Some arial pictures from the club picnic at Pat’s place. Glad people enjoyed my demo and got a chance to try their hand at piloting the aircraft. Next time maybe I’ll have a few more batteries…
The Days of the Digital Radio “Tower of Babel” are coming to an end.
The different Digital Modes promoted by different Radio Vendors are starting to “Converge” via new Digital HUBS and Digital Servers.
Result? DSTAR folks can talk to C4FM/Yaesu using their native vendor specific Radio, DMR Radios interoperate here too. The ever popular Digital HT – the MD380 was selling for $75.00ea at Dayton. Digital Mobile interoperability is improving too because of the availability of WiFi while Mobile due to today’s SmartPhones.
Below is a great summary – of what’s going on in the Digital Radio World – from Dayton last week.
Glad everyone enjoyed my presentation. Here are the pictures that Gerry, Brian, Pete and I took while flying. Word around the club is that Debbie N0LDB is going to get one for her birthday this year!
As usual, don’t shoot the videographer, he’s playing as best as he can…
A Portable Allstar Node – means never having to be near a Repeater to use it. Allstar uses the Internet – to connect to a distant Allstar Node – that is connected to the Repeater System you’re trying to reach. Portable Allstar means you use a WiFi Hotspot in your Car or RV that provides the WiFi connection for your Raspberry Pi 3 computer – that runs the (free) Allstar software.
I have wanted to build a portable (FM) Allstar node to take on the road with my RV for several years now. The effort started first with IRLP but never progressed to the finish line because IRLP has a need to do IP port forwarding (from the WiFi Hotspot) of several UDP ports to the IRLP interface board in order for it to function. In the 3G wireless (Hotspot) world that was not difficult to do since wireless providers (usually) handed out publicly routable IP addresses to each wireless 3G hotspot. You were then able to port forward from a Hotspot router that is the wireless hotspot.
Those days are gone, todays wireless 4G networks no longer give subscriber’s devices publicly routable IP addresses. The only solution for operating portable IRLP on 4G wireless networks has been to use a VPN client service to forward the required ports. To do that requires a fair amount of effort setting up and maintaining a VPN client on the (likely – Raspberry Pi) computer running the IRLP software. Other hams have successfully done this but it requires a more in depth knowledge of Linux than I presently have. You also need a source for VPN services. (money $$) My efforts with portable IRLP stalled at this hurdle. Easier tasks caught my attention and I did not progress beyond setting up an IRLP node at my home. It has operated flawlessly, a tribute to the Linux operating system, for many years.
Thanks to the efforts my good friend Pete, N0ECT, I was recently prodded to reexamine the possibilities of a Portable Raspberry Pi 3 – AllStar Node. AllStar, has been around about as long IRLP but developed more slowly. In its original incarnations it was more (Linux) complex to setup than IRLP. Like IRLP it runs on computers running Linux along with a version of Asterik modified for amateur radio use. Much about AllStar has changed since my last look at this package. Today’s computers are smaller, more powerful, and cheaper. Memory is denser and also cheap. Handheld FM ham radios (SDR) can be purchased today for $13.00. One of the most popular implementations of AllStar today runs on a fast Raspberry Pi 3, using a micro SD card as its hard drive. The Pi 3 computer includes WiFi to connect to your portable Internet Hotspot. The setup process is mostly scripted for you using a Browser based GUI interface. Maintenance chores are all accomplished using the same Browser from your PC or Mac. You no longer have to keep a version of Linux For Dummies at your side as you configure your system. Little, if any, Linux interaction is required to get the system up and going. Compared to IRLP It’s easier to set up, cheaper to build, and the voice quality is superior. After gathering all the parts and pieces, we had AllStar up and going in no time.
