Friday, March 1, 2013

Raspberry Pi and the DVAP Dongle 

Raspberry Pi and the DVAP Dongle 
This is a quick-start for configuring a Raspberry Pi to work with an Internet Labs D-Star DVAP Dongle and run it 'headless' aka without a keyboard/mouse/monitor.
My current Pi Hardware configuration: 
     1. Raspberry Pi Version B and power supply.
     2. Edimax Nano Wi-Fi (USB) adapter.
     3. 8 Gb SDHC.
     4. D-Star DVAP Dongle, 2 Meter version.
Pi Software Configuration:
     1. Raspbian Wheezy 2013-02-09
     2. TightVNCServer
Mac OSX running RealVNC Client or Windows 7 Laptop running RealVNC Client.
I'm assuming the reader has a Raspberry Pi and a working knowledge of the hardware, software and operating Linux, the Raspberry Pi and the DVAP Dongle.
If you need details regarding the Raspberry Pi and operation has some excellent tutorials to get you started from the board up.
First off you'll need to get the .img file downloaded from the version you need is Raspbian Wheezy 2013-02-09. Start that downloading. Load this on to your SD Card and boot up your RaspPi.
Running your Raspberry Pi 'headless'
If you're using a keyboard/monitor/mouse and would like to run without, or 'headless' you can start here,
    (If you want to Skip ahead and setup the DVAP drop down a few lines)
     Step through this tutorial to install TightVNCServer on the Raspberry Pi.
Before you unplug
You will need a network connection to the RaspPi to, and it will need to be setup prior to disconnecting the keyboard/monitor/mouse, this is particularly important if you're using Wi-Fi on the RaspPi.
If you are connecting to your Pi via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and it's connected to a router, you can use the VNC Client to connect to and manage the Pi once you have TightVNCServer installed.
Get your Client
There are several VNC clients available online, I chose RealVNC from they offer a free license (Windows and Mac OSX), without support or encryption, that you can use to remote to the Pi and easily manage the desktop GUI.
I use a Mac to connect/control/update my Raspberry Pi so all of the commands listed in the install steps can be cut and pasted into Mac OSX terminal.
If you are connecting to the Raspberry Pi with a Windows OS most seem to use Putty or another SSH terminal emulator to run headless.
Install DVAPTool on the Pi
      Follow the steps below to install/run DVAPTool on the Pi
1) Make sure you are running Raspbian Wheezy 2013-02-09 and are connected to the Internet with your Pi.
2) Open an LXTerminal window and run:
"sudo apt-get install qt4-dev-tools". Answer "Y" when prompted.
3) In terminal window run:
"curl -O"
4) In terminal window run "sudo tar xzPf DVAPTool-1.04-rpi.tgz"
5) In terminal window run DVAPTool with "./DVAPTool" from your home directory.
     Note from Robin aa4rc:
      Note that this is a full GUI version. I'm working on a text only daemon.
There are no current plans to compile DVAPTool for any distribution other than Raspbian. It may or may not work on others.
Getting your DVAP Dongle to talk to the Pi
The DVAP Install steps were provided by Robin aa4rc, basically he has us installing tools for runtime, connecting to and pulling the DVAP .tgz file, then unpacking it into a directory and from there you can execute DVAPTool from the Pi Desktop GUI.
startx and get your GUI up if you're running keyboard/monitor/mouse or VNC to the Pi and get the GUI up there.
At this point you need to configure DVAPTool with the usual’s, Callsign, Frequency etc. Connect your DVAP, it make cause the Pi to reboot.
I've seen some of this behavior when hot-plugging USB devices into the Pi, particularly USB thumb drives.
Test your Pi/DVAP it should be able to connect to the D-Star Network.
Auto starting the DVAP Dongle when you boot your RaspPi
Ed kb6tho, has provided a method for starting DVAPTool when the Pi boots up and opens the DVAP Port, it's important that you have it configured prior, because this will enable you to run the Pi 'headless' essentially connecting the DVAP to the Pi and plugging in the power and having it ready to receive commands from your radio.
It also assumes you have a functioning Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection on the Pi. 
     It may not be the most artful, but this works here...
     Add the following to the "rc.local" file (in /etc)
     # Start X Server so DVAPTool can start...
     su pi -c startx
     Create the following ".xinitrc" file in /home/pi and make it executable (chmod 755 .xinitrc)
     # Start DVAPTool
     exec /home/pi/Desktop/DVAPTool -open
     This starts an xserver session at boot and then runs DVAPTool and "opens" it so you are ready to connect via RF. 
     As soon as you see the blue LED light up, you can key up to connect
Notes and ramblings
I have my Pi setup to connect via Ethernet (at Home) via Wi-Fi if I'm using my Verizon MiFi and needless to say I get better throughput on the home router.
This essentially makes a D-Star DVAP Hotspot of sorts that can be powered with my Trent Power 11000mAh USB battery pack, coupled with my Verizon MiFi Hotspot and it's battery power, I have a fairly portable unit provided I have 3G or better service on the MiFi, the D-Star audio isn't too bad.
I'm also working on D-Rats on the same Pi as well as Citadel Mail/BBS server, I'm trying to find the point at which the Pi will saturate and the right mix of applications to run on one Raspberry Pi.
I'm available to answer questions and will do my best with my limited knowledge of Linux, I'm learning as I go. I've found a wealth of information online and in Google and yahoo groups.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It seems some people don't know when to end the exercise. The Great Utah Shakeout just seems to be going on forever on the local amateur repeaters. Passing 'traffic' like old dogs pass gas.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Big Shakeout 2012...

