FAQ

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Table of contents
  1. 1. General
    1. 1.1. What is this site about?
    2. 1.2. What is Mesh Networking?
    3. 1.3. What is R.O.B.IN?
      1. 1.3.1. What is B.A.T.M.A.N?
      2. 1.3.2. What is OLSR?
    4. 1.4. What is a ROBIN node?
    5. 1.5. Does Meraki use the same mesh technology as ROBIN, are they compatible?
    6. 1.6. What are the differences between Meraki and ROBIN meshes?
    7. 1.7. Can I purchase a router with the ROBIN firmware pre-installed?
    8. 1.8. Do I have to purchase a special router?
    9. 1.9. Can I use my La Fonera router?
    10. 1.10. Does ROBIN support Wi-Fi MIMO?
    11. 1.11. What wifi standard does ROBIN use?
    12. 1.12. What is the Wifi range of ROBIN?
  2. 2. Setup / Configuration
    1. 2.1. Setup Suggestions for 50+ nodes
    2. 2.2. Radius
    3. 2.3. Traffic Shaping
    4. 2.4. Expanding the Network
    5. 2.5. Ethernet port performance
    6. 2.6. Broadcast ESSID
    7. 2.7. "bad" neighbors/public
  3. 3. Support
    1. 3.1. ROBIN Routers
      1. 3.1.1. Where can i get support for ROBIN?
      2. 3.1.2. How do I upgade the kernel?
      3. 3.1.3. My Apple Mac and wifi cell phone connect but after a while they disconnect why?
      4. 3.1.4. I have a slow connection speed (400kbps) through ROBIN routers
    2. 3.2. Open-Mesh Dashboard
      1. 3.2.1. What is a dashboard?
      2. 3.2.2. Where do I find the dashboard?
      3. 3.2.3. My nodes won't connect to the dashboard?
      4. 3.2.4. My ROBIN node has more than one MAC address, which one do I use?
      5. 3.2.5. Do I need to use a Dashboard
      6. 3.2.6. How do i use the dashboard?
      7. 3.2.7. Why am I unable to access my LAN from my Open-Mesh network ?
      8. 3.2.8. What is the "Fixed WiFi Rate" on the Dashboard for?
      9. 3.2.9. Problems adding a node to the dashboard
      10. 3.2.10. I can not see my nodes on Open-Mesh Google map
      11. 3.2.11. What User Activity Does Open-Mesh Log?

  1. 1. General
    1. 1.1. What is this site about?
    2. 1.2. What is Mesh Networking?
    3. 1.3. What is R.O.B.IN?
      1. 1.3.1. What is B.A.T.M.A.N?
      2. 1.3.2. What is OLSR?
    4. 1.4. What is a ROBIN node?
    5. 1.5. Does Meraki use the same mesh technology as ROBIN, are they compatible?
    6. 1.6. What are the differences between Meraki and ROBIN meshes?
    7. 1.7. Can I purchase a router with the ROBIN firmware pre-installed?
    8. 1.8. Do I have to purchase a special router?
    9. 1.9. Can I use my La Fonera router?
    10. 1.10. Does ROBIN support Wi-Fi MIMO?
    11. 1.11. What wifi standard does ROBIN use?
    12. 1.12. What is the Wifi range of ROBIN?
  2. 2. Setup / Configuration
    1. 2.1. Setup Suggestions for 50+ nodes
    2. 2.2. Radius
    3. 2.3. Traffic Shaping
    4. 2.4. Expanding the Network
    5. 2.5. Ethernet port performance
    6. 2.6. Broadcast ESSID
    7. 2.7. "bad" neighbors/public
  3. 3. Support
    1. 3.1. ROBIN Routers
      1. 3.1.1. Where can i get support for ROBIN?
      2. 3.1.2. How do I upgade the kernel?
      3. 3.1.3. My Apple Mac and wifi cell phone connect but after a while they disconnect why?
      4. 3.1.4. I have a slow connection speed (400kbps) through ROBIN routers
    2. 3.2. Open-Mesh Dashboard
      1. 3.2.1. What is a dashboard?
      2. 3.2.2. Where do I find the dashboard?
      3. 3.2.3. My nodes won't connect to the dashboard?
      4. 3.2.4. My ROBIN node has more than one MAC address, which one do I use?
      5. 3.2.5. Do I need to use a Dashboard
      6. 3.2.6. How do i use the dashboard?
      7. 3.2.7. Why am I unable to access my LAN from my Open-Mesh network ?
      8. 3.2.8. What is the "Fixed WiFi Rate" on the Dashboard for?
      9. 3.2.9. Problems adding a node to the dashboard
      10. 3.2.10. I can not see my nodes on Open-Mesh Google map
      11. 3.2.11. What User Activity Does Open-Mesh Log?

