How Best to Grow a Meshtastic Network?

Hey all. This may be a little off-topic.

I’m interested in setting up a bit of a Meshtastic network in my area, about 10km radius is the goal. Although I do have friends within that radius, I know they’d be more on board with helping maintain fixed nodes in their houses if there was more in it for them than the nerd joy that I get out of it.

I recently discovered Helium. It’s still pretty confusing to me. I like the idea of financially incentivizing contribution to a decentralized network and the costs for usage seem fairly low, but it also seems quite crypto-hypey. And I’m not sure what keeps the usage costs from fluctuating; I’m under the impression that crypto adoption at the consumer level seems to come from the hope that it’ll “take off”. But if it’s all it’s cracked up to be, maybe it’ll help?

My first thought with Helium is that maybe I could add to the device code on my T-Beams a request to send packets through node > WAN > Internet server > WAN > node if no mesh is available? There is a Helium network presence where I am and it could help supplement my slow-growing network. TBH I don’t know the feasability or scale of this undertaking. I’m guessing I’d need to have my own server tracking nodes and determining when to bridge a gap in the mesh. Plus additional device code and what not.

My second thought is modifying the Helium gateways themselves to act as Meshtastic routers. I’m guessing since gateways are designed to juggle multiple connections, they should do fine in working as a LoraWAN gateway and Meshtastic router? To be honest, I know very little about the software openness and hardware limitations, so maybe this is being naive. But at least going this route I can offset hardware costs, incentivize installs in people’s homes and not have to worry about any “internet” stuff. Maybe I’m better off having a side-by-side install, but given the high cost for a gateway, let alone a gateway and a separate node, this seems a little silly.

Bit of a side thought: My Dad works for an electrical company that sometimes install home-automation systems. For these home-automation installs, they use LoRa for everything instead of WiFi and they set the gateway up for public use too. The customer’s are aware of it of course. I can’t dangle that sort of carrot though.

Open discussion!

  • Does anyone have any knowledge about Helium in this context?
  • Tips or tricks in getting others interested in contributing?
  • Supplementing meshtastic with a paid service of repeaters?

Please forgive my ignorance!


My initial review of Helium is that it is rather complex, and you will not be able to monetize lora for a while. The current hardware they support seems to be simi custom and DIY directions where not readily available. They really want you to buy a node from one of there partners.

If your friends have cash to burn and want to point a a box with an antenna and say they are part of the blockchain then go for it.

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Interesting, I’m also interested in large-scale public access networks.

Whilst the progress of the Things Network (LoRaWAN hobbyist) has been fairly impressive, the growth of the Helium network is astonishingly fast. The promise of cash does seem to motivate people. Not sure how a ‘meshtastic coin’ could work in a largely offline network though.

I think Gotenna did some work on getting Lightning Network - Wikipedia. payments working across their network.

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Looks like Helium should be easily compatible with meshtastic LoRaWAN:

You are welcome to work on a plugin.

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lora radios != LoRaWAN

My understanding is the networking part of Meshtastic is very different than the WAN part of LoRaWAN.