CoP 1 log | Passive infrastructure (bamboo, solar power, lightning protection and more...)

28-03-22 | Kick-off session

[Also check out our padlet: CoP | Passive infrastructure]

Recording of the session: APC Videos

Notes taking CoP 1 kick-off meeting (March 28th 2022):

Presents: Subhrajit Dutta, Willy (La Difference, in The Democratic Republic of Congo, Bukavu), Henok (ET), Allan Marbaniang, Sol, Immaculate, Solomon (from Gulu Uganda, BOSCO CN), YZ

Nils: welcome and introduce

Allan: I’m supporting member for the bamboo tower, I’m here w professor Subhrajit Dutta
Henok: Hi everyone, I’m connecting from Addis, Ethiopia, we are trying to build the first CN in Ethipia, my first time joining the section, I’m happy to meet you guys.
Subhrajit Dutta: I’m an assistance professor… we are associated with the collaborative project of Bmboo towers rural area technology, along w Sarbani, look forward to this project.
Willy presentationchat: from La Difference, in The Democratic Republic of Congo, Bukavu

Mike: general ida of this CoPs is to bring people together with similar expertises, knowledge and needs, areas that need further develpoment and funding… In the past it was quite ad-hock and not collaborative approach, growing communities of practitioneers and grant makers, particlar networks, oportunities for fundings… in the spirit of it we came up with this 5 potential CoPs.
We are very much learning by doing and can refine the strategy as we go forward and are very interest in hearing your feedback on Passive Infrastructure…
Concept that comes form the … Sector… Late fyber equipment, supporting infrastructure that doens’t… (present 3 subtopics areas) → audio was breaking.
We don’t want to reinvent the whill, that’s why we want to help people get together and exchange knowledge around it. We would break out in 3 room but since we are few letś rethink.

Nils: open the floor about the 3 subtopis.

Henok: we are designing and talking to the regulator because it’s the forst project, it can be considered a pilot project, duscissing w APC, Carlos and Mike about the design. For me the solar power is where my interest is, because that’s where we are having challenges…

Mike: thanks for reminiding me about your project. What projects are on the go? What finish and we want to learn more from the go? APC has agreed to help support he solar energy component from the project and best to idenfi the best solkution and help … scale and grow. Worning to help to design bamboo mats, project also in Brazil with Coolab, pioneer project, we are not restritcted only to look to bamboo mats, other tipes of materials, valuable lessons about steel and other materials, wrk focused initially in India and help to support this project implementation… material selection and preservation… I’ve spoke to Willy they made work improving …
Invite people to do observations and comments so far:

Input from Sol: “Power and batteries, dimension, maintenance - common errors, best prac.”

Henok: we are starting from scretch, how many hours we need, I try to calculate the kind of inverters and solar panel sizes we need, locally solar panels are spensive, trying to contact suppliers of good wuality material for good price… we are trying to get help from Mike, we got quotation from Sudan, sharing with steering committee of the project to check if fits with the budget they have.
→ Good quality equipment not expensive and how to get it??

Professor Dutta: Idea to build bamboo towers for rural internet… coming out with robust design for those tower, structure part, stability of those structures, stable under the actions of weather, winds… technical side, …, sucefully grownded, e.g. India situation only, localized solution, we want to make our solution as much general as possible, lots of documentation on how to assemble those, material, specs, how to select bamboo… seazoning, threatning part also important, termites… how to make safer from those… we are focusing initially on the administrative size, recruiting people, coming uop with literature, bamboo specialist in india to give us training, structural design will come sooner to understand the material properties and we can build a pilot project.

Allan: best materials available, structure…

Nils: when will you be finishing the pilot? Other CNs want to see…

Sarbani: tower IT Bombai, project initiate and now start process of permission of authorities to set the towers, locality selected, begin process very soon… trying to understand about threatment and typed of bamboo… once workshop bamboo is done, we’ll move to the next stage! perhaps next meeting we will be able to give updated about the project we’ll have on the ground.
Date of the worskhop: first or second week of May

chat from sokotnono: Dear Henok, we need to talk more about sizing to cater for running effectively the site, things like hours of autonomy and others

Mike: solar calculator coolab beta phase (

ELektra Freifunk Berlin, co-designer mesh potato, working on low cost solar power unit, MPPT, the idea here is to have a small unit to control from a wireless interface in your phone… use other capabilities from the … charge cycle. has capabilities to use other exposed pins on the esp32 boards for connecting sensors for pollution or water. Hopefully we have elektra for a demo in another meeting and distribute some for testing.

