NOTICE: The project has matured a little since this page was created, and although the information is still correct on a technical front, our public relations officer has yet to review and finalize this page.
So our project peaked your interest and you want to join us, awesome! Anyone with the right mindset and a little bit of computer smarts under their belt can easily get connected to the research network and be a part of things.
Before you dive right off into getting all riled up and ready to jump on board, you need to be aware that getting setup is a process and it does require you to have the correct hardware. To make things easy, we highly recommend you purchase “Ubiquiti NanoStation LOCO M2” from a local computer shop in town who has them for around $100. This is the same model radio that we deployed for the beginning node of the research network!
Before you continue, please make sure that you understand that you will be required to change the firmware on your radio in order to join the network. Any time that you perform a firmware change, you do run of risk of bricking the radio. Please make sure that you understand the risk and are aware of your radio’s recovery method before you continue. The project cannot provide recoveries on bricked radios, it is the user’s responsibility to know these things before hand.
To get started you will need to install a new firmware on to your LOCO M2 (or compatible radio) in order to be able to join the mesh network. Make note, that as long as you operate your radio within the WiFi/ISM band, you should be okay to setup a node. But always double check the laws pertaining to your use. Also please note that this guide pertains only to the LOCO M2 radios that the project is using in its deployments. You may need to research instructions that pertain to your particular radio of choice.
Setup The Node Using Its Stock Firmware
In order to proceed any further with the setup, you will need to setup the node using the firmware it comes preloaded with. Connect the radio to its POE injector and your computer, browse to “https://192.168.1.20” and use the default credentials of “ubnt” and “ubnt” to access the configuration gui. Navigate to the system tab and check the firmware version on the node. If your node is the XW version, you will need this file. If your radio is the XM version, you will need this file.
Please double check your radio version and the file you downloaded before proceeding. They have to match or you run the risk bricking the radio and having to perform a recovery. If you are sure that the firmware matches, look at the section that say firmware upload, browse your PC and upload the firmware to your radio. It will take up to five minutes for the new firmware to install and boot fully. NOTE: some radios having a newer factory firmware will require a special installation procedure called TFTP, for more information on this, please visit this website to get started. (We are making use of their firmware, but under public WiFi/ISM band rules, to provide the research network.)
Once you have installed the firmware, you will need to navigate to http://localnode.local.mesh:8080/ in your browser to configure the node. Once on that page, click the setup tab. A dialog for login will appear, the default logins details are “root” and “hsmm”. We highly suggest changing the default password as soon as possible to avoid someone else on the network changing your node’s settings.
Change the node name to use your first name combined with the use case you plan on performing with your node and any other identifiers that will make this node name unique on the network. For example, the first node placed on the network is owned by the project and uses the node name of “Greggory-WX-Node” to identify itself. If you were to provide a weather station to the network, your node name might be “John-WXStation-Node” or similar. Next, Change the RF settings to match our network: SSID is “HUNTSVILLEHOBBYNET”, channel is “6 (2437)” and set the distance to a rough guess of how far away the closet node to you is. If you do not know if there is a node close to you, set a distance value of one kilometer. Please set a node description that briefly explains your node’s purpose and any services/devices that might be connected to it. Save the settings and reboot them node.
If everything went smoothly and you followed the configuration guide, and if a node is near you, you should be able to connect to the network. As other nodes discover you, they will connect with you and you can view this information under the “Node Status” page. Once you get connected, it is just a matter of discover other users and their services on the network.
If you have completed your node setup and it is connected to the research network, we ask that you please go visit the registry and register your node with our website. This helps other users find your node and services, and it helps our project keep up with users and projects.