Experiments in 915 MHz Mesh Networking – Meshtastic

From Dennis Jones, AL5K

Over the past several weeks, some members of the Anchorage Amateur Radio Club have begun to experiment with text-based mesh networking using the Meshtastic protocol and low-cost portable mesh nodes. At the current time, we have about 7 nodes active around Anchorage and would like to welcome anyone with an interest to jump in and help us expand the network. The Meshtastic network consists of small independently hosted devices that will self-organize into an ad-hoc communications network that can interface via smartphone (Bluetooth or computer) to provide grid-independent text communications and optional location information. Due to the self-configuring nature of a mesh network, the more nodes that exist, the more robust the network can be. This mode of communication uses the LoRa Chirp Spread Spectrum protocol in the 915 MHz range (33cm amateur band) to provide long-range, low power, low bandwidth communication through the network. This service may be used as both licensed or unlicensed due to a lot of crossover in that part of the radio spectrum; so, unless one needs to use high power or some other parameter that would push them into needing the licensed portion of the service, you can even get started with this before acquiring your radio license!

Currently, we have a couple of nodes high up on the south Anchorage hillside and several other nodes around town. As more people join the network and host their own nodes, it will be interesting to flesh out the possibilities of this type of mesh network in south-central Alaska. Due to their self-relaying nature, the potential exists to create a fairly robust local system and it will be interesting to experiment with what this technology can offer.

If you are interested in checking this out for yourself I will list some resources, both for the hardware and for personal research. The cost to get involved and start experimenting is reasonable and there are a lot of resources available to help you get started. I will also list the minimum device settings that you’ll need to set up to see the existing network after acquiring your hardware.

Meshtastic website:

Additional info:

KI6NAZ also has a good introduction video to Meshtastic/LoRa:

One source for hardware (AliExpress also supplies compatible boards etc.): **I would recommend purchasing one of the boards with the ESP32 chip as this provides some potential added functionality

These are the necessary device settings for interfacing with the existing KL7AA mesh chat channel:
In your Meshtastic app under “settings”
LoRa Config:
Region: United States
Presets: Long Range – Fast (Default)
LoRa Channel Number: 20

Name: KL7AA
Key Size: Default

This should allow you to interact with the existing network group chat channel and see other nodes that your device can hear directly with the same settings. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to myself (Dennis – AL5K,, or Kent Petty.