Pier to pier mesh network, with WiFi boats - Brighton opens third node

by Guy Kewney | posted on 26 February 2004

I'm going to show you "the smallest Meshbox in the world." But first, a nice scenic rural picture.

Guy Kewney

The nice thing about reporting on mesh installations from LocustWorld is the scenery. These boxes are supposed to create neighbourhood networks - and they do! - but mostly, they go into areas where there's no broadband - and they are normally beautiful, rural spots.

<1/> Seaside City scenery ...

Node three of the Brighton "pier to pier" mesh network has now been set up. It's outside the Brighton fishing museum, and it gives us a lovely illustration of an old boat and the tall sea-front of that old city. Which is lovely for the rest of the city-dwelling world where perhaps we don't all have such views, of course, but it rather spoils the main story.

So, in our main illustration, here, you can see a Meshbox built up on a stackable PC104 circuit. "It is dwarfed by the diminutive "standard" Meshbox, and even by a pint glass," reports PierToPier administrator Alec W in Brighton.

<1/> Even smaller than the normal Meshbox

For me, the size of the thing is given even more starkly by looking at a close-up of the board. The black stub sticking out the right side is a Compaq-branded PCMCIA WiFi card. Pint glasses are, for most UK viewers, probably an absolute scale-giving image; they really don't vary much in size. But they do vary slightly.

PC Cards, however, are all exactly the same size, and there's no mistaking how small the thing actually is.

<1/> See the PC Card sticking out?

For domestic use, these things are incredibly small, and amazingly cost-efficient. Alec found this for £224, with a built-in CF socket for memory memory. There are even cheaper ones: costs £146, or £129 if you buy 10 or more: Alec says there are "issues" with that.

And best of all, he says, was the Micro-Technic model; not because of its 308.66 Euro price, but because of its incredibly low power consumption.

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