Having switched to a solid state ham radio amp a year ago I haven't looked back on the days of having to pre-tune up an amplifier, however today on QRZ I saw on a for sale add by K2ZLS where he had Tuning enhancements for tube amplifiers he used some small color stickers (Avery® 5795 Round 1/4" Diameter Color Coding Labels, Assorted Colors) then when you tune up your amp on each band.. place the color corresponding on the band indicator and on the plate and load dials. easy quick tuning. For color blind just mark your red's and green's with a cross or something. Way cool Idea.. wish I would have done this.. stole his idea and blogged it to pass it on!
New features are added to the WebPower an Arduino-Webduino Relay Switcher!
The biggest improvement is that I have added physical controls for the real world. The first is a analog sensor for monitoring voltages or more specific light sensor to monitor the presence of a LED that is indicating a device is powered on... this is specifically important for devices that use pulsed relays. I have built in the functions for two such sensors and disabled them by default.
The next feature was the ability to control the on-off functions manually when your next to the device.. I wanted something that would power on the devices in order. So if there is a boot up sequence I could turn on my radio gear quickly with out the use of a webpage. Pressing the On button multiple times will turn on each relay in order, note that if you have a pulse relay the current version isn't monitoring for that and thus will latch a pulse relay. I will correct this later, or you can workaround by simply putting that relay as your last relay and being careful not to latch it.
The off button will reverse of the on button, something like a rocker switch would work nice for this..
I do recommend using a pull-down resistors well as remember to shield the use of analog pins, test this in your environment. I used 10kOhm pull-down resistors to keep the pins quiet. This was some dirty code I put in a lazy debounce and I'm sure there is a better way.. if you have input let me know!
You can get the code back on the main page for this project.
Example of a Analog push button for the on/off switch with a pull-down resistor (10Kohm for example)
In a quest to operate my ham radio shack remotely, one thing I needed to accomplish was remote power for various devices. I have looked into multiple solutions however they are expensive and normally don't fit the bill just as I need them to. My requirements for this project..
1) Cheap, 2) Easy, 3) Flexible
I had a few spare Arduino's sitting around with a few EthernetPiggy boards. So thats the cheap part, priced out on ebay for $20 you can pick up the pair of boards from China, double check! Additionally I looked into some of the pre-made units. For example West Mountian Radios Rigrunner. Real nice unit, but the price is a little hot and with a limit of four ports and 40A on the DC circuit I am a bit limited in flexibility. Then you have the AC only version, the web power switch Also the most affordable way to go about it I have found. Same with the OpenSource Hardware ProjectWebPower Strip, however the quality manufactured version is highly preferred to this messy looking thing.
So back to the Arduino, I had it here in a junk box, I also had some 2-Channel Relay boards.. that are Optioisoloated real nice units. sitting in the junk box (more on why this is cool later)
After some toying around I came to the conclusion that the Webduino Library was the best for the situation, allowing POST and Auth with no effort from myself. About 30 hours of programming later, some help from jQuery.. I have a version 1.0!.
I found this old General Radio 1001-A Signal Generator at the Mike and Key Swap, got it for $10 bucks. With the idea of making Max a radio to play with. It turned out perfect. I made all the knobs potentiometers so that it makes the needle swing all over. And the switch turns on the red light. I have future plans to add a simple audio tone generator and use the dial to adjust the tone. Additional add-on features are actually hooking the microphone into a FRS radio so he has a base station to call mommy from!
With new HRD software came the decision to buy a new computer update from XP on the shack computer to windows8. It was quite a jump in technology laziness was the main factor but with a new PC the whole things was updated. First computer I purchased in 8 years. Its sweet. I actually like windows8 the "app store" is more like a crap store. But you dont need to use any "apps". Everything is working perfect I am even running my shack without a serial port (shock)
Intel i3-3.3 with 4500 video, 8GB ram, fancy hard disk, windows8, Rigblaster Advantage, IC756P3 (today) - point and click QSO!
Whew.. what a lot of work! after a lot of help and planning, the antenna project is done! Tower up Antenna up.. lets hope that's the last of it!
So I suckered into going legal by using Spotify, after lots of consideration of the iMatch in the iCloud I decided that I only want to stream music and not deal with storage on a device. I am tired of paying crazy prices for apples storage memory.
So I chose Spotify, found a long free trial of premium, and love the ability to just search up (almost any) song I want. Then, also link to my home pc for music they just don't have yet. Whatever ... if you have a clue you have seen enough about this.
