This page provides some background information about the CentMesh project, its inception, goals, CentMesh in the news, and also a picture gallery.
The vision for NCSU's Centennial Campus has been crafted by academics and researchers, and the recognized aim of the campus is to be a "Living Laboratory", providing a mission and goal of the campus to actively aiding researchers and educators, and participating in their missions. Centennial Campus is an initiative unique in academic environments, and represents a remarkable visionary coming together of academia, government, and private industry. 1,334 acres of land were made available to NCSU under a land grant from the state of North Carolina, and a significant fraction of it has been built out in the 22 years of its existence, but the larger part of the land remains open for expansion.
On this Centennial Campus, the aim of the NCSU Centennial Wireless Mesh project was to build a highly programmable, extensible, open testbed to support research and education on the design of wireless mesh networks, as well as IT systems and applications enabled by wireless mesh networks, using open source code built by NCSU students and faculty, and re-using other open source code. The project is called CentMesh for short, and has been alternatively called SOSIMesh or MeshBed at various times.
NCSU Centennial Campus, around the time the CentMesh project started
Accordingly, the goal of the CentMesh project was to provide a highly flexible testbed environment to users (wireless network/security researchers), provide modular programming library to the researcher-user, allow researchers to code only the part(s) of the stack they want to experiment with (and re-use others with traditional approaches, or from other researchers to create synergy), enable network design and security research involving routing, power, channel, scheduling control, and finally, to develop an extensible environment which can continue to grow in capability and richness beyond the originally envisioned research project.
The second phase put individual mesh nodes on pushcarts. Pushcarts with equipment constitute self-contained wireless mesh nodes, with 4 wireless interfaces each. The full description of the hardware used to build the pushcart nodes is available at the CentMesh Wiki. The purpose of this phase is to benchmark wireless conditions, prove developed software and envisaged hardware strategies in outdoor settings, and survey multiple locations for permanent installation.
The pushcart nodes are useful not only as a phase in testing the entire CentMesh codebase, but also as a key part of the final form of the testbed. They provide the capability to mix nodes of variable position with the fixed position nodes, mobile nodes, mobile clients, and also an easy way to perform wireless calibration with various antenna heights.
Phase 3 consisted of poletop installations at selected locations on Centennial Campus, and provides a (semi-)permanent testbed installation for researcher-users of CentMesh. Installation was completed in late 2011. Network testing was completed in summer of 2012, and since then the facility has been operational.
However, CentMesh continues to be an evolving facility, responsive to the needs of its potential users. We continue developing backend support and tools in order to make the transition between projects easier and faster. We have some SDR nodes (USRP2) that we want to integrate into the facility, but in spring of 2014 we are completely engaged in using the facility in support of the NCSU CentMesh Drones Challenge (information elsewhere on this website).