goTenna Mesh community

How Do I Ping A Relay?

I see other GoTenna Mesh users talking about this, but it’s not documented in the incredibly sparse product documents in the box :thinking::thinking:

Also the imeshyou map seems to be a bit unreliable as a source of online network nodes. Not sure why this map is publicized, if the thousands of nodes shown are possibly all offline. The benefit of showing a node map is to give you an idea if your text will be received from point-A to point-B.

I was hoping that I could get node IDs from that imeshyou map, and then try to ping them, to see if my device is transmitting.

The shout feature appears to be of little value, as no one ever shouts back.

Can anyone give me any advice so I can test my devices and see if they are working?

BTW, I’m located in Fremont, CA (SF Bay Area)

Thank You

1 Like

Hello,

The imeshyou map is not live and it is user reported. As you noted even if there is a node on the map it does not mean it is online and live.
Shout feature is great if you are with other users and want to send a message to everyone, for example during camping trip.
You can always test your devices with a friend, or if you have another smartphone.

Thanks,
Naz

Hello Naz,

Right you are.

It sounds like you’re totally OK with all of this. That’s probably because our use-cases are different.

Maybe you use your GoTenna Mesh devices when going on outings with groups of people, so that all can stay in contact in a cellular-dead area. That’s all well and good.

My use-case is different. I’m CERT and Block Captain for a 10-home street in a 100-home development. I’m looking for a no-license-required device that all 100 homes can stay in contact with each other.

FRS doesn’t work ( I tried it for 18-months). The farther hoes can’t be heard, even though I was using a GMRS transceiver with an external antenna up 20-feet, using the public FRS simplex freqs.

Amateur Radio doesn’t work in that I can’t convince the other 99 residents to get FCC ARS licenses (even though I already have one - KI6BEN).

BT-LE smarphone apps don’t work. The best I have tried is Bridgefy, and it was only able to reach like one house away from me.

GoTenna Mesh shows real promise. I’m able to send and receive text messages to my house from our most distant street. I’m actively campaigning those other 99 residents to buy GoTenna Mesh devices, and getting a little bit of traction.

While I’m waiting for them to come onboard, I’m trying to run tests to see how far my device can send pings or messages to. The best I have done is about 1.2-miles away. The goal is for us to be able to know that there are other like-minded GoTenna Mesh users 2, 3, 5 miles away, that I could send an email or text message to, to get them all to come online on GoTenna Mesh, and test our gear. The idea being it is important for our little community of 100 homes to talk to the outside world, in the worst kind of emergency.

Hope that helps to explain where I’m going with all of this.

Kind Regards

JV

3 Likes

The term pinging a relay is a bit confusing because you can’t actually message a GTM in relay mode. I’ve mentioned pinging or messaging relays so sorry for the confusion. My process is to pair the GTM “relay” to a spare tablet then send and receive a couple messages to make sure things are working from my phone and connected GTM. I assign the contact for that “relay” something descriptive like “smith peak” so I remember where it is and can better determine the areas I should be able reach it. Then I leave the tablet behind and take the “relay” to its new home. At this point the GTM is in what I call pairing mode; white lite continuously flashing as it stays Bluetooth discoverable. In this mode I can message the GTM and receive confirmations. Pinging is also an option. The GTM will also relay messages just like in relay mode or when paired. I just use the same spare tablet for each relay and logout and establish a new goTenna ID each time I set up another one. The biggest downside I’ve found is that the GTM uses roughly twice the power in pairing mode as it does in relay mode. Being able to message them is invaluable, also it is the only mode I’ve got access to in the solar auto reset devices I’m using. My relays are all solar and I message them often to determine the strength of the network.

It’s pretty tough to get people on board with alternative communications when landline and cell carriers are so reliable. You see the GTM become really popular after a major disaster and folks realize they’ve taken basic communication for granted. It would take some work from several homeowners but I would imagine the GTM would be just the ticket to link up your homeowners if you could get them all on board. Even if they just plugged one in to the wall and turned it on it would be huge for meshing for those on the edges of your community. Depending on the distance between houses you may need some strategically located relays with some height.

I hope that helps and makes sense!

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I really appreciate the time you took to write it.

You first paragraph went way over my head. I’ll need to re-read it a few times for it to sink in.

My mental block is that I was (wrongly perhaps) assuming that the “New Relay Mode” that you see in the GoTenna Android app is what facilitates taking any GoTenna Mesh device, and turning it into a relay. I’m really hoping that it’s that simple, as GoTenna didn’t publish a whitepaper on what a relay does.

