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Sunflower Mesh

WasabiNet is developing the Sunflower Mesh, a new concept for solar-powered, self-sufficient, rooftop Wi-Fi mesh nodes.  These nodes are designed to offer neighborhood-scale, hyper-local social collaboration applications, environmental sensing, and even limited Internet access, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Even when the electricity goes out.

Just Imagine:

Thankfully your neighborhood had a 20-node rooftop mesh network powered entirely by solar panels, using the community mesh firmware developed by Commotion Wireless, and with a local Tidepools server running within that mesh.  Despite last night's tornado obliterating 5 of the nodes, the remaining mesh continues to operate 24/7, even while your own home's electricity is out.  Furthermore, this mesh still offers limited (~1Mbit/s) Internet access, to the extent feasible, letting you tell your friends and relatives via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc, that you're alright.

It looks like your phone, despite only using the mesh's wifi service, is getting low on battery.  So, you hike over to one of the Sunflower Mesh nodes with the 5Volt cell phone charging ports, installed at ground level.  Thankfully, you and your neighbors played around a bit with the Sunflower mesh when it was installed a few months ago.  The mesh's copy of the Tidepools map already has icons placed telling you where to go to borrow a tree saw, who has spare water filters, and where some apple trees hang over the edge of a friendly neighbor's fence.  Finding all these things amidst the storm damage w/o any sort of guide otherwise would have taken much much longer.

Once all the storm damage is cleaned up, you make a mental note to go ask to have the COMMUNICAL-cator suite also installed into your Sunflower mesh.   COMMUNICAL-cator's capacity for weather and air-quality sensors, etc, now look quite useful.

The Sunflower Mesh nodes leverage heavily off the recent development in Commotion and Tidepools, along with minimalist outdoor mounting techniques developed by WasabiNet, to provide a lightweight, low-cost social meshing and mapping platform that is sufficiently low-power to run entirely on solar power and batteries, independent of the grid.  Because the nodes can be pre-assembled into a self-contained unit, including solar panel and battery, deployment across a wide area is straightforward.  Furthermore, the proliferation of tiny, embedded computers like the raspBerry Pi allows the Sunflower Mesh to host applications such as Tidepools and the COMMUNICAL-cator suite entirely within the mesh itself, also on solar power, so they remain accessible even when electric service is not.

For more information about Sunflower Mesh, please drop us a line!