QTH: EM48 (again)

As of Feb 1, 2014 the QTH has moved again. Back to EM48rp just down the road from the last time we were in this same complex. Took out a 15 month lease this time to avoid having to move in winter. Time to figure out antennas and get back on the air. Think I can get away with a end fed as we have trees behind us. Just would need to open the sliding door when I want to radio and hook up the coax.

The final days of the move were chaotic but we made it in time for meetings at work. Will travel back to DM79 in July for doctors meetings and will bring the rest of the station out with me then. I have the 857 and the 817 with me now, but many accessories and such are still back there. Once I get back on the air, I’ll work on my JTx modes some more and try to finish up a few WAS’s from here. I have my basic WAS already from a few years back.

This Thursday will be first meeting back at MVDX/CC, and I saw a listing for STL QRP club as well.

Cheerlights for OSX

Tinkering some more with X-Code and made a simple app for the Mac to display the current @Cheerlight color. I plan on tinkering on this some more to continue learning, so not the end of the line for it. Right now it query’s the API once a minute, I may stretch that out longer in future dot revision depending on number of downloads. I don’t want to over burden the API server. If enough donations come in then I’ll get it up on the App store so revisions are notified.

The DMG file is located at http://www.dkoerner.com/make/Cheerlights.dmg

Donations to the accounts on the left or on the “about” page of the app itself.

Cheerlights: Project

Parts list:

Raspberry Pi Model B (for ethernet connection)
Arduino Uno
Adafruit NeoPixels (http://www.adafruit.com/products/1260)


Create a LED that changes colors based on the Cheerlights project.  http://www.cheerlights.com


To run the python application, you need to make sure you have the following libraries installed (serial and requests):

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-serial
sudo apt-get install python-requests

If you don’t already have the Arduino IDE installed it’s quite easy to do:

sudo apt-get install arduino

Next, go to https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_NeoPixel to get the library for the NeoPixels to work with the Arduino. Run the Arduino IDE one time then close it, go to the “sketchbook” folder and make a directory called “libraries”. Move the files you downloaded for the library there to a folder called “Adafruit_NeoPixel” so it will be able to import them as needed.

Arduino Code:

#include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h>

#define PIN 6

// Parameter 1 = number of pixels in strip
// Parameter 2 = pin number (most are valid)
// Parameter 3 = pixel type flags, add together as needed:
// NEO_KHZ800 800 KHz bitstream (most NeoPixel products w/WS2812 LEDs)
// NEO_KHZ400 400 KHz (classic 'v1' (not v2) FLORA pixels, WS2811 drivers)
// NEO_GRB Pixels are wired for GRB bitstream (most NeoPixel products)
// NEO_RGB Pixels are wired for RGB bitstream (v1 FLORA pixels, not v2)
Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(1, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);  //change the first digit to add more lights

void setup()
strip.show(); //initialize all pixels to off

// Setup Serial


void loop()
// Listen to serial commands from RaspPi
if(Serial.available() > 0)

char charIn = 0;
byte i = 0;
char stringIn[32] = "";

charIn = Serial.read();
stringIn[i] = charIn;
i += 1;

// Echo Received Commands on the Serial Monitor
Serial.println("CheerLight Command Received: "+String(stringIn));

// Send matching commands LED
// Currently it echos the color back to serial for debugging
if (String(stringIn) == "red")
colorWipe(strip.Color(255, 0, 0), 50); //MAKE IT RED
else if (String(stringIn) == "green")
colorWipe(strip.Color(0, 255, 0), 50); // MAKE IT GREEN
else if (String(stringIn) == "blue")
colorWipe(strip.Color(0, 0, 255), 50); //MAKE IT BLUE
else if (String(stringIn) == "purple")
colorWipe(strip.Color(102, 51, 204), 50); //MAKE IT PURPLE
else if (String(stringIn) == "cyan")
colorWipe(strip.Color(0, 255, 255), 50); //MAKE IT CYAN
else if (String(stringIn) == "magenta")
colorWipe(strip.Color(255, 0, 255), 50); //MAKE IT MAGENTA
else if (String(stringIn) == "yellow")
colorWipe(strip.Color(255, 255, 0), 50); //MAKE IT YELLOW
else if (String(stringIn) == "orange")
colorWipe(strip.Color(255, 153, 0), 50); //MAKE IT ORANGE
else if (String(stringIn) == "white" || String(stringIn) == "warmwhite")
colorWipe(strip.Color(255, 255, 255), 50); //MAKE IT WHITE
else if (String(stringIn) == "black" || String(stringIn) == "off")
colorWipe(strip.Color(0, 0, 0), 50); //MAKE IT BLACK


