AREDN Mesh Nodes on Red Mountain

In a collaborative effort between K7RSW, KF7PSM and K7FYI, the WA7HXO repeater site on Red Mountain now hosts two AREDN mesh nodes.  Red Mountain is located southeast of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, just northwest of Boulder City.  The repeater site is at approximately 3600' ASL, has a commanding view of the majority of Las Vegas and is home to numerous other amateur, commercial and government radio installations.

The Red Mountain site was chosen, in part, to provide coverage to the southeastern part of the valley and because it is line of sight to Mt. Potosi, where an AREDN mesh installation by N7ZEV & KE6BXT already exists.  Initially, it was thought that the Red Mountain site and the (future) AREDN installation at Apex would also be line of sight to provide for the direct backhaul link on 5.8 GHz. However, the ground plane structure of the Boulder City VORTAC (BLD) and the elevation of the HXO tower prevents this connection.  Instead, the 5.8 GHz backhaul with Apex will link through the KE7XO tower. 

Installation of the 5.8 GHz AREDN mesh node, which consists of a Ubiquity Rocket M5 and a RocketDish RD-5G30-LW was seamless.  KE7XO had prepositioned his Nanostation M5 ahead of the installation.  Aftter the RocketDish was manually aligned based on visual landmarks and the radio was powered on, it linked without adjustment!  Once linked, the KE7XO Nanostation M5 was replaced with a AirGrid M5.  The installation of the 2.4 GHz AREDN mesh node, however, was troublesome.

Noting the fantastic performance of the Mt. Potosi Rocket M2 and it's 120 degree sector antenna, a Rocket M2 and a 90 degree sector antenna were chosen for Red Mountain.  The 90 degree sector choice reflects the field of view of Las Vegas from that site, which is bounded by mountains on the south and east.  With a Bullet M2 and a 24 dBi dish prepositioned in southwest Las Vegas (K7FYI), the Rocket M2 was installed with a clear view of the Las Vegas Valley.  Unfortunately, it was deaf.  Testing across multiple channels showed that its performance increased slightly at higher frequencies, but not enough to support viable AREDN mesh connections. 

A second trip to Red Mountain by K7RSW, AA7AU and K7FYI allowed for additional testing with other gear.  Similar performance was noted using other 2.4 GHz radios and antennas - 2.4 GHz nodes on Red Mountain were essentially deaf.  In an effort to temporarily get "something" on the air in the 2.4 GHz band from Red Mountain, a Bullet M2 was installed in an abandoned steel dish that has been at the site unused for as long as K7RSW can remember (many, many years!).  It worked and it established a PtP connection with K7FYI, linking the southwest side of the valley to numerous existing mesh users on the north side of the valley via a DTD connection in the HXO shack and the 5.8 GHz link to KE7XO.

The working theory is that harmonics from the Boulder City VORTAC site are interfering with the 2.4 GHz band at the site.  Other sources of RF interference are also possible, given the numerous commercial and government microwave installations on the mountain.  The group is currently working on a plan to shield the Rocket M2 and its sector antenna so that the goal of providing PtMP coverage is attained. 

Red Mountain Radio Shack Red Mountain 90 Degree Sector Antenna and Dish
Red Mountain Radio Shack Rocket M2 /w 90° Sector antenna -- Rocket M5 /w 6.8° Dish
Red Mountain Las Vegas Valley View Red Mountain VORTAC
Las Vegas Valley Below Red Mountain Red Mountain VORTAC