Burningman 2018


This has crossed my mind more than once while reading the forums here, is there any way to tell who’s in the goTenna team? Maybe some badges for official employees would clear some confusion.

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Well, there’s this:
[Easy Field ID of goTenna Meshies](

goTenna Scrolling_IMG_2586 from Mike Lehman on Vimeo.

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If you click on a user’s profile you can see if they have the Staff badge or not :slight_smile:


Hello!! I will be bringing 2 Gotennas to BM, we’ll be all over the place but one will be at 3:30 and Hal and the other will be at 7:00 and Bender when were just hanging at camp. Really hoping they will allow us to keep in touch!


@danielagotenna - i passed on your proposal idea to a ranger friend of mine - Valerie aka Ranger Bright Heart.

i figured 6 units would greater benefit the rangers who tirelessly help people more than a single camp. the most useful part of using a gotenna mesh is the ability to send your gps coordinates in case of an emergency. imagine you’re hurt out in the dark & deep playa. how would you call for help if there’s no cell service & if you got service how would you tell them where you are?


On the data network side of things, I’ve been using Glympse with great success for the last several years for this.

But, lacking signal… sending coords through the GTM would make sense (assuming of course, those rangers had the GID of every GTM in the playa previously configured and added) – maybe have a GTM “Check-In” booth where anyone with a GTM adds themselves to a list that the rangers share and sync to their Contacts?


@setuid you are aware of the “emergency settings” and “emergency chat” that will do a shout but over the 6 hops to everyone. No need to register GTM ids.

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I did see that in the Settings, but haven’t used it (nor would I, as I don’t want to cause undue alarm).

It seems very unintuitive to have it hidden, buried 4 taps down inside Settings, however, instead of starting in the default “Chats” screen, as well as an option in the option to create a new Shout Chat, Group Chat, 1:1 Chat.

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Once you click on “emergency chat” in the settings it shows up in the list of available chats. I haven’t used it either as I’m not sure who I would reach. Does seem odd it is buried in that setting. I guess there is a reason for that which I’m not aware of.

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I think this is mainly to encourage thoughtful use, rather than inadvertent or thoughtless use. There is an explanation for how and when to use these settings in the Settings menu entries.


It only shows up in Chats, because you’ve now received your first message from it; the default, boilerplate message describing its use.


I think a simple “first time” dialog that says you acknowledge and respect how to use Emergency Chats is sufficient, but hiding it in the Settings is an odd thing, since you wouldn’t know it’s there if you never used it before.

In an emergency situation, someone isn’t going to go fishing around in their Settings to try to find it. They’re just going to Shout, which is also not the right place for an Emergency Message.

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I don’t disagree. Seems odd to be buried in the settings menu. I get they want people to think before using it. But not the UI I would have designed for that purpose. At least now it is in my list of available chats. And once people get to it they’ll be able to get help in an emergency, hopefully.

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You do have to go to Settings to set up the device in the first place. There is also other information in Settings, like Relays. I don’t think it’s odd that this explanatory info is all in one place. I find this better than scattered about disguised with various glyphs, which is another way of handling such things that I find confusing.

I know we’ve discussed how preparedness is important if you NEED the best response in an emergency situation. I looked around and found this when I first got mine as part of learning the ropes. Used to move a lot when I was young, not so much anymore, but locating yourself with respect to emergency services was always an important part of learning about a new place back before 911 even existed.

People should think beyond simply assuming there will always be a 911 keypad, because there’s obviously no DTMF buttons on a goTenna. Yeah, it’s probably a bit distracting in that the phone it’s paired with does have them. That is the first clue this might require interactivity, however, rather than just consumption. It’s not a high hurdle, just one that tends to slip past when we assume that emergency services are always a simple thing, just like on TV.

That said, they are working on a rewrite of the manual to update to 5.0. I’m sure they welcome comments and will take note of these. Maybe they need to emphasize more that the phone or even mere device* it’s paired to is your best bet if you need 911, because it’s always going to be more complicated than dialing the phone to do the same thing on the goTenna, even where that is possible.

