Mesh Station

Introduction

Mesh Stations provides the basic communication and storage infrastructure to the community cluster, they form the core network that all other stations rely on for communication and storage.

Mesh Stations give your Private Cyberspace communication bandwidth at revolutionary price points by combining free yet featureful OpenWrt software with low cost yet powerful WiFi router hardware:

1. Mesh Station Positioning

computestation

2. Reference Implementation

Mesh Stations are currently based on the Openwrt software, which supports more than 2000 devices, each year we select some as our Mesh Station reference implementation:

  1. MS21 - Mesh Station 2021
  2. MS22 - Mesh Station 2022
  3. MS23 - Mesh Station 2023

Mesh Stations can be very small in size, the MS21 (58x58mm) is SMALLER than a credit card (85x35mm) looking from top, and very low cost at only AU$33.06 shipped.

mesh_size

All Reference implementations are supported worldwide indefinitely (even if they are no longer being manufactured) and can participate in our buy back scheme so some one else can benefit from them when you have finished with them.

Alternative Hardware

Openwrt supports more than 2000 devices, beyond the reference mesh stations above, there are many hardware options for different applications and markets.

The idea is for everyone to participate and more importantly OWN a part of the community's communication and storage infrastructure.

Model Processor Ram Rom WiFi Ethernet USB Price
GL.iNet GL-AR300M16 QCA9531 650MHz 128M 16M 300M 2 x 100M 1 x USB2 33.06
GL.iNET GL-AR300M16-Ext QCA9531 650MHz 128M 16M 300M 2 x 100M 1 x USB2 37.31
GL.iNet GL-AR750 QCA9531 650MHz 128M 16M 300M + 443M 3 x 100M 1 x USB2 + 1 x uSD 44.90
GL.iNet GL-AR750S QCA9563 775MHz 128M 16M 300M + 443M 3 x 1G 1 x USB2 + 1 x uSD 71.39
TP-Link A6 v3 MT7621DAT 880Mhz 128M 16M 400M + 867M 5 x 1G 78.80
GL.iNet GL-B1300 IPQ4028 717MHz 256M 32M 400M + 867M 3 x 1G 1 x USB3 89.90
GL.iNet GL-MT1300 MT7615D 880Mhz 256M 32M 400M + 867M 3 x 1G 1 x USB3 + 1 x uSD 95.20

Prices above in Australian Dollars are on 22-Dec-2022 at amazon.com.au with free delivery for all orders above AU$39.

Mesh Station Addons

Buttons

All Mesh Stations have at least one programmable button to gather physical input.

  1. Push Buttons: [OpenWrt Wiki] Attach functions to a push button

USB

All Mesh Stations have at least one USB port for attachment of USB devices.

  1. Camera: [OpenWrt Wiki] USB Video Support
  2. Bluetooth: [OpenWrt Wiki] USB Bluetooth support

A bluetooth adapter is particularly useful as it can support many different bluetooth devices from a single USB port.

WiFi

All Mesh Stations can communicate with most WiFi devices.

Gather information from them e.g. uptime, video etc.
Controlling them

Headers

Some Mesh Stations like MS23 has headers for easy attachment of GPIO devices.

  1. GPIO: [OpenWrt Wiki] GPIO

Mesh Station Functions

1. WiFi Mesh

The WiFi on all Mesh Stations have the dual purpose of letting you access the Internet (as an Access Point) as well as being relaying neighbourhood data traffic (as a Mesh Node).

Details:

2. Bluetooth Beacon

Mesh Stations can act as both a Beacon sending out bluetooth UUIDs as well as bluetooth Detector identifying Bluetooth signals closed by.

Detect:

Broadcast Beacon:

3. Access Router

4. File Server

A SMB based disk server backed by the power of infinite disk.

Samba on Top

Rclone Underneath

To provide storage to Samba on top, we are using "Rclone Mount" to a s3 compatible Infinite Disk. But Rclone Sync can also be used to backup a local Samba directory to a s3 compatible Infinite Disk.

Rclone Storage Backends

s3 is the default:

but Rclone supports a large number of other remote storage systems:

You do NOT have to attach to Infinite Disk, you can attach your rclone to any of the above.

