Internet WiFi in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Jeff Liebermann isinvited when it's done!)

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by Danny D., Oct 28, 2014.

  1. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Danny D. wrote, on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 20:48:36 +0000:
    Here's my rendition, showing both where we are, and where we're going:

    I am omitting the actual building structure, which looks like this:

    So, below, are drawings, but not the actual pictures of us looking
    like fools high up in the redwood trees of the Santa Cruz mountains:

    1. The starting point, on a steep slope, with a path near the top:

    2. All brown lines are 16-foot long lengths of lumber:

    3. This approximates the "ladder network" you've seen in the photos:

    4. This was the first (thin) cable that went from tree to tree:

    5. From that thin cable, we hung two large safety cargo nets:

    6. Then we hung the thick cable, which was initially 250 feet long:

    7. We sunk two fenceposts, so that the platform rested on the ground:

    8. Then we built & suspended the first 16-foot by 10-foot section:

    9. Yesterday, we hung the second 16-foot-long section which is a
    foot or two shy of the smaller redwood pair of trees:

    10. The plan is to add successive 16-foot sections, one by one:

    11. We keep that up until we finally reach the big redwood tree:

    12. And, finally, we'll add 8'x4' sheets of plywood as a railing:

    After that, we begin to build the actual treehouse, complete with
    WiFi, refrigerator, bar, running water, and heating (no kidding).

    It will take time, of course, so, I'm not sure if I should continue
    to update this thread, but, since we've never done this before, any
    and all advice is welcome.

    PS: Jeff Liebermann and SMS are both welcome to attend the Internet
    WiFI setup party since they both live in the area!
    Danny D., Oct 28, 2014
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  2. Sure. Do I bring a parachute or my climbing gear?

    Ummm.. wi-fi setup party? Is that like work as in a paying service
    I dunno. The dog is smart enough not to set its paws on the deck. The
    people, maybe not so smart.
    In about 1985, I installed a 20 meter dipole between two redwood trees
    on about a 45 degree sloping hillside. On installation, the dipole
    was quite horizontal. About 20 years later, the downhill side was
    about 3 ft higher than the uphill side. What happened was that trees
    grow vertically near the top, and outward near the bottom. The
    antenna tilt was caused by the difference in vertical growth rates. I
    sure hope the end supports of the deck are adjustable.
    Jeff Liebermann, Oct 29, 2014
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  3. Danny D.

    miso Guest

    My thought is "This is California, not Nevada." (Nevada is a state where you
    are permitted to do stupid stuff, and in fact is encouraged. California is
    the nanny state.)

    Does that structure have a permit?

    I will spare you the name dropping, but I was at a political fund raiser in
    Marin. They had a professionally built tree house on the property. I met the
    builder. Yep, all he does is build tree houses for the uber rich.
    miso, Oct 29, 2014
  4. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Jeff Liebermann wrote, on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:37:46 -0700:
    I meant you'd love our wifi setup!
    We're currently getting 50Mbps on the 5GHz repeater!

    BTW, the Ridge Wireless WISP owner wants to sell his business.
    Do you know anyone who would want to buy him out?
    Danny D., Oct 29, 2014
  5. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    miso wrote, on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 21:50:45 -0700:
    Nope. It's hundreds of feet into the woods, where nobody goes,
    but us. :)

    As you can tell from this diagram, there are three sets of trees that
    matter, for our purposes (although many other trees exist):

    The WiFi antenna will have a great view of all San Jose, so,
    if we make it big enough, we can have the pick of the town for
    our WiFi service! (jk)

    Here's a quick look downhill, from the path near the uphill path:

    This is the uphill anchor point, on a small Monterey Pine tree:

    Here's a picture of the two small redwoods at the 1/3 point:

    Here's another picture of those small redwood trees where you can see we
    strung a cargo net across so we could get to the big redwood downslope:

    This cargo net is how we get over to the big redwood which is about 30 or
    40 feet downslope of the beginning of the netting:

    But, I don't seem to have a picture of the big redwood for you, so, I'll
    need to take one and upload it so you can see how massive it is. It's
    about 100 feet downslope, where I don't go unless I have to, because
    I have to climb back up if I do. But I'll snap a picture for you.
    Danny D., Oct 29, 2014
  6. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Jeff Liebermann wrote, on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:37:46 -0700:
    Heh heh ... Jeff ... we're just like you!

    We use the climbing gear all the time building this thing!

    Every time I go up these tall ladders (each section is 16 feet):

    I make sure I clip in with my ascender in the arrest position:

    I unclip, when we get to the cargo net, which is something like
    50 feet up (or so) and which allows us to get to the big redwood:

    While digging the fence post holes for the treehouse, you can
    see that I used the ascender to prevent me from falling off
    the mountain as we needed two hands on the fencepost digger:

    The big redwood is really gnarly, so it's hard to climb up it:

    So, we climb up the *easy* trees, and then cross over as needed:

    We have static lines all over the place, hanging from every tree:

    We buy it cheap, at the local army/navy surplus store:

    It's useful when we hike the hills, since they're never flat:

    The kids in the Santa Cruz mountains are comfortable with ropes,
    as they have to use them to get around like city kids use bicycles:

    We always pack a few hundred feet in our packs, and we use the
    double-rope technique, so that we can take it with us when we
    get to the bottom:

    Of course, that assumes that there are fixed lines for wherever
    we want to go back up (which is, as always, the harder part):

    So, yeah, Jeff, you can bring your climbing equipment; you'll feel
    right at home with the rest of us!

