and a week later …

more good ham stuffs arrived lately – seems I’m getting a few things looked after and getting more in the mix.  Earlier this week – while I was away for a bit – a package arrived at the door and in it was a nice new 5v 6 line usb charger – each with 2.4amp!  woo hoo – that will take care of my continuing saga of power adapters/splitters for all these raspberry pi and other types of wall-wart units.  I might be able to plug in some other stuff!

saving plugs

this guy can power 6 raspberry pi’s and ancillary devices.

I’ve been following some of the digital interfacing modes recently – those that work with pi’s and the like.  I do have a mini-dv unit – which has sketchy programming interfacing at times – but I’ve seen some other types being produced within Canada.  Bruce VE2GZI has been producing a digital interface board and now a hotspot unit with a 10mw transceiver on it that fits onto a pi gpio interface.  So, I decided to pick one of these units up and check it out.  Seems I’m not the only one interested in it – he’s been hit with a deluge of orders and has to rework the process to ensure smooth operations.  But, I was earlier on in the order process so I was lucky to get one of the units sooner than not.  Arriving in the mailbox one day was the following:

package contents

a kit with a raspberry pi zero w (wireless) and a pre-populated sd-card with the pi-star software on it and the digital iterface rf unit with antenna.  This unit is a 70cm unit with 10mW output – so, nice to use around a local setting.  I will have to solder the gpio interface connector to the board – but wanted to at least get the unit up and running and check out the features – so I turn to a spare raspberry pi 3 and hook it all up.  Getting it onto my 44.135 local network on 2.3GHz and it’s all working fine.  I configure my settings, location, call, dmr id etc etc and hook it up to the local dstar repeater in town to check it out.  Lo-and-behold – audio coming through – so that’s cool.  Now I have to program my DMR radio as well .. as this thing supports not only DSTAR, but also DMR, Yaesu system fusion as well as P25!  So, more programming and setup to do, but it’s a functional system and will certainly open things up by being able to connect directly to a system/repeater.

Those that have an interest in running a pi zero wireless as a remote operation node and/or mobile on cell data, can certainly do it as it’s very very low power consumption – you can even run it off a battery for a long time!

More to come on that – once I get more tested and checked out.

In the meantime  – if you’re interested in these units -check out Bruce’s website at :  MMDVM Website and the Zumspot link itself is here:  ZumSpot

zumspot info

For those interested in taking existing analogue radios and making them perform digital miracles – check out their MMDVM board that attaches to a pi and provides this really really innovative function: MMDVM

What really makes all this “tick” is the great software produced to support all these new digital modes.  The ‘pi-star’ software is very very cool and is the software that allows you to control the units and interface boards.

wow – what a dashboard!

Now, this stuff is cool.  Not only do you get an easy-to-use dashboard, but you can also log into the pi and reconfigure what you want and automate what you want – that’s the great part about these units is that it’s so configurable it makes your life more fun for being able to image all kinds of cool interfacing.

Ah well – get your unit(s) while you can – with all the hype these days, there’s bound to be more and more and more interesting developments with computers and RF.

a shot of what i was playing with off and on over the day:

playing around

73, Dan ve4drk


DMR – take ‘n’ …

Seems Canada Post gave me a little present just in time for Christmas, on Christmas eve  — at the door later in the afternoon, I hear a ring, and outside was a package waiting for my signature.  It took a few weeks to get it (about 5 or 6 I think), but it was opportune.  New in my hands was the programming cable for my radio that I’ve had for a while not programmed …

xpr6550 Cable & Radio
xpr6550 Cable & Radio

While I’ve had this radio for a while, it was not very usable.  I did manage to get a charger for it (thanks Shaun) and verify it worked fine — I could not transmit on it was it was not programmed.  So, now that I have said programming cable, I took a stock code plug from the va3xpr site (thanks guys!) and used that as a template to set things up.

This radio has quite the heft to it – it’s solid that’s for sure.  Since I do have the remote speaker mic for it — and since I do not yet have a mobile digital radio (neither d-star nor dmr), I will use this one in the car for a bit with the external antenna and remote mic to see how it goes.

