wythall radio club

having fun with RF

Fun in the Sun in the Park-1

September 11, 2023 By: john daws Category: Club

Dressed for the occasion and the sweltering heat  the hardy members of Wythall Radio Club took to the great outdoors at Wythall Park on Saturday and operated G4WAC/P in all its various  modes: Digimode, Satellite, CW, SSB and VHF.

                            The operating site in Wythall Park on a sunny Saturday

In this first instalment Ian M0LQY, operating digimode takes us through his thoughts on the experience.

“What a glorious day was had by all at our field day with the weather being perfect and lots of people dropping in to see a real range of radios and operating methods great stuff. For me I wanted to try out a few things a new antenna which I purchased last year and was waiting for the right opportunity and in particular a project I had been working on for a while to use a specially built operating system for my raspberry pi. The experience of using it in the field for my favourite digital modes was informative and a real lesson in what I got right and more importantly what was not.”

                 Ian cheerfully going about setting up on Saturday

“My aim was to have a working setup that I could use portably contained within a single carrying case. Back at the shack I set about building both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the raspberry pi operating systems from source rather than using prebuilt binaries. Having had a number of Raspberry Pi’s I find that building the software from source produces better performance and stability. Therefore, I decided to do everything that way to produce a bespoke purpose-built Pi that suited me and my exact requirements.”

“So how did it go? Like all things it was a mixed bag with the main aims achieved but unexpected niggles and self-inflicted incompetence’s  all conspiring to make the day interesting. My requirements for the Pi were as follows:

Only have the software loaded that I would actually use. Mostly, digital mode applications. Logbook and other useful Amateur Radio programs.

  1. Be able to operate without a monitor (Headless).
  2. Remote operation from another computer, tablet or even a mobile phone.
  3. Have automatic availability of my home NAS shares with read and write capability in both directions. Any Connection must be able to pass username and password , so no guest access.
  4. Ability to use the programs installed with two Radios (Yaesu FT991A and Xiegu X6100) both of which have USB CAT control and built in sound cards”

“Having spent time building the operating systems at home and getting the radios to talk to the pi with audio, CAT control it was all working well. So the field day was the ideal chance to test out the antenna a 80-10 40 metre EFLW from UKAntennas which was supposedly to work on all of the bands and did not require an ATU. Also, I could test the pi setup with the bare minimum before choosing a suitable carrying case with foam inserts.”

 Ian goes on to detail some of the problems on the day: the voltage  and an issue synchronising the clock to the NTP server  (no internet connection in the field) and a full account of the challenges and solutions  can be read on Saturday’s posting on the Repeater

“As for the antenna, well it works and does indeed allow operation on all of the advertised bands without an ATU. My issue is that I like to operate with low SWR and at 40M it was showing 1:1 as I went to higher bands the SWR crept up and on 17M reached 2:2 although that was with 50 watts at 20 watts my normal operating power this became 1:9. So yes it works and was surprisingly quiet although the location must have helped.”