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

 

Continuing ham “stuff” …

Well – been another month since doing any type of update and there’s been quite a bit of interesting things going on – so I’ll touch on a few.

First, you recall from a prior post that I attended the Fargo hamfest hosted by RRRA group.  (They have a decent setup with lots of space and interesting items.  I even attended a number of their presentations – which I found to be of interest).  One of the surprises from that hamfest was that I actually won something — a 50$US certificate from the ARRL!  Well — I wanted to pick up an updated edition of the ARRL handbook and the timing was pretty good – the 2018 edition was on pre-order!  And – if you pre-order, you also get a free namepin for ARRL members – which I am.  So, in the mail today came an early Christmas present 🙂

Early Christmas present!

The other neat thing is that I never really understood how the US had their numbering (call zones) setup — so this little extra little piece of paper in the book certainly helped!

Some good reading in there for sure – nice sections on SDR’s and DSP’s .. so will be a fun read to re-read the material – maybe even re-learn a few basic things again.

I’ll be looking at offering out my older ARRL handbook(s) – preference would be to those who just recently got their licence in the last class – so if you know of someone who just got their licence and they’re interested, let me know – or, someone else will get a early Christmas present too.

A couple (few?) weeks back, we held a session at the VE4WSC site where Colin VE4CST assembled a rather nice setup for doing bench-tests of OSPF routing with Mikrotik routers.  That was attended by those who have an interest in supporting such functions, learning new things and applying their new-found knowledge in support of our VA4WAN high-speed network project.  What a great session it was – was good to see a number of guys make it – I learned a few things!

some of the guys getting schooled
more schooling

Thanks again to Colin VE4CST for taking the time for putting this on.

So, I was able to get 3 of my Mikrotik routers to this learning session (yes 3, I go nuts over routers I’m told) and changed a few configs on them etc … (I have more, but they are in use).  William mentioned that there were some good buys on ebay for some of the Mikrotik routers – and a version of the RB2011 that has wifi built-in – so .. on the step one day was a box with you know what in it!

New (to me) Mikrotik wifi router. (With POE in/out! )

So I’ve got that configured up – just have to finish a last couple of items and it’s online.  Weird, though, that while it has POE in/out, it is also HARD-wired to an AC brick – oh well, guess I can’t lose a power plug that’s hard wired in.

I was interested in getting better wifi for the house and William mentioned he has a spare Cisco wifi access point.  Wow, and POE to boot!  Mind you, these POE’s are 48v, not the irregular 24V Mikrotik stuff.

New (to me) Cisco POE AP!

But, hey, along with that, there was an older router/switch that had POE out – and it was 48v, so heck, why not.  I had a 48v POE camera and had picked up a nice Cisco IP Phone from one of our ‘suppliers’ and viola!

POE switch with POE phone and POE camera. Things are going POE these days… but I really need to upgrade my cameras…

To finish it off, re-run a cable to my 2.3 GHz VA4WAN highspeed net and away I go.

The last item I’ll mention today is a rather interesting project.  You recall a number of us have been working on a digital linking experiment with the Allstarlink project – these folks have created an interface to control repeaters via the asterisk PBX system – way cool!  So, this basically provides a means to run a controller via software and run a repeater (or two or three or four) all on a small raspberry pi for example.

We’ve purchased the DMK URI usb to radio interface boards before and still use them – but for experimenting with new radio interfaces, it would be cool to work with less expensive items – such as USB audio dongles – which I picked up a bunch of them for about 3$US a piece – not too bad.  So the fun part is to hack them up and interface them to a radio (or two).  Seeing William VE4VR had some surplus maxon data radios – nice little units – we just had to do something with them.  Enter Walter VE4VB – and we get the USB FOBs and the radios to him and viola – he’s hacked up the USB FOB’s and created an interface for the data radios to operate analogue.  I’ll pick up some 5v regulated supplies from him and we’ll make this a test to link the two units via digital connection and run it as a split site repeater – one unit RX at one location, another TX at a different location – all hooked up via our high-speed VA4WAN network ..

USB FOBs with MAXON radios!

sounds interesting to experiment more with these guys.

To tie these guys together, we will need some computing power – so enter the raspberry pi 3 — I was able to pick up a couple from a local supplier while on black-friday special!

Raspberry PI’s ready to go to work!

There you have it.  Besides having some interesting times with 6m MSK (meteor scatter) these days, I’ve dabbled in some contests (sweepstakes) and had fun doing ham stuff.  Helping out guys do a few things is always fun too.

Well – one more thing – we have a nice site at the VE4WSC Winnipeg Senior Citizens Radio Club and provide the group with ham internet and telephony services – courtesy of Les.Net (who is also a ham!) and we have a fair bit of gear there.  So, with me getting up there in (almost) retirement age – it was a chance to join a group that is doing some interesting things for the community at large.  I must say – there’s some cool projects on the go and I, for one, would love to see the resurrection of the satellite operation – especially with such a resurgence in ham sats these days – would be cool.

So, there’s lots to do with ham these days – problem is finding the time to do all the fun stuff – but that’s part of the fun itself.

73, Dan ve4drk