On another front, a local ham (William) is also new to digital radio – the dstar type and has a line on getting mobile power cables for the dstar radios we both have – so will be good to have an option on that as well.

So, all is good in radio land – now with UHF DMR radio #3 to try out 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

DMR – take 3 (or some number greater than 1)

The opportunity to upgrade my current CS700 UHF DMR radio presented itself this past week  so, just had to … you know .. upgrade the radio.  So, now I have my CS700 to offer up to sale – hope to have another come in and try the mode out locally.

new(er) DMR radio
new(er) DMR radio

The radio has a few options that my 700 does not, so it should be more useful.  One thing I noticed, is that these CS700/CS750 radios do have quite a sensitive receive on them and work well compared to my other DMR radio.

73, Dan ve4drk

DMR – take 2

I’m getting more interested in learning this newer digital mode, so what best way than to dive in and get (another) DMR radio. 🙂  This one was being offered at a discount (from it’s already inexpensive pricing) from the folks at CS.  Now I realize it has mixed reviews, but it’s a great tool to try out different modes/operations.  Now I have two working units .. and another unit looking for a charger to figure it out more.

The unit I got was a Tytera MD380 UHF DMR radio …

MD380 basic entry level DMR radio
MD380 basic entry level DMR radio

It has all the basic offerings and some extra little quirks.  Funny thing about this unit is that it uses the same programming software as the CS700 model.  I still had to plug in (ie: lots of typing!) all the frequencies/groups/etc and make sure it works.  It came with two antennas . .a stubby and a non-stubby I’ll say – as it’s not the best antenna that’s for sure.  I have a dual-band antenna on the car which I’ll have to use this on for a bit a see how well it performs with 5 watts.

There’s some recent changes to the local DMR systems, so will try and navigate what is happening in that area to see how much coverage there is.  Interesting though, there are more guys getting involved in trying out DMR, so that’s good for the systems usage etc … lots to learn.  I really want to get more into the controller-side of things and understand the underpinnings, so, even more to read.

Timing is interesting on another front – the most current TCA from RAC just arrived yesterday and in it is an article by our local directory Derek, VE4HAY, describing the various digital modes that are out there, so I’m sure that will also generate more local activity.

I still have to meet up with more of the local DMR group and understand more of what’s going on… more to come there too.

73, Dan ve4drk

Another new digital mode .. well .. at least for me :-)

I’ve dabbled with the D-Star systems – both from an end-user and system administrator perspective and have learned lots about the system.  Mind you, there’s lots more to learn and figure out – but I know the basics – although I haven’t used all of them yet.  I like to try out the various modes to see how they work and how they would inter-operate with the ‘external’ world.

I’ve been following some interesting developments over the past year and such from the folks at Connect Systems .  Seems they (Jerry) is working on a new radio that does multiple digital systems at the same time.  Now that would be cool to have in one hand-held.  With the plethora of multiple digital radio systems coming on-line, how is one to keep up with so many different implementations!  Until this new radio comes out (which is supposed to support DSTAR, DMR, and further on would support Fusion and some others) I decided to learn more about another mode.  What best way to learn than to get yet another radio.  (I can hear the QRM already) 😉

So, a local ham was peddling his CS700 – a prior-generation from the folks at CS – but one that will at least let me experience the workings of this DMR mode and allow me the time to get to know it better to understand more of it’s workings.

New (to me) digital mobile radio
New (to me) digital mobile radio

Now, me with my interest in networking/etc – what better way to get digital communications than with another digital radio 🙂 … So — I have to now pick up and learn the inner workings of the control systems it talks to, the networking (or stand-alone) operations it performs etc etc … I know the basics, but there is always something to learn.

What would really be nice is to have a radio (ham hand-held or mobile) that has a built-in FPGA to allow us to program the device for whatever  mode we are interested in.  I’m sure it will come one day … would be nice to buy one radio instead of 3 or 4 or n …

So, from the DMR standpoint, from what I can tell there is more new activity in the realm of DMR in the city — will be good to get further involved and meet some of the players in that mode …

73, Dan ve4drk