Tagged: amateur radio

Setting up a Raspberry Pi for Ham Radio with RTL-SDR

Over on his blog F4GOH has posted a rather comprehensive tutorial consisting of seven PDF documents showing how he's set up his Raspberry Pi for ham radio and other RF projects. The PDF's essentially form a book that starts with the very basics like preparing an OS for the Pi SD Card, powering on the Pi, finding the IP address and connecting to it with SSH or VNC.

The tutorials move on to installing and using various ham radio programs like Fldigi, WSJT-X , GQRX, GNU Radio, before going on to teach some more Linux concepts. The final two PDF tutorials cover the installation and use of OpenWebRX for remote RTL-SDR use, R2Cloud for decoding weather satellites, and finally Radiosonde Auto RX for decoding radiosonde's on weather balloons.

[Also seen on Hackaday]

Raspberry Pi for Ham Radio

The Silphase R1 SDR Receiver

Thanks to Thomas' SWLing Blog for bringing to attention the Silphase R1 SDR receiver. This is an upcoming high performance HF SDR receiver being manufactured in the EU by a Polish company called Silphase. The R1 appears to be targeting premium SWLer customers with a price of US$1199. However, they note that by the end of 2020 they will have a 25W transceiver option, and later a 100W transceiver option. The SDR is currently available for preorder only and the sign up form can be found at the bottom of their website.

The Silphase R1 comes with a 5" touch screen that shows a spectrum display, has dual VFO's, four speakers and a metal alloy enclosure. It also comes with a built in telescopic antenna, but external antennas can be connected with the F connector. The tuning range is just the HF bands from 0.1 - 30 MHz and the ADC resolution is 16 bits.

Rendering of the upcoming Silphase R1 HF SWLing SDR

TechMinds: Building a 3D Printed 2.4 GHz Dual Feed Helix for QO-100

The Bullseye LNB that we have in our store is great for receiving the QO-100 amateur geostationary radio satellite which is available in some parts of the world. However it cannot be used to transmit to the satellite. Over on his YouTube channel Tech Minds shows us how to build a transmit helix antenna that connects to the Bullseye or other suitable LNB, resulting in a dual feed antenna.

The antenna that was built is based on DO8PAT's "Ice Cone Feed" design. The design requires some 3D printed parts for the mount and housing, as well as a copper wire helix, metal reflector and copper matching strip. The Bullseye fits onto the back of the helix mount. Once mounted on a dish Tech Minds shows that he was able to make contact with a friend via the QO-100 satellite with good signal strength.

2.4 GHz Dual Feed Helix Antenna For QO100

Talks from the 2020 HamSCI Convention (Held Online)

HamSCI is an organization dedicated citizen radio science and specifically the "publicity and promotion of projects that advance scientific research and understanding through amateur radio activities". Recently they held their HamSCI 2020 workshop online, and the videos are now available on the Ham Radio 2.0 YouTube channel. Several of the projects mentioned in the talks involve the use of software defined radios.

Come join HamSCI at its third annual workshop! Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, this year's workshop will he held as a virtual, eletronic workshop. The meeting will take place March 20-21, 2020 using Zoom Webinar Services hosted by The University of Scranton in Scranton, PA . The primary objective of the HamSCI workshop is to bring together the amateur radio community and professional scientists. The theme of the 2020 HamSCI Workshop is "The Auroral Connection: How does the aurora affect amateur radio, and what can we learn about the aurora from radio techniques?" Invited speakers include Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, NASA Scientist and founder of Aurorasaurus, Dr. James LaBelle, Dartmouth Space Scientist and expert on radio aurora, and Dave Hallidy K2DH, an expert in ham radio auroral communication.

One talk discusses the HamSCI personal weather station project, which is an SDR and Raspberry Pi based solution that monitors HF signals like WSPR, as well as characterizing HF noise, detecting lightning and ionospheric disturbances.

HamSCI 2020 Overview of the Personal Space Weather Station and Project Update

Another talk discusses the TangerineSDR, which is an open source SDR currently in development by TAPR. The goal of the TangerineSDR is to be a sub $500 SDR with a focus on space science, academic research as well as general amateur use. 

HamSCI 2020 TangerineSDR Data Engine and Overall Architecture

The rest of the talks can be found on the Ham Radio 2.0 YouTube playlist.

Shiva DX Cluster For SWL/BCL with SDR-Console V3

Thank you to Walter Panella (IU2MEH) for submitting information about his Shiva DX Cluster software which is designed to be used with SDR-Console V3. A DX Cluster is a type of distributed network of software that is used to to advertise that long-distance amateur radio DX stations are transmitting. Walter writes:

Shiva DX Cluster connects to a ham radio dx cluster and repeat the dx spot to shiva clients while adding spots based on list files.

