KD7VEA Portable Mesh node

I decided to build a portable Mesh node. I wanted something small and portable. A self contained system is one of the most important features, so a Plano 109170 FIELD LOCKER was chosen to hold all of the Parts. The case is a rugged Mil-Spec watertight case that will protect all the pieces inside.

With the case purchased, I started laying out the pieces, and making sure I had room for everything. These are the pieces I purchased for the kit from left to right.

Portable Mesh Parts

Portable Mesh Parts

1. Ubiquiti airGateway-LR airMAX $30
2. Netis ST3108S 8-Port 10/100M Desktop Switch $10
3. Raspberry PI 3 Model B A1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core $36
4. DROK Micro Electric DC Buck Volt Converter DC-DC 6.3-22V 12V to 5V 3A/15W $9
5. 10.1″ LCD HDMI display $70
6. 2 x 12Volt 13 amp hour sealed lead acid batteries. Free from a Local ham friend.
Items not in the picture
1. DC/DC Converter Regulator 12v Step Up to 24V 3A 72W $15
2. LUITON LT-898UV Dual Band Mobile Radio$70
3. Signal Stick antenna $20
4. Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad $20
I also added a master power on/off switch, and an ammeter. ┬áincluding the $100 for the case, this project totals up to around $450 with a couple of minor odds and ends not listed. ┬áIt came out to be more than I originally planned, but it also has a few extras that weren’t on the original build sheet.

At this point it was just a matter of semi gutting an old POE so that the air max gateway could connect for power, wiring up the transformers for the POE, and the raspberry pi, and getting the OS loaded onto the Raspberry pi. once all of that was set up and running, I diverted my attention to the Ubiquiti airMax. The purpose of the Air max router is to continue running Ubiquiti software so that once My node is deployed and connected to the Mesh Network, I can then retransmit that out as a standard wifi signal that other hams can then use with their Laptops, tablets, or phones. The way the airMax gateway is designed, it plugs into a POE, and there are 2 more network connections on top of the unit, one marked lan which goes to my Switch, and the second marked POE which I can connect my AREDN node to.

The 8 port switch lets me connect to other devices that may come in handy such as an IP phone, a Network Printer, or even connect to another network.

The Raspberry pi gives me a computer for doing basic tasks on the network. I don’t want to have to depend on always having my Laptop with me, this lets me keep everything I need in 1 box ready to go.

Last but not least in my dual band 144/440 radio. I picked a 10 watt radio so that I did not have to worry about draining the batteries for the rest of the system. The radio gives me access to the 2 most popular bands needed in an emergency, and with the addition of the super flexible signal stick antenna, I just pop the antenna up, and I am ready to go. If I need more gain, I can add a JPole to the mast that holds the MeshNode. I have future plans to add an old android phone to the kit so that I can use it as a small portable computer, and also install an IP phone app to access our PBX system and leave that fully charged in the case. if you have any comments or questions about the Portable node, Please leave a comment below.

Plano field locker Mesh node case

Mesh node case

Portable Mesh unit

this is my portable Mesh unit

Portable AREDN Mesh Kit

Portable AREDN Mesh Kit

Portable AREDN Mesh Kit

Portable AREDN Mesh Kit