Richmond, VA AREDN Information

This page is a general information dump for AREDN systems, projects, and resources in the Richmond, Virginia area.

AREDN is the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network.  It uses readily available, commercially produced data radios in the 900 MHz, 2.8, 3.4, and 5.8 GHz bands, in a mesh topology which allows participating stations to come and go freely.  The system uses Internet-standard TCP/IP protocols and familiar "Internet" applications such as web browsers, chat software, e-mail clients, and more.  It enables the rapid movement of data, sometimes over great distances, using relatively inexpensive hardware.

This web page, and any AREDN systems operating in the Richmond, VA area, are not affiliated with Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network, Inc.  For official AREDN information, including firmware, supported hardware, installation guides, operating manuals, discussion forums, and more, visit

The Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society (RATS) was an early promoter of AREDN technology in the Richmond area.  They continue to maintain a 3-sector 5.8 GHz site, W4RAT-MIDL, at 200 feet on a tower near Chesterfield Town Center.  Their web site contains lots of good information on current and upcoming system coverage as well as introductory information for those who are new to AREDN.  Visit and go to Systems & Projects > AREDN Resources.

This page is accessible within the mesh at http://MESHINFO.local.mesh/

Content last updated 9/30/2023 5:22 PM

Project Objectives

The overall objective of the RVA AREDN buildout is to enhance amateur radio data communications capabilities by building wireless mesh networks and supporting infrastructure which move large volumes of data, quickly, over amateur frequencies, independent of the public Internet.  To achieve this, there are three parallel workflows. 

  1. Building a small network of high-visibility backbone nodes in the immediate Richmond metro area.  These will help overcome terrain challenges by providing network links for home users, EOCs, and portable deployments with modest masts (approx 25 feet) or rooftop installations.  The City of Richmond and the counties of Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfield, New Kent, and Goochland are in-scope for backbone site builds during Phase 1 of this project.
  2. Advocating for AREDN use within the local community, through user education, assistance with site surveys, backbone frequency coordination, and club outreach.
  3. Building a collection of flexible, semi-standardized, field deployable AREDN stations for use at special events, demonstrations, and emergency incidents.

This project is made up of a small group of friends and other hams in the area who believe in the potential of AREDN.  We invite you to join us on the mesh.

Find us on the RVAHams Slack Server

Connect with other local AREDN enthusiasts in the #digital-data channel on the free RVAHams Slack Server.

Site and System Coverage Maps

Coverage projections can be viewed using the Ubiquiti ISP Design Center.  Interactive map links below require access to the public Internet.  Static maps accessible from within the mesh will be provided soon.

RVA AREDN Backbone Nodes
Site ID
Site Status
Map links
Antenna Configuration
Interactive | Static
3 x 120° sectors 5.8 GHz @ 27 dBm + 19 dBi, 200 feet
Approved;  in design & planning stage;  fully funded
Interactive | Static
3 x 120° sectors 5.8 GHz @ 27 dBm + 19 dBi, 450 feet
Downtown 2

3 x 120° sectors 5.8 GHz @ 27 dBm + 19 dBi
Off air; restoration and upgrades proposed; fully funded
Interactive | Static
3 x 120° sectors 5.8 GHz @ 27 dBm + 19 dBi, 75 feet
Powhatan East
Off air; partial restoration proposed
Interactive | Static
New Kent

Proposed; fully funded
Interactive | Static
3 x 120° sectors 5.8 GHz @ 27 dBm + 19 dBi, 225 feet

3 x 120° sectors 5.8 GHz @ 27 dBm + 19 dBi

Total system coverage - current
Interactive | Static


Total system coverage - future
Interactive | Static

Static coverage maps assume the client station antenna is at least 25 feet above ground and has a line-of-sight path to the node which is free of obstructions.

Mesh Node Status Pages and Connected Services

To view 3-minute snapshots of mesh node status pages from the public Internet, visit

Basic System Standards


The standard base SSID for all nodes is "AREDN"

Frequency and Channel Width

Backbone node frequencies should be coordinated with the RVA AREDN project team.  The backbone operates with a 10 MHz channel width at this time.  (Note:  This was changed from 5 MHz in August 2023.)

Stations which are part of a portable or temporary system may use different channel widths as appropriate for each individual link segment.

WAN Access

Nodes connected to the RVA AREDN backbone and its adjacent nodes shall not configure their nodes to provide direct WAN access.  Services which are proxied to the public Internet, or which relay traffic to and from the public Internet, are acceptable.

Node Naming Convention

Backbone nodes

Home Stations

Emergency Operations Centers and similar installations

Field Deployable Kits

A previous nomenclature which included the last three octets of the node's IP address has been discontinued.

Other considerations:  A node name must be 22 characters or shorter if it will connect to a tunnel server.

Hostnames and DNS Aliases

All hostnames popagated to the mesh must start with the station's call sign.  For example, AB1CDE-RaspberryPi1.

Limited use of DNS aliases is permitted, but every effort should be made to ensure these aliases are as unique as possible to avoid potential conflicts with other mesh systems which may interconnect in the future.

The following DNS aliases are either already in use or are reserved for use by the RVA-AREDN core network team:  MESHINFO, RVAINFO, EVENTHOME, MAIL, WEBMAIL, NTP.

