Add Mycelium To Your Mesh Networks

In many parts of the world, days after a good rainfall, it’s fairly common to see various species of mushrooms popping up out of the ground. These mysterious organisms aren’t the whole story, though. The living being is a vast network of hidden fibers, called mycelium, spreading through the ground and into any other organic material it can colonize. Its air of mystery and its vast reach are the inspiration for entire Star Trek shows and, of course, projects like this LoRa-based mesh network called Mycelium.

Mycelium is the invention of [Catamine] and includes many novel features compared to more typical mesh networks. For one, it is intended to be used in low power applications to give users the ability to send messages over a distributed network rather than a centralized network like a cell phone service provider. For another, the messages are able to be encrypted and authenticated, which is not currently possible with other mesh networks such as APRS. The idea is that a large network of people with nothing more complicated than an ESP32, an antenna, and this software would be able to communicate securely in situations where a centralized network is not available, whether that is from something like a natural disaster or from a governmental organization disabling the Internet during a political upheval.

The mesh network is currently in active development, and while messages can not yet be sent, the network is able to recognize nodes and maintain a keybase. There are certainly plenty of instances where something like this would be useful as we’ve seen before from other (non-encrypted) LoRa-based network solutions which are built around similar principles.

Thanks to [dearuserhron] for the tip!

21 thoughts on “Add Mycelium To Your Mesh Networks

    1. Had exactly the same question.
      What does this bring to the table compared to the more established projects like meshtastic or cellsol?
      I was under the impression that meshtastic also had encryption and message integrity.

    1. Go nuts! We already know very well what’s going on, and with an SDR:

      Of course, you’d never do this b/c the custom ASICs are so cheap, even in the chip shortage. Even the modules are a couple dollars each, and that’s with all the parts you’d need.

      Unless you had special needs. Might be really cool to run a high-power LoRa in one of the ham bands if licensed. The encoding _really_ lets you pull the bits out of the noise floor. Wonder if you could get signals around the world with just a few watts and little foolery? Would be a cool hack. LoRa extreme!

      But yeah. When does the patent expire? Will we see more companies making LoRa compatible chips? As you mention, it should be soon.

      1. There are better ways to pull bits out of the noise *if* you know just what frequency to listen on, and they’re in common use on the ham bands. LoRa’s strength is in its tolerance to frequency error, which lets cheap single-chip transceivers operate at low bit rates with cheap crystals instead of sub-ppm accurate oscillators. And you pay for that with the very large occupied bandwidth.

        If you’re going beyond cheap, compact, low power, low part count devices, there are technologies (lots of them from ol’ K1JT) that already provide better performance and better spectral efficiency.

  1. Rest assured if someone figures out how to make something like this work, someone else will be working on figuring out how to make it NOT work ! It’s no different than when a new operating system is compiled and shortly after that someone writes code for malware to hack and jack, as with the internet being under Gov. control, so are the air waves with Ham or any other radio band, they can scan it, mine it, jam it, track it, shut it down, you name it. There’s no such thing as a private communication unless it is between 2 people in the woods where no one is around to here but the squirrels, birds and trees. And even that is debatable at times. Now we have to deal with drones that can listen in anywhere to anything.

  2. The article is incorrect: it says it requires nothing more than “an ESP32, an antenna, and this software”. According to the readme, it’s described as:

    “…an off-grid radio network…using LoRa transceivers and ESP32 microcontrollers.”

    I’m not sure the writer understands what a Lora network is; even so, they managed to write an article about it without realizing they were skipping the only essential piece of the puzzle. ESP32? Unneeded (many alternatives, connection to mcu can be wired). Antenna? Just buy a Lora dev-board with a PCB antenna. Lora transceiver? Absolutely the only part that can’t be left out or replaced.

  3. @Bryan Cockfield said: “For another, the messages are able to be encrypted and authenticated, which is not currently possible with other mesh networks such as APRS.”

    APRS [1] is capable of carrying encrypted data just like any other protocol, therefore adding strong encryption to APRS is trivial and it has already been done more than once. However the reason you rarely see encryption used with APRS is because the Automatic Packet Reporting System is usually used by radio amateurs, and in the United States where I live C.F.R. Title 47: Telecommunication, Chapter-I, Subchapter-D, PART 97-AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE – §97.113(a)(4) and §97.119(a) make it illegal for U.S. radio amateurs to send encrypted callsigns and traffic over the air [2].

    1. Automatic Packet Reporting System:

    2. C.F.R. Title 47: Telecommunication, Chapter-I, Subchapter-D, PART 97-AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE – §97.113(a)(4) and §97.119(a):

    Latest up-to-date:

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