Sunday
Sep222013

Yaesu "System Fusion" digital/analog voice repeater

Yaesu USA VP Dennis Motschenbacher K7BV gave a presentation at the 2013 TAPR DCC.  He gave details about the new Yaesu DR-1 digital/analog voice repeater for the Yaesu FT-1DR and FTM-400DR radios.  It looked like Dennis was a little of his depth considering the technical TAPR DCC audience but you can certainly tell that Dennis was excited about the new repeater offering coming from Yaesu.

The System Fusion product bulletin can be downloaded here

The DR-1 certainly looks interesting.  Colour touch LCD screen, dual band (2m and 70cm), 50W output power.  

System Fusion glossy brochure

I'm waiting on more technical details on the Yaesu over-the-air digital protocol and how the HRI-200 internet linking will work. I would hope that linking will be user controllable as Dplus, Dextra, DCS is for D-Star and IRLP/Echolink/AllStarLink for FM people.  No word on if the concept of reflectors will be a reality for System Fusion.

The C4FM modulation probably means that it will be possible to build modems to work with System Fusion and potentially have home-brew Hot Spots as well.  It would be nice if Yaesu not only allowed this but actively encouraged it.

 

 

Thanks to Gary Pearce KN4AQ at Ham Radio Now/AR Video News for allowing me to embed his YouTube video on my blog page.

http://arvideonews.com/hrn/

Check out Gary's excellent videos. If you like them, consider feeding Arvin the pig a little donation!

Sunday
Aug252013

G4KLX Repeater software remote control feature

In the past few weeks I have been setting up and experimenting with the built in remote control feature of the G4KLX Repeater applications.

Without an easy way to safely shutdown a headless Raspberry Pi computer, I thought being able to both reboot and shutdown the Pi from a D-Star radio would be a handy feature.

Jim N1JMM was able to decipher the registry entries in the Windows version of the software and made a comprehensive list of both ircDDB Gateway and Repeater config file parameters and values.

http://n1jmm.no-ip.org/D-Star/g4klx-repeater-parameters.html

http://n1jmm.no-ip.org/D-Star/ircddb-config.html

The Linux versions of the G4KLX software uses config files rather than registry entries. Documentation on what parameters and values are available in the config files and how they are used is not yet available. Jim's work helped immensely! 

These are the entries I added in my gmskrepeater_1 config file

controlEnabled=1
controlRPT1=REMOTE
controlRPT2=CONTROL
controlCommand1=REBOOT
controlCommand1Line=sudo shutdown -r now
controlCommand2=SHUTDOWN
controlCommand2Line=sudo shutdown -h now

controlEnabled=1 does exactly what it says... it enables the remote control feature.

controlRPT1 and controlRPT2 give you some security with the Remote Control feature.  The values in these parameters can be up to 8 characters long (I have capitalised them) and these are what need to be programmed in your D-Star radios RPT1 and RPT2 callsign fields in order for the Repeater software to interpret the remote command.

The actual Remote Control command is sent to the Repeater software in the URCall field of your D-Star radio.  In the above example config file entries I have two;
controlCommand1=REBOOT and controlCommand2=SHUTDOWN.
You can define up to four Remote Control commands.

The commands to be executed when a valid command is received are in the controlCommand1Line and controlCommand2Line config parameters.  

Now this is where things get a little tricky and will vary depending on what distribution of the G4KLX software you are using. I use Hans' DL5DI repository to install the G4KLX software on my Raspberry Pi and Odroid-X computers. Hans' install script creates the Linux user "opendv". The Repeater and ircDDB Gateway software run under this user and commands executed by the Repeater software remote control feature are executed as this user.

To enable the Remote Control feature to work properly, the Linux user that runs the Repeater software needs to be entered into the sudoers file AND given permission to execute commands without needing to enter a password.  

This can be VERY dangerous if you do the wrong thing!  Initially I added the bold text shown below into my sudoers file using the command "sudo visudo".

opendv ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL

A much safer way to do things is to limit what opendv can execute when using the sudo prefix. In this example the opendv user can only execute the /sbin/shutdown command.

opendv ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /sbin/shutdown

A final word on using the Remote Control feature.  You may or may not be aware of this, when an Icom D-Star radio is in simplex mode (eg. no DUP+ or DUP- selected) both RPT1 and RPT2 are not transmitted, even if RPT1 and RPT2 have been set.  My ID-31A radio will not allow me to edit RPT1 and RPT2 on a channel/VFO that does have DUP-/DUP+ enabled. My IC-91AD radio will allow me to set RPT1/RPT2 but they will not be transmitted until duplex mode is selected.

If you are using the G4KLX Repeater software in a simplex HotSpot implementation and have the Repeater software config entry rpt1Validation=0 and thus do not need to set DUP+/- with a zero offset, you will need to set up a channel with Duplex enabled, set the repeater offset value to zero and then set up your RPT1, RPT2 and URCalls appropriately.  If you don't have duplex mode enabled, your radio will NOT send the programmed RPT1 and RPT2 callsigns and the G4KLX Repeater software will not see them and then look for a valid command in the URCall.

