Thursday, 5 April 2018

Rambling in 1’s and 0’s

In my attempts to set up the ultimate in a digital and internet linked station, I have been flexing my Debit Card recently. The first acquisition was a second hand dual band DVMega. This was obtained at a very reasonable price but the firmware was quite out of date which meant that it couldn’t be used with MMDVM Host software under Pi-Star. Instead of using MMDVM I selected DSTAR Repeater as the host and used it for a while for DSTAR only. I got to thinking that the firmware just had to be updated but I was daunted by having to solder a wire jumper to the delicate Pi Hat. In a rare moment of bravery I took the plunge and broke out the soldering station and magnified “helping hand” project stand. Taking the attitude of “nothing ventured, nothing gained” I proceeded to solder the jumper wire in place. This went with surprisingly little drama. I re-installed the Pi Hat to the Raspberry Pi and rebuilt the case. Following excellent directions from the Pi-Star Users Group, I set about the procedure of updating the firmware. The first attempt was not a success - I had missed a line in the code, but on correcting the error and ensuring the firmware version was correct it flashed successfully. So I now have a bargain DVMega, with the firmware update jumper installed, working with Pi-Star, just as it should. 

I found that I had a Raspberry Pi 2 without a purpose, so I contacted Karl at and ordered a new dual band Pi Hat. So now I’m using two dual band DVMegas, one for DSTAR and the other on DMR+, both set on VHF, with the Icom IC-880 and VHF Hytera MD785. 

My single band UHF DVMega is usefully employed on DSTAR and is exclusively used to connect to HUBNet’s AllStar/DSTAR cross link. This means that I can now access my favourite AllStar network with a DSTAR radio (IC-80),thereby freeing up my AllStar node for other connections. 

The UHF DVMega Bluestack is connected to a Raspberry Pi3 and is used for DMR on the Brandmeister Network in conjunction with the UHF MD785. The same hotspot can be detached from the Pi and be used mobile with BlueDV for Android software. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks whilst mobile and, whilst the performance under BlueDV is not as good as with Pi-Star, I get very good results. 

Staying on the subject of Hotspots, I’ve been researching the Jumbospot MMDVM board and have ordered one to attach to a Pi Zero for a permanent mobile Hotspot solution. It’s cheaper than a Zumspot and nice and compact, so ideal for a mobile situation. I will road test it when I get it and I will post a review and my thoughts on it. 

Impulse buy! This months unplanned purchase was a Shark RF OpenSPOT. I’ve always been put off the OpenSPOT simply because of its price and the fact that it has to be connected with an Ethernet cable or a seperate MiFi router as it doesn’t have wireless capability. I suspect that the manufacturer has an updated WiFi version coming soon, as one supplier in the UK has massively discounted the current version (by 38%) and that's the primary reason for buying it. It hasn’t arrived at the time of writing this but I hear good things about it so I hope to enjoy experimenting with it when it gets here. 

I have a WIRES-X node and wanted to link that with an FCS reflector, so I have had an FCS reflector allocated and I can link the two together with a DV4 Mini. This isn’t the best way of providing the link but will suffice for the moment, until I can get my MMDVM home brew server working (that’s still a work in progress at the moment). Access is available via WIRES-X on LincsLink node 41087 and also on LincsLink FCS004/32. The link isn’t on continuously at the moment as I want to soak test it before permanently leaving it active. If you spot my call on either system feel feee to give me a call. FCS004/32 is on all the time so feel free to link in. 

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