Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – July 2019 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. cAUZRdnMNrU?start=2051Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

The latest addition to the Pi family is here – Raspberry Pi 4. Boasting impressive upgrades, this latest version of the device is becoming a suitable replacement desktop PC or multimedia device. Pi 4 keeps the same form factor and still remains competitive at the $35 starting price.
Device highlights:

  • 64-bit quad core processor running at 1.5 GHz with built-in metal heatsink
  • 1 GB, 2 GB, or 4 GB RAM configurations
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet with Power over Ethernet (requires separate PoE HAT)
  • 2.4 and 5 GHz Wireless LAN
  • 2x micro-HDMI ports supporting 2 – 4K monitors
  • Micro-SD card slot for operating system and storage
  • 5V DC USB-C power connector
  • Standard Pi 40-pin GPIO with 5V DC

Instead of a single memory configuration, a new tiered pricing structure was introduced for the three different RAM configurations:

  • 1 GB: $35
  • 2 GB: $45
  • 4 GB: $55

Even the 4 GB model is very reasonable at $55. The addition of USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet allows for faster network and data transfers. Great for rolling your own network storage or video streaming server.

The form factor remains the same but due to changes in the power and video connectors, existing Pi cases will not fit. The power connector changes from a micro-USB to a USB-C connector. Probably in an effort to alleviate the most common problem using the Pi, finding a quality power supply, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is selling an official USB-C 15W power supply. Micro-HDMI cables or adapters are required to connect a TV or video display.

Noobs/Raspbian remains the official operating system and comes with a push to the next version from Raspbian Stretch to Raspbian Buster. Existing Pi installations can benefit from a hardware upgrade even using the same SD card in a new Pi 4. MAKE SURE you have updated the Raspbian operating system to take advantage of the new chipsets. Existing installations WILL NOT work without an operating system upgrade. Availability in other Raspberry Pi projects not based on the official Raspbian operating system will depend on the project. A Linux Kernel update will likely be required and may come via package manager, manual update, automatic update, or at worst, a re-image of the SD card. Remember to backup first! The HamVoIP AllStar project I wrote about a couple months ago stated a Kernel update is required for Arch Linux and will come via their automated update menu option.

When is the new hotness available? Well, now. Sort of. The Raspberry Pi 4 was released June 28, 2019 but you’re going to have a hard time finding them in stock. The Pi Foundation has a list of official vendors. Checking Newark Element 14, Micro-center, and my favorite place to buy Pi and quality components, Adafruit, were all out of stock. Estimates were 2-3 months before more would be available. Check out this substantial update to this credit card-sized computing device for your next project.

FT4?

HF bands dead lately? Not if you are an FT8 user. This mode has kept the bands active with the lack of solar activity. Unless it’s a contest weekend, I’m seeing little CW activity and less voice. There’s that 3 kHz of FT8 where there is always activity. I think FT8 keeps hams excited about ham radio and operating in general during an otherwise miserable sunspot cycle.

FT8 allows a complete exchange in 1:30, from CQ to 73. High power and high-profile antennas are not a requirement. Low power and “apartment” type antennas work well too. At times, I don’t see any trace on the waterfall of the station I’m working.

The program and protocol are open-source allowing others to build other applications using the protocol. Those include JS8Call which takes the robustness of FT8 and builds a messaging protocol with the ability to relay messages, similar to FSQ.

The good keep getting faster, better, cheaper. On July 16th, version 2.1.0 of WSJT-X was released for general availability and introduced a new mode, FT4. According to Dr. Taylor – K1JT, developer of the WSJT protocols, message types are the same as FT8. Improvements over FT8 include a mode that acts more like RTTY, meaning no more fighting to keep your computer clock synced with UTC and no designated transmit times. Transmission duration is 4.48s vs 12.64s of FT8. Bandwidth is 90 Hz. A compromise for quickness is the ability to dig out weak signals. FT8 is limited to around -21dB, FT4 is about -16dB. For reference, an excellent CW operator who can pull out weak signals is -15dB (figures from the video). Update now to start experimenting with the new exciting addition to the WSJT family!

Groups.io

A service for collaboration I’ve been using lately is Groups.io. Joined during my recent trip to D.C. because a mesh group was using it for collaboration. I quickly noticed other ham projects I was interested in were using it too, like the East Coast Reflector and NW Digital Radio. It’s a service similar to Yahoo and Google Groups but so much better. Groups.io doesn’t serve ads, track users, and has a better reputation than Facebook, which I neither use nor trust. Featuring a modern platform for communities to connect through messaging, calendar, chat, polls, database, photos, wiki, and integration with a list of other platforms. Great for projects to post documentation and offer support or a platform to keep in-touch with club members. It will even move your Yahoo or Google Group over to Groups.io. It’s a freemium service. Most will find the free offering more than adequate. The $10/month level adds the ability to directly manage memberships and take donations.

IC-7300 Clock Sync Video

Have an ICOM IC-7300? Want to keep the radio’s clock in sync with a PC while learning Linux and Python programming in the process? Check out the tutorial video by Kevin – KB9RLW, the “old tech guy.” He talks about why he wants to keep the clock synced and explains the program he wrote. His script is heavily commented which helps to understand the commands and he explains each part in the video. The script is available on GitHub which means it’s easily to build upon. I really like Python and started to use it when I was still doing programming. Alot of Linux programs are written using Python meaning it has to be a powerful language. Depending which survey, it’s #1 or in the top 3 most popular programming languages used today.

SDR Concepts

Onno – VK6FLAB produces a podcast called Foundations of Amateur Radio. Unlike others, each episode averages 5 minutes. They are short, very concise, and does an excellent job of explaining topics efficiently. Since April, episodes have been focused on Software Defined Radios (SDR). A must listen if you picked up an SDR-based radio at Dayton this year and want to learn more. Covering terminology like Direct Conversion and Sample Rate, even comparing SDR to ones with transistors or valves.

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary

When this article goes to press, we’re in the middle of the Apollo 11 mission 50th anniversary first landing on the moon. I’m already out there working those on the air special event stations. Many are operating until July 24, only have a couple more days! Check the Special Event Station listing or the DX Spotting networks.

Steve – W8HF sent me a website that is amazingly cool beyond words. When someone asks to define sites that make the Internet, this should rank near the top. Called Apollo 11 in Real-time, it is “a real-time journey through the first landing on the Moon” and is “entirely of original historical mission material.” When you visit the site, you can select to visit the launch 1-minute prior or visit the mission in real-time, 50 years ago. Included in the real-time elements are mission control footage, TV transmissions, 2,000 photographs, 11,000 hours of Mission Control audio and discussions, 240 hours of space-to-ground audio. All synced and organized chronologically. Truly an awesome website and I hope they keep it online for a long time.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – April 2019 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. cAUZRdnMNrU?start=2051Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

One thing about ham radio, there is no shortage of linking systems. Most are familiar with analog linking like EchoLink and IRLP but there were less popular ones such as WIRES and eQSO. Digital has many more options because when someone disagrees with an implementation, they make another. This allows for options but leads to fragmentation and incompatibilities. The AllStar Link project can link different infrastructure systems together or be a completely independent system. I learned about this linking system and accepted a challenge from one of the Technical Specialists.

