Braving the wind, rain, and cold, a band of PittMesh volunteers ascended a last-century house overlooking the Monongahela alley to install some decidedly this-century wireless radios.
This second node, which sits on a house perched upon the cliff over Interstate 376 in Oakland, has perfect line-of-sight to PittMesh’s original node atop HackPittsburgh and a third new node in Allentown, above the South Side Slopes. In total, the network now spans almost two miles.
This second node is also unique in that the host, to whom we are extremely grateful, is not technologically-minded but was excited enough about the idea of PittMesh that he volunteered his roof. Ultimately, this is the type of host that will be needed to make a large-scale mesh network work. While we are certainly attracting attention from the nerdier demographic in town, a far-flung wireless network cannot rely on just those with Cisco certifications to survive. Node hosting must be taken up by librarians, plumbers, nannies, and stay-at-home moms to be successful and we thank our second host for being the first example of this kind of PittMesh member!
Thanks to the funds from Pittsburgh’s Awesome Foundation, we were able to purchase new tools such as metal snips, ratcheting wrenches, and heavy gloves, making the installation easier, faster, tighter, and with a lot less cuts on fingers.
Installation is becoming easier for the team. The original installation at HackPittsburgh took eight people an entire day to set up. Ultimately, the weather proved too strong for the hacked-together antenna mount. With more research about how to properly mount radio equipment, the volunteers employed stronger mounts and cut installation to approximately four hours with four people.
In the upcoming months, META MESH is aiming to connect Allentown, the Southside Flats, Oakland, and the Hill District with its backhaul network, begin deploying nodes that use mesh routing protocols in these neighborhoods, and begin hosting services out onto the network.
If you live in these areas and are interested in hosting a node, please contact us through our contact form at MetaMesh.org.
Photo by Heather Kresge.