Portable Pi update - new capabilities!

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I have just got back from a week long drive throughout NSW, I even managed to squeeze in some radio play.

Recently as part of a SOTA demo, I pulled the Portable Pi set up out to also show it off. To my horror I discovered the 12v to 5v step down that powers my pi was NOISY - like s5-s7 in the relative radio silence of a SOTA summit.

Additionally, there is a quirk of the Samsung Galaxy A Tab forms a central component of the portable kit, it needs a very defined voltage to charge while turned on. 2 birds with one stone! The powerworx Anderson power pole to 2 female USB (3A) - they are SILENT, it's amazing.

So while the picture below looks like a MESS, it was taken after I did some troubleshooting (no audio, had the mic and the audio cable around the wrong way - DUH)

Below is my 817ND, Raspberry Pi3, USB GPS, ZLP Audio interface, 40w Amp (not used in this project...yet), Light Saver Max Solar & Lithium power pack, SOTA Beams Voice Compressor and the hub of the whole operation is the SOTA Beams Anderson PowerPoles distrobution box.

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So with the hardware sorted, some new capabilities have been added. HF APRS using FSK on 40m (below was one location packet from the testing location). While 30m is the normal HF APRS band, that band is restricted to the highest license level in Australia so there is a small community using 40M here.

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Also added recently was the super new mode of FT8CALL, the FT8 speed but actual keyboard contacts on HF bands. I managed to have 2 with the West Coast USA as well as Philippines.

Check out the new mode on the video below 

PortablePi - A RaspberryPi for Amateur radio Portable Operators

This project might be of interest to some SOTA operators.

I wanted to see if I could make a field companion Raspberry Pi for Data modes - I would never lug my laptop into the bush.

Hardware:

  • raspberry pi 3 with inbuilt wifi chip
  • USB GPS dongle
  • USB sound card
  • ZLP USB radio interface

Capability:

  • WSJT-X on RC1.9 for FT8 etc
  • Fldigi
  • Winlink using PAT - telnet only at this stage
  • APRS via Xastir and Direwolf
  • Logging using CQRLog - issues with database - working on that
  • GPS updates onboard time - needed for Data modes and logging as well as GPS for APRS

How do you use it?
Well when the Pi is near a wifi network it knows it connects when it is not - say on your favourite summit - it creates a hotspot allowing headless control by any VNC device - tablet, phone etc.

Some pictures:

Set on top of my 817

Set on top of my 817

Connected over VNC

Connected over VNC

Update: June 2018: http://wadeabout.com/blog/update-from-my-initial-testing-of-using-a-raspberry-pi-3-as-a-portable-option-for-amateur-radio-digital-modes

 

Wade
VK1MIC

PowerFilm LightSaver Max

PowerFilm LightSaver Max - a rollable solar lithium battery  

Stats: 

18000 mAh

2x 2.5A USB

12v max 5A

Rollable solar panel

 

Solar charge 6-8 Hours

Wall charge (USB-C) 3 hours

My desired use:

Directly connect the LightSaver Max (LSM) to my Yaesu FT817ND for extended portable Amateur Radio operations, additionally allow charging of my mobile phone, my 7in android tablet used for logging in the field along with assorted miscellaneous charging such as GoPro for recording, my headlamp for night operations etc.

During the day time I would like to see if the, when unrolled and placed in the sun, will the solar panel pass an increased voltage spike along to the radio. Based on the provided specifications from the suppliers, the following use times are calculated:

LSM contains an 18000mAh battery that would allow

Yaesu 817ND

TX      2000mAh       9 hours total transmitting

RX      450mAh        40 hours total receiving

Charging               

iPhone 2900mAh       6 times from 0-100%

Tablet  3450mAh        5 times from 0-100%

Please note these are not combined or simultaneous use calculation but individual single item calculations.

 

Conclusion: as per the video the LSM performed brilliantly. Delivering a smooth quiet 12.2v for over 2 hours of use, plus charged my phone and tablet to get the battery down to 6/10.