Tunnel Services

IP tunnels link non-contiguous segments of the network over the Internet and may provide backup service in the event of a loss of RF path.  The ability to tunnel is critical while the network is in its early stages of growth, and becomes less important over time.  Tunnel access to the RVA AREDN system is available at select points in the network.  Because tunnel capacity is constrained at each node by the available WAN bandwidth, node radio CPU and memory, only a limited number of connection points are available.

The RVA AREDN network coordinators can provide tunnel access and from the nodes listed below:

WAN Access
AREDN Access
Emergency Power
Tunnel Capacity
Comcast 40/6 cable
Tunnel, RF
UPS, generator
5 in, 5 out
4 in, 1 out
1 in, 4 out
Verizon 940/880 fiber
Tunnel, future RF
UPS, battery, generator
5 in or out
3 in, 1 out
4 in or out

* Share:  Stations peering with one of these tunnel hosts agree to provide at least this number of net-new tunnel connections at the request of RVA AREDN network coordinators, and to respond to requests for new tunnel connections within 14 calendar days.
** Split:  Stations peering directly with one of these tunnel hosts agree to maintain at least this number of paths to the RVA AREDN mesh network, by any combination of tunnel and/or RF.

Tunnel connections peered directly with an RVA AREDN-managed node (those in the table above) may be terminated at any time if the presence or characteristics of a particular tunnel link becomes detrimental to the network.  Tunnels established prior to September 15, 2023 are exempt from this expectation, but those node operators are encouraged to share access to the network where possible.

Mesh Services

Winlink RMS Relays

RMS Relays provide access to Winlink messaging services using the official RMS Express client.  Some may operate only as a Network Post Office (NPO) node which does not relay traffic to or from the global Winlink network.  Others may have full Winlink access, and/or may relay to other RF paths such as VARA, Winmor, or Pactor.  Some may provide access using standard Internet mail clients (SMTP/POP3/IMAP) but this may require manual configuration by the operator of the relay.

RMS Relay Server
RMS RF Connections
Winlink NPO
Available.  Contact [email protected] and allow 14 days for provisioning.

Mesh Chat

The Mesh Chat system by Trevor Paskett K7FPV is the de facto standard chat messaging platform for AREDN networks.  Excerpted from Trevor's site:
You use the application via a modern responsive web interface that renders well on desktop and mobile devices. The web application runs on the mesh node itself or a raspberry pi. Sending a message is as easy as typing one into a text box and clicking submit. The message database is stored on every node mesh chat is running on. There is a daemon that runs and will get a list of all nodes in the mesh running mesh chat. The daemon then polls those nodes several times a minute and gets any new messages and a list of users logged into mesh chat on that node. If any new messages are found, they are appended to the local message database.

With this design, nodes can go up and down, vary in connectivity and as long as at least 1 node stays running the message database is persisted. Once nodes come back online they will immediate catch up with the other nodes and get a full copy of the message database. If you loose connectivity from your laptop / phone to the mesh, your messages remain in the message database. It is a very reliable, distributed P2P mesh messaging system.
The RVA mesh system has several Mesh Chat servers accessible within the network.  Anyone can install the Mesh Chat software, though additional servers are not likely needed at this time, and too many servers could degrade network performance due to the polling and synchronization functions provided by the Mesh Chat daemon.  Newer firmware versions require the use of an updated Lua adaptation of Mesh Chat, as Perl support has been dropped from the AREDN firmware.

Server address
Server Type
Node Type



Franklin County Amateur Radio Club AREDN demo node
Field Kit

Field Kit

Field Kit

Network Time Protocol (NTP)

A good time source is important for systems involving data synchronization (like Mesh Chat) as well as day-to-day operation of many network devices and services.  Ideally, a GPS time source will one day be installed on the mesh.  For now, there are two other options of reasonably accurate ("close enough") time using the standard Network Time Protocol (port 123/udp)

NEW - 9/24/2023 - Both NTP services are configured to answer to the DNS name "NTP".  You may configure your devices for NTP.local.mesh and they will connect to the nearest available NTP server.

NTP Server address
Time source information
w32tm - Win32 ntpd running on-site.  Dependent on system clock.  Host PC syncs w/NTP pool via WAN. Y
wan - Direct forward to via WAN Y

Additional Mesh Services

Additional services will be added in the mesh soon, including VoIP calling, collaboration, and file storage/sharing.

Field Deployment Kits

A robust assortment of AREDN devices and general networking hardware enable the construction of temporary broadband networks to support public service events and emergency response.  In support of those goals, a cache of programmed, ready-to-deploy AREDN Field Kits are being assembled.  Based on a loosely standardized baseline collection of hardware, the kits allow rapid, easy deployment of both AREDN network access points and relay/repeater sites on masts or other tall structures.  These kits are not dependent on access to the local AREDN backbone.

Recommended Hardware Vendors

Looking for AREDN radios or antennas?  Here are a few links to get you started.  Be sure to refer to the AREDN Supported Device List and confirm an exact model number match before making a purchase.

NEW equipment dealers primarily cater to networking professionals and small network operators like community wireless network cooperatives, rural broadband projects, etc.  They should be expected to have no awareness or understanding of ham radio or the AREDN project -- refer to AREDN forums and other online resources for support if you run into difficulty.  Installing the AREDN firmware may jeopardize your manufacturer warranty and any return privileges your selected vendor may offer.  Proceed at your own risk.

Once you have your radio, you can obtain software and installation instructions on the AREDN Project web site.