The Centennial Mesh project aims 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. The physical site of the testbed is in the Centennial Campus of NCSU. 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.
The vision for the 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.
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Accordingly, the goal of the CentMesh project is 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 following students have contributed significant effort into developing CentMesh and have been partially supported by SOSI:
The Institute for Next Generation IT Systems (ITng), and its constituent OSCAR Labs, are assisting with Phase 3 deployment (see below). Other people key to the CentMesh effort are John Bass (Director, OSCAR Labs, NCSU), John Streck (Technical Director, ITng, NCSU), Dennis Kekas, Mladen Vouk and Peng Ning (SOSI PIs). Wayne Clarke (formerly ITng, currently Hunt Library Technical Director) and Phil Emer (formerly Director, Friday Institute, NCSU) have previously provided valuable support and advice for CentMesh.
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 consists of poletop installations at selected locations on Centennial
Campus, and will provide a (semi-)permanent testbed installation for researcher-users of CentMesh.
Installation has been completed in late 2011. It is currently undergoing final
electrical and safety inspection, and network testing is scheduled for late
February - May 2012.
CentMesh in the News