HamWAN Getting Started

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This is a work in progress

Key Points

  • HamWAN Generally requires a direct line-of-site to a sector site in order to function correctly. Unlike more traditional radio communications things like trees or buildings will cause significant interference.
  • Not all Mikrotik Radios can be used on the HamWAN Network. Radios must support 5/10mHz channels AND the must also be the INTL (International) version as the US versions CANNOT operate outside of the commercial band.

Quick Intro to WinBox and how to use it to configure a radio

Winbox is a Mikrotik Provided application for managing the radios. (Web Browser and SSH are also options) The main benefit to using this tool is that it can usually access any radio directly connected to the computer even if the configuration is completely incorrect.

Winbox can be downloaded for free directly from Mikrotik

What Can Go Wrong?

  • In most cases no permanent damage can be done to the radio, with some exceptions:
    • As with most devices there is always a chance that upgrading the firmware could fail, resulting in a radio that will no longer startup. Thankfully Mikrotik offers a recovery mode that can usually fix this called Netinstall
    • If your radio has detachable antennas powering it on without antennas connected will damage the RF components in the radio because these radios are almost ALWAYS transmitting and receiving in some fashion.
    • Losing your configuration or making a change that prevents you from managing the radio
      • Anytime you adjust the radio configuration you run the risk of making a mistake and losing access to the network or the radio. The configuration of these radios can be reset to factory defaults by following this guide
      • You can plan ahead and create a backup of your configuration. Note that backups are not transferable between devices and Mikrotiks cloud backup solution may be of limited use if the device does not have an internet connection to restore it from.
      • Winbox offers a 'Safe Mode' that can be activated by clicking on the Safe Mode button in the top left corner, while this mode is activated and configuration change that results in an unexpected disconnection from the radio will automatically be rolled back. Safe mode must be disabled when you are done making changes in order for them to be saved permanently.

Security Considerations

  • HamWAN provides an almost entirely unfiltered connection to the internet. This means it is VERY important to ensure that all equipment connected to the network is up to date including the radio firmware.
  • Our suggested configuration for client radios results in the Radio receiving a public-facing (44.x.x.x) IP Address on the wireless side, this address is fully accessible from the internet. Devices connected to the radio via ethernet will receive private addresses (192.1.88.x) and cannot be directly accessed from the internet. This process is called NAT or Network Address Translation and works for 95% of use cases. If you intend to host services such as an IRLP node where connections from the Internet are required your will need to configure Port Forwarding on the radio.