During the process of setting up my home based Raspberry Pi AllStar node my thoughts returned to building a portable node. I wondered if I would face the same challenges that thwarted my attempts of making a portable node work under IRLP. The setup instructions for AllStar still made reference to setting up port forwarding from the router firewall/Hotspot, and that seemed like bad news. I searched the web to see if anyone had accomplished this feat yet in an AllStar environment. I did not find a lot, but then I stumbled across a posting from a ham in Philadelphia, that gave some hope. He pointed out that while an Allstar node needs a port forwarded from your router, that port is only used to facilitate other hams connecting inbound to your node! Eureka! It is not required for you to initiate an outbound connection to another Allstar Node or Allstar SERVER/HUB! To me, that meant if you want to operate portable from your car or RV you can initiate Allstar connections to other nodes and hubs all day long without needing a VPN Client to forward your connection request. I called my friend Pete and we tested this point, shutting down port 4969 on his node. It worked! While I could no longer connect to Pete’s node he could add Outbond connections to his. The biggest connection problem with portable IRLP, does not exist with AllStar. My biggest impediment to operating from the RV is not a factor in AllStar. It’s G. O. N. E. Thank you AllStar.
Allstar is different from IRLP in another useful way. In the IRLP environment you can only connect to one node at a time. So if you are talking to an individual IRLP node no one else can join the conversation. You can connect to a special node called a reflector that does accept many simultaneous connections, but you can only have one connection at a time. In the Allstar environment a node can connect to multiple other nodes at once. And, (here is where it gets a bit confusing) those nodes can also be connected to multiple other nodes. That can quickly make for some pretty big networks. These are literally star networks connected to other star networks. The star,in AllStar.
So back to my RV node operation, If I, while I’m on the road, I maintain a connection to my home AllStar node, then I will also be connected to whatever nodes connected to my home. Since my home node has port 4969 forwarded to the Raspberry Pi, from my firewall, other nodes can connect to it and in turn, my mobile node will also be connected to them. Inbound connections to me when I’m mobile will not be a problem because of this feature. Callers will think they are connecting to my home node but, no matter, I’ll hear their call because I too am also connected my home node. AllStar call forwarding! Plus, if I choose, I can still connect to other nodes at the same time. In essence I can have all the benefits of a full featured mobile AllStar node without needing to do VPN port forwarding while I’m mobile.
Another nice Allstar feature is that I can manage my home node or, any node, using the proper node password from a Browser. This is accomplished using new browser tool, Supermon. Users can manage connections, adjust audio levels, even reboot the Raspberry pi if needed, all remotely from an iPhone or other internet connected device.
I’ll be talk’n to ya all from the road this summer, I’m a happy camper now! 73, N0AFO
(16GB – Micro-USB – Click Here) Purchase at least two, one for operating the Raspberry Pi 3 and one for node backup. Be sure they are class 10 speed rated.
Except where otherwise noted all parts were sourced from Amazon.com
USB Radio Interface Card $50.00
You can make your own interface card ( instructions can be found at https://www.hamvoip.org/ )
I decided to spend the $50.00 for the repeater-builder package. It was a time saver, it is the most expensive item in my project.
If you want to roll your own radio sound card interface this is the device you need . The project involves disassembly of the package along with some precise soldering techniques on a surface mount board. This card is responsible for supplying the PPT, COS, Tx audio, and Rx audio to your radio.
My Node’s Parts and Pieces (Shopping List – Click Here)
This case ships from the UK and takes about 10 to 15 days to arrive. This is my favorite Raspberry Pi project case. It has some ventilation slots built in which I think is a good thing. Best of all you can purchase spacers to increase the height of the case to accommodate add on boards. I also recommend purchasing the SD card cover it will protect the SD card from falling out. If needed, two covers for the USB and HDMI ports will help keep dust out if you are using this in a dusty environment.
Using stacking spacers, I was able to stuff a Raspberry Pi based IRLP node into a single case, accommodating the Raspberry Pi, IRLP interface board, and audio sound card inside one small case. It’s worth waiting for. I have not found a US source for this item.
Finished Pi 3 Package
My finished Allstar node. Initially I plugged the USB radio interface card into one of the USB slots on the Pi board which required routing the USB connector to the outside of the case. I found that the plug was sub-ject to intermittent connections as it was bumped. That would not be optimal for my planned use as a portable AllStar node for my RV. The solution was to hardwire the USB cord to the Raspberry Pi board. This still allows for unplugging the cord from the radio USB interface card. I have not had any more connection issues since doing this modification. I placed some electrical tape over the external USB port that I hard wired to preclude inadvertently plugging another USB device into that port. In the top photo the Pi is running off of a battery designed to charge cellphones. It ran the node for three days off of this battery.