Nils: some ideas on padlet. how to size solar panel deployments, we have very experienced community networks. maybe bosco as they indicated would like to share. the power tracker from elektra would be good to test it. we can imagine using this, for the deployment of sensors, running routers… use cases for these technologies.
We have not talked a lot about lightning protection. Willy couldn’t speak. someone else?

Willy: tecnology from PamojaNet DRC. last time i was talking about lightning protection with Mike. He suggested to join this meeting.
Last mast we installed. we used some materials from locality, bucavu…
This is the base for the lightning rod we use for the beginning. this is he base and this we made it locally here. at the top we make the lightning rods. As you can see, this is the lightning rod. this is the base. this cable needs to be joined with this bolt. here we are… the cable. We have just met … this part is for protecting the rest of the mast, this not to touch the mast we put something like a plastic pipe so it doesn’t touch directly with the mast. At this time when the lightning touches this pipe… I am attaching this plastic pipe to the top part of the mast. One part not to be touched.

(comments around images shared over screenshare)
*Mix charcoal with salt to ground the copper string
hole in the ground full with water. A part of the lightning rod is put inside the ground.

Mike: interesting technique haven’t said before. What thickness is the cable that runs down the mast?
Good to know that this kind of equipment needs to be place in the mast, extra kilograms and weight of the cable and lightning conductor, could influence design. Same solar panels and batteries in the masts. Interesting to see how these things connect with each other.

Henok (ET): what should be the thickness size of the cable?
Immaculate: Interesting and amazing technique. we would like to learn more and try to replicate at BOSCO

Willy: cable we are using a number cable, the length should be enough to run down the tower?

Mike: standard F cable (1/2 cm thick)

Nils: Other CNs working on lightning protection ColNodo Colombia and Kalungas in Brazil… could be interesting to share about different approaches.
Other challenges?

Sarbani: Nice if we also explain about what will be the role of these small groups of the CoPs, like for the Bamboo masts tower project, we’ve identified that we are going to do a tower in IITB, … their own location… how does the work in this place… together along with us. not only our knowledge but hiure’s for example. we had a meeting with him already. how to include others’ opinion into these community of practice.

Nils: How are we going to collaborate together?
Invite others to join the process… online workshops maybe, when there is something to share … maybe replicate.
There is budget for each of the 5 CoP, that we will collectively decide. We have 10k USD for the cocreation, materials, adoption, replication… not to buy ready-made technology… to localize, for others to replicate. Maybe some CN would like to replicate the ligtning protection from LeDifferance… to see materials, costs… would be good to hear from you what kind of ideas… how do you feel… what would you like to provide, what you are looking for.

CoP on how to setup solar, size it?

Henok: Solomon offered to help, this platform would be very valuable for us.

Nils: would be great to stay in touch with people we’ve met here.
We will share the recordings of today to understand what was discussed.

2nd half of april to be more concrete. WE’ve seen some challenges, proposals.
Next session what could be the … it is you who decide if you want to get involve… some might want to be in the driver seat, in the cocreation of CoP.
An emergent structure
What from LOCNET/WP4 is to share what was done and meet you again very soon.
opening for a final round of comments/proposals.

Bruna: Bamboo towers and masts. Hiure has a lot of development in that area. They have built this “machine” from a refrigerator’s engine to simultaneally fills the bamboo sticks with the products that make it impermeable and safe from bugs and other kind of dangers. I’ve also had the experience to implement a 13 meter mast in a CN I work with. We did in an artesanal way but it has been up for a couple of years. Worked with bamboo specialist. It’s better to use so called Giant bamboo. thickness of up to 40cm. better to use the biggest. easy to grow them. 7 year they reach 15-20 meters. it would be good if we created specific calls for the 3 sectors. Maybe an email thread to see how we could move forward as people wanted to participate and couldn’t join.

