Welcome to the CSIR Meraka Institute's "COIN" Blog

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Meshcube

Here is another piece of hardware to add to our list

Advantages: Packaged mesh product
Disadvantages: Price - 1 Unit costs 199 Euros, more than double the Linksys box

FrontPage - The Mesh(cube) Wiki

For picture and specs
meshcube.org - the meshing community website

For prices
PDF with prices of kits and bits and pieces

Monday, June 28, 2004

Tswane gateway operational

Access to the Tswane network from anywhere inside the CSIR network is now possible. Read the wiki at
http://ict-intra.icomtek.csir.co.za/cgi-bin/kwiki/kwiki.cgi?MeshNetworks if you want to know how I did it. BTW, the wiki is hosted within CSIR Building 43c and is not accessible to those not on the same network. If you need access from outside, please contact me and we'll make a plan.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Setting up mobile mesh on Mandrake Linux

1. Download the source code and read documentation

This can be found here
Mobile mesh information

You need to download iproute2, GraphViz and MobileMesh

You can also find a local copy at
edna ftp server

2. Make sure that you are using g++ 2.96 compiler and libraries

Remove with RpmDrake


Install using RpmDrake


3. Unzip, compile and install graphviz, iproute2 and mobilemesh

eg. for mobile mesh
gunzip < mobilemesh-1.0.tar.gz | tar xvf -
cd mobilemesh-1.0
make depends
su to root
make install

4. Read the documentation for mobile mesh to learn how to use it


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Network Simulators

Why? to simulate mesh networks, VOIP, etc, to determine placement of Internet access gateways, suitability for rural community access given terrain features, distance between participants and the like.

Requirements: We need to choose a simulator that is customisable, well-known so that we can export or share models, easy to use, inexpensive, has a predeveloped library of protocols, propagation characteristics, etc, that could be tweaked for our requirements. Should be able to incorporate terrain models (I think)

Someone should investigate the following options and provide comment here...

Proprietary candidates:
- Opnet
- Comnet III

Open Source candidates:
- NS-2
- Ptolemy (Java based)
- OMNet++
- CSim++
- SimJava
- JavaSim. There is some confusion of packages here as Lund Institute of Technology (Sweden), Ohio State and University of Newcastle have all created something called JavaSim. Ohio State seem to have the most advanced package which they have since renamed to J-Sim.

There is a good listing of simulation languages, IDEs and simulators here

There is also a general purpose simulation language in Python called SimPy which appears to be rather interesting but without a lot of add-ons at this stage.

At this stage, Opnet, Ptolemy, SimJava and OMNet++ appear to be most interesting...

Monday, June 21, 2004

Problems previously experienced with this Blog

Since 18 June 2004 this blog could not be used. The problem has now been resolved.

21 June 2004 11:50
BlogSpot up.
Viewing the Browser/Source, it was clear that the page was truncated. I logged in as admin and viewed the template. It was indeed truncated, either by one of us, or by the hosting service. I selected a new template (with Kim's help in choosing an inspiring one) and vala, its ok now., except that some customisation has to be done again as it was incorporated in the template.

Entries since 18 June and 21 June can be read at http://ict-intra.icomtek.csir.co.za/cgi-bin/kwiki/kwiki.cgi?MeshNetworks

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A possible way to legalise WiFi access

South Africa has a telecommunications act which specifically covers the use of amateur radio and includes the frequencies being used for wifi: 2 300-2 450 MHz and 5 650-5 850 MHz. Amateur radio is essentially a community owned network which is operated by licenced amateur radio operators. There might be a way to justify a community wireless LAN network as part of an amateur radio network. There are certain rules such as not using the network for business purposes, charging for the service or transmitting music. You also need to a basic proficiency exam, which includes writing morse code at 12 words a minute (ouch!), to become an amateur radio operator.

If you want more details on Amateur Radio regulation in South Africa
ICASA telecommunications act for amateur radio

And more about the National Association for Amateur Radio in South Africa
South African Radio League Home Page

If you want to write the exam
South African Radio League Exam

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A blog about wireless networking in South Africa

Click here - the link!

