NEW: Quick getting started guide for setting up an outdoor mesh node

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Step by step guide to getting onto Pretoria network


The first edition of "Wireless Networking in the Deveolping World" is available as e-book now. Prints can be
ordered on demand at The e-book is available at no cost under a creative commons license.
Get your copy at wndw or locally and share it.

Step 1. Check where you are on the planet:

Your very first step is to find your current position on a map and then see what other wireless nodes are nearby. The best way to do this is to get a GPS and find out your coordinates and then to enter these into google earth - you can also use google earth to find your coordinates by identifying your house on the satellite image.

Step 2. Check who else is around that you can connect to

Once you have entered your google earth position - have a look at the positions of other wifi installations around you. For the Pretoria Mesh we have stored all the google earth positions in this file. You can also have a look on sites like NodeDB to see if there are other wireless installations near you. Once you have identified someone that you want to connect to, the best way to check connectivity is to use a WiFi sniffer such as netsumbler for windows or Kismet on linux loaded on a laptop with a Wifi card fitted with an external antenna. Find the highest point at your house such as your roof and slowly rotate the directional antenna around you to see if you can pick up any WiFi access points. You will want to find an access point that is in ad-hoc mode and is mesh enabled - the wifi sniffer will tell you if the wireless node is in ad-hoc mode but you will have to contact the owner to check what mesh protocol, if any, they are running.

For the Pretoria network you will be looking for any node with the SSID: ptamesh

Step 3. Build a mesh node

Now that you know where you are located and you have hopefully found someone you can connect to, you will need to construct your mesh hardware. Have a look at the diagram at the top of the wiki for a description of all the components that make up an installation. Below is a shopping list of all the components together with the suppliers that provide them and prices.

Shopping list

× Item description Supplier Supplier Stock Code Quantity type Cost Quantity Total
1 1.5m 38mm Aluminium mast MIRO AP-38x150 EACH R40.00 1 R40.00
2 Wall Bracket - Large - 250mm (tripod) MIRO WB-250-15 EACH R45.00 1 R45.00
3 Coach screw with wall plug MIRO COACH EACH R2.00 3 R6.00
4 50mm U Bolt (Mast to Wall Bracket) MIRO UB-50 EACH R3.50 2 R7.00
5 LMR400 Cable (per Meter) - Loss 0.2dB /m MIRO LMR195 METERS R20.00 3 R60.00
6 N-Type (Male) Connector for LMR400 Cable MIRO N(m)-400xxx EACH R50.00 2 R100.00
7 Weather Proof Box ROSS xxx EACH R90 1 R70.00
8 12dBi Yagi Antenna - 2.4GHz MIRO PA-12-YAGE EACH R240 1 R240.00
9 UV Resistant Ethernet cable /m Compucable xxx METERS R2.50 20 R50.00
10 Ethernet connector and jacket Compucable xxx EACH R1.48 2 R2.96
11 Pigtail RP TNC - N FEM Bulkhead WEBB xxx EACH R160.00 1 R160.00
12 No 0 13mm Gland ROSS xxx EACH R15.00 1 R15.00
13 Linksys WRT54GL MIRO LS-WRT54GL EACH R515.00 1 R515.00
14 3.5mm Power Jack ROSS xxx EACH R2.50 1 R2.50
15 Power over Ethernet Injector (CAT5) - Base - no PSU MIRO 12V-POE EACH R90.00 1 R90.00
TOTAL R1403.46
VAT R196.48

Tools and accessories needed

× Item description Purpose
1 GPS Establish coordinates of site
2 Signal measurement device Measure signal strength to establish Antenna gain required
3 >650W Drill For Drilling holes to mount wall bracket
4 11mm Masonary drill bit For Drilling holes to mount wall bracket
5 Duck tape To secure box on mast
6 Ethernet crimping tool To build custom ethernet cable length from box to PC in house
7 Size 10 Spanner For Antenna bracket nuts and U bolt nuts
8 Size 13 Spanner For Coach screws
9 Flat Screwdriver To open waterproof enclosure
10 HT Tape To seal RF connectors at Box and antenna
11 Ladder Best to use this instead of pole vaulting onto roof
12 13mm Hole sore To drill 13mm hole for N-Type Bulk head and gland for ethernet