Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Peanut App for Android and Windows

Peanut is an App for Android or Windows, developed by PA7LIM, that allows VOIP communication on unique Rooms of which some are connected to D-Star, C4FM or DMR and output via Gateways or Repeaters. This is an excellent system for those who do not have VHF/UHF, DMR, C4FM or D-Star equipment. Peanut provides the perfect meeting place for Radio Club members and allowing those on the C4FM Repeaters and gateways to join in.

Firstly, it is necessary to Register your Callsign with D-Star and DMR so that the system will recognise you. It is wise to have a PDF or snapshot of the first page of you licence handy as this will be requested for the DMR registration.

For D-Star registration go to   https://icomuk.co.uk/News_Article/2/1052/

For DMR registration go to     https://radioid.net/#!

To register for the Peanut app go to  https://register.peanut.network/

The process to apply is relatively painless but the Peanut and DMR I/D require a copy of the front page of your licence. It may take 24 Hours to receive confirmation of the I/Ds

The peanut app for Android phone or tablet may be downloaded from the Google Play store – it is called Peanut for Android.

The version of Peanut for windows maybe downloaded from  https://software.pa7lim.nl/peanut/STABLE/

1)     Assuming all of the registrations have been completed, install and run the Peanut App.

2)     Go into set up and fill in the boxes with Call sign, Peanut code from PA7LIM and DMR I/D

3)   The app will require you to establish the PTT key – in some cases you press a bar showing on the screen or alternatively press a key on  a keyboard. If you have an internet radio then press the PTT.

4)     Press submit, and your system is set up and ready to go.

On the android version there is a slider that needs to be pressed to log in. Windows has an On/Off slider located at the top left of the screen.

Assuming all is working, and the app is running:

There are two dropdown menus that will enable selection of the country e.g., IE and the other will allow selection of the Room so in the case of Ireland select IE for country and there are two rooms to choose from IRELAND or YSF-IRE

IRELAND is a chat Room confined to Peanut and does not connect to any Repeater or Gateway. Conversations will not be retransmitted anywhere.

YSF-IRE is connected to YSF-Ireland, DMR TG 2724 and CQ-IRELAND this will retransmit on the Galway Repeater, TG 2724 on DMR and YSF-IRELAND.

This is the perfect App to allow those with no Digital or VHF/UHF handhelds to actually operate through the Galway Repeater on 145.625. It is possible to hold a Digital net on the Galway Repeater and have input from operators using DMR and Peanut in the same net. The Perfect system for getting all club members on the Galway repeater for a net.

 


Of course, there are many countries that can be accessed via Peanut. These may be selected from the drop down menu for rooms

Another option in the countries list is ALL and this will real every single room accessible from Peanut.

Any of the following rooms will come out on RF

YSF – C4FM

TGF, HBL, DMR  – DMR

DCS, XLX, XRF, REF – D-Star

Anything with just a Name e.g., English,English 1, or Ireland are individual Peanut rooms.

What are the advantages?

Programmed into a Mobile phone or tablet with access to internet or internet via cellular, it is possible to communicate back into Galway via the Repeater on C4FM or via TG 2724 via DMR.

It is possible to establish a net on the IRELAND Room which will give an area for a group to chat. Please note that others have access and can monitor.

It is possible to operate a D-Star radio into one of the D-Star reflectors utilised by Peanut and come out on the tablet, mobile phone or internet radio. Great for those who don’t have D-Star.

It is possible to operate via peanut to DMR users.

Irrespective of what part of the world, and provided that there is cellular coverage, it is possible to maintain communication with the Galway repeater or any other service via the Peanut App.

Perhaps we may be able to establish a net on the Galway Repeater, TG2724, and CQ-IRELAND and Peanut where ALL members of the locality can join in together with on or other of the modes listed.

To Recap the following systems will be linked together:

1)     DMR via any of the Galway DMR Repeaters on TG2724

2)     CQ-IRELAND via the Galway Repeater on C4FM

3)     C4FM via YSF-IE (usually via a local Gateway of Hotspot)

4)     Peanut Using the YSF-IRE

If you have absolutely no radio gear you can use your Android Phone, Tablet or Windows Computer to access your local network and join in local radio club nets or QSOs. From here it may spark an interst in Digital Radio further down the line.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Friday, October 23, 2020

EI2GCD Multi-mode Digital Gateway Back on Air

The original EI2GCD 2 metre Multimode Digital Gateway was placed on air on the 13th of November 2017 and a year later it was placed on a high site overlooking Galway City alongside the DMR Repeater EI7RHD. The Gateway never really saw a huge amount of activity so it was put up for sale as a fully functional item which really only required a change of frequency and the new owner's parameters to be programmed into it. 

We were delighted when a member of the Limerick Radio Club took an interest in the project. This would bring all three popular modes of Digital Radio to the area which was currently being served by a 70cm Yaesu Fusion Repeater.

The intention was to replace the Gateway with a 2 metre D-Star Gateway but a new Repeater Builder STM32 MMDVM modem board was purchased. This board could be mounted on the Raspberry Pi and would allow DMR and C4FM to be switched in if required.

The previous Gateway project required a Spectrum analyser to set up the DMR but this board was simpler to set up.

