Meshtastic

Lower-Power, Autonomous Meshtastic 'Relay' Nodes?

Hi All,

First: I’m so excited by this project – thanks so much to everyone involved!

Idea: My thought here (apologies if it’s already suggested elsewhere on the forum!) is about enhancing the range of a Meshtastic network by deploying some low-power, phone-less ‘relay’ nodes – which would consist simply of a particularly low-power micro (an ESP32, or perhaps e.g. a SAMD21) and a LoRa radio – no screen, and no smartphone. The function of the repeater node would simply be to extend the range of the Meshtastic LoRa mesh network.

Background: my experience of LoRa radio is that it is most reliable with line-of-sight, and can be quite unreliable when line-of-sight isn’t possible. Typically, LoRa networks are deployed using ‘gateways’ that are usually positioned at some elevated location nearby (a building, or a mountainside) that is likely to have unobstructed line-of-sight to any given LoRa node. But when deploying in random locations (side of a mountain while skiing or hiking), this isn’t always possible – you might have two users on opposite sides of a ridge.

So, the idea would be for users in a given area to hike up to some ‘local topological maximum’ (a tree on a nearby ridge, say) and to deploy an autonomous version of Meshtastic-device that simply relays any mesh messages it receives back out to the mesh network.

If this sounds useful – and if it isn’t already a feature of the current codebase! – would it be easy enough for a novice (like me) to ‘pare down’ the current Meshtastic-cevice project by dropping the BLE functionality, so that it simply runs ‘LoRa mesh’ code? Maybe this would be done (more or less) by modifying the src/main.cpp file? I can imagine specifying a particular default channel in firmware, perhaps? And then as a next step I imagine porting the code to e.g. a SAMD21, which might have lower-power sleep modes available to it than the ESP32 (I think?) …

Anyway, cheers everyone!

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You’re on the same, uh… wavelength… with other threads. Here’s a couple:

There are a few more I believe.

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@jetatomic – Brilliant!! Thanks so much for increasing the SNR on those threads you referenced :slight_smile: Both of them are spot-on what I was hoping to learn more about. Already learning a lot by reading the first one. After I finish reading, I’ll ping back (here, or on one of those threads) if appropriate; would be interested to hear at some point soon about your use-case (which sounds remote and like a great test-bed for this system).

A few years ago I put together a design for an ESP32 + RFM95 board that was intended to facilitate DIY assembly – aside from the (relatively easy-to-solder) surface mount components of those ICS, the rest of the components are all ugly, friendly, easy-to-solder through-hole. The other goals were to see if I could integrate a ROCKBLOCK satellite modem (pretty much worked!), and to use some DC-DC power converter circuitry that accepted 12V / 24V batteries directly (check) to facilitate use by friends who are on farms. Because everything in the Meshtastic project has been so nicely documented, I was easily able to tweak Meshtastic-device and get it running on my custom board (see the “Quahog” heading towards the end of that page).

Anyhoo, really excited to brainstorm more – but now I’ll do my thread-reading homework :slight_smile: Cheers!

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This thread is probably the best place to start regarding low power nodes as it is the most active and promising:

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Thanks for this, @Spor7biker – the combo low-power Bluetooth + LoRa ICs mentioned in that thread are really compelling. I’ll dig in!

Cheers,
Don