Nils: thanks. any others?
Sol asked if she can invite others. You can invite others.
Talking about communication.

Immaculate: This CoP is a great initiative that supports great sharing, learning and movement building of CNs. Thanks to the organisers

Mike: mailing list with the attendees of the session and invite others. Maybe start a Passive infrastructure topic in to share photos and resources.

Nils: thanks everyone!


Unfortunately I could not participate in this meeting, what are the next steps?

Oi Hiure,
we will announce a follow-up meeting still in April, so you can still jumpo the train. Would be great to have you…!

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03-05-22 | Bamboo lovers session


  • Prof. Ghosh, Subhrajit, Dipen and Nisarat from IIT Bombay
  • Hiure from Coolab
    Gustaff from Common Room
  • Y.Z from Citad
  • Adrián and David from REDES
  • Michael from Asorcom
  • Catherine and Sarbani, Locnet’s regional coordinators in Africa and Asia

Present participants

Sidarta (IIT Bombay), Michael Suantak (ASORCOM), Hiure (coolab), Elisabeth CR (Ileana, Stacy), Tawhir (Duna Moja - Kenia), Julian Casabuenas (Colnodo), Allan (IIT Bombay), William (Colnodo), Bhumik Hallami (IIT Bombay), Andrew (Myanmar), Peter, Sarbani, Mike, Nils (WP4/Locnet), Subhrajit (NIT Silchar, Assam, India), Kemly (Sula Batsu) +3 fellow jitster

Suggested agenda

  • updates from the bamboo prototyping process at IIT Bombay
  • experience sharing of other bamboo technology (who want’s to share?)
  • discuss possible goals and outcomes for this CoP (co-design, testing, replication, localization, etc.)

Things to agree on

  • Define roles
  • Discuss the possible use of resources
  • Set a communication chanell and platform for documentation
  • Talk about a general timeline and set the date for the next meeting


Michael - creating CN project with refugees in India, from Myanmar living in India due to the coupe, using a lot of bamboo, for house, as fire wood and for bamboo masts.

Julian, Colnodo - working in different CNs, in the Amazon zone - La Macarena, glad to be here, community is working with bamboo, wnat to exchange knowledge to suppport the CN.

Hiure - working with CN in the Amazon, in the past we build a bamboo tower w the support from APC, the idea was to create a project that can be modifid and appropriated for other people.

Elisabeth - women group working in Costa Rica, pueblos originarios, working w Sula Batsu, Kemly, in CN. (other women in the same jitsi)
Ileana - community Alto Paquar, they work with Sula Batsu developing projects w indigenous communities, w cooperative.
Stacy - Alto Paquar Costa Rica, young women, my role is to fostar culture in youth and to keep youth engaged.

Sidarta (IIT Bombay) - civil engineer, towers for wireless communications, goal is to reach wireless communication to more places where commercial ISPs don’t reach, want to work w Hiure and Michael team.

Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya):I am new here. This is my first time in this group. I run Dunia Moja Network in rural Kenya - Kilifi.

Sarbani: working w bamboo, masts are very exzpensive, working with Sidarta IIT Bombay.

Twahir - run a CN in Kenya, rurakl village Kilifi, currently connecting schools, also other village connected.

Hi all, I am Subhrajit from NIT Silchar, Assam, India.
Dunia Moja means “One World”

Updates from the bamboo prototyping process at IIT Bombay

Sidarta - working in prototipes, how to choose bambu, wind break, …, working with Hiure, documentation.

Hiure - question, are the design in modular structure, have you already decided how to joint modular parts? going to existent literature, get training from bamboo especialists to learn about joinery, using metal, tinder , bamboo …, looking to all the options.

Nils - when do you think you’ll have the first model to be replicated? Is there any plans?

Sidarta - the 7th month, 2 months from now, depends on how easy we’ll be able to test materials (different types of bamboo), design ready before hand, maybe we can share it with the group.

General discussion

Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya) chat: Can we see some photos of the masts that have been put up, and have info on the height they are.

Nils - invite people to replicate the models they are designing in India. What are the current work that has been done and can exchange knowledge.

