Posts Tagged ‘Android’

Show Notes #116

Episode #116 Audio (Listen now!):

  • Week-end Brushes with fame
  • Ubuntu 13.10 for Smart Phones (Ubuntu Touch)
  • Pete Looks for a phone

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  •  ”The Soundtrack of Our Summer” by The League from the album The Soundtrack of Your Summer, courtesy of Jamendo.
  •  ”Whore of Babylon” by Sons of Sin from the album Rebelations, courtesy of Jamendo.

LHS Episode #116: O Savannah

serengeti01This week in the heart-pounding, blood-stopping episode of Linux in the Ham Shack, our intrepid hosts discuss a variety of topics from call sign look-up databases to Ubuntu, freeware collaboration suites to mobile computing, and QRP kits to hosted developer platforms. As if that were not enough, there’s music, banter, a cameo by Wil Wheaton and a rocking good time. What more could you possible want?

73 de The LHS Guys

SDR Touch – Android TV dongle software

I’ve had a little V dongle for a while and it works as a reasonable receiver but is let down by my puny Atom based PC. It gives me the Norman Collier effect. So I was very keen to try out some software from Martin Marinov that lets you use your Android tablet / Phone that replaces your PC. Low and behold it works and at £6 is a lot cheaper that buying a new PC.

I have a Google Nexus 7 and you’ll need a way of connecting the device to your mini USB socket on the tablet but there are plentiful from eBay or Amazon for minute sums of cash. I suspect some may be better than others but if it works it works!

SDR Touch

There is a stinge-ware version that has a few limiting features but I would recommend trying it out and paying out. Its only the price of a couple of pints!

The software sets itself up and downloads a driver (from the same developer). My first attempts had a few issues with the software not finding the device at first but a quick reset had it all ship shape in no time. All in all a great App and a lot less hassle than the SDR set up I originally had to do.

Available via Google Play

Android on an HTC Touch Pro

My Motorola Droid has been sent away for repair (requiring a part from China, a two week wait and a cost of over £50.) As I am therefore without a phone, I thought that I would try to install XDAndroid on my old HTC Touch Pro. I tried it once before about 3 years ago and it worked well enough to convince me that Android was a better phone operating system than Windows Mobile 6.1, but not well enough to be usable as an everyday phone.

This time I hoped that there would have been some updates to make Android more stable. The installation process seemed easier than I remembered. I thought I would document it, not just for others but for my own benefit in case I want to repeat the procedure for a third time.

You will need a blank microSD card. 4GB is plenty big enough. Then download the XDAndroid package from the repository at I chose because it was the newest.

Unzip the package to a temporary folder. The result is a folder named after the bundle,containing the files. Copy all the files (but not the folder itself) to the root directory of the microSD card.

The next step is to identify your model of phone. There is a long string of letters and numbers under the battery near the serial number stickers in tiny print. It will be 4 letters and a number. Mine said RAPH100: Raphael is the code name for the Touch Pro.

Having determined the code name, look in the files you unzipped for a folder named Startups. It contains several folders with names to match the phone. In the RAPH folder was another folder named RAPH100. That folder contains a file named startup.txt. Copy this to the root directory of the microSD card along with the other files. Now you can put the microSD card in the phone, replace the battery and switch it on.

Using the WinMo file manager look in the root of the storage card. There should be a file named Haret.exe. This is a Windows program. Run it. You should see a window that says “Booting Linux” which quickly changes to a console screen with tiny writing scrolling up the screen (I needed the extra strength reading glasses I use for fine electronic work.)

Watch the boot process carefully. It should stop at one point and ask you to perform the screen calibration. When I did this before, I recall that the the script displayed boxes on the screen that I had to tap with the stylus. This time there were no boxes displayed, so I had to guess the positions. The first time I guessed wrong: the result was an installation of Android that was insensitive to my touches.

I tried again after watching a YouTube video of the process which showed the screen calibration and saw that the tap points were: top left, top right, screen centre, bottom left and bottom right. After you have tapped the five points the boot process then carries on for several more minutes after which you should see an Android opening screen. Swipe the lock to the right and away you go!

In Windows Mobile you can create a shortcut to the program Haret.exe in your Start Menu which will make it easier to start Android next time. Do be certain that you create a shortcut not a copy because Haret has to be run from the root of the microSD card.

This version of XDAndroid seems a bit more stable than the one I installed three years ago. It’s good enough  for an emergency phone, which this is, but it runs slowly and functions like Bluetooth and GPS don’t work reliably. Development of this Android port ceased a year or so ago so there won’t be any updates. Interest in running Android on HTC Windows Mobile devices ebbed away as the users got themselves real Android phones. But it will do for now. It whiled away an afternoon and resulted in something I can use until my Droid returns from repair.