 

General

What is this site about?

This wiki is dedicated to mesh networking, in particular, ROBIN mesh networking.

What is Mesh Networking?

A loose definition of mesh networking is: a group of nodes that are loosly coupled together in order that data may transit the network from one point to the next. In practical terms, ROBIN mesh networks are used to provide Internet access without needing every router attached to an Internet uplink. The mesh network will route packets to the nearest "gateway". 

What is R.O.B.IN?

Routing Olsr Batman INside is an Open Source mesh network project, deployed on top of OpenWRT kamikaze, running on Atheros AP51 routers. Routers known to work are: Accton, La Fonera, Ubiquiti, Engenius and Wiligear. Support for Meraki devices has effectively stopped due to licensing problems with newer devices.

To create meshing between routers a daemon needs to be installed. With ROBIN there are two choices:

  • BATMAN (ROBIN version 1.4 beta and below)
  • OLSR (ROBIN version 1.4 and 1.5 beta)

What is B.A.T.M.A.N?

BATMAN is an acronym for Better Approach To Mobile Ad-hoc Networking and is a new routing protocol for multi-hop ad-hoc mesh networks. For more information see https://www.open-mesh.net/batman

What is OLSR?

The olsr.org OLSR daemon is an implementation of the Optimized Link State Routing protocol. As such it allows mesh routing for any network equipment. OLSR is a routing protocol for mobile ad-hoc networks. The protocol is pro-active, table driven and utilizes a technique called multipoint relaying for message flooding. olsrd also implements a popular optional link quality extension. See http://www.olsr.org/

What is a ROBIN node?

It is a wireless router flashed with with ROBIN firmware. There are two types of nodes:

When a router is powered up it looks for a DHCP server on the eth0 port (ethernet). If a DHCP server is not found the node becomes a "repeater". If a DHCP server is found then the node becomes a "gateway".

Does Meraki use the same mesh technology as ROBIN, are they compatible?

No, they are not compatible.

What are the differences between Meraki and ROBIN meshes?

Meraki uses ExOR (technical description available here).

Can I purchase a router with the ROBIN firmware pre-installed?

Yes! Go over to http://www.open-mesh.com. For Europe, www.open-mesh.es

Do I have to purchase a special router?

This question is asked a lot by people trying to recycle their WRT54G routers. The answer is, YES! Although you don't have to buy a particular brand, the router must be Atheros AP51 based. ROBIN uses "adhoc demo" mode for the underlying mesh-network communication between routers.

Can I use my La Fonera router?

Yes. There are currently two models that are known to work with the ROBIN firmware: 2100a/b/c and 2200. Flashing these routers is easy to do, just follow this howto. The thing to keep in mind is the 2100 routers do not come with RedBoot enabled on Ethernet, whereas the 2200s do. This means that there are a few extra steps to do prior to flashing the 2100s. Additionally, the 2100s run a lot hotter than the 2200s. Other sources of information: http://fonerahacks.com/  http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/LaFonera and http://wiki.openwrt.org/

Does ROBIN support Wi-Fi MIMO?

No.

What wifi standard does ROBIN use?