Good references for mesh networking protocols

Nice list of popular mesh protocols currently in use Daily Wireless

Pulbications on mesh/ad-hoc networks

The IETF manet (mobile ad-hoc networks) working group

Someone please try to find the complete archive of all RFC's submitted to the IETF MANET working group

Windows version of the mobile mesh protocol for Linux

The story of Philemon part I

It is twilight on a cold winters evening in Mamelodi east, Philemon has just climbed out of the Taxi in Mandela street when his eye catches a large crowd gathering outside the community hall. A smartly dressed man is holding up all sort of strange gadgets and gesturing to the crowd. Philemon is curious and begins walk closer, on further investigation, he sees that the man is talking about a computer that only costs R300 called the Biko I. He is also waving around some strange thing that looks like a drain pipe which he says will help you to connect to a digital community network called ubuntu-digital. With this, he claims, you can help your children with their schoolwork, look for jobs, Talk to other people in the network for free – no more expensive “pay as you go” cards, get legal advice, send letters to friends and relatives who also have a computers – he says the sky is the limit – you can even think up your own ways of using it to create new business. Philemon takes one of the pamphlets the man is handing out and begins reading it as he walks back to his small RDP house in block E of an area called Sundown valley. He sees that the computer plugs into a normal TV screen – he begins to imagine his children fighting to use the Biko I while he wants to watch the 7PM news, maybe he should pay the extra R200 for a separate colour monitor. He reads over a section on installing the ubuntu-digital network which costs R250 for the equipment and is pleased to see that there will be training every Tuesday at the community centre for people who need help installing it – apparently to bring down the cost you can make your own aerial out of a pringle can. It says that if you can see the community centre mast then you can connect to the network, if you can’t you need to get a neighbour involved who you can see and who can see the community centre mast. He begins to walk quicker now, as the excitement builds and he pictures telling his wife Florrie and 3 children about this exciting new device. He has already started calculating in his head that if he saved R100 a month he could buy the Biko I in 3 months and install the Ubuntu-digital network after 6 months.

What we've got to do to make this happen

Task 1: Build a web site to share information on mesh networking and community owned networks

Outcome: Quick information dissemination amongst interested parties in the FMFI project, CSIR staff and other external interested parties.

Task 2: Build a simulation of a mesh network to test out various routing protocols and congestion control meshanisms

Outcome: A document showing theoretical estimates of how a mesh network will perform under changing load conditions

Task 3: Build home made WiFi antennas - omni-directional and directional and check their performance using tools from Poynting

Outcome: Omni-directional antenna and directional antenna with enough gain for a city wide mesh network

Task 4: Carry out a literature survey on existing mesh networking protocols that can be used in a Linux, FreeBSD environment and Windows environment.

Outcome: A document outlining all the information on protocols and recipes for setting up mesh nodes on Linux, FreeBSD and Windows (not that Windows would be my OS of choice).

Task 5: Test existing mesh protocols such as Locust mesh between 5 or more PC’s running on Linux, FreeBSD and possibly Windows in an office environment.

Outcome: A working indoor mesh network

Task 6: Create a Pretoria mesh network as a testbed for networking in other community networks. This testbed will be used to carry out experiments in the mesh and test the reliability of various protocols.

Outcome: A working city wide mesh network

Task 7: Use a web based GIS system for CSIR staff to become part of the Pretoria mesh and to pinpoint the position of their house and have a link prediction carried out to check line of sight to the next available node.

Outcome: An easy way for staff to check if they can become part of the community mesh

Task 8: Research the cheapest method of creating a WiFi access point and build a low cost WiFi AP.

Outcome: A document outlining all the components required to build a low cost WiFi and a working low cost WiFi AP

Task 9: Research low cost PC’s for poor communities and build a prototype based on research.

Outcome: A working low cost PC prototype. A document outlining all the components required to build a low cost PC.

