Crazy Uplink Possibilities?

I would be curious to know what the best uplink hardware characteristics are? (power needed hardware, cost) Is it possible to broadcast back, up to the satellites? Getting internet to all reaches of the world is a real game changer, some uplink bandwidth also is very huge. Maybe you have solved this with the new low orbit satellites…

In the world of crazy ideas than might work can I throw a couple out? The “cantenna” has been successful in reaching long distances with wifi; could a cantenna be designed up boost a wifi signal enough the satellite could read it. One might have a satellite dish with a cell phone charger on the end strategically placed where your phone then becomes a broadcaster/receiver. I could imagine women in Africa cooking dinner early so they can use the pot to broadcast and receive signals.

Cell phones vary greatly in technology. While I suspect the government has satellites that can read our cell phone signals, some phones have ranges of 20-40 miles (random internet site), (digital phones are actually less powerful than old analog phones.) Could a phone be cycled, turn it on and off, in such a way as to morse code a transmission to a satellite? The satellite could keep track of when it heard the SSID and when it didn’t. Over the period of a few minutes, could one transmit a a few hundred characters? A text message. Using this cellular transmitter -coupled with a cantenna or dish would it be possible to have some (very limited) upload capacity?

I know there are inflatable satellite dishes-and I guess dishes are a thing of precision; could a mylar ballon-the type sick people get in a hospital- be turned into a satellite dish?

Even a small radio -that could be plugged into a headphone jack on a phone and turned off and on might make this so much more accessible.

I am just very excited to see that internet is going out to all the world as is… and that it is cheap, and sustainable. While the passenger pigeon, pony express and morse code all revolutionized communication, some communication back, even at the level of morse code will mean so much to people.

I suppose we could always take pictures of the words spelled out with rocks, (ie SOS on the beach) but there has to be better ways.

Thanks for thoughts…


The mobile satcom terminals I use have a minimum 40W BUC (The BUC is a block up-converter and amplifier on the Tx side) the biggest and most bandwidth hungry have 400W BUC’s.
I have used the inflatable antenna you mention, and yes, they could be used, but that is only one part of the chain. You would need to purchase a channel through the satellite, and associated bandwidth. Plus the unit itself is expensive, 70-80K GBP, and don’t forget RADHAZ and your licence to transmit!

In my opinion, where OUTERNET will gain most traction, are the low cost but high capability Rx only terminals.
Sure, there will be global internet roll out in the future, but OUTERNET fills that gap, and is also anonymous, so can’t be “interfered with” by ISPs or government.

Uplink isn’t a necessity for OUTERNET to be a success!
Remember a geostationary satellite is over 35,000 Km out in space!

as a ham radio user

outernet can get some cube sat that get ax.25 from vhf o uhf freq from earth , an them relay them to masters sats ?

here some example on iss

for example send twits over aprs to outernet from earth


What about a mesh smart phone network where it is understood beforehand that nothing shared on the network will be private? Sort of like a public bulletin board. So there is no need for any private accounts or security. Would that make it easier to implement? It wouldn’t be for private email, digital purchasing or banking. It would just work like a public bulletin board. If you want to communicate privately with someone on the mesh network, you could post your phone number or email and take the exchange off the mesh network, if you want. The mesh network would be entirely for public communications.

This mesh network could, of course, link to different satellite transmitters stationed in different areas, which, in turn, could transmit message to Outernet satellites to bridge some of the larger gaps in the mesh network and link the planet.

These mesh networking phones could be simple, cheap, non-proprietary and open source to avoid interference by the big phone manufacturers.

@Spacebar, wouldn’t the smartphones require the network infrastructure to support them?

Outernet delivers data, where no form of communication exists.

The mesh network is the infrastructure, if I understand it correctly. As long as there was an unbroken chain of phones within range of each other, messages can by transmitted to a satellite transmitter hub which, in turn could send the message up to a sat.

Appreciate everyone’s thoughts…

Having one way broadcast email would be easy as one could simply encrypt the email messages. That is to say current cryptology using large prime numbers could provide a basic one way email broadcast. The local computer would receive all messages and discard everything that is not tagged for you. Your local encryption key could decipher only messages sent to you. (Ultimately, anyone with a big enough computer or enough time could decipher all the messages as all encryption can be broken.)

I do really like the idea of an Ad-Hoc network. To some extent the message app Fire Chat does this already.

One could set up a smartphone app, when out in the field -off network- messages could be broadcast over an ad-hoc wifi network smartphone to smartphone. Every phone would try to hold as many messages as possible. -Sort of like a person trying to remember every piece of gossip they heard.- Then when a phone got connected to a network. (Someone went to town, maybe the local bus driver…) all these messages could be uploaded to the internet. Some computer could process all these messages, and send out all replies. This return packet could then be passed -phone to phone- as the the phone physically moves back off network and in range of other phones. If there were a high density of phones (say a city after a hurricane), it could relay phone to phone right to a network connection. (in minutes) Most of the world that is not internet connected has some connectivity. (Buses passing through, local town, internet cafe/uplink somewhere.) This could provide a cross between a sort of snail mail -moving data physically- and internet.

While I am not a computer programmer and can’t say exactly how difficult it would be, this may be a lot of work for limited gain. I think this approach might be practical today as many smart phones have lots of extra storage capacity -Gigabytes of it. If messages- web page requests- private email ect were limited to say 2 K per message and a phone or tablet moving in the wild had 8 gig of spare storage dedicated to such on app, that would be a lot of messages. Given general knowledge of how people congregate in towns/markets and bus schedules. I think an app like this could give a upload/ email/ page request capacity to within 24 hours or so to everyone.

