TxTenna Is Live

I wrote about something called TxTenna back in May. It is a way to move Bitcoin from one wallet to another without needing to be connected to the Internet.

Well TxTenna is now live and if you want to see it in action you can try it out by following the instructions here.

And here is a blog post by Richard Myers, the engineer at GoTenna (a USV portfolio company) who managed the TxTenna project in which he explains how it works and why they built it.

And for good measure, here are a few more links:

Play Store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samourai.txtenna … 

Github link: https://github.com/MuleTools/txTenna …

Certainly this is not a mainstream use case, but it does showcase the resiliency of decentralized systems and that is pretty neat.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Mesh networks are so underrated . We neeed more Apps and use cases at that layer.

    1. Arnold Waldstein

      I agree.Their time will come.

    2. jason wright

      do you have your own use case need in mind?

      1. William Mougayar

        More content that is uncensored and that protects the identity of those desiring an open voice without fears of repurcussion.

        1. Adam Sher

          How would this avoid Twitterization where you have anonymity but also repercussions in the form of bullying and potentially de-anonymization?

          1. William Mougayar

            Great question. It would avoid what you’re inferring as being some central control, if it were to be truly decentralized, in terms of governance and infrastructure, which means that no single entity can make changes happen on its own.

    3. Adam Sher

      Is there an scenario where mesh networks competes with broadband access (e.g. the kind you pay Comcast or Verizon for)? That would be exciting and would seem to be a decentralized internet.

    4. Frank W. Miller

      The military (which often operates without the benefit of cell towers) recognized the benefits of MANET long ago. Here’s a waveform I worked on with a particular military radio 10 years ago. This system is being deployed now. Its really, really good and here is your compelling use case. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr

      1. Adam Sher

        Thanks for sharing this. I read the opening and look forward to reading the entire dock later.

        1. Frank W. Miller

          Here’s another. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…This one is different than SRW. SRW was designed to work in narrowband channels, down to 25 KHz, iirc. WNW uses something called OFDM which is the same modulation technique used by LTE (that underlies 4G cellular networks) and is designed for wider channels (aka more bandwidth per user).The real problem with mesh networks is the lack of cell towers. It turns out that having lots of cell towers allows the transmitters on the radio (or cell phone in this case) to be much smaller which is the only reason its practical to have cell phones that last all day on a battery.With mesh networks you either need a big amp on your transmitter or you need lots and lots of other radios that are close by and can relay. Thus why they have not really taken off in commercial applications. The radios (and the batteries that power them) are just too big and heavy to carry around with you all the time.

      2. creative group

        Frank W. Miller:How can this use case be deployed in scale for the general public? What is required to make it successful?Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  2. jason wright

    i like the ‘underground’ feel of this. it appeals to my politics. i like to see capitalists investing in this way of things.i look forward to the day when the tech inside the GoTenna device finds its way inside my mobile phone. that’s got to be the holy grail of mesh networking.is the encryption strong enough to eliminate man-in-the-middle surveillance concerns i wonder?

    1. JoeK

      You technically could today. LTE direct, as an example, is a technology that allows direct connectivity between handsets over a sub-mile range. Trouble is, mesh networks simply don’t scale bandwidth-wise. Under realistic scenarios, needing just 6+ hops to get to a gateway could waste 98% of the bandwidth in the system. Getting to a point where a 150 dollar handset can support 100Mbps securely, as is the case today, took 5 decades, hundreds of billions of dollars R&D, and a lot of very thorough constraint analysis.

  3. jason wright

    https://txtenna.comand not forgetting the 15% off offer for a GoTenna device using code TXTENNA ;)what i don’t understand is does the app still work without the bitcoin transaction ever passing through even a single GoTenna device on route to the bitcoin network for validation?In my city there is only a single GoTenna device listed on GoTenna’s node map, and it’s a couple of miles away on the other side of a very hilly area. No line-of -sight transmission possible.

    1. Richard Myers

      The node map ( https://imeshyou.com ) shows the self-reported locations of goTenna mesh nodes. There could be more (or less) users than what are shown on the map.You will need other mesh nodes within range to relay your bitcoin transaction, and also a gateway TxTenna node that can be reached via the mesh network to put it on the Bitcoin network.It’s still too early to expect you can send a transaction from anywhere, but in places where it’s most needed the tools are now available to make it possible.