} // End loop

void colorWipe(uint32_t c, uint8_t wait) {
for(uint16_t i=0; i<strip.numPixels(); i++) {
strip.setPixelColor(i, c);

Raspberry Pi Code:

import serial
import time
import requests

# Setup serial connection to arduino

DEVICE = '/dev/ttyACM0'
BAUD = 9600
arduino = serial.Serial(DEVICE, BAUD)

# I'm going to use a var to check if I've seen the color before
color = 'black'

# Read the thingspeak feed to get the current color
while True:
cheerlights = requests.get('http://api.thingspeak.com/channels/1417/field/1/last.json').json['field1']
if cheerlights != color:
#New color, do stuff
print cheerlights
color = cheerlights


Digital pin 6 of the Arduino runs to the Data In of the NeoPixels.  I used 3.3v out to run to the power in, and any of the grounds will work.


You have to leave the serial monitor up and running on the Arduino IDE for this to work.





Zero to Pi – How to measure the Pi’s temp

No, no need for a good old glass thermometer, or even a digital one that you would slide into the USB port.  It is a simple command that you would issue from the LXTerminal or from any SSH connection where you’re doing command line.

/opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd measure_temp

This will bring back the system temperature in Celsius and if you want to know what it is in Fahrenheit you’ll have to do some basic conversion math:

(F-32) x 5/9 = C (remember this from school?)

The Legend Lives On….

From the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they called “Gitche Gumee.” – Gordon Lightfoot

It’s coming on the time of year again when the Edmund Fitzgerald is remembered by special event stations along the shores of the Great Lakes.    This event is one that I always try to remember (but often don’t, sadly).  The Wreck is something I remember hearing about as a child in the Cleveland OH area.

This years Stations are as follows (clipped from ARRL special events list).

11/02/2013 | Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald (Split Rock Lighthouse)

Nov 2-Nov 3, 1500Z-2345Z, W0JH, Stillwater, MN. Stillwater Amateur Radio Assoc. & Radio City. 21.360 14.260 7.260 3.860. Certificate. W0JH (SARA), 1618 W Pine St, Stillwater, MN 55082. W0JH QSL Certificates will ONLY be sent via e-mail in PDF format. (Send requests to: SplitRock2013@radioham.org) W0JH is operating from Split Rock Lighthouse (ARLHS: USA 783; Grid Square: EN47). (requests: SplitRock2013@radioham.org)www.radioham.org

11/08/2013 | 38th Anniversary Sinking of Edmund Fitzgerald

Nov 8-Nov 11, 0114Z-1401Z, W8F, Livonia, MI. Livonia Amateur Radio Club. 14.240 7.240 7.040 3.540. Certificate. Bruno Walczak, 16601 Golfview, Livonia, MI 48154. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior during a severe storm. www.livoniaarc.com




This weekend is the CQWW RTTY contest, and I’ll be all set and ready to play radio for sure.  I’m hoping to pick up some new DX as well as a few US contacts I still need on RTTY to finish up my WAS.  The states  I need are: Delaware, Rhode Island, Nevada and West Virginia.  I’ll be either using my MA5VA during the day or my G5RV-Jr during the evenings.  Best band I’ll be able to get down to will be 40 that way, so most of the time I’ll be on 20 or 15.  Power out will be 100 watts from the 857 so I’m hoping to get a few of these put in the bag.

ARRL VHF Contest: The Rains

Today was the start of the September ARRL VHF contest.  I set up happily at a local state park (Cherry Creek State Park) still in DM79 and only a few miles up the road from my QTH.  After the last few days of having bad weather I figured I would get out and enjoy the sunshine.  As you can see by the pictures below, it was a great looking day with a great view.

IMG_0133 IMG_0135 IMG_0136

Around 3pm Mountain (21:00 UTC) the clouds decided to roll in and I could hear thunder in the distance.  I quickly put the antenna and gear into the Jeep.  After watching the storm in the distance I decided to exit the park.  I didn’t make it before the storm hit, and then came the hail with the rain.  I parked near the entrance and even tried to use a pine tree to cover the windshield to cut down the amount of hail hitting it.  That caused it to build up as you can see in the two pictures.  The area got swamped out where I was and hail built up pretty good.  I got some video as well but that still needs editing.


I still managed to get about 18 contacts in using the FT-817 on 5 watts into my square halo 6m and 2m antennas.  It was a fun day overall.