Does the length of message affect the distance or chances for message to get through?


I have been having the hardest time getting 4 goTenna to mesh over less than half a mile. I can blame terrain, but its really just some tree’s, so nothing special. I have noticed this…

If I type this message, it gets through 0% of the time:
“The longer the message, the less chance it has of getting through”

But if I type this:
“The” - delivery unconfirmed
"longer" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"the" - delivery unconfirmed
"message" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"the" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"less" - delivery unconfirmed
"chance" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"it" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"has" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"of" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"getting" - delivered via 1 mesh node
"through" - delivery unconfirmed

Is what I am observing just some randomness, or is it reasonable that less characters have a higher chance of making through? FWIW, I sometimes notice the same thing with SMS. The shorter the message, the better chance it makes it.


At least in theory, a shorter message should have fewer problems getting through than a longer one. With a longer message, there are more opportunities for something (like random interference or a tree branch getting in the way) to interfere with and break the transmission. This is also why, in many marginal service areas, SMS gets through better than a voice call.

As for poor range, keep in mind that Gotenna placement means ALOT. If you are getting poor range, simply making sure that you place your Gotennas such that line of sight is improved can make the difference between getting messages through or not. As an example, keeping a Gotenna in your pants pocket is one of the worst things you can do for range. Not only is it low, but it is right against your RF absorbing body. Likewise, the recipient Gotenna and nodes should be placed as high as possible and away from as many blockages as possible.


I agree, in theory a shorter message should have a better chance. However it seems unlikely to make much of a difference since maximum message size is so small. I would expect you to be right at the maximum range and need a large sample size to notice a higher failure rate. It feels to me like something else is happening here. Has anyone else been able to replicate this?

My head keeps coming back to the phone / tablet as a possible culprit or as @Turnerb put it “just some randomness”. It’s interesting you see the same thing with sms it could be the device or observer bias.

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Then again, there are times where I can get a ping through, but not a message. So length is probably at least somewhat significant. Not sure what the data rate of Gotenna is. But if it takes a second or two longer to send a long message vs a short one, this is certainly ample opportunity for something to happen, at least if reception is marginal to begin with.

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@Turnerb I am frankly very surprised to see that you are having difficulty meshing over less than half a mile.
Can you describe your terrain in more detail? We have extensively tested goTenna Mesh in a hilly forested environment. We normally get at-least 0.5 miles range in this terrain (without Meshing).
As @StorminMatt suggested, mounting location can affect performance.
Since your message sizes are so short, I agree with @giqcass what you are observing is random.

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@Rahul_Subramany, I am also surprised by my range. The range I am trying to communicate is only 1507 feet through trees, which right now are mostly bare. I have two goTenna’s set in relay mode, one in each location at what I consider to be an optimal location to get the best range, and then at each location I have another goTenna hooked up to phones to do the actual communication so at most those would be communicating over 50 feet or less. The only thing I can think of is that there is enough elevation change between the two sites that the radio waves are not making it into the dip that contains one node. Here is a crude representation of what I am trying to describe:


I believe when I was testing my v1 goTenna I had the same issue. Where from the top of my hill I could get almost 2 miles of range, but if I went just .25 miles away from my house down the hill I could not get any communication going as it did not seem like the signal could bend to follow the curve of the hill.

Keep in mind I have no antenna theory classes or experience with HAM radio so I most likely do not know what I am talking about. I wish there was a way to see which units the messages bounced from because I suspect that one of the most recent units I ordered is not working quite right. When I took it out of the box, I updated the firmware and charged it up and turned it off and put it back in the box. 5 days later I took it out of the box and over to the my buddies house and when I went to set it up as a relay it was completely out of charge. I charged it up and set it up as a relay where it is always plugged in but I am wondering if that unit is even providing me the relay functionality I was hoping for. I should go back to his house and figure out a way to test it, but not sure what that test would look like. I can say that my messages go back and forth between saying they were not delivered to being delivered with one or two mesh nodes. I am not sure what that means. If I have a goTenna paired to my phone, and a relay in my house, and then a relay at my buddies house and a goTenna paired to his phone, how many mesh nodes would that report? Depending on how you define it, that could be 1, 2, 3, or 4 if you count the first and last units.

If you have 2 nodes at your house and 2 at your friends house, you are not going to see any Meshing. You need to have distance between your node thats paired to your phone, your relay node and a 3rd node, to see messages being sent via the node in the middle.

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@Rahul_Subramany, sure I get that. The reason for the extra relay nodes are because I put the relay nodes in better locations (2nd floor of my house next to a windows) and in my buddies garage next to a window facing the general direction of my house) because he tends to hang out in a daylight basement on the backside of his house that I felt like the odds of getting a message through to him without the extra relay node were much higher.

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As being discussed in another thread:

So today when we say 4 hops, that counts the end-points, so to speak. As discussed in various other threads, the hop count is increasing soon! We’re currently in dev and will soon move into real-world testing to see just how ready for primetime (i.e. a firmware/app update) this is. Wish us luck!


I agree. I have actually been able to have conversations without too much difficulty in some surprisingly difficult locations. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was sending messages from the red circled location to my girlfriend in her car at the blue circled location in the image below.

As you can see, these locations are not too far apart (maybe .2-.25 mile). But they are on opposite sides of a rather heavily forested (with mainly conifers - no loss of leaves for the winter) and shrubby hill. And no, I didn’t mesh. Quite frankly, I am VERY surprised I was able to get anything through. AndI don’t recall needing to elevate.