goTenna Mesh community

Which features would you add to goTenna Mesh?

Hi everybody!

In your opinion, what features would benefit/improve goTenna Mesh?
The first step to improvement is figuring out what the community thinks is important.

Looking forward to your answers/
Thanks

We do have a post with some decent requests and had PM actively responding: goTenna Product Manager is listening!

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We desperately need two additional features:

First one is a way to be able to connect to the goTenna by a laptop computer to use it as a base station.
As an emergency service it would be more practical if we were able to dispatch by sending messages from a laptop computer than a smartphone.

The second one would be to be able to load the program on the phones and the computer via a memory stick. If we are set up in an area where there is no Internet there is no way to add additional users during emergency such as Sandy if there’s no Internet available.

Without these two features to use the basic goTenna has limited use in an emergency situation by emergency relief organizations.

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I’d love the ability to buy a set without having to pay £50 to have them shipped from the US, maybe by having an approved European reseller. I’d love some sort of indication that the company is at all invested in the consumer units and hasn’t just used paying customers as a period of concept to push the much more expensive pro versions.

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Hello, and thank you for asking.

If, when you “Shout”, some sign of life even if nobody replies. I don’t think it’d be a privacy issue, but just something like “Congratulations, your Shout hit three other goTennas”. I’ve “wardriven” a couple times through my densely populated area, “shouting” (while stopped) all along the way. Got nothing. Either there were none on, or no one replied. So I have no idea if there’s even a Mesh. I realize there’s the map, but that’s not active/real-time.

Secondly, for the use of urban backup comms, these things really need good repeaters. Recommend working with local CERTs to see about that. It may be a cost to goTenna, but may provide the tipping point for many more people to buy one knowing they’ll work.

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Yes, I’d go a step further and ask for some regular updates from pings for nearby goTennas (if the network is otherwise silent) as to how connected the goTenna is. Its important to know how strong the mesh is at any given time.

I’d like to see some a Base station option, ideally solar powered or powered by PoE, that can be mounted on a roof and networked into wifi & usb to PC or Ethernet. Base stations should be able to be repeaters and nodes at the same time. It’d be great to get statistics for use.

It would be nice if you would open-source your code and allow the community to build in their own enhancements to the system.

thanks

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I’ll add a third vote for some sort of ping option so that we can see whether our GoTennas are actually connected to something or whether they’re just shouting to themselves.
I just don’t understand the mentality of a company that relies on a decentralised mesh for their product to work, but not providing some way of easily determining whether that mesh actually exists!

And thanks for the link to the Product Manager post. Unfortunately he hasn’t posted on these forums since 2019…

goTenna Mesh are sold in pairs. What is everyone doing with that second GTM device? In the hands of a family member, a significant other, a friend or neighbor - or even just sitting at home by itself paired with an old phone - and you can easily determine if your GTM is working.

Then there’s the first rule of emergency planning, which is to establish networks, capabilities, and contacts in advance of need. You don’t want to be scrambling around in the middle of managing an emergency trying tp put those together. What are the potential risks in your locale? Who are those you can count on or will need to be there for in the event of an emergency? The mesh is intended to support those needs, not substitute for prior planning.

A ping button will solve none of that. It would also potentially expose users to discovery. Many users use GTMs because they want to preserve their privacy and the anonymity offered by the mesh is considered a feature, not a bug. If such a feature were offered, one would hope it would be with the option of opting out of such discovery. If it identified you as being interested in connecting and letting me decide whether to reply or not, then that might be useful without compromising a valued existing feature, but it might not result in as much difference as some suppose it might if used for rendomly contacting other users.

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Hi Mike, I figured you’d reply to this, as you have every other time somebody has asked for this same feature before, including me.

So in response to your comments:

We can definitely plan for someone to have the second GTM that we bought, but where I live we have these big things called hills everywhere. They interrupt line of sight communications.
Some of us have better things to do with our lives than endlessly war-drive around our cities trying, hoping, that we’ll be able to prove there’s some sort of viable network out there that we can later rely on in an emergency. A simple ping, either on demand, or scheduled such that it doesn’t swamp the network would give us that.

Your second paragraph just reinforces my point about the above.

Regarding privacy, sure if this is an issue then make it so you can just opt out. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

I guess what it comes down to is that once you step out of the USA, there isn’t the market saturation / coverage that you are accustomed to in your city. For much of the world our user experience is different - not wrong, not misunderstood, just different. So if a few people are asking for the same feature, then maybe that’s something that fits with our way of interacting with this product.

Yeah, hills, I WISH we had some, it’s really boring terrain around here. :yawning_face:

I get the frustration on this issue. I’m just trying to get to the root of what is desired while pointing out that the itch it scratches can quite often already be accomplished.

