. The signal processing part is looked after by the low-cost radio modules that we are using. [17:02:51] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Remind me the discussion on Ham radio or CB - the difference here is point-to-point vs broadcast? [17:06:22] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Ham and CB are both basically broadcast. [17:06:28] Paul Gardner-Stephen: As is what we are doing. [17:06:45] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: So the point-to-point and security are the value added in your system? [17:07:01] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Sorry, not point to point. [17:07:15] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Security is a big value add. [17:07:20] Paul Gardner-Stephen: As is simplicity of deployment. [17:07:48] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: How is it simple compared to CB and Ham? Much simpler equipment? [17:07:58] Paul Gardner-Stephen: To get Wi-Fi to go a mile you need to aim antennae and be careful. To get a Mesh Extender to go a mile you just need to put it somewhere sensible. [17:08:21] Paul Gardner-Stephen: It is as simple as CB, but isn't limited to publicly interceptable scratchy voice. Think "private, multi-media CB". [17:08:31] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Ham is limited to licensed operators. [17:09:06] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Aha. Can you use 2 of them to get faster speed, ie, is it extensively scalable? Such as a bevy of emitters/receivers allow you to have Video Conference Calls? [17:09:38] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Technically yes, regulatorily, no. "Coordinated transmitters" are not permitted in the 915MHz band. [17:09:53] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: Why are they not permitted? [17:10:08] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Because they allow someone to monopolise what is supposed to be a shared band. [17:10:28] Paul Gardner-Stephen: The band was intended for cordless phones, garage door openers, baby monitors etc in urban areas. [17:10:55] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: I see. But technically, you can coordinate them, and in the outback, does anyone care? [17:16:21] Paul Gardner-Stephen: In the outback you would do just as well to have illegally high-power Wi-Fi if you don't care about regulation, since most of it is flat as a tack. [17:16:30] Paul Gardner-Stephen: But I want solutions that are legal and meet the need. [17:17:23] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: What does illegaly high power wifi mean? There are limits to emitter power levels? [17:17:31] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Absolutely. [17:17:37] Paul Gardner-Stephen: 100mW for Wi-Fi in most places. [17:18:09] Paul Gardner-Stephen: The 915MHz band allows 1W, although we only use 250mW. [17:18:17] Paul Gardner-Stephen: High power + mobile operation is not a good combination. [17:18:26] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: High power Wifi or low power directional wifi will get the same distance, right? [17:18:36] Paul Gardner-Stephen: Depending on the situation. [17:19:03] Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.: High power mobile safety - you mean just human health from being bombarded by radio waves? [17:19:07] Paul Gardner-Stephen: If there are no other transmitters around, high power Wi-Fi will be fine. [17:19:26] Paul Gardner-Stephen: If there are others around, the omni-directional antennae will hear them all = interference.