    Danny D., Oct 29, 2014
  7. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Danny D. wrote, on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:28:57 +0000:
    I found only one picture of the big redwood, but it doesn't show
    how massive the trunk is (measured at 30 feet in circumference).

    There's actually a person, close to the tree trunk up there, in
    the cargo net, setting up the blocks of wood for the cable to go
    around (this picture was taken a few weeks ago).
    Danny D., Oct 29, 2014
  8. I find this all very interesting. Of course, here in Houston there's
    nothing even close to what you're involved in, environment-wise. In
    addition to the interest in all the climbing and construction, I'd
    like to know more about the technology of the WiFi. What is it that
    you're going to accomplish. Is it just reception, or are you
    broadcasting... I'd just like to learn more about how it works.
    BTW, the pictures are all great!
    Charlie Hoffpauir, Oct 29, 2014
  9. Some more questions if you don't mind...

    What are you, 10-20 miles from San Jose? With trees between? And I've
    heard that conifer leaves are hell on wiFi signals. And you're getting
    50 Mbps? Is it the sheer size of the antenna that accomplishes that?
    And if so, is it scaleable? In other words, instead of the
    approximately 5 inch antenna on my router, could I replace with , say
    something like a 20 foot dipole and greatly extend my range?

    These questions clearly indicate that I don't understand this
    technology, but I am very curious.
    Charlie Hoffpauir, Oct 29, 2014
  10. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Charlie Hoffpauir wrote, on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:00:06 -0500:
    We live in hill country, just above the Silicon Valley, but, our one-lane
    roads are not serviced by either DSL (too far) or cable (doesn't exist).

    So, our net comes from the sky.

    We've all tried satellite dishes, but they suck (for a variety of reasons,
    the new K bands notwithstanding).

    So, we generally opt for WiFi (via a WISP).

    It's basically the same setup as everyone else has, with the exception that
    what you call a modem, we call a transceiver. It's on 2.4GHz just like your
    router is, and it uses the same channels (1 through 11) in the USA.

    The difference is ours are *POWERFUL!*
    We transmit and receive our WiFi habitually over 15 miles, and sometimes more
    (and nobody is less than about 3 or 4 miles from their feeding antennna).

    Since it's hilly, each setup is slightly different, and we often have to
    put feeder dishes to retransmit the signal in another direction.

    We've learned (the hard way) to use Ubiquiti equipment, almost exclusively,
    and, even then, we HATE (hate hate hate) the Ubiquiti NanoBridges (I can't
    count the number that failed on me alone). But we LOVE (love love love) the
    Ubiquiti Rockets (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz) which give us the legal maximum of
    power (EIRP) without a radio transmitter license.

    Heres the spec on the *POWERFUL* Ubiquiti antennas we like to use:
    Notice that metal antenna alone gives us 24dBi of gain!

    Add to that, a powerful transmitter like this, and you're set to pick up
    a Starbucks conversation 20 miles away (as the crow flies, literally):

    I don't have that transceiver, but the one I have is good enough for miles:

    It's all the *same* protocols you use on your laptop, cellphone, tablet,
    and router (plus it has more, of course), so, it can pick up all your

    <<<< it's not only the government who is watching you! >>>>

    Danny D., Oct 29, 2014
  11. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Charlie Hoffpauir wrote, on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:14:57 -0500:
    Jeff can probably answer the scaling question, but here is a chart my WISP
    provided me of the statistics of our neighborhood use BEFORE he upgraded
    his backhaul to 300Mbps licensed links.
    Danny D., Oct 29, 2014
  12. Danny D.

    miso Guest

    Note we all use encryption, so our data is safe. Kismet can sniff out what
    devices we use. Nowadays, you can even count the number of TVs a person
    owns. This is presuming no port isolation is used.

    The WISP site itself is easy to sniff. The clients, not so much.
    miso, Oct 30, 2014
  13. Danny D.

    Char Jackson Guest

    I suspect there's a little more to it than finding a place in the woods
    "where nobody goes, but us", right? Do you own the land? If not, who does? I
    seem to see No Trespassing signs when I venture off road, but I haven't
    spent time in California so maybe it's different out there. Are there
    liability concerns? Given that today nobody goes there, what happens if/when
    your structure is discovered and becomes a destination for others? Will it
    be available for anyone who wants to use it?
    Char Jackson, Nov 1, 2014
  14. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Char Jackson wrote, on Sat, 01 Nov 2014 10:29:30 -0500:
    Heh heh... bear in mind that where I live, it has 40-acre zoning (which
    we've discussed, in the past, on

    That means, if you have 79 acres, you can only build ONE house.

    This guys has about 55 acres, IIRC, so, yes, it's all on private property.

    And, I have quite a few acres (not that much), with nary a no-trespassing

    Also, *every* property out here is gated, at least the residences are
    fully gated. Nobody would *accidentally* stumble upon this treehouse in
    progress unless they purposefully trespassed.

    Since I know the area rather well, I *could* get to the treehouse from
    the hard direction (read, bottom of the hill); but that would necessitate
    quite a vigorous climb, as the photos posted prior show the steep greater
    than 45 degree topography).

    So, while it's an attractive nuisance, it's a well gated, well hidden,
    fully private attractive nuisance that you'd have to go out of your way
    to find if you didn't know where it was.
    Danny D., Nov 1, 2014
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