Raspberry Pi 2 Packet Radio with 5″ LCD touch screen

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My Packet Radio is working great on my Raspberry Pi 2, so I decided to try to incorporate it as a miniature set up instead of using the full size keyboard and monitor. I did some investigating on e-bay and found a cute little keyboard and mousepad by Rii. This works from a dongle in the RPi, saving some USB space. At a cost of £6 inc postage it is ideal for my project. Next I looked at small HDMI screens, these vary a lot in prices and some have quite bad reviews. Eventually I came across a nice Elecrow 5″ Touch Screen from Amazon. This had excellent reviews and at £28 not a bad price. I ordered both.

The Rii keyboard worked straight from the box, very impressed, so much easier with the RPi than a full size keyboard. The Elecrow 5″ touch screen also worked out of the box, but needed to set up the /boot/config.txt file so that the picture fills the screen. To do this all you need to do is the following:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

then add to the bottom:

hdmi_group=2
hdmi_mode=1
hdmi_mode=87
hdmi_cvt 800 480 60 6 0 0 0

save with Contr+O

Now I have a nice little Raspberry Pi set up with Direwolf installed.  I decided not to bother with the touch screen, it sounds too messy to install the software.

Museums on the Air 2017

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Spent a nice afternoon at Smithills Hall in Bolton with the Bolton Wireless Club who set up a special event station for Museums on the Air. Met some old friends and exchanged some memories from the past as well as discussing the Packet Revival with G6GVI and G8HIK.

The main tent operating HF.

Gosh, I have used G8WY so many times back in the 70’s!

Mark M0UFC operating 17m.

Ross G6GVI, Jack G8HIK and John G3EGC. Not seen John G3EGC since I went to see his shack back in 1969, I listen to him every Sunday on the 1963 net on Topband. Great to meet him again!

Enjoying a jam doughnut.

Packet with a Raspberry Pi

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Now that my packet radio system has been running now for a few weeks, I thought I would try to get my Raspberry Pi running on packet. I have seen the set up that Ross G6GVI has used on his website   http://www.qsl.net/g6gvi/digimodes/packet.html

First, I needed to make sure that the RPi was working and set up correctly and install a Wi-Fi dongle. ‘Direwolf’ is the recommended software, this can be downloaded from the Direwolf Website.  At this stage I needed some instructions for downloading and running the software. I used this document to help me set up the system:

https://github.com/wb2osz/direwolf/blob/master/doc/Raspberry-Pi-APRS.pdf

Next, I needed a USB soundcard so that I could connect the audio input and output from the radio. I used the ADA1475 USB Soundcard, which works fine once the settings are made in Direwolf. I tested it using my Baofeng UV5R and was able to receive packets from G8HIK, G6GVI and G7ROM all local stations. To get the transmit side working I built a simple interface to switch the PTT on the Baofeng. (The VOX does not work very well) Using GPIO25 on the Raspberry Pi along with a switching transistor, the PTT works fine.

Now I have the Raspberry Pi working perfectly on packet!

After changing a few start-up parameters, I made the display look more user friendly.

 

WSPRlite

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Having tried successfully with JT65a on the HF bands, I thought that I would give WSPR a try using the same equipment. I have been using my Yaesu FT857D running 5w into my half size G5RV antenna. For 80m and 160m I have used my long wire. I have not been happy with the coverage I get with these antennas, I can work into Europe, but not much else. So this Summer I have set myself a project to improve the HF antenna situation. I am very limited for space and the wires are very close to the side of the house. I want to try something different and reading about the WSPRlite sounds like a great tool to compare different antennas and layouts over a period of time. I ordered one form SOTA Beams along with the filter kit so that I can use WSPRlite on 80m and 160m.  WSPRlite also helps to overcome another problem that I have when using JT65a and WSPR on 80m and 160m. Even with just 5w o/p from the FT857D on these bands I find that the software crashes on the computer due to RF getting into the USB wiring. The WSPRlite runs just 200mw so it should not affect the computer.

Will be interesting to see the results.

Packet Radio

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Did you try Packet Radio back in the 1980’s?

Amateurs in the Northwest England area have revived Packet Radio again on 144.950mhz. Some are using the old TNC’s and others, like myself are using software TNC’s like SoundModem with EasyTerm. At the moment stations are transmitting Packet Beacons and have Personal Mailboxes set up.
Why not give it a try, dust off that old TNC and join the revival group on 144.950mhz

I put this on some of the Amateur Radio Facebook groups and the response was amazing!

We now have a NODE back on the air from Runcorn (RUNC) and yesterday I connected to a BBS in Australia, just like old times! From the Facebook responses it looks like other NODES are coming back to life again and going back on the air. Other Packet Radio groups are forming, one on Cornwall, another in the South East and many old TNCs are being dusted and put back on the air. Packet Radio was our Facebook in those days. Wonderful to think that we invented social media before  Mark Zuckerberg was even born!

 

 

 

Brass Morse Key

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Last week I was given a box of radio ‘junk’ from a friend of mine who was moving house. The box consisted of a CB radio, a couple of PSU’s, a KS2 ATU and Sangean ATS-803A World Band Receiver. These I have saved and intend to use them. I threw away the rest of the junk. I believe it came from a silent key amateur a while ago. When I was looking through the junk I found something quite amazing… a solid brass morse key!  The morse key has been home built, but a super piece of engineering!

I spent some time cleaning and polishing the brass work and woodwork of the key as it was badly tarnished after being stored for a long time. Wow…it looks fantastic! It now has pride of place on my bench connected to my morse oscillator.

The Sangean ATS-803A is quite old, but works great. Covers the usual FM, MW and LW and all the Short Wave frequencies. Numeric keypad lets you enter the frequency and has narrow and wide filters and BFO. An RF gain along with built in memories make it very useful and the audio output is superb, very loud and clear. I’m impressed with this portable radio, definitely worth keeping!

The rest I will keep for a rainy day…

Baofeng Packet Radio

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Now that I have my main station and computer already set up for Packet Radio, I thought it would be a good idea to have a second set up. I have a Baofeng UV5R handheld and also a Moonraker MT-270m that I use for mobile and portable. At first I thought about using the MT-270m for packet along with my old Dell Laptop running Windows XP. Then I came across a problem, the MT270m does not have a headphone socket! It has a phono socket at the back, but it is for data. So with that in mind I looked at the Baofeng…

The Baofeng UV5R has dual phono sockets on the side, one smaller than the other. I found a diagram of the connections for the plugs…

I have a Baofeng type speaker / microphone that plugs in the side, so I decided to unscrew the case so that I could get to the circuit board. This made it easy to identify the speaker, microphone and PTT switch. Next, I made up some audio leads to plug into the Dell Laptop and soldered the ends onto the speaker / mic board by simply soldering across the speaker for Audio in and Microphone for Audio out.


The PTT connection to control the transmit function for the Baofeng requires switching the PTT switch remotely. How could this be done I thought…
The Dell Laptop has an RS232 port and I remembered that I have ready made RS232 switch lead that I used to control the shutter of a camera. I wired it across the PTT switch on the board and it worked fine on COM 1 port.
The software that I use for the TNC is Soundmodem and EasyTerm, both work a treat on the computer, so now comes the test with the Baofeng…it works great!  The audio levels seem fine with Soundmodem. A nice little project which lets me use Packet Radio without tying up the main rig and computer.