Rclone Addictive Backends

Show multiple remotes side by side at the top-level:

Merge multiple remotes top to bottom using rules:

5. Storage Node

You can offer any spare storage you have in your Mesh Station to Infinite Disk by acting as a storage node.

Currently ext4 file system with TRIM once a day is the default, although some tests are being performed using F2FS as an alternative (which unlike UBIFS operates with FTL in the middle).

There are 2 OpenWrt packages:

  1. Infinite Disk Block Storage Module
    For storing of blocks in separate read only and read write areas, in order to protect previous data versions.
  2. Infinite Disk Block Link Module
    For block read write operations on low bandwidth, high latency, high loss links.

6. Managed Node

To enable remote management by OpenWISP.
https://openwisp.io/docs/user/configure-device.html

Mesh Station 2021 (MS21)

GL.iNET GL-AR300M16 is reference implementation of a low-cost Mesh Station for the year 2021 (MS21).

MS21

  1. https://www.gl-inet.com/products/gl-ar300m/
  2. https://docs.gl-inet.com/en/2/hardware/ar300m/
  3. https://openwrt.org/toh/gl.inet/gl-ar300m
  4. [OpenWrt Wiki] Techdata: GL.iNet GL-AR300M v1.4.0
  5. GL.iNet GL-AR300M - TechInfoDepot

There is NO power supply (available separately for about AU$12). This is great for plugging into USB ports in the car or laptop.

Note there is another GL-AR300M16 model with external antennas, so has "Ext" at the end of the model name (GL-AR300M16-Ext). Although its removable antennas enables higher gain antennas to be swapped in to reach more neighbours when placed outdoors, in such a situation we prefer to add an extra high gain USB WiFi Adapter to the plain GL-AR300M16 model instead.

1. Purchase

AU$44.90 - the price includes tax, transport and USB cable (no power supply).
https://shop.oztralia.com/

Look out for frequent special deals, we bought a few at ONLY AU$33.06 in Jan-2023. If you are not a Prime member, ordering one more unit will get you free transport.

ms21_price

2. Price Performance

Unless you really need GL-AR300M16's small size and low power, the GL-AR750 (MS23) is a better deal with power supply, microSD slot and 5GHz radio.

Mesh Station 2022 (MS22)

GL.iNet GL-B1300 is used in the reference implementation of a medium-cost Mesh Station in year 2022 (MS22).

ms22

The USB 3 port allows portable harddisks and other high current devices to be attached easily (e.g. reducing the need to use bulky USB desktop drives that require separate power supplies).

  1. GL-B1300 / Convexa-B - GL.iNet
  2. GL-B1300 - GL.iNet Docs
  3. [OpenWrt Wiki] GL.iNet GL-B1300
  4. [OpenWrt Wiki] Techdata: GL.iNet GL-B1300

Mesh Station 2023 (MS23)

GL.iNet GL-AR750 is used in the reference implementation of a Mesh Station in year 2023 (MS23).

ms23

The simultaneous dual band provides an extra 5Ghz channel for secondary traffic away from primary traffic on the 2.4G channel.

  1. https://www.gl-inet.com/products/gl-ar750/
  2. GL-AR750 Series - GL.iNet Docs
  3. https://openwrt.org/toh/gl.inet/gl-ar750
  4. [OpenWrt Wiki] Techdata: GL.iNet GL-AR750
  5. GL.iNet GL-AR750 - TechInfoDepot

Note this is AR750 not AR750S. This is the cheaper model with only 100M ethernet we are using mostly as Internal Node to be placed inside buildings.

1. Purchase

AU$59.99 - the price includes tax, transport and Australian power supply.
https://shop.oztralia.com/product/mesh-station-2023/

Look out for frequent special deals, we bought a few at ONLY AU$44.99 in Jan-2023.

discount

2. Setup Guide

https://docs.gl-inet.com/en/3/setup/gl-ar750/first_time_setup/

3. Hardware Customisation

Processor

Headers

The I2C and UART interfaces inside the GL-AR750 enables it to be expanded with thousands of add-ons.

GL-AR750_Inside

Adding header is NOT for the faint hearted, you have to open the case yourself.

Note location of the headers are just underneath the 5G antenna, so if you are attaching cables to them, then do NOT screw the cover back fully, leave a gap so the cables do NOT touch the antenna above it.