Saturday, January 26, 2013

First signals received on 472khz

Earlier in the week, I set the FT847, with no preamp or tuner, monitoring 474.2khz and the WSPR program running. Unfortunately, when I came back at the end of the evening, I noticed that I had left the radio with the CW filter and offset in. Not surprisingly, then, I didn't copy anyone.

This morning, whilst I popped out for an hour, I set things up correctly and when an came back, I was delighted to see that I had copied M1GEO in JO01 square. It turns out that George has a very nice station on 472khz, detailed here on his Wiki

Later on in the day, I also copied G3ZJO from IO92 and then during the evening I received some nice signals from PA3ABK in JO21.



Clearly there is much that can be done to try and improve the receive performance, but it is encouraging to have received some signals without having to modify any equipment.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

More on programming the Baofeng UV-5RA

After seeing my post about the fun and games with the UV-5RA yesterday, Steve G1KQH kindly dropped me a note to say that there are two versions of the UV-5 software. One of these can be used with the UV-5R and one which may be used with the newer models.

These may both be downloaded from the Sinotel site, along with many other utilities

Thanks, Steve!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Programming the Baofeng UV-5RA

A few days ago, I was chatting to Andy G6REG and he mentioned that he needed a lead to help program his UV-5. Rather than have him wait to order one from Hong Kong, I suggested that I send him my lead so that he could could get started straight away.

Life's never quite that simple though. The lead arrived with Andy and he installed the drivers but on running up the Baofeng programming software, it wouldn't talk to the radio.

At that stage we thought it was a driver issue on Andy's laptop. Andy decided to order a lead and driver anyway and return the lead to me. On a whim, he suggested that he send me one of the radios to see if I could program it.

When I opened the packet, I immediately noticed that Andy's UV-5 was different to mine - it's a UV-5RA. I made sure that the programming lead was working on my laptop and then ran up the software and downloaded the memories from my UV-5. So far so good!

Then I tried to write the memories back to Andy's UV-5. No! Communication fault. It was then that I realised that the Baofeng programming software that I had used to program my UV-5 would not work with the later model!

A quick Google around revealed that this was indeed the problem and that others had got around it by using the CHIRP programming software. It seems that the 'stable build' version of CHIRP (0.2.3) does not support the UV-5, however, the latest  daily build does. This I was able to download here

I also found some interesting notes about programming the UV-5 with Chirp

CHIRP installed readily and I was quickly able to download an 'image' of my UV-5R and save it. I then tried to write it back to the UV-5RA. The first time I did it, an error occurred, however, I remembered I had seen this on a first communication before and persisted.

Yes! Second time through and CHIRP was able to write the memories back to Andy's UV-5RA.

So there we have it. Most likely, Andy didn't have a driver issue on his laptop. At that stage we didn't know that the basic Baofeng UV-5 software didn't work with the new style rig, so I suspect that had he installed CHIRP it would have probably worked fine.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Raspberry Pi progress (RTL_ADSB, WSPR, WSJT and Dump1090 all compiled)

This year, Santa was kind enough to bring me a Raspberry Pi computer for Christmas. I'd been aware of them throughout the year, but had become much more interested recently when I started to see some real solid amateur radio applications for the device.

The idea of having a £25 computer which could be tasked with running programs like WSJT or WSPR was very attractive, as well as being a handy machine for web browsing and general internet use (I'm writing this post on the Pi, for example).

Pete 2E0SQL had posted about getting RTL_SDR running on the Pi which was a very useful and interesting. The only issue that I had was with libusb1.0 - because I was compiling it seemed that I needed to install the libusb-1.0.0-dev package. Once I did that, everything worked well.

Initially, I tried the Remote_SDR which certainly worked, although was a little stuttery. What was more interesting to me was the rtl_adsb program, which I was able to use to decode ADSB messages from aircraft and send these across the network to the Windows laptop running ADSBScope. This was done simply by piping the output of rtl_adsb using netcat as follows:

rtl_adsb |netcat -lp portnumber (where the portnumber is where ADSBScope is pointing)

I was impressed and this worked pretty well and the receiver and decoder seemed sensitive - considering the antenna was downstairs and away from a window.

Dave G4FRE had posted about compiling WSPR on his Raspberry Pi which made a great basis for getting WSPR going.

I had to amend my configure statement as follows:

./configure -with-portaudio-include-dir=/usr/include -with-portaudio-lib-dir=/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf

Finally, when I ran the make install, I got an error which was quite terminal!

(no rule to make target mept162.f needed by WsprMod.w.so. Stop

However, Googling around a little, I found that a number of people had had the same issues compiling the latest release of WSPR, so I downloaded the 2840 version from the repository using the following command:

svn co http://svn.berlios.de/svnroot/repos/wsjt/branches/wspr -r2840

I still needed to use the amended configure statement but this seemed to work ok. The program compiles up and starts and I was able to select a USB sound card. I haven't yet tried a decode (the Pi is in the lounge and not the shack!) but will aim to do that soon.

Next to compile was WSJT and I used Dave G4FRE's post to guide me. There were no nasty surprises requiring too much thought and the process was simple and straightforward.

Finally, was a new ADSB decoder that could be used with an RTLSDR device. Called Dump1090 it was written by Salvatore Sanfilippo that I saw mention of on Twitter - this was very simple to get going:

git clone git://github.com/antirez/dump1090.git

cd dump1090
make

Once the program was built, I particularly liked running Dump1090 in interactive mode with the RTLSDR dongle in one of the USB Hub slots connected to the Pi

./dump1090 --interactive

This produces a simple, but interesting list of aircraft that the the decoder is seeing. Unlike any of the other decoders I've used recently, it gives an interesting indication of the sheer volume of messages that are being decoded.

It was good fun getting these different programs working and remembering some of my lost Unix skills!

Thanks particularly to Pete 2E0SQL and Dave G4FRE for their inspiration for these experiments.


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