But here, at the end of my demo of Spotify... And I am not happy, two things 1) the Spotify radio isn't available in the iOS app. 2) the iOS app is not universal. Simple things if you ask me and it's a joke they don't simply solve them. Enough to make me dump it and go back to just using pandora.
Break from that for a moment...
I love pandora, I have used it for years and the most amazing thing about 3G is having pandora in my car. However, I seem to lately have ran pandora dry, the radio stations seem to be repetitive and I listened to all the music there is to listen to that I like. (nothing wrong with that) one thing about pandora I never liked is the penalty for skipping songs or FF/RW.
Back to program... So I complained on the online Spotify support to get totally ignored (lame). Just today I saw this post about a app SpotOn it's a API that will run pandora like radio and use your premium account to play music. All from iOS. I hope someone sees this blog post because the only reason I didn't cancel Spotify this month is because of this app. Now I don't know how good it is with random new and loved music as its only 6 hours old and I have ran it on my iPad for 20 min while blabbering my thoughts here. So far it promises to please, playing random music - At least in this period. So another month of premium thanks only ... and solely to the creators of SpotOn
So I was working with WSPR which is a propagation tool for HAM radio, I had just put my 80M loop back in the air and wondered what I could do with it at a better height. so I kicked up WSPR. After a few hours I noticed my disk space was getting full, having seen the tool on Scott’s blog called Space Sniffer I thought to check it out for this task. What an awesome tool! This is sort of like the KDirStat Project (WinDirStat) but a lot more “fancy”. Particularly it shows data in a better format I feel. So I then noticed something that WSPR was eating up 15GB of my hard disk! Yikes So I deleted all that mess, and back to testing my 80M station BTW if your wondering the data is wasted in this directory %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\WSPR\save
So my recent ham radio adventures have taken me to packet radio, I am super stuckon it as it's a lot of fun. I have collected a lot of knowledge that seem to be allover the net as well as wanting to document my learning for others that Google acrossmy blog.
Packet radio what is it? first here is some good reading as to whatis packet radio
after you peruse that if your still interested then this is a good post to keep reading,if not just understand that I am a nerd and go read katiesblog
So the first thing you need to do is get a TNC and this is a big one so I wanted toprovide some advice here. I had a timewave/AEA PK-900 this is a Cadillac of TNC'sit was more money then I have to spend back in 1995 today it retails for less then200 bucks on used markets and you can find them even cheaper. But here is the thingany TNC is very reasonably priced. If you watch for things like AEA PK-232MBX theyare less then 50 bucks. I even just picked up a old MFJ TNC for less then 30 shipped!Those are the 3 physical TNC's I own the AEA units run some awesome software madeby a company that is now out of business but timewave purchased they and they stillsupport the units that are out on the market. Needless to say I love the AEA hardwareits awesome. The MFJ will do TNC2 Bios which you can learn about later its not ascool.
All of the TNC hardware I listed is physical units that need a serial port to function,they also have D/A converters or just a Analog modem in them so they are very accurateand stable.
All of the TNC's I listed also have something that you need to learn about, a PBBSthis is a packet or personal bulletin board system, this is the same BBS concept from1990's basically what you care about is a PBBS is important because people can storeand forward "email" on your TNC. Meaning that when your away from your station peoplecan leave you or others "email" (I say "email" because its not email that youknow today, its archaic digital email that is only stored on a chip in the TNC .nothingto do with the internet..yet)
So we have some large concepts out of the way what is packet radio, physical TNC,and mailbox or PBBS these are all things you want to know or have if your seriousor just have extra 50 bucks around.
What if I don't want to spend money and do this for free?
Glad you asked, or ..are still reading. There is a free option to get this working.its called AGWPE this isa handy little software application which emulates a TNC with soundcard hardware.The application can be downloaded from the link, additionally if you want to downloadthe latest beta its here. The softwarealso has a $50 copy that is "easier" to use and operate. I say "easier" because itcomes with a GUI and more help. I highly suggest buying the software to keep it indevelopment and feature enhancement if you find it handy. otherwise spend $50 on aPK-232MBX on the used market.
How to configure this stuff?
If you have a AEA product the manualon how to use them are here these manual are incredibly detailed and you needto read them cover to cover they are awesome resources and even if you don't havea physical AEA TNC I can say that the PK900 manual is just an awesome instructionmanual on how to use any TNC and packet radio.
