Tag Archives: aprs

Homebrew Weather Prediction?

I enjoy having a weather station at home. It is hooked up to APRS, weatherunderground.com, and I even have a weather webpage. One of the standard exchanges of information in most general QSOs is the weather: temperature, rain, …. I also like telling the folks in Florida that my humidity is 40% (I am not a fan of humidity having expierenced Fort Benning, GA in the summertime and monsoon season in Korea, not to mention my unairconditioned room at The Citadel (although I hear they have air conditioning now!)). It is easy to look at my desktop display and get all the data I need. I have heard of some folks who have a way to pull their weather data directly from their weather stations and input it into their PSK QSOs. Pretty slick, but I have never figured out how to do that (… yet).

All that being said, I do not get into weather prediction that much. If I see the barometer dropping, I may check the locak National Weather Service radar to see if anything is moving in (weather here moves from west to east). But if I wanted to get into weather prediction, this would make an interesting homebrew project: The Tempest Prognosticator.



Developed in the 1850s by Dr. George Merryweather, this device used leeches that would ring a bell if a storm was approaching. The device was even featured in Britian’s Great Exhibition of 1851. Despite the publicity, Dr. Merryweather was never able to get the government interested in putting the device into use.

I am sure there would be a way to interface the slugs with some kinda of Arduino device that would send out weather predicitions via APRS data. :-)

What’s going on in the hamshack?

(1) Two shelves are up. I offloaded my computer that handles the weather station, my printer, the EchoIRLP node, and the TM-D710A that supports both the weather station via APRS and the EchoIRLP node. I put wheels on the hamshack table after I moved it from the rental we were in to our current house. This raised the table to the perfect height, allowing my chair to slide under. The wheels also allow me to swing the table out to get to the back side and take care of any wiring issues with a fair degree of ease. But the weight of the equipment that piled up on the far end of the table made it hard to move. With the equipment I rarely touch placed up on the shelves, the table is much easier to move.

(2) I got my West Mountain Radio Super PWRgate PG40S hooked up. And it works! Additionaly, I have an UPS hooked up. So I should be good for backup power to run the weather/APRS station.

(3) The maps are up! I have the world map and a North America map. It looks like Millennia Arts no longer produce these maps. Who can blame them? I purchased these maps in 2006 and how many additional entities have there been since then? I’d imagine it is just not cost effective to produce up-to-date, high-quality maps like these.

(4) My kindergardener had a weekend project to collect 100 of something. Why not a 100 QSL cards? I dug through my pile pieceing together a variety of cards. Not quite ready for DXCC submission, but going through my tub-o-cards has motivated me to organize my card collection (… and prep for my DXCC submission).

(5) Speaking of QSL cards, it is time to address the “log problem”. Since my first DX contact (VP5VAC, 21 May 2005, on 6M), I have jumped around to differnt logging programs (and different computer OSes). I have txt files, MDB files, and adi files. Logs from special event stations, lighthouse activations, Field Day, Iraq, Korea, and just sitting in front of the rig spinning and grinning. I have used LoTW and eQSL. I’ve also had a few different callsigns. It is time to establish the MASTER LOG. One-stop-shopping for all my contacts that exist currently as some form of a digital log. The tool to get me to where I need to be appears to be DX Shell’s Contest LogChecker. The application will allow me to take many different types of formated logs and combine them together.

(6) Were we speaking of QSL cards? Jeff, KE9V, says he is getting out of the QSL card game. [AE5X as well] I can understand his motivations and why he arrived at the decision to forego the hard copy QSL card. I may, someday, arrive at a similar decision. Although it looks like AA6E is proud of his card. But as of now, I still love QSL cards… desinging my own, sending them, receiving them, getting that fat package from the Buro, etc. That being said, I designed a new QSL card for my new QTH here in Lansing, KS:

…. I hope to receive them soon – and hope to work you soon so I can send one your way.

aprs.fi closed in U.S. on Wednesday

From: http://blog.aprs.fi/2012/01/aprsfi-closed-in-us-on-wednesday.html

aprs.fi will join Wikipedia and Reddit, and protest the proposed U.S. SOPA/PROTECT-IP legislation by closing down on Wednesday.

