What is Meshtastic?

This site isn’t meant to be the full explanation of what Meshtastic is or how it works. It’s a place for the basics, a simplified explanation of the most important things you’ll want to understand to get you started. For more detailed information, visit the home of the project, Meshtastic.org.

What is Meshtastic?

Meshtastic is an implementation of LoraLong Range, low powered radio.

It’s a mesh network – a set of interconnected radio devices – for communication of short text messages and small data packets. The data is usually used to share device locations and related information. This makes it perfect for chatting and sharing where you are, or for tracking objects and vehicles. It also has other, more specialised uses.

At a basic level, Meshtastic does not need an internet connection to function, nor does it need any infrastructure such as repeaters or towers. Each device talks to each other device, and every device is a repeater for everyone else, forming the mesh.

Communication can easily be encrypted, so you can control who can read your messages. Other meshed devices will still pass on your traffic even if they can’t decode what’s in those messages.

Hardware is fairly cheap, starting from around $25. Even a cheap, simple device will still have the same output power as a more expensive and complicated one (though perhaps not as good an antenna and you will need to power it from USB).

Lora is by its nature low powered and long range. The record for a Meshtastic communication is over 250km, but your range will mainly be limited my your height. From the top of a mountain you can expect very long distances in the 10s or hundreds of kms with a good antenna – from your couch with a basic antenna you might get under 100m (more information about antennas and range here). Even a highly efficient device with battery and a good antenna, suitable for deployment as a remote repeater, can be put together for around $100.

All this makes Meshtastic an ideal technology for grid-down communication in emergencies, for off-grid comms outside phone range, and as a backup.

On the next page, we will guide you through the basics of setting up your new device for use here in Australia and explain what you’ll need to know to get started.

There is also some slightly more specialised information about Repeaters, Routers, Antennas and more, here.

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