Pi Notes and Tips

Load / Configure Raspbian

Change root Pwd

Upgrade OS

Install AX25 and Configure basic Serial Connection between TNCPi and Pi

Configure I2C for multiple TNCpi's

Mount a USB Hard Drive

GPIO header

Problems booting newer Rpi with older kernels

Raspberry Pi Packet BBS

Upon the re-kindling of my amateur radio hobby, I noted a disappointing dearth of automated VHF packet (NTS) message handling. There seem to be precious few VHF packet BBS stations around, with much loss of interest in BBS's while the amateur RADIO community got busy learning what the internet was all about. Not only are there few full-service BBSs these days, there are fewer-still doing RF message forwarding.

I view this as a "shame" for a hobby named amateur RADIO.
Anyway, this, along with my interest in packet and NTS message handling, as well as ARES EC have combined as a perfect storm to kick-start me on a quest to provide a hub for not only VHF/UHF local and regional NTS message handling, but one that can be used by ARES and the casual user alike. One that eventually may help re-establish an RF-linked network of packet messaging throughout the region.

I was further inspired by a friend, KI6ZHD, to consider a linux-based bbs system. David also piqued my curiousity in the tiny Raspberry Pi.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that John, W2FS, had worked out a cute little Pi-mate, the TNCPi!

So, I'm off and running, loading up the Pi with the basic OS and configuring it.
Next, I'll be firing up the soldering iron to put together the TNC and do the smoke-tests.

I'm compiling a log of this quest for those who may desire to follow in the journey. It's not intended to be pretty, just the facts and tips. I hope you find it helpful.

June 15, 2013

- Joe, AG6QO
FBB Notes and Tips

Tutorial on AG6QO BBS

FBB Online User Guide

How to disposition held messages in FBB

NTS forwarding

Outpost and FBB

My Pi Webserver

Propagation Path Analytical Tool

POP and SMTP setup for BBS messages


RF Forwarding Cfg

More Links

To FBB or ... JNOS? That is the question...
June 16, 2013

Smoke test complete. TNC-Pi up and running. Now for some BPQ.

June 23, 2013

BPQ ax25 loaded, configured and tested. First (R+TNC)Pi QSO logged!

June 27, 2013

Well, decided to go with FBB. Not just ANY FBB, mind you! F6BVP's FBB for RPi. I like it, but I wish there was a BIT more documentation. Once I've got it figured out, I'll post some assists.
Meanwhile, it's running, just need some configuration work.
June 29, 2013

NOTE: If the above link to F6BVP's distribution is not functional, please try this one:

June 11, 2014

Configuration is a challenge. But then again, it's been years since I've even spoken Unix/Linux. I love the RPi and the TNCpi has been flawless. But I have a lot to learn about the config files for the many forms of access the F6BVP distro provides!

July 14, 2013

Still struggling with configuration issues. Largely due to my lack of knowledge about ROSE and FPAC and FBB.
Can connect to FPAC node via vhf, and to the BBS via the node connection. But still can't connect to FBB directly via rf or network.

In other news, I've installed the Comet GP-1 at 30 ft, built the TNCPi-TM-V71 interface cable, and now have a permanent RF port for the FBB/RPi node. No more swapping TNC cables and rigs! The antenna cable routing is still temporary (through my window), so it's not "on the air" permanently yet.

July 28, 2013

Got some help from F6BVP and now my ROSE node is running and talking with his. Now for me to really read-up on ROSE.
In other news, I am now able to access the FBB BBS and my NetROM node via RF port (temporarily on 145.030). But the BBS is still not properly configured. Working on it, and looking for rf connects to shake out issues. For now, call AG6QO for connection to my fpac Node. Call AG6QO-1 to connect to the BBS. The node seems to be working fairly well, the BBS direct- connect, not so much. If you can't get to the BBS directly, try the "BB" command from the node connection.

August 1, 2013

Well, the Comet is now permanently installed with transmission line neatly tucked in place (sort-of).

Also, I've spoken with the folks at the NCPA BBS special interest group, and we've agreed to give 144.370 a shot as the spectral home of my BBS. Paul (N6RME) and Gary (WB6YRU) have been very helpful. Also, I will be working on linking into the existing 223.6 forwarding backbone. As soon as I determine the best site for the forwarding node and get the requisite permissions, I can setup the rf forwarding channel(s). In the meantime, I'm looking for appropriate internet forwarding partners.

More soon.

August 21, 2013

Connections on the 2m BBS port are now reliable. I am temporarily and successfully forwarding messages to N6RME via internet. Thank you Paul, for your help. This is temporary until I get the 223.60 rf link established. I'm still looking for additional strategic forwarding partners. The 223 MHz hardware is on order and should be here soon. I've also had gracious offers of 223 MHz node hardware if I can get approvals for that mountaintop site and wide-area coverage. I invite folks to try to connect and check out both the FPAC (ROSE) node and BBS. 144.370 by connecting to AG6QO-1 or WINTBB for the BBS, or AG6QO or WINTND for the FPAC/NETROM node.

More soon.

August 24, 2013

So, the BBS is up 24/7 now. Forwarding continuously via internet with N6RME, N0ARY, N6MEF, and W2XSC.
Oh, and also with F6BVP via internet via the ROSE node.

I've started to put together the 2nd TNCpi for the 223.6 forwarding port, and hope to be finished with that tomorrow. I already have the transceiver, antenna and feed line. Need to get on the roof and put the 223 antenna up next.

Looks like I've got approval to get the 144.37 and 223.6 nodes up on the mountain at 3000 ft. That should give me pretty wide coverage.
Meanwhile, the 144.37 and 223.6 cavities are on order and should be here in a week.