The aprs.fi outage will only affect clients in the United States (or those with IP address mapping an U.S. network operator – the targeting is not fully accurate).

Although the law is being made in the U.S., it will break the Internet on a global scale by making sites such as aprs.fi liable for links and content posted by the users of the site. Sites like aprs.fi are commonly run by individual developers or small volunteer teams. Due to the huge volume of automatically published user-generated content (50 packets per second currently!) it would be impossible for me to go through it all before publishing. If some APRS user would post links to copyright-infringing material, even when that material would reside somewhere else than aprs.fi itself, aprs.fi could be shut down in the U.S. and there would not be much that I could do about it.

I read earlier about the Wikipedia outage. I wonder who will be next to jump on the protest bandwagon. There is nothing that warms the cockles of my heart more than a good ol’ fashion protest.

Ham radio and my year in Korea

Here is a a re-cap of my amateur radio activities during my past twelve months in Korea:

(1) DX – I enjoyed working a good bit of DX, enjoying most QSOs with stateside contacts as well as Pacific exotics. The greatest limitation I had was my operation location and resulting inability to ideally situate an HF antenna. Living in the barracks (the ultimate in CC&R) restricted any type of permanent antenna installation, further limiting my options. I solely used a Buddipole (which after many additional accessory purchases, became two Buddipoles). Despite the antennas being positioned next to a three story building, I was able to make contacts to North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa. I credit this to improved band conditions over the past months and also the Buddipole… it’s a keeper.


(2) EchoIRLP node – I brought my embedded EchoIRLP node to Korea and interfaced it with a Kenwood VHF/UHF rig. Again, with my poor location and inability, I could not have an antenna installed outdoors. Instead, I kept the Kenwood rig at its minimum wattage setting and used a roll-up J-Pole made from ladder line. With my HT also set on minimum power, I was able to make effective use of the EchoIRLP node. My primary contacts via the node were with the XYL back in Kansas. She has a mobile VHF rig, to include APRS. I could check to see when she was on the road for her morning or afternoon commutes, connect through my EchoIRLP node here in Korea to our EchoIRLP node back in Kansas. With the XYL’s rig set to the frequency of the Kansas node, I could frequently ride along with the XYL and harmonics as they moved about. Additionally, the Echolink capability of the embedded node allowed me to regularly talk to my dad, KD6EUG, while he connected to my node via an app on his cell phone. Another great enjoyment was the ability to monitor the different IRLP reflectors and sometimes participate in ongoing nets. I am sold on the flexability of the embedded EchoIRLP node and will take it with me again when I get deployed for a long duration.


(3) D-STAR – starting with a D-STAR Dongle, I moved to a DV Access Point and got an ICOM D-STAR HT. I enjoyed playing with D-STAR and the ease of having the Access Point as well as the IC-92AD (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/5092.html) made using D-STAR pretty straight forward. There is no aruging that the audio quality for D-STARS is poor. The complicated nature of setting up a rig at home for the XYL would also make D-STAR a poor choice to replace the EchoIRLP node. However, I enjoyed having the flexibility of having the ability of getting on D-STAR.


(4) Linux – all my radio operations here were supported by using the Ubuntu distrobution of Linux. After toying with CQRlog, I have settled on fldigi as my primary interface to my HF rig.


(5) APRS – although my APRS operations here were limited to the internet (Korea has virtually no APRS traffic), I used xastir (www.xastir.org) to show where my operating location was and also advertised my EchoIRLP node.


(6) WX station – never happen. I could not find a good location to place the collector, so it is still in the box. More importantly, wgoohat I didn’t get the opportunity to learn was how to interface a weather station to the APRS application xastir.


