Archive for the ‘aprs’ Category

Yaesu VX8gr APRS problem

I took the dog for a walk today, as you do on new years day. We went down to the beach and then up the headland. Usually I don’t take a handheld with me but today I did, my Yaesu VX8gr which has been up quite a few fells with me and has always been very dependable. Today however I noticed a fault, even though the GPS was on and there was a valid fix the beacon refused to accept the co-ordinates and told me I was at home (I checked back when I got home).

This is a bit of an annoying habit.

A full reset and reprogram didn’t seem to get it to work so I’ll have to search around for a way to solve this. A quick search didn’t reveal users with similar faults. This could be very annoying if I’m out on a fell and using the APRS to report back to Mrs g7kse where I am!

ETH075 – RFinder

If you are anything like me you have used those little repeater Everything Ham Radio Podcast Logodirectories and strained your eyes in the process. I use to hate trying to find a repeater to use while I was on a trip. Most of the time, while I was on a trip, the town that I was in didn’t have any repeaters in it, but the next town over did. Maybe it was two towns over, or the third of fourth town that I look at in the directory. Either way, it was a pain in the…well you know.

Bob had the same thinking that I did all those years ago, but he acted on it. He went and digitized all the repeater data that was available and made it into an Android app. It is now available to IPhone, Android and on the web for just a small fee.

RFinder is the official repeater directory of Canada, the United Kingdom as well as 13 other countries. This year the ARRL partnered with RFinder to print the 2017 ARRL repeater directory. This years directory has 10,000 more listings and is the first time that the ARRL has crowd sourced the repeater information. The data that RFinder uses comes from many different places including Repeater societies, club websites and directly from repeater owners.

For more information about RFinder, hear it from Bob himself in the latest episode of the Everything Ham Radio Podcast at http://www.everythinghamradio.com/podcast/75

Hamvention Is Here – ETH069

With Hamvention already on top of us, I figured I’d throw my two cents worth into the mix with everybody else’s. In this episode of the Everything Ham Radio Podcast, we talk about some of the interesting things that are going to be going on at this years Hamvention at it’s new location in Xenia, OH.

DARA teamed up with The Miami Valley Mesh Alliance (MVMA) to setup a Mesh network on channel -2 at 10 MHz bandwidth.  The SSID is AREDN-10-v3.

We talk about all of my fellow podcasters/youtubers that are there and what they have going on and where they are at.

Lastly, we discussed some of the interesting forum topics that are going on during the weekend. To listen to the episode as well as check out all the links and further information on the topic, check out the show notes at:

http://www.everythinghamradio.com/podcast/69/

Sainsonic AVRT7 iGate

For the past few months I have been having a love hate relationship with a Raspberry Pi Model B and Direwolf. The software runs perfectly well on my Pi3 but makes my other Pi fall over relatively easily. When this is at home it is no problem at all. I just reset and it will restart the software but the trouble is it has been at the clubs QTH. Ok I can log in remotely and deal with it but when it refuses to connect to the internet it becomes a pain. So I was looking for alternative solutions.

I came across the Dorji DRA818v module a little while ago and though that would work. It is a simple module that just needs a PCB and some connections to the Pi. But hang on, there are PCB’s you can already buy. But they don’t have filtering. Now hang on again there are those with filtering too. Now that looks good. Then hanging on for a third time the Sainsonic AVRT7 does it all simply!

avrt7

So, now there are a bunch of choices for the same module. I’ve ordered a AVRT7 and around 30+ working days later I should receive the new toy.

There are a few warnings about counterfeit Prolific chips and trouble programming. I can see some frustrating times ahead but I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge. I just hope it’ll be one that can be beaten. I will also get myself a SV1AFN pcb when I get around to it for home / experimental use. Just don’t tell Mrs g7kse!

Whilst we are on the subject I am really impressed with Direwolf. WB2OSZ has produced a really great bit f software that is easy to install on that Raspberry Pi and RTL Dongle you bought that you’re not using. The world can only get better with loads of iGates 🙂

What it takes to make the AP510 APRS tracker useful

This small VHF APRS tracker can easily be improved with some simple measures:

  1. The 1 Watt of output power is often too little to reach the desired APRS digipeater reliably enough. It is much simpler to improve the antenna than to add an amplifier and it can be done as follows:
    • Use a longer telescopic antenna. In the picture I have used an antenna that can be extended from 16.5 cm to 45.2 cm. Depending on how you use the tracker, always extend the antenna as much as practically possible.
    • Add an external counterpoise or “tiger tail” of length a quarter of a wavelength. That’s about half a meter. In the picture it is fastened on the antenna’s BNC connector by means of an 8 mm ring terminal.
  2. Update the firmware, if you haven’t done so already, to the version from 3 Nov 2015. I have written before about my experience with that firmware.
  3. Get rid of the pirated USB chip in the interface cable. I did that last year and now interfacing it to the PC and updating it is so much simpler.

These simple steps have made my AP510 tracker much more useful.

The post “What it takes to make the AP510 APRS tracker useful” first appeared on the LA3ZA Radio & Electronics Blog.