73

Sunday
Aug042013

D-Star HotSpot built by Martin OK1ZOO

I received an email from Martin OK1ZOO in the Czech Republic with a photo of his Raspberry Pi powered D-Star HotSpot attached.  Martin was kind enough to allow me to post photos from his website here on the VK5REX website.

Martin's website can be found here http://www.kmitocty.cz and Google Chrome does a fantastic job translating to English!

This photo shows all the components that make up Martin's D-Star HotSpot.

 

Inside the unassuming black box is a Raspberry Pi, USB hub, DVAP Dongle, WiFi and Bluetooth Dongles AND a LCD monitor to keep an eye on what the G4KLX ircDDB Gateway software is doing. A mini Bluetooth keyboard with touchpad can be used for direct control of the Raspberry PI or access is possible via VNC from either a smartphone or PC.  The DVAP Dongle antenna is one one end and the Raspberry Pi's SD Card protrudes from the other end.

Power for the HotSpot is via the Micro USB connector on the Raspberry Pi and the 5V test points on the Raspberry Pi supply 5V to other devices (LCD Screen and USB hub).

You can find more photos of Martin's D-Star HotSpot in the gallery section.

73

 

 

Friday
Aug022013

Using DVAR HotSpot with Dextra/XRF reflectors

I thought I would try and see if I could connect the DVAR Hot Spot software to a Dextra reflector. DVAR Hot Spot was the first software that worked with the GMSK DV Node Adapter boards to create either a simplex D-Star "Hot Spot" or if you had two radios you could create a full D-Star repeater.  DVAR Hot Spot was designed to connect via Dplus to D-Star gateways and reflectors.  

Due to the way a lot of the Dextra reflectors work, you need to open UDP port 30001 and forward it to the computer system running the gateway software in order to connect with the Dextra repeater protocol.  A simple workaround is to force the connection to use the DV Dongle/DVAP/HotSpot Dplus protocol which will then find it's way back through a NAT router without having to open any ports.

A unique ability of the DVAR Hot Spot software is that it allows easy manual entry of gateway/reflector details "on-the-fly". I entered the appropriate IP address details for XRF012, the Papa System Dextra reflector and entered port 20001. For the repeater callsign I entered XRF012 and then selected Band Module A. 


After saving this connection information I then was able to connect DVAR Hot Spot to XRF012 A. I tested it by connecting the VK5REX B repeater to XRF012 A as well.  I transmitted on VK5REX B and saw my callsign appear in the DVAR Hot Spot window and saw the connected GMSK DV Node Adapter transmit LED illuminate.  It worked!

The ability to manually enter connection details in DVAR Hot Spot is very handy.  I can connect the software directly to the VK5REX gateway machine from home (it lives on the same network) without having to go via the internet.  This image shows DVAR Hot Spot connected to VK5REX with an IP address of 10.0.0.2 from within my home network.  It works a treat!

73

 

Wednesday
Jul102013

Iridium connected D-Star HotSpot??? Maybe not....

This week I was thinking about alternative ways to get internet connectivity to operate my portable D-Star HotSpot. 

While I am using it at home or work it's plugged into a traditional Ethernet network and the internal Mikrotik router is powered off.  When I am out and about I use a 3G USB stick plugged into the Mikrotik router. 

My mobile ISP uses the Optus 3G network in Australia.  In recent years Optus has spent a lot of money installing new base stations and the network coverage has improved quite a bit, especially on the Eyre Peninsula (where I live).

But 3G does not work everywhere and it's actually quite fragile. In my area Optus uses microwave backhaul to link the majority their base stations and there is no backup backhaul... if a tower loses power for an extended period, all base stations along the backhaul path after that one will also stop working!   I started thinking about alternative methods of getting IP connectivity.

Satellite internet connections have become quite common in recent years but these tend to be quite bulky.  Many are not really suited to transportable operation and those that are still very expensive to maintain and operate... certainly not something you leave lying around "just in case" you might need it.

I have used various satellite systems for data connectivity in the past beginning in the mid 90's with the Optus Mobilesat system.  Back then you could get a "massive" 2.4k of throughput, not too bad for that time in history... but it doesn't seem to have improved very much in the last 20 years!  Two of the popular players in the handheld portable satellite phone market, Iridium and Inmarsat still only offer 2.4k data connections!  Globalstar is a little bit better with a 9.6k connection but with it's network coverage issues (satellite constellation failures) it's only recently started bouncing back as a reliable service provider. 

I thought about using a handheld Iridium 9555 handset for the internet connection, mainly because I have access to one!  It has a USB socket on the side and you can use it as a dial up modem with a PC.  It's small, easy to pack and works virtually anywhere.  It's not as cheap to run as a cell phone, but it's certainly cheaper than keeping a BGAN terminal on standby!

BUT... with Iridium's network data connection speed of 2400bps, it's half the rate that a single D-Star transmission uses over the air! Unfortunately it's not going to be an option even if my Mikrotik router could use an Iridium 9555 handset as a data connection device!

So while this looks like it might be a fantastic way to keep your D-Star HotSpot on the air during an emergency or away from cellphone networks... it's not going to work. 

73