Task 10: Test various existing mesh routing protocols and establish their strengths and weaknesses.

Outcome: Access points or PC’s with a menu which allows a user to select between different mesh protocols. A document describing all the meshing protocols available.

Task 11: Test out various application on the mesh – check their performance versus the number of hops between two hosts. Test performance versus the number of simultaneous running applications e.g. After how many simultaneous VoIP calls does it become unusable.
Peer to peer applications such as Skype
Video streaming with different levels of compression
Standard internet applications such as web browsing and email through the CSIR gateway

Outcome: Document describing the performance of various applications running over the mesh network

Task 12: Connect the mesh network to the Tshwane backbone.

Outcome: test the feasibility of Tshwane building out community mesh networks from their fibre backbone.

Task 13: Create computer based training material which will explain how to set up a mesh network in a community – everything from involving the community, installing an antenna to setting up their operating system.

Outcome: A CD/website with a user manual describing how to build community mesh networks and access points.

Getting the PCMCIA card operational in my desktop PC

The Dell Optiplex GX1 does not have a slot for the WaveLAN PCMCIA card. The challenge is to get it working by using a Texas Instruments bridge card and Linux Mandrake. Plugging the PCMCIA card into the bridge does not make the little LEDS light up on the PCMCIA. Initial thought are that the bridge has not been installed/enabled/configured.

The challenge is to enable the bridge.

Some research has lead me to believe that the Mandrake installation (9.1) has the PCMCIA card disabled by default. This I discovered after reading the pcmcia-cs-3.2.3 man pages (Ref Linux PCMCIA HOWTO, David Hinds, v2.91, 29 May 2001, http://pcmcia-cs.sourceforge.net). Paragraph 2.6.2. states that the PCMCIA startup script is located in /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia , with "PCMCIA=yes". Using vi, I found my installation to have this parameter set to "no". I've edited the file to "yes" and will restart Mandrake...lets hope for the best...
Pity, the lights are still out... So that wasn't the only problem. I still have to check the bridge configuration...

Taking a lead from David Clemmer's posting of 26 April 2004 (http://lists.infradead.org/pipermail/linux-pcmcia/2004-April/000793.html):
> The key problem, though, is that none of the ports accept cards. If I
> start it up with a card inserted (or use 'cardctl insert'), I get an
> 'unable to apply power' message for the occupied ports.

I ran "cardctl insert", and got back "no pcmcia driver in /proc/devices", so guess what I'm doing next...

With my limited Linux experience I now have to determine how to install a PCMCIA driver. It seems its not sufficient to install the pcmcia-cs package, one still have to manually configure some files...
I found the following useful information to confirm that the driver was not installed:
[ source http://www.ambicom.com/support/linuxfaq-2.htm ]
To find the PCMCIA package installed on your Notebook PC:
After you start the Linux operating system, type "cardmgr -V" after the Linux prompt sign. This command will show you the version of the PCMCIA package installed on your Notebook PC. For example: Cardmgr version 3.1.8

To verify that the PCMCIA package is properly installed:
Type "lsmod" after the Linux prompt sign. This command will bring you the result similar to this:

Module Size Used by
ds 5740 2 [cb_enabler]
i82365 22640 2
pcmcia_core 39912 0

Symptoms indicate improper installation of the PCMCIA package:

When starting Linux, the message " Starting PCMCIA [Fail]" comes up.
Kernel version mismatch error is reported when the PCMCIA startup script runs.
After startup, the result of the "lsmod" command does not show any PCMCIA modules.
In the system log file, Cardmgr shows the output "no pcmcia driver in /proc/devices".

Some stuff I think is useful, but still does not answer my question on how to install the driver ( http://www.ambicom.com/support/linuxtroubleshooting-1.htm )
Q: I am not sure which commands to use to verify the installation of the PC card and the network configuration on my Linux Notebook PC?
A: The following Linux commands are recommended to check the status of installation and configuration.


lsmod: shows information about all loaded modules
cardctl ident: displays card identification information
cardmgr: monitors PCMCIA sockets for card insertion and removal events.


