Zoom Radar

Ham Radio


MD380 tools

Ham Radio

I have fell in love with Travis Goodspeed’s hacked MD380 firmware after a fellow ham pointed to these guys.  It is certainly worth messing around with if you have a MD380.

The git hub page is here.  At the bottom of the page are installation instructions. It is a real good idea to review this page, and make sure you understand what is going on and you are messing with the correct radio, etc.

The big thing I see is that it allows you to load the entire DMR-MARC into the radio. That way, you see the name and QTH of just about everyone talking.

I also like the microphone bar graph. It gives a decent visual representation of your modulation. Good to find where to hold the radio.

Cosmetically, it makes the radio prettier. Read the rest of this entry »


My APRS Setup

Ham Radio

Been meaning to write a bit about my APRS setup for a while now. Primarily, as many others have, to demonstrate how inexpensive APRS can be.

Some good discussion on what APRS is can be had here and here.

First, you can see my APRS stats, etc from aprs.fi.  Nothing special.

The antenna I use is a Firestik 2MCKB that can be had on amazon.com for around $30 (this is the most expensive thing that I didn’t have lying around). The antenna tower is comprised of an old sailboat mast and is fed with some RG-11 coax I had laying around. The mast has the ability to tilt down (when hurricanes head our way) by pulling a single bolt, and unwinding the brake winch.  I understand, the best I can hope for is a 1.5 SWR with RG-11, but can’t argue with free. Besides, the F-connectors I’m using are supposed to be waterproof (we’ll see).


The signal then goes to an old Bearcat I have.  The eventual plan is to feed it to a Baofeng, which will allow me to transmit.


The audio output (from headphone out) then goes into a $9 usb sound card, that I got off Amazon.  The sound card is plugged into laptop I got for $11 via surplus auction.  The laptop is running Mint Linux.  I’m using direwolf to decode the APRS packets (you can see some in the terminal emulator) and YAAC for display.  I’m starting to prefer YAAC over xastir as, frankly, it is prettier.   This laptop is running from a bootable USB thumb drive (I was to cheep to buy a hard drive for the laptop).

Care must be used when setting the volume levels from both the scanner and the audio in (mic) levels on the usb sound card.  Quieter is better.



Even though it is a fixed location (I plan to eventually put one of these in the car), I put a eight dollar USB GPS on the machine.  It is running via gpsd.


This is an overview of the process I use to install the required software

sudo apt-get install direwolf
cd ~
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/kubostech/direwolf/master/direwolf.conf
#modify this file to suit your installation, it will be in your home directory

#go to
and download YAAC.zip
mkdir ~/YAAC
mv ~/Downloads/YAAC.zip ~/YAAC
cd ~/YAAC
unzip YAAC.zip

sudo apt-get install gpsd

#now, you need to start gpsd, direwolf, and YAAC

gpsd [/dev/PATH_TO_GPS_DEVICE]


java -jar ~/YAAC/YAAC.jar


Lowering the Ham Towers

Ham Radio

Videos of my lowering my two ham radio towers.   The wooden one is around 35-40′.  The metal tower is around 50′ tall.

Not sure any of this is something to be duplicated by others or not. The wooden tower is much too heavy. It’s not just safe, it’s 30% safe.

Took the towers down in prep for Hurricane/TS Hermine.  It shouldn’t be bad enough here to warrant taking them down, but figured it would be good practice.

I replaced the wooden tower above with the mast out of a sailboat.   It is much lighter and feels much more safe.

If anyone tries something similar, don’t blame me if something goes wrong!
73, KM4NRZ.