  • I don’t have a cell, I have a former cellphone that like they almost all do retains the capability to dial 911. That is where users will get the most certainty in an emergency, regardless. In light of that a fixation over doing 911 on the goTenna is rather a bit of a red herring, except in situations where the 911 system itself is down or not present, as it will not be for the most part at Burningman. And if you know enough to know that, then I’d ordinarily think a new user would also be curious enough to look up how the goTenna can be used in an emergency.

This does suggest a good idea for an emergency link, although I understand your reluctance for a brief period to accept this item of modernity, I get the luxurious humanity of leading a mostly cellphone-free life. As a non-cellphone user, I find them annoying enough just by the way they often alter human behavior for the worse. Bear with me for when communications are still good.

With the six hops now available and some judicious node siting, it might be possible to set up a temporary SMS relay link between the site and close enough to suitable towers to get a cell signal. It could even be with the extra goodies available with the Mesh Developer’s Toolkit (for Apple). With suitable arrangements for accepting the texts with emergency services and other such coordination, this could make a great project for some group.

Of course, one wouldn’t BE there, which has it’s drawbacks… but that actually sounds like something I could do as an old fart whose docs have told him to stay out of the sun and not randomly wander about in the desert. Now If I can just figure out how to pay for the airconditioned motorhome and recruit a few cellphone bearing co-conspirators. :bus::desert_island:


Hey Daniel. I’m part of a large group of Deaf burners who are frustrated with the lack of access on playa. CB radios work for a lot of people but not for us.

I’d love to talk about those donated units and am down for collecting info and coming back and sharing our experience of using them. They would be amazing for so many reasons! And we have Deaf folk all over playa so it’d be a true test of capabilities.


@campfire That sounds like a terrific use-case! Can you ensure all people who would use the units would download apps and offline maps before going to the playa? Where are you located and when are you leaving? Also do you already have goTenna Mesh units yourself?


Download the app and register before you go. 90+ megs isn’t easy over 3g.
Download offline topo maps for the area (another several Mb)
Plan 30 minutes to update firmware to latest version for Emergency SOS and doubled (6 hop)
If anyone within 6 hops of you has a signal (wifi, cell, or sat… anything) then ALL #ALLONE of you are able to send uni-directional messages to ANY phone number… even, perhaps text 911? Or your safety contact/ BR rangers.
Mesh Toolkit FREE lets you backhaul messages across the intra / internet
30 day free GotennaPlus membership does text /sms relay across ANY signal.
May want to keep Gotenna in the shade, maybe in a ziplock, maybe superglue around edge for extra playa resistance.
Any small solar panel will keep this charged all week (interpose a cellcharger if unattended relay atop mast). Use the shadow and point the solar southern at about 15% ish grade
Rangers and local EMS are on ham radio too (channel 5, 154.600 CTCSS/PL 97.4) to reach the Black Rock City Emergency Services Dispatch.
SHOUT and EMERGENCY SHOUT and SOS are UNENCRYPTED, public, cleartext promiscuous broadcast. (See Smith v. Maryland SCOTUS) thar be dragons.
GPS, metadata, phone number may leak…as expected.
ONLY direct messages are encrypted… Init error may expose (See youtube DefCon 26 talk)
If anyone has any problems, questions, or needs help, stop by Bronner’s FOAM camp Foam Against The Machine. Experts on hand and glad to help.


@danielagotenna Sounds good. Yes, I can meet up with people beforehand and get them properly on boarded.

No don’t have any units; I was doing research to possibly get some then ran across your post and two and two made five.

I am located in SF and will be leaving this coming Weds. Others would be leaving later. I also can work with others to make sure folks leaving later can be brought on board. I also can make sure my camp and others camps properly mount their antennas for best reception. Early arrival is helpful for that kind of thing :slight_smile:


@campfire I am prioritizing people who already know/have used Mesh so if you go buy a pair of Mesh at Amazon or REI or such in the next few days and confirm this meets your use-case, get back to me! I want to ensure donated devices get used, and user error is the biggest barrier to entry (even though of course we believe the devices are SUPER easy to use!)