It doesn't send to ham radio dx cluster any spot nor it can receive any spot.

It is intended to use with SDR Console for SWL/BCL ( see screenshots folder ) so they are able to see broadcasting stations, for example, based on scheduling day and time.

Ham radio dx cluster spots are repeated to shiva clients immediately, broadcasting stations and other lists are sent to shiva clients every 10 minutes (default,configurable).

The software is available on Walter's GitHub.

Shiva DX Cluster running on SDR-Console V3
Shiva DX Cluster running on SDR-Console V3

Understanding PLLs and their Importance when Receiving/Transmitting on QO-100

Over on YouTube Andreas Speiss has uploaded a video that explains what the geostationary QO-100 satellite is, and explains about the parts needed to receive and transmit to it. In particular Andreas goes into depth explaining the low noise block (LNB), and the PLL inside it. A PLL or phase locked loop is a common design used in RF electronics as it allows us to increase the frequency of crystal oscillators.

This PLL explanation ties into the fact that most commercial LNBs available do not have a stable enough crystal oscillator to properly receive or transmit the narrowband amateur radio signals used on QO-100. A PLL can increase the frequency of a crystal, but it will also increase the frequency drift and jitter/phase noise of the crystal. He notes that in later videos he'll show how to modify the LNB to improve these factors. We note that a commercially available stable LNB is the Bullseye LNB which we have posted about previously.

QO-100 Satellite Receiving Technology. And Explanation of a PLL

QRUQSP – Receiving Weather Sensors via RTL-SDR and Sharing over APRS

Thank you to Andrew Rivett for writing in and sharing news about his project called "QRUQSP" which is aiming to provide an easy to set up system for allowing amateur radio operators to put weather sensors on the APRS network and log the weather data. Andrew writes:

For that last 2 years I've been working on QRUQSP.org, a system to receive weather sensors via a RTL-SDR.com V3 on a Raspberry Pi and then beacon that data over Amateur Radio APRS. I've also developed a dashboard that can be used on iPad 1 and old tablets, and soon will have the ability to sync data between Pi's and to the cloud.

For more information, please check out https://qruqsp.org/ , we have roadmaps under Software and Hardware.

The QRUQSP website also explains:

Amateur Radio offers many opportunities to receive digital messages, decode them and make use of the data contained within those messages. Our primary goal is to store and organize those messages in a database in a way that improves the operator's ability to analyze, assess importance, and relay messages as appropriate for his or her amateur radio service.

The service makes use of his hardware kits that are currently available for preorder on his website, with the basic kit starting at $80. Purchasing a kit or $10 monthly subscription to the cloud service software allows you to participate in the closed beta, which is currently only available for amateur radio operators.

The QRUQSP Hardware
The QRUQSP Hardware

In terms of software Andrew has also created a web application that can be used to collect and display the weather data collected over APRS or rtl_433. The service can be hosted directly on the systems Raspberry Pi, or online on the cloud via the QRUQSP subscription service.

QRUQSP Dashboard and Weather Data Log Display
QRUQSP Dashboard and Weather Data Log Display

Hermes Lite 2 HF Amateur Radio SDR Group Buy Now Active

The Hermes Lite 2 (HL2) amateur radio direct sampling HF SDR transceiver board is now active for a group buy over on Makerfabs. The price is $225.70, and there need to be 25 orders before the group buy is confirmed. If confirmed, production will begin on 23 September, with production estimated to take about one month. More information about the group buy available on the Hermes Lite 2 Wiki. The N2ADR filter board for transmitting with the HL2 is also available on Makerfabs for $52.70.

The HPSDR Hermes SDR is an open source amateur radio SDR transceiver project that was released as far back as 2011. More recently Steve Haynal has been working on a Hermes-Lite project which is intended to be an opensource open hardware low cost amateur radio HF transceiver that is based on the HPSDR Hermes SDR project software and FPGA DSP implementation.

The Hermes-Lite is able to be very low cost because at it's core is the AD9866 chip which is a mass produced RF front end (LNA + ADC & DAC) that is commonly used in cable modems. Because it is a mass produced commodity, the chip only costs approx. US$35-$25 on Mouser depending on quantity. The chip has a 12-bit 80 MHz ADC and DAC, meaning that if used without any analog mixer front end (like in the Hermes-Lite) it can receive the entire spectrum between 0.1 to 38 MHz all at once.

The Hermes-Lite is also a lot more than just the RF chip, as it contains a set of switched RF filters and a 5W power amplifier for TX. It also interfaces with a PC via Ethernet and has a built in FPGA for DSP processing.

The Hermes Lite 2 PCB
The Hermes Lite 2 PCB