So I’m assuming that some GoTenna Mesh device owners setup one or more of their devices as relays, dedicating a smartphone to each. I have read that some of these owners put them on tops of houses, on tops of poles, and some even add augmentive hardware like right-angle or cantenna reflectors to them. And then they just keep them powered-up and working.

And so I (perhaps wrongly) assumed that if I see one of those relays listed on the GoTenna Website’s “imeshyou” map, I could find the relay’s ID from the imeshyou map, then add it in my “Contacts” list, then open a chat with it, and then use the “Ping” command, to see if I can get a return.

I was thinking that if the map API showed me that that relay is 2-miles away from me, and I’m able to ping it and get a return – then that means that my GoTenna Mesh device can contact devices at least 2-miles away.

Paragraph 1 of your reply makes me think that it’s not that simple.

In paragraph 2, I’m totally aligned with you. I’ve been trying to get my 99 neighbors onboard with an emergency comms plan for the past 20-years. Amateur Radio, GMRS and FRS was a total fail. I think that GoTenna Mesh has great promise in that my neighborhood tests (with my 2 devices) have worked well. Now one other neighbor just purchased a set, so I’m looking forward to testing with him.

We post all of our test results in the neighborhood WHATSAPP group. So hopefully if we can get several neighbors all getting good test results, this idea might catch on.

Wishing you the very best :slight_smile:

JV

Sorry for not explaining that well. I’ll try some more.

Relay mode works as a relay really well and consumes less power than pairing mode method I described above. It only relays messages and you can’t message or ping it. Just triple press the button two times after startup and you’re in relay mode.

Press the button one and you should get three light flashes to confirm relay mode.

There may be a few folks that post their GUID’s on the map but I would bet most of those are their personal gtm’s and they are rarely actually on. To set up a permanent GTM with its paired device takes quite a bit of power for solar and you have to dedicate a device to it.

There are lots of variables here. Terrain, trees, buildings and electronic interference are all hugely detrimental to the GTM’s 1 watt of power. Think in line of sight plus just a little bit more (unless there’s interference from other electronics/communications waves). But the beauty of the mesh means that if you can talk to a GTM 2 miles away you can also talk to anyone in near line of sight of the second GTM! The mesh keeps going up to 6 hops or 5 relays!

It sounds like you have a proactive homeowners group there. Would a power/ communications simulation be an option?

What kind of terrain/topography are you working with? City or rural?

The thing that escapes people is that GTMs in relay mode are impersonal devices…they don’t have an identity, just a job…relaying GTM messages. They’re not an endpoint. In paired (or your “paired but lost my friend”) mode, they’re endpoints AND relay.

A thing you said above lost me going around a corner:

So what does “solar auto reset” mean if the power fails and then comes back up? I would assume they’d wake up in pairing mode when you “press” the button, with no memory of the prior pairing. Not true? Do they wake up still trying to pair to the same device, and are addressable as an endpoint? If so, that’s a win–of sorts.

–Richard

In my area, snow and weeks of cloudy weather are common. Using around 10 watts of solar panel and a voltaic v50 battery it will only last about a week with no sun. The GTM does start back up when you press the button but getting to the button is a several hour trip to most of my relays. With the help of others on this forum I’ve modified the GTM to allow a small microcontroller to “press” the button once the sun comes out and power is restored. There’s details in the topic “How to make the unit stay on” and some in this one if you’d like more details: Idaho mountains goTenna mesh experience

They wake up looking for their paired device and are still a relay and endpoint. If I can message them I know the area is covered for communications.

Still addressable via the same GUID or phone number…that’s better than I had feared. GoTenna still needs to fix the firmware (and probably hardware) so resumption of external power brings the device back up to last known state. They’re keeping pairing info alive somewhere when there’s no power or the device is off.

You’ve solved these problems through a lot of effort and ingenuity. It shouldn’t have been that hard.

–Richard

I’ve heard the return to power issue requires a hardware change. I figured they would have a new model out by the time I got them working but I haven’t seen anything yet.

I’m not sure this is the case as I believe the GTM will pair with any device when it’s in “pairing mode”. Your phone or device will keep pairing information in the app unless you unpair.

It was a bit of effort to get it figured out but now it’s really just about an hour of work and maybe $20 in parts to make the modifications. Of course there is the issue of voiding the warranty on the GTM! I guess it depends on how much you value communications so the cost/benefit is different for everyone.