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CW Works
radio : by Tommy - February 16th 2016, 04:32PM
radio
I posted earlier about my new MountainTopper Radio. They're only being made and sold in small batches so I was never able to get my hands on one until January 2016. When I visited the site and saw they were for sale, I jumped at the opportunity to secure one of the little radios and it arrived a couple of weeks later. I had a business trip to go on so I wasn't able to fully get to know the radio until I got home. After I got home, the following Monday I got on the radio with the manual open on my computer. I got a feel for all the features packed into the limited number of buttons. After a while I really got the hang of it.
The next night (Tuesday) was a NAQCC Weeknight Sprint (a mini 2-hr radio contest) and it was also a night when class was cancelled. The 40m band was in pretty decent condition that night and I easily nabbed 5 different states. At the conclusion of the contest I made a couple more contacts and decided I loved the little radio. I've been using it nightly for the past week, making at least one QRP CW contact each day ...and that's where I've learned something.

It's something I heard guys say over and over again and, like you reading this, I've seen others write about: CW Works.

It's not just some old geezer claiming his tastes/choice mode is superior. What I mean to say is when the bands are great or incredibly noisy, CW still gets through. To modify the slogan "When all else fails... CW". Sure, digital modes get through when conditions are equally rough. (I first learned that late at night during Field Day one year using PSK31.

Continue reading...

tags: ham radio cw

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
MountainTopper Radio
radio : by Tommy - February 16th 2016, 10:25AM
radio
It's been quite a while since I last made a post but this is one I have to mark the occassion for. For the better part of the past 6 months I've had my eye on the MountainTopper Radio. It's a small QRP CW radio designed by Steve Weber, KD1JV, and sold by LNR Precision. The model I got is the 3-band version. (At the time of this writing there are rumors stirring about an upcoming 5-band version. Since I'm really only active on 40m and 20m, I'll pass on the 5 band model.)

The radio is very small - about the size of a deck of cards. There's no internal antenna tuner or battery. The volume, RF gain, and filter settings are fixed so there's no need for adjustment knobs. Nor is there a tuning knob. Tuning is done by two push buttons (UP and DOWN) that nudge the VFO up or down 50Hz. Holding down the button will change the frequency in 100Hz steps at a rate of 10 steps per second.
The elimination of knobs on the face of the radio allows the radio to pack very small. It's so small in fact, I was moved to get a Micro key from KK5PY. It has to be the smallest paddles I've ever used. To match the small size, the MTR can be powered by a 9V battery or a small 12V LiPo battery pack. Pack in some earbuds, a wire antenna, and a paper logbook and the whole kit fits into a small padded, zippered case ready to go. It's a radio meant for travel! I can't wait to take it on the road with me.
I've been using it to make QRP CW contacts each day for the past week and I'm going to try to get QRP Worked All States on 40m CW.

Continue reading...

tags: ham radio qrp cw

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
WebSDR on Raspberry Pi
radio : by Tommy - August 10th 2015, 05:12PM
radio
In Fall 2014, I setup my first Raspberry Pi WebSDR receiver for the 40m amateur radio band. In late July 2015, the Raspberry Pi stopped working at all. Once I hooked a monitor up to it, I learned the SD card had been corrupted. I'm now in the process of rebuilding the receiver and will be updating the steps required to setup this project on my project page.
The receiver hardware itself is fine and operational, it is only the WebSDR host (Raspberry Pi) that is out of commission.

For now the WebSDR and ISS iGate must connect to my home network via a wireless link from my ham shack behind my house. I'm in the process of digging a trench to run a network connection out to the shack so I don't have to wrestle with spotty wifi coverage. I'm going to be running fiber optic for the main run for reason I'll explain that in an upcoming post.

tags: raspberrypi ham radio raspi linux

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
Raspberry Pi TNC ISS iGate
radio : by Tommy - April 8th 2014, 02:04PM
radio
Not so long ago I completed construction of my Raspberry Pi TNC, the TNCPi. Construction of this kit was very straight forward. A few additional pictures would have made this a great kit for beginners, but still the same it's an easy build.

Building Tips
A couple of items to note regarding construction. Ensure the correct polarity of the electrolytic capacitor (C1): The negative stripe goes toward C15.
The transistor (Q1) PN2222's flat side goes away from the edge of the board.
The voltage regulator (U1) MCP1700's flat edge goes toward the edge of the board.
Crystal X2 (20MHz) is near U1. Crystal X1 (3.57MHz) is neat Q1.
Note the pin 1 position of all ICs.

Interface cable
After completing assembly of the TNC, I set to work on creating a radio interface cable to connect to the DB9 port on the TNCpi.

The pinout for the TNC Pi matches the TinyTrak cabling:
    
pinfunction
Pin 1TX Audio
Pin 3PTT
Pin 5RX Audio
Pin 6Ground

Tuning Audio Output
After creating the cable, I set the audio output level as noted in the instructions. To do this, you'll need two radios. I used 2 HTs, one that I had created the interface cable for and a spare. Tune the radios to the same frequency (I used 144.44). On the radio with the interface cable, I pressed the PTT button and heard a tone being transmitted to the neighboring radio. Adjust R7 to it's maximum volume before it begins to distort.

After tuning the audio, the TNC Pi project is complete. How you plan to implement the TNC Pi is entirely up to the software you choose. For many, this may be Xastir for an APRS GUI. For others, it may be aprx to create an APRS beacon, iGate, digipeater or any combination of the three.

tags: raspi aprs ariss iss tnc raspberrypi

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
HOWTO: Configure Hamlib for Linux Hams - Part 2
radio : by Tommy - December 3rd 2013, 06:48PM
radio
This is a continuation of a two part series about how to configure hamlib for Linux ham radio users.
To get started, be sure to read through Part 1.

In the last post, I pointed out that hamlib was create to simplify the once fragmented world of computer control for amateur radio. With hamlib in place, developers can interact with hamlib which serves as an abstraction layer of sorts for software development. Developers don't need to worry that you're running a particular model of radio, so long as you get your radio working with hamlib, your radio is supported.
I'm going to assume you have /dev/radio and /dev/rotator already configured (since we did that in the previous post). Now, we're going to configure the daemons (servers) that allow a myriad of radio related applications to interact with your amateur radio equipment.

Daemons
Hamlib centers around two core daemons: rigctld and rotctld. The daemons receive commands from applications via TCP. It is possible to have these daemons controlled via the network if you so wish. That functionality is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but the concepts below are exactly the same and just requires the correct ports be opened. Speaking of ports, rigctld and rotctld use ports 4532 and 4533, respectively. Also note that there is no security built into these devices. Should you need external connectivity, you should create an SSH tunnel.

Find your equipment
The first step in configuring rigctld is to find if your particular radio (and rotator for rotctld) is supported. Here is a list of all supported radios for rigctld (chances are, if it's a modern radio with computer interface, it's supported). For rotctld, things get a little more difficult. In order to see if your rotator controller is supported, you need to identify which protocol is supported.

Continue reading...

tags: ham radio hamlib linux satellite

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

 
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