Tag Archive: Digital

Aug 01 2012

Ratflector in Kaufman County Texas

Hello folks. Its me again. I am looking to work on a couple of projects out here in the radio wasteland known as Kaufman County. If you are wondering Kaufman county is the county just east of Dallas county here in Texas.

The first one I would like to tackle is getting a Ratflector (D-Star low speed digital repeater/Internet gateway) up and running here. I have worked with the program before and when I was living in Dallas county had a Ratflector up and running. I was the only one on it. So if you are in the Dallas / Fort Worth area or in Kaufman, Rockwall, Henderson, or Van Zandt county get in touch with me and lets see if we can make this thing go. I have always preferred digital to any other mode and I think this is the way to go.

You can contact me on Facebook as KB5JBV or Google+ and Email at kb5jbv@gmail.com

 

Thanks

Richard KB5JBV

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May 29 2011

Installing Xastir in Mint by Bill KA9WKA

Installing Xastir in Mint

Ben, VK5JFK, left a comment on my review of Linux Mint at the Linux in the Ham Shack web site, asking if I had installed Xastir under Mint.  I had not, but since Richard talked about Xastir in Episode 23, and Linux Mint is the “official” distribution for Linux in the Ham Shack, I thought a brief how-to article might be useful to our listeners.

In fact, installing Xastir in Linux Mint is fairly easy.  Here’s a step by step procedure:

  • Launch the Synaptic Package Manager
  • Select the Amateur Radio (Universe) repository
  • Click on Xastir in the list – version 1.9.4-3 was available as I did this
  • Click on Apply – a bunch of dependencies were selected, and after approving that list, off it went.

A few minutes later (over a DSL connection) the installation was complete.

The first (and only) problem I encountered was that the installer did not create an entry in the Mint menu.  To remedy this, I clicked Menu, Preferences, Main Menu.  This utility allowed me to add a new menu category I called Amateur Radio, and a new item in that category that I creatively called Xastir.  The associated command is “/usr/bin/xastir“.  After logging out and in, the new menu item appeared.

Before running Xastir for the first time, I opened a terminal and entered the command:

$ callpass ka9wka

and the computer responded:

Passcode for ka9wka is 19125
$

Of course, you will use your callsign and you’ll receive a different passcode.  You’ll need that number when configuring the interface.  No, the callsign is not case-sensitive.

After running Xastir, you must perform some configuration, as Richard discussed.  For this test, it was simply a matter of defining my location and adding the Internet interface.  When you launch Xastir the first time, it will automatically open the “Configure Station” dialog, but you can return to that by clicking File, Configure, Station.  Here I entered my callsign and location.  I left the rest of the options at the defaults.

Next, I clicked the Interface menu option, then Interface Control.  This brings up an empty list of configured interfaces.  I clicked Add, chose “Internet Server”, and clicked the Add button. The “Configure Internet” dialog box appeared.  I entered 19125 into the Passcode field (see above), and “r/42/-87/500″ (without the quotes) into the Filter Parameters field.  This filter says, I believe, show all stations within a radius of 500km of 42 degrees N and 87 degrees W.  Modify to suit your location and preference, and click OK.  Finally, still in the Interface Control dialog box, I clicked Start All.  The status changed from DOWN to UP, and I closed the dialog box.  In a few moments, stations began to appear on the map.

There are a lot more options in Xastir that I haven’t explored here.  For example, if you’re planning on installing this on a laptop with a TNC and GPS device attached, you’ll need to add interfaces for those as well, and you’ll probably want to add a more detailed map for your area.  For now, this should get Xastir running under Linux Mint with a minimum of time and bother.

73,

-Bill, KA9WKA

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May 22 2011

SignaLink USB Interface by Tim KD5YPC

Everyone knows that I am fascinated with computers, and radios. So what better way to enjoy the hobby than to work modes involving both computers and Amateur Radio at the same time? That’s right; I’m talking about computer generated modes using a soundcard-to-rig interface.

Have you ever heard of PSK-31? Slow Scan TV? Digital Slow Scan TV? RTTY? JT65A? There are tons of different digital modes that are becoming more and more popular. Let’s say you want to work extremely weak, distant, stations using 5 watts, or less, on PSK-31. Maybe you want to exchange some photos with your Ham Radio buddies using Slow Scan TV! Or maybe you want to try something really challenging, like Meteor Scatter, or EME (Moonbounce), by using some of the weak signal modes like JT65A or FSK441.

These modes, and soundcard interfaces, are becoming extremely popular. The technology combined with more sensitive receivers and audio components are making the once impossible – possible. For example, up until recently, EME (Moonbounce) has been an exotic mode that was usually reserved for the rich. After all, to bounce your signal off the moon’s not-so-reflective surface at 250,000 miles away in space – you had to have a highly directional array of antennas and a lot of POWER. Now all you need is a single 2 meter Yagi antenna, a good 100 watt transceiver, computer, and soundcard interface. The extremely weak signal mode JT65A has allowed many more average Ham Radio users to operate EME.