Some of your Technical Specialists and I have this spirited debate about Motorola radios. They are correct claiming Motorola radios can take a lot of beating and keep on ticking. Not quite Timex but close. Commercial radios are designed to endure extreme conditions. Think police trying to wrangle a criminal or fire fighters in extreme temperatures of a working fire. You don’t want to worry about your primary line of communication being destroyed in the process. Ham grade gear won’t stand up to that kind of use and abuse. Older Motorola gear is very popular with hams as dependable FM repeaters and for use on 900 MHz. They make great repeaters because they have excellent adjacent channel rejection (selectivity) which minimizes interference from other transmitters.

Motorola CDM1250

My counter is most of this gear is not capable of VFO, a must when working with other agencies and not familiar with their frequencies. Some models are better than others getting them to transmit in the ham bands if the radio’s band split is just above or below the ham bands. A common practice is to bring a radio with the 450-512 MHz split to transmit in the 440-ham band. Aligning the radio is often needed because it has drifted off frequency. A service monitor or RIB (Radio Interface Box) cable are needed. Everyone should have a service monitor or scope, few do. Many older radios require a PC with a serial port and/or DOS application to be programmed. Serial ports are becoming harder to find on computing devices. I’ve heard USB to Serial Port adapters work, for the most part, with the help of DOSBox. DOSBox is an emulation of DOS that works on modern operating systems. Primarily designed as a tool to run DOS-based games but it also works for other DOS applications. To download a legitimate copy of the Motorola CPS programming software, the subscription cost can get ridiculous. A Radio Reference thread indicated it could range from under $200 to $400 with an increase last year for MotoTRBO equipment. As a former programmer, pirating doesn’t support developers and doesn’t allow the company to put money back into developers and adding features. If you’re kind enough, someone with a subscription maybe willing to program the radio for you or find a ham-friendly radio dealer willing to do the same or sell the software at cost. Pro tip, don’t ask about pirated software in the RR or in other forums.

Out of this debate came a challenge from Bob – K8MD to try out a Motorola radio. I eventually found a project where I need a radio but the programming wouldn’t change often. I did a lot of reading and research on BatLabs and Repeater Builder which are great resources for repurposing commercial radios and building repeaters. The used market is where these radios will be found. Advice from those sites will be very useful in not getting ripped-off, especially decoding the radio model number. My project was to setup an AllStar Link node and it was a perfect time to try a Motorola CDM1250.

AllStar Link, often called AllStar, is an Amateur Radio linking system on a Linux computer, running the open-source PBX telephone switching platform called Asterisk. An AllStar module called app_rpt turns Asterisk into a powerful, full featured, Ham Radio repeater controller, and linking package. It is theoretically capable of controlling hundreds of nodes at a time. Jim Dixon – WB6NIL (SK), developed app_rpt and is considered to be the father of AllStar. Asterisk is typically used as a SMB (small/medium business) phone system.

Like other analog Voice over IP systems (VoIP), such as EchoLink or IRLP, it links radio systems together. AllStar is flexible enough to link other infrastructures together as well. The ability to make connections on any IP network makes AllStar decentralized, meaning it doesn’t need to rely on other infrastructure. No central server for someone to pull the plug resulting in a complete collapse of the network. The concept of a node in AllStar terminology is a loose definition but they all run the same exact software. Node types are generally defined as:

  • Repeater: full duplex node and user functions accessed by DTMF
  • Simplex node: half-duplex node, also with user functions available by DTMF
  • Remote Base node: a half-duplex, frequency agile HF, VHF, or UHF remote base. Will not respond to DTMF on RF.
  • Hub node: a common connecting point (similar to Conference or Reflector) with plenty of Internet bandwidth to handle many connections at one time, has no RF connected hardware

Nodes can be public, private, or a combination of both. A public node would be accessible by any other public node on the AllStar network and requires Internet access to the AllStar infrastructure for the phonebook of public nodes. Private nodes can be limited to select users or on a completely private network, like a mesh network, where you don’t want many uses connecting over limited bandwidth links. These are great for connecting repeaters at different sites over a mesh network, point-to-point link, VPN, or public Internet. Private nodes are reserved node numbers ranging from 1000 – 1999.

A hybrid approach of both public and private nodes can be taken. Repeater 1 at location A, repeater 2 at location B, and repeater 3 at location C are all at sites with no or poor Internet. Setup Ubiquity point-to-point links between the repeater site and the Trustee’s house (for example) with a better bandwidth connection. AllStar nodes would be setup at the repeater site and use the Point-to-Point as the route to the Internet.

Say you don’t want public nodes to connect directly to the repeater over long-range WiFi, but wanted to link all three repeaters together and have controllable public access. Nodes at the three repeater sites would be setup the same except as AllStar private nodes. A fourth node would be setup with a public node number at the Trustee’s house. The three repeater nodes and any public nodes could be connected or disconnected from the fourth public node as needed. A friend of mine in Colorado, Jeff – K0JSC, has his WE0FUN “fun machine” repeater sites linked in a similar way. The 15 repeaters are private nodes connected over a private network to a central hub.

Asterisk supports standard protocols for making phone calls over IP, SIP and IAX. Using these standards makes integration easy with other systems that support similar protocols. Options range from softphones, hard phones, other Asterisk systems, to PBX systems on the Internet. A softphone app is an application which runs on a computer or smartphone providing the ability to make calls. Iaxrpt is the Windows PC softphone client and DVSwitch Mobile for smartphones. Hard phones are IP connected phones such as Cisco or Grandstream that support either protocol. A second line on the same Cisco phone used for Ham Shack Hotline is provisioned to dial into my AllStar nodes. An extension can be added to an existing Asterisk phone system allowing any handset to dial into AllStar. Last but not least, a cloud VoIP provider can add forward and reverse autopatch capability to any node! Loose autopatch ability due to new repeater hardware, an expensive addon board, or it became cost prohibitive based on use? Though an active Internet connection is required, a cloud PBX provider, such as voip.ms, adds autopatch functionality for fractions of a penny per minute (including long distance) with pay-as-you-go pricing. For younger hams, autopatches connected an amateur station (often repeaters) with the public land-line telephone system and were popular when cellphones didn’t exist or were expensive.

The first thing about AllStar I found interesting is the ability to interconnect with other ham radio systems. EchoLink support comes out-of-the-box. IRLP can be added but an existing node is needed to copy the system key. To obtain a new node number, the purchase of IRLP hardware is required. Cheapest way is to purchase the preloaded SD card with configured node on the IRLP Node Order Page for the Raspberry Pi.

AllStar has all the essential capabilities of a repeater controller, IDing every 10 minutes and adjustable time-out timer. The time-out timer can be disabled with a command – useful when broadcasting ARNewline, which can be played automatically with a script, or hosting windbag nets. The scheduler is replaced with Unix Cron. I’ve written custom scrips that announce weather conditions, PL tone, and number of connections at certain times during the hour. For a net, my node will check to see if it’s already connected to the far-end node hosting the net. If it is not connected to that node, it will drop all existing connections then connect to the remote node. Dropping all connections seems useful to avoid airing a local net over a large reflector or being booted from an IRLP reflector for being an irresponsible node operator. Some repeater owners like to place repeater objects on APRS maps showing repeater location and frequency. AllStar can inject these objects into the APRS-IS network.