First ham app for Android

My first Android app

I thought that some of you might be interested to look at the first app I have completed using Basic4Android (B4A) called WhereAmI. It’s no great shakes as an app, and I think there is at least one other in the Android Market that does a similar job. My app’s unique feature is that besides the locator it shows the national grid reference (NGR) as well as the Worked All Britain (WAB) square. WAB is a popular activity on the low HF bands over here.

Because NGR and WAB only cover the UK, my app will not be very useful if you are outside of Great Britain. Indeed the app will probably blow up if you try it outside the UK as I haven’t included any test that the user is within these sceptred isles.

I’d rather not say how long the app took me to complete, but it was far longer than expected given that I had already written code to convert from lat/long to grid locator in VOAProp. That code was in Pascal, and the trouble was caused by the fact that Basic4Android does not have equivalent functions to those in Pascal, or even Visual Basic, so I could not just do a copy and paste. In the end I found a conversion routine written in C++ and converted that to B4A’s dialect of Basic. From there on it was easy, as there is a user-written library in B4A to handle conversions to/from National Grid references, upon which the WAB programme is based.

If I don’t try something else I might have a go at displaying a Google Map centred on my location, as one of the examples that come with B4A does just that.

I don’t plan on publishing any of the apps I create in Google Market (or Google Play as I think they now call it). I am doing this just for fun. Think of this as the programming equivalent of those radio projects knocked together on a breadboard or built Manhattan style, with no expectation that they will get put into a nice box.

If there is any interest I will make available the B4A project files as a zip file so that folks can play with them, hack them about or use them as a starting point for something better.

Basic Android Programming

Up until I got an Android smartphone, there has not been a single programmable device that I’ve owned and not tried to write my own programs for it. However, programming for Android devices seemed to be fiendishly difficult, requiring a good knowledge of Java (which I haven’t got) so I didn’t attempt it. The other week I saw an article in a computer magazine that went through describing how to create programs using a tool called Basic4Android. It seemed similar enough to other development tools I have used such as Visual Basic, Delphi and Lazarus. So I thought I would download the trial version and have a play.

The Basic4Android development environment,

I soon discovered that the trial version is pretty limiting. It’s enough to get a feel for the environment and the development process by creating “hello world” apps and suchlike, but in order to do anything interesting you need to use libraries and these are only accessible using the full paid-for version.

There are two full versions of Basic4Android you can buy: the Standard version which costs $49 and includes support and free upgrades for two months, and the Enterprise version which costs $99 and includes support and free upgrades for two years. As I’m not an Enterprise, only a dabbler (and a cheapskate one at that) I bought the Standard version. With hindsight that was not such a good idea, as I discovered after purchasing that only current paid-up users get access to the download links for additional libraries, even user-written ones, and access to the support forum. So after two months I’m on my own. A false economy, I think.

Sophisticated GPS apps can be developed

Basic4Android is a very powerful development tool and I don’t think there is much you couldn’t do with it if you’re clever  enough. The language is object oriented like any modern Basic, and objects exist to let you access the internet, draw charts, access SQL databases and much more. You can access the Android device’s GPS via a fully featured GPS library. There is even code to work with Google Maps. I have no intention of developing an Android version of APRSISCE (as if I could!) but Basic4Android looks powerful enough to make that possible.

So far I haven’t learned much about Basic4Android programming that’s worth sharing with people, but here are a few things I wish I had known prior to buying.

There is no need to pay the full prices I mentioned earlier. Once Google finds out you are interested in Basic4Android, ads to buy Basic4Android with 30% off will follow you around the web. To get the deal, click on one of them.

There are two options you can use to pay for Basic4Android, PayPal and Plimus. If you are in Europe then be sure to use the PayPal purchase buttons. If you use Plimus then you’ll get stung for VAT which will bump up the price 20%.

Better still you can get Basic4Android Enterprise version with two years’ updates and support at half price by using the coupon code dnxyif. Unfortunately this is only valid if you use the Plimus payment option so there is no avoiding VAT if you are in Europe. But even with VAT it’s still the best deal I think. I hope that helps someone.

The Android HT – Part 3

I received a comment on my previous post on The Android HT, pointing to this Android mobile phone plus UHF transceiver: Runbo X5. This is not quite what I described as the Android HT but this device is certainly interesting just the same. Runbo X5 Android Phone with UHF Radio Looking around on the web, I found this set of … Continue reading …

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