So, I'm getting emails and newsletters from the local municipality, HAM groups, news outlets and religious organizations all announcing their participation in the Big Shakeout, otherwise known and an earthquake drill.

I've participated in the past in these "drills" in one form or another and other than mobilizing people in neighborhoods to realize that they actually have neighbors I view this as nothing more than a marketing and advertising effort by various "emergency services" groups across the the state.

My experience overall has been negative, whether it is handing out bottled water to people driving up to some point-of-distribution or manning a radio station to report the number of bottles given out, I see little in the way of preparedness and education about the possibilities of disaster.
Generally, from my view, it seems that various officials collect in central locations to warmup coffee pots, computers and flat screen monitors in EOCs and situation centers to run through the mundane tasks of locating, dusting off and reading through tabletop exercise plans.
The result is the written up as a news release to the press, patting each other on the back and talk about "lessons learned" which will be forgotten before next year, shut it all down and go home that afternoon and forget all about it, thus ticking another box on a goal sheet somewhere and filing a report.

The view from the field does nothing to influence this perspective in any way. The reality is and will be, people will panic, they will frantically grasp for available resources and EOCs may never even have the lights turned on in the event of a real life situation.
This exercise will go down as a bunch of folks all congratulating each other on a job well done, releasing that press report and failing to remind people in the field the exercise is actually complete. Add in the squabbling by various local HAMs about the FCC rules regarding the use of Amateur Band Frequencies by agencies, ambiguous still thanks to the failure of the FCC to clarify, and you are back to relying on technologies like cellular voice and data that will most certainly be overwhelmed.
So, what will you be doing during the Big Shakeout?

Dust off your radios and get your grab-and-go ready, don't forget to charge the batteries in your little-rascal scooter too...

Have you had a different experience?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Big Shakeout 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interesting comments to consider from an anonymous post:

"On the subject of etiquette, who is out of line, the operator that tells another operator that his signal is scratchy into the repeater and refuses to talk to him?

Or the operator who may not live in the shadow of the nearest repeater and is trying to utilize his new ham license with his brand new treasured handy talkie?"

While I wouldn't say either is "out of line" but that telling another operator their signal is scratchy would be a valid signal report and the choice is still that operators' to continue or terminate a QSO. Refusing to respond seems different, based on perspective, it implies you heard someone but because it wasn't clear or you weren't able or willing to respond, for whatever reason. I think that choice still valid.

As for living in the shadow of the nearest repeater, the repeaters in this area cast many shadows but most seem to be very quiet in spite of handy talkie accessibility. Others may not be as fortunate to have such coverage though.

Interesting comments to consider.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:More to consider, comments from anonymous on etiquette

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To Net or not to Net, Traffic or No Traffic...

I've heard, been a part and conducted Radio Nets since earning my license.

My experience has been, oner this time, that nets are all the same. Same script, same people, same amount of time, same nothingness.

In this area, the preamble, announcements, checkins and the net in general are almost identical. The same people conduct the same boring nets, announcing their call signs, name, location and the majority of the time this is followed by "No Traffic."

Frankly, I think people would fall over if anyone actually had "traffic" for the net. Shudder to think anyone was actually paying attention to the net other than to hear their call sign or regurgitate "No Traffic" if you have no traffic for the net, why not speed things up for the checkin process and simply acknowledge your call sign instead?

For this reason I find Nets, boring, repetitive and severely lacking in content...again, at least in this area. Most local nets are dominate by the same HAMs and their herd roaming from repeater to repeater all announcing "No Traffic" and then continuing on to the next Net, sometimes an hour or even a few minutes apart.

Consider this, while this bunch persists in announcing "No Traffic" I have yet to get a response from any if one calls CQ on that repeater, perhaps they're assembling their "Traffic" or "No Traffic and are too busy to key their mic and throw out a reply.

Many repeaters, no response. Perhaps it's because they actually have "No Traffic" for me?

Warm up your radio, it's time for the No Traffic Net.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Radio etiquette....yes we heard that.

Listening to a local repeater today I overheard a couple of operators chewing the rag about the usual, traffic, weather their jobs etc. This evolved into a discussion about outsourcing or offshoring when one of the operators responded to the other with a very poor imitation of, as he described later "china man" accent to which the other operator began parroting his remarks and accent.


I think so and here's why I think so, as a HAM you don't know who is listening to your repeater traffic and considering this particular repeater is connected to IRLP it's possible many others around the globe could have heard this conversation.

Based on this one could make the assumption that these operators are simply making a poor attempt at humor, but I think it's yet another example of poor operator etiquette.

Remember you really don't know who is listening and I hope the effort that people put into getting the Amateur Radio License isn't simply to get on the radio and exhibit poor etiquette and bad mouthing of others, but it seems that may not be the case here, then again perhaps I should have said something?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

10 Meters during the Day.

I don't remember anyone mentioning this, but I had a question posed if 10 meters is more of a 'daytime' band.
I did pickup a contact (the first I've heard on 10 Meters) in Atlanta I believe his call sign was KC4TVZ and although I had some difficulty understanding him, due to band conditions and the fact that I was mobile.

I did hear a signal report right before he dropped out and he told me I was 5/9 with only 100 watts, I wasn't able to complete the QSO before conditions deteriorated.

I'll be listening more, hoping 10 meters opens up for use.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad