Jul 12 2014

Meet the Raspberry Pi @ The Indianapolis Hamfest

A few months ago, I was approached by members of the Indianapolis Hamfest Association about doing a presentation on the Raspberry Pi at this year’s Hamfest.  Naturally with anything like this, I immediately thought of Ed, my fellow ARRL VE/Technical Specialist.  Today we were called the Ham Radio Mad Scientists of our generation.  As I think about that, I can’t disagree.  Ed and I work very closely together on a regular basis experimenting or trying new things within this wonderful hobby of ours.

That brings us right up to today.  The weeks/months since I was initially ask have flown by and today was the day.  I’m happy to report that what I’m now called, “The Raspberry Pi Road Show,” was a great success.  The road show moniker was adopted as we were as immediately after our presentation about doing it for another Central Indiana Amateur Radio Club.  So it seems we’ll be taking it on the road, which is quite an honor.

Today, we had 55 attendees and the audience remained interested and engaged throughout the entire presentation.  I was a bit surprised at the number of people in the audience who owned a Pi.  That allowed me to quickly move through some of the technical specs of the device and concentrate on the projects that Ed and I have been working on.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ed for his help. We made a great team and it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without him.

If by chance, you’ve found yourself here because you were one of the attendees, first off thank you very much for attending.  Over the next few days, both Ed and I will be gathering together the various materials that we used for the projects and making them available both here and on Ed’s website.


meet the raspberry pi

Jul 02 2014

June 2014 Technical Specialist Report

Hello July! This year is flying by….

June saw the arrival of a new-to-me service monitor. I picked up an HP 8935 from a vendor I met at the Dayton Hamfest. The 8935 will replace my CT System 2100 and add some much needed functionality to the bench.

My ham radio time last month was centered around two major projects:

1). Continued work on the Raspberry Pi presentation that K3HTK and I will be hosting at the Indy Ham Fest

2). Planning and preparation for the N9AG Field Day activities

The N9AG ran a 4A designation which each station being manned by a club member.  We had a few guests that showed an interested prior to Field Day kicking off, but I think the threat of weather scared most of them off.  As I was loading up the jeep on Saturday morning in the rain, I wasn’t sure how the day was going to play out, all in all, it wasn’t bad.

That pretty much sums it up for this report.

Jun 06 2014

May 2014 Technical Specialist Report

I, along with Ed (K3HTK) are now listed as elmers covering Indiana for the Broadband Hamnet project.  We’ve had some time to play around with the project and are hoping to generate some interest in it and get more people involved to perhaps get a mesh network setup here in Indy.

The issues that I was working with Westmountain Radio on with the RigBlaster Blue were unable to be resolved.  I returned the unit for a refund and will be sticking with SignaLink for my digital mode.

Received the following from the NH Ham with the visually impaired aunt who the N9AG VE Team assisted in her grandfathered upgrade to General:

“Bill, I just wanted to drop you a note and give you a big “thank you!” from me.  The VEs never get enough thanks from the HAM community.  Without new HAMs, the hobby would die out.  You guys make it happen, and you do it on your own time.   You guys honestly make me feel a little guilty.  I should follow your lead and get out there and do a little more work as a mentor, or perhaps a VE.  Anyway, thanks for helping Carmela.  You were kind and helpful way beyond the call of duty!”

I attended the Dayton Hamvention for the very first time, along with K3HTK and K9ZX and of course the XYL.  I had a blast.  We spent our two days outside in the flea market, and still did not get through all of it.  The weather, as those of you who were there know, was less than cooperative.  No major purchased there, but I may have a nice Service Monitor coming soon from a contact I made while there.  Looking forward to next year.

I upgraded my mobile setup to include an IC-7100, which replaced two radios (IC-706MKII and IC-2820).  I’m really liking the IC-7100.  I’ll put some more details together when I have some time and post them on my website (www.nf9k.net).

Beyond that, I was able to get IRLPVCon running on the Raspberry Pi platform.  That particular Pi runs IRLP/EchoLink for my two repeaters.  Thanks to Dave Cameron for putting in the work to convert the package over.

Thats all I have for this report.  73 until next month.

May 26 2014

New mobile rig

In an effort to simplify mobile operations, I’ve replaced my Icom IC-2820 and my IC-706MKII with an IC-7100.  I still need to finish the install and get the radio under the seat, but I plan to do that after a couple of days of drive testing the install.  I’ll post some more pictures once everything is complete.

So far, after an initial test run, I’m liking the radio and its touch screen interface.

May 11 2014

Dayton Hamvention!

Made my first trip to Dayton for the 2014 Dayton Hamvention.  I was accompanied by Ed (K3HTK) and Eric (K9ZX) and of course, my XYL, Angela.  We attended Friday and Saturday and drove back and forth from Indy each day.

Other than restrooms, we didn’t get a chance to explore the inside much, even though the weather was less than cooperative.  Since this was my first trip, I was more interested in what I might uncover out in the flea markets vs. the commercial opportunities inside, that I could always find online.  Had the weather been better, I think we might have finished the outside and had time for at least a cursory trip inside, but as it was, after two days we hadn’t even cleared all of the outside flea market.

I didn’t come back with any major treasures to report.  Mostly connectors, coax and a few odds and ends.  But all in all, a good trip and I’m looking forward to next year.

