LoRa Meshtastic

Has anyone fallen into this rabbit hole yet? Range is pretty incredible and with the mesh network can be interested indefinitely. Ordered a couple nodes and looking forward to see what it is capable of.

I’ve played around with digi xbee modules and their mesh networking is phenomenal. it even supports hardware aes encryption in the module to protect comms. just set your keys and put serial in, get serial out, with radio comms encrypted. mesh is automatically arranging and self healing. automatic delivery confirmation and retry is also supported.

modules are spendy though. come in 900mhz and 2.4ghz variants, and each with different possible power outputs.

power use can be pretty high though. battery operated applications may suffer or require very tight power controls and tricky timings between nodes.

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Interesting. The nodes I picked up are sub 50$ and adding solar and a battery will put me under 70$ stock people are getting 10 miles. Some are claiming 200 miles with line of sight and upgraded antenna

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started with a couple of these just to test headless range.

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I have a couple Meshtastic devices here where I live in the US. It seems as though it’s blowing up in the UK, but I haven’t detected any other nodes locally even when driving around town with one, although I’m still using the antennas that they came with so that could be a factor.

judging by your username you may see a few others pop up in Metro-Detroit :slight_smile:

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is there any integration with home assistant for meshtastic?

Yep, as long as you connect it to your mqtt server. There’s pretty detailed documentation around it too


keep us posted, its a super cool tech :+1:


I recently wrote an article all about Meshtastic (and lots more articles and videos on the subject) on my website, please check it out and let me know if you have any questions

Meshtastic Messenger

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Someone has a node running 2.7km (1.7miles) from my house. I live in a built up city area. How good is reception to it likely to be if I set up a node? I have access to my rooftop if needed.
Ideally I’d like to set up the least number of nodes for good reception between house and workshop, 4.5km (2.8miles) away.
Also, I see they can send back GPS signals. Is there a unit small enough to act as a lost drone retrieval beacon?

Well long range effectivness is based on line of sight (LOS). So even from your rooftop would you have a good LOS to your workshop? At that distance it’s 50/50 whether you would get a signal but i would definitely recommend a node on the rooftop in addition to one for your device. A simple heltec lora should be sufficient as an extender node unless you want to go for a full rooftop aerial. Then you get into power of your signal and legal ham licence requirements (unless you wish to completely disregard this aspect). Depends on any building obstructions on the LOS. You say it’s a built up area but do you have a lot of tall building that would cause signal obstruction? What frequency do you want to run at? Can’t comment on gps as it’s not a feature i explicitly want to use.

I’m running two 433mhz devices and get an okay signal within 1 mile outside of central london but within m25 areas. But they are purely for running between these two devices rather than the rest of the mesh network. I would probably get better signal and better meshing on an 815mhz device.

Andy Kirby a uk youtuber has some good videos on starting up with lora if you’re interested. I appreciate you said you’re not in the uk anymore but i think a lot of the principles are relevant and he seems to have a lot of experience using lora.


So ive went Pretty hard into this tech.

Few things i have learned.

height matters entirely on antenna placement due to LOS. However with a rooftop antenna i can get reliably about 1.5-2 miles between nodes with obstructions using a 5.8db rooftop antenna.

There are 2 basic categories for node selection. Setup is almost identical for all of them. Most devices dont have a case (except for the HeltecV3’s which i dont necessarily reccomend)

ESP32 Based - Super cheap initially and great to get started into the Mesh. They are however incredibly power hungry.

NRF52 Based - Harder to come by and slightly more expensive than the ESP32 counterparts. Ill get into this more below.

Ill start by going with the least expensive options and working my way up from there. and i am only covering devices

For the TL;DR buy a Rak Wisblock 4630 starter kit and the module you would want for it (gps, evironmental (air quality, temp, barometric pressure) and be done with it. with gps and environmental telemetry you will spend around 60$ and have an arguably better node than anything else.)


  • ESP32 Based Nodes
  1. Heltec Wireless Stick - ~15+shipping - No screen, slightly longer in size, BT, Wifi, IPEX Lora Connection, Antenna, No GPS. Decent device for a home node because of the integrated Wifi connection and no screen.
    Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 9.50.38 AM

  2. HeltecV3 - ~18 (+2 for case) - Arguably the best starter node to just get in the hobby. Come with screen, BT, IPEX Lora connection, Antenna, case (for extra $$) and JST pigtail for Battery, Wifi, No GPS. in using a single 18650 expect between 8-12hrs of battery. these are power hungry devices but funtion well overall. would be decent for a home node or a backup node. Lots of great user created 3d Printable cases.

