Role Clarification


I’m just waiting for some RAK devices to get delivered and was thinking about the proper setup.

What’s the real difference between router and repeater?

[…] As such, direct messaging this node is not available […]

Does this imply I can’t remote administer repeaters? Which makes them basically useless as they’d be in remote high places?

Or are router nodes the fixed high ones and repeater the “throwies” that get scattered on the way out and collected coming back in? In this case they would still make sense on a map?

Another one: router disables wifi/ble. So far so good, but what about serial? I might put a Raspberry Pi Zero (or clone) in the same enclosure. Having them connected might make more sense than connecting with my phone/tablet, but in that case usb serial is easier than wifi/ble

Correct, they just re-transmit packets. You probably don’t even want you main keys on there, just the lora config so they can repeat.

So the purpose of those is to provide general repeaters that anyone can use (since no keys are needed)?

But how do you configure those? Only when directly nearby?

Also: they still do decrease the hop count like any other node? And get used preferred but a client can’t really maximise the connection as one can’t “see” it :wink:

That’s a purpose, and probably the most useful one.

Configure before deploying else you would need to be directly able to connect to it as you mentioned.

Still respects hop limit, just like all other roles. It’s setup similar to router role, where it is “preferred” by clients (really just timing).

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Thanks for the clarification.

So to sum it up:


  • no configs
  • no remote access (no need for sensors)
  • never shown on any map (no need for gps)
  • strengthens the network as no encryption keys need to be known


  • all keys configured (as they won’t repeat packages they can’t “read”)
  • remote access (for config and IO)
  • shown on the map

So in general, I probably want router nodes in places I control and maybe even want IO data. While “rogue nodes” or officially placed nodes on like mountains or antenna masts would make more sense as repeater as I wouldn’t need to configure anything other than the initial stuff (868mhz, EU, long fast) on those (and they help people that won’t know my channel keys)

And those repeater nodes better be connected to power as there’s no way of knowing the battery state?

There’s also the Router/Client role.

Useful to switch back through remote admin if you need to do a firmware update on the node, and it’s in BT range, but not close enough to access physically (high up on a telephone pole, etc).

Correct they are not a part of the mesh, they just re-transmit.

Well this is just awesome!! I’ve got one that’s been permanently in place that I rarely update and I’ve not been able to get a community thing going, so I will update it & set it in repeat mode - which I didn’t know was available, I was waiting for a second channel or a public channel (I think that’s already been done if I’m not mistaken?) but I just haven’t had time to try it. As far as I’m concerned repeat mode would be just like having a private and public channel, I can just put everything in repeat mode, right?

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Yes, sounds like it. Everything on the same modem settings (long-fast, …) should be repeated as the repeater itself doesn’t „open“ the packages and therefore won’t need any channel configuration

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Its been a bit since I played around with my setup, will a radio setup as a repeater, repeat encrypted msgs? Im getting a bit confused, as I recall the encryption is tied to the channel/modem settings and if that is correct then communications would all basically be in the open? but yet you say the repeater does not open the msgs, so it cannot store those then either? My thought flow is a bit jumbled, are the repeater setup/rules outlined anywhere?

Just to mention it for newer folks since I don’t see it in this thread yet:

Routers and Repeaters have a special characteristic: “Mesh packets will prefer to be routed over this node.”

  • For most things, the client role is usually the right answer.
  • If you have one node that sees down into a canyon and is the only RF egress point, that node would make a good router or repeater.
  • If your base and field units can only reliably hear one node, that node would make a good router or repeater.
  • Routers & Repeaters usually want to be placed at the highest possible location with a good power situation (solar + battery or electricity + battery).
  • Because routers and repeaters can end up doing more work, they use more power.

Is there any role/setup that could combine both of those roles?

I have an opportunity to place a device on a very high building that would be perfect for repeater use.

But I would also like to have remote admin, and for it to show up on the mesh.

You could use the router role, it’s similar and will allow admin channel and it’ll appear on the mesh.


Ok, so Repeater mode rebroadcasts the preset channel setting such as Long-Fast, check! But how about other encrypted channels from other mesh users in the vicinity? Can the repeater node still re-transmit them without being part of these channels?

I am setting up one or two repeaters in my area using Heltec V3 boards, hoping to help increase the coverage for all mesh traffics here.


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Unless you change rebroadcast settings, a node (even clients) rebroadcast everything “compatible” (same radio settings) without needing keys as it just rebroadcasts and doesn’t need to read/decrypt it

Cool, thanks for the confirmation! Then the difference between router and repeater setting is pretty much just showing up on map or not. But even for router setting, I will only load Long-Fast default setting when deployed in the field for the greater mesh network community.

Can you regain control of a repeater over USB using the CLI ?

I have not tried that yet. I am testing how long the battery will last outdoors in winter time with little to nil rebroadcasting.

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