DMK URIx

Not unlike the infrastructure flexibility, nearly any sound device recognized by Linux will work with AllStar. Cheap audio fobs (with a few modifications) to commercially or ham produced products are all options. The Repeater Builder site offers many options and products. The connecting device I choose was the DMK URIx. The USB connection converts data over to a DB-25 connector. Pin assignments are listed on the device itself for easy access. I wired up a connector using a Motorola connector kit I purchased off Ebay following instructions I found online from W2YMM. I’ve had a great experience and no problems with the URIx. However, it’s not cheap now running $85 including shipping. In addition, mailing lists are indicating a change in chipset is causing performance issues. I would wait awhile before purchasing this device again.

With Raspberry Pi as an option for running a node, portable nodes are popular for use in a vehicle or backpack. Open Internet ports, or port forwarding, is not a requirement for outbound connections. This is especially useful because cell phone companies make it impossible for open ports due to CGNAT. This was a big problem I talked about with WIRES-X before Yaesu introduced their portable node software. Incoming connections to a portable node on a hotspot will not be possible.

Diagram of connections to my AllStar node

There is a fork of the main project called HamVoIP. They were the first to release a Raspberry Pi image. A Beagle Bone Black image was available but it has been deprecated and no longer updated to concentrate on the Raspberry Pi image. About the time WB6NIL passed, the main AllStar project had some internal conflict, upgrades caused lengthy outages, distributions were becoming dated, and hard to setup. HamVoIP claims to pick-up that slack, improve on the project including infrastructure and code cleanup. Their assertion is having better than 70% of the AllStar market running their image. Recent strides have been made to improve the main AllStar project. I have used both distributions and feel HamVoIP does work better, has more features, frequent updates, and better documentation. Nodes running HamVoIP still utilize the AllStar infrastructure and are fully compatible with non-HamVoIP nodes.

There is a claim that HamVoIP is in violation of GPL license agreements. Again, being a former programmer and someone who publishes articles and presentations, I would be upset if someone was violating my usage terms. However, those making accusations are also making judgement calls based on lack of response – which doesn’t mean there is a violation. In addition, a claim can be filed with the Free Software Foundation or have the copyright owners of Asterisk make a decision. It does not appear either correct course of action is being pursued. Airing this grievance on social media accomplishes nothing, as usual. The HamVoIP side isn’t helping their case by not being transparent and some responses were “feeding the trolls.” A troll is a person online who posts a provocative message to an online forum with the intent of causing disruption and argument. You can read the Reddit thread (some language maybe NSFW) and HamVoIP response. I’m going to keep using HamVoIP until I see a response from someone that has standing in the matter.

AllStar is flexible but definitely a more an administrative (Sysop) system and not entirely user-friendly. Connecting to other AllStar nodes is pretty straight forward. The DTMF sequence is *3 to link and *1 to unlink. Integrations with EchoLink and IRLP can be implemented a couple ways: directly linked to an AllStar node where the AllStar and EchoLink/IRLP node act as one. EchoLink/IRLP can be setup on a different node (often private) on the same AllStar setup. Having separate nodes allows for disabling EchoLink or IRLP connections completely should those nodes cause problems. Great for control, not great for users. An RF user can link and unlink EchoLink/IRLP, not to specific nodes. It maybe possible to do with a script but would add complexity.

Having AllStar and EchoLink/IRLP on the same node allows RF users to link and unlink to those systems. Remembering the DTMF combinations is not easy, I know. Connecting to EchoLink nodes is the DTMF sequence *3 and *13 to disconnect. IRLP is *38 and *18 respectively. Example, EchoLink test node #9999 is *3009999 and *31009999 to disconnect. IRLP test node #9990 is *389990, and *189990. Not exactly straight forward, easy to remember, or the simple “73” IRLP users are used to for disconnecting. Sysops can use the Supermon webpage utility for easier control of a node and can make it read only for users.

I learned some things about using Motorola equipment. My CDM1250 is the high power (40 watt) UHF model. Radios such as the CDM have a 5% duty-cycle. This means transmitting only 3 minutes every hour. Don’t forget, these aren’t rag-chew radios – they’re designed for police and fire which only transmit for short periods of time. Two ways to improve the duty-cycle is to lower the output power and upgrade to active cooling by moving a lot of air over the heatsink. Lowering the power on mine is still 25 watts. These improvements allow the radio to operate normally for a 90-minute net, as long as the fan keeps working. The antenna connector is a Mini UHF female and very easy to break with an adapter and stiff coax. A Mini UHF male to UHF SO-239 female pigtail is a requirement. It relieves the stress on the radio’s connector.

Learning about commercial radios has been a valuable experience. AllStar Link is a very flexible and customizable system that has excellent integration with other infrastructure. I still have a lot to learn and my next goal is to use AllStar for linking all digital modes – yes ones like D-STAR, DMR, and Fusion. Stay tuned!

If you would like to make an AllStar contact, it is best to setup a sked with me via Email.

AllStar node map: http://allstarmap.org/allstarmap.html

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – August 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/08/august-edition-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

As I’m beginning this month’s article some nasty storms just ripped through Cleveland on the 11th. There were branches, trees, wires, power lines down, and road closures on the west side due to those hazards, including my QTH of Westlake. Luckily I’ve heard of no injuries. If you’re not part of the NWS Skywarn program, please consider joining as a spotter. Skywarn is a volunteer program that helps the local National Weather Service office know what’s happening on the ground and assists in warning people about dangerous weather conditions. Training typically happens in the early spring for spotters. Check with your local club or Skywarn organization.

The Republican Nation Convention went off without major incident in Cleveland. I was working from home and had the scanner on most of that week. Three major trunked radio systems were utilized: MARCS, the new MARCS-IP (Multi-Agency Radio Communications System), and GCRCN (Greater Cleveland Radio Communications Network). If you didn’t set a wildcard or use UniTrunker to watch those systems, you probably missed a lot of the event communications. There were about 12 primary talk groups on GCRCN where most of the action took place. These were previously unidentified so they were not in any lists or databases that use Radio Reference. A wildcard stops on any talk group whereas programming specific talk groups into the scanner will only stop on transmissions for those talk groups. The “old” MARCS system was shut down immediately following the convention as it was kept online largely for backup. It has been replaced by the MARCS-IP system.

This month we learned the sad news of Hara Arena’s closing. No more Hamvention at Hara Arena after 52 years. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association put into action their contingency plans. It was announced that Hamvention will still be in the Dayton area. The new location is The Greene County Fair and Expo Center located in Xenia, Ohio. Michael Kalter and Ron Cramer talked about the new location on Ham Nation for about 30 minutes in episode 259. Couple of links worth visiting:

-Why we are saddened by the loss of the Hara Arena: http://ad8bc.com/bc/?p=601
-Hamvention Announces Venue for 2017: http://hamvention.org/hamvention-announces-venue-for-2017/
-Ham Nation episode 259: https://twit.tv/shows/ham-nation/episodes/259, or YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_OaKmllEDY

One of our Technical Specialists, David KD8TWG, has been involved with setting up a DMR repeater in Cleveland. The frequency is 442.0875 (+5 MHz standard offset) using Color Code 1. The repeater is connected to the K4USD cBridge (http://www.k4usd.org/). On that website is a listing of the “standard DMR Logo configuration” for repeaters connected to the bridge. Right now, your code plug should follow the layout listed on the site. A cBridge is a feature that allows interconnecting of repeaters over the Internet and a Color Code is equivalent to a PL tone or DCS on analog repeaters.

