You may or may not have heard someone talking about it. And you may or may not have seen that there was a WiFi zone called “OPEN MESH” on the Binnekring this year. You may even have noticed (incredibly badly lit) poles with solar panels and a tiny blue blinky light that flashed at night. Or you may not have noticed any of this and have only just heard via this blog post.
Well, the Open Mesh network is a digital blank canvas that’s overlaid over the vast majority of Tankwa Town. Many years in the making, it’s been developed as an open source platform for our community to create on. Thus, it’s a creative playground for those who work well with tech, and fiddle with frequencies for kicks. Best of all, it’s been fully tested, and it’s ready for you to play with.
Where is it?
Above is the 2018 event map, with the green areas representing a rough idea of where the mesh nodes were installed during our 2018 event. The orange areas are where we’re going to try and extend the network this year. Please note that the nodes positions are not exact, nor are they finalised, as we’re still scoping out the data and seeing how many we can pull together.
What is it made from?
Simply put, they’re UniFi Mesh nodes mounted on 4m poles (about 3m up). Each node has two batteries and a solar panel and ran at 100% uptime in the last year. We didn’t have a DNS server or DHCP server last year, but we’re looking to change that for 2019.
NB: There is no internet access via this network (currently).
How did/do they look?
Why should you be interested?
We’re looking to enable projects on the network this year – whether you want to stream a radio station, run a file sharing platform, host a pseudo website, or control your electronic warthog via CLI on your smartphone, you can do WHATEVER you want on the network. And…if it’s a really cool idea, we may help you realise it.
Additionally, we’re offering significant assistance if you would like to do anything along the lines of:
- Music streaming apps via the mesh.
- Push to talk implementations using the mesh.
- Analytics and data projects.
- Lighting controllers.
- And anything else that would either be great from an infrastructure point of view, or would drive community participation.
What else is important?
We’re looking for volunteers on this project. We’re looking for two types of volunteers specifically.
- People to join the already flourishing TechSluts crews that assist with setup, strike and physical troubleshooting of the nodes.
- People with networking and WiFi experience to assist with the network management side of things.
- People who want to join our ever expanding team of tech volunteers out in the desert. You get to arrive early, leave late, and some cool swag.
If you want to know anything, anything at all, contact the department formerly known as ICT at [email protected] – Communications Infrastructure and Analytics.