The Meshtastic Android app handles the communication and can show the location of everyone in your private group. Each member of your private mesh can see the location and distance of members and text messages sent to your group chat.
Open the app and you should see the Settings tab like the screen above. Notice the cloud with a slash through it in the upper right, showing no device connection. You can move through the tabs but nothing much will be visible until you connect to a radio device.
You will need a device with Meshtastic installed to go any further. See the getting started section for information on how to do this.
To find devices to connect via Bluetooth click the button on the bottom right corner.
- Select the device name,
Meshtastic_bebcin this example. (You will see devices within range, so make sure to get the right one.)
- Before you can connect for the first time, you need to "pair" the devices to allow communication between them. Some devices are pinless, others require entering a PIN shown on the screen. On devices with a "user" button, double clicking sets the pairing PIN to
- This starts the communication with the device. The cloud icon on the status bar should change and show a check mark.
The cloud icon at the top right corner indicates if you are connected to a device. This currently has three states:
Cloud with a slash through it: No device connected to the application.
Cloud with a tick in it: Device connected to the application.
Cloud with an up arrow in it: Device is connected, but currently sleeping or out of range.
Change your name
Edit the "Your name", e.g. to be "Mike Bird". This is the name that other people will see, so make it unique within your group. The initials e.g. "MB" should also be unique and will be used to identify you in the message history and on the device screens.
Setup a channel
If you have been sent a QR code or link for Meshtastic, then skip ahead to Join a Channel. Devices have a default channel preconfigured, shown as
#LongSlow-V (Long range / Slow). It is OK to use this initially.
You can also create a new Channel and share the details with your group. The group is private and only those who have the details can join the group and see the messages. You will need to do this once initially, and then only when you want to change or make a new mesh network group.
The Channel tab allows you to do this. This screen is initially locked so that you don't change it accidentally. Press the lock symbol, and you will be able to edit. First, select the Channel options, as shown here, and chose the most appropriate option:
Here we selected
Long Range / Fast, and then made a Channel Name using the keyboard. This identifies your group, here "Owl Team".
You will see a warning because changing the Channel will break communications with your group, i.e. if you change your settings without sharing the new details with the group.
The app will generate a new QR code on the screen, and this encodes the channel details and a random 256-bit key for sharing with the new group. You can share the QR code with other Meshtastic users, or use the Share button and share the link via chat message, SMS, or email. The link is a very long code, for example: https://www.meshtastic.org/d/#CgUYAyIBAQ
Join a channel
- If another user shares a QR code, you will be able to scan it directly with your camera using the
- If the channel is shared from a file or link using the
Sharebutton, you can click on the file or link and you need to choose "Open with Meshtastic".
Troubleshooting shared links: Can't "open with Meshtastic".
1. Go to Android Settings > Apps > Default apps > Meshtastic > Opening links
2. Make sure you have in "links/web address": www.meshtastic.org
3. If you see the option "Open the supported links", make sure it is enabled.
Proceed and you should see a message like "Do you want to switch to the 'Owl Team' channel?". Accept this, and the app will change to this new channel. You will lose any current channel setting!
Setting the same Name and Options directly doesn't work as there are other radio settings (like the unique pre-shared key) encoded in the QR code or link.
You can test changing channels with the QR code shown below.
Send a message
The message window operates like most messaging apps. Note that the
(All) Primary channel contact is always shown and works as a group chat. Other contacts are for Direct Messaging, or private chat.
- Long press contacts or messages for options, like delete.
- Long press a node from the Nodes tab to send Direct Messages.
With LoRa (or any radio) there is some uncertainty that the messages has been received, so there is a confirmation built-in to the protocol. There are small cloud icons shown to the right of the messages you send:
- Cloud with an up arrow: the message is queued in the app, waiting to be handed to the device.
- Cloud only: the device received the message from the app, and it has been sent and transmitted via LoRa.
- Cloud with a check mark: received at least one node's acknowledgement response. Confirmations could be from any one device.
- Cloud crossed out: the initial sender did not receive any confirmation within a certain timeout.
By default there is no long-term store-and-forward of messages, so messages not received during transmission are lost.
View your network
The network list shows all the users (devices) that have connected to the same Channel. For each entry, it shows the last time they were active, their location and distance (when available), and their last known power status. In the example above, Lora V2 is the local user, m8n was last heard from 3 minutes ago and is 29m away, and 25C is active and 498m away.
This is a list of network nodes, unnamed nodes are shown as
Unknown a3c9 (where
a3c9 is the last 4 hex digits from the MAC address.)
- Long press a node from the list to send Direct Messages.
View the map
The Map tab will show a local map with an icon for each active mesh node that has a known position. The users names are shown against the icon.
The map is provided by Mapbox (free-tier), and the map data is sourced from OpenStreetMap OSM. Mapbox currently requires analytics to be enabled for you to use their mapping system. There is currently no off-line maps (phone needs mobile data or Wifi), although this will be improved in the future. If you don't see the features that you'd expect on the map then head over to OpenStreetMap OSM where you can contribute new data to the map.
Pressing the three vertical dots in the top right corner shows the configuration menu.
The debug panel allows you to see all packets sent between the application and the device. This can be useful for debugging purposes.
Broadcast position period
This allows you to disable or change the frequency with which your location is broadcast across the mesh. By default, this is set to 900 seconds (15 minutes). The minimum time this can be set for the default channel is 375 seconds, the reasons for which have been discussed on the forum.
Device sleep period (now disabled by default & no longer recommended)
ESP32 devices can enter sleep mode to save battery life. During sleep Bluetooth is turned off. This setting allows the length of the sleep mode to be changed from the default 300 seconds (5 minutes). After this time period, they awake to check the phone for any queued messages and then go back to sleep, alternating between sleep and awake states. Receiving a message over LoRa (the LoRa receiver never switches off) or pressing a program button (if there is one on the device) also awakes the device.
This allows you to save all your position data with GPS coordinates into a .csv (comma separated value) file on your phone. This feature is similar but independent from the device range test module, and results may differ.
This allows you to change between light and dark themes, or to select the system default.
Clicking this shows the current app version.