Real World Use Cases

My use case is for a car event we have four times a year. There is no cell coverage and no way to communicate problems on the road or with vehicles. With the addition of a repeater mode, coverage along the route could be made even more reliable.

My problem right now is that the car community is split between Android and iPhone devices. Until there is a viable iPhone app, it’s a non-starter for this particular use.

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Hi,

I have a use case for this to be used for my group at Burning Man.

We have a about a half dozen mutant vehicles, a few art support vehicles and a base camp.

What I’d like to see is a Mestastic device on each mutant vehicle and art support vehicle so we can always see their location on a map centralized map within our base camp.

If we need to communicate with them, we can – but communication should be done without the requirement of a dedicated mobile application. We have roughly 300 people in our group and while we’re on location, there’s no internet connection available.

It’d be best if someone can scan a QR code to authenticate with a wifi access point and immediately get chatting with just a web browser.

Agreed that Wifi takes more power than bluetooth, but for us we have access to both a 125kw generator for our camp and our art vehicles each has more than enough power.

At the basecamp, I’d like to have a map of all our art vehicles so we can visualize where they are at all times. This will help if they need assistance or anything else. At the same terminal, it’d also be nice if we can chat with the art vehicles.

An additional use case would be that, unfortunately, bicycle thefts are a real thing out there. I’d like to be able to attach a GPS-enabled meshtastic onto our bicycles so we can relocate bicycles that have been stolen or “misplaced”. Then with the help of the meshtastic devices in the art vehicles, we can retrieve the bicycle.

The real trick here is we can’t rely on bluetooth and a mobile app. There’s too many people and too many devices with no internet at all. Yes, there’s no cellphone coverage either.

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Delivery drones in Africa, to provide simple Comms base to base and independently track in the air with, if Kevin can magic the beans an occasional FLARM/OGN message on 868 to let any suitably equipped aircraft/UTM network to see the track.

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I live off-grid in Alaska in an area with no cell coverage. The nearest road is an hour or six away, depending on mode of travel. Most of my travel (when the river isn’t frozen) is by boat. Boats break down, weather happens, and there’s no normal comms here. It’s not uncommon to travel up/down a river system and be gone for a week. In winter, it’s kinda the same thing, but by snowmobile. At home, we have satellite Internet with a small wifi footprint.

I have friends/neighbors with cabins a mile away, 4 miles away, and expanding outward. Some of these folks are very poor and/or elderly, and can’t afford satellite comms, and are effectively cut off. So part of my life includes checking in on them. That’s fine, not complaining. But it would be nice if they had the ability to message me. It would be great if my partner, buddies, and neighbors could send simple texts when something goes sideways, even if it’s just to cancel dinner plans.

Currently, I’m using InReach, and that allows connecting with a small group of people, including whoever is within the WiFi range of my cabin. But it’s limited, expensive, and unreliable. I currently keep it at the minimum plan, which is about $12/mo for a handful of messages. Then when I know I’m going to be gone longer, I raise it to the $45/mo unlimited plan. It’s great compared to nothing, but it’s not great. The Bluetooth connection sucks (often doesn’t transfer messages from the device to the phone), the service sucks (messages sometimes show up never or months later), and they don’t seem interested in doing many updates.

So basically, I’d rather put my money toward buying and assembling $30 radios that I can pass out to people. Everyone I get one to makes the network more robust, and everyone wins.

The next phase is people in the nearest villages. Many have horrible cell service with about 1/4 mile radius. So when those people leave the town bubble, they’re in the same position as me when I leave my cabin’s WiFi bubble.

In other words, my use case is replacing phone service in rural areas,. Even if it’s only “SMS”, it’s a link between people who are currently isolated.

An ideal scenario for me would be radios with bigger antennas I could mount on boat and machines, smaller devices people could carry in their pockets, and base stations on a few hills.

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Not off-grid in Alaska but on-grid in Europe. Still cell coverage in my area is very bad (if present at all). It’s a rural, mounty area and I have no way to connect with the neighbours just 1km away.