When I picked up my DMR radio at Dayton, I found a code plug that had repeaters in Dayton and Columbus for the drive home. It was a nice opportunity to quickly get on the air with DMR but I kept threating myself to write my own. With the installation of the repeater in Cleveland, I took the opportunity to do just that. What is a “code plug?” Some history I found online notes the origins came from wire plugs, later jumpers, which were plugged into the radio to enable certain options or features. Since everything is now processor based, the term continues to stick with the radio world and is a fancy word for ‘radio configuration.’ It contains transmit/receive frequencies, tone selections, timeout values, IDs, configuration settings, etc. I used the one I found in Dayton as a reference. Tytera MD-380 There is also a sample one on K4USD’s site for my radio. I compared the two and designed mine the way I thought worked best. Just because someone designed a code plug one way doesn’t mean you can’t modify or do it differently. It’s analogous to one ham’s memory channels are not the same as another. In the end, it took about 3 hours to make mine! Keep in mind that was a lot of learning and comparing, in addition I programmed all 65 possible talk groups so I don’t have to add them in later. From discussions on the air indications are it took others a few hours as well. But my code plug works! I couldn’t be happier. Well OK I could, apparently I’m just far enough away that my 5 watts doesn’t quite make the trip. I took the radio to work and tested it from there.

I am writing an introductory series for the Wood County Amateur Radio Club on getting started in digital modes. The first few articles were for those who have never worked digital and want to upgrade their station. Remaining articles will focus on a specific mode. I’ve completed 3 so far (starting in February): an introduction, station setup, and working JT65/9. Published versions can be found at the club’s website WSJT-X Conversation in the CQ Chatter newsletter: http://wcarc.bgsu.edu/. As I point out in the second article, Technician class licensees can still participate. All of these sound card digital modes can be operated over FM simplex or even a net on a repeater using an HT! There are clear downsides like not being able to transmit as far as an HF station and occupying the full 10 to 15 kHz FM, even though the bandwidth of the audio generated by the computer is less. Yes, this defeats the purpose of narrow bandwidth modes. Someone wanting to learn and experiment with these modes may get bitten by the bug and lead to a license upgrade. That’s how I did it. I plan to write an article every 2-3 months.

My dad and I had the opportunity to join the Toledo Mobile Radio Association (TMRA) on August 10. They had Chris Wilson N0CSW, National Sales Manager for Yaesu talk about their System Fusion. Chris did make it clear that the company was paying for travel so there would be some ‘sales pitches.’ The presentation was short but the program ended up being driven by the audience with a lengthy question and answer session. Some things I learned: the DR-2X Yaesu DR-2Xrepeater announced at Dayton is not going to be a replacement for the DR-1X, though they may have improved on some shortcomings. The 2X is more of a full featured repeater. It will have the ability to operate dual receive and dual transmit (but not at the same time) creating two repeaters from one unit. They are including voice messaging (like club meeting announcements). Mailboxes were users can record messages for others. This reminds me of the mailboxes repeaters used to have when autopatches were more prevalent. The 2X can monitor a separate control channel for commands. This repeater will not support WiresX but will have “MSRL” (Multi-Site Repeater Linking) via an add-on Ethernet port. Their linking technology will allow the repeater to be linked over any IP based network, including mesh. This brought to mind an interesting use-case where multiple low profile/portable repeaters could be linked at sites with mesh such as air ports, hospitals, and Red Cross shelters. This would create a linked repeater system where not as many users would have to setup cross-banding or run to the other end of a hospital to reach a radio. In contrast, something similar can be done using the AllStar Linking system. At the meeting there was alot of: “I would like this feature/I don’t like this feature in the radio,” “we’re having this problem setting up the repeater to do X” kind of Q&A. My take away from that, their plan is to add features to radios by firmware update and not always release new radios.

In addition to all the work David KD8TWG has been doing to get DMR up and running in Cleveland, he’s been helping repair and upgrade analog repeaters, and setting up APRS IGates around town. He will be giving a presentation on APRS at the Lake Erie Amateur Radio Association’s club meeting on August 30th. Dinner starts at 6:30pm with the meeting at 7:30, don’t need to have dinner to attend the presentation. Haven’t seen an official announcement on location yet but it’s expected to be at the Play Arcade in Mayfield Hts (5900 Mayfield Rd, Mayfield Heights, OH). Check the LEARA website for updates and for dinner reservations: http://www.leara.org/.

Raspberry Pi 3I will be giving my introductory Raspberry Pi presentation at the Cuyahoga Amateur Radio Society meeting, September 13 at 7:30pm. It will be updated as there is new hardware and innovations available. Their meeting location is the Busch Funeral Home, 7501 Ridge Rd, Parma, Ohio. More: http://www.2cars.org/.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – June 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/06/june-edition-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,
You’re reading this so you survived another Dayton. My dad N8ETP and I went down on Thursday. We stopped at MCM Electronics. It was actually on the way because we stayed south of Dayton this year. My dad was looking for some parts. I ended up buying another Raspberry Pi 3 on a Dayton weekend special and an Arduino Uno board. The Arduino was cheap and a lot smaller than I expected. Don’t have much lined up for it but I did want to try a project I saw on AmateurLogic.TV some time ago.

Raspberry Pi 3The difference between the Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno boards is the Pi can run a full operating system (usually Linux) while the Arduino Uno runs instruction sets uploaded to memory. Variants of the Arduino can run entire operating systems. Both have General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) pins for interfacing. I haven’t mentioned it in this space – Raspberry Pi 3 is the latest addition to the line of cheap micro-computer devices. The Pi 3 has all the features of the Pi 2 with an upgraded CPU to 1.2 GHz 64 bit, built in Wireless N LAN, Bluetooth 4.1 and Low Energy (LE). All of this goodness (still) at $35 in the same form factor. I ran a compile of Fldigi/Flmsg for comparison. The Pi 2 compiled the programs in about 22 minutes, the Pi 3 compiled in about 13 minutes.

This year I really didn’t have a lot on the Dayton shopping list. I wanted to take a look at the new ICOM IC-7300. That is a very nice radio and a huge improvement over my IC-7000. I didn’t pull the trigger on that for some reason. I’m reluctantly holding off. The newer radios are coming with built in USB. For someone looking to get into HF digital check out the newer radios. You won’t need a SignaLink type device because the sound card is built in!

Tytera MD-380I did attend Dayton with the intent of purchasing a DMR radio. From the amount of people I heard on DMR repeaters and podcasts afterwards, it sounds like they were the popular item this year. For good reason, I picked up a Tytera MD-380 for a little over $100. It included the radio, battery, charging base, 2 antennas, programming cable, and software.

