Joining East and West Took Years, and Teamwork – W8CMN Mi6 Network Backbone Spanning Central Michigan – SEOC Connected

We have had a busy start to the first part of May here at W8CMN. We know John, WB8RCR SK is smiling down on all the hard work accomplished the past week. We have brought 55 miles of 10Ghz microwave online going from our site west of Lansing to the State EOC in Diamondale through Lansing towards Williamston and then on to Bancroft. This not only brings dual redundant microwave paths into our State EOC ( 700Mbps to the west and 950Mbps going east ) but also connects our eastern network to the central and now going to our western network via microwave. This is in addition to our other commercial paths and links at sites.

Above is a snapshot of our microwave backbone network map in the Lansing area. Traffic levels are shown when the snapshot was taken.Above is a snapshot of our microwave backbone network map in the Lansing area. Traffic levels are shown when the snapshot was taken.

We started on the morning of Saturday, April 29th at our West Lansing site. We installed the 10GHz radio towards the State EOC in Diamondale along with a newly upgraded router to handle the increased traffic. This was done quickly as we had finally got an opening in the state’s steeplejacks to raise up the radios on the tower at the SEOC the upcoming Wednesday. We had already installed all the equipment at the SEOC in January so that the state crew only had to raise the gear up to proper mounting locations. So to make good use of the single climb we made sure to have the gear up at the other sites and aimed properly towards the SEOC. Lansing Collins had its gear installed back in October 2022 so it had been waiting a while.

On the morning of May 3rd W8CMN members meet the state steeplejacks at the SEOC to help with the raising of the gear while other members were at the remote sites ready to climb or tweak signals if need be. By noon both point-to-point links were installed and aimed along with the installation of a 5.9GHz PtMP Access Point at the top of the tower. The PtMP access point will allow users around the Diamondale area to connect to the Mi6 network. The following evening after testing the links completed we brought online the OSPF routing and network traffic was flowing. We are seeing full duplex speeds of over 700Mbps going to the west and 950Mbps toward the east (Lansing Collins) site. So plenty of capacity to move IP traffic in and out of the SEOC.

Saturday, May 6th we went to the new Williamston site to install equipment to make the link from Bancroft to Lansing Collins. We had a full complement of ground crew and even new faces that made short quick work of raising both 2’ dishes and assorted cabling required. We got everything done before the rain started in the late afternoon and had live traffic flowing between the sites by 1700.

With the completion of the Williamston site, we have now in one week brought 55 miles of a 10GHz backbone with 4 total hops online. Measuring from end to end latency is 3-4 msec with speeds of 400-470Mbps full duplex. The limiting factor at the moment is the router in Bancroft which we have to upgrade next. But not bad for a week’s work for a bunch of hams.

While it was only one week of installation of the gear just these four hops have taken a good number of years and months of planning and working with countless people to get accomplished. So many moving parts and working with different groups and departments coming together to accomplish this.

As always we like to thank the following people who came out and helped in one way or another at some or all the sites this past week:

In no particular order:

Cameron, N9KOP
Fred, KC8UMP
Jaclyn, No call yet
Jeff, KB8SWR
Jeff, KC8PUN
Jodie, K8NZB
John, W8JDE
Kari, KC8QYW
Michael, W8MW
Michelle, KC8UMO
Mike, N8OBU
MPSCS Steeplejacks
Perry, KE8JCJ
Randy, N8VDS
Randy, WF5X
Tom, N8IES

Jeff, KB8SWR using the smart aligner at West Lansing to aim the 20 mile link to SEOC
Cameron, N9KOP top of West Lansing
Smart Aligner starting up
Steeplejacks at SEOC
Steeplejacks at SEOC