Meshtastic - Scotland

New to the hobby but recently made my first contact - BlackHill to Bridge of Weir on the other side of Glasgow - 43km -using a Heltec stick lite on 868Mhz. Hoping to make this topic a central place for the Central Belt.

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Nice!

I’m in Glasgow (RTj1, 2 & 3). I started off with 2 Heltec units. Now I have a T-deck and I’m hoping to get a T-beam soon too. Still trying to figure out the best position for my 868 antenna. Sometimes I can get about 1km but in some areas I’m lucky to get a 20m!

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I’ve just got a Heltec 3 off Ebay. I’m over in Edinburgh, but so far I’ve only seen a single other user, a mile away.
Hope I can figure out what I’m doing wrong!

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Nice to hear from you ronnie!
I’m currently doing some survey work to figure out if its feasible to link the Glasgow and Edinburgh meshes with some repeaters. It looks like we’d need at least two devices to get over the Blackhill/Harthill area. Weather permitting I can conclude this tommorrow and I’ll have a better idea of how this can be done.

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Hi NKT!

At 868Mhz it seems to be all about ‘line of sight’. So the higher up you can get an antenna the more stations you’ll find. I got 43km with the standard ‘stub’ antenna supplied from Heltec. But I was at the BlackHill transmitter towers at the time (55.86168, -3.87706), and had an unobstructed view of the whole Clyde valley.

I’d bet you’d get a lot of connections from Arthurs Seat for instance?

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Sounds good,

I’ve got a Heltec and USB power bank on my roof with an 868 yagi antenna (not very high up I’m afraid) which is set to router-client. The other Heltec is in my pocket to see what kinda distances I can get with the basic antenna. I had about 1.5km at one point.

Got my T-deck a couple of days ago and printed a little case for it. I hope the Meshtastic software gets some updates for T-deck as it does work, but it’s a bit clunky on the T-deck. Still great to be able to message without a phone though!

Do let us know how you get on with your routers!

Ah - I see. So you’re heading out away in the direction you’re yagi is pointing to get maximum radiation on that heading I guess?

Yeah - I will. Right now its looking like we’d need 3 repeaters (all solar ‘stealth’):

  1. On the south facing slope of the quarry near Salsburgh
    (Google Maps)

  2. On the Pit spoil hill near forrest Road
    (Google Maps)

  3. On land above the quarry at Tams’ Loup
    (Google Maps)

This gets us most of Glasgow area being visible to Livingston and beyond.

Still noodling with which direction is best for the yagi, but currently (using this site calculator) my coverage should be:


… but I’ve had connections with people just outside of that area.

I’ve since turned the yagi a touch more to the left. So hopefully I can go more West while your hopefully connecting East to me. In thory. :smiley:

Sounds Good. Do you pickup station ‘EK No1’ in East Kilbride?
(Thats one I could receive from Blackhill a few weeks back.)

'Fraid not. No. Didn’t know there was one in EK. It’s not on any maps.

I’m picking up stuff slightly to the NW of my pin (on the map above) and the stuff to the W and SW. Not much, but it’s a couple if bits.

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Just got the two new antenna I ordered. High quality outdoor 868Mhz with an N-J connector and about 24cm in length. Hopefully they’re better than the standard Heltec ‘stub’, and half the cost of a Panadar.

Hopefully I can test these with my VNA and check they’re up to snuff…

Cheers. I’ve ordered some better antennas plus a second Heltec, so I’ll be able to keep one at home and one at the “office”, and see what effect they have.

I fiddled with the settings & location, and got several more connections, and even had a short conversation!

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Well looks like these cheap antennas for 868Mhz are definitely worth £11 each. Seems to be much better than the standard Heltec stub type. SWR of 1.08 @ 868.5Mhz! - Thats pretty good matching for the price. But you’ll need a SMA to N-J type adapter too.

If anyone is interested, I got them on Aliexpress : https://www.aliexpress.com
Search for ’ TX-868 TX915-BLG-26 LoRa Helium Miner Outdoor 868MHz

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Good to see you guys making a mesh in central Scotland

I’m in Aberdeen and set up a node in city center thou only get 200meter range due to buildings. Think south direction is better

Hoping to set up a node on a building on south side of town, its on a hill overlooking the city

Seen 1 other user in Abz for few days 3 weeks ago!

Been 25miles NW, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, Stonehaven and no other users.

Is there a scottish meshtastic group anywhere?

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Hi UsInWorld!

I don’t think there’s a group for Scotland yet. That’s the reason I setup this page initially.
Sounds like its still a little quiet up in your neck of the woods. I like you’re router/repeater idea for Aberdeen that would really help others.
I’m looking at a solar repeater build right now based on the Heltec Stick lite v3. Hoping to get 3 relays setup to link Glasgow and Edinburgh over the next few months. So if you need any folks to bounce ideas of off, do let us know.

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Hello from Renfrewshire.

Have been trying different antennas and configs over last few weeks, now settled on a 6dB McGill omni mounted quite high on the roof with a clear-ish view north-northeast. Mainly picking up nodes near Erskine, Paisley and some north of Glasgow. Most of them have been intermittent and a lot of dropped messages.

Working on a RAK solar box with directional antenna to point in that direction for a better link.

Re: ‘EK No1’ - I also had a short conversation with this node during the Blackhill exercise :slight_smile:

[correction] …while I did pick up ‘EK No1’ around the same time, I believe it was actually you jppx I was talking with (at 46km), and probably picked up EK through your node :slight_smile:

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Hi dml - Good to hear from you again. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yeah - It looks like the EK No1 node may only be visible from high up out of the Clyde valley then. Hopefully the owner will stumble upon us here at some point as he is perfectly placed for a repeater station…

I’m planning to go back to Blackhill on Sat/Sun afternoon as I want to test these new antennas I’ve got.
Working on the design of the solar repeater right now. I’m going to use supercaps instead of Li-ion for solar storage as these should last longer out in the wild, while still running at low outside temperatures. Have to test if these can make it through the night though as the energy storage will be significantly less than batteries.

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Hi again jppx,

Supercap as battery could work well - I have tried a normal, high value cap as a ‘fake battery’ to test charging behaviour & ADC config for the Heltec boards for quick turnaround but not as a real power source.

Caps have a very different charging behaviour - much more of a curve vs nearly flat for the battery. I think this combined with the very low losses for a capacitor could actually be better at trapping energy from the solar cell, especially with intermittent sun and spikes/dips. Maybe not by much but could make a difference overnight.

I have not tested any of these boards to see if there is current leakage back through the cell but I imagine they accounted for that in the design, especially the wizblock since its designed for solar charging. More likely an issue for the other types of board. If there is leakage, adding a schottky diode might be a good move.

I’m currently 3D printing some wedges to mount the cell at a decent angle on the back of the (flat panel) antenna, will see how that works out.

Good luck with your build :slight_smile:

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Here’s a work-in-progress almost ready to assemble - will try mounting it when it stops raining for more than 5 mins…

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Excellent Stuff dml!
Whats the current drain from your wizblock? - Sufficiently better than a ESP32 I’d think?