How to communicate when cell towers are down?

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by RandolfG, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. RandolfG

    RandolfG Monkey

    We are a group of engineers who used to work in Motorola and Honeywell. Dangerous situations we each experienced beyond cellular coverage made us realize that people seriously need better off-grid/non-infrastructure dependent communication, to prepare for possible disasters, to protect our communication privacy, and when we experience the outdoors.

    Unfortunately, current off-grid communication solutions can hardly meet our needs. Walkie-talkies have no GPS to pin point locations, and no data transfer to exchange images/files. Satellite communication is prohibitively expensive and its reception is largely dependent on weather conditions. Both are heavy and bulky, causing a painful trade-off between safety and portability.

    But actually...the latest technologies can do more. This astonishing fact urged us to do something.

    We invented the Sonnet. Without relying on any infrastructure, Sonnet powers on average 5km communication to:
    - send text and voice messages (privately or in a group)
    - send image, data and files
    - share, mark and track GPS locations
    - for free!
    Our mesh-networking function can also increase the effective range by multiple times.
    Sonnet is $89 per pair. And again, no further cost.

    Sonnet will allow us to always communicate with each other no matter how harsh the conditions are. Multimedia+GPS will also improve our communication efficiency for better team coordination. With mesh-networking, Sonnet allows people to build personal off-grid communication networks that are robust and free of charge, independent from goverments and corporations.

    Wishing to offer people the lowest possible price, we found ourselves in need of pre-orders to meet the quantity threshold of quality manufacturing. If you do find Sonnet interesting, more information can be found on the campaign page to help you decide if Sonnet is a good fit for your needs

    Thanks for viewing,
    Sonnet labs
    Seepalaces likes this.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    The first thing I would tell you, is that your premiss that Walkie Talkies do NOT have GPS in them is, and has been, BS for the last 5 years.... Look at the Kenwood TH-72D Series and the TS-74 Series, (both Dual Band VHF/UHF HandHelds) as well as there are Yeasu and Icom units with the same capabilities..... Basically anything that does APRS will have GPS capabilities.... As to the rest of you SPEAL, I will evaluate it and get back to you... On another NOTE here... Apparently, you have never seen the BearTooth Products... Now tell us ALL, the Specs in the RF System, that transfers your Data... Is it FCC Type Accepted Yet? How about Canadian DOC Approved... What Band does it use? IS it Part15 compliant or does it require an FCC License, in the USA? You are LONG on PR, but very SHORT on Details... HOWEVER, to make this kind of POST, as your FIRST Post, to our Site, IS JUST PLAIN BAD FORM.... and smacks of SPAMM.... and if you folks are in Toronto, Canada, as your KickStart says, why does your IP Address come back as Tokyo, Japan.... Inquiring Minds want to know......
    AD1, fmhuff, Seepalaces and 6 others like this.
  3. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    I read the Sonnet Labs website and did a little informal research. This does appear to be a legitimate, promising product. It's priced less than half of the $249 Beartooth, which by the way, is also a low-production run, relatively unknown device that has not been around long enough to prove itself.

    I do have my doubts about Sonnet Labs' claimed 1 mile range in the city and 6 miles in open areas. Yet, for eighty-nine bux it's not a big risk, or at least, less of a risk than Beartooth.

    I agree pushing a product (spam) on a first post is not the best way to make friends, but it's been done before on SM and no one got hurt. Not a big deal.

    As for the IP address...I'm not sure why it matters. Tons of people use VPN or proxy servers (including me). Go ahead, look up my IP....I dare you. It will come up in New Zealand, but I assure you I am not even in the same hemisphere as New Zealand.

    Anyway, I've been wanting a portable data network but I'm not paying $249 for what is basically glorified wifi. I'll be watching how this Sonnet Labs product develops and may give it a shot.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
  4. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Sounds interesting.
    Seepalaces and Motomom34 like this.
  5. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    It's best not to lie about things.
    Seepalaces likes this.
  6. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    It is important only for vetting newbs. If the IP shows as from a known spam site, there are two cuts taken. First cut is done by the software, automatic booting. The second is by staff if it makes the first cut. Depending on what staff finds, the newb lives or dies on the spot. FWIW, there are settings in the software that eliminate IP references after a number of posts that pass staff's checking for this'n'that.

    SM is pretty sensitive to OPSEC. BYKT, eh?
    Seepalaces likes this.
  7. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Garmin has had a GRMS / FRS handheld radio radio out for probably ten years that can locate people with its built in GPS if they also are in possession of one of the same units. . So this is nothing too terribly new. And as BT mentioned, the HAM versions of this stuff have been around for longer than that.