  3. T-beam (30-70) - These vary in price because they have different models. The cheapest option has USB-Micro, SMA Antenna, Wifi, and no Screen, No GPS. for 2$ more you can get a screen on the lowest device. the most expensive option goes up to the T-beam supreme which has USB-C the U-Blox L76K core which is slightly better battery performance, GPS, and Temperature compensated Crystal Oscillators. All of the T-Beams have 18650 holders on them. overall size is about the same, features are all about the same. I have the lower end UsbMicro version and i am not a big fan.
    Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 10.04.29 AM
    Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 10.03.24 AM

  4. T-deck - ~$50 - Big color screen (Meshtastic only outputs black and green terminal looking screen. Integrated Keyboard, track ball, Wifi, BT, IPEX Connector, Flat Antenna (trash), Microphone, Speaker, JST Pigtail for battery. This overall looks really cool, and it is. you arent required to have a phone to use it and it can be a standalone device. However as of writing this the current firmware build for Meshtastic doesnt utilize this device to its fullest. Navigation is weak, you dont have many options and it is limited to sending and receiving on the primary channel.

  • NRF52 Devices
  1. Rak Wireless Wisblock Meshtastic Starter Kit (9007 w/4630 core) ($27 +shipping) - ipex bt and lora connection, No Screen, No GPS, No Wifi. Barebones this has a core module with 2 IPEX connectors. One for BT one for a Lora Antenna. They package it with 2 PCB Antenna that connect to the IPEX connector. RAK sells modules for these, each wisblock kit has open spots for 5 different modules. The modules are extensive. GPS, Power Telemetry, Moisture Sensor, Air Quality, Environmental, Barometric Pressure, Light, Presence, It seems like they add more modules every week for these. each sensor is around 5 to 20. has 2 JST openings. one for battery, one for solar. Comes with a USB-C Cable and a ton of screws for connecting it to different boards. I reccomend this kit above any of the others. I noted that there are shipping costs with this. its around 27$ from Rak directly but shipping is gonna be around 15-20$ from china. Even with Ali-express you’re going to find that to get a base level one of these is going to be around 40$. But here is why i reccomend this one over any of the others. 7 Day battery life off of one single 18650. Absolutely incredible power saving from this device. Add a 3d printed case, and a screen and its a perfect mobile node. Throw it in a project case with an antenna and solar panel and its a perfect solar node. Highly reccomend.

  1. T-Echo (54$) - SMA Antenna, Battery, E-Ink Screen, BT, GPS, Environmental telemetry, NFC, Capacitive Buttons, Case. Great all in one mobile solution. Battery life lasts around 2-3 days. This is a solid device, i just wish the battery lasted longer. and by comparison it is tiny, a bit bigger than the heltec V3.

Those are the devices i have personally and reccomend at best the Rak Wireless kit, and the T-echo in second place.

All devices use the Meshtastic android or IOS app to communicate with. All devices if it doesnt have a screen you can solder on an i2c screen. Also if it doesnt have GPS you can solder on a GNSS GPS module. My daily device that i carry around is a Rakwireless with GPS sensor and i2c screen. and i love it.

Since i first got into this ive got around 15 nodes now. 9 solar nodes ive deployed. I created our MQTT topic for michigan and we have went from 2 nodes (myself and coincidentally a semi-popular minecraft youtuber that i was unaware was close to me) to well over 100 nodes in the Michigan Mesh with my area having almost complete Lora coverage.

Which is really nice to know that if communications arrays go down i can at least have texting capabilities within my area.


Dumb question, can you run any of them off USB battery bank?
What happen if you receive a message while the receiver is off?

Yep, all can be ran off of USB battery banks. In fact the Voltaic banks are preferred since it allows for passthrough charging.

There are 2 paths.

  1. messages are stored on the device that is sent at a 3 hop max. Meaning it will retian the message on device and send it to any node in the mesh up to 3 times in an attempt to reach the receiving node. The mesh will then rebroadcast the message 3 hops until the message is received and the node reappears on the mesh.

If MQTT is enabled it hits an MQTT server, and the server distributes it to the node when it appears.

As long as 1 node on the mesh is connected to an MQTT server it can serve all messages to the network independantly.


Thanks for the info

You make it hard for me not to jump in :sweat_smile:

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you can check the meshmap and see if anything is already setup in your area

its a fun little thing to get into and its pretty cheap to start out. I just think the heltec devices are too power hungry and for a little bit more you get a much better device.


Yeah I’ve sunk some money on this tech. Bought first ones about a year ago and now that it has made some new rounds I’ve bought some for my friends also. I’ve thought to contact local ham radio club to see if we could build city wide network. :grin:
Now waiting for a T-Echo (if it comes, last order from other place was cancelled) and need battery connector for my portable heltech V3 setup.

My first time playing with electronics with batteries that I’ve assembled myself so only when receiving product I know that I need another thing before getting everything up and running fully :grin::joy: (nothing hard but new discoveries what I need to find)