Archives For Raspberry Pi

Setting Up My Ham Shack

March 11, 2014 — 2 Comments

I really wanted to be chasing a couple of new states for the ARRL Centennial QSO Party, but I feel like I need to pump a few blogs out — so those contacts will just have to wait until later.  This post is mainly to serve as some background for future topics; certainly not to establish any baseline for how you should outfit your shack OR possibly cover everything on the topic.

I haven’t been a ham radio operator very long (less than 2 years), so I don’t exactly have an established ham shack (what ham radio operators call the room or area where they operate from).  Seasoned ham radio operators put a lot of thought and consideration into their shack setup for a multitude of reasons, mainly to avoid unwanted RFI (radio frequency interference).

While my RFI problems are mainly limited to not being able to tune to certain frequencies (noisy interference) or being able to turn some of the lights in my home on/off using my ham radio, I mostly considered how I was going to fit ham radio gear on my already-established “home office” desk. Between two laptops, a display, large printer and all the other accessories that clutter one’s desk, space was certainly limited!

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Given all the recent press about the National Security Agency (NSA) practically wiretapping the world, I thought it was time to investigate available options for keeping my private data private.

I’ve been aware of the ownCloud product for some time and thought it was time to explore it’s functionality and determine how it rates given my needs.

But first, what is ownCloud? ownCloud is an open-source, secure file syncing and sharing service that you install and manage on your own hardware.  Basically, it’s your own private cloud running on your own hardware.  (As compared to using a cloud-provider that may or may not be selling your data to assorted government agencies.)

Why Raspberry Pi? RPis are very small, low power Linux computers which are easily configurable to meet many basic desktop or server applications.  In this case, running ownCloud.  Plus, I happen to have a spare one on my desk at the moment. 🙂

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As a Ham Radio operator and a Linux enthusiast, my options for programs to log QSOs is somewhat limited.  Unlike the Windows environment, there are only a handful of Linux logging programs to chose from.

I had initially taken a liking to CQRLOG for it’s powerful logging features but quickly became disappointed with it’s system requirements.  Namely, it won’t run on a Raspberry Pi — especially when operating side-by-side with FLDIGI.  While I don’t use a Raspberry Pi as the primary computer in my shack, I’d like to have that low-power option should I need it. (Such as, for a Field Day.)

Ultimately, I decided upon Xlog not only for it’s ability to run on systems with less horsepower but also in part because of it’s speed and simplicity of use.  I also liked that it uses a flat file for the log instead of a database on the backend.  (However, check back with me when I have several thousand contacts and we’ll see how that flat file holds up.)

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After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I’ve finally developed a method to automate (preseed) Raspberry Pi installations using the Raspbian Installer.

Here are a few more details about this project, lifted from it’s GitHub Repository:

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