HSMM-Pi v0.3.0 Available

Today I created the v0.3.0 release tag of the HSMM-Pi project.  The upgrade steps from v0.2.0 are pretty straightforward:

  1. cd ~pi/hsmm-pi
  2. git pull
  3. git checkout v0.3.0
  4. sh install.sh

Here are a few of the changes in the release:

  • Advertise mesh services when the wired adapter is in WAN & LAN mode (previously only in LAN mode).
  • Use raw sockets to retrieve OLSRD mesh statistics instead of using CURL (the OLSRD plugin does not produce HTTP 1.0/1.1 responses, so CURL is not the right tool for the job).
  • Added a WiFi scanning action (Issue 8) to show nearby wireless networks.
  • Derive the default WiFi IP address from the wireless adapter MAC address in a fresh installation similar to the behavior in Broadband-Hamnet.
  • Better support for installation on the Ubuntu 12.04 on the Beaglebone.

Please file any defects or features requests in the Issues section of the Github project.  Thanks!

Feature Requests

I’ve received a lot of great requests for features and feedback from folks posting comments to this blog – thank you so much!  There’s also an Issues area of the project on Github where you can post feature requests or defects.  Please create an issue whenever you find a problem with the project or have an idea for how it can be improved.  There are so many great ways that we can make HSMM-Pi ever better!

Demo at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire

I will be hosting an HSMM-Pi booth at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in Oakland, California on October 20, 2013.  The event is associated with Make magazine, and will be a smaller regional version of the grandaddy Maker Faire held in San Mateo, California each year.  I plan on producing a field demo video that can played on loop on a display in the booth.  I’ll also have some HSMM-Pi nodes and large 15 dbi omnidirectional antennas present for visual effect.  This is a great opportunity to introduce HSMM mesh networking to a lot of people who might still think of HAM radio as being just CW & phone.

Are there any aspects of HSMM mesh networking that you think would be helpful to share with the general public (not necessarily just HAMs)?

Enabling the Hardware Random Number Generator

UPDATE (9/16/2014): I encourage people to read Bruce Schneier’s post regarding surreptitious tampering of computer chips, which includes hardware random number generators.  It’s nearly impossible to know that a hardware RNG hasn’t been tampered with at the time of manufacture to facilitate a backdoor.  Therefore, it might be worth sticking with a software RNG, as is the default behavior in Raspbian.

The Broadcom System on a Chip (SoC) in the Raspberry Pi features a hardware random number generator that can be used as a high-quality source of random numbers.  This might be worth enabling if you’re using OLSRD in a secure mode.  The secure mode causes the node to exchange cryptographic messages with other nodes in the mesh network.  Strong cryptography benefits greatly from the use of a high quality random number generator.  Also, the system load should decrease since the task of producing random numbers is offloaded to a dedicated hardware device.

Here’s a link to a quick how-to with the steps for enabling the hardware random number generator on the Raspberry Pi:


Follow-up on USB Wifi Adapters

UPDATE (2013/09/02): I found that the wireless adapters were no longer able to run in Ad-Hoc mode due to recent changes to support the Beaglebone Black device.  The installation steps on the Github project page have been updated to specify a commit tag (v0.2.0) when checking out the HSMM-Pi project to ensure you’re getting a stable copy of the code.

My initial recommendation for USB WiFi adapters was an inexpensive model that could be found on Amazon for about $7.  They worked fairly well initially, but in the last week I’ve been unable to get the 3 that I own to work at all.  I am no longer recommending them for use with Raspberry Pi models because of their instability.

I purchased the USB WiFi adapter sold by Adafruit which is advertised as being compatible with the Raspberry Pi.  These adapters work flawlessly, and use a different chipset from the model I recommended earlier.  The Adafruit adapter costs about $11 and does not accommodate an external antenna; but these negatives are offset by the adapter being stable.

My apologies to anyone who has had problems with the Amazon no-name adapter.  And it would be great to hear from anyone who has had problems but managed to get the adapters to be stable.