(7) Stars & Stripes article – I was able to discuss my amateur radio experiences with a reporter from Stars & Stripes.

Xastir up and running


More success with the Ubuntu hamputer. I found a great wiki that does a great job of walking through the install process. Once I had Xastir up an running, it was interesting to see the massive amount of APRS in Japan compared to the absolute minuscule amount of APRS activity here in Korea. I have a hard time understanding why APRS is not embraced here.

4th of July

I have been here in Korea for just over two weeks and am settling in at Camp Red Cloud, located north of Seoul. I think I’ve done a poor job in the blog of laying out the last month and half in which there has obviously been some significant changes in what I am doing.

On May 20th, I graduated from the School of Advanced Military Studies, culminating my two years at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, knee deep in graduate-level text books and Army field manuals. One of the requirements for graduation was to write a monograph on a military subject. I choose to write on the early history of MARS prior to World War II, when it was known as the Army Amateur Radio System (AARS). During this years Hamvention at Dayton, I had the opportunity to present the paper and I am pretty happy on how it all came together. No significant research had ever been done on early MARS history so I spent the majority of my research combing through primary sources and even conducting a few interviews with the few remaining former members of the AARS. If you have an interest in MARS, the history of radio in the Army, or the origins and organization of radio emergency communications, the paper is available here at no cost. One facet to the history of the AARS that I found intriguing was the relationship that grew between the AARS and the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The ARRL recently posted a short article I wrote on the subject and you can see it here if you are interested.

My assignment following school was to Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division. To actually get there, I elected to take a less typical means of transportation for part of the journey. I decided to take Amtrak from Kansas City to Seattle, where I would board a government contract flight to Seoul. I had ridden trains quite a bit in Europe, but never had taken a train for more than a short distance in the United States. I had also recently read Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service, A Year Spent Riding Across America by James McCommons. If you are interested in passenger rail travel, enjoy a good road trip, or would like to know why train travel fell victim to the car culture, you will enjoy this book. The author, James McCommons, travels all the primary Amtrak routes (with mixed experiences) and talks with US rail movers and shakers around the country. Overall, he said Amtrak was good and getting better. I decided to see for myself.

One of the countries more historic and picturesque routes is that travelled by the California Zephyr. Originating in Chicago, the train traces its way west, climbing through the Rockies west of Denver and on to the Sierra Nevada’s an into California, terminating near San Francisco. My folks still live where I grew up near San Jose, so California was great for a stop over. I could then take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from San Jose through Northern California, central Oregon through Eugene and Portland, then on to Seattle.

The train ride west was wonderful and I did write a post about it. The stop over in California was a lot of fun. Arriving during the early evening of Thursday, June 10th, I was able to get some sleep and meet my dad for some QRP portable field operations. We headed up to the Santa Cruz Mountains, above Saratoga, strung up a 40m dipole and had fun playing with my FT-817 and KX1. Although we didn’t achieve any great DX contacts, it was a great time. Saturday morning we headed over to a local monthly hamfest known as the Electronics Flea Market @ De Anza College. De Anza College is a little known junior college which has overseen the growth of Silicon Valley. Although I did not find anything I couldn’t live without, I enjoyed roaming around and seeing what the vendors had.

Before lunch, we headed over to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Founded in 1999, the museum opened long after I had left the Bay Area. Very cool museum!

Then it was back to the train station in San Jose and I hopped on the Coast Starlight and headed north. The train ride was relaxing with some amazing scenery.

