Thanks a lot to all members that managed to join the WebEx on Tuesday (30th January 2024). I promised on the night, I’d summarise what I presented (in a hurry).
The main technology we were talking about I called LoRa. This is a proprietary chirp spread spectrum digital mode that has lots of useful applications.
This video is from the manufacturer and should give you an overview.
This is a quick video on how the technology actually works.
So Lora technology has lots of applications in the amateur world. I initially started experimenting with LoRa APRS on 70cm which can even be applied to weather stations. Another aspect is in a tinyGS ground station for cubesats, however this presentation was about an off grid messaging system called Meshtastic.
Josh from Ham Radio Crash Course gives a good overview here.
However, Josh’s video is two years old and Meshtastic has had significant development since then. Here is a video from Andy Kirby (another amateur) that shows how easy it is to setup.
After this video we had a discussion about what kind of Meshtastic system we were interested in and we overwhelmingly decided to use the 433MHz amateur zone, mostly as we could repurpose a spare 70cm antenna relatively simply.
The last video which we didn’t show on the night, but does explain the frequencies and types of Lora boards that can be used.
The LoRa boards aren’t expensive, and you can pick them up right now (2nd Feb 2024) for £19 on Amazon.
You can also get them on AliExpress or eBay, so if you are interested (and Amazon has sold out), there are other ways of getting into the project. Remember, that this isn’t the only application of them and to get the 433mHz board!
Meshtastic mostly exists on 868mHz, and here is a map of (mostly) 868mHz nodes.
There are loads of other videos on LoRa (in general) and Meshtastic, so have a look on YouTube if you’re interested.
If you’ve taken the plunge already, there are a few options you need to set in your new device.
Tick the box to say you’re a licenced amateur. This gives you extra options for extra power, frequency variation and disabling the encryption.
As standard, it will default to 12dBm (15mW). To maximise the performance, you need to change this to 20dBm(100mW). I had to head out today and 15mW got me about 1/3-1/2 mile only just turned the power up, so it should be interesting.
Make sure you’re set to LoRa channel 4.
My base station RDN1 is up and running now, so let me know if you can see it.
Please take a look at Lewis M3HHY (Ringway Manchester) YouTube channel’s video describing how to get started.