802.11g

What is the Wifi range of ROBIN?

This is a difficult question to answer. It depends on hardware and environment. Hardware devices used for ROBIN could be devided into 3 categories

  • Low Power up to 100mW (Accton MR3201a and OM1P)
  • Medium Power up to 500mW (WiliGear WBD-500, Engenius EOC-1650)
  • High Power up to 1000mW (Ubiquiti Pico2-HP, EnGenius EOC-2610)
  •  

     Low Power Device
    Indoor 130 ft (40 m), outdoor (LOS, Line-Of-Sight) 300 ft (100 m) at 11Mbps
    Indoor 80 ft (25 m), outdoor (LOS, Line-Of-Sight) 200 ft (60 m) at 54Mbps

     

     High Power Device
    Indoor 650 ft (200 m), outdoor (LOS, Line-Of-Sight) 1300 ft (400 m) at 11Mbps

     

    The distances quoted above are best case scenario's and are for indiction only.

    Range calculation software: http://www.cplus.org/rmw/english1.html

Setup / Configuration

Setup Suggestions for 50+ nodes

A network with 50+ nodes and only 2 backhauls is going to work like a dog. Even multi-thousand dollar mesh units from companies like BelAir, SkyPilot, Tropos Networks, etc. would under perform in this configuration.

Approximately 1 Gateway for every 5 Repeaters. 

Clear line of site between gateways and repeaters that are more than 400ft apart. This assumes a decent omni antenna, clean installation, etc.

It is strongly suggested you add 10 backhaul radios in order to create 10 remote gateways. We typically do this at 5GHz which means you need 100% clear line of site between the AP and the SM.

This can be a simple as putting up a 3 sector RocketM5 array at a central "tower site" with clear line of site to remote units. Be sure to rotate the RocketM5 freqencies at least 40Mhz (i.e. 5180, 5220, 5260, etc).

Radius

Q. Radius (I think that it's possible now?) 

A. Yes, There are several solutions available plus you can run your own if you wish.

Traffic Shaping

Q. Traffic Shaping - I assume that any traffic shaping solution that works based on packet type, etc. will be OK if it is located somewhere that it captures all gateway traffic? I'm slightly concerned from what I read and seem to understand about lack of IP level control since the nodes do their own DHCP?

A. Currently the only traffic control you have is being able to limit the amount of bandwidth that is available on AP1, public ap. If you want to do additional shaping you'll need additional hardware at the dsl/cable interfaces. The most popular inexpensive devices are Linksys WRT54GL flashed with DD-WRT or OpenWRT

Expanding the Network

Q. My city has a small public wifi project and I'd like to expand it with my deployment. Is there any way to direct all open-mesh "public" traffic to that gateway, while having all other users on a my own, bigger pipe(s)?

A. Not really, all of the traffic ends up at gateway that is closest to the node the user is attached at. There's not an easy way to direct the traffic to a specific gateway.

Ethernet port performance

Q. I gather that each CPE can provide mesh connectivity plus wifi AP functionality for the user location. Would there be a performance improvement if I *only* let users connect through the ethernet port for fixed private access? Can they hookup their own wifi gear to the ethernet port?

A. Yes you can setup nodes that way, but there isn't much of a benefit to not use the public AP. Also, there is no way to shut off AP1. It's always there and broadcasting it's SSID. As for hooking there wife gear to the enet port. Yes it should work, but if there access point is to close to the mesh AP then it can cause major problems due to the interference.

Broadcast ESSID

Q. As an extension to the above, I might like to NOT broadcast the ESSID for the private network and use that only for the mesh (I assume that's the way the mesh clients connect to each other?). Can the CPE units probe for a "secret" shared network name? I'd still like them to broadcast the public ESSID. 

A. Actually each OM node can have up to three wireless networks. AP0 is the MESH network that the APs use to communicate with each other, AP1 is the public AP and AP2 is the private network. AP2 can have it's SSID broadcast turned off and a couple other options, but it doesn't have any RAIDUS support.