    So let's hear the details. ... such as range in mountainous terrain, as in my AO. I've been holding off recommending a comms platform to the people who share the AO because no one wants to bother even getting a GMRS license, let alone HAM.
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  8. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Kickstarter page: Sonnet: Mobile Communication Without Cellular Connectivity

    There's no harm in linking a valid kick starter. It would be nice if new members would spend time posting in other ways first, but I don't see a scam present. The campaign is already kicked off, even though it had a low start up goal and this does raise questions. I suggest Monkey's sit back and wait to see if it actually gets off the ground and decide for themselves at a later date by keeping informed about the project's success or failure.
    Motomom34, RandolfG and Tevin like this.
  9. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Technology is nice, but being 79, I view the present love affair with two way radio and GPS in a somewhat different way. I can remember a lot of flights over long distances before it existed and some interesting times. The arctic during a good northern lights display with your navigator and your gyro based positions disagreeing by 200 miles and your pilot trying to stay 50 miles out of USSR airspace and not being allowed to give away your position by using the radar and 100 % cloud cover below you made life interesting. GPS requires both a high level of technology to maintain the satellites and being operated in a manner that the non military user is allowed access. Thus I like to use it now, but wouldn't bet the farm on it if TSHTF. I also do not particularly like a technology that allows someone to paint a big target on your back by asking your I phone, etc, where you are and getting an answer in milliseconds that is accurate within a few feet or maybe a few inches. I still like field phones and wire for fixed short distances, almost 100 % EMP proof and no radiated signal, and I know of no level of personnel communications available to the non governmental user that beats the ham equipment that is available and now that the code is not required, no real excuse not to get your ticket. If you do not wish to be on that radar, buying the equipment now and storing it does not require a license. Even in the 1950's we had equipment that could find and intercept communications and with two sites, locate their positions. Then the equipment took up most of a truck and required generators, now it is almost man portable. I agree that if you do wish to play, an $85 solution may be better than a more expensive one.
  10. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++ larger point was that a discrepancy between a user's actual (or claimed) physical location and the location of their IP address is not particularly meaningful and is even somewhat common. As an example, my last post's IP is New Zealand and this post's IP is in Texas. I've never been to either.

    I assume the original topic post passed the SM "IP test" or it would not be here.

    Getting back on course, the big draw for me is the $89/pair price point. I realize "you get what you pay for" but that maxim gets a little fuzzy when the entire product class is new and there isn't a lot of data for comparison. I'm intrigued and am placing the Sonnet on my watch list.
    Motomom34 and Seepalaces like this.
  11. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    In my opinion, as someone who has run online forums for quite a number of years, anyone who posts an ad in their first post on a forum is a SPAMMER, unless that member first obtained permission from the forum owner. I cannot count the number of people who have joined my forums over the years, only to be banned after their very first post. It isn't my fault if they don't read the forum rules. But, rarely does a SPAMMER return to "the scene of the crime", even if others reply with interest.

    Others have accused me of being too strict. The first few posts made by a new member, are moderated. But, I can proudly say, I have zero SPAM that pops up on my forum, and has been that way for ages.

    In this particular case, these guys have generated $20,000 USD, over their initial goal of $17,000 USD. Why they would have a need to SPAM any site, is beyond me. I wouldn't buy their product at any price, because I can't stand SPAM.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  12. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    There is always my master plan for string and tin cans for post SHTF communications
  13. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Just reading their appears, at first blush, to use a radio frequency to transmit to other phones via line-of-sight forming a mess network, if I understand it correctly... so the weak link is being able to communicate with another phone and the question is can they put enough wattage out from something the size of a smart phone, IMHO.

    @Tevin "I do have my doubts about Sonnet Labs' claimed 1 mile range in the city and 6 miles in open areas"
    Yes, exactly my point also...

    And, cost being not considered, isn't this exactly the same as BearTooth?

    As far as this being Spam...well, it is quite obvious that the individual join specifically and only to market the product knowing that these types of forums are interested in these types of products. So, whether this fits the definition of Spam is beyond my pay grade but it most certainly is bad form. Personally, I think it would have been better for them to contact the moderators asking permission to post their advertisement stating members of the forum would be interested in this product as their justification.
  14. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    From the KickStart Page: Frequency used in the USA is the 902-928 Mhz ISM Band, which makes this device (When FCC Type Accepted) a Part 15 Device. This does NOT allow for ANY Modifications of the Antenna System, or Output Power, which is stated as 1 Watt... This puts the RF Connection exactly the same as the SECURE Phones, and the BearTooth Product. Now if you are a Ham Radio Licensee, and operate the device as a Ham Radio, (The ISM Band is a LEGAL HAM BAND) You could add any type of Antenna, and depending on the type of Modulation Scheme (Not documented in the Specs) amplify the output up, to 1000 Watts. (If it is Spread Spectrum, then 10 Watts Maximum) That likely wouldn't be a small portable device then, however...
  15. Seepalaces

