In August 2017, a mesh enthusiast documented and published his creation of a device he called the Deploy Anywhere, Self Sustaining Repeater System. The DASSRS was built by George Alex Ure and is lovingly referred to as the “Mother of All Nodes” (MOAN) by its creator.
The MOAN is a modified version of a goTenna Mesh Unit. GoTenna is a Brooklyn-based startup that uses the features inherent in mobile devices, such as Bluetooth, to create a network that does not require satellite connectivity and work independently of an Internet connection.
GoTenna devices are designed to boost Internet connectivity, but George Ure (aka @gua742) had an idea that a few alterations would result in a much higher range of connectivity for his unit. Ure explained: “I wanted to increase the range of the regular mesh units. I got the idea to put on an external antenna that would effectively double or quadruple the effective power output and increase the receiving ability. Ideas are great, however, without action, nothing happens, so I just went for it.”
The MOAN is a highly modified device. It consists of a solar panel that charges a 12-Volt Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery, which provides an energy source to the goTenna Mesh unit as well as a high-gain antenna. The antenna is part of the set up as it further boosts signal strength. While it sounds complicated and clunky, the entire contraption is quite small, fitting in a case similar in size to a regular lunchbox.
Building the MOAN took Ure a quarter of a year in total and roughly 200 dollars, but the radio enthusiast was able to boost mesh connectivity in the city of Seattle, where he is based. Using specific tools, Ure and members of the Seattle mesh community were able to ascertain the presence of dramatic improvements in mesh connectivity in the city. He further estimates that his alterations increased the range of connectivity by about 200 percent while simultaneously providing better wall penetration.
His endeavors were well received by his community, with many happy that he had meticulously documented all his alterations so others could build similar rigs. Ure explains he uses the MOAN for his own private off-grid communication network but hopes to create a Seattle-wide mesh network.
“I wish I could put the MOAN up on the tallest building in Seattle and that would allow for some serious mesh networking!” he said.
What is Mesh Connectivity?
Ure’s rig continues to receive attention, signaling a rise in awareness of the technological innovation that is mesh connectivity. A mesh network refers to a system of nodes through which it is possible to extend the reach of a wireless communication network.
Mesh networks gained popularity when Wi-Fi users began to hanker after ways to extend the reach of the signal in their homes or offices. To create a mesh network, all one must do is plug a mesh node into the modem provided by the ISP. That single node can extend the signal to all the other nodes on the mesh network, regardless of their physical location.
While mesh networks may seem similar to wireless extenders, they have one far-reaching advantage. Mesh networks do not require the constant manual connection that is characteristic of wireless extenders. Extenders create a new system which comes with the benefit of an increased connectivity range. However, you and your devices must switch between your original Wi-Fi network and the one created by the extender to find the one with the best connection strength.
Mesh networks provide a secure and hassle-free way to boost wireless connectivity in homes, offices and even as witnessed in Seattle, in entire cities.
What Can Mesh Systems Do for Crypto?
Mesh systems are similar to cryptocurrency networks in some ways. The most important of these is decentralization. Any person can run a node. All nodes have identical powers, and none is exalted over the other as is the case with centralized networks. All nodes on a mesh network act as providers, routers, as well as network switches or bridges.
Creating surveillance and censorship-resistant connectivity is essential for the cryptocurrency sector. Digital currencies require Internet connectivity to record transactions on their networks. In today’s world, with fears of governments’ restricting access to Internet connectivity for members of the cryptocurrency community, this is an advantage.
However, some entrepreneurs are taking the concept a step further. Some projects are combining the two innovations: blockchains and mesh connectivity.
For instance, RightMesh is “the world’s first software-based, ad hoc mobile mesh networking platform and protocol using blockchain technology and RMESH tokens to power growth.” The project combines P2P application layer with cryptocurrency to tokenize connectivity. RightMesh allows users to create value by using their Android phones to form a network.
Another project, Open Garden, allows users to turn their home wireless connection to extra profit. Users can turn their Wi-Fi to an Open Garden hotspot through which other people can purchase internet connectivity. The purchase is facilitated by Open garden tokens. The project has been able to support message routing off-the-grid.
Then there is also SmartMesh, which combines blockchain light nodes, Raiden and Lightning Networks second layer architecture network protocols to facilitate Internet-free digital payments and transactions. SmartMesh technology is designed to allow the formation of agile, decentralized Mesh Networks that can self-repair and have higher near-field speeds and bandwidth than standard Internet connections.
Mesh networks represent a decentralized ISP system through which people can take back control from ISPs. This is similar to what decentralized digital currencies seek to do for the traditional financial services. Thus, a combination of these two innovations is something to watch out for.