Ifconfig: displays the status of current active interface
netstat: displays network connections, routing tables, interface statistics, etc.
route: shows and manipulates the IP routing table
It looks like I should set the following IRQ mode to enable the SCM TI bridge:

With SCM Microsystems SBP series PCI card readers (which are also
being distributed with Lucent WaveLAN IEEE cards), and for the Synchrotech PCM-CR-PC2IF and PCM-CR-PC2IR, it is necessary to specify ``irq_mode=0'' for the i82365 module, to force use of PCI interrupts. *
I have not figured out what the "*" is for...

17 June 2004
When starting Mandrake in "interactive" mode, I get
"Starting pcmcia:
Start service portmap ...[y]
cardmgr[881]: get dev info on socket 0 failed: Resource temporarily unavailable
plus a high-low beep.

Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network

Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless NetworkDownloadable Linux/BSD compatible Mesh bootcd, link supplied by Johan Hugo

Re: hotplug vs pcmcia-cs

Re: hotplug vs pcmcia-cs

The devices, the drivers

The devices, the drivers

Linux PCMCIA HOWTO: Compilation and installation

Linux PCMCIA HOWTO: Compilation and installation

Monday, June 14, 2004

Place your own caption here...
Posted by Hello

With the main huncho up front...
Posted by Hello

First COIN activity planning meeting
Posted by Hello

Linux & Wireless LANs

Linux & Wireless LANs How-To

freshmeat.net: Project details for pcmcia-cs

freshmeat.net: Project details for pcmcia-cs: "Card Services for Linux is a complete PCMCIA or PC Card support package. It includes a set of loadable kernel modules that implement a version of the Card Services applications program interface, a set of client drivers for specific cards, and a card manager daemon that can respond to card insertion and removal events, loading and unloading drivers on demand. It supports hot swapping of most card types, so cards can be safely inserted and ejected at any time. "

PCMCIA: Notes about specific Linux distributions

Source: http://ftp.idilis.ro/mirrors/ftp.suse.com/pub/suse/i386/8.0/docu/PCMCIA-HOWTO

Notes about specific Linux distributions

This section is incomplete. Corrections and additions are welcome.

2.5.1. Debian


2.5.2. Red Hat, Caldera, Mandrake

These distributions use a System V boot script organization. The
PCMCIA startup script is installed as /etc/rc.d/init.d/pcmcia, and
boot options are kept in /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia. Beware that
installing the Red Hat package may install a default boot option file
that has PCMCIA disabled. To enable PCMCIA, the ``PCMCIA'' variable
should be set to ``yes''. Red Hat's default syslogd configuration
will record all interesting messages in /var/log/messages.

Red Hat's PCMCIA package contains a replacement for the network setup
script, /etc/pcmcia/network, which meshes with the Red Hat linuxconf
configuration system. This is convenient for the case where just one
network adapter is used, with one set of network parameters, but does
not have the full flexibility of the regular PCMCIA network script.
Compiling and installing a clean PCMCIA source distribution will
overwrite the network script, breaking the link to the Red Hat tools.
If you prefer using the Red Hat tools, either use only Red Hat RPM's,
or replace /etc/pcmcia/network.opts with the following:

if [ -f /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-$2 ] ; then
start_fn () {
. /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-$1
if [ "$ONBOOT" = "yes" ] ; then /sbin/ifup $1 ; fi
stop_fn () {
/sbin/ifdown $1

Starting with the 3.1.22 release, the PCMCIA installation script will
automatically append a variant of this to the default network.opts
file, so this problem should no longer be an issue.

If you do use linuxconf (or netconf) to configure your network
interface, leave the ``kernel module'', ``I/O port'', and ``irq''
parameters blank. Setting these parameters may interfere with proper
operation of the PCMCIA subsystem.

At boot time, when the Red Hat network subsystem starts up, it may say
``Delaying eth0 initialization'' and ``[FAILED]''. This is actually
not a failure: it means that this network interface will not be
initialized until after the PCMCIA network device is configured.