What it takes to make the AP510 APRS tracker useful

This small VHF APRS tracker can easily be improved with some simple measures:

  1. The 1 Watt of output power is often too little to reach the desired APRS digipeater reliably enough. It is much simpler to improve the antenna than to add an amplifier and it can be done as follows:
    • Use a longer telescopic antenna. In the picture I have used an antenna that can be extended from 16.5 cm to 45.2 cm. Depending on how you use the tracker, always extend the antenna as much as practically possible.
    • Add an external counterpoise or “tiger tail” of length a quarter of a wavelength. That’s about half a meter. In the picture it is fastened on the antenna’s BNC connector by means of an 8 mm ring terminal.
  2. Update the firmware, if you haven’t done so already, to the version from 3 Nov 2015. I have written before about my experience with that firmware.
  3. Get rid of the pirated USB chip in the interface cable. I did that last year and now interfacing it to the PC and updating it is so much simpler.

These simple steps have made my AP510 tracker much more useful.

The post “What it takes to make the AP510 APRS tracker useful” first appeared on the LA3ZA Radio & Electronics Blog.

Raspberry Pi APRS iGate

Further to my previous post(s) on APRS and Specifically Direwolf, here’s something with a bit more meat.

APRS has always been a bit of a thing for me. I like to go for a ride or a walk on the Lakeland fells and whilst I don’t get to go on as many SOTA trips as I’d like I do nearly always carry a hand held when I’m on the mountain bike. I know that there are a few local hams who like a bit of APRS and you never know when you’ll need a way of communicating when you’ve gone over the handbars and smashed your phone….

So what?

Well I also have an early Raspberry Pi model B and an RTL-SDR dongle. I live quite close to a digipeater and also have a terrible QTH for an iGate. So, I thought I’d combine the two with my liking f APRS. I’m glad to say the process was really easy and very robust. Want to have a go yourself? Ok…

So lets start

  1. Get you SD card and load it with the OS (I used the Raspian image from the Raspberry Pi site)
  2. Get a copy of the Direwolf software from WB2OSZ (and simply excellent documentation) from GitHub
  3. Have a look in the Direwolf docs folder. Follow the Raspberry-Pi-SDR-IGate instuctions and the Raspberry-Pi-APRS. I’m definitely not going to try and replicate of better these docs as they are perfect
  4. Get an APRS passcode from Magicbug
  5. Off you go, simple as that. Any issues then the Direwolf Yahoo Group should sort you out

Direwolf

That’s it really. There are a few little odds and sods like beaconing your iGate. This can be achieved by adding a line into the sdr.conf file so it looks a little like this:

# # Sample configuration for SDR read-only IGate.
#
# We might not have an audio output device so set to null.
# We will override the input half on the command line.

ADEVICE null null
CHANNEL 0
MYCALL MX0WRC

# First you need to specify the name of a Tier 2 server.
# The current preferred way is to use one of these
# regional rotate addresses:
# noam.aprs2.net - for North America
# soam.aprs2.net - for South America
# euro.aprs2.net - for Europe and Africa
# asia.aprs2.net - for Asia
# aunz.aprs2.net - for Oceania

IGSERVER euro.aprs2.net

You also need to specify your login name and passcode.
# Contact the author if you can't figure out how to generate # the passcode.

IGLOGIN MX0WRC 12345 (your passcode)
PBEACON sendto=IG delay=0:30 every=10:00 symbol="igate" overlay=R lat=54^38.5611N long=3^3$

# That's all you need for a receive only IGate which relays
# messages from the local radio channel to the global servers.

I’ve not managed to get it to start up automatically if it falls over with the dw_start.sh script but that is a work in progress. Here we are on APRS.fi

APRS

Ok, thats all very well but mine is remote. There are a few suggestions from the RPi people but I plumped for Weaved and tightVNC as a solution. Here are the instructions I followed for Weaved, and for TightVNC . If you don’t fancy a link then try this:

Install Weaved and run the installer

sudo apt-get install weavedconnectd
sudo weavedinstaller

Then TightVNC

sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

Run it once to do the password thing, then to run at boot

sudo su
sudo nano vncboot.sh

Enter this into nano

#! /bin/sh
# /etc/init.d/vncboot

### BEGIN INIT INFO
# Provides: vncboot
# Required-Start: $remote_fs $syslog
# Required-Stop: $remote_fs $syslog
# Default-Start: 2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop: 0 1 6
# Short-Description: Start VNC Server at boot time
# Description: Start VNC Server at boot time.
### END INIT INFO

USER=pi
HOME=/home/pi

export USER HOME

case "$1" in
 start)
  echo "Starting VNC Server"
  #Insert your favoured settings for a VNC session
  su - $USER -c "/usr/bin/vncserver :1 -geometry 1280x800 -depth 16 -pixelformat rgb565"
  ;;

 stop)
  echo "Stopping VNC Server"
  /usr/bin/vncserver -kill :1
  ;;

 *)
  echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/vncboot {start|stop}"
  exit 1
  ;;
esac

exit 0

Then chmod

chmod 755 vncboot

Lastly

update-rc.d -f lightdm remove
update-rc.d vncboot defaults

I can’t tell you how useful to follow the steps enough. I found that one RTL dongle isn’t quite the same as another so there can be issues. So much so that I wiped the SD card a few times so as to get right and simple. If you didn’t want to run Jessie, Jessie lite will do but you’ll need to find an alternative way to remotely access the RPi, with something like SSH as VNC doesn’t work (easily) without the X server.

As always, comments, suggestions and alternative approaches are always welcome, after all this is a hobby and none of this hard work belongs to me, I just follow the instructions 😉


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