    Seepalaces Monkey+++

    So, stupid question, it says it will run on the hf band. Is that legal? Because I'm too lazy to look it up and it's been a year since I took the test, isn't 902 on 33cm? I thought that would be like fm and morse and such. Isn't that technically broadcasting? Sorry for the distracting sub question...
    Motomom34 likes this.
  16. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    IF, And when these Folks get it Type Accepted by the FCC, (No easy task, by the way) it will be as a Part15 Device, and per their Spec Page, it will operate ONLY in the 902-928 MHz ISM Band. Part15 Devices are operated under an FCC Country Wide, Blanket License Waiver, and as such do NOT require individual FCC Station Licenses, for the operators of these Devices. This is true for CB, FRS, MURS, Non-Commercial Marine, and Non-Commercial Aircraft Radio Systems. All these type Radio Systems are REQUIRED, TO ACCEPT Interference From, and must NOT Interfere with Licensed Radio Services, that use the same Frequenciy Bands, as Primary & Secondary Users. Ham Radio is a Secondary Licensed Radio Service in the ISM Band. I see no mention of HF Operations, anywhere in their Documentation.
    Witch Doctor 01 and Seepalaces like this.
  17. RandolfG

    RandolfG Monkey

    Hi BTPost,

    Yeah we heard of Beartooth and we know they have not yet delivered many years after their crowdfunding. And thank you for the notes on GPS-enabled walkie talkie.
    I m in China right now dealing with the all the logistic stuffs. Websites like facebook and google are banned here so I have to use something called VPN which connects me to some other countries' server so I can access facebook and google.
    I will send the technical part to my partner and get back to you.

    Seepalaces, Motomom34 and Brokor like this.
  18. RandolfG

    RandolfG Monkey

    Hi Tevin,
    Thank you for the subjective observation.
    I do apologize to the friends here that I m posting a thread here to start a conversation about Sonnet with you guys. I find it unethical to pretend that I want to make friends here first and I feel it is better to let people know who I m is a more genuine and authentic way, which i prefer, to communicate.
    I promise total transparency and honesty here. If Sonnet is in fact useless in some friend's use case here, I will tell just him it is useless for you.
  19. RandolfG

    RandolfG Monkey

    We operate only in license-free frequencies.
    Seepalaces and Motomom34 like this.
  20. RandolfG

    RandolfG Monkey

    Yes. Sonnet, BearTooth, and GoTenna (plus Gotoky from Netherlands and Telewolves from China) are similar kind of device. Some of them, like Beartooth, never delievery their products many years after they took crowdfunding money from backers/customers. GoTenna delivered their last product and their new mesh-networking product has just been out.

    Here comes a detailed comparison between Sonnet and Beartooth:
    1. First and foremost, we are different people.
    They were severely delayed in delivering the product. A quote from their website back in April 2016 says "By placing this pre order you acknowledge that units will begin shipping in late 2016…”, their current website says that it will be delivered by August 2017.
    Our CTO is a PHD who used to work in senior r&d position in Motorola. All the Sonnet engineers are graduates of University of Waterloo and University of Toronto, two top STEM universities. While on Beartooth's side, it turns out their CTO is a fresh graduate from Montana State University-Bozeman. (ask me for the linkedin page if you want to see).

    2. Sonnet uses Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth
    a. App works right in the browser (Web app). This means that you don’t need to download any apps to use Sonnet. Prevents catch-22 cases where you can’t download the app that’s required to use Beartooth because you don’t have Internet (But why would you use Beartooth when you have Internet?).
    b. Allows multiple smartphones to share one Sonnet instead of one smartphone one Beartooth. useful if people travel in groups.
    c. Works with both smartphones as well as laptop computers
    d. Feature we plan to implement in the future: Sharing Internet access between smartphones. This is not doable with Bluetooth.

    3. Physical Characteristics
    a. Sonnet has IP66 rating.

    a. Supports image transfer as well as ALL forms of files
    b. Can be used within a Web browser without installing any app

    5. Mesh communication protocol
    a. Sonnet is built on top of open industry standards which is already deployed in millions of devices (well-tested)
    b. Sonnet Supports IPv6 (Internet-sharing between devices is possible)
    c. Lower cost
    d. Longer effective range: our protocol allows messages to be relayed up to 16 times, vs 3 times max for GoTenna’s protocol. Unknown how many times Beartooth can do.
    Bandit99, BTPost, 3M-TA3 and 2 others like this.
  1. DKR
  2. William Warren
  3. bumpshadow
  4. hitchcock4
  5. DKR
  6. Bandit99
  7. BTPost
  8. DKR
  9. BenP
  10. Hanzo
  11. Asia-Off-Grid
  12. Asia-Off-Grid
  13. ED GEiN
  14. ED GEiN
  15. BenP
  16. Idahoser
  17. hitchcock4
  18. Southbound
  19. BTPost
  20. sdr
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary