I went to Maker Festival today at the Newcastle Jockey Club and met Aidan and Graham. Had an awesome time at the festival and came away with some great ideas.
First on the agenda was the prospect of setting up some LoRa gateways in Beresfield and Redhead, as well as possibly Maitland.
But even more than that, I’m starting to play around with the idea of community sourcing the internet side of the gateways. The basic idea I had is to allow people to register a “slot” with the gateway and then set up their phone’s hotspot (or even a conventional router) with network details generated for that slot by the gateway, which it would then connect to (or fall back to when its current connection lapses).
What’re some thoughts on that?
Thanks for dropping by at the festival, it was great to cross paths!
Beresfield and Maitland could really do with some coverage, it’s exciting to hear someone is keen to kick those efforts off. It might be a bit hard for people to service an adhoc internet connection, as you’d need to login on the gateway and reconfigure, etc. A static connection to the internet would perhaps be best.
If you have any hardships with setting one up yourself, we would be happy to sponsor a gateway. You just need to be OK with an external antenna being fitted (we’d use something like this) and mounting the Gateway box somewhere indoors (the box mounted within 5 meters of cable from the Antenna, accessible to power via a plugpack which has a 5 meter cable). Our setup uses a 3G modem, expenses paid.
Exciting times, let us know how you get on with your LoRa projects!
I’m a bit flat out this week so I probably won’t make much progress, but I wanted to reply with what I’ve got -
I had thought about configuration and such, and I was considering assembling the gateway from scratch using a Feather or PyCom with requisite hardware. I’d have it hosting its own web server on its own network that people could connect to and sign up to a “slot” which would cause the gateway to generate some unique identifiers (importantly, an SSID and a password). The user would then set their hotspot to that SSID and password, at which point the gateway would attempt to connect to it. So the steps for a volunteer would be:
- Access the gateway’s network and go to it’s web UI
- Click/Tap on a “slot” in the UI
- Set up an access point/hotspot/router with the settings it gives you
All of that should be relatively easily accomplished within Python/Micropython. And I was assuming it’d have its own, say 3G, connection it could fall back on when it’s not using a volunteer network. However I do think it’s a fairly optimistic idea, and likely wouldn’t get much notice. Still, it’d be fun to play around with.
I’ll let you guys know when I’m able to put some solid effort in, and see what comes out of it. I’ll keep an eye on here throughout the week as well.
I really want this “collaborative internet” idea to work, though at the surface there might friction points that the average punter is not familiar with.
The easiest way is to share an existing internet connection, most buildings/locations will have an option of sorts. Have you explored this in the gateway location?