W3DJS Ham Pi Project Review

I have been experimenting with Raspberry Pi’s for a number of years. As the hardware evolved, I began using the hardware for various Ham Radio projects.

 SVXlink was one of my first Pi 3 Mod B projects. SVXlink is a Linux based repeater controller and echolink server. I did the project for the Brookhaven National Lab Radio club (BNLARC). At the time of this post, the server is offline due to repeater work.

The SharkRF IPConnector is another project I did on a Pi 3 Mod B. A local group, all running OpenSpot hardware used my IPConnector as a private DMR network. The daemon was very stable and the dashboard allowed me to keep an eye on activity. After getting over some of the configuration hurdles, IPConnector was a fun and useful project.

FT8 Off The Grid Setup

My next project was to create an off the grid FT8 system to take portable for Parks on the Air activations. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I leveraged some of KM4ACK’s scripts for time management.

As anyone who has run FT8 knows the protocol requires an accurate system clock.

Installing a hardware real time clock and an inexpensive GPS unit along with KM4ACK’s software tools insured accurate time.    

I have recently moved onto the Raspberry PI 4 Mod B with 8gb ram. Why? The only real reason I can come up with is; why stop now! The operating system for the Raspberry Pi is now officially called the Raspberry Pi Operating System. The Pi 4 Mod B hardware really is another leap forward for an intro $35 computer. Take a spin over to raspberrypi.org for all the cool tech specs. I see no point in regurgitating them here.

Ham Pi, written by Dave Slotter, W3DJS caught my attention because Dave has dedicated an incredible amount of time to this project. Dave has compiled over 100 ham radio apps in various categories and… get ready for it… it’s documented! Not only is it documented but each app in the document has a link to the app’s home page. Way to go Dave!

Dave has broken down his list of applications into 8 categories: General Ham Radio (41) Antenna Tools (5) Digital Software (including the full suite of FLDigi apps) (11) Software Defined Radio (25) APRS (5) Logging (10) Winlink (6) and Morse Code (12).

Got a Raspberry Pi 3 Mod B or new Pi 4? Why not give Dave’s project a spin? Use the comment section for help or questions?

73 de KE2YK

Goodbye Dimension 4

 

Digital Ham Radio apps such as WSPR and WSJT-X FT8 are time-synchronous and require the computer clock to be accurate to within a second for signal decoding. 

Running FT8 and others on my Linux Mint system and Raspberry Pi was a fairly easy setup. Thinking that running these digital apps on Windows 10 would be straight-forward, it was just a matter of finding software to synchronize my Windows 10 system clock. References to Dimension 4 for Windows were plastered everywhere so I made the attempt.

As it turns out, Windows 10 and #Dimension4 are 100% incompatible. My first attempt was to do the install just like any other app. However, Dimension 4 complained about the Windows Time Service. 

After disabling the Windows Time Service, rebooting and then attempting to run Dimension 4,  I got the proverbial “Error Starting Service” message. Yes, of course I have administrator privileges. 

At this point I gave it one more shot using the “Windows 10 troubleshoot compatibility” install option. After this attempt I ended up with the same idiotic “Error Starting Service” message. 

It seems that Dimension 4  may have been a good app at one time but today it’s a different world. Hams have installed Dimension 4 thinking their PC clock was synchronized but are still unable to decoding incoming signals.

Unlike prior versions of Windows, Windows 10 now has greater control over apps that affect system internals such as the system clock. Last updated in 2004, Dimension 4 knows nothing about the additional security features of Windows 10. 

The moral of the story is, despite all these references to Dimension 4 everywhere, install #MeinbergNTP for Windows. Meinberg NTP for Windows is also a free app and is the official Network Time Protocol client software. The NTP deamon has been around for eons on all ‘NIX operating systems. Nothing will ever keep your Windows 10 system clock more accurate than Meinberg NTP for Windows.

If you happen to be one of those Elmers who talks about Dimension 4…PLEASE STOP!!! Dimension 4 is just a very old, unsupported program.

Click here for the Meinberg NTP app.

Click here to check your PC clock’s accuracy. 

Chick here for the WSJT-X app. 

Click here for WSPRnet

73 de KE2YK

Andy KB1OIQ’s Ham Radio Apps Update

ARRL Centennial Challenge Coin Art FINAL

IMHO, one of the things I enjoyed most about the ARRL Centennial Convention in 2014 were the Amateur Radio related forums I attended on a ton of different topics.

One of the forums I attended was Andy’s KB1OIQ’s presentation on his remastered version of Amateur Radio applications running on Ubuntu Linux.

There are a bunch of these remixes like ShackBox floating around but I really enjoyed his presentation and his dedication to his project. Back then I downloaded and ran the version available at that time. It seems that his work continues to be popular since the current SourceForge page shows that he’s had almost 700 downloads just this week.

Tux

TUX

Andy now has both a 32-bit and 64-bit version which contain a host of Ham Radio software like Fldigi, NBEMS, Gpredict and many more. Andy’s version 19 matches up with the Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS release.

As with Andy’s past versions, the GUI desktop is customized with menus for Amateur Radio use. Andy has gone through great pains to make the distribution lightweight so that it will also run on older computer hardware.

Interested? Hop over to Sourceforge and grab Andy’s latest download!