DMR LogoDMR stands for Digital Mobile Radio and is a standard published in 2005 that came from our friends in Europe. It is an open standard (publically available for adoption and modification) and widely adopted for commercial use. In practice manufactures have introduced proprietary features into DMR and created marketing buzzwords like MotoTRBO. With enough surplus hardware available in the market, the price dropped low enough for hams to adopt the standard and setup DMR repeaters. I have a lot to learn about how all this works. There aren’t DMR repeaters in range of my QTH. Couple on the opposite side of town and to the south. There are some repeaters in Toledo and Columbus. The greatest concentration is between Dayton and Cincinnati. Thanks to the folks at the Dial Radio Club in Middleton, Ohio, I had a DMR repeater easily accessible from my hotel room during the show.

Kenwood APRS DSTARNew things I saw include scanners from Whistler with DMR (expected June 2016). Following quickly behind was Uniden with the same announcement (no release dates set). If you have a public service agency utilizing a DMR system, you’ll soon have scanner options available. Kenwood showed off their 2m/220/440 radio with APRS and D-STAR (and hopefully DPRS). My dad and I both noticed how incredibly crisp and clear the color display was. Standing about 5-6 feet away we could easily read it. DV4mobile Wireless Holdings showed off a new digital all-in-one radio, the DV4mobile. This thing has ALL the features: 2m/220/440, DSTAR/DMR/Fusion – with P25/NXDN/NEXEDGE coming next year, LTE (as in cellular connectivity), remote programming, remote operation, Ethernet/WiFi, SMS (text messages). Will this thing do my dishes too? Wow. Both Kenwood and Wireless Holdings are expecting release dates in about 6 months.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Field Services table at the ARRL Expo. I had a great time chatting with hams from England and exchanging ideas. It was fun meeting those in Newington who administer the programs we know and love. A lot goes into these programs and there’s a lot of technical research happening. The table was staffed by representatives from the Ohio Section including moi. Scott and his wife Jane spent most of the show at the table making sure everything went smoothly. Huge thanks to them for getting everything organized. It was nice to meet all of you. I picked up a couple books in the store on the way out. More stuff to do!

Windows 10Reminder about Windows 10: Don’t forget the free upgrade offer to Windows 10 is set to expire July 29th. You still have about a month to decide on the upgrade. If you missed my April article, I went into great detail about Windows 10 and the push to upgrade users. Check it out on my site or on the Ohio Section Journal site. There is no indication from Microsoft if the upgrade will become a premium option or if they will extend the offer. Some analysts think it will become a pay upgrade others think the upgrade offer will be extended indefinitely. One change, Microsoft is becoming even more aggressive in forcing the upgrade. Didn’t know this was possible but they’ve succeeded. I mentioned in April that clicking the red “X” to close the upgrade pop-up will delay the upgrade. This is no longer true. Microsoft’s new interpretation of clicking the red “X” is an AGREEMENT to the upgrade. This whole upgrade thing is ridiculous. I have no defense for this behavior. If you want to disable the Windows 10 upgrade, run Never10 (https://www.grc.com/never10.htm). Many users are disabling Windows Update to prevent the upgrade. Please don’t. If you have, run Never10 and disable the upgrade. Reboot. Check it’s still disabled by running Never10 again. Run Windows Updates and let it do its thing. Then run Never10 again to verify the upgrade is still disabled. I’ve been upgrading my machines to Windows 10. It takes some finessing to disable the crap. I do keep coming back to a single question: “why?” Not ‘why did I upgrade’ but ‘why is this useful setting now burred and takes fifteen clicks when it used to be three’ or ‘why would you change things (color schemes, color contrasts, move things around for the seventh time) just to change things?’ Haven’t yet taken the plunge to wipe-out my machine in the shack.

Technical Specialist report:

With summer and projects gearing up, requests have been coming in. Bob K8MD and a good friend of his Dave NF8O traveled to the Ohio Veterans Home station, W8OVH, in Sandusky. They have a sideband station and wanted an upgrade to run digital modes. Bob and Dave spent a few hours working with them to get the station up and running. They trained the club members how to use Fldigi and helped them make their first PSK31 contact! The guys reported it was a humbling experience talking to Vets who served in major conflicts from WWII to Grenada.

Dave KD8TWG has been busy with presentations for ARES groups. First was a presentation on APRS for Cuyahoga ARES. The presentation touched on history, uses, settings and what they mean, and systems built on the APRS network. There is a lot to APRS and I learned a lot. Soon after he did a “program your radio without a computer” for Geauga ARES. Interesting concept. Most groups bring computer programming in to help newbies program their radio. Knowing how to program a radio without a computer is useful during an event or public service activity where improvisation is likely needed. Could you change PL tone on your radio and save it in memory though the front of your radio? Programming a temporary repeater that has a 1 MHz split? DCS, anyone? It’s good to know and practice changing transmit, receive, PL frequencies, and power settings on-the-fly through the front of your radio.

PCARS (Portage County) club members contacted me about a moon bounce (EME) presentation. This is an area I wasn’t familiar with or knew anyone who operated. I reached out to the assembled mass of Technical Specialists. Tracey – W8TWL came through with a couple contacts. Got PCARS in touch with one of them and they are working out the details for the July 11th meeting. I’m hoping to make this meeting and see a great presentation on Earth-Moon-Earth.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Img: VA3XPR, raspberrypi.org

APRS RX IGate with RTL-SDR and Raspberry Pi

For sometime I wanted to experiment with an APRS IGate. Coverage was spotty at best in my area. There is an IGate in my city but it doesn’t receive so well. Recently there have been more IGates blanketing the area.

APRS stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System and has been developed since the late 1980s by Bob Bruninga – WB4APR. It’s a digital communication mode amateur radio operators use to primarily broadcast location information, though this wasn’t the intended use. It handles text messages, alerts, announcements, bulletins, and information of interest like weather station reports. APRS operates typically on a single frequency.  A system of relay stations and digipeaters repeat messages over a wide area. APRS Internet System (APRS-IS) are Internet connected receivers (IGates).

Any ham can add an icon or information to the APRS map.  The information is available on the Internet or to users on the local RF network.  Data is automatically tracked over time. APRS is frequently used to track mobile stations in a public service event or volunteers in a search and rescue event to visualize locations and track progress.

This project will utilize the Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR dongle. The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized micro-computer intended for teaching computer science to students but became popular with the makers. RTL-SDR dongles are DVB-T (European standard) TV tuner dongles. It was found the signal data could be accessed directly which allowed them to be converted into wide band software defined radio receivers. The Pi costs about $35 and RTL-SDR about $20.

Since the RTL-SDR dongles are meant to receive high power wide bandwidth TV signals, they are not as a sensitive or frequency stable as a ham radio or scanner. Receiver performance will be a little less than an equivalent radio performing the same task but depends on the usual variables: amount of APRS activity, antenna height, antenna gain, propagation, etc, etc. With my antenna about 15 feet high, I get about 5+ miles of coverage. With band openings I’ve heard stations on the opposite side of town and across Lake Erie into Canada.

Even though this IGate will be non-transmitting (cannot relay packets from the Internet), packets are forwarded to APRS-IS. The higher profile – higher power Digitpeaters in the area will relay packets received by your IGate to the local RF network.

Assumptions

This guide is step-by-step in nature, meant for beginners, with brief explanations of the steps. It will help to have an understanding of Linux commands and scripting. Capitalization is important in Linux!

My setup is on my home LAN. The IGate could be installed at a remote site using a shared Internet connection. Be aware that firewalls that might block connection to the APRS-IS network on a shared connection. You may want to request or have port 22 open on your router for SSH to establish a remote connection.

If all wired options fall through, look for a cellular hotspot device such as a MiFi to install along with the Pi. Use the built in WiFi on the Pi 3 or approved WiFi dongles for earlier Pi devices. Associate the MiFi with your Pi (turning on WPA2 so no one else piggybacks on your connection). Test the setup before installing it. Don’t find out after leaving the site that the MiFi times out after a few hours.

Program versions

Applications and versions used in this writeup:

  • Windows 10 64 bit
  • Raspbian Jessie 2016-05-27
  • Win32 Disk Imager 0.9.5
  • PuTTY 0.67
  • SDR Sharp 1.0.0.1444
  • RTL-SDR 0.5.3
  • Multimon-NG ?
  • Pymultimonaprs 1.3.0

Parts list

Listed below are all the parts needed to get this project working. It is noted when items can be left out or substituted.

That’s all the parts needed for this project. Check out the AdaFruit Raspberry Pi page for other hardware that might be useful, like the USB to PS/2 adapter for example. Many of these parts are included in the Raspberry Pi Starter Pack.

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – March 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/03/march-edition-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

It’s been a busy month for yours truly. Things got started off with a drive down to Columbus with my dad N8ETP. We visited the Columbus Radio Enthusiasts Society (CRES) on February 16th. It was touch-and-go for a while due to the weather. Snow hit both areas the night before and hoped it would hold off for the meeting. It did. We made it there and back, no problem. It was our first meeting in Columbus and we couldn’t have had a better time. I was contacted by Steve – N8WL to troubleshoot an RFI issue he was experiencing. CRES_N8ETPWe got to talking and he invited me to come down and speak about, well, myself –what the Technical Coordinator does and projects I’ve worked on. The presentation consisted of: my history in Ham Radio and how I got to where I am, laid out the ARRL and Field Services structures, section level positions and the Ohio Section, my responsibilities as Technical Coordinator, and projects I’ve worked on. In addition gave some pointers for troubleshooting RFI problems. Our Section Manager was on hand and helped answer specific questions about the section. It was an informative meeting. CRES: http://www.w8zpf.net/, presentation: http://www.k8jtk.org/2016/02/16/about-the-arrl-ohio-section-technical-coordinator/

The following weekend I presented at the Mansfield Hamfest during the Digital Forum. Danny – W8DLB, who is in charge of the Hamfest, was at my NBEMS training session in Medina County and asked me to present it during the Digital Forum. The Digital Forum covered voice and text based digital modes. Duane -K8MDA demonstrated FreeDV. FreeDV is a mode used on HF for voice communication. It’s impressive because the bandwidth is about one-third of sideband! I gave a portion of my training session on Narrow Band Emergency Messaging using Fldigi.

K1NAt the LEARA meeting in Cleveland, I showed the video for the Navassa Island K1N DXpedition which happened in February of last year. A DXpedition is an expedition to a remote location, usually uninhabited, for the purposes of activating the location and making as many contacts as possible. Navassa was my first time trying to chase a “most wanted” entity for my log. I was able to log them twice. Bob Allphin – K4UEE has participated in many DXpeditions and has released the story of many on DVD. I had no idea what it took to put on a DXpedition of that magnitude. After seeing his DVD on Navassa, I now have a better idea. It is a phenomenal video that got rave reviews and comments at the meeting. The main video runs about 45 minutes. The wrap-up from the Dayton forum is included which has some great background details. These are great for club meetings, introducing newcomers to Ham Radio, and gifts. Purchasing the video helps supports future DXpeditions and supports other hams: http://t-rexsoftware.com/k4uee/dvds.htm

Last, and certainly not least, Ken – KG8DN instructor at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio has been in charge of the Gilmour Academy Radio Club – ND8GA for as long as I’ve known him. During the school year, organizations are in charge of running Convocation for a week. This is a gathering of the entire school for announcements, happenings, events, and entertainment. Ken asked me to speak at Convocation one morning. This was a different type of presentation than I was expecting. I figured I would be there to talk-up Ham Radio and get kids interested. Nope. It was more about life experiences with a little Ham Radio sprinkled in. Things students could relate to. I have to be honest this was more challenging than I anticipated. A lot of time was spent searching for topics that students would care about, relate to, and how those experiences got me to where I am now. There was a visual portion which included many pictures from my high school years. When looking back on friends and people I shared those experiences with, it make me wish I was back in that time. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way when I look back on today. The presentation turned out great and I have to thank Ken for all of his help. ND8GA: https://sites.google.com/a/gilmour.org/gilmour-amateur-radio-club/

Thank you to everyone for coming to my various appearances and the organizers for asking me to speak with your organizations.

ham_radio_for_makers_2_KB1WNRham_radio_for_makers_1_KB1WNRI received an email from a fellow Trustee of LEARA, Marv – W8AZO, asking if I had seen my name mentioned in a post on a website. I had not. What website did he find my name on? The IEEE website. Now, I know the fine folks over at IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) are wicked smart. Much smarter than I am. They come up with solutions to technical problems which usually turn into established standards. Additionally, they publish one-third of the world’s technical literature. Why the heck would they be talking about me? Stephen Cass – KB1WNR, Senior Editor for the IEEE Spectrum magazine wrote an article titled “Hands on: A Ham Radio for Makers.” He built an FM transceiver using an RS-UV3 transceiver board and Raspberry Pi to take advantage of digital modes. I was mentioned because Stephen used the instructions I posted to compile and run Fldigi on the Raspberry Pi. Super cool! ham_radio_for_makers_3_KB1WNRI emailed Stephen and thanked him for the plug. He was very appreciative of the well written instructions. His article may have glossed over some important points relevant to hams but the goal of the article was to draw others in from the wider community. The article will be in the March printed edition of IEEE Spectrum and should be available by the time you read this. It hasn’t hit the shelves in my local bookstore yet. Online version: http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/hands-on/hands-on-a-ham-radio-for-makers

That is what ham radio and makers are all about. I wanted to figure out how to run Fldigi on the Raspberry Pi, came up with a way to do it, documented it thoroughly, and shared it online. Stephen came across my instructions and used them as part of his project to create something greater; perpetuating the cycle.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – January 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox.  Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/01/january-2016-issue-of-ohio-section.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

Happy New Year. Welcome to 2016! Hope Santa was good to you and left you a new radio under the tree. A white Christmas would be nice but I’ll take the warm temperatures we had for the holidays. I took some MUCH needed time off from work and spent it: sleeping, doing things with friends and family, operating on the radio, and watching NCIS. Got a couple hundred JT65/9 contacts in the log (really because I was slacking the last couple months and to make up for lost time!), played with Yaesu’s System Fusion, and WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporting).

I hope everyone got to spend some time at their local club’s holiday parties. My family and I attended the LEARA (Cleveland) holiday meeting where I won the club’s giveaway of a new Baofeng radio and also a hat courtesy of our own Section Manager! This past weekend (Jan 10), I visited the Wood County Amateur Radio Club (Bowling Green) and attended their Kick-off banquet to begin the New Year! Great to see everyone.

