Off-grid messaging though OpenWrt's 802.11s mesh network

Apologies if this sub-forum is not an appropriate place for this topic. Feel free to move it to the appropriate sub-forum.

This is an idea that is inspired by the devices that goTenna are selling. Is it possible to create a 'chat system' type of package that will work with OpenWrt's 802.11s mesh network?

Ideally, I would be able to send a message from my smartphone that is connected to an openwrt router. This router will then pass it on to other openwrt routers via the mesh network. Eventually, the message will arrive to someone else's smartphone that is also connected to openwrt router and pop up on it.

I can see a couple disadvantages on this type of set up. The short range of the wifi is not ideal but there are ways to extend this. Many of the routers are not 'pocket-able' but some of them are portable enough. Off-grid and open-source are what I'm after in this idea. I'm not a developer so I wouldn't have the means to make this a reality but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Here some of my input and comments

Meshtastic is a OSS project that currently allows building LoRa based Mesh networks and off-grid communication.

It uses a different mesh protocol that used in 802.11s.

The LoRa modules are used mostly over spi but you can use Meshtastic devices over USB

The radio library used even support the nRF24L012.4 GHz module, but these are not yet supported. These use 2.4 Ghz wifi for communication.

I have been testing the Meshtastic python command line utility which can be used for messaging on OpenWRT. There is also a tunnel functionality that is in pre-alhpha stage with basic IP functionality.

With regard to 802.11s some development was done with BMX7 to add a SMS like application functionality.

Oh you can also create your own DIY Meshtastic Device

I have done using ESP32 and RA-02 Lora Module and 0.96 inch I2C Oled screen

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Now that is a high-quality post and with contents I wasn't expecting to get in response to my original post.

I must apologize for not knowing what you're talking about or to be able to take full advantage of your post. LoRa is a new technology to me. Meshing is new to me, too. A few Openwrt routers and one Arduino is the limit of my knowledge on this subject. I have a smartphone. Why not tied them all together to form a chat system was my line of thinking. I will definitely look into this LoRa technology. The longer reception range and lower power requirement is certainly appealing. Thank you for highlighting an alternative off-grid and open source communication technology here.

If you don't mind answering one amateur question from me; how does one use the "ESP32 and RA-02 Lora Module and 0.96 inch I2C Oled screen" to communicate with? Do you use a smartphone to connect to it and send messages through it?

Messaging and meshing are orthogonal features. Due to the 'fun' experierences with mesaging in Windows XP, I doubt anyone will implement such a feature as part of the low-level networking system, but once you have your off-grid mesh ready, you can add local services as you like (starting from IRC/ mail up to more complex setups).

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first setup your local IP-based network or mesh in whatever way fits your need.

then setup a chat server on one of the nodes.
e.g. try
I have no experience with it, it is just a google search result.

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Thank you for that link. I did not know that is what Prosody was. It looked very promising. I did dabbled in the XMPP protocol a few years back on a PC for a different goal. I'll look into this again under this new light.

Email would be too slow, I would think. I'm realizing this is a very broad subject so let me put this in a 'box' or a scope. I'm looking for smartphone-to-smartphone chat-style communication. It would be a temporary mobile network for the day (or for the week). Camping, RV'ing, boating, events, road trips, etc, etc. Non-geek people would connect their smartphones to this self-built network and it would be easy for me to add (or disable) new accounts in Luci (or via ssh) for them. Before markbirss brought up LoRa, I wished for the routers to do all the meshing and service works. No PCs involved. There are a few routers that may be suitable for this.

But I like LoRa's promise of long range reception. Maybe, somehow, add a LoRa module to a router and have the routers talk to each other through LoRa technology. That would be a better set up for a mobile network.

I was looking at goTenna and for the most parts, their consumer products did fit the bill. I didn't want to limited my mesh network to what I buy from goTenna. Not when I have two or three routers laying around.


By default it allows paring over Bluetooth with a Metastatic Android APP (IOS app development is underway) (When you request bluetooth connection the pin is showd on the OLED, pressing a button can also set the pin to "123456" - if you possibly dont have a oled screen)

But you can also message via USB
A Web front end is also being developed

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Thanks for your answer! Is it possible to plug in the usb to the back of a router and send messages through this path?

Yes, however you need some additional space to install the required packages.

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Thank you very much for your information! That should be an interesting project for me. I'm still working on getting prosody to run properly on the router. For some reasons, the prosodyctl command is 'refusing' to let me add accounts or create certificates (it just sit there with no completions or error reports). Once I get that squared away and working through a mesh network, I'll see about adding this LoRa technology to it.