Let’s clear up one issue, spectrum, before we dive into the topic of networks and infrastructure. FaradayRF believes radio amateurs should be responsible stewards of the spectrum allocated to them. However, we also believe that we should use the spectrum we have. Frequency allocations above 70cm (440MHz) are not crowded and bands such as 33cm (915MHz) are perfect for medium speed digital transmissions. Without the susceptibility of analog communications, 33cm becomes an attractive band for United States radio amateurs to expand.
Then there’s the topic of bandwidth efficiency. FaradayRF strongly believes in the notion of marginal benefits. We consider the obvious methods to reduce bandwidth but until there is a clear need to put more effort in. Hence the progress of Codec2 and other vocoders used to make voice communications efficient is spectacular, yet the efficiency currently far exceeds that needed on 33cm and above. We have room to play, lets dig in.
Why 900 MHz?
Faraday operates in the 33cm amateur band (902-928 MHz). There are several reasons we chose to do this:
- Hardware for the GSM and ISM services is widely available and cheap
- Propagation characteristics of the 33 cm band is similar to the GSM850 , basically what you would consider standard cell phone network coverage
- The antenna sizes are ideal for low-cost installations and experimentation with the radios
- Radio amateurs do not have easy access to 33 cm
This is in-fact just the beginning. The Faraday platform as you see it now is not what it will look like in due time. This is OK. It’s better to start learning how the radio is used and educate the community now than attempt to build up an entire infrastructure before releasing any products.
The FaradayRF Master Plan outlines our intentions. Clear and simple.
We’re in phase one right now. Actually, if you have purchased a Faraday radio and started developing with it you are part of phase one. All subsequent phases are subject to change as progress is made.
Faraday Radios sold in pairs
Focus on Point-to-Point operations
Focus on simple star network access points
Focus on education
Selling Radios in Pairs
The lack of any infrastructure in any geographic area requires us to sell hardware in pairs. This increases the cost of enjoying our project. However, selling in pairs helps ensure every participant can enjoy Faraday. A single Faraday radio in an area without any other units will quickly result in lack of interest. Every user owning two radios also ensures that the tutorials are applicable to let users learn from experimentation.
Out of the box Faraday is capable of point-to-point communications with other Faraday radios. Initial use-cases are evident such as remote telemetry, command, and data transfer between two radios. Everyone is capable of participating, simple as that.
Simple Star Networks
Out of the box Faraday is also capable of simple start networks which port data to and from the Internet. This is similar to repeaters with an internet connection as well as your home WiFi router.
Check out the distance test we performed to show base-station capabilities!
Utilizing the Internet is obvious. Data is already being sent over localhost which is simply a subset of the Internet. Having this network to interconnect otherwise unconnected Faraday radio coverage areas will quickly augment the utility of the Faraday platform. Some might take pause at using the Internet as a backbone network for these star networks. It would be short-sighted to not utilize this resource to grow quickly. We see in the long-term services like Broadband-Hamnet™ and AREDN™ providing a ham radio backbone between geographically distant areas, not reliant on the Internet, to augment the reliability of the Internet.
To build a backbone network first is like building cargo ships with nothing to send on them across the ocean
Following the initial adoption of the Faraday platform we expect to have a vibrant community of experimenters and developers making awesome projects and learning along the way. Using the resources and experience obtained from phase one we will begin to roll out the second phase. When this will happen is unknown to us but we’ll work towards it everyday.
Introduce cellular networks
Inevitably we aim to move ham radio towards a cellular type of network. This alleviates congestion in metropolitan areas which will already be experiencing the network effect by this time. Current systems such as the Los Angeles APRS network is often saturated, let’s avoid this. Using good antenna aiming practices, coordination, and technologies such as TDMA or FDMA might be extremely useful here. The backbone of this cellular-like network will still largely be provided via the Internet.
By this time we expect the original Faraday units to still be extremely useful. They are aimed at education, not to be the most advanced technology so therefore can stand the test of time better. If we haven’t already, it will be time to move towards offering hardware using embedded Linux.
By now we also hope FaradayRF has begun expanding peripherals available to work on the Faraday platform. Hardware such as transverters or additional radio hardware to move operations to other bands such as the 23 cm and 13 cm bands are simple achievements to accomplish.
Improve Network Redundancy
Revisit Master Plan
Improve Network Redundancy
The network as built will more than likely rely heavily on the Internet as a backbone to pass information between cells as well as geographically distant areas. This is OK. We need to focus on building up all the technology that is not a backbone first. To build a backbone network first is like building cargo ships with nothing to send on them across the ocean. An amateur radio based backbone network makes sense from a technological standpoint as well as to help make this network more EMCOMM friendly.
This is partly a collection of items that are not important enough to focus on in the first two phases but are absolutely fascinating if we were to implement them. Short of listing them out we will focus on one to provide example.
We already have a network and an amateur radio community that is highly proficient in digital communications. Taking a step further it’s easy to see a Faraday platform compliant radio make its way into orbit. We do actually know exactly what this involves as not only do we volunteer for AMSAT but also have demanding day jobs building rockets and spacecraft which visit the International Space Station.
Even Faraday with the CC430F6137 is capable of spread spectrum operation. This means it can quickly switch frequency. Think about that. It is within reason to design Faraday to sit in a remote location fully aware of its location and a satellite orbit. With this information it could automatically adjust for Doppler shift and communicate with the satellite as it flies over. Up-linking data and down-linking commands as well as new orbital parameters. Completely possible.
Revisit Master Plan
During phase three it’s apparent that our Master Plan will be largely complete. We will have introduced radio amateurs to digital communications fundamentals. We will have built up a network concentrated in metropolitan areas providing near ubiquitous operation. Lastly, we will have pushed radio amateurs into the 33cm, 21 cm, and 13 cm bands where previously there were few.