20m HF packet stations heard 11/3/21

I’ve played with VHF packet quite a bit but never experimented with HF packet. As an experiment I decided to start up my HF radio today and tune to 14.105 LSB with the UZ7HO software packet modem and leave it running during the day to see what I could hear and decode.

Turns out there were a bunch of stations, mostly sending beacons, but I also caught one side of a packet QSO. Here’s a list of the stations/packets I heard during the day:

1:Fm KE0GB-7 To ID [09:33:33R] [+++]
COSCO:KE0GB-7, Colorado Springs Area BPQ Packet Node

1:Fm KB9KC To BEACON [09:41:00R] [–+]
Ken Carterville, IL

1:Fm KI0ID To BEACON Via DRLNOD,N0HI-2 [09:47:06R] [+++]

1:Fm KE0GB-1 To MAIL Via KB9KC-7 [10:24:05R] [+++]
Mail for: K8BZ

1:Fm VE3PZ To KB9PVH [11:04:03R] [+++]
is kind of on a high ground and

1:Fm VE3PZ To KB9PVH [11:04:14R] [+++]
I think we are probably equal

1:Fm N0HI-7 To ID Via KB9KC-7 [12:32:35R] [-++]
N0HI-7 LinBPQ Switch on Raspberry Pi4

1:Fm K0RCW To ID Via DRLNOD,N0HI-2,KB9KC [17:25:19R] [++-]
K0RCW Robert’s Packet Station in Lakewood, CO

Packet Radio: ax25 node logon message: updating for a cleaner menu

After logging on to an ax25 node, you’re shown a message like this:

DAVBBS:KK6DCT-6 Welcome to KK6DCT-6 network node

Type ? for a list of commands. help <commandname> gives a description
of the named command.


@kk6dct-6 20:52:01>

This is what is shown by my node that I’m currently setting up. I’d like to show a list of the apps I currently have configured. You can see the configured commands by entering a ? as the message tells you, but the formatting is not ideal, especially as I’m adding more apps and this list is getting cluttered. This is what the ‘?’ command shows for my currently configured apps:

@kk6dct-6 20:52:01> ?
DAVBBS:KK6DCT-6 Commands:
?, Advent, Bye, Connect, Escape, Finger, Help, HItchhikers, HOst
Info, Links, Mheard, NLinks, Nodes, PIng, Ports, Routes, Status
TAlk, Telnet, TIme, Users, W1-WeatherDavisCA, W2-Weather5DaysDavisCA
W3-WeatherForCity, W4-Weather5DaysForCity, Z1-Zork1, Z2-Zork2
Z3-Zork3, ZConnect, ZTelnet

When you logon, the first part of the welcome message that’s displayed is configured in /etc/ax25/node.motd (message of the day). Editing this file I can now more cleanly format the menu (and I might come back and change some of the names of the apps to make the menu options clearer later) :

DAVBBS:KK6DCT-6 Welcome to KK6DCT-6 network node
  W1		- Weather in Davis, CA
  W2		- 5 day weather forecast: Davis, CA
  W3		- Weather in specified city
  W4		- 5 day weather forecast for specified city
  Advent	- Adventure / Colossal Cove
  Z1		- Zork I
  Z2		- Zork II
  Z3		- Zork III
Type ? for a list of commands. help <commandname> gives a description
of the named command.


Much better!

Revisiting Packet Radio on a Raspberry Pi using Direwolf

It’s been a few years since I last played with Packet Radio on a Raspberry Pi, but I have been playing with the uz7ho soundcard software recently and have some packet APRS via the International Space Station.

Looking back at the Direwolf and ax25 setup I was playing with before, I couldn’t actually remember what the order of commands was to get things started up, despite still having it all still configured and installed on the same Pi that I used before. Assuming ax25 and Direwolf are installed and configured (see here and here), the steps to get ax25 up and running and connected are:

  • Start direwolf with: “direwolf -t 0 -p”
  • Note the /dev/pts/x value it returns on startup
  • Run: “sudo kissattach /dev/pts/1 1” (where /dev/pts/1 matches the same value from direwolf startup)
  • The second 1 is the network name from your axports file, like:

1 KK6DCT-5 19200 255 2 2m packet

Ensure direwolf.conf has the same callsign-ssid value, in my example here, KK6DCT-5

Ensure alsamixer has volume around 3/4 for your audio card

To find what audio card device you’re using, use: “axplay -l”. With a Signalink, this shows up as:

$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 0: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA]
  Subdevices: 8/8
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
  Subdevice #1: subdevice #1
  Subdevice #2: subdevice #2
  Subdevice #3: subdevice #3
  Subdevice #4: subdevice #4
  Subdevice #5: subdevice #5
  Subdevice #6: subdevice #6
  Subdevice #7: subdevice #7
card 0: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 1: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 IEC958/HDMI]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: CODEC [USB Audio CODEC], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

The Signalink is card 1, subdevice 0, so the corresponding config in direwolf.conf for this device is:

ADEVICEĀ  plughw:1,0

To summarize:

  1. Start direwolf, grab the /dev/pts/x value
  2. Start kissattach with the same /dev/pts/x value
  3. Now you should be able to “call 1 nodename” and get a packet connection out via Direwolf to your radio.

Using a VT132 for Packet Radio

I have an AEA PK-232 that I picked up a couple of years ago at my Amateur Radio club’s White Elephant sale for a few bucks. With the VT132 that I just recently built, it works as an excellent terminal client to the PK-232.

To connect, set baud rate in the VT132 to 1200 8N1. Connect with a null modem cable. Power on the PK-232 and you should see:

Press type a star (*) for auto-baud routine.

Press * and then you should see the AEA PK-232 startup copyright message.

To get a cmd: prompt to enter commands, press Ctrl-C.

I’ve attached my 2m radio with the audio in so far, and here’s a pic while decoding some APRS messages:

Next I need to make a custom cable to connect to my Icom’s data port, and then I should be all set to work some packet.