Mesh4LYFE consists of eight horizontally stacked routers to create a lo-res 8x4 display out of the router LEDs. The LEDs, which typically blink diagnostic information about each router, display Conway’s Game of Life.
This project was conceived and made during Art Hack Day.
Download: Source code and scripts
Collaborators: Jonathan Kiritharan
How it works
Each router (Netgear WNDR3700v2) runs a small Linux distribution called OpenWrt. OpenWrt permits custom software on the routers and allows to control some of the routers LEDs directly.
Typically, wireless routers and wireless devices run a standard 802.11 protocol. The protocol dictates that wireless devices only communicate with the router.
Mesh4LYFE uses an alternative mesh protocol called B.A.T.M.A.N. advanced. With this protocol, the devices communicate directly with each other and coordinate amongst themselves to send data to other devices in the network, either directly or by relaying along to devices in between.
Each router is individually responsible for computing the next generation Conway’s Game of Life. How it works:
- A neighbour message is sent to each router to tell each router who its neighbours are.
- A random message is broadcast to initialize each router to a random state.
- An update message is broadcast to trigger each router to send its present state to its neighbours.
- Once a router receives its neighbours’ state, it computes its next generation.
- A display message is broadcast to trigger each router to display its next generation.
- After a random number of generations, the routers are re-initialized with a random broadcast and the update and display process starts again.
The update and display messages are sent in lockstep with a delay after each message.