Last week Shawn Morgan W0FW posted an article to the Portable Digital & QRP group on Facebook. His post outlined his own DIY project putting together a portable digital station using a headless Raspberry Pi, and an Android tablet for access and control.
I asked Shawn if he would allow me to publish his post as a Blog. Shawn said yes, and this post is the result.
The following text is an excerpt from his article. The entire article can be downloaded as a PDF at the link at the bottom of the page. Shawn also said he’s going to make a YouTube video showing setup and operation of his headless Raspberry Pi system. I’ll update this post with the link to that video as soon as he publishes it.
Digital Modes with RPi3, by Shawn Morgan – WØFW
Hello guys, my name is Shawn Morgan. My callsign is WØFW. I am a cattle rancher living on the prairie in southwestern South Dakota. We raise about 175 head of black Angus cows on roughly 4000 acres. Our ranch boarders the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands which is nearly 560,000 acres. It offers some beautiful scenery to look at while operating portable.
While ranching keeps me busy, I try to set aside a few hours each day for “playing radio”. I have a modest shack in the house that consists of a Flex 3000 SDR transceiver and a GAP Challenger DX, a 31-foot vertical that covers 2 meters through 80 meters. I also run an Alinco DR-B185 2-meter base radio with a Hustler G7, a 17-foot VHF only vertical.
I have been wanting to put a field portable station together for quite a while now. My goal was to keep my “shack in a sack” small enough to be able to backpack long distances on foot. My goals include SOTA (Summits On The Air) activations and Emergency Field Communications.
I also want to do long duration field deployments (2-5 days) and packing supplies for such an outing requires a small,
lightweight station, especially when you are on foot.
I sold off some unused ham radio equipment to finance my portable station. I am currently running a fully loaded Elecraft KX3 with the PX3 panadapter. My station is powered by a LiFePo4 10Ah battery, or the KX3’s internal batteries if I am traveling light.
Since weight is a concern, I decided to forego the bulky laptop for running digital mode software. My original plan was to carry a 10- inch Android tablet, because I had recently purchased one. This is lightweight and relatively small and fit into a compartment in my backpack very nicely.
I went to the Google Play store and downloaded every available app for digital modes and rig control. Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that the digital mode options were few and most of the apps just plain sucked. I gave each one a serious try from the field. Most were unstable, froze up or crashed repeatedly.
The entire experience was very frustrating.
Don’t forget to reach out to Shawn to let him know what you think about the article.