One of the highlights of the 2014 RSGB Convention for me was the opportunity to meet James Coxon and see his presentation on the formation and development of UKHASnet. For those that haven’t come across it, UKHASnet is a relatively new and rapidly developing low power data network. Initially designed for use by the High Altitude Balloon enthusiasts, the simple protocols combined with cheap processors and licence exempt RF modules make HASnet an interesting choice for all manner of ad-hoc networks. A commonly quoted example is to build simple temperature monitors and locate them around the house and employ the HASnet to link them all together. You can build a low-cost node complete with temperature sensor with a small handful of components. Many of the current node designs are Arduino based and use an ATmega 328 chip with a Hope RFM69 RF module. You can build a node using stripboard but there are some very interesting and cheap designs available from the US. The LowPowerLab Moneino range is ideal as they provide an ATmega328 chip complete with regulator and a RFM69 RF module all mounted on a neat PCB. This can be programmed using the normal Adruino IDE so it gets you off to a head start. The boards currently cost around £12 each and postage to the UK is approx £6 per order for USPS 1st class which takes a couple of weeks. If you’ve got a big order you could get it quicker but the shipping cost goes up to about £16.
Another supplier worth watching is Anarduino as they supply lots of similar boards but are currently revising their range.