A Tait TM 8105 Radio was acquired and programmed with just one channel 144.850 MHz. A lead was made to connect input and output from the Tait radio to the Modem which was mounted on the Raspberry Pi. The alignment procedure was simple.

The RX IN pot, top centre of the board above, was turned anti-clockwise to minimum. the small blue multi-turn pot on the top left of the board was backed down to a minimum setting.  A DMR transmission was made on the appropriate channel and the small multi-turn pot at the top left of the board was increased until the "Clip" LED just flashed on. The level was then backed off until the "Clip" LED no longer lit. This was the level now set for DMR.

The temporary set-up is shown on my twiddling and fiddling bench. The cooling fan is essential as the radio can get quite warm with continuous activity. The Tait TM8105 is in the middle and sittng on the blue tray is the Raspberry Pi and modem placed on top. It is necessary to have a flow of air over the chip-set on the Raspberry Pi as it does get quite hot with continuous activity. If no cooling was present the Raspberry Pi would undoubtedly overheat and expire. 

After the basic settings are entered into the Pi-Star Program it is necessary to set the levels on modem. 

 
Once the DMR level has been set it should result in the received signals being heard clealy. If there is activity showing on the modem but nothing heard on the radio try adjusting the TX invert from 1 to Zero. that should cure the problem. If not, it may be necessary to back off the DMR TX level slightly. Do this in steps of 5 until clear audio is received. 
 
Try C4FM next. This should be perfect but try backing the YSF level off in stepds of 5 until the audio just disappears. Set the level approxinamtely half way between the upper and lower level. If you press the "DX" buttion on the C4FM radio the radio should connect to the node immediately if this level is correct. 
 
D-star is aligned in the same way the sweet spot is between the point at which the the audio is received to the point where it disappears. Set he radio half way between the two points.

That completes the alignment of the audio levels. 
 
The activity should build up on the dashboard very quickly.
 

It is possible to select the modes of operation in the configuration file. If all three mode are selected, bear in mind that if one of the modes is connected to a busy Talk Group or Reflector, then that mode will dominate the use of the Dashboard and prevent the other modes coming through. Obviously a happy balance will have to be reached. The alternative is to just switch on the modes required.

Once all is working perfectly it is time to set up on a high site:

 

Everything fits snugly into the repeater housing and both the Repeater and Gateway are connected into a 3-Mobile Router. 

The Gateway is very reliable and should need very little attention. Our Previous Gateway ran continously for 2 years until it was removed from the site.

As the Galway is very well served by four 70 cm DMR Repeaters and a Yaesu Fusion DRX-1 repeater on 2 metres, it is possible that this Gateway will be permanently set on D-Star. The option is always there to include the other modes if necessary. This can be done remotely.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The EI Digital Network

EI Digital Radio Network Map and List of Active Repaters and Gateways





Thursday, September 24, 2020

Amateur Radio DF Hunting

 

Amateur direction finding ARDF, also known as radio orienteering, radio fox hunting and radio-sport, is an amateur radio sport that combines with the map and compass skills of orienteering.

One or two hidden transmitters will be located within a specified area designated by the A3 map supplied. The hidden transmitters may be hidden in diverse wooded terrain, a field, a ruin, or maybe even in a farm building.

Note: that, in the event of a Two Fox hunt, only one station may be audible from the vicinity of the starting point

Equipment Required

1)      A 2metre receiver, can be a handheld radio or a receiver specially made for the purpose.

2)      A directional antenna such as a Yagi antenna or purpose built variant.

3)      Magnetic Compass or Handheld GPS

4)      Some means of signal reduction in the case of strong signal reception (an Attenuator)

Rules

1)     Each participant is issued with a topographical map of an area of the county in which the fox may be located. The location of the start will be clearly marked. The location of the meeting place for those who have completed the course will also be clearly marked. These will have no relevance to the position of the hidden transmitter.

2)   The event will start at a specific Time from an appointed location. All participants must sign in at this location. The event will end at a specified time. All operators will congregate at a designated finish point for refreshments and prizegiving.

3)      Competitors must plot their bearings on the map provided.

4)    The Fox will make a transmission of 1-minute duration at 5-minute intervals this may be a voice transmission or an Audio CW signal superimposed on the FM carrier.

In the event of a two-fox hunt, the transmissions will be made at alternate 10-minute intervals, Fox 1 will transmit at the top of the hour and Fox 2 will transmit 5 minutes later and so on. Each fox will clearly identify as Fox 1 or Fox 2.

5)    Those finding the fox will be issued with a ticket with a time printed on it. The Fox will not give any indication as to whether they have already been located.

6)    To qualify as a winner, the map provided, should clearly show the bearings plotted to derive the location of the Fox.

7)   Once the competitor has found the Fox, they will vacate the area immediately.

8) If both Foxes have been found the competitor should proceed immediately to the designated finish point which may be a Bar, Restaurant or Picnic Area.

Typical map with bearings drawn in from the Hunter’s point of view – the supplied map will have more detail.

Not always going to be as easy as the map above but this map illustrates the basic idea of taking bearings and finding the Fox. Note magnetic variation must be taken into account when taking bearings.

Naturally, things become more difficult as you get closer in as it is harder to get a bearing on a very strong signal. Signal reduction is essential for the final stages of capture.

There are numerous resources for antenna design and design of the attenuator to be found on the internet. The order of the day is not to make things too complicated!