Program Your Amateur Radio HT From Linux

Having recently moved my ham radio equipment into the bedroom, where I spend most of my time, I decided it was time to finish up the Linux control of my available radios.

One of my favorite hand held radios is the tried and true Yaesu FT-60R dual band hand held, or HT for short.

The FT-60R will transmit on the 2 meter and 70 centimeter bands with 5 watts of power. It is also able to receive, just like a scanner, your local public service bands, aircraft and air traffic control, National Weather Service broadcasts, and lots more!

With this much versatility,  trying to program all that manually would take a great deal of time and drive you nuts!

Enter a lovely cross platform program called Chirp.

Chirp is in the Ubuntu repository, so installing it is as simple as opening your Software Manager and searching for Chirp. You can also download the source code from the Chirp web site.

Chirp radio programming software

Chirp radio programming software

Chirp will allow you to send and receive radio frequencies, transmit offsets, and most of your radios other options, after setting them up in the convenient programming matrix as shown above.

 

Download / Upload context menu

Download / Upload context menu

Using the very easy, self explanatory menus, you can upload and download channels and settings. The software is compatible with a wide range of radios from Icon, Yaesu, Kenwood, and many many others.

Download menu

Download Menu

Because most modern radios are designed to use a standard 9 pin serial port, using an inexpensive USB to Serial converter is fast and easy. The large majority of them will function with Linux without doing anything but plugging them in!

Opening a Linux terminal and typing: sudo lshw will list the available ports, and once plugged in, you should see which port your adapter is on in the listing. Then just plug that into the download / upload dialog as shown above.

Radio Settings

Radio Settings

Chirp will also allow you to set radio parameters like repeater offsets, Auto power off. Favorite channels etc. with ease.

There is lots of help available on the Chirp web site if you runinto any problems. Most people who report problems,are having trouble following the radio manufacturers multiple button pushing in the right order you need to do to put the radio in the serial send and receive mode. Hang in there, it took me a few tried so get it going too!

 

 

Where Have I Been? Ask My Wife!

Updated June 2, 2017

So 2 years post cancer surgery, and enjoying a brief remission from my multiple sclerosis symptoms, my wife put me to some serious work the last 2 months!

We have been in our home on the farm now for 12 years. We did nothing but move in 12 years ago. We did no redecorating, just put our furniture down and got on with life.

Taking advantage of my brief good health, my bride of 35 years decided it was time to do some things around the house!

First, our 22 year old manufactured home, had 22 year old carpet in it. It was time, especially in the living room, to replace the flooring! Me being in a wheelchair, we decided to ditch carpet and put down tile.

22 year old carpet

Yuck!

Pulling up the carpet, we found 1/2 a centimeter of sand under the carpet pad. Not surprising, as our lawn is mainly beach sand!

Sand under the carpet

Sand under the carpet

I vacuumed up literally, 20kg of sand from the floor!

Next came preparing the floor for the tiles. In a manufactured home, there is what is called a marriage joint between the two halves of the home. This left a 1cm gap that needed to be filled in.

Marriage joint

Marriage joint

Ripping some pine from some scrap lumber we had laying around. we glued in a filler strip in this gap

Filler strip glued into the marriage join

Filler strip glued into the marriage joint

After the glue dried, I spent 2 days with my pad sander, getting it nice and smooth!

Lots and lots of sanding

Lots and lots of sanding

Finally, we sealed the plywood, and installed the tile. We also installed new wallpaper border above the chair rail in the living room. Really came out well!

New tile set, new area rugs placed. Wife happy!

New tile set, new area rugs placed. Wife happy!

The next project was much more complicated. If you look out the picture windows in the photo above, you’ll see another room outside the main living room. The previous owner of our home, had built a very poorly designed extra room on the rear of the house.

We decided when we moved in, that we would not occupy it, as the construction was really suspect!

Additions on the rear of the house

Additions on the rear of the house

At the rear of the house, is a pole barn. The house addition was built first, then the pole barn, then a second roof was built between the barn and the addition, then another roof was built between the house and the barn!

The resultant mess, meant that no sunlight made it into the living room, or the master bedroom!

Roof extension etween the house and pole barn

Roof extension between the house and pole barn

The house to barn roof is only 4 feet deep, but the last owner went nuts with the construction of it!

