Ham and IRLP

It has been awhile since I have written for the site. In that time I have acquired my ham license and have been learning how ham radio and Linux can be integrated in new ways. By all means I am no expert in this new field. One of the branches I have decided to dive into is IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project). The story of how this came about can be found here: http://irlp.net
This is my mobile node that can be used in home and on the road.
Mobile Node 7885
Front; Bottom is computer then on top is radio (on right) and Wireless Router (on Left). The computer runs a special version of Centos created by Dave Cameron (VE7LTD ) for IRLP use. Newer irlp boards use Debian packaged for IRLP. Also http://www.alaskareflector.org/ has a lot of good information.

At this time I am using a 65 watt AC power supply to run the node in my home. To run the node in my truck I have a DC power supply from Radio Shack (Enercell) which can be plugged into the cigarette lighter plug in for mobile operation. The plug has a off and on switch on the rear of it.

This is a view of the rear of the node unit. You can see the cables going to each device and the small antenna on the radio. Not pictured connected is the Pantech Verizon Wireless UM150 USB Modem for mobile operation. At this time I am using my home network to connect to the internet. I have attached a 2 meter mobile antenna so other hams in the area can use or listen to the link.

This is one great way to enjoy ham radio without the expense of a good base station, antennas, tuners, amplifiers and so on. I can sit at home or going down the road and chat with people in Europe or in New Zealand or Australia with my portable unit. There are a few companies that make commercial units which are expensive. Another great thing is that you can set up a EchoLink network and run both networks. If one does a search for Ham Radio/Linux software you could be amazed at what is out there.
The DXZone is one site http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Software/Linux/ and it goes on. Many of the major distros have ham radio repositories with amateur radio software ready to go.

With portable used in comparison to node. Not having to invest a lot of money to be able to talk all over the world is what attracted me. As I add more equipment to my ham gear I will be looking at how Linux is being integrated into this hobby. My over all cost was about $450.00. Remember this is a mobile node. You can do a home node off an old computer if you want which would be cheaper. All you would need is the IRLP card, radio and an old computer.

This is a list of parts to create a node. There are many ways you can go about this. I chose to get the items that KL7M (Dave in Anchorage) suggested. He has built quite a few of these units, and the items he recommended seem to work quite well together. So off to ebay I went for the motherboard, flash drive and Pantech Verizon Wireless UM150 USB Modem. For the other items I went to irlp.net for the irlp board, AES for the radio and Mobile Computing Solutions for the automotive power supply.
Node parts:
VIA EPIA M10000 LVDS Motherboard - Mini ITX - 1GB C3 CPU + 256 mb RAM COMBO

IRLP Board:

Each board comes complete with all the cables between the board and computer parallel port (with Sub-Hoods) and terminates in a MALE DB-9 connector for interface into the radio. You will require a FEMALE DB-9 to interface your radio/repeater/controller and TWO mono or stereo 1/8" audio jacks to connect to your sound card. The audio circuitry(since it is specific to your hardware) is your responsibility.
Transcend 4 GB IDE Vertical SLC Flash: This was for the software to run the computer.
M3-ATX Automotive Power Supply: To power the computer, wireless and radio.

Cradle Point Router CTR 35: This gave the wireless access and 3g access.

Alinco DR135T MK III 2 m Radio: The radio for the node hook up.

Pantech Verizon Wireless UM150 USB Modem: For 3g connection through Verizon.

Due to our move to the lower 48 all my tools were packed away in the trailer so Dave (KL7M) offered to assemble the unit for me. I can't wait to do my next one. Will it be another mobile node with the Raspberry Pi, a home node or will I try to build a experimental reflector?

I guess we will see when I use this on our drive from Alaska to New Hampshire.
So if you are interested and have a ham license this might be something you might want to try. Using google maps and a program I can follow people on their trips and see what they are seeing in real time. Well the list goes on and on with what you can do with a ham radio and Linux. Well almost time to leave Alaska.


Buzz KL3LZ