Althea Development Update #46: User Interface Design

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for us.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for us.

Our head of outreach Deborah has been organizing local mesh groups in Vancouver BC, Tacoma WA and Portland OR. The biggest challenge is finding good resalable backhaul, it’s a business to business market unused to amateurs. We’re working on making partnerships to simplify that.

Last week we showed off the off grid tower Cascadian Meshnet has been working on. It survived it’s first storm (~50mph gusts) with no damage.

Pre-storm photo of the tower. With two air-grid M’s mounted

On the software side things are coming together for our next major revision. A big feature for this revision is a pretty barebones user interface. It hits all the major points for configuring basic options and seeing what’s going on with the mesh.

Payment handling page on the Althea Dashboard
The connection status page on the Althea Dashboard

A good deal of the work right now is just getting the router to serve the dashboard webpage and then allowing that dashboard webpage to query all the information it needs to present to the user. Feedback on desired options is welcome.

Our bet on Rust continues to pay off, the current router application has a great runtime footprint, even using fully featured libraries for handling http requests and threads it still only requires 20mb of ram.

If we could only get that binary size below 2mb it would be perfect. We may yet make that happen using a binary packer or Xargo.

In general we’re in the integration and polish phase of this release. I’m hoping to be ready to release the next version of Althea’s firmware in a month or so.

This version will be what I consider to be late Alpha. With all the features required for easy setup and basic use. But no functioning payments.

The last thing we’ve been working on is supplier relationships. The logistics challenge of buying, flashing, and then shipping out routers is time consuming and somewhat expensive. Our goal is to have a smooth transition to suppliers, who will be better able to handle the logistics challenges of moving hundreds of devices so that we can scale quickly.

Lots of moving pieces involved in building the infrastructure of the future. But I think we’re staying on top of it ok.