Red Hat bundles their slightly modified PCMCIA source distribution
with their kernel sources, rather than as a separate source package.
When preparing to build a new set of PCMCIA drivers, you will
generally want to install Red Hat's kernel-source RPM (kernel-
source-*.i386.rpm), and not the kernel SRPM (kernel-*.src.rpm). The
SRPM is tailored for building their kernel RPM files, which is not
exactly what you want. With Red Hat 7.0, the kernel-source RPM also
includes a mis-configured PCMCIA source tree; if you want to use it,
delete their PCMCIA config.out file and re-do "make config".


PCMCIA bridges for desktop systems

Source: http://ftp.idilis.ro/mirrors/ftp.suse.com/pub/suse/i386/8.0/docu/PCMCIA-HOWTO par 2.3.1
Card readers for desktop systems

While almost all PCMCIA card readers and card docks work fine under
Linux, some require special startup options because they do not behave
exactly like laptop PCMCIA bridges. PCI card readers, in particular,
may handle interrupts differently.

· The Linksys ProConnect PCMRDWR and Antec DataChute card readers are
``ISA Plug and Play'' devices. To use these, you must first
activate them with the Linux isapnp tools. See the man pages for
pnpdump and isapnp for more information.

· For Elan P-series PCI card readers based on the Cirrus PD6729 PCI-
to-PCMCIA bridge chip, the i82365 driver requires a ``irq_mode=1''

· For the Sycard PCChost1200 host adapter, the i82365 driver requires
a ``p2cclk=1'' parameter.

· For the Alex Electronics PCICBI host adapter based on the TI 1221
bridge, the i82365 driver requires ``p2cclk=1 irq_mode=0'' as well
as PCMCIA driver release 3.1.23 or later.

· With SCM Microsystems SBP series PCI card readers (which are also
being distributed with Lucent WaveLAN IEEE cards), and for the
Synchrotech PCM-CR-PC2IF and PCM-CR-PC2IR, it is necessary to
specify ``irq_mode=0'' for the i82365 module, to force use of PCI

· For the ActionTec PC 750 card reader, the i82365 driver requires a
``irq_list=0'' parameter, to indicate that ISA interrupts are

· The PLX Technologies PCI9052 (also sold as the Linksys WDT11) is
not a general purpose PCMCIA card reader at all: it is a PCI
interface card for use with certain wireless adapters, that makes
them look like ordinary PCI devices. These devices are not

This document describes how to install and use PCMCIA Card Services
for Linux, and answers some frequently asked questions.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Home-Brew Omni-Directional Antennae

Here are some directions for building home-brew Omni Directional Antennae, which seem perfect for COIN

802.11 2.4Ghz Vertical Collinear Antenna

802.11 2.4Ghz Low-Power 5dBi Vertical Collinear Antenna

Gnet Gateway

An underground alternative to the wired Internet
Nice portal for Wifi Community owned network information. Info on antennae, software, mesh etc.

W2i: The Wireless Internet Institute

W2i: The Wireless Internet Institute...Link suggested by Kobus

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Sending a web page to this blog...
Posted by Hello

My 1st Cantennae, homebrew wifi antenna, see my previous links for instructions on how to build 1! Posted by Hello

Pigtail lengthened ...
Posted by Hello

And another...
Posted by Hello

Another view
Posted by Hello

Yusuf's cantenna created on 1June2004. Seems to be working quite well!
Posted by Hello

Airshare.org - Wi-Fi and WLAN Wireless Community Resource

Airshare.org - Wi-Fi and WLAN Wireless Community Resource

Community Owned Information Network

My attempt at publishing an image using 'Hello' application.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

FreeNetworks.ORG || Community Networks

FreeNetworks.ORG || Community Networks FreeNetworks.org is a voluntary cooperative association dedicated to education, collaboration, and advocacy of the creation of free digital network infrastructures

How to build a tin can waveguide antenna

How to build a tin can waveguide antenna