Muscatine County ARES - Amateur Radio Emergency Service

AREDN - Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network        ARES ID# 139IAØ1

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What is AREDN?




The AREDN Mission: The primary goal of the AREDN™ project is to empower licensed amateur radio operators to quickly and easily deploy high-speed data networks when and where they are needed.

The AREDN™ acronym stands for “Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network” and it provides a way for Amateur Radio operators to create high-speed ad hoc Data Networks for use in Emergency and service-oriented communications.

For many years amateur radio operators and their served agencies have relied on voice transmissions for emergency or event communications. A typical message-passing scenario involved conveying the message to a radio operator who would write or type it onto a standard ICS-213 form. The message would then be relayed by radio to another operator who would write or type it on another ICS-213 form at the receiving end. The form would typically be hand-delivered to the recipient who would read and sign the form. Any acknowledgement or reply would then be handled through the same process from the receiving end back to the originator.

This tried-and-true scenario has worked well, and it continues to work for handling much emergency and event traffic. Today, however, digital transmission is more commonly used instead of traditional methods and procedures. The hardcopy ICS-213 form is giving way to the Winlink electronic form, with messages being passed using digital technologies such as AX.25 packet, HF Pactor, Fldigi, and others.

In today’s high-tech society people have become accustomed to different ways of handling their communication needs. The preferred methods involve short messaging and keyboard-to-keyboard communication, along with audio-video communication using Voice Over IP (VoIP) and streaming technologies.

The amateur radio community is able to meet these high-bandwidth digital communication requirements by using FCC Part 97 amateur radio frequency bands to send digital data between devices which are linked with each other to form a self-healing, fault-tolerant data network. Some have described this as an amateur radio version of the Internet. Although it is not intended for connecting people to the Internet, an AREDN™ mesh network will provide typical Internet or intranet-type applications to people who need to communicate across a wide area during an emergency or community event.

An AREDN™ network is able to serve as the transport mechanism for the preferred applications people rely upon to communicate with each other in the normal course of their business and social interactions, including email, chat, phone service, document sharing, video conferencing, and many other useful programs. Depending on the characteristics of the AREDN™ implementation, this digital data network can operate at near-Internet speeds with many miles between network nodes.

The primary goal of the AREDN™ project is to empower licensed amateur radio operators to quickly and easily deploy high-speed data networks when and where they might be needed, as a service both to the hobby and the community. This is especially important in cases when traditional “utility” services (electricity, phone lines, or Internet services) become unavailable. In those cases an off-grid amateur radio emergency data network may be a lifeline for communities impacted by a local disaster.

Here is a link to the supported Ubiquiti, TP-Link and Mikrotik modems:

When selecting a device for your AREDN™ hardware there are several things to consider in your decision.

  • Radios should be purchased for the specific frequency band on which they will operate. Currently AREDN™ supports devices which operate in the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 3.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz bands.

  • Many devices come with an integrated dual-polarity MIMO antenna which helps to mitigate multipath propagation issues.

  • Radios can be purchased separately from the antenna, so it is possible to have more than one antenna option for a radio in order to optimize AREDN™ nodes for varying deployment conditions.

  • Costs of devices range from $50 to several hundred dollars for a complete node, so there are many options even for the budget-conscious operator.

  • Some older or lower cost devices have a limited amount of onboard memory, but firmware images continue grow in size and functionality. Consider purchasing a device with more memory over one with less memory.

  • Check the maximum power output of the device, since some devices have lower power capabilities.


This will require many mesh nodes, wherever we can get them up high (antenna towers, tops of tall buildings, water towers, etc.) above trees. There will be nodes that act as internet gateways, extenders/forwarders, and those that provide end-user access.


Locations where it could be used in an emergency:

  • County EOC

  • Fire/EMS Houses

  • Hospitals

  • Red Cross Building

  • Shelter Locations

  • Schools (if not already shelter locations)

  • Airport

  • National Guard Barracks

A Hypothetical Mesh Topology

The following image shows an AREDN node control screen.

Condensed Version:       Using easy-to-get, new or used routers as transceivers hooked to high gain antennas to talk computer to computer without the internet. Anything you do on the internet, you can do on the AREDN Network... Chat, Transfer Files, Video Conference, VOIP Phone Calls, File Server, Web Pages, etc.


Topographic Map of the Area with AREDN Mesh Nodes

A map showing the location of the active nodes in and around Muscatine County.


On Wednesday, December 9, 2020, climbers from Blackhawk Tower added (3) TP-Link nodes to the MCC Tower at 263'

Coming Soon!

Local Nodes online: 

PBX Phone Extensions on the Mesh: ARES Landline # 563-284-2830

EmComm Trailer              Ext. 9200

Scott - NØMRZ                Ext. 9201

Patrick - WØPCD             Ext. 9202

Dave - WAØAUQ             Ext. 9203

Video Links: 

 Introduction to AREDN