Mike - observations: bamboo is really simple, grow our own bamboo, 7/10m, don’t need to make a very complex structure, but then don’t last more than 9 months, how to threat the bamboo to make last longer, select the species that will last longer…

Sarbani - bamboo attracts termites, it needs to be threated, BAIF experience, had problems with ants.

Sidarta - not in all regions there is the bamboo.

Hiure - one interest thing I can share is that after a year the tower almost came down, it dried and it created a lot of space in the joints, we had to use fire… the important thing is to have the bamboo as dried as possible

Twahir - we have a lot of eucaliptus, can it be used the same ways?

Sidarta - they haven’t tested, but in general terms, it can be a possibility, the advantage is that eucaliptus attracts less bugs, the reason they have not chossen it in india is due to the higher price.

Sarbani - I’ve registeres for bamboo you, online course, they send a lot of course material to set structures in bamboo. →

Mike disse:
Mike disse:windmill using wood in Malawi
Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya) disse:Not sure about the type but we wet them with a diameter of from 4inches to 12inches
Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya) disse:i.e. Eucalyptus @Sarbani
Sarbani disse:can we plant the type of bamboo in Kenya?
Siddhartha | IIT Bombay | India disse:We get about 3 major types of eucalyptus plantations in India; mostly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu
Siddhartha | IIT Bombay | India disse:These vary in sizes (dia of stem) and length/height
Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya) disse:There was a farm that was proposing to plant Bamboo, will inquire from Agriculture and forest departments
Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya) disse:@Mike… what height is the windmill and is it Bamboo or eucalyptus - about 10-12metres, and yes it is ‘Blue Gum’ - Eucalyptus.
Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya) disse:Please share the link @Sarbani

Sarbani - started planting the bamboo, in 4 years time, they had the bamboo, temperature condition and soil condition was not there yet, proposal to collaborate, not only think of realizing the prototypes of bamboo, also to how grown bamboo and have proper resources and create sustainability.

Discussion of next steps

Nils: ideas to use funds…
Prototypes, plantations
Facilitation of the COP
Development of junctions
Equipment and or technical consultancies
Internships with a CN - could be for the people engaged in the construction. E.g grant to pay for transport, engage community, women and youth to foster sustainability.
Invitation to participants to identify their interest in these or other areas.

Siddartha: There is need support for post harvest treating for use. Would like helping hands to take the information gathered to the wider community - help in building a web site/documentation.

Bandung Inst of Tech has a good setup and have been testing it for construction - we need to tap into their knowledge and experience - maybe some of us could go there and get training. Also need to share the knowledge with the group.

Bruna will share info on documentation on the Vale do Ribeira tower. Good idea to support this type of information sharing.

Nils: could also do an international gathering - not enough for a global meeting, but funds could support some sort of group learning process.

Could the web site be set up and collaboratively used as a blog, or we could use the cn.groups platform to document the work.
A page has already been set up for the CoP…

SIdartha: need to check with ISIF, but thinks it is a good idea. Still new to APC process and will have more calls with WP4 to discuss.

Nils: what about a tegram group of the people here to for everyone in the CoP to participate?

24th May for next meeting.

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03-05-22 | Towards solar powered CNs


  • Henok from Addis, preparing launch of first CN in Ethiopia
  • Immaculate and Solomon from BOSCO, Uganda
  • Willy and Chako from La Difference, DRC
  • Julián from Colonodo, Colombia
  • Hiure from Colnodo, Brazil
  • Sol from Zenzeleni,
  • Elektra, Freifunk, Germany
  • Catherine, Karla and Sarbani, Locnet’s regional coordinators in Africa and Asia


Nils, Mike, Peter, Bruna, Elektra, Twahir (, Hiure, Elisabeth, William (Colnodo), Solomon, Michael Suantak(ASORCOM, Myanmar), Willy (La difference, Congo), fellow jitsters

Suggested agenda

  • updates from solar power projects, esp. MPPT (Elektra)
  • experience sharing around solar technology (updates on advances in Addis)
  • discuss possible goals and outcomes for this CoP (co-design, testing, replication, localization, etc.)

