Offline mode for Ares Alpha App

This post is a little technical, but an interesting topic. There is a recurring question that keeps popping up almost weekly in the Ares Alpha community: How can we use the Ares Alpha app on fields without GSM coverage.
The obviously solution would be a LORA radio mesh, something like Meshtastic We have investigated this option and would like to share our thoughts on the subject. Any ideas or comments are welcome as usual. To jump to conclusions: our opinion is that an offline radio solution is not suitable for large airsoft events.
1. Price factor: None of the smartphones have an embedded radio module. Each player would need an extra device, the gateway between the phone and LORA radio. At least 150 EUR/player. I know you can find Meshtastic devices for 50 EUR, but just the electronics. You would also need a waterproof case, a LIPO battery, and so on. We have serious doubts that you can push 200 players to buy the LORA device for an event.
2. Distance coverage: LORA radio depends hugely on the terrain. If you are in a forest, or a rocky terrain with hills, etc. you will cover maximum 1 km on LORA. And I didn’t start talking about massive concrete buildings in CQB events. There are some solutions like a radio mesh, but we jump to the next point.
3. Bandwidth: LORA it’s regulated all over the world. You have around 125Kbps max speed, and a duty cycle of max 10%. This means you need to listen 10 seconds if you sending a packet for 1 second. It also means you cannot resend messages easy to form a lora mesh, because you are flooding the bandwidth. If you have an event with 200 players, to refresh all players locations will take a lot of time.
4. Features: Let’s say you manage to sync the location of the players. If you want to benefit from all Ares Alpha features (Perks, Points, notifications, etc.) you still need an internet connection to Ares Alpha servers. Or even worse…you want to join the game, or login on Ares Alpha? You’re out of luck, Ares Alpha servers are not reachable thru LORA.
So basically, on LORA you can have around max 30 players, with slow location update, limited cover and just a preload map with players’ position. You might be wondering, what is the excitement about Meshtastic and the offline radio network if there are so many limitations? The answer is simple: Meshtastic is not made for real-time updating: it is good for short messages between users in areas without GSM coverage, such as mountains. It is mostly used by mountain hikers to signal their location and send short messages in case of danger. In a large event, you need to update hundreds of players on the map every 20 seconds.
We also hear about distances of tens of km covered by LORA. True, but there is a little trick: you need antennas located on high ground and direct line of sight! It would be quite difficult for players to climb trees to get a good signal.
Also, a little notice on radio power, to get a clearer picture. We all use Walkie-Talkies at airsoft events and we all know that sometimes you just can't hear anything from the team leader, especially in the woods or if you're in a valley. The very common Baofeng UV-5R has a radio power of 8W (which, by the way, is totally illegal 😊). LORA's maximum power is 0.25 W – 32 times less!
Of course, this is our opinion so if you guys have some experience about large events that used off-grid solution, let us know!

Hello @Admin

I get ur points but I still disagree!

I love using areas alpha as a tactical awareness Map. I would really love to be able to see my mates on the map but sometimes there is just no gsm coverage.

I tried ATAK with meshtastic but it is really user unfriendly.

I have not found a suitable lora alternative.

A option to implement meshtastic to ares alpha would be a huge improvement for a lot of people including me.

Ready to buy lora radios would also be a great thing.


Bjelotomic has reacted to this post.


Don't get us wrong, we'd love to have an offline mode for the Ares Alpha app! It's not that we don't want to do it, we just explained why we haven't done it until now.
We still feel that enabling an offline mode, Ares Alpha would be so crippled that it would be unusable.

But, never say never, we're still looking for viable options!

Scroll to Top