      1. jason wright

        Thank you

  4. Hunter Fairchild

    I am likely far less technically apt than others here, so if you’d please indulge me: I read this week that while all the hype around Dapps is focused on Ethereum, most people are ignoring the capabilities of Dapps built on the Bitcoin network. I didn’t totally understand it at the time, but would TxTenna be a scenario in which “censorship-resistant” messages, or other non-currency communications could be shared? Even the blog post associated with this post only references “Bitcoin transactions,” which I assume is a reference to Bitcoin as a currency. Sorry if this is totally off base…

    1. Richard Myers

      I agree that Dapps built on the Bitcoin network do not get the attention they deserve. However, in this case TxTenna is more of an infrastructure improvement than a Dapp per say.That being said, the overall pattern TxTenna uses for performing censorship resistant and private financial transactions can also be used for other forms of communication.

  5. Frank W. Miller

    Wow, I hope they didnt spend too much time on this. I can’t believe that wasting effort on something like this is good for the bottom line of this startup since, as you already said, its not exactly a “mainstream use case”

    1. LE

      Lot’s of good can come out of play though. The value in this is not in the actual product. Yes it isn’t mainstream. So the value is in proving the concept out, learning and then applying it in another situation where the market is much larger. It gives you the ability to focus and have a reason to understand how something (with a bigger market) could work.Most of us ‘played’ with computers when younger. Many of had hobbies. And that time spent led to the ability to do other things which we were able to earn a living and make money from. That is the way I see it.That doesn’t mean you aren’t right. It would depend on exactly how much resource and time is devoted to this. And I along those lines a big believer that you can’t simply justify spending time because something might come out of it. [1] Because you might be (to your point) missing something that is the real opportunity (for your startup or your life).[1] The example I use is the idea that ‘a law degree is always good to have’ which I rejected back when law degrees were more powerful because it takes time, effort, money and takes away from doing something that might be more valuable with the same time and resources.

      1. Frank W. Miller

        The problem I saw with the writeup (and yes I’m making assumptions) is that the developer added new “message type”. That says to me its below the IP layer, probably a MAC layer message. If he just added the ability to run the bitcoin over IP on the goTenna Mesh, that probably didnt take much effort since its just compiling up the code and running it. If he added a new MAC layer message, that probably quite a bit more effort and requires a gateway at one of the goTenna nodes that connects to the open Internet.While a fun exercise for and engineer, a total waste of time from a costs point of view of the startup. Just mho. Even worse, it was probably done to placate their investor (Fred) which is almost always the wrong reason to do something like this.

        1. LE

          it was probably done to placate their investor (Fred)Why do they have to placate Fred though? [1] I am not seeing that angle. I want to know why you say that.[1] I understand the concept. I was raised 100% in this ‘old school’ way of thinking. So the concept is not new to me at all. As an example in the 70’s I remember my mom during the Miss America pageant saying that the girls sang Christian themed songs to ‘pull at the heartstrings of the judges’. My Dad was raised in an environment where it was a matter of survival to ‘curry favor’. I am not seeing it or anything close in this situation and with Fred in particular.

          1. Frank W. Miller

            Umm, to help make sure they put in additional investment at some point if they need it?

          2. LE

            That would be a risky strategy. If the market is small and we are presuming the effort is larger than worthwhile then the wasted effort and resource (with nothing to show for it) will work in the opposite direction.For example say I am an investor and I like tennis. So to curry favor with one of my investors (a big tennis fan) I build a tennis court at the office where employees can play. And so they spend some time playing tennis instead of the time doing something more valuable with the the space. Then when it comes time to report on sales or earnings, whatever, the results are not good. All the sudden the tennis court seems like it might have been a mistake. After all maybe that space could be better used as production space or for a warehouse. So how likely is the investor going to think ‘well they like tennis and I do so…’?Look I fully get ‘culling favor’ as mentioned. I got my first big account by doing exactly that. I, for lack of a better way to put it, ‘sucked up’ to the secretary to the head of the organization. I brought her special paper because I heard she like to have different color paper for her reports. So I walked up and gave her samples and said ‘anything you need please contact me personally’. And when they had their big corporate meeting (a month later after the trial period) to decide whether to keep us I was told that she stood up and vouched for us and said it was a good idea and we should have the final contract. And you know how powerful of a gatekeeper like that is. So I definitely know what you are talking about.