Light pipe feature of the Mag Pi case
USB Radio Interface
USB cable routed to USB port on case exterior.
12 Volt to 5 volt Power Supply
For Raspberry Pi
I found this 3 amp 12 volt dc to 5volt dc down converter with a micro fe-male usb connector to power the Raspberry Pi3 . This makes for a very small and neat package that can easily be tucked away out of. The power drain of the Raspberry Pi and the radio USB interface is under 1.5 amp.
Parts for the Mobile AllStar UHF Node Radio
This is a work in progress . I’m presently using a modified Motorola Maxtrac mobile radio as my home node AllStar radio. This radio was a conversion done by KE0TY , now a SK. Ted removed the final power transistor leaving the radio to use the driver transistor only. About the same power as the BF888s. This allows operating the radio at 100% duty cycle. That radio consumes more power and space than I want so I explored some alternatives. Initially I thought about converting a Baofeng UV-5R to be the Mo-bile node radio since I had one on hand. The parts density of the UV5R is high and things like the DTMF key pad and the display add to the complexity. I decided not to go down that route and reassembled the UV5R before I could break it. After some re-search I ordered a Baofeng BF-888s to be my new Allstar node radio in the RV.
This Radio is cheap, and not difficult to interface to the AllStar Pi . ( a link to the instructions is below ) It has 16 programmable channels. I programed them all to the same frequency so the radio will always be on the frequency that I want it to be on. The BF-888 radio (photo below) will be dedicated just to mobile AllStar. The low power drain of the BF-888s and the Raspberry Pi will allow it to be on 100% of the time. Node DTMF commands will be sent from the handheld or mobile radios that are transmitting to the BF-888s. Based on my experience from my home node the radio’s range should be about 6 miles when using an external 5/8 UHF antenna. If I just use the supplied rubber duck , it is a mile or so.
To keep the power supply side of the equation simple I purchased the BF-888s battery eliminator. It clips onto the back of the BF888s reducing 12 Volts to the 4 volts required to run the radio. That will be connected into my RIGrunner power buss in the RV. The RIGrunner supplies all my radio gear with DC power via power pole connectors each fused separately. It in turn is sup-plied power from a dedicated deep cycle marine battery that is separate from the rest of the RV batteries. This dedicated battery is automatically charged from any of four sources. The generator, the house solar panels, the RV’s house battery charger if the RV is plugged in to shore power, or the engine alternator when underway. Draining the dedicated radio battery does not affect the other RV batteries. It will charge from, but it can not drain the RV house or chassis batteries.
The BF888s modification details are found here: http://crompton.com/hamradio/baofeng888/
At last Saturday’s SCARC monthly (March 2017) meeting the members were introduced to the Allstar Radio system and our new (working today) Allstar SERVER/HUB – 45479 (powerpoint presentation below)
In short – Any (world wide) Allstar Node (~2,000 Nodes) can connect to our 45479 and talk to any HAM connected to our SCARC Repeater Backbone using (example) a Baofeng HT that is also connected to our Repeater Backbone. Allstar will send your Colorado (Audio) to anywhere in the world, to another Allstar Node that is connect to 45479.
How Allstar can assist operators of EME “Moon Bounce”
N0KE (Phil) has mentioned in the past that he has used “Email” to coordinate (time of day setup) for a “Moon Bounce” QSO with another EME operator – half way around the world…
Now N0KE can use a Radio… example: a 2meter (HT) to coordinate that EME Moon Bounce, provided that other (example: Australian) EME operator has access to a local Allstar Node. Recall there are ~2,000 active Nodes today, with more coming online each day. They can now discuss via their respective Radio HTs – their scheduled time of QSO, Amplifier Power Levels, N-element Yagi Antennas…and much more – all needed for a successful EME QSO. Now N0KE can spent more time using his Radios rather than his Computer (reading EMails) to setup and have a successful EME QSO!
