Archive for category Equipment

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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Heil Traveler

I’m a big fan of Heil products, they make excellent and (up until recently) custom tailored headsets for amateur radio.

Their smaller Traveler series headset is designed for use with HT’s and mobile radios, and just like their larger cousins you can purchase one generic headset and separate coiled cord adapters for each ht you intend to use it with.

This is a great system. My traveler has been in use for many years, way longer than my average HT. The problem is with many modern HT’s no longer use the standardized connectors that their predecessors used for so many generations. Some manufacturers use new ones that can be sourced from standard component houses, some opt to supply pigtails for the amateur homebrewer. Most provide short pigtails so you can use your older accessories or interface them for packet radio.

More commentary as well as Heil Traveler Pin Out information after the break…

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PDA Evolution: iPod Touch

It’s been a while since I last commented on the iPhone 3GS. So long that I actually no longer have the 3GS.

Due to an unfortunate circumstance involving my cat, my old faithful iPod video, and insufficient cleanup work I found myself needing a new iPod. I thought about the direct replacement, the iPod classic, but then the shiny new iPod touch 4G caught my attention. Since 64GB is enough to hold my entire library (with about 30GB left for the future) it seemed just about perfect. I recycled the 3GS via CraigsList, added a bit too much extra, and presto it morphed into a great new iPod Touch 4.

Read on for more ramblings about the iPod Touch 4…

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Odds and Ends

Not much to update lately, but a combination of little things.

The D-Star repeater is rock solid and performing wonderfully well. There are new versions of the hardware interface I am using and I may upgrade in the future but right now I feel that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do and I’m going to just let it run for a few months. The only planned upgrade for it at this point is a temperature sensing fan controller. In it’s current incarnation it is located in my shack and the fan is quite loud all the time, there is no need for the cooling fan to be running when the repeater is in Rx mode. I have a controller somewhere that will do this, but I can’t seem to locate it.

My Heathkit GC-1000 power supply upgrade is on hold pending parts availability. I’m hoping to be able to place my order towards the end of January. I could probably source out the parts I need from multiple vendors, but I’d just as soon order it all, in 1 order, from Mouser.

We had our first ARES meeting of the new year this evening and things are filling out for an event-filled 2010. We have at least one event in 8 different months of the year. Several months have multiple events and several events still have dates TBD. This is looking to be a busy year for Polk County ARES.

More updates when things happen!