Now for those interested in buying an interface, I recently I purchased a SignaLink USB from Tigertronics. It’s a very compact unit (See Photos) and is very simple to set up. When I ordered the unit, I was told that I needed to select the radio cable from a list of compatible rigs. I selected the cable, and placed my order. (Total was around $100 bucks)

The unit came in the mail about 7 weeks later. That’s right; this thing is in such demand that they can’t build them fast enough. Anyway it came provided with very detailed, and easy to understand, instructions. I had to open the unit by removing 4 allen wrench type screws from the front faceplate. I then had to set jumpers according to the instructions. I reattached the front faceplate, and plugged in the two cables… That’s it! Windows XP immediately recognized the unit, and installed the necessary drivers. No installation CD’s or DVD’s necessary!

The instructions provided me with further details about setting my audio levels for optimum performance. The Signalink USB software is bundled with utilities for working Radio-Linking (Echo Link), PSK-31, MT-63, SSTV, APRS, Packet, RTTY, MFSK, ASCII, CW, AMTOR…etc.

The SignaLink USB interface has worked very well so far. I would recommend it to the advanced users, as well as the newcomers. The SignaLink USB has several advantages over most soundcard interfaces – such as my Rigblaster Plus. Here are some of the advantages that I’ve noticed so far:

1 – SignaLink uses its own internal soundcard, rather than the computer’s internal soundcard. By using your computers internal soundcard, you may have some minor interference due to the close proximity of your computer’s electronics. By using the external soundcard, you are less likely to receive this interference – making weaker signals more workable. (Most laptops come with a crummy soundcard)

2 – USB powered (No A/C power adapter needed, and no need to tie up your computer Serial Port)

3 – Basic Simplicit

4 – External Audio Controls (Set and forget, regardless of which computer you are using.) 5 – Size/Weight (Portability – this thing is light, and small. Perfect for backpacking.)

I hope this will encourage others to experiment as I did. A Rig-to-Soundcard interface provides you, as an Amateur Radio Operator, a whole new level of capability. If you need any help setting up a rig interface for your station, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email at: Timgreen@classicnet.net . I will be glad to help! (QRZ? ?) For more information on the SignaLink USB – check out their website at :

WWW.TIGERTRONICS.COM 73, ES GUD DX. DE KD5YPC (Tim)

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Apr 17 2011

WSPR2 on Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10

Written by Eddie, G3ZJO. Used with permission.

Well from the talk on the WWWeb I was hoping for better things I must admit. I have been away from Linux for a time. There are things in Ham Radio still that you just can only do with Windows. I did install Ubuntu 9.04 and ran WSJT that is in the repository it worked fine all be it an old version..

I have done plenty to promote the use of Linux in the Ham shack and with Fldidgi you have a wonderful piece of stable software that does everything just as well on Ubuntu etc. as it does on Windows.

I have compiled and modified WSPR to run on Linux very well so when the WSRP2 version for Linux was released I was so pleased to hear that Mr Average Ham in his shack with Linux on his machine could now fetch and run WSPR easily.

Last night I tried WSPR2.00 rev1714 on my Ubuntu 9.04. All went well, this is just what we have been looking for I thought. Then the annoying flickering of the green RECEIVING box caught my eye, obviously as processing is going on in the machine that display gets starved or something. I have seen this before it makes the software look unstable, shame that.

Decodes went ahead fine, however, those Labels are still miss aligned UTC dB DT Freq Drift, I was decoding my own beacon on 500Khz this software plainly indicated Drift – G3ZJO, no that is my Call Sign, not a drift value, if I were to run this version on Linux I would have to go in and modify the labels as before, such things just annoy me to death. But hey it works doesn’t it, ‘though you don’t have to accept these things with Fldigi.

Then Ubuntu 9.04 informed me of the software update to 9.10, they say that WSPR runs fine on 9.10 so I went ahead with the install. Time to take a look at WSPR2 on Ubuntu 9.10, ERROR access denied. Oh yes, well it worked before, lets try WSJT, no go, try Fldigi all is fine, works great.

I know what has happened Ubuntu update has thrown out some of the libraries needed by WSPR, we are back to ‘old days’, I have done it all a hundred times, do I want to bother now, will Mr Average Ham in his shack want to bother? Still, Linux and WSPR has further to go before it is as easy and as acceptable as Windows, shame.

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Mar 21 2011

QSL for first JT 65 contact signal report

Here is my first QSL card for JT 65. There was a question about signal reports on the QSL’s.

Front of Card (Ted Williams)

Back of Card

Here is a better view of the signal Report.

Close up of signal report area

As you can see the signal report is “-07″ the signal report has to do with the signal to noise ratio. It will be given to you by the program. for more info check out the Documentation and visit this great tutorial on JT 65 http://www.pe2pe.eu/WSJT_on_HF.htm It is a little dated but very good. it got me pointed in the right direction.

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