Meshtastic

Newbie looking for help with real world application

Hi folks,
I have come across this amazing looking project and I think it may work for what I am trying to build in my area.
We are in a rural area of Australia that has been ravaged by fires and I would like to build a community mesh network that can be used for text communication. I’m thinking a device for each home with an external antenna and solar panel to keep it completely independent from the grid.
My concern is this, I want to make sure it is easy to use and can be used for day to day communications, not just in an emergency.
For this to be the case, I think it needs to work well with an android or iphone app. I see the iphone app is in development so perhaps the wifi and web server would work for now.
The next thing is that I want one big mesh network, but the ability to have one on one or small groups created within that too. I saw in the To Do list that having multiple channels should be supported now so that may allow multiple chat groups? If this is the solution, will the network still be able to use other mesh nodes to pass on a message even if those nodes are not part of the smaller group (but still part of the primary group)?
I hope this makes sense. I’ll probably get a couple of devices to play with anyway, but thought this may be an easy question.
Thanks,
Tim.

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Great question…also curious how this works with passing messages on a channel you are not on.

As far as WiFi, my only concern would be whether users need WiFi to connect to their home internet (if they have it in your community). I’m saying this because a smartphone wouldn’t be able to connect to both the Meshtastic device and their home WiFi router at the same time, which could be problematic. That said, if you’re interested in iOS app development, the latest updates are here (no recent progress):

intrigued by your answer. I don’t own a Meshtastic device myself yet, so wanted to ask:

Is the Meshtastic device unable to connect to a Wifi router? If able, wouldn’t that place both devices on the same network, and as such, allow access to each other and the internet (if exists) at the same time?

That’s a great question and I actually don’t know the answer to it, I have a Wifi-capable Meshtastic device on order so I’m still waiting to play with it. I have a BLE-only device for now. My use case is for outdoors away from routers, so I actually never thought of that idea! But that said, I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work.

Yes you can connect to a wifi network, in fact you can share the internet to the mesh by doing this.

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A radio can be made a repeater where it will repeat all channel messages but it is a dedicated mode. For your mesh you would need a gateway node, and repeater nodes to propagate the signal. Range equals delay but you can get well over 100km out of the stock antenna and some tuning. My testing has the delay around 8 minutes when over 50km but it just depends. The gateway node would allow internet access to the network, max about 33kpbs but thats enough for text data. I am also making a system for forest fire fighters so I am working on a mobile deployment system that creates a massive mesh very quik

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The mode is is_router in the device settings.

Internet access is available via the MQTT settings. Which is currently under development.

@Zebus Is it possible to increase 33kbps data rate you mentioned by using SX1280 chips? It will be shorter distance but still could be used for about 2KM with good setup.

Thanks.

Not really sure if it can and its as slow as 3kbps