Viruses, security, and data processing all represent some issues with this. I would imagine one could take a packet of data (say 2K) time stamp it, encrypt (part/all) of it and hash it. This time/hash would become the unique identifier. Then every phone could have its share group 1,000’s of packets of data /news. It shares, the app just looks at the packet ID’s and only keeps new/unique ones. These it will share with everyone. Given transfer and processing speed, it probably makes most sense to transfer first and process second. Once uploaded, a server could give a list of received packets, this list transferred phone to phone could let everyone know certain packets can now be deleted. Each person could search for a packet that was tagged for them (say with there phone number). Interestingly, one could even make this into a bit of ad-hoc to ad-hoc outernet where each phone hosts a small portion of general knowledge and the internet.

All very complicated.

Right now, you need a simple set of hardware and boom, data for free.

All the additional hardware, setup, support, for what?

Outernet isn’t a replacement for the internet, its a simple way to get data from those who have it, to those who have not. And critically in my opinion, it cannot be interfered with on the way, moderated, firewalled, and its free.

And, believe it or not, I work for the company which is building the oneweb satellites. Oneweb will probably impact Outernet, but the data delivered by a global internet system wont be free, in almost all senses of the word!

If anyone is interested in uploading content/files, please let us know. It would be great to include license-free content that the general public would find interesting. Additionally, if you are interested in testing encrypted communications for delivery, you can also do that; we’ll just treat it as a normal file and your recipient will need to obtain the keys somehow.

Mesh phone networks are a quite different technology to Outernet.

However you might be interested in this project:

1 Like

Yes, The Serval Project is very interesting. I have done some additional research, google disabled the Ad-hoc mode in Android, the phone used by the masses, (primarily because carriers didn’t want this to be taking place). There are some work arounds, (Serval ect…) but there appear to be some issues with the ad-hoc networks performing well.

Considering cheap android tablets (<$35) and solar chargers (<$10) I think this could still be a game changer. Having more or a business background than programing background I am still investigating possibilities.

Update: Having given lots more thoughts to the above scenario, it would appear that only the right software (android app) would be needed. While limited primarily to marginal (poor or out of network) people and emergency situations, It could be big.

I don’t have a programing background, if there are android developers interested in a project like this I would be interested in discussing. I have been researching what would be needed to write such and app.

Hi Kevin

I’m not sure what you are suggesting? The Serval project has made a .apk file you can install on Android devices (with some limitations as you note) What are you suggesting changing about their project?

It’s also worth noting that single radio mesh networks really don’t scale that well & the range of WiFi is very limited.

Considering the falling prices of smart phones and tablets and their low power requirements, is a national mesh network becoming more and more feasible?

Suppose a start up decided to enhance an existing local mesh network by investing in lots of cheap tablets they could strategically place to mesh link a few cities to each other? And perhaps these tablets could be solar powered, as well?

And once cities across the nation were linked, this hypothetical company could start reinforcing the mesh network by placing more tablets within the cities to reduce battery consumption on people’s private phones?

So basically, you just keep building these mesh chain links using cheap solar panels and tablets instead of expensive and large cell phone towers?

Obviously, each tablet would have to be locked up and secured from public tampering and theft but perhaps such mesh linking can be incorporated as part of existing infrastructure with little disruption such as on telephone poles, electrical towers, power stations, train routes, lamp posts, etc?

The tablet could be put in a locked metal box with a wifi antenna and a solar panel. And perhaps be hooked into the electrical grid in case the solar panel battery goes below a certain threshold?

If this could be done with thousands to millions of raspberry pi’s instead of smart phones and/or tablets, that would reduce the cost even more because, as you know raspberry pi’s are going for $5 now and I would suppose a company could get a bulk order rate.

My view is the main barriers to scaling single radio mesh networks are to do with physics not economics. Even with free mesh devices such a network is not going to be very effective. Here is an introduction to the problems and a slightly more advanced free book

I’ve spent almost ten years messing about with various types of wireless mesh networks, mesh or otherwise. I’m not saying it’s entirely useless technology, but it’s never going to connect a whole country at any kind of useful speed.

1 Like

Do these problems decrease somewhat when the data transmitted is not live voice? I really don’t care about making phones calls over such a network. I’m more interested in creating an alternative largely free internet.

I would be perfectly happy to leave live voice transmission to the cell phone companies and just create a data and text network.

Also what about hardwiring mesh nodes when that is a convienant option such as with a string of nodes on telephone poles. Would that reduce some “hop” issues?

My assumption was we were talking about a data network. Voice is really only feasible over one or two hops.

If you are seriously interested take a look at making a 5.8Ghz network. Possibly using & maybe some $50 dual radio devices in waterproof boxes at rooftop level. You probably won’t cover a city, but you might make a functional neighbourhood network.

I’m not going to be seriously interested unless it could be done over national distances. Obviously, you’ve explored this far more than I so I will defer to your experience.

I imagine short of what Outernet is doing with sats, you see no new existing technology that can overcome the technological issues and expense?

it all depends on what you’re hoping for, I got the impression you were hoping for a ‘internet like’ service.

If you are happy with a very low bandwidth network then there are interesting things happening which can scale, but it’s only going to be 0.3 kbps to 50 kbps.

1 Like

It’s not just a technological or even an economical issue. There’s also a fair bit of politics. If there is no genuine interest in implementing a solution, then it’s a bit harder than just coming up with it. I’ve heard of a village (forgot where) that was off the mobile grid because there weren’t enough potential subscribers to warrant setting up a cell tower. So they got together and got their own up and operated their own cell network on their own.