So my garage is full of groceries and in front of Harvind's house there's a 16' moving van loaded up with oversized tents, radio tower segments and jugs of water. It must be time for Burning Man.
So what's new with OpenBTS at Burning Man this year?
First, we are moving into multi-ARFCN systems. Last year, we ran a 3-sector system with 1 ARFCN per sector. This year, we will run two sectors with 3 ARFCNs per sector. So with 33% less equipment and about half as much power, we will double our capacity.
Second, we are using new hardware packaging. This will be our first real-world deployment of our second generation radio. In bench testing so far, this new radio is giving considerably better performance than the old USRP + RFX hardware, and at considerably smaller size, power consumption and cost. The BTS packaging is also more compact than 2009, using a 4U rack-mount chassis similar to the one used in Niue, placed in a weatherproof travel rack recycled from thePfarrkirchen workshop. And we are running a 90' tower instead of a 70' tower, using LMR-600 instead of LMR-400. Those changes should give an effective improvement of about 3 dB in overall performance.
(Harvind running one of the BTS units though its paces with the CMD-57.)
Third, we are hoping to have the air to ourselves. We know that Commnet will not be running a portable site from Frog Pond again. We have heard that they have a fulltime site in Gerlach, but hopeful that the coverage and capacity of that site will be too small to cause a lot of the complications we experienced last year. Here's to hoping. We'll see what happens when we get there.
Fourth, we will actually and deliberately route calls to the outside world. We have not done that before but it will probably make the system a lot more useful. We will, however, time-limit calls to prevent abuses. We will not be routing inbound calls, which will do a lot to preserve the social nature of the event.
We hit the road tomorrow and arrive on the playa at 4:30 & G on Thursday morning. Drop by for a visit if you are in the neighborhood. Just look for the tower.