May 01 2014

April 2014 ARRL Technical Specialist Report

Installed a sharp-tune cavity as a pre-selector and a pre-amp on the NF9K 70cm repeater.  Still need to fire up the service monitor and determine the exact impact that the pre-amp has had, but initial tests show an improvement.

Participated in a VE session with the WD9BSA Team where we tested 11 scouts and scouters, seven of which earned their tickets.  The remaining four will be returning later this month to re-test.

I began to explore the world of the HSMM Broadband-Hamnet Mesh networking.  Again, K3HTK and I are playing around with the various ways to implement the nodes and would like to get something going here in Indy.  If you’re interested, get in touch with one of us.

The N9AG VE Team was able to successfully assist the visually impaired Ham that I mentioned in last months report.  She was a pre-1987 Tech, and as she currently holds a valid Technician license is eligible for a grandfathered to General.  It was nice to help her out and her nephew in NH, who originally contacted me, has expressed his gratitude for our efforts.  The N9AG VE Team Members who participated in this special session were: NF9K (Bill Atkinson), K3HTK (Ed Valasek), and K9WTH (Mark Buchanan).

No positive progress with the Rig Blaster Blue.  At this point, I feel the product just isn’t fully baked, but believe that once it is, they will  have a cool product.  Looks like I’ll be RMA’ing the unit for a refund.

Continued looking at options for APRS iGates, particularly on the Raspberry Pi.

Also continued work on the presentation on the Raspberry Pi and Ed (K3HTK) and I will be doing at the Indianapolis Hamfest in July.

And finally started working on plans to make it to Dayton.  This will be my first trip so I’m looking forward to it.

And lastly there was a weeks vacation in there.  Due to antenna limitations, I didn’t get much operating done, but as always, I enjoyed my time in Gatlinburg and look forward to our return trip in a few months.

May 01 2014

New Hams!

Last evening the WD9BSA VE Team, of which I’m a member, successfully tested 11 Boy Scouts and Scouters.  Of the eleven, seven passed!  The remaining four will retest with our VE Team later this month.  This testing session following a six-week Technician course.  Congratulations to the new members of our wonderful hobby!

Apr 26 2014

NF9K 70cm Repeater Gets a Pre-Amp

I’ve recently installed a pre-amp on the 442.850+ repeater.  While I’m still limited in height, the addition of the pre-amp has made a measurable difference in the receive capabilities.  I’m planning to do some testing to figured out exactly what the impact was to the system.  So if you’re on the N/W side, tune it up and drop your call.  As a reminder, this repeater is linked via Echolink to the 70cm and 33cm repeaters of K3HTK in Noblesville.

Apr 19 2014

Broadband Hamnet Node Online (NF9K-1)

Last evening I completed the setup of a Broadband Hamnet Mesh node.  I chose to go with the Ubiquiti NanoStation Loco M2.  Amazon as them for ~$56 and available for Prime shipping.  Since I’m currently the only node in Indy, I’ll likely be purchasing another node in the near future to do some experimentation.


If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit their website HERE.  And if there are any questions, I can answer, please feel free to contact me!

Apr 05 2014

March 2014 ARRL Technical Specialist Report

Quite a few projects/activities competed for my time last month:

Worked with Ed Valasek (K3HTK) to completely tear down and rebuild his repeater rack.  Took the majority of a Saturday, but when we finished, things looked a whole lost better.  We were able to get the amplified functioning on his 33cm repeater and install a new 70cm repeater all tied to my two machines via IRLP.

Put up a new antenna and new feed line on the 70cm NF9K repeater.  In the process of ordering a sharp-tune cavity and pre-amp now.  Thanks to K3HTK for his help with this little project.  While we were working on my machines, we made some audio adjustments in the controller that greatly improved the audio both to the repeaters and the PiRLP link.  We also installed a new set of Wacom duplexers this month.  The Decibel model that I had was just not providing enough isolation resulting in a desensed receiver.

Organized an ARRL VE session with the N9AG Club.  Only had three participants and one of them was a no-show (she had the wrong address).  Was contacted by a NH amateur to help with his visually impaired aunt.  She is a pre-1987 technician and qualifies for the General Class grandfather.  When I get back from vacation, the N9AG team is going to arrange a time to meet with her an do the appropriate paperwork for her upgrade.

Purchased an Argent Data Systems T3-301 TNC/Data Radio unit for mobile APRS.  After working through a few nuances, I’m happy to report that it’s chugging along as I type this while traveling through the Tennessee mountains.  For the record, the XYL is driving….  Give me some time to work some HF>

May the venture in 23cm as well.  A rather interesting band.  K3HTK and I will be working on doing some data connections via that band.  I ended up with an Alinco DJ-G7 and an Icom ID-1.

Worked on the outline for my Raspberry Pi presentation at the Indianapolis Hamfest in July.  Again, K3HTK will be helping me out with the presentation.

I picked up one of the new RigBlaster Blue units to check out.  So far my experience has been less than positive, but I’m hoping to play with it a bit while on vacation and perhaps get it working.  More on this next month.

I received an email from a relatively new ham, KC1BGY, looking for guidance in purchasing a new mobile radio.  Evidently two of the units he was researching lead to my website where he was able to contact me.  After identifying his needs, I was able to offer some advise on his options.

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