Near to Lake Victoria in the western part of Kenya, the ARO Fab Lab has a 1024k down, 512k up Linkstar satellite connection that they’d like to distribute to neighboring schools and business areas. Three intrepid labbers have been drinking from the firehose this week in Nairobi learning “everything” to install a network themselves. They’ve been part of the Lower Kebete deployment team all week during the day, and backfilling on theory and processes at night. Late into the night.

Proposed mesh network near Kisumu. North points down. This entire network costs just around $1,500 in hardware!

It’s just past midnight-thirty and I’ve just sent them off to bed, Tom, Lawrence, and Hansel, so they can return in the early AM and get started on planning then flashing and configuring devices and fabricating the reflector. Tom and Lawrence have been here the whole night figuring out the logistics and planning for the above network. Before they leave on Saturday they owe me a rough schedule of install and I’ve extracted a promise of emailed updates and photos so we can follow along.

Here’s the part that just blows me away. Based on their device count, the approximate total cost of this network is $1,580.

  • picostations 4@$80

  • nanostations 6@$50

  • dumb switches 3@$100 (we’ll use the Linksys head nodes but as just switches)

  • cache/head node 1@$100

  • Ah, <sigh> :)