I understand that Meshtastic is a young project but can anyone share their real world use cases?
I came across Meshtastic this morning after finding Disaster.Radio and I can see personal use cases for both.
I spend a lot of time hiking but am I likely to be in range of other, unknown Meshtastic users? I never hike separately from others in my ‘team’. I could imagine a cellular relay left in my car at the trailhead though.
I think the main use case (at least initially) is for when you have a group of friends who all have these $30 radios. i.e. skiing you’ll always know where your gang is on the hill (even without cell coverage) or camping. If someone goes on a dayhike others can still reach them. Or if you go to a festival (where cell coverage often doesn’t work) you can meet up with your friends. Or if you put one in your kids backpack it is easy to meet up towards the end of the day.
Or (admittedly this is not a common case, but it applies to me): paraglider pilots often go fly places without cell coverage, then it is tricky to have a unified record of where everyone landed to coordinate retrieves. This case works especially nicely because any node that is in the air will route for nodes that have already landed. And at $30/node it is cheap enough that everyone that flies a site would find it a no-brainer to buy one. Extra nice when someday these radios start sharing vario readings with each other to build a live map of thermals.
Your paragliding use case makes great sense. How many of you fly (is that the correct term?) in a group at one time? How far away are you likely to land from each other?
I sometimes find resistance against purchasing basic safety gear like emergency bivies. Are most of your group techy? Meshtastic is a no-brainer to you and I but what about your group?
I’m planing to use it for paragliding mostly and may be for hiking, backcountry skiing.
With paragliding the idea is to track other pilots around and show them in the paragliding app and maybe give a warning about potential collision course. And it’s also a good idea to show thermals real time if you fly in a group.
I think the pg crowd is pretty hip on buying gear (sat beacons, ham radio). Because in the scheme of things the gadgets are cheap (compared to wing, harness, travel and training costs).
Personally, I’ll be using this at music festivals to meet up with friends. Cell coverage is usually abysmal with tens of thousands of people gathered in a small area
I just started looking into the project as a way to track and communicate while on multi-day whitewater rafting trips. The range and ability to bounce communications between boats is enticing.
Interesting. I bet it might work well if in a 3d printed (or purchased) waterproof box.
Exactly. My thought was a cheap otter box with the antenna connections passed through the box and sealed. With the bluetooth connection the Meshtastic can just get strapped to the raft frame and we can use our phones to text updates.
I bet you’d be fine with keeping the antennas in the box also.
I was thinking that too but with the external antenna connector it would be nice to connect something with a bit more range if the signal doesn’t bounce off the canyon walls. Start simple and then add complexity as needed.
What a great project!
I am planning on using this for group bike rides. On long rides with a big group it is easy to get separated (often in areas with poor cell coverage), and it is useful to see where your friends are and be able to IM them. There are a few features I can think of that would be useful in such a use case.
- device --> Crash detector which automatically broadcasts an alert to every member.
- app --> Add option for pop-up alerts that can show up on bike computers with BT integration. May be able to do this direct from the device rather than through the phone.
- app --> Add a profile page that lets you add a photo which will show up on the GPS map. Would be easier to identify friends by pic.
oh yes - bikerides was one of my possible interests as well. Especially because these radios are cheap enough that clubs could encourage their use.
Also the board that @Syed is making has a processor with good support for ANT+ so one of my personal interests is to add Garmin ANT+ support to this project. Letting his board talk to my Garmin 530. That would allow crash detector integration and showing group members on the garmin map screen. I have a friend at Garmin that I bet would be interested in such an experiment.
Especially if we eventually add store-and-forward routing of any (position or data) messages (say for up to 2 hrs?) when radios come in range of each other they would forward any messages as needed.
What is the specific use case that disaster.radio solves that Meshtastic does not? Is it just the fact that a disaster.radio device should be wholly powered by solar?
If I understand correctly, Meshtastic is designed around ‘channels’ and staying in contact with a certain group whereas disaster.radio is aimed more towards open communications.
If the difference is only between having an open channel and N-number of closed channels, then it would appear to me that disaster.radio is a subset of Meshtastic.
That’s true. There is talk about implementing channels on the disaster.radio GitHub although things are looking a lot slower over there than at Meshtastic.
yes - which was my thought as well when I decided to start this project ;-).
I think the disaster radio idea is interesting but IMO focusing on a “radio to have incase the internet stops working” (especially given the very low bitrate of long range LoRa) was not the best approach. Especially if you need to buy special hardware for it. Partially this is a side effect of their use-case because for some nodes they wanted to have two radios per node.
They are good folks, but I thought it was better to focus initially on “make something useful - using off the shelf hardware - that is useful now for things people need” was a better approach. Then we can extend this platform to all sorts of interesting directions.
disaster.radio is new to me. One compelling feature is they serve a webpage for chatting with out installing an app. Enabling the wifi would be an increase to power drain but would be great to allow friends to chat with out needing to install something before hand.
Though the wifi drain on power would be substantial (at least 150mA). With the current intermittent Bluetooth approach a small battery can last a full 2 days of use, and an 18650 will last about a week.