I spent Sunday night in Seattle and caught a shuttle bus on Monday to SEATAC. Flying with AMC can be an experience and differs from a commercial flight. The AMC counter was located at the far end of the international terminal and I joined a long line of guys with short haircuts and heavy, canvas green bags. Although I had to check in at 7:00pm, the flight wasn’t scheduled to board until 1am. They didn’t pack the flight, so there was a little elbow room. Instead of flying directly to Korea, our route would take us to Anchorage, followed by Yakota (near Tokyo) and then Osan Airbase in Korea. We got to Anchorage, deplaned for fueling, reboarded and then sat for three hours. Apparently the weather was bad over Japan, so we were held over for about 24 hours in Anchorage. I had been stationed in Alaska during 1993-1994 and it was nice to see that midnight sun again (sunset at 11:30pm with sunrise at 4:30am).

From Anchorage to Japan with a short layover and then on to Korea. The rest of the story is here.

And on the amateur radio side of things… My equipment is here. I shipped over my Icom IC-7000 for HF and a Kenwood TM-D710A to use with my EchoIRLP node. Also on the way is a Davis Vantage Vue weather station that I hope to get on line and on APRS. I need to get my Korean license and have all the necessary paperwork. Just need to get it turned in now. There is a monthly hamfest in Seoul next Sunday that I am going to try an attend – that should be an experience and I will have to bring my camera.

Have you been enjoying Jeff’s new podcast at KE9V.net? Cornbread Road is a Jeff at his best, weaving a tale of mystery and amateur radio in the heartland.

I will endeavor to keep my blog up to date with posts about my experiences here in Korea.

AvMap G5

My GPS of choice for the last two years has been the Garmin Nuvi 350. It interfaced nicely with the Kenwood TM-D710A using an Argent Data Systems cable. Everything was working great with the Nuvi up until I placed it in our washing machine. You are probably thinking that there is a better way to clean a GPS than to put it in a washing machine and I would absolutely agree with you. I took the Nuvi with me to Dayton and then packed it, safely wrapped in my clothes, for the return trip. Well – you can probably figure out what happen from there. Being newly GPSless, I decided to look into the AvMap G5 (which I had been drooling over for a while). Installation was super easy. The AvMap G5 comes with a hardcore suction mount, which I like much better than the beanbag mount that I had with the Nuvi. There is one connection to power the AvMap G5 via a 12v cigarette lighter and the other for data between the AvMap G5 and the TM-D710A (and all necessary cables are INCLUDED). With one or two settings completed on the AvMap G5, the GPS and TM-D710A were talking together perfectly. W6GPS has a series of YouTube videos touting the AvMap G5 and all it can do. The AvMap G5 is suppose to also work with the TH-D7A – I am interested to try and experiment with that. The benefits I have identified of the AvMap G5 over the Nuvi is (1) its plotting of APRS icons vs just a callsign and (2) the larger screen display. Another plus for the AvMap G5 is an active Yahoo Group. I am going to try to keep this GPS away from the washing machine.

DXpedition to the Land of the Morning Calm


It has been almost two years of having my nose buried in the books. The school work had a significant impact on my time for radio (school as well as the addition of a new harmonic just over a year ago). Other than last year’s field day, I have not been on the air that much.

My next assignment is in South Korea and I hope to have a little bit more time on the air while I am there. The process for getting an amateur radio license for South Korea is pretty straight forward. What I don’t know at this point is what my housing conditions will be like and how that will impact my ability to get an antenna up. Worse case will see me putting up an antenna for temporary/portable operations. Ideally I’ll get a dipole up or maybe even a mini-beam like I had in Iraq. The plan is to also get up an APRS weather station and I will bring along my embedded EchoIRLP node.

If my job allows, I will try and operate a MARS station in Korea. When I was in Korea during the early ’90s, there was a pretty active MARS station down in Seoul, but I have heard that lately MARS activity has diminished a bit in Korea. There is a long history of US servicemen operating on the amateur radio bands while serving in Korea. An interesting story of ham servicemen playing an early role with Korea goes back to the Korean War. Take a look at the March 1951 QST on Pg. 40 for “Hams Aid Korean War Effort” [it is available for download by ARRL members]. Looks like there is also an interesting book called SOS Korea 1950 that I will have to get. During the war and for a while afterwards, South Korea prohibited amateur radio operations. After South Korea came back on the air, they have made it relatively easy for US servicemen to operate.

