Off-Grid Open Community Mesh Network

Reshaping the Internet Access into a Cooperative Utility

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Update 11/29/15 Necessity is the mother of invention, so of course we have have a need. Sprint purchased Clearwire communications and then chose to shut them down. We have had Clear since 2007 when it was first available in our area. It has been ideal as we are off grid and the wimax service was adequate for our needs. To fix this we have established a 3.5 mile connection with a tier one service and have it brought down to the house.

Update 8/18/14: I have been researching and thinking a lot about this subject lately. I believe that we can combine solar, wind, microcomputers, and long range routers to achieve what we are looking for. I will elaborate in a project log.

I would like to begin an open source collaboration to create a true egalitarian internet. An internet with access with low to no barriers for entry. An internet without corporate providers. Let's make the "last mile" a public right.

The idea is to create a base system that is repeatable, relatively inexpensive, reliable, and challenges the status quo.  The basis of this idea comes from a situation that I have witnessed personally that is the direction of the internet today.  In America, we are disillusioned that we have the best of everything in the world.  The fact is that we have a fairly miserable internet speed for the developed world.  However, we are charged more and more for less and less access everyday.  There are companies fighting net neutrality and even pulling out of rural access.  The taxpayers paid for the infrastructure to provide wide spread broad band access yet the companies control and charge more and more for the lines.  Their chief argument seems to be that we need to pay more so that can innovate and give more access.  They even have organizations like the NAACP and LULAC schilling against net neutrality.  The truth is that I have witnessed in the last month a cable company pull out of my home town.   My parents have been left with wireless access choices that are extremely limited or prohibitively expensive.  My parents switched to Verizon and the $70 unlimited plan turned into $70 10GB plan and then turned into a $500 per month bill for two months use.  It is not right and I can only imagine others that have been further limited.

I along with most of us believe that information should be freely accessible and available.  An educated society is a civil one.  That is why I am working on this project.  The goal is to provide and alternative to the current system and provide access to the internet in places that it is not either available or affordable.  I also believe that communities could actually fund projects like free wifi for the entire community.

  • 1 × Ubiquiti Rocket M5
  • 1 × Raspbery Pi Onion PI
  • 1 × 230+ watt Rated Solar Panel
  • 1 × Zefr Wind Turbine from JLM energy
  • 2 × Deep Cycle Batteries

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  • Solar Network Bridge

    tlankford0111/30/2015 at 02:30 0 comments

    This is the temporary setup to make sure it all works. I am working on a small building to secure the bridge a little better. I have taken a Ubiquiti AirMax 5 Ghz and am capturing from a similar unit at 3.3 miles away. This brings the tier one connection to the hill. It has to be line of sight so I had to make the solar station on the hill to reach the tower due to topography. As you can see my house is down the hill for shelter from the north and east winter winds. I have two Ubiquiti loco stations from the hill to the antenna mast on the lab. It is all light POE 24VDC powered. So I have a 12V deep cycle automotive/ equipment with a buck boost module to boost to 24V and I have just powered both Ubiquiti units with a direct POE injection.

  • Long Range Mesh with Drones

    tlankford0101/24/2015 at 17:35 0 comments

    I have added a project, LOKI, that is a drone for testing the community mesh network. It has long range Ubiquiti wifi on it so that we can test signal strength, speeds, and range. Thank you for keeping up with this. I know that it seems like I have several projects but in the end they all are part of a larger system. Please check out more on LOKI and I will be posting updates on all my projects.

  • Why a Community Mesh Network?

    tlankford0108/19/2014 at 21:12 0 comments

    There are lots of reasons to start and participate in a community mesh network.  Open Source and Cooperative structures are something that we believe in since we participate in on this website and share our ideas and share and make other peoples ideas.  I am sure a lot of this and working around shared resources as opposed to top down structures will be a recurring theme in this project.

    The first reason I like the idea of off-grid community mesh networks is the idea of local servers with information and activities relevant to the people in each node.  It also provides a more reliable network in the event of natural disaster or other calamity.  This can ensure a robust communications network is in place for emergency personnel.   I think that this can also provide a manner to provide localized real time emergency warning systems as well.

    Second, it is a good way for neighbors to cooperatively pay for and share internet access.  This can do a lot in the way of making access more ubiquitous through all sectors of the community and not just those that can afford personal internet service.  This can go a long ways to improving scores in school, lowering crime, and helping to provide the adequate educational resources for people to thrive in a community as opposed to being left further and further behind.

    Finally, I it can create opportunities for education specific to IT as the kids in the neighborhoods are probably going to be keeping everything up and running.  If it the community is invested in the structure then they will be more invested in each other.  They can band together and make better political choices that are relevant to there own needs.  

    There hundreds of communities in the US that have invested in Fiber with internet speeds that can reach as much as 100 GB/s.  They are not being used because local politicians quietly sign into non-competition agreements with corporate behemoths such as Verizon, Comcast, and Time-Warner.  These agreements state that the cities can't sell internet to residents and they can not lease or sell the fiber network to small companies to provide competition to the large providers.  This is probably the biggest reason why I want to make this available in my area and available so that others can make significant changes with technology in their communities.

  • Design Concepts

    tlankford0108/19/2014 at 17:19 0 comments

  • Initial Test Station Layout and Use

    tlankford0108/18/2014 at 14:36 0 comments

    The initial test stations should be relatively simple.  I will build a small hut on the hill with solar and possibly a wind turbine.  It will hold my wireless internet modem to place it in a more reliable location for faster connection speeds.  Will connect the modem to a Ubiquiti Rocket with long range parabolic antenna and high gain omni directional antenna

    The second station will be on my house.  Though my house is already off grid, I will be setting up the home router and iong range router independent of the rest of my power system.  The point is to make these independently powered of public and private utilities for the sake of reliability and openness.  The house station will be a wind turbine, a solar panel, two batteries, a long range Ubiquiti Rocket my Netgear home router connected to my internal server.

    This should give us a proof of concept of a system that is 200 meters apart.  It will let us begin to log the power and data streaming performance of the system and give us a platform for longer range testing.

  • Initial Personal Brainstorm

    tlankford0106/15/2014 at 18:02 0 comments

    I have been thinking about this project for some time.  I have already been living off grid with solar electric and water heat.  I have rainwater catchment in place around my house and property.  Being self sufficient is already on my mind.  The part that none of us really want to give up is technology.  When people ask me how I live the way I do, I tell them that I have two big screen TV's and high speed internet.  It makes for a good statement that we are able to live a perfectly modern life while freeing our selves of corporate rule through consumerism.  I have not had cable or satellite TV for several years and our family has never been happier.  One major tie that we still have is internet service.  We have had CLEAR wireless internet since it was introduced in our area in 2007.  That is actually the time that we divorced ourselves from the cable company.  The problem now is that small corporation CLEAR has now been swallowed by behemoth corporation Sprint.

    In the past year we have all been made acutely aware that our government has been trying to infiltrate our personal privacy at a scale unprecedented in modern society.  Corporations, like Verizon and Comcast are trying to attack the openness and affordability of the internet.  This leads me to the conclusion that it is time that we built a peoples net.  I think a combinations of tor proxy access point and long range wifi mesh networks such as those that can be built with Ubiquiti are an opening salvo in making this available to the masses.  Later projects could include cubesat networks and other innovative solutions.  Thank you for following and if you want to collaborate on this project, just give me a shout.

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