Convert Router to BBHN Information

Router to Broadband-Hamnet BBHN Instructions

Kevin, KD8OUF; Mike, AB8VS; and Don, WB8GUS each obtained two (or more) of the correct version of WRT54G routers (2013). This allowed us to setup small independent MESH networks (individual nodes) and then together using the six units working on the network all at one time. If you want your own small network, you will need to get at least a pair of compatible routers ~ LinkSys or Ubiquiti. The Broadband-Hamnet (was HSMM-MESH) web site has information on which hardware versions of the routers are compatible with BBHN.

IMPORTANT: You need to have the correct router HARDWARE version(s) to get started. If it is not on the 'supported hardware' list, do not try to use it. See the BBHN hardware list of supported hardware do this before making your purchases. You must have the correct hardware and matching software for that specific hardware for the 'network' to work. {Use the link at the top of their page: "Supported Hardware"}.

Step 1: Browse to the software download page and downloaded the latest "Broadband-Hamnet" software image for your specific router that you wish to convert. Be sure to get the proper software to match to your hardware, the software sets are NOT interchanageable to other router hardware.

The broadband-hamnet site has good instructions for installing the firm ware: Broadband-Hamnet Firmware Instalation Instructions

    • It is reccommended you print there instructions for later use.
    • In there Step 1 of the instructions, click software download page.
    • Download the latest BBHN-MESH firmware for your router(s), it depends on the specific router model number - again they MUST be paired with the correct versions. Ensure that the file name(s) you get end with the bin extension and remember, or write down, exactly where it/they is/are located on your computer. Not a good time to just use your memory.
    • Just follow the steps (very carefully) and you will have it working soon.

Turn off the wireless link on your computer and connect the computer's network cable to one of the router's LAN ports with a ethernet cable. Your computer should have no other network connections, wired or wireless, just the the cable going to the BBHN-MESH router. Please read that again, it is important!

We followed the instructions for "routers with factory firmware".

    • in a Web browser go to ...this is the router's factory setup web page (from LinkSys).
    • user = admin ...assumes no one has changed value.
    • password = admin ...this assumes no one has changed value. If it was changed, search the internet for how to reset to the factory settings on the Linksys router. I will not reference Ubiquiti, as I have not personally converted one (yet).
    • click Administration
    • click Firmware Upgrade
    • click Browse and select the file(s) you need to downloaded, I used bbhn-1.0.0-wrt54g.bin
    • click Upgrade then be patient.

Wait for the router to reboot and blink its LEDs as described in the printed instructions. Unplug the network cable and plug it in again to get the computer to reset its network connection. (You could go thru an 'ipconfig' release and renew process in a DOS window, but the unplug and replug the cable seems easier.)

In the printed instructions, it is important to understand that you will be using the "Node Name" for each router later in configuring your network. Take the time to keep a complete list of the routers you work on (computer or handwriten is fine). The next in these instructions sets up these names. Also, the username, 'root', and the password (we suggest scmesh, see our Shiawassee Mesh Standards for node names and password suggestions, at least initially).

Step 5: Follow the MESH instructions to store a callsign as part of the router's name (part of legal ID requirements). As the control operator, this final step is required before using the routers. We use different callsign names for our routers, a hyphen, then NODE,AP,BRIDGE, or NODE as a router type, a hyphen, then a three digit number. Mine were WB8GUS-NODE-101 and WB8GUS-NODE-102.

As listed our router's list initially had:

    • Username        PW          Hostname/Node Name
    •   root           WB8GUS          WB8GUS-NODE-101
    •   root           WB8GUS          WB8GUS-NODE-102
    •   root           KD8OUF          KD8OUF-NODE-101
    •   root           KD8OUF          KD8OUF-NODE-901-GATEWAY
    •   root              AB8VS             AB8VS-NODE-101
    •   root              AB8VS             AB8VS-NODE-102

After transforming both of your routers into Broadband-Hamnet-v1 nodes and installing two different computers (one on each router)to the router's cabled ethernet LAN ports. Power up both of the routers and both of the computers. Start a web browser on each of the computers and type


into the 'address bar' on each. This will take you to the router's internal setup web page(s). Ask for the mesh network's status, and the web page should list what is connected. Mine was that WB8GUS-NODE-101 can see node WB8GUS-NODE-102 and vice versa (Your node names from your list are what you want to see!)

On one of the computers, click Node Status and then click the second routers node name link. You should be connected to the second routers node status screen, if not, you have missed something and you will need to correct the misstep. If things are well here, you are done with the basic router setup. Disconnect one ethernet cable/computer, we do not need the computer. We will use the wireless connection from one router to work on the second one's setup. Get a web browser up and sign in using the localnode:8080 procedure and start exploring your network from the router/computer still connected. If you have problems getting the localnode:8080 to bring up the router's web page, you probably have an error in the DNS server/network settings on that computer, you will need to correct that condition for the mesh to work properly later.

The OLSR Status should be available for you to review. Look through the information provided, as it will show the various network links, addresses, etc. Become familiar with what is connected on your router. {Note: 24-Aug-2014 A reported bug seems to efffect networks with 15+ nodes in the OSLR operation. Watch for new firmware to correct this.}

If you select "Setup", you will be asked for a username and password. Initially the username is 'root'. The initial password is 'hsmm' ... the first time in you will be required to change the password. To start I suggest you use a regional password, we use 'scmesh' as the password. ['scmesh' is our shorthand for Shiawassee County MESH.] Thus, my user name was 'root' and PW was 'scmesh'. You will need these in the future each time you access this page, do not lose them. Later you can change them for higher security, alway make it something you will be able to remember. You will need this many times when you are starting out. Also, for configuring modes, it is best to have all you nodes using the same set.

We suggest you first select "Help" from the home MESH page and print a copy. It is not to large and has lots of information to assist getting the your routers, nodes, and network operating. It was rewritten with the change from HSMM-MESH to Broadband-Hamnet. An internet search list can be used for more information on what is going on. Again, I like Wikipedia for doing these initial searches. Usually I get information on what I was searching for and additional links for much more detail (at the bottom of the first topic).

What's Next?

So that's how we got started with HSMM-MESH networking. We have had six nodes all operating at the same time with good status on each. This was to support our first Field Day MESH setup in June, 2013 (these were HSMM-MESH levels). We did it again for 2014 FD with BBHN software (much easier with no port forwarding setup or issues). If you want to get started yourself, we suggest that you obtain a pair of routers per the hardware list and get going. The setup is long and detailed, but not really difficult.

Please, go online to get some further tips about Broadband-Hamnet / HSMM-MESH, read up on IP protocols, networking, IP addressing, etc. and have fun learning about MESHing. We are still looking and learning with our local efforts. We make it a club sub-activity on it's own merits, similar to repeater and D-Star activities. Some members control the details and many club members are the users and benefit from the expertise of our sub-group. We are looking at web cameras, VOIP nphones and email with some 'drop off' solar powered expansion nodes. Our group would like county wide coverage for emergency situations in the near future.

When the change to BBHN (from HSMM) was made, the BBHN development team (Texas +) changed the network addressing so that "port forwarding" details were no longer required for simple Field Day Logging. Additionally, N3FJP changed all his programs to 'C language' and the network supporting features. This helped in getting our network operations configured. Now (2014) you just need to plug and play the hardware. Setup one of the computers to use a 'shared drive' for the network logging data and then set the remote nodes to use this shared file location. It played very well for W8QQQ FD logging (SARA club). Messaging (chat) and logging status were shown on all computers correctly and eased the FD operation of four stations at the site. ;<}

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Clock This page was last updated on 15-Jan-2015