Tag Archives: KC9FVR

The K9ZW Station Notes WordPress Raspberry Pi in place

Following on my post (make sure you read the comments if you want to do a project like this) at: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/a-shack-resource-dissident-pi-project/ and https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2021/03/13/more-on-the-k9zw-station-notes-raspberry-pi-ssd-vs-sd-card/

Once I’d replaced the boot SD Card with a very inexpensive SSD drive and SATA to USB adapter, my WordPress Raspberry Pi is “in production.”  I repurposed a Raspberry Pi 4B for the project.

As it is running headless (no direct attached display, keyboard or mouse) as a sort of ultra minimalistic server, it would have been wasteful to have used the Raspberry Pi 400 all-but-monitor-in-one Pi I originally purchased for the project.

Here is what the setup looks like:

 

Raspberry Pi 4 with the external SSD and adapter

The WordPress is available to all the home network as a local resource and renders quite well despite minimal resources.  Here is what the early theme looked like from a couple random devices.

WordPress instance as opened from another Raspberry Pi

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More on the K9ZW Station Notes Raspberry Pi SSD vs SD Card

Following on to my post (make sure you read the comments if you want to do a project like this) at: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/a-shack-resource-dissident-pi-project/

I’ve replaced the boot SD Card with a very inexpensive SSD drive and SATA to USB adapter.

The storage I/O improvement is stunning.

Winston KC9FVR tested and graphed the improvement. The axis is logarithmic which tends to visually understate the improvement. So yes, the SSD is about 70-times faster than the SD Card.

The running configuration is WorkPi with Dogfish SSD vs the supplied Patriot SD card or in the second graph a Thinkpad we had at hand.  

The Raspberry Pi 400 that just arrived was also tested.  

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Young Hams Improvised and Built Computers

‏A bit of a contrast between these two pictures and specifications:

KC9FVR’s Feb 2021 Computer Build

The contemporary build is a “production machine” build Winston KC9FVR is building to help his work-from-home experience.

  • A very nice case (“Be Quiet” is noted for cooling management without fan noise.
  • A 12-core/24-thread 3.7 gHz (4.8 gHz boosted) processor.
  • Dedicated coolers.
  • MSI Meg X570 Motherboard.
  • A couple 1TB SSD drives.
  • 32 GB of fast RAM (for a start)
  • Big nice graphics card.
  • and so on…

KC9FVR, KC9JGD and KC9NWB’s circa 2005 Improvised Computer

Quite a contrast to the improvised machine he and his brothers Thomas KC9JGD and Victor KC9NWB assembled secretly roughly 15 years earlier.

  • VIA C-3 single core at 900 Mhz
  • A salvaged no-name motherboard
  • A 3 GB Mechanical Hard Drive
  • 256 MB of Ram
  • A VGA to NTSC Video Adapter
  • A Root Beer Soda Box for a “case”
  • and not much more….

The back story on the cardboard box computer was that I said no more computers in the house, as homework was suffering. At least that was the official line I put out.

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For Want of Nail, Nothing Like an Upgrade to Peak Interest, and Playing with Go-Kit Gear

In the run up to Dayton my Shack Computer had been acting up. Latency Spikes and gremlins that were giving PowerSDR no end of grief. Thought a decent dual-core Dell, I was even considering replacing the machine.

Troubleshooting found only erratic symptoms. The underlying cause(s) just weren’t easily found.

On return from Dayton middle son Winston KC9FVR/AG asked if we could run up the station so he could try some PSK31, having been reading the Digital HF book bought at the ARRL booth. We couldn’t get things to run very smoothly and after a very rapid shutdown in response to a sudden lightening storm powerful enough to set fire to buildings only 10 blocks away, the system would no longer recognize the Flex-5000A hardware.

Utilities and Testing showed that the OEM Dell Firewire card gave up the ghost.

Quick research at the Flex-Radio Knowledge Center & Forum Archives identified the best cards for performance and roughly $25 later a card was on its way rushing from Amazon.

Took the downtime to do ALL updates – from BIOS to any driver/software/system update that could be done. Also left the machine running a very in-depth anti-virus scan which ran overnight (all clean enough to pass).

The new card was truly PnP (Plug-n-Play) and despite having a different chipset than advertised (putting it into an OK-class rather than preferred-class for PowerSDR use) the system quickly reinstalled the “Found New Hardware” of the Flex-5000A.

Operator error led me to fight with VAC (Virtual Audio Cables) and settings – trouble I could have avoided by a simple reboot.

Once running it was lickety-split to help Winston KC9FVR/AG put a handful of PSK31 QSOs under his belt.

The drive that comes from a fresh license upgrade and an experimenter’s mindset had Winston KC9FVR/AG quickly asking – can I run fldigi from my Linux Thinkpad using some of your other gear?

So to the garage to raid the go-kit stash.

Up went the 20m Hamstick Dipole on 12 feet of surplus cameo-poles and a trial of a Small Wonder Labs PSK-20 I had ended up with somewhere along the way.

We had little joy with this setup, and it is uncertain if the PSK-20 is needing repairs or if we were struggling with Linux sound issues.

So out came the SGC-2020 Transceiver and the NUE-PSK Modem. This combination hadn’t really been used. The NUE-PSK modem had come back a few weeks ago from a full update at Midnight Solutions bringing it up to Version 5 with all the add-on features, and the transceiver had been run but once.

