Skip to main content

Overview

What is Meshtastic?

Meshtastic® is a project that lets you use inexpensive LoRa radios as a long range off-grid communicator for areas without reliable cellular service. These radios are great for hiking, skiing, paragliding - essentially any hobby where you don't have reliable internet access. Each member of the mesh can send and view text messages and enable optional GPS based location features.

The radios automatically create a mesh to forward packets as needed, so everyone in the group can receive messages from even the furthest member. The radios will optionally work with your phone, but no phone is required.

Meshtastic uses LoRa for the long range communcations and depending on settings used the maximum theoritical group size ranges from 30-200 device nodes. Currently each device can only support a connection from a single user at a time.

Purchase a Radio

The easiest way is to buy a device with the software already installed. Other devices are available. In the Americas get the 915mhz version, in Europe the 868Mhz, or Asia 923Mhz. See this listing by The Things Network for frequencies by specific countries.

Setup the Radio

When it arrives, install your antenna and make sure you install the battery correctly. Reversing the battery can damage your device. Make sure the antenna is on when you power up the board.

caution

Make sure not to power the radio on without first attaching the antenna! You could damage the radio chip!

Download Firmware

Firmware can be downloaded from the Firmware page. Your initial installation has to happen over USB from your Mac, Windows or Linux PC. Once our software is installed, all future software updates happen over bluetooth from your phone.

Flashing Firmware

If your device already has Meshtastic flashed to it, You can update it over the air (OTA). Otherwise you'll need a computer and a data USB cable. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Install using the command line interface (CLI)
  • Install using a graphical user interface (GUI)

The firmware installation method will also depend on whether you have an ESP32 based device or a nRF52 based device. See our hardware section to determine which microcontroller your device is based on.

Connect to your Device

There are many ways to connect to your new radio!

  • Command line interface (CLI)
  • Graphic user interface (GUI)
  • Serial connection
  • Bluetooth
  • Web app over wifi (in development)

A good first test (connect via USB and CLI)

If you have at least two radios with the Meshtastic firmware, you may consider connecting one via USB and the other simply powered. Communicate with the USB radio using a CLI like Meshtastic-python.

  • Ensure you can run "meshtastic --info".
  • Ensure the region is set appropriately. If the radios are 915 MHz and you are in the US, then no region changes/settings are necessary. If you are in another region, you may need to run something like: "meshtastic --set region EU865".
  • Send a message "meshtastic --sendtext hello1"
  • The radio connected via USB should show the message almost instantly.
  • Other radios may take a few seconds before they show the message. You may need to press one of the buttons on the other radio to see if the message arrived.
  • Run "meshtastic --nodes" to see if other nodes show in the display.
  • Messages sent from the USB radio should be sent to the other radio(s) via LoRa. The default settings should have this work by default

A good second test (connect via Bluetooth)

The Android app is currently more robust than the iOS app. But, they both should be able to interact with the radios.

  • Install Android or iOS Meshtastic app
  • Start Meshtastic app
  • Connect to radio(s) from inside the app
  • Pair with radio(s). A paring code should show on the radio. Enter that value when prompted to pair a bluetooth device.
  • Note: May want to set the bluetooth timeout (ex: "meshtastic --set wait_bluetooth_secs 28800")
  • Send message(s) from inside the app.
  • Verify that all radios are receiving the messages. Might have to click on the button on the radio to see most recent message.

A good third test (connect via Wifi/http)

  • Configure the wifi_ssid and wifi_password. "meshtastic --set wifi_ssid 'xxx' --set wifi_password 'yyy'" (where xxx and yyy are the appropriate values for your neetwork)
  • Reboot radio by either removing power or pressing the power button.
  • Click on the button to cycle thru to the screen with ip address and verify that there was a connection to the wifi access point.
  • Send message(s). "meshtastic --host 192.168.1.200 --sendtext hello"
  • Verify that all radios are receiving the messages. Might have to click on the button on the radio(s) to see most recent message.
  • Open up a brower to http://meshtastic.local to view the web UI (currently under development). You may need to open http://meshtastic.local/static )
  • If you want to switch back to bluetooth, you will need to set the wifi_ssid and wifi_password values to blank values (ex: '').

Troubleshooting

For any issues during setup, search our forum to find a solution. If you can't find one, please post your problem, providing as much detail as possible.

We are also on Discord.