Trail-Ready Portable Station

After finishing, revising and size-reducing my HamPi, I decided to continue on and finish assembling a new revision of a portable station.

Since I actually have plans to use this in the field, I wanted to pack things up as small as practical while loosing as little functionality as possible.


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I’ve been using Raspberry Pi mini computers for lots of little dedicated purpose tasks over the last couple years (VPN servers, print servers, D-Star controllers, arcades, etc) and I decided I’d like to make one to go with my KX-3 portable setup. I’ve had several questions about it and since it’s been about 2 years since I made one, I decided it was past time for a blog post!

My basic desire was to assemble a low maintenance portable peripheral that could be used in the field with my KX-3. I’m calling this a peripheral, and not a computer because I really wanted more of an appliance feel, without the burden of having another computer to manage and care for. I also wanted something that was dedicated to the purpose, so it could live in the bag with my KX-3 and I wouldn’t feel the urge to rip it apart and use it for other projects.

The Raspberry Pi, currently at version 3, is ideal for this purpose. It’s not the fastest or the lowest power, but it’s by far the best known and supported platform. It runs a version of Linux called Raspbian and a desktop environment called Pixel.

Because the Pi is based on Debian Linux, it has a host of ham radio applications available for use. My primary interest is in FLDigi and WSJT-X, but various other programs like Xastir, Direwolf, Chirp, D-Rats and even some panadapters are available from the built in software package manager.

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Elecraft KX-3, 2yr Pitstop

It’s been just shy of 2 years since my KX-3, one of the first kits to roll off the line, arrived in my shack. In that 2 years we’ve seen many firmware enhancements, a few accessories, and some bug fixes to the KX3. If serial numbers are to be believed there are now well over 5000 of these little guys in the field.

There have been a few production changes so far in the KX-3’s lifecycle, and I figured with so many in the field the hardware platform was fairly mature and now was as good time as any to do some routine maintenance on mine. As my friend says, it was time for me to pay my Early Adopter tax.

4 items from the Elecraft Appnotes and Mod kits jumped out at me as issues I have experienced.

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Digital QST – Making it useful

Over the last few days the ARRL released the long awaited Digital Edition of QST. This digital edition is available to all ARRL members as an additional membership benefit, and is in addition to the print version.

Many years ago when I moved to Iowa, I learned a simple truth: A CD is a lot easier to move than a filing cabinet.

Over my life with computers and electronics, I’ve learned something else equally important. Proprietary data formats, even if not encumbered with Digital Rights Management, are doomed to cause headaches.

So now we have a digital QST all nicely wrapped up in a proprietary format for our viewing pleasure. Thankfully, it’s not heavily DRM encumbered so it’s fairly easy to do something about this issue.

First, you might ask, why would we want to take away the absolutely wonderful reading experience the ARRL has crafted for us and replace it with something as mundane as a PDF?

Here are a few reasons:

  • As it stands it’s pretty much useless for viewing on any Tablet, eReader, or Smartphone.
  • My comment about being an ‘absolutely wonderful’ reading experience should have had sarcasm tags.
  • It’s tied to the Adobe Air runtime. Adobe Air is based on flash, which is a technology rapidly in decline, and thus has a somewhat dubious future. This makes it completely unacceptable for archiving.

Learn how to convert your Digital QST to an industry standard PDF for free after the break!

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KT5TK-11 Balloon Aims for Distance Record

Hot on the heels of the K6RPT balloon launch late last year now the W5ACM group wants to out do them with the KT5TK Texas to China balloon attempt.

Assuming everything gets off the ground as scheduled, you’ll be able to track the position of the balloon in near real-time on the Website after it launches on Saturday Feb 11th at 3pm.

KT5TK-11 Tracking on