Solar Powered Navigation for lost Hikers

‘/;Project Proposal


The objective of my project is to enable Mesh communications to advance the project delivered Semester 2 2016.

My Group Project was that of a solar powered wireless signpost that can be used to empower lost hikers to find their way to safety.

Our final project showed we could push static Information to a hand held mobile device that would help a lost hiker navigate their way to safety.

Mesh networking the Rpi’s to be able to extend the range of this technology will greatly increase the value of this technology and ensure that vast distances can be covered with information gathered at one Rpi can be seen across a wider network.


Our group project was creating a solar powered Rpi that could be used as an access point in remote locations that otherwise have no wireless reception. Our case study was the blue mountains region, where we found that a majority of the 250km walking tracks where out of reception areas.

Approximately 130 bushwalkers are reported lost in Australia each year, Australia conducts over 400 rescue operations in every 48-month period. The cost associated with search and rescue operations are staggering with the Australian Police force charging between $2500 – $10,000 an hour to utilise the helicopter outside of Police missions.

Westpac Rescue helicopter charges $4,500 an hour which is funded primarily through donations from Westpac and the Australian population.

With experimentation we have worked out we can apply a solution to this problem for a fraction of the cost of 1 rescue operation.


The requirements of my project are:

  1. Mesh networking: experimenting in Incorporating this technology into our group project solution will benefit us for range extension and pin pointing the location of a lost hiker via connection information.
  2. Range: determining through experimentation the effective range of the solution in order to determine feasibility and the cost associated with implementing the solution throughout the case study of an individual walking track.

The requirements are that I need to study mesh networking and figure out how to apply it to our lost hikers’ solution of Raspberry pi’s. I need to gather range information of the raspberry pi and work out the optimum distance to place nodes apart. This information needs to be Quantitatively analyzed and further experimentation will need to be conducted to work out its effectiveness. After experimentation I should be able to identify the cost of implementing the solution to my case study of a blue mountains walking track being the focus of my implemented solution.


Testing range of the Raspberry Pi was conducted on three test phones, an older iphone 4s, new iphone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy. Details are shown in the below table however it is important to note that the Pi testing was conducted in the Windsor area with the Raspberry Pi encased in a waterproof Tupperware container with the dense scrubland simulated by covering the container covered with rocks leaves and branches, then walking away taking readings into dense scrub land.



Hurley Heights Walking Track Solution

Walking Track Design

Each Icon represents a mesh network of 10 individual Rpi’s. the pin drop is from the centre most point of the blue mountains with the southern most cluster being where reception starts to decline on the walk along the track.


Configuration is of the Mesh config on 3 raspberry pi’s. This is the IFCONFIG and IWCONFIG command. OLSR routing protocol was then installed on each RPI in order to ensure that finding a route throughout  the mesh network was still possible when RPI’s failed.

Routing Table

Cost to implement 

$16,097.50 Provides complete solution for Hurley Heights walking track with RPi solution.


Further technologies are being investigated as the Rpi range is not ideal and requires more devices to cover the range. Cutting time to install and overall price will be possible with devices that have the ability to mesh communicate and double as an access point.


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