If you want to know if your GTM is working, there are ways to already do that right now without being able to randomly ping other nearby GTMs - which may or may not exist. That’s why I tend to urge people to figure out who it is they want to communicate with and get them set up with a device. Those closest and most dear to us are best set up with a GTM now. If there is no one like that for you (this is a generic you, not speaking of your particular circumstances), then maybe that’s something to consider needs work now before an emergency strikes.

Get to know your neighbors, because building bonds of trust now are important in an emergency situation where you might otherwise start assuming everyone around you is a threat. When you can call that neighbor because you know them, it’s a much better place to be than assuming both that they might have a GTM and that they’re inclined to converse with you then when that hasn’t happened previously.

Figure out where you NEED relays. Develop relationships to put them where needed. There are various ways to do that. Amateur radio clubs are one place to start. Then there are neighborhood groups, like NextDoor, etc that allow you to reach out to others where you may not know someone but which could be useful to get to know. Once you have a prime spot or two to serve your own needs, then the mesh is available for others to use and add on to. You’ll also make the kind of contacts that will serve you well, even without an emergency to call awareness to local mesh.

Finally, the idea that the goTenna Mesh fails to serve your needs when the only need attributed to have pinging is to discover the presence of other users is a somewhat disconcerting thought to others already using the mesh. All of the above notes are focused on building mesh. Random pinging, on the other hand, I’m just not sure how it would do that. What it does often sound like, at least in the big picture, is that it represents a way to strip away anonymity, one of the big selling features of the mesh with many users I’ve connected with locally, like my friends in the local 2600 group.

The capacity to ping someone randomly is potentially connected to the ability to locate other users for whatever reason. Having decades of experience monitoring various radio networks, as well as a background in intelligence and counterintelligence history, contributes to my tendency to be very cautious about features that are too easy to exploit for bad reasons, even though they may offer considerable convenience day to day. That’s why I don’t own a cellphone. Some folks have nothing but good reasons to ping for others. Others? There are all kinds of bad actors, from the government down to that creepy ex-boyfriend, who would love to ping for sometimes just plain bad reasons. That’s why there would need to be an opt-out choice to participate, even if pinging were developed into such a tool. I suspect many, maybe even a majority, would opt-out of that, putting you essentially back to the start of this.

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Well Mike, I think I learnt enough about your mindset now to determine that we’re obviously after different things from our consumer mesh communication devices.
Best of luck - just remember your government is always watching you, and the CCP probably is as well!

Late to the party here, but I’d love to see the app(s) pick up some of the features and abiltiies of the Mesh Toolkit…URL schema, ability to create a pinned location as a pseudo-contact. And as others have said, it’d be really nice to get basic stats from a relay node…battery level, relays since last query.

–Richard

On the second point, you can always share the app from one phone to another using Android beam or Apple airdrop, even with no internet connection.

Some sort of dedicated base station device would wonderful. POE would be even better. I know I could get some placed in several static locations around the city on generator power with security.

We’ve been testing out the GTM with our search and rescue teams and the lack of a dedicated “repeater” is a real bummer. I’d love to have one we could fly up with our VHF antenna mast and not have bring down to recharge or worry about configuring. Not everyone in our organization is as technically savvy as I am. Getting them to use the basic functions of GoTenna is hard enough, training them to set it in static mode is a non-starter (plus I never know exactly who will set it up).

Also as much as I’d love to get my hands on the 5w pro version our volunteer organization generally relies on members paying for their own gear (except in very limited circumstances). So the pricing and management of the pro just isn’t really an option.

Not a feature to the GTM, but a criticism and a nudge: I bought my units 6 months back. At the time, I tried following the link on the product page to the FAQ. Got taken instead to a contact query page. No FAQ. 6 months on, same result.

Nothing screams “abandoned product” to prospective buyers like having product pages with dead links. The forum is a clear indication that there are, indeed, frequently asked questions. Apparently, there used to be a FAQ where those got answered. Suggest someone invest a day and the ergs to resurrect it, and keep it current. Not as good, but better than nothing, have the link land on page that explains the FAQ is under construction (if that’s actually true, which I am coming to doubt). Or failing that, a minute to remove the dead link. If that’s the chosen resolution (or ongoing inaction), I certainly won’t encourage any friends to invest any $$$ or time getting into GTM.

–Richard

I think it’s more like a dead link than an abandoned FAQ. Although it doesn’t say FAQ there, that’s basically what’s here:
https://support.gotennamesh.com/hc/en-us

If you could post the FAQ link that failed you, it could be helpful in reorienting things so they point properly.

This is something you can do with the goTenna Python SDK via a USB cable connection to your goTenna. The sample.py app is a good place to start. It works great on a PC or Mac. Is that what you mean?

It also works from a single board computer (eg. Raspberry Pi, or similar). I’m working with Tourmaline Wireless on adapting sample.py to act as a personal gateway device that can relay messages between a SMS network and local mesh network. It might be of interest for disaster communications to connect areas without power to the outside world: Building a stand alone RPi based goTenna to SMS gateway