Things to agree on

  • Define roles
  • Discuss the possible use of resources
  • Set a communication chanell and platform for documentation
  • Talk about a general timeline and set the date for the next meeting

Solar Energy CoP Notes - May 5th


Nils: Purpose of the meeting to look for common goals to work as a CoP on the following months.

William - experiencias artesanales en las comunidades, trabajando con kits solares, possibilidad de trabajar con HW y SW abierto, muy interessante.

Solomon - de Bosco Uganda

Elektra - work as open HW/SW engineer

Elisabeth - hola, buenos dias, acá no hay elektricidad entonces se usa energia solar

Ileana - indigena cabeca, de una de las comunidad de Costa Rica

Hiure - soy parte de Coolab, tenemos trabajos con energia solar, soy entusisasta de ese tema, muchos proyectos en este tema, hicimos una calculadora solar

Twahir - from Kenya, I run a CN in rural area, our focus is connecting villages and schools

Elektra´ s presentation:

  • In 2017 I’ve design do-it-yourself solar controler, fisrt photo is the first prototype (if you know how to sold you can do it in your house - this one islimiuted to 50W of power).

  • In 2019, I’ve started to work on the second generation, microcontroler, 32bit, max. 100 W, with displays and sensors, like bluetooth. SW more features, wireless relay and support routing, possible to make wifi network.

  • Next step I’m working on is the next generation I’m designing, for 300-400 W.

  • Exampels of use: infra automous energy, Wifi nodes, sensors for quality measuring (air, soil, water) you can bring resilient communication tech in case of desasters, mobile communications mast.

  • It can be used for as relays betwueen two nodes in montain regions.

  • The interface, dispositive can work as Wifi Acess point, created in Lua coding language, there is room for adding more features customized.

  • Representation graphic from temperature of battery, it can be used in open databases.


Solomon- Ask about the Ohms… most controler determine resistance in Ohms. Very good initiative trying to capture different things, sensor… that might affect the system and help to optimize it by monitoring, great take off for us.

Elektra- first decide is 50W - 18V, charge to up to 3.5A, the second version is deliver up to 100W - 12A. For the 3rd 300/400W - 24A, I’m putting a temperature control for the board to not over heat.

Twahir - what would be the cost?

Elektra - second generation decide, with wifi onboard, set up WiFI AP and hotspot - limited capacity of 2mpbs. If you want more you need to add a second device. The cost dependes, but it should be aroung 1200 (?) dolars, including batteries and solar power, but maybe more.

Chat, question Solomon - Does this Charge controller has a small display, if yes then well and good if no then can it be integrated so that it is easy to monitor?

Elektra - Many ways to monitore, display, smartphone (wifi) and internet.

Elisabeth - question regarding high temperature burning equipment.

Elektra - temperature control mechanism with fuse, then the fuse burns not whole equipment. Bigger charge controler, measurement of temperature of the circuit, great point.

  • chat)

  • Solomon:Since the need of CN’s for Solar is at the increase in the near future we need to look at moving to 1000W since most CN’s are putting their POP on Solar and some have many equipment’s sitting on a single tower of first POP where all their devices are managed from more like Network Control Centre where servers and other services are run from. Thanks

  • Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya):+1 @Solomon

  • Elektra:@solomon I will try to secure funding for an even more powerful device.

  • Elektra:@solomon I will try to secure funding for an even more powerful device.

  • Solomon:@Thanks Elektra

  • Twahir (Dunia Moja Network - Kenya):@Nils, can you share the recording of the first meeting?

  • Hiure | Coolab: I am having connection problems and could not follow the presentation well, but I would like to thank @Elektra very much and say that your work inspires us a lot. Do we have a step-by-step manual for the charge controller?

  • Elektra - there is a problem on finding componenets due to war and pandemic, will try to find and work on next version, link to the manual (second version):

  • We will use another channel to move forward with decisions. We propose to use a Telegram channel to continue exchanging ideas.

  • Elisabeth phone # is 506+89151036

  • Someone asked: Buenas mi pregunta es si se puede convinar los paneles solares con generadores eolicos con un buen controlador de energia. Can solar panels and wind turbines be joined together with a good controller.

  • Hiure: Proposes to provide educational materials/kits to show people how solar energy works. Twahir agrees.

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