April 26, 2005 - Vancouver, WA

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Welcome to the second edition of Qnews, Qorvus Systems bi-monthly newsletter. We'll do our best to make it both brief and useful! As always, your suggestions are most welcome.

Tom Sharples

News Flash!

Wireless Tech Radio, Steve Stroh and Marlon Schaffer's highly-regarded online talk show, will be interviewing Tom Sharples, our President, this Wednesday April 27 at 10:00AM EDT (7:00AM PDT). This show is a must-hear if you're in the industry; for more info see:

How to set-up Dual Radio Qnodes

As more and more of our clients roll out networks to provide VOIP and other streaming content services to their customers, the ability to easily support dual radios has really become important. Dual-radio nodes offer several advantages: when used as wireless repeater nodes, they allow you to offer more committed downstream bandwidth over several hops, longer distances between nodes, and easier in-fill coverage in remote locations. When used as gateways, they double or triple the number of downstream nodes and clients you can handle at the gateway.

Both the Qnode and the QnodeJr can be ordered in dual-radio configurations. Two of the more common installation scenarios are shown below. The first scenario is what is commonly used as a master distribution point, often on a relatively high water tower or high-point at the center of the desired coverage area. Two or three sector antennas are deployed to provide even coverage to a 240 or 360 degree area, and lower-lying roof-top Qnodes are then used to extend pervasive wireless mesh coverage to entire parts of town, or to outlying client premises equipment such as the often used rootenna / cb3 combinations.

Dual-radio mesh gateway

The second diagram shows a dual-radio Qnode used as a mesh repeater. One radio is used as backhaul to upstream nodes or the gateway, while the other is used for customer access. This arrangement allows good control of system bandwidth and allows reasonable bandwidth to be available up to 4 hops upstream of the gateway. Even better performance can be obtained by using the radios strictly for mesh and restricting client access to a third radio or switch attached to the Qnode's ethernet port.

Dual-radio mesh repeater

One of the nice things that Qcode does is the way it manages dual radios. Our lead network engineer has modified the bridge system to assign one IP to both radios, and differentiate them at the mac layer. This has two big advantages over the LW way:

First, it greatly simplifies the Wiana map because you won't have all those oddball 10.x.x.x addresses showing up all over the place.

Second, it makes AODV work much more reliably, especially in terms of rapidly finding paths, locking to preferred gateways, and quickly finding alternate paths if the primary gateway goes off-line.

Speaking of 10.x addresses...

Latest software!

Our team has been diligently working on improvements to our flagship Qcode 2.x code, and is just finalizing the release of the latest version, Qcode 2.5. This version has several significant improvements over the previous releases, including:

  • 10.x.x.x addresses are now usable for the gateway and wireless nodes. In previous versions of the code (and all LW code), 10.x.x.x addresses were not permitted because that Class A space was reserved for use in second radios. This is important especially for those of you who supply mesh radio services to governmental and educational institutions, where the use of the 10.x.x.x. private Class A address space is common (instead of 192.168.x.x) Only 10.253.253.x remains reserved for wormhole use.
  • Built-in local VPN authorization and password management. This feature, added to the Automac system in the Captive Portal page, makes it really easy to setup yourself or others to manage the gateway and downstream nodes using pptp VPN, without relying on outside radius or wiana which can often be very slow.
  • Static DHCP assignment which allows you to assign a permanent private address to an outside client device. This is of great help in setting up IP cameras, bar-code readers, and other gadgets where you may not have access to the internal setup, but where you want to host-map to that device for control or data interface purposes.
  • MAC layer client rejection Have you ever had a client radio repeatedly associate with the wrong node? This feature solves that problem.
  • Updated firewall, traffic throttling, and QoS system We have improved the original system for increased backhaul tunnel performance and overall system reliability.
  • Improved traffic and packet error graphing system This allows you to see the quality of your radio connection. If you are having problems with bandwidth or poor signal, this could help you solve that problem by quantifying the performance of your radio. With this information you can make an informed decision on how best to change your network settings.
  • New Qcode update system This allows current customers to upgrade to the latest versions of Qcode via the Internet, whenever you want.

Qspot Payment System!

In addition, we're now installing our Qspot self-serve hotspot system. This is a simple but elegant solution that requires no ongoing fees or external servers other than Paypal itself.

  • Easily installs on your gateway and target nodes, and redirects customers to a page in which one or more purchase selections are made available, such as 1 day or 1 week of internet access time for a fee that you set.
  • Once a customer makes his selection, they are directed to Terms of Use (that you can edit) and then to Paypal where their credit-card info is collected.
  • The Paypal system then posts back to the gateway and the mac table is opened for the selected time duration. After the time has elapsed, the customer's mac is removed.
  • More information is available at

Qspot is an easy to use and manage system that's intended primarily for use in locations such as RV parks, marinas, hotels, etc, rather than as long-term subscriber management for WISPs. For turn-key WISP applications we continue to recommend the CMUPS system from Feeedpro, or of course you can set up your own accounting system using radius and other off-the-shelf packages.

New Installations!

A number of new clients are discovering the benefits of rolling out their networks with the Qnode or upgrading their existing Locustworld networks to the Qcode. So this month, we crossed the 50 deployed networks mark; we're in 20 states ( including the 30-story Dragon Cement Building which is the tallest structure in Maine ) and several foreign countries including New Zealand. Our average client has 10 nodes in service using our technology, and our largest client has 30 dual-radio nodes providing service to a 200 square mile area!

Odds and ends...

Problems with the latest SMC radio

We recently found that the latest version of the SMC2532W radio no longer works with Qnode (or the Locustworld code either for that matter). This annoying problem is due to SMC switching to another design that uses what's generally known as the softMAC or short-flash firmware system. This is basically a way for SMC to save a few pennies by requiring a secondary dram firmware load on boot-up for any card to work. Unfortunately there's no secondary firmware available that's Linux compatible. After tearing our hair out trying several ways to overcome this problem, we decided it was not going to work out. So we're now planning to change over to the Zcomax 325HP pcmcia cards for the Qnode. Zcomax is the original manufacturer of the earlier version of the SMC card, so compatibility is assured.

We will also have these cards available to our Qnode / Qcode clients as spare parts in the two versions: Zcomax 325HP (200mw) and the Zcomax 325HP+ (300mw). Pricing for the 200 mw will be about $65, and the 300 mw will be around $95. Availability will be secondary to the needs of our manufacturing partner, and there may be a lead time of several weeks. So get your orders in now!

Internet Downloads!

We're now beta-testing a simplified internet download procedure so that new customers can initiate the download and update process directly. This should be generally available within the next two weeks.

New Kernel!

We're now starting to test our new kernel that is based on 2.6 with Atheros support. Early results look very promising but there's still a lot of work to be done; we hope to be able to roll out beta-test installations within the next several months.

If you haven't looked lately at our meshforum or meshnotes, this would be a great time- we've really expanded the available information on both sites quite a bit over the past few weeks.

Once again, we really appreciate your ongoing support, and wish you all the very best for a healthy and prosperous 2005.


Your Team at Qorvus Systems
Tom, Darwin, Adam, Gary, George, Pankaj, Shirley, and Mike

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