How to get on the air fast?
For VHF set your radio to any frequency with packet data (typically in the 144.8 to 145.1, so 145.01 145.02 for example likely have data on them and remember APRS ison 149.39 which is 1200b packet)
Once you have the TNC configured for connectivity to your radio and the computer youwant to use any "terminal emulator" software such as putty or terraterm inthe case of a physical TNC. if you don't have a physical (such as AGW) then download AGW-Term (additionallyyou might want AGW-Monitor)alternatively you can use a packet radio application a nice free one is WinPack (AGWinstructions) any of these will get you online.
If you have a physical TNC you want to learn how to set it up fast in the manual,basically you want to set your call type command "MYCALL" to show the current and"MYCALL K7MHI" for example to set to my call, on AGW there is various ways with winpackyou have a emulator for TNC commands, and with AGW-Term you set it in applicationsettings.
Once you are this far you can see what is on frequency, if you haven't see data yeton the screen you can set your monitor command, using "Monitor ON" or "Monitor 6"you should be able to start watching all packets, if you hear data on frequency butdon't have any output check your 'on-air baud rate' VHF typically 1200 UHF 9600 andHF 300. If you are on Vhf/Uhf you just need to be on frequency FM if your on HF youshould be on NET105 at 14.105.51USB Ishould note that getting on VHF packet is faster then HF because you must get thefrequency exact to your radio and its not as quick to do.
You should ideally be seeing packets now. To do something more then read the mailyou can connect to any station you see or hear.. to find out what you see or hearthe command "MHEARD" will show you a list - note that there is a bug in AGW if youhavent heard anyone and type MHEARD the application will crash. Use the AGW-Monitorlink above to solve this issue - also worth noting that agw-monitor will monitor allpackets for you.
if you see call signs in the MHEARD list you can then connect to them with the command"Connect K7MHI-1" for example or just short hand "C K7MHI-1" all commands on the TNChave a shorthand version.
What to do once your on the air?
next you want to enable your mail PBBS and other fun functions on your TNC (to dothis on AGW we chat about BPQ later) if you have a TNC with a PBBS chip in it youcan do lots of fun.
SSID's are not complex but what is complex is understanding that every group has theirown rules around how to use SSID's . a SSID is nothing other then having multiplesimilar call's on the air at the same time. for example when you set up your PBBSyou want to use a SSID, example my SSID for mail is K7MHI-1 so if you connect to K7MHI-1you will get my Mail BBS, if you connect to K7MHI you get my keyboard (QSO mode) ifyou connect to K7MHI-2 you connect to my portable TNC station setup keyboard/QSO mode)its nothing more then designating stations on the air as the same user but different"addresses"
Some common SSID's are on HF -1 is PBBS or mail -7 is a gateway or Node. on VHF -4or -10 is a winlink node. These are just example on VHF as there is no standard thateveryone seems to stick to. -15 is normally reserved for digipeting off someone else'sstation you typically never assign this your self its automatic by someone else'sTNC
Next you want to start reading this site thisis a great resource on how all this stuff works. And start looking at software tostart making your experience more fun.
Outpost is a PBBS or BBS tool that will automatethe use of PBBS mail systems, it takes a bit to get working but its real nice if yourusing a BBS system anywhere. it makes the interface nicer then a command line. helpfor outpost is on the main site and it can connect to AGW
BPQ gets advanced fast, but ifyou don't own a TNC with a PBBS chip this software will give you the ability to havemail and chat BBS for free, its great software and works with AGWPE
Winlink / RMS
Winlink gives you the abilityto have email connected to the internet via winlink.org, you will get a email addresssuch as your call at winlink.org when you use it the first time. So if you are awayfrom internet you can still use email with the internet if you have a RMS/Winlinknode in range. I found the best to use PackLink this application works on VHF andHF and telnet. It also works with the PK900 nicely as well as AGWPE. once you havepacklink working you point your email application at localhost for POP3 (the pop3server is the paclink application) after this is configured you should be able tohave email via radio!
QSO Mode software
As I said I use a dual port TNC on VHF and HF at the same time, for this things canget crazy fast. I have found that EmcommOps softwareis very nice GUI to keep everything in line and working well.. additionally its nicebackup of most of your settings when things go crazy it will reset most things foryou. which is handy when your learning how to use the TNC.
- I will update this post as I find new help info!
rather then update with all the new radio fun I will just link to the new photos andupdated pages with new info on my ham radio shack