I’ve been invited to visit the Columbus Radio Enthusiasts Society on February 16th. They asked me to present at their meeting on what the Technical Coordinator does and projects I’ve worked on. Stop by and say hi as it’s my first club meeting in central Ohio. More: http://www.w8zpf.net/

slusb

A couple months ago, I decided to see if I could get Fldigi working on the Raspberry Pi with my SignaLink. Fldigi is a modem application that is used for message passing or operating PSK, RTTY, and many other digital modes. I thought the tutorial could be a good resource for those who want to replace large PCs with much smaller Raspberry Pi computers or install digital in their go-kit. It was a success, or so I thought. I hit a couple snags along the way during initial testing. The first problem was a junky USB power supply. The SignaLink would key the radio for a time but would start a key-unkey sequence every second or so. I got what I paid for — use quality parts in your project. I swapped out the power supply. After that, I thought it was good to go.

Unfortunately, Ken W0KAH (from Missouri) contacted me over the holidays and said ‘it’s working great… except for our custom forms.’ I tried it and he’s absolutely correct. I loaded up his forms and ones that Technical Specialist Bob – K8MD created. When selecting these custom forms in Flmsg, the application hangs. The included forms work fine. I tried to first debug and later re-work the process to no avail. If anyone has custom forms working on the Raspberry Pi, please contact me. The build instructions and additional notes about the issue are available: http://www.k8jtk.org/2015/10/13/running-fldigi-flmsg-and-flwrap-on-the-raspberry-pi-2/

Speaking of Bob – K8MD, he wrote in to inform me that he’s been assisting with NBEMS during drills in Medina County. NBEMS (Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (or Software)) is a set of standards for passing text based messages and files over ham radio. His proficiency and use of NBEMS was noticed by ARES folks in nearby counties. Bob reported on the event:

———-

On Saturday 5 December, Medina County ARES conducted a damage assessment drill with Medina County CERT team. The exercise was centered around the Damage Assessment form that I created for FLdigi. The objective of the exercise was to complete an initial damage assessment of an area that had been hit by a tornado. This initial damage assessment must be completed by the County EMA within 12 hours. This initial damage assessment is used by FEMA, the Red Cross, and other agencies to increase their situational awareness. The information is used to determine the size of the response necessary for the incident.

The exercise was a resounding success! CERT was divided up into six teams. Each of these teams had a mobile / portable ARES station paired up with the team. The CERT volunteers filled out the damage assessment forms and the ARES stations transmitted the forms back to the County EMA. The amount of information passed in a short amount of time was quite impressive.

One of the key things that I think we learned at this exercise was to keep the digital traffic on a separate frequency and separate band from the FM phone net. The traditional FM phone net was established on a 70cm repeater. A two meter simplex frequency was designated for the digital traffic. The portable ARES stations would use the FM phone net to ask permission to send digital traffic on the digital channel. This permitted the normal FM phone net to resume operations while the computers did all the work transferring the digital traffic on a separate channel. It’s critical that the digital channel take place on a different band then the FM phone net, so that the digital traffic receive is not de-sensed from adjacent frequency intermod. It’s also important for the stations doing a digital transmission on an FM phone frequency to announce: “CALLSIGN with tones” before transmitting. One of the digital transmissions went over a repeater and a non-ARES ham that was listening, thought the repeater was malfunctioning and allowing paging signals to be re-transmitted.

Mike Brugger, N8CEY is the ARES EC for Wayne County. He came up to observe the exercise from the Medina County EMA. I helped him get FLdigi and FLmsg installed and properly configured on his laptop, while he helped me with Net Control duties. Mike left with an extremely positive appreciation for the digital traffic handling. He’s planning to take the knowledge back to the Wayne County ARES team and start training on FLdigi.

———-

Thanks for that great report. Bob, Dave – NF8O, Fred – K8FH, and I put together a hands-on NBEMS training session for Medina county. The sides are available online: http://www.k8jtk.org/2015/11/10/vhfuhf-nbems-an-introduction-using-fldigi-and-flmsg-presentations/

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – December 2015 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox.  Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2015/12/december-issue-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

By now you have all the decorations up on the tree and house, Christmas cards mailed out, shopping done, right? Anyone? Yeah, me either.

One device you might want to put on your Christmas list for Santa is the YARD Stick One (Yet Another Radio Dongle). It’s a dongle to transmit and receive signals below 1 GHz, which include the 440 and 900 ham and ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) bands. This device was created by ‘hacker turned Ham Radio operator’ Mike Ossmann – AD0NR. He’s the founder of Great Scott Gadgets (http://greatscottgadgets.com/) which makes gadgets like the HackRF One or Ubertooth One.

YARD Stick One

The YARD Stick One is a half-duplex transmit and receive dongle that operates (officially) in the ranges of: 300-348 MHz, 391-464 MHz, and 782-928 MHz. Unofficially: 281-361 MHz, 378-481 MHz, and 749-962 MHz. Modulations schemes: ASK, OOK, GFSK, 2-FSK, 4-FSK, MSK. HAK5 did a getting started video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkTlTCUeec0. If you get one of these devices, let me know what you do with it! More: https://greatscottgadgets.com/yardstickone/.

If you’re more a Raspberry Pi person, the foundation released the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero. It features a processor about 40% faster than the Raspberry Pi A with 512MB RAM, micro-SD card slot, mini-HDMI socket, Micro-USB for data and power, unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header identical pinout to Model A+/B+/2, unpopulated composite video header, and a form factor of 65mm x 30mm x 5mm. More: https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-zero/

Raspberry Pi Zero

The Fo Time podcast had an episode that I found very interesting. Fo Time is actually a Ham Radio podcast. Their subtitle is ‘the Other Ham Radio Podcast.’ Episode 38 is titled “Ham Radio-Listening to the Spectrum.” As someone who loves to operate on the ham bands I’m very interested to scan around from time-to-time to see what else I can hear. The episode goes though the allocations and uses of radio spectrum. It is an overview but they will talk about radios to receive frequencies and modulation types. Give the episode a listen. I found it interesting and learned a couple things. At the end, they encourage you to get out there and tune a block of frequencies. You’ll be shocked to learn what is going around you that you had no idea. More: http://amateurradio15.com/38/

I plan to do a rundown of Ham Radio podcasts I’ve found in a future edition of the OSJ. There are many out there and your fellow hams are putting a lot of effort to bring you ham radio related topics — for free.

I had a great time at the NOARS meeting this past November. I presented my program on the Raspberry Pi. It sparked a lot of great questions, discussion, and even correspondence after the meeting about possible uses for the device. Thanks for having me at your meeting.

Welcome to Tracey W8TWL as the latest addition to the Technical Specialists. He brings a lot of commercial experience to the group. He has a GROL (General Radiotelephone Operator License) which allows him to repair aviation, marine, and fixed stations. He is a certified member of the SBE (Society of Broadcast Engineers), and helped track down false emergency calls, pirate radio stations, and RFI problems. I’ve been to a couple SBE meetings. Want to know what it takes to keep an AM/FM/TV station on the air? These guys have all kinds of war stories!

