Tonight I did an informal test of the range on the NRF24L01+PA+LNA modules. I tested with a base station node (which wasn't in a case) and didn't bother to guarantee LOS. There were some cars, structures, etc. obstructing the LOS at various times. I took another node and started walking.
I managed to get to around 170-200m (guesstimating) away from the base node. I believe they are on the max power setting, so this is obviously a bit under the rating from the datasheet. Honestly I'm not too disappointed. Think of it, we are still transmitting at 200m with a $2.50 radio. The entire node costs 6$ (plus power source). For that cost, who cares how many you need to buy to cover your area. So maybe covering a respectable part of my college campus just went from 6 to 10. Not a big deal at this price point.
A note on placement: These guys are very reliant upon LOS availability. I was surprised how clear the line is. It might be just a meter behind an obstruction, but connection comes and goes like a switch. When I place these around a campus area, it will be incredibly important to have LOS to all the places I want to serve off of that node.
A note on progress: I still haven't touched code for this project. These are all just results based on the library examples. I will be doing significant work on the software and the results may or may not different in the end.
I'll have some new updates coming along this week.