goTenna Mesh community

How to do range testing on a stationary relay mesh unit?

I finally brought one of my mesh units into work and have it setup and running as a powered relay. The unit is setup on the 4th floor of a brick building in the Portland OR area that was not previously covered by a mesh unit. Pending approval, I might move it to the 6th floor where it will have an almost 360 degree unobstructed perch.

Now I want to know if its actually doing any good. I have searched the forums here but not come across any conclusive way of testing the the unit I have setup is actually doing any good. I guess the best I can do is pair this unit with a phone and then head out in all directions and do various range testing, then try moving it a bit and re-test? One thought I had was to pin a gotenna mesh unit to one of the “healthy” people here at work that jog on their lunch hour and then repeatedly, but manually, request their location after setting the app on their phone to automatically accept those requests? I think I remember seeing that as an option. The issue with this method is I have no way of knowing if the unpaired mesh unit is actually adding value or not. Since I would have a third unit paired with my smartphone, most likely the messages would be direct between my unit and the jogger. I would know when the message hops, I just would not know which unit it hopped from or if the mesh relay made a difference or not.

Is there a better way?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I really dislike just setting something up and “hoping” its working without actually knowing its doing any good. I have seen requests to add the ability into the unit to let the owner know when its actually been used as a hop on the mesh and would love to see this if it can be done.

Thanks

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Maybe it would help to reconceptualize what “adding value” means in this context. It sounds to me like you’ve already done that, provided an important pubic amenity that extends blocks beyond your building. Many resources are important because they are “just in case.” I don’t think anyone questions how many fires a fire hydrant will help put out. They simply know it’s a good thing to have around and that’s encouraged by codes, insurance companies, and various kinds of public policy, which does sound like a considerable investment.

All you needed to do was decide this would be a good thing to take to work. It may even be you’re a bit ahead of your time with this. But someone has to be first, take risks, and make decisions whose ramification smay not yet be fully understood, but which already sound like a good idea.

However, if you’re the bean-counter type, these arguments may not suffice. You should know that you can see the LEDs in that relay twinkle when someone uses it, just passing through. Set-up a CCTV cam and record it in motion sensing so that it records the groups of flashes only, then count them up. But it’s really as simple as walking way from your node until you can no longer contact a helpful 3rd party through the node. then following the rough circlar perimeter. That’s where having an extra goTenna connected to a spare phone can act to record what’s important to you in the testing.

Or you can be patient. There has been some discussion of features that would assist those building out mesh networks coming down the pipeline. As one of those people, I like the idea of having a total messages handled counter. On the other hand, I’m already getting plenty of value for my sweat equity, although this sort of thing doesn’t really lend itself well to monetization. For instance, do you have a location that’s made a “better offer”? If it has a better view of the area, it might be a good idea to simply plant another goTenna on it, especially so if it’s in the optimal several blocks away but still close-by category. Then you have the beginnings of a mesh network.

After that comes the realization that it’s not so much the incremental value of any single relay, but the power of them in multitudes that is where their value can be found. It’s lots of people finding various kinds of value in an alternative communications systems that isn’t only valuable “in Case of Emergency.”

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The easiest way to test it is pair the stationary relay to a phone and travel out and around, sending messages to it. Usually, if you’re within a mile or so and can see where the relay is, then you’ll have comms to it. Mine have surprised me by working through a few miles of trees and skimming the ground in one case, or being able to go through several metal-studded walls, block walls, and a car door from the opposite end of a shopping mall.

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You can also have stationary units send automated location updates (if paired to a smartphone) — I believe the more robust version of this feature is behind the Plus paywall (super cheap, $9/year) but there’s a free version of it too. I forget what the differences are :slight_smile:

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