Actually I have a very similar use case building a little infrastructure around with little effort and little investment to have a communication channel available :pager:

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First of all I would like to say thank you to @geeksville and the community for this project and for the enthusiasm, I have been looking at building something like this but it has been a daunting prospect as I have limited programming experience (I usually cobble together code snippets from others to suit my own purposes). I looked at other projects such as Armachat and SnapOnAir but this is the best documented and most active community as far as I could see.
I am in a similar situation to that which @Xanuman and others here describe :
I own a stretch of land which is pretty large and it has no cell signal, other than on a few mountain tops. The area is used for some limited logging, hunting & fishing, and for a flock of sheep that are on pasture in the summer months. For each of these aspects I have a need for long-range, low power consumption mobile communication.

  1. For logging, the need to have an emergency button in case of an accident is clear and has already been described
  2. For sheep herding, a “necklace” that can send the location of the sheep, both once a day as general info, but also on demand, when one needs to corall them at the end of the season. In addition, if a sheep has been completely immobile for 3 hours or more, an alert could be sent to indicate that it may have been killed by a predator (which is relatively common). There are commercial offerings for this, but they run via cell network, or satellite, have limited battery capacity, and the capital expense is so high that they in many cases exceed the sales value of the sheep. In addition there are the running costs for cell or satellite comms. Companies like nofence even use a virtual fence to keep the animals within a specified area, but I think this is power hungry.
  3. For hunting it is desireable to know where the other hunters are, both for safety, but also to guide them to their post. Guiding a group of guest hunters is otherwise challenging. Writing a message is sometimes also better than using radio comms to avoid spooking game. An app that can display detailed free topographic maps in e.g. 1:50000 scale would be extremely useful. The link shows maps in garmins fileformat gmapsupp.img that are frequently updated and available for free, there are a number of other sites that also generate these files from publicly available data provided by the mapping authorities in the various countries. So far this is the best format/resource for free high rez topo maps I have found, and it would be great if the format could be read by the iOS/Android app.
  4. Finally, the system can be used to track stolen items such as outboard engines or alert if there is a break-in in a remote location.

To be truly useful one would have to have solar powered nodes to complete the network in areas where there is no line-of-sight, as has already been discussed, but also a node to link LORA to the 4G network where possible, to connect to the “real world”. I have been looking at this module from RAK which has a built in LTE module in a waterproof housing. I have previously built a remote switch with a SIM900, but 2G is being phased out in many places and if one were to buy all parts of the RAK module separately as components, one would quickly hit the same pricepoint. Any ideas or feedback on this would be welcome. I am waiting for my TTGO T-beams at the moment and hope to be able to try this out soon.

Summary of main points/questions:
  1. Great effort, thank you!!
  2. Is it possible to include support for free .gmap topo map files in the iOS/Android app, visualising the position of other nodes in the network?
  3. What is the most robust and convenient way to connect the Meshtastic network to LTE? Has anyone tried this?
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@Nanovitruvius, welcome! On demand positions should be easily doable (for an average coder). Offline maps, including .gmap support, has been discussed here:

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Regarding the use of Meshtastic for sheep control.
My sheep sleep at home. In a place where predators are not afraid of them.
Therefore, I came to the conclusion that for such a mode, you should not reduce the frequency of sending coordinates.
Why?
I live in the foothills of the Caucasus. And we have a lot of jackals here. Wolves also come in sometimes, but very rarely. Jackals can hunt young sheep. If appear wolves, they can immediately cut a few dozen sheep.

Since the sheep graze freely at a distance of 10-15 minutes on foot, the parameter Acceleration of the herd is important to me.

When a flock of sheep discovered a predator, they leave this place with great speed.
If the coordinates are updated often enough, I can understand where they were attacked by a predator. And later find this place, explore it and take retaliatory measures.
If coordinates are rarely sent, then there is no informational content.

In addition, sheep prefer to hide in the woods in the heat. And in autumn and winter, they often find food in the forest and may not go out of the forest for a long time. And there the GPS signal passes very poorly.

Another important point for using Meshtastic in grazing.
It would be nice to build daily tracks and collect daily statistics. Know how many kilometers per day the sheep traveled. Based on these data, it is possible to indirectly draw conclusions about the quality of their life and nutrition.

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My use is search & rescue.

The task forces need the location tracking to know, what area has been searched and to better coordinate in real-time. They usually operate in remote area without a mobile network coverage. They can usually communicate over handheld radios but those can’t display their location on the map. So I’m looking for a possibility to create an ad-hoc network to connect them, so they can share their GPS and see each other on their smartphones. Mesh concept is ideal because there is no need for an existing infrastructure.

