Wireless Summit 2012 – Day 1 SL

Nice and sunny weather in Barcelona goes very well with the International wireless summit for Community wireless networks 2012 and the interesting topics presented. The highlight of the first day is definitely the talk by Ben Scott, with inspirational examples and stories how a few people can get together with a good idea and change the world.

I have participated with two short Lightning talk presentations, updating the participants on the wlan slovenija network development and activities. Telemetry and telecontrol device has stirred the community, so we are following up the short presentation today with an hour long hackspace session to determine how such a device can be used and discuss possible production steps.

You are all welcome to attend the conference online through live video stream.

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GSoC 2012: Modular nodewatcher SL

Among projects accepted for Google Summer of Code 2012 was also development of core components for the next version of nodewatcher platform, version 3.0. While version 2.0 was developed for needs of wlan slovenija network, the goal of version 3.0 is to establish a customizable platform for planning, deployment, monitoring, maintenance, and management of open but diverse wireless networks. The main idea is modularity of the platform on all levels so that each network can completely adapt its installation to needs, use cases, goals, and values of the network. Practice has shown that all this varies between networks and communities and that it is impossible to develop an "one size fits all" solution by itself. Based on this, nodewatcher 3.0 will not be only one solution, but customizable platform with ecosystem of modules and communities around it.

The rest of this blog entry presents description of the architecture of all components from which the new platform is made.

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New painted antennas SL

Antennas have once again proved to be an excellent painting surface. Six new colorful antennas, two of which are already set and functioning, have joined the three antennas painted before. Two of them are painted with leaves, which try to camouflage them or just connect them with the natural environment. The third one is decorated with four birds, which hopefully won't be confusing the real birds, and the next two are covered in abstract ornaments. The biggest antenna, about meter and a half in diameter, is painted with a slightly modified wlan slovenija logo so it will additionally promote the network. The last one is painted with a city scene, because it is currently in Ljubljana and is still awaiting its placement. wlan slovenija antennas are being painted in order to diversify the environment of the growing wlan slovenija network and make it more noticeable. Everyone is welcome to participate in the network, from painting to soldering.

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DIY 5GHz dish feed and inverted Bullet M5 mounting SL

Increasing popularity of digital and cable TV has decreased the popularity of satellite TV reception, leaving quite a few satellite dishes unused and full of dust. They can be modified for use in WiFi networks, also for the 5GHz band.

I have modified a satellite dish per instructions and photos of ham radio operator YU1AW for 3D corner 5GHz dish feed. Read more.

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Coverage stickers SL

Besides t-shirts and badges, a part of the funds acquired from the Youth in action project was also allocated to make stickers, that are primarily meant to mark areas with wlan slovenija signal coverage. These stickers will be given to anyone who has (or plans to) set up a network node. We will also have them at our workshops and other events where you can take them for free.

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SFP module teardown SL

Internet access is a very inportant aspect of our lives, mainly possible due to a huge number of fibre optical links, transversing the whole globe. We rarely pay attention what makes such connectivity possible, thus I have made a SFP module teardown today, to gain some knowledge, that might be useful for a development project of mine; VALET. Technical details after these nice photos.

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International collaboration and wireless links are one of main components in wlan slovenija initiative, however they are slowly beginning to materialize as one in our efforts in the last year. Today we have established a test link with our Croatian colleagues from NEDwireless. The 65km link to Vučetinec in Croatia was a success and a good opportunity to test several systems and their performance and to meet again with friends as delegation from NEDwireless was helping also on our side. More details after photos.

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Telemetry shield PCBs arrived! SL

Finally first telemetty and telecontrol shield PCBs we have designed have been manufactured! We can now make a prototype of our platform, that is not only intended for controlling routers, but as well interfacing sensors, from thermometers to lightning detectors. It integrates with MSP430 Launchpad development board. We are also about to start the development of an enhanced version, that will be compatible with VESNA platform of SensorLab at Institute Jožef Stefan. Interested? Join the development!

We have obtained some Raspberry Pi computers, too. To play around with and find the best ways to use them in wlan slovenija network. Current ideas range from monitoring noise to RTL-SDR software defined radio receivers. Feel free to send your ideas to development mailing list.

