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Quick Start Guide

  1. Please read the BBHN Getting Started Overview first, so you understand what BBHN is and is not, and make sure that you review the operating rules and understand them.     
  2. Do your site planning first, this will help you determine what antenna you will need and where you will need to point it. You can do site planning by:
    1. Locate your QTH on Google Earth
    2. Find other nodes near your QTH that are candidates as neighbor nodes (TriValley Mesh Node Map).  This is a map of interested parties - you'll need to confirm with the individual call sign to see if a node is active at that location.
    3. Calculate your distance and azimuthal angles.
    4. Review the Terrain Profile to ensure you have a clear LOS.
    5. Calculate Path Loss so you can determine what antenna gain needs to be.
  3. Procure your equipment, you'll need:
    1. BBHN compatible Router (Typically, Linksys WRT54G, GS, or GL - check the version numbers, as only particular versions are compatible).
    2. High Gain Antenna - Typically, you'll need an antenna that 14db or higher for distances.   Typically, the Panel and Yagi antennas are highly directional with around 12-16db of gain (the advertising on Ebay usually overstates the gain),  The Cantenna and other waveguides are a bit less.  The omni-directional antennas need to be 15db or higher, which means you'll need to get a commercial version.  The consumer ones are usually 8 db gain, and may not be enough.  A good choice is to use a satellite or BBQ dish style antenna, as you can acheive 20db+ of gain.  Note that the stock antennas are pretty worthless for this app. 
    3. Antenna connector adapters - You need to keep the cable between the antenna and router as short as possible, preferably using no cable at all.  2.4 Ghz has very high loss on HF coax (23db/100 feet for RG-8x, even LMR-400 has 6.8db/100feet).   Do not use a cable longer than 1 meter.  Additionally, the connectors are a major PITA.  The Linksys routers use RP-TNC connectors, and many antennas use either RP-SMA or N connectors.   You can find adapters on Ebay or Amazon, but you'll need to do some research to get the right ones.  Luckily, they are around $3-$5/connector.
    4. Mast/Enclosure - Given the short cable, you'll need to mount the antenna and router together up on a mast, similar to a LNA.  The optimal height will be determined by the site planning you did in Step 2.   Since this will be outdoors, you'll most likely need an outdoor enclosure for the router.  You'll need to run power and an ethernet cable to the router.  Do some googling to see the various options.     
    5. PC or Laptop - you will want to connect router to a PC or laptop via a wired ethernet connection. 
    6. Power - most of the routers use a wall wart that is 12vdc. (some are 5v, so make sure that you know which is which, as you can fry a 5v version with 12 volts - trust me, I've done it already.   The routers will also work fine with a battery and/or solar panel.  I have done some back of the envelope calculations, and you are most likely in the 10 watt range, but you'll need to do the calculation for yourself.
  4. Setup and configure the router
    1. Get the appropriate firmware for your router and do a firmware upgrade.
    2. Once the router reboots with the new firmware, connect to the router (http://localnode:8080), and set the node name. I've been using my call sign (required) with a node number (i.e.  <callsign>-<number> - example: KK6DF-100, KK6DF-101, etc).  I would recommend the same format.
    3. You don't need to do any other configuration at this point.
  5. Put everything together (antenna, mast, router, etc.) and point it at a working mesh node.   If everything works correctly, then it should automagically connect and register itself into the mesh.
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