Now I have to draw up my packing list of what to take. I am limited to the amount of gear I can take with me for my year-long tour, so I need to plan carefully.

iPad post


I am the proud new owner of an iPad – receiving it as a birthday present this morning. I’m not really a Mac guy, but I have had three different versions of the iPod with the last being an iTouch (which is a wannabe iPhone). I also have an Apple TV, which I enjoy. The Apple TV’s ability to act as a media manager is flawless. Growing up, we had an Apple ][... but I have never owned a Mac or an iPhone.

If you are interested in the iPad, chances are that you've already read the reviews and seen the unboxings. No surprise revelations to be found here. So far, I enjoy it! I am disappointed at having to use iTunes as a means to add my own media to the iPad. The lack of ability to directly play AVI files is not good.

There are some initial apps for amateur radio; mainly test prep, a logger, and two APRS apps. There are more for the iPhone, so chances are more are coming for the iPad.

One of my favorite iTouch apps is Remote - a free app from Apple used to control the Apple TV. Oddly enough, there is not yet a version for the iPad.

I've installed a few games. Checkers - had fun playing that with the four year old (... she just about beat me too). A game called Chopper which is like the game Choplifter that I used to play on the Apple ][. Air Hockey - that game rocks.

The NPR app is cool. You can go right to last Sunday's Morning Edition an hear the Puzzler. We are big Puzzler fans in this house!

Did anyone see this episode of Modern Family?

Sunday Snowy Sunday

Lots of snow here on the eastern edge of Kansas. We got a good dump of slush on Friday but with the temp too high none of it stuck. Then Saturday afternoon the temp dropped below 32d F and decided to stay around 29d F. Saturday night the snow started coming down and has not stopped since.
The snow has been a big hit with Sarah:

My trusty Toyota Tundra (no recalls yet… keeping my fingers crossed) is wearing a nice, thick coat of snowy goodness:

I’ve rekindled my interest in EchoLink and now have a full blown EchoIRLP node (EchoLink Node #496698 and IRLP Node #3370) and am using a TM-D710A to run the node as well as my APRS weather station. What I have been enjoying most so far about IRLP is the ability to tweak and play with the linux software via a (or multiple) terminal session(s). It is helping me improve my linux skills.

Speaking of linux, I have been piecing together my iPORTABLE-mounted station. Each box comfortably fits two components. Box #1 has an IC-7000 and an LDG AT-200pro tuner. Box #2 has a Dell Zino HD and an Alinco DM-330MV power supply. Box #3 will have an embedded EchoIRLP node and a TM-D710A. Box#1 and #2 are already assembled and it makes for a nice, portable working station. Back to linux… it has long been a desire of mine to switch as much of my computing to Ubuntu as possible. Currently the Dell Zino has a dual boot configuration of Vista (which was already installed) and Ubuntu 9.10. I have been trying to put together a nice amateur radio software collection on the Zino and have had mixed results. For rig control, it is hard to beat the Windows program Ham Radio Deluxe. The closest linux version I’ve been able to find is an application called Grig. Not quite what I want to take advantage of all the bells and whistles that the IC-7000 has. I’ve been listening to the excellent podcast Linux in the Ham Shack for recommendations (episode #13 is dedicated to rig control), perusing the January 2010 issue of Linux Journal (the issue is dedicated to Amateur Radio and Linux), and am also looking at shackbox, which is a linux distribution designed with amateur radio in mind. I think I am going to give shackbox a try and see how it goes.

… all of this on a snowy Sunday.

If you get a chance, connect to my EchoIRLP node (EchoLink Node #496698 and IRLP Node #3370) and say hello. You’ll help me procrastinate in finishing my paper on the Army Amateur Radio System.