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wlan slovenija T-shirts are here! SL

For the project Connect Without Wires, an European Commission Youth in Action programme project, with additional funds by Shuttleworth Foundation, we have had wlan slovenija t-shirts made. They have been designed by Agnieszka Rovšnik in the same spirit as we build the open network in – technical solutions in an organic way, in the colors of our logotype, grey and green variations. The t-shirts were printed at Vini d.o.o. and look how beautiful they are. And how pretty we look in them! If you want to be as pretty, too, participate in one of our workshops or grab our sleeve somewhere else. Furthermore, you will be able to order them through our webpage soon.

For the forgetful: we have badges, too!

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It's all about connectivity SL

I am using the moment of vacations on blog to publish two poems made on the wlan slovenija network theme. Author is Barbara Jurša.

It's all about connectivity. From me to you. Even this little poem
cannot exist without you, the reader. It's also helpful if it's put online,
where you can find it more easily. You don't even have to print it
and it's all here for you, for free. So let's communicate because it's joy

to do so, and let's be social change: let's propagate ideas that we can put
to use for something good. Let's share our experience as we feel we must
to be who we are: creatures who constantly need to grow, in knowledge,
understanding, and, mind you, dear reader, in love and appreciation.

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GSoC 2012: Web shop SL

In the process of updating and simplifying of website wlan slovenija and in the programs Google Summer of Code and Youth in Action, we will also set up an online store for easier distribution of ready made routers to all interested in participating in the network.

The purpose of shop is to enable and facilitate participation in the network to all who would wish to do so, especially those who would otherwise not know how to prepare their router to operate in the network. This shop, just as the entire initiative for building an open wireless network in Slovenia, will be non-profit and completely open and transparent. All costs of equipment and operation of shop will be presented directly to the buyer and she could decide how much she intends to contribute to reward the existence of the shop and support the operation and growth of the network. In addition to routers and other equipment, there will also be t-shirts, stickers and other promotional materials in the store and the possibility of direct donations, without purchase. Routers will come preloaded with wlan slovenija firmware for operating in the network, but they will not be locked-in and with some knowledge it will be possible to be configure them differently.

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JavaScript Visualization SL

Few months ago I thought that complex graphics in the browser are science fiction. Something we all wish for, yet too far away to think about it seriously. I completely changed my view recently. Not only that JavaScript engines are now fast enough (especially in Chrome), various tools for all kinds of visualization are readily available.

In fact so many of different tools exist that it was hard to choose the best for our problem. Most of them are build on top of one of four JavaScript visualization frameworks. There is no best (universal) framework though, as each have its strengths and weaknesses.

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Field day and FunkFeuer meeting in Dobl SL

On a very hot Saturday on 6th July, I went to ham radio Field day and meeting of FunkFeuer Weststeiermark under a huge antenna tower and next to the radio station Antenne in Dobl, Austria.

I saw a few known faces and got acquainted with quite a few more contributors to FunkFeuer project, enjoyed the heat, food and nice discussions about long distance wireless links, project Confine and hardware stuff. The opportunity was seized to give out a few wlan slovenija T-shirts and badges, spreading the word abroad.

The day was a success, we have discussed the last few details for establishing the wireless link Slovenija-Avstrija from mountain Pohorje, discovered a new appropriate router for use on our backbone locations, TP-Link WR842ND, that is cheap and even has an USB connector that is very suitable for our telemetry & telecontrol circuit currently in development.

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GSoC 2012: Client Side Graph Drawing SL

For GSoC 2012, I am developing a library for drawing graphs like time series, scatter plots, or networks in your browser.

Currently plots of data collected in wlan slovenija network are rendered as static images using RRDtool. The server generates image files for predefined time spans and your browser then just displays them. Now, your browser will actually transfer the data from the server to your machine, plot the image, and display it. This will allow much more interesting and interactive visualizations of data.

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Antenna Painting - QR SL

Antennas are usually white or gray. We consider them to be a piece of hardware and most people don't even notice them. Nonetheless, can antennas be interesting and visually appealing?

Around the world, more and more antennas are decorated. Some wish to merge their dishes into the environment thus they cover them with camouflage patterns, while others don't like the sight of rusty and drab antennas.

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