House to barn roof

House to barn roof

The barn to house extension, tying the house extension to the barn was open on 2 sides, with just lattice keeping pests out, but wind and rain were happy to invade!

Barn to extension room

Barn to extension room

Further, the lumber in the main room extension was so bug eaten and rotten, we were really concerned about the whole mess coming down in a Florida storm!

Load bearing and rotten!

Load bearing and rotten!

Roof, over a roof, over a roof!

Roof, over a roof, over a roof!

It took 2 weeks solid, and my trusty DeWalt reciprocating saw, to tear the whole mess down!

Yet another roof over a roof!

Yet another roof over a roof!

 

Extension Roof Removal

Extension Roof Removal

Extension roof rafters, tied into the fascia board of the main house.

Extension roof rafters, tied into the fascia board of the main house.

Nasty room extension removed from the main part of the house.

Nasty room extension removed from the main part of the house.

Next, the barn extension, that tied into the house extension was removed, and the barn closed in with a new wall.

Barn extension

Barn extension

End of the barn, closed in

End of the barn, closed in

And finally, we retained the floor of the old house extension, and turned it into a nice deck!

Deck in place of old house extension

Deck in place of old house extension

Our final project, after closing in the West end of the barn, was to close in the East end of the barn properly as well.

Original barn opening

Original barn opening

The original opening was just closed off with a farm gate, to keep the animals out. Sadly, all the feral cats in the area could still get in, and they often caused quite a mess!

Rotting Wood

Rotting Wood

The face of the pole barn was covered in wood lattice, and once it had rotted out, was covered up with vinyl lattice. Under that, was a rotten, untreated timbre. The entire thing was a mess!

New barn wall and doors

New barn wall and doors

A new end wall was constructed of pressure treated lumber and siding. A double door, with a total of 6 feet in width will allow me to get our tractor in the barn for repairs. The window gives some natural light and ventilation.

Everything is primed and ready for a final coat of paint. Later, I’ll be putting a new coating on the metal roof to freshen it up too!

Then, we moved my autistic son’s swimming pool next to the new deck and his tinyhouse camper!

Between these two projects, it’s been over 2 months. I hurt all over, having used muscles that I’ve ignored for years!

Our humble house is happier, the living room and bedrooms have natural light for the first time in 12 years, and my bride is very happy!

I’ve been grateful that I’ve had an M.S. remission that let me do this project. It’s been talked about for years, and now it’s done.

Thanks for reading along!

 

Add Time To Your Terminal

As those of you who follow my little slice of the net know, I have a severely autistic adult son. I run a couple of scripts remotely via secure shell, to keep an eye on what he is doing on his Linux laptop, which lets me make sure he’s not getting into mischief!

I found that one of my scripts would die every now and then, usually because my son would reboot his machine, or lose his WiFi connection briefly.

Wanting to know when the script stopped running, I decided it was time to add a time stamp to my terminal.

This is very easy to do. Just navigate to your home directory, and edit the .bashrc file, which holds your terminal configuration options.

Simply add the following line anywhere in the file:

PROMPT_COMMAND="echo -n \[\$(date +%F-%T)\]\ "

After you save the file, open a new terminal window and you’ll be greeted with a lovely time stamp!

 

Now we have the time in terminal.

Now we have the time in terminal.

The .bashrc config file has many other settings you can change, like the colors of the background and text, text size and lots of other goodies. Back up your original .bashrc file to another location, and experiment!

Fix Weather After Updating To Mint 18.1

If like me, you installed the patch found in the Mint forums to bring your weather back after noaa.gov was shut down; upon updating to Mint 18.1 you may find that weather is now gone!

This is very easy to fix, so don’t panic!

First thing to do is open the preferences for your weather, found on the task bar. This same widget gives you your time and date.

Weather Preferences

Weather Preferences

Delete any cities you have saved, so there is nothing in the above box. Then close it.

Next, open the Package Manager from the main menu, and once open, do a search for “libmateweather” *(without the quotes)

Once the search is done, there should be 4 selections available.Only two will display a green dot, showing that they are installed.

Reinstall Dialog

Reinstall Dialog

Select the two files, highlight them both, or one at a time is fine, and then select Mark For Reinstall and then Apply the request in the top menu.

Now, reboot your computer.

Finally, go back to the Time and Date preferences, and install your desired cities again. Make sure you select one of them as your default city, as this is not automatic.

Done, you now should have your temperature and weather once again!