September 21, 2013

The cavities are here. While I was at it I decided to go for some kick-*ss antennas for the nodes on the mountain. Went for these:
Telewave ANT135F2 - 2 meters; 200mph collinear
Telewave ANT220F2 - 1.25 meter; 200 mph collinear

The two TNCpi's are done, tested and functional. The 2nd RPi is configured with BVP's image and my configuration, and with the I2C configurations done. Now to set the TNC parameters and give them a try!

Cables are built for the 223.6 transceiver so we're almost there with multiple rf ports.

October 7, 2013

Presented the BBS project to the BARK members yesterday. It seemed to spark some interest. The presentation can be found at this link: BARK Presentation.

October 20, 2013

The nodes are installed on the mountain !
Check here for a schematic of the equipment that supports the BBS relay and forwarding nodes, including mesh node to allow TCP/IP connections to the mountaintop LAN, an http-controlled DC power monitor/switch, and an IP Video Camera for remote viewing.

Check out the installation photos on Greg's Yolo ARES site.
If you cannot connect to the BBS, try accessing it through the BERR37 node on 144.37 MHz: C BERR37, then, C AG6QO-1.
Also installed was a backbone "forwarding node" on 223 MHz, which is to be used only for BBS message forwarding.
Next, to tune the dual TNCpi parameters, and get RF forwarding going!

October 28, 2013

Users are logging into the BBS via BERR37 regularly now.

N6RME is regularly connecting to the 223 node, and we can connect to N0ARY, and under good conditions, W2XSC in Santa Clara, and WA6EWV-12 in South Tahoe!
N6RME is connecting to me via the backbone node and I to him. RF forwarding is working finally.
Unfortunately, there is an issue with i2ckiss and the Rpi I2C drivers, which causes i2ckiss to stop running intermittantly after many hours of successful operation.
BPQ has implemented some mitigation steps, and I'm trying them today, while we wait for the Rpi drivers to be improved.
If I can't acheive an acceptable performance (BBS doesn't die), I will switch to a serial connection to a loaner KPC3 graciously provided by KG6SJT until we can get a permanent fix.

November 3, 2013

Well John, G8BPQ came through with a "patch" for the i2ckiss module which keeps it from killing the BBS.

It's been running all day and seems to have put the io error on the back burner until the Rpi folks come up with a permanent fix.
It can be found here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/31910649/i2ckiss
This is a forum worth joining if you are using the Rpi and TNCpi: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Raspberry_Pi_4-Ham_RADIO/conversations/topics/2298

November 3, 2013

The BBS now has a third RF port. Using a usb-serial adapter, I've interfaced the BBS Rpi with my KPC3+ in KISS mode, to provide an alternate 2 meter port for the FPAC node and BBS. You can now gateway between the three RF ports via FPAC node (AG6QO, WINTND) or FBB BBS (AG6QO-1, WINTBB).

This secondary port is on 145.050, where my KPC3 used to reside, continues to provide NODE and digi services there, and retains the old node alias and call, WINTER, AG6QO-4.

Aside from use as a node/digi, it is intended only as a backup BBS/FPAC user channel, to provide access to the BBS for those who have no access on 144.37.
It also provides access via gateway to services which reside on 145.050, such as the WinLink Gateway at KG6SJT-10, on 145.050.

Next, a PACTOR port !

By the way, I now have a dedicated Rpi serving files as my private FTP server. It mounts a 2 Terabyte hard drive, (GoFlex, NTFS drive) as type ntfs-3g.
This system also has a TNCpi attached (its the original single-TNC version used for early experiments). It will eventually become an APRS gateway, I hope.

December 24, 2013

Working on a tutorial slide set for those unfamiliar with BBS's or hierarchical packet mail addressing.

It can be found here.

In other news, the PACTOR station is up and running. Am now logging into the Region 6 NTSD hub daily for 956*@NTSCA traffic, which will be posted to the BBS automatically.

Not sure whether I'll tie the PACTOR modem directly to the BBS or not. Maybe someday.

February 2, 2014

I am looking for those who might be interested in establishing new BBS's within VHF/UHF forwarding range. Especially in the northern tier counties.

I can assist with both technical advice and possibly hardware.

If you might be interested in becoming a SYSOP, AND RF forwarding with AG6QO-1, please contact me. If possible please use amateur RF messaging. My contact info is on the Home Page (http://ag6qo.com).

In other news...
Just filed my first NTSD traffic report as DRS. Would really like to hear from folks who might be interested in handling some NTS messages. Especially ARES folks in Northern CA, and BARK members.

March 9, 2014

So, went up the hill with Ken (K6WLS) to install some warm-weather cooling on the nodes.

After a successful installation, I decided to return later to check on things from a different perspective.

March 25, 2014

Have I mentioned that the entire station has automatic emergency power? In steady-state digital operation, it will run for a couple of days without the mains.

Eventually, will be adding a solar panel or two to extend that.

April 5, 2014

Installed three temporary Broadband-Hamnet mesh nodes at the home QTH for some mesh experimentation.

The hope is to eventually provide microwave remote control access for gear on the mountain. Especially the BBS.

April 13, 2014

Well, I've gone ahead and made the switch to BPQ. FBB is a great, solid, old-school BBS. But there isn't a lot of energy behind supporting its forward momentum, despite the fabulous efforts of F6BVP.

I may someday come back to it, but for now, BPQ ties together the old BBS forwarding with B2 forwarding and winlink. See my BPQ page for updates.

November 30, 2014