Saturday’s Allstar Presentation includes a list of parts (Amazon) that HAMs can use to build their own Allstar Node. It’s way less than $300.00 if you already own a Baofeng HT.
Note: Click on the small icon in the lower right below..it will change to a full screen of the PowerPoint Presentation! Once you’re running full screen (at the bottom middle) of that page you can click through the sides using this right arrow.
Below is Eric’s K0JEG’s Video of last Saturday’s Meeting and Presentations.
Unmistakable. Boafeng’s UV-5R finally made it to the front cover of this months QST – March 2017. Operator: Chase KG5KKX. Folks that are not afraid of Facebook, also know that Chase is a freshman at U of Texas – Austin. She likes Skydiving and Riding Horses in Rodeos. But don’t get too excited guys – it’s gonna’ be about another (3) years before you can legally offer to buy young Chase a drink!
So the next time somebody suggests Amateur Radio is just a bunch of old guys talking…you call tell ‘em about this Longhorn freshman! 73s
Young Bachelor members of SCARC now have a choice – you can chase DX – or you can chase (CHASE – KG5XXX) perhaps even on Digital! Below from Chase’s Facebook page.
Ken, KB0HP gives an excellent talk and live demo of JT-65 weak signal mode and Bob K9MWM has a report from his and Sue’s (N0DBY) trip to Quartzite RV meeting and hamfest. As usual, sorry about the production quality, but I think I’m getting better at the one-man-band production system. This month I ditched Switcher Studio and tried out Rico Live multicam, which doesn’t do realtime streaming (which didn’t work all that well and gobbled up data), but does record all footage locally and render it later, which I think does a much nicer job.
Special Thanks to SCARC Vice President – Dave KD0WQC for keeping us all organized and identified. Dave has worked out an arrangement with Micro Plastics, Inc. of Glenwood Springs, CO.
Dave’s Details: The cost of each name tag with a magnetic backing is $9.98 plus tax. The cost of each name tag with a pin back is $8.59. The name tag is made with hardboard. You can reduce the price if you remove your QTH.
I forgot to tell them we wanted a slash through the zero but you can tell them if you order one. I paid the setup fee so you wouldn’t have to. The addresses are as follows Micro Plastics, Inc. 531 Railroad Ave. in Rifle and 407 24th St., in Glenwood Springs. (recent change) Please EMail instead of Calling on Phone! sarahl@mpsigns—dot—-com
I tried to make it easy to get name tags here locally. They told me you can more information to customize your tag but the price will increase.
Now that we have YOU – ID’d…What about your Colorado Vehicle? OK, you can apply for a Colorado Vanity License Plate Tag if you (Click Here). Last time N0ECT checked it cost $1.00 for the front and $1.00 for the back license plate for your Colorado Vehicle. The State sends you a $2.00 Bill (after you apply – see form above) after that – they send you your new Vehicle Tags…figure 4-6 weeks depending on how busy Colorado Convicted Felons are.
Smilin’ Ken KB0HP – Says – “Earn your Ham Radio TECH License the easy Way!”
HAM RADIO -TWO-DAY- TECH LICENSE CLASS – RIFLE, Colorado
Free Training! – Only costs are textbook & test fee
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25TH & SATURDAY, MARCH 4TH, 2017
(you will test for your HAM license on the 4th!)
RIFLE PUBLIC LIBRARY – 207 EAST AVE
LARGE COMMUNITY ROOM UPSTAIRS
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
INSTRUCTORS: KEN RAHN KBØHP, JIM LEGG ADØLI, DAVE RAHN KDØWQC, CLARK HECKERT K3NI, AND KEN WHITE KØWJR
SPONSORED BY SKI COUNTRY AMATEUR RADIO CLUB
Required Text: 2014-2018 Technician Class by Gordon West—Please order from Ken Rahn to receive discount price (see contact information below)
Please complete the provided Pre-Study Q & A homework at home before coming to class. Without the home study, the class probably won’t be a success.
Remember to bring picture ID and $15 for taking the Tech Exam on March 4th.
Questions? You may contact Ken at 970-625-0745 or 970-379-3427 or via
EMAIL: KB0HP -AT- YAHOO DOT-COM
See you there!