Back in December ZipIts were selling for $9.99 on amazon.  It seemed like way too good a deal to be true, but I couldn’t resist the urge to get one, they have so many features that interest me.  I figured it was worth the risk.  I received the ZipIt, installed Linux, and tested out the hardware.  Impressed as I was, I ordered 10 more.  One of the primary reasons for acquiring  this many ZipIts was to set up and experiment with a mesh network.  I’m not disappointed, the value of my Zipits went way up this past weekend!  This post describes the steps for configuring the ZipIt as a node on a mesh network.

As of Linux kernel 2.6.38 the batman-adv kernel module is in mainline.  Using buildroot I configured and built the kernel to include the module.  I cross-compiled the user land utility batctrl and installed it to the /usr/sbin directory of Z2Lite.

To set up a mesh network node, boot Z2Lite and issue the following commands.  I put them in a script file and assigned the script to a key in tmux.conf.  Be sure to kill the wpa-supplicant process if it’s running.

z2lite:~# modprobe batman-adv

z2lite:~# ifconfig wlan0 down

z2lite:~# ifconfig wlan0 mtu 1476
z2lite:~# iwconfig wlan0 mode ad-hoc
z2lite:~# iwconfig wlan0 essid zipit ap 02:1A:34:56:78:9A channel 1

z2lite:~# batctl if add wlan0

z2lite:~# ifconfig bat0
z2lite:~# ifconfig wlan0 up
z2lite:~# ifconfig bat0 up

Assign a unique AP mac address for each node (i.e. ZipIt) and choose a channel that best suits your environment.  That’s it, everything else is just like other IP networks, ping, ssh etc.  The batctl utility has a few commands for troubleshooting the network if you have issues.  I haven’t had time to experiment yet, but the first is going to be location triangulation.  I think it’s built into the protocol.

© 2016 engine12