  6. Matt A. Myers

    Can anyone in-the-know jump in and share how difficult or easy it is to triangulate mesh network points? I’m assuming it’s fairly easy. Likewise, I imagine there are tools to block the wireless function of a mesh network? Thinking of worse case scenario of bad actors and totalitarian/authoritarianism governments; scarier is perhaps is small mafia-like groups with resources and goals.

  7. Matt A. Myers

    I’m all for mesh networks as a counter to authoritarian/totalitarian (et al) governments, however are there active discussions or concerns about how these tools can be used by these bad actors to function and transact undetected? Is the community being blissfully ignorant of how big grave concern this is? Has this ever been discussed in-depth?Likewise, most governments (or any bad actor, especially once they’ve taken control of a nation’s government) will have the resources to triangulate and block these wireless signals if they ever go hunting.It just always feels like the deeper, important discussion points are never brought up as to what these technologies enable. I understand these are product announcements, however if we want to avoid situations like Cambridge Analytica and bad actors taking advantage of Facebook’s ads and targeting, then we should be having these discussions NOW, shouldn’t we?

  8. Lawrence Brass

    A neglected part of the world don’t know it but.. they are waiting, wishing for wireless low cost micro payments and micro credit. The work of Muhammad Yunus comes to mind.I think that the first candidate to host this kind of application is a low cost smartphone. Maybe a smart POS could do it as well. I somehow see TxTenna and mesh networks as an important piece in this puzzle.Imagine the potential of onboarding 1 billion people into digital finance!

    1. PhilipSugar

      You know people have been saying that serving the under/non banked is a big opportunity for 25 years.That statement does NOT mean it’s a bad idea.There are tons of great ideas that were too early for their time because you didn’t have the technology. YouTube, PayPal, etc.I remember seeing Wifi in the early 1990’s it was being used by my brother in the Penn Robotic Labs to wirelessly tether robots. As LE says that is kind of a toy.I’m wondering if this is part of Fred’s moving bits not atoms.You know I saw an interesting company the other day. They make parking meters. Ok boring. But they don’t sell them. They “give” them for a revenue share. Camera, LCD, Screen, internet connected, credit card only. Lots of technology that comes from smart phones.USP? You 100% know you will get a ticket if you don’t pay, if you just pay for the amount of time and go over, option to top up and pay small fine and not get a ticket, you can reserve a spot on the app for a premium, and if somebody parks they get a huge fine, other stuff.The big one I never thought of? If there is a crime the police can access what cars moved.

  9. Frank W. Miller

    Thanks for the links. I scanned these articles (they are high enough level that a scan was all I needed).I was happy to see some level of detail in these. In particular, I was looking for info on routing in your network. He panned flooding, which I can understand due to the scale issues he mentioned. The only other algorithm that was mentioned was OLSR, may I assume that that is your approach in the network?Routing is a particularly difficult problem, especially when the nodes are moving around. I might add that SRW is based on flooding. They did this because flooding gives you lots of redundancy in the mesh which actually improves the chances of delivery and thus the overall quality of data delivery. The cost is scaling, but in a military network, where the number and entry/exit of the participants is controlled, the quality is more important than the scale factor.If Ram was with BBN, he is probably very familiar with WNW since a lot of that work was done by BBN (the upper layers iirc). He would be a nice catch for your startup! As an FYI, I was with Rockwell Collins for almost 10 years working on these things, thus my background knowledge of it.

  10. Frank W. Miller

    Twitter, ick!! 😉

  11. Frank W. Miller

    Thinking about this a bit more and looking at the website:”a bitcoin wallet for the streetsA modern bitcoin wallet hand forged to keep your transactions private, your identity masked, and your funds secure”I guess I’d worry about the use cases here. The header image on their website is even a guy on his cell phone on a dark street. Drug dealing? Arms sales? Bitcoin has already been shown to be the currency of choice for all sorts of nefarious activities. Putting it on a wireless network that would be very difficult to observe or trace seems to be obviously catalyzing to these activities by bad guys. Not accusing, just pondering…