"bad" neighbors/public

Q. How much can individual nodes be impacted by "bad" neighbors/public users running PTP and such? Or generally how much can they be strained if they are the only hop avail to a gateway (God forbid) for 5 other users and/or if they are popular spot for public users? 

A. When using a RAIUS solution you can define the amount of bandwith each user can use. You can set it to cut off very heavy users after a certain amount of xfer. It is possible to have one user that is hogging bandwidth though and there is not a whole lot that can be done.

Support

ROBIN Routers

How do I upgade the kernel?

There are two ways of upgrading the kernel.

  1. Manually flashing your router
  2. Auto update over the internet

My Apple Mac and wifi cell phone connect but after a while they disconnect why?

Computers without hostnames (mac's without file sharing turned on, wifi enabled cell phones, etc) Do not show up on the dashboard under AP1 users. This is a bug yet to be fixed.

I have a slow connection speed (400kbps) through ROBIN routers

The default download/upload limit is 400 Kbits/sec on the open-mesh.com dashboard. Change to the desired speed form the dashboard. The max speed is 11Mbps (Adhoc demo) but typical speed ranges between 5 - 9Mpbs

Open-Mesh Dashboard

What is a dashboard?

A Dashboard is used to control, configure and display information about ROBIN nodes

Where do I find the dashboard?

http://www.open-mesh.com/dashboard.php

My nodes won't connect to the dashboard?

To connect you node with the dashboard you need to enter the node MAC or IP address sometimes stamped on the bottom of the device. The most common error with connecting nodes to the dashboard is entering the incorrect MAC or IP address . It is possiable use the node IP address but don't only use the MAC address.

My ROBIN node has more than one MAC address, which one do I use?

Sometimes routers (ROBIN nodes) come stamped with two or more MAC address's. You need to use the LAN or WAN port address (eth0). If you can SSH into the router run this command and use the resulting MAC address.

ifconfig eth0

Do I need to use a Dashboard

No. If you don't use a dashboard you will only be able the use the default values.

How do i use the dashboard?

You need to add all the ROBIN nodes in a network, both gateways and repeaters

Why am I unable to access my LAN from my Open-Mesh network ?

The most common reason for not being able to access your LAN from your OM network is due to the "Gateway LAN Block" being enabled on the Advanced settings of the dashboard. Disabling this will allow you to access your LAN. Please note that this option effects AP1 "Public AP" and AP2 "Private AP"

What is the "Fixed WiFi Rate" on the Dashboard for?

Depending on the network layout of your nodes you may see nodes with a lot of Yellow or Red for the node status. Selecting this option fixes the WiFi rate that the nodes talk at to 5.5Mb which is the lowest rate that 802.11G can operate at. While this will increase the range of your network it can dramatically decrease the bandwidth of the network.

Problems adding a node to the dashboard

To fix the problem contact mike at mike@open-mesh.com

We are in the process of converting the server completely to use macs, but some routines still use IP addresses which can conflict cross-vendor.

This error means that there is already an Accton node with the same IP as the reflashed Meraki or FON you are using.

I can not see my nodes on Open-Mesh Google map

There is a fault between web browser and the open-mesh dashboard. A possible solution is to clear your cache and cookies and restart your browser. Another  solution is to use a different browser. The bug has so far only been reported with Firefox.

What User Activity Does Open-Mesh Log?

Open-Mesh tracks only the computer MAC address (and the computer name if given in the DHCP leases file).  Usage tracking is only aggregate bytes up and down.  We do not track, store, save or in anyway know about anything else, and even the above aggregate data is only tracked and saved for 24 hours.

On open reports, we mask significant parts of the MAC address and do NOT show the computer name.  To see this info, you must be the network administrator of have that password.

We do not track what sites users visit.  For USA users, we can not help with CALEA compliance.  For that, you will need to use a third-party captive-portal solution such as WiFi-CPA.  For non-USA users, please be assured we are not violating your or your users' privacy. 



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