Asterisk Analog <-> digital bridge

Well, I’ve seen some new developments presented over the past number of months with respect to Asterisk and ham radio.  There’s a core bunch of guys who have worked on Asterisk and the app_rpt interface over quite a few years and it’s proven its reliability quite well.  With all of the new digital hotspots coming on-line it was only a matter of time where things became easier to interface from a purely software standpoint.

What does this mean?  Well .. I can take a basic asterisk installation (custom for ham radio purposes) and configure it to bridge, via software alone, to the ham radio digital modes.

My first foray into this is a well-published article from the dvswitch.org folks.  They have a good group discussion going on at: https://dvswitch.groups.io/g/main … I’ve used it recently to ask for help on the basic configuration to get it going.

So, what does this mean?  Well, I have a raspberry pi at home with an analog interface to a 2m radio on 146.475 simplex.  I use it to talk to other asterisk boxes and echo link nodes.  Works well.    With this new option, and using our VA4WAN hosting provider pegboardhosting.ca, I setup a new asterisk instance and configured it to bridge between an analog audio to a DMR format.  Connecting this to the brandmeister system, allows me to talk to other DMR folks in the world with my little local RF node.

With the software configurations, I can deploy a bridge between not just DMR, but also YSF, P25 and others — except not DSTAR.  Unfortunately, the DSTAR bridge requires a hardware solution to augment the software as there’s some proprietary stuffs in there.

So, it will be fun to see how much we can get going locally to offer bridges to the existing analog infrastructure and allow that older technology to interface with the newer technologies.  With our new RF sites coming on-line, we may well see this in the not-to-distant-future.

I’ll leave the bridge up as we test out some more functionality.  If you’re on the DMR English Canada talk group, see if we’re on.

73, Dan ve4drk

Continuing the setup on 601O

Well, as you may recall, last week we had attended a new site and started the installation of pole mounts for new RF units.  We were able to get one pole of two mounted, so today, we had to finish what we started and install pole 2 of 2.  After that, we have to run the feedlines, cables, grounding, mount the cabinet etc etc – so, William was already at WSC getting the radios setup.  At 0600hrs (yes – 6:00am) he was already at the site pulling radios and resetting, flashing/upgrading, configuring and testing the units to make sure they work. Good thing we’re doing that this time around, as there were a few suspect ones that didn’t follow their normal reset procedures, so he left them off to the side.  In the end, we needed four of the 5Ghz units and 2 of the 2.3/2.4 units.  (We’re actually going to start to provide mesh-type services via AREDN and support that option as best we can).

William reflashing/resetting the RF units

In order to flash them, they can take a few minutes to configure as we wait, so, he installed some new batteries into the UPS located at the site!  Talk about multi-tasking eh…

new set of batteries in the UPS!

Getting the units from the top floor into my trunk with the help of one of the guys …

dishes cleaned up and ready to go …

Getting there, we start to make up some mounts so we can mount the dishes.  Colin starts things up and gets things measured …

cuttin’ time …

While Jim gets the mounts figured out with bolts and such …

Jim working on mounts …

Colin and Derek (the young Derek VA4AFK) working on the north mount point:

Colin and young Derek

A nice shot from the upper deck looking out — we can just see our other 60C site in the distance – straight south.

way up …

And looking north to our favorite site … and downtown …

North …

William starting to bolt on the side mount for our 5.xGHz radios/dishes.

mounting the mounts …

and placing the dishes on – took 2 guys – one to hold and the other to bolt, but we have 2 up and ready to receive a cat5 run and radio to insert …

Dishes on mount, mount on mount ..

Jim still working on getting clamps made for the units – now that the south was done, we were waiting for the north pole to be mounted…

work – work – work

Derek shows up with the rack.

good timing …

Jim and Derek haul it upstairs and it’s in it’s place.  So, it was good timing Derek showed up, as I had to leave to be somewhere by a certain time 😉  Still have enough guys to get some more work done.
I was only on the roof for a while, hour or so — it was quite windy and cool/rainy, so the hands certainly got rough after a while and had to warm up.  Luckily, the two rooms are relatively warm (and out of the rain).  More updates later once I know more about what happened.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Establishing a new (to us) site …

On a cool summer Saturday morning (yes, the leaves are turning and it’s getting chilly out in the morning now) – our intrepid VA4WAN install team heads out to do yet another install.  Instead of just being a VA4WAN installation, we’ve reached out to other groups and are installing two large pole mounts to support a minimum of 2 other RF units  beyond our usual high speed networking system.  At the site will be a VHF unit (the return of VE4WRS from MRS!) and a UHF system (a new home for the local DMR system!)

You may not be familiar with this site.  It has been used by Prairie Mobile in the past as well as some other hams who have had gear up there.  A number of years ago, the site was dismantled and roofing repairs had occurred – then with no return of RF back to the roof.  With our agreements in place, 601 Osborne (re: Fred Tipping Place) will be a new RF environment for our ham group services.   The location is great in the south part of Osborne Village.  As I look across the horizon, there is little, if any, other high buildings around that would contain significant amounts of RF being emitted, so the receive at this site should be phenomenal – being 18 stories high – albeit there may be some shadow to the north from the city centre:

looking north’ish from behind

To mount these poles, we had some experts.  Our two certified climbers, Colin VE4CST, Derek VA4AFK and site expert Rob VE4CA along with jack-of-all-trades Jim VE4SIG who is prepared for almost anything and William VE4VR and myself.  (I’m mostly along to help with the grunt work while the pro’s do their job installing):

workin’ away …

It was great that we had some spare time to chat about various groups and activities and things we can do to help ham radio and keep it moving ahead.  My XYL (Michele) also provided us a lunch bucket of sandwiches, muffins, veggies and water!

Jim and I made a run out to pick up some odd parts that we needed (once we knew for sure what parts we had to use after final cuts/measurements/etc).  Traffic on a Saturday was nuts with all the construction – what should have been a 20 minute run took almost an hour! Oh well – we arrived back just in time for the crew to make use of the parts.

Colin and Derek doing their thing …

These are very thick and heavy mount poles (thanks Rob!) and took us all to hold it in place while they were being mounted.

Gettin’ ‘er done!

While we were only able to have enough time to mount the one pole, we’re all set to go back and get the other one setup on the north side fairly quickly.

With the new site and moving services to it, it will be a great opportunity to also explore new technologies and services to offer the ham community.

73, Dan ve4drk