  • am I thinking right that this technology would be applicable to this use case?
  • would anyone know, what could be the tracking frequency and range? (At what max. distance can the users be so the data is still relied considering a forest environment?)
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cheapest Android device capable of dealing with BLE and API level of the app must be dirt cheap if you compare the investment to LoRa devices, time to develop this SW and other related things :slight_smile: iPhone user in general can make this step to cover signal loss and some level of emergency backup…no worries

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I have been pretty involved with animal tracking in this corner of Africa, fish to rhinos, movement alarms and geo fenced areas is exactly how we handle the sheep scenario above. Time of flight can be used rather than GPS but that is expensive for a licence. The real issue with animal tracking is the collar build quality not the electronics. That’s where the magic is.

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Most of my use cases are already covered, but i have a couple slight differences that i think could be easily accommodated.

Motorcycling in a group. Tend to spread out, but within a lora’able distance. so the mesh is perfect.

  • Knowing where all members are
  • being able to spot if someone has stopped (like the cycling example)
  • being able to find the leader (follow the arrow)
  • Simple to use for those who don’t want to play tech. (“just put this in your bag…” )
  • and obviously infrastructure independent communication

So a mode that updates location (status) much more frequently , doesn’t dim the screen. I also notice that location is not shared if a device has not moved. For me its important to know where someone was the last time we get a message. Therefore always share the location.

P.S.
I’m so excited about this project - I’ve wanted something like this for a longtime. My attempts never got far, APRS is close, but not right. This has so much potential.

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For logging, the need to have an emergency button in case of an accident // a kind of SOS message few option of pre-register message selectable with only 1 push button / short clic next message / long press send message … will be usefull … not to use the phone … was thinking for elderly people they just carry the device with them not always cellphone which stay often in house

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It (just) fits inside my lomo cell phone box … without a case. With plenty of room for other sensors.

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btw - here’s a good bug with a description of how this might play out (in stages):

This is not documented, but it is actually a little smarter than this: If you ever cycle the screen on your device to look at (for instance) “Bob Dude”. As soon as you do that, your device sends a “I want an update from you” message to Bob Dudes device. That message contains your current position (because it might be useful, and we are sending a packet anyways). Bob’s device replies with his current position. Your device will immediately show that update (as will anyone elses who overheard this interaction).

But yes - defintely we need a UI for letting users tweak the (numerous) parameters that change rebroadcast intervals, sleep time etc… That is high in my queue and will be in sometime in the next couple of weeks.

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The two use cases for me:
For protesters who need to be able to communicate in an environment full of stingrays and jammers (and would 100% prefer to have all phone radios off)
For burning man and its local equivalents.
Both would definitely be well-served by the option to put a unit into repeater mode

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yep - I haven’t been to burning man in a while, but I think there’s a lot of cool applications for that sort of environment.

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No worries, once police needs to block electronic communication because terror/riots/violence they will block the entire free spectrum of frequencies to make sure you will not be able to communicate or remotely detonate any explosives.

You may have seen ISIS/ISIL and their Arduino steered machine guns with video transmition to remote shooter (just like your rotating home IP camera) - so no worries. Emitting this type of signal only makes you better identifiable target (less damage to innocents is guaranteed).

Also this type of equipment is a type of evidence if you assemble it on your own you usually don’t use gloves and other protection so many proofs remain on the device itself. Capturing such communication is easy and all you need is to get a key to decrypt/decipher/decode it - this is usually stored in the devices you have with you at the time of eventual arrest. Good luck with silly ideas :wink:

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I spent a number of years volunteering for mountain rescue.

They often go out in small parties (<10), and much larger numbers (<100) when searching an area.

Their teams are, in the UK voluntary and comprised of multi agency bodies. Naturally this is done in areas with poor cell coverage.

There are solutions available (and used) with long-range radio - these, however, have costs which make them prohibitive for issue to every party member. Also their battery life is typically less than 24 hours, so charging swaps demand multiple batteries or duplicate comms devices.

There is typically a lot more searching than rescuing. As a consequence: They need to have assured message delivery and known location including location history to ensure all areas are searched when looking for missing persons.

If meshtastic were able to reliably deliver messages to all nodes and assure the delivery of location, it would be fantastic to use in this context.

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