Yesterday we held the Raspberry Pi bootcamp at the Silt branch library. This was a course to introduce the small inexpensive computer to novice users. More and more hams are finding uses for it in the shack. My prior presentations have always generated a lot of questions and interest in the club, so I thought it would be a good idea to show how easy it is to get your feet wet. We had 7 members in the class: Larry (N0ACW), Bob (K9MWM), Bob (KI0G), Bryan (N0THY), Betty (KD0YDH) and Ken (KB0HP).
Here’s a link to my notes. This is a dynamic document using OneNote. Some of you will see the irony in taking notes for a Linux class using a Microsoft product. I’ll be cleaning this notebook up and adding to it over the next few days, but I wanted to get something out there while it was still fresh.
The day was split roughly into 2 sections. In the morning we covered basic navigation and operation of the Raspberry Pi and the Linux operating system, some history of Unix and educational computers, and making sure everyone was able to get their Pi booted up and working -which might have been the most important lesson of the class (HIHI). The afternoon was spent actually setting up a simple SDR program called dump1090.
K0JEG’s Raspberry Pi 3 based ADSB receiver. Almost wireless
This program, which Chuck (N0NHJ)
uses to upload data to Flight Aware (actually Flightaware.com uses their own software) from locations throughout the west slope and Pete uses to display “virtual aircraft radar” on his web site, seemed to be a fairly good introduction to installing and compiling software on the Pi. The instructions are mostly clear and easy to follow too. It uses a USB dongle that was designed for picking up European standard off-air digital television (DVB-T). The engineers actually created the front end of a software defined radio platform. Hams quickly picked up on this fact and began using it for all sorts of activities. I picked up one last fall and have had a lot of fun playing around with it, both with my Macbook and with the Raspberry Pi. Take a look at my previous post with the parts list for the class for ordering information if you want to try it out.
Once we had some of the bugs worked out, we set to work getting the software sorted out. I’m happy to report that all five attempts worked. But the real good news is that there are seven more people who can poke around the terminal screen and have a little better chance of understanding what all that gibberish means.
Ken gets extra credit for stumping the teacher – he pointed out that the instructions I was using showed how, if I had just scrolled down a little further, you could use any web browser to connect to the Pi and display a moving map of the planes received.
Whoops –I mean “I meant to skip that part to see who would be the first to figure it out…”
The only other thing I’ll mention is that we had more interest from other members. I know that scheduling can be difficult. If we had a better idea of the actual number of people who could attend it might have saved us needing to rent space for the event. I’m thinking I might want to try doing another class in the fall. If we do it would be nice to get a more realistic head count. If only a few people plan on attending it would be better to hold at someone’s home or other location. The Garfield County libraries are good locations for these activities, but unless we open events to the public, they aren’t free even for non-profits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the turnout we had and I think everyone got more out of it than if it were a packed room, just that we could have saved a fair amount of hassle if we knew to plan for a smaller crowd. (end rant)
Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as I did. As a bonus, Phil (N0KE) and I finally made a contact on 1200 Mhz, between 7th street in downtown Silt and the N0KE global communications center. I had the IC9100 in the hatchback of my car, pumping about 5 Watts into half (11 elements) of my 24 element Yagi antenna. Phil had his 30 element loop Yagi pointed north, completing the link with his trusty (crusty?) Yaesu 736R. I need to get it in the log so we have another grid worked!
http://www.rtl-sdr.com/adsb-aircraft-radar-with-rtl-sdr/ – HowTo guide for everything to build an ADSB receiver, including antenna designs. Not just Raspberry Pi, although scroll down to the section about dump1090 for instructions.
http://flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/build – instructions for setting up a Raspberry Pi for use with flight aware, a web site that will keep airplane lovers geeking out for hours.