Plugged in the SGC-2020 and cabled up the NUE-PSK and “PING” we were on the air just that quick.

Winston KC9FVR/AG complete a QSO and then declared the micro-keyboard “worse than texting” and dug out an old full sized IBM clicky-clicky keyboard which worked wonderful.

Of course we weren’t about to read the manuals any further than the absolute basics to get things running, so we were hand-typing everything. Macros are for sissies (or for those who read the manuals).

Winston KC9FVR/AG downloaded a PSK31 app for his Android Phone and it was neat to see it decode from the speaker’s sound output.

I ran a handful of QSOs (it is sure a lot easier to type “K9ZW” than what it took him to type “KC9FVR/AG”) before we put the station away (took ten minutes to pick up everything and store it again.)

My go-kit HF gear did digital just fine! Power needs are such that I think I could get more than 12-18 hours of full duty out of each of the gell-cells I have set aside from their storage charge levels, and days if they were topped off first.

Remember that “spark of interest” that comes with a fresh license upgrade? Well it was back down to the shack to run a couple 20m & 160m JT65 demo contacts before promising each other that we would run some Hellschreiber on the weekend.

A couple things learned – in terms of the station the dead firewire card really put the main station out of commission. “For want of a Nail” they say the battle was lost, and for want of a working firewire port the station was off the air. Critical Key Component Dependency is not unique to an SDR setup, as most stations lack backups for mission critical items. Almost nobody has a spare for each item in their station.

Then the joy of seeing an inquisitive mind wanting to explore amateur radio shouldn’t be missing from an operator’s life. It was wonderful to help Winston KC9FVR/AG explore digital-HF and heartwarming that he would only let this father retire for the evening by making a promise for “more radios, more!” on the weekend!

And lastly that it is great fun to pull out the go-kit gear and give it a whirl. Couldn’t think of a finer father-son activity to put one’s work day aside.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Dayton 2012 – Hat in the Ring….

I’ve set aside my worries and tossed my hat in the ring for Dayton 2012.

Concerns about Dayton as place had to be handled – pondering reminded me that there is more than one way to do Dayton, and having bookings a ways outside of Dayton should buffer us from much of the rough edges.

Yes, Dayton 2012 is booked. Hamvention Tickets & Bus Passes are in hand, reservations made for somewhere to bunk, and have booked the DX Dinner Banquet and the Flex-Radio Banquet.

Traveling with will be George W9EVT from Washington Island and one of my sons, Winston KC9FVR.

Planning is moving along with a few “eyeball QSOs” scheduled with relatives and friends.

Even have the iPass reloaded for road tolls already!

Short shopping list this year – while I’d love a new Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver the weak USA dollar rate makes this radio one I need to save longer for…. someday….

More interested in some more QRP gear, possibly the new Alpha tuner (though it too is a bit of budget challenge in a down economy) and anything unique.

More on my plans as teh date gets closer.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Dayton Dust – Hamvention Reflected

Some closing Dayton Hamvention thoughts before I move onto other topics.

The pluses of Dayton 2011 People! I had the fantastic opportunity to spend time with my friend George W9EVT traveling, visit family who made Dayton the focus of a long overdue reunion, met lots of old and new friends, spent time talking first hand with developers & vendors of products I’m interested in, learned much first hand from those presenting.

The downs of Dayton 2011 Logistics! It is a day’s run to get to a place that bluntly is substandard. Living in the present, rather than taking on the rose colored glasses of a nostalgia for Dayton’s Past, the place simply isn’t “destination quality.”

The ROI (Return on Investment) and CBA (Cost/Benefit Analysis) is still working for Dayton because of the people. Really if I wanted to see “stuff” I would be money ahead to order everything that interested me, have it shipped to me, and return what I didn’t like or want. But with a hobby that is about communication – about sharing a personal interface with others – it really is the people that holds Dayton together by overcoming the squalor.

Having done trade shows, including hobby shows, in several countries I am embarrassed that we pretend that Dayton is a “nice place” to meet & show our good side to fellow amateurs from around the world. We can blow all the smoke we want, but it is simply isn’t much of a place compared to how many of these other shows run.

On the CBA basis there are alternative – Hamcation, Ham-Com, and overseas, then a great number of regional and/or focus events. Last year I attended the W9DXCC which remains on my radar for this year.

Now there is a bit of personal focus – I am not a Flea Market person by temperament, and am busy enough that I really appreciate easy, clean, well run recreational events. I know that this is different for folk who have have the smarts & interest to sift through the bargains in the swap meet.

Dayton Past may have been better – though most of the nostalgia I hear centers on People, which remains a highlight.

Dayton Present is what it is – a bunch of great people meeting in a facility that in many other places would have long ago been condemned. Again the People make up for so much.

Dayton Tomorrow – is a for me a “Big Maybe.” I’ve skipped several years, and mostly had people reasons to return (friends and/or family). My son Tom KC9JGD wanted to go a couple years ago, and if I get a chance to spend time with George W9EVT I am always happy to be the driver. Another son Winston KC9FVR asked about this year, though his school schedule conflicted, where next year it looks like he would be free to go. I still have family in the Dayton area.

That said perhaps it is time to see if the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” and pick one or more alternative events to attend? Maybe one overseas and combine the travel with catching up with friends & family there?

Look at that question – again it comes down to “the people” and perhaps no matter what that it is “the people” that make an event, wherever & whenever something special?

73

Steve
K9ZW

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