Thanks for reading. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – October 2015 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox.  Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2015/10/october-edition-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

Where to start?  Lot has gone on the last month.  First up was the Cleveland Hamfest on the 27th.  The weather was great for a change – which, I thought, brought more people.  Seemed to be more flea market and vendor spaces taken up which is always good.  I heard from HAC that it was a successful hamfest this year.  I got to say howdy to a few in the Ohio Section cabinet.  I know I’ll forget someone but thanks to everyone that said hi and congratulated me.  Helped out with some of the local clubs, organizations, and shot the breeze with them.  Spent a couple of bucks too, mostly on connectors and accessories I was looking for.  You can always use more connectors.  Had just as much fun at the after party.

You didn’t know there is an after party?  Oh, there is… just some of my closest buddies getting together afterwards for some lunch.

The following day, I gave my Raspberry Pi presentation for the Geauga Amateur Radio Club and had a blast!  If you’re on the east side of Cleveland, be sure to check them out.  Made for a long day with work but was totally worth it!  There are two versions of this presentation available for viewing on my website at http://K8JTK.org.

The Northern Ohio Amateur Radio Society (NOARS, Lorain Co.) has asked me to put on the Pi presentation for their group too.  I’m scheduled to be the presenter at the November 16 meeting.  If you haven’t seen this thing yet, don’t miss it!  More info: noars.net.

Welcome to Dave KD8TWG as the newest Technical Specialist!  I’ve known Dave since about the time he became licensed because he’s been very active.  In addition to being AEC for Geauga County, he is into embedded systems, computers, and networking.  He plays around with APRS a lot too.

Aside from all that goodness, QSL cards and certificates are coming in from the 13 Colonies and Katrina 10th Anniversary special event stations.  I just dropped off certificate requests and QSL cards for the Route 66 and Pope Francis special event stations.  Groups really put in a lot of work doing these special event stations and do a great job getting the certificates and reply QSL cards out quickly.  The certificates really make great wallpaper for your shack too!  I find special event stations by watching Ham Nation or spots on DX clusters.

The Hurricane Watch Net is celebrating 50 years of service.  It was started in Cleveland by Jerry Murphy – K8YUW as an informal net to provide communication to affected areas.  They activate on the HF bands anytime a hurricane is expected to make landfall.  They can be heard on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz.  Remember to stay clear of these frequencies while the net is activated.  More info: http://hwn.org.

LEARA is in line for a Yaesu Fusion repeater under their promotional deal.  We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the box and can’t wait to get it on the air.  The promotional deal is a great opportunity for your club to replace aging repeater equipment or experiment with digital modes.  I can’t tell you how excited members of the club are to get into System Fusion.  From the other clubs that have contacted me regarding Fusion, the excitement is contagious.  Give it a shot!  The repeater can be configured: full digital (digital in – digital out only), full analog (analog in – analog out only), or auto detect (eg: analog or digital in – analog out, digital in – digital out, analog in – analog out).

Yaesu has extended the promotion once again until the end of the year, so you or your club has some time to decide.  Details and application are available through yeasu.com -> select Products -> click Digital.  Click DR-1X (model of the repeater).  Click the Files tab -> click “DR-1X Installation Program Application form.”

Thanks for reading

73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Running Fldigi Flmsg and Flwrap on the Raspberry Pi 2

With the popularity of the Raspberry Pi and the growing need of NBEMS, I wondered if it was possible to run NBEMS programs on the Pi. This maybe of interest to those who want to make a Go Kit (box) with digital or a club wants to replace older computers in their operations center with more efficient devices.

Fldigi is the program used and developed for Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System, but it does so much more. It’s also the standard for many Ham Radio operators because of the number of modes the software will operate.

Fldigi stands for Fast Light Digital modem application created by W1HKJ (David Freese, Jr.) and associates. Flmsg is a forms manager with standardized forms like MARS, plaintext messages, Radiograms, Red Cross, and Weather report forms. Flwrap is a file encapsulation and compression tool allowing for reception of a file exactly like the original.

The Fldigi application is open source, public license software meaning it’s free and available for auditing. With the source code available for Linux, I wondered if it was possible to compile the application on the Raspberry Pi.

At first I had some problems with the project. After (wasting) alot of time on it, I had given up. Only to find out the power supply I had been using was the cause of the issues.

Requirements

Work with my SignaLink USB. As a standard with my projects, the Pi can administered through SSH and VNC if needed. On Windows, I use PuTTY and TightVNC.

Assumptions

This guide is step-by-step in nature, meant for beginners, with brief explanations of the steps. It will help to have an understanding of Linux commands and scripting. Capitalization is important in Linux!

Check my other posts for setup guides on using your radio interface (though written for Windows) and Fldigi, Flmsg, and Flwrap.

Program versions

Applications and versions used in this writeup:

  • Windows 7 64 bit
  • Raspbian Jessie 2015-09-24
  • Win32DiskImager 0.9.5
  • PuTTY 0.65
  • TightVNC 2.7.10 64 bit
  • Fldigi 3.23.04
  • Flmsg 2.0.12
  • Flwrap 1.3.4

Build times

I did a face off for build times between the later model Pi versions: B+, 2, and 3. Later iterations will be faster. The results are in the format of the Linux command time, which contrary to it’s name does not set the time. It gives statistics about this program run. They consist of the elapsed real time between invocation and termination, the user CPU time, and the system CPU time. Later versions than listed above were used in this face off: Raspbian Jessie 2016-05-27, Fldigi 3.23.10, Flmsg 3.0.0, Flwrap is the same at 1.3.4.

Raspberry Pi B+

Failed. Apparently there is an issue running the Make command for Fldigi with versions later than the ones I originally used in this writeup. By the error messages this is an internal g++ compiler error. Make does not fail on the Pi 2 and 3 which probably means it’s a hardware issue (out of memory).

The error is “Warning: partial line at end of file ignored” for dialogs/fldigi-confdialog.o.

Raspberry Pi 2

real 21m49.783s
user 72m9.970s
sys 2m39.290s

Raspberry Pi 3

real 12m50.129s
user 42m8.980s
sys 1m19.160s

Parts list

Listed below are all the parts needed to get this project working. It is noted when items can be left out or substituted.

That’s all the parts needed for this project. Check out the AdaFruit Raspberry Pi page for other hardware that might be useful, like the USB to PS/2 adapter for example. Many of these parts are included in the Raspberry Pi Starter Pack.

If the Pi is setup where there may not be Internet, want to consider purchasing a Real Time Clock (RTC) addon. The Pi will keep time after power has been removed. Of course the time would just have to be set each time.

Flmsg custom forms

In order for custom forms to be used in Flmsg, version 2.0.17 or later must be used. There was a bug in previous versions that didn’t allow the forms to be parsed correctly. In addition, another browser needs to be installed as the default is unable to connect to the webserver created by Flmsg. Thanks to Ken – W0KAH for determining this issue and getting it resolved with the program author.

Linux package installer

The version available from the package manager could be installed but that version is several revisions behind which won’t have the latest enhancements. Some repositories don’t have Flmsg and Flwrap which makes it hard for NBEMS operation.

sudo apt-get -y install fldigi

sudo apt-get -y install flmsg flwrap
If it doesn’t work, you’ll get a message like:

E: Unable to locate package flmsg