Hack, Make, Teach
Bdale Garbee and Keith Packard are both longtime Debian Developers, and have a pile of code to their credit. They’ve presented at a number of conferences and almost always find a way to work their passion for rocketry into their presentations. They are both amateur radio operators.
At the Linux Collaborative Summit last week, I had a chance to talk with them, and the topic drifted quickly to Rocketry and Amateur Radio, and the intersection of those interests. They’ve created the TeleMetrum telemetry system, available soon from their Altus Metrum site. This is an amazing platform that has applications beyond rocketry – a GPS, accelerometer, and altimeter with a telemetry link in the 70cm amateur band. it’s all open hardware and open software.
They’re about to open shop and start selling these, and I know it’s going to be a big deal for a lot of people in Rocketry. I can also see uses for high altitude balloon launches.
I’m not into rocketry any more, and there’s no room in my hobby load for that, but I was really interested in the programmable radio chip that they are using. The same chip is used on both the rocket and for the ground station, and the ground station unit is available as the TeleDongle. The TeleDongle is a complete radio system with 10mW output on the 70 cm band, powered from a USB port. As supplied, it has code installed from Keith which makes it a virtual 38k4 serial link. With different output filter values, the chip can function over a wide range of frequencies, but it’s only certified in certain bands. I’m still digesting the data sheet, but there’s an amazing amount of functionality on the chip.
Happily, I was able to order a couple of the TeleDongles from Bdale, and I got notice today that he has shipped them. They’re set up so that you can use one as a USB adapter to program the other, making experimentation easier. I’m looking forward to experimenting with these. I’ll post the results!
Tonight (Friday, Feb 26th) at the weekly meeting of the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club, I’ll be presenting a fast tour of a number of applications useful to radio amateurs. These are all free of cost and open source software. I’m going to do a quick presentation of each, without going into a lot of detail.
Applications shown will include:
fldigi – sound card digital modem
xlog – a logging program
hamlib – rig and rotator control
xdx – dx cluster client
colrdx – another dx cluster client
gpredict – satellite pass prediction and information
splat – VHF/UHF propagation prediction using terrain data
antennavis – Antenna pattern modeling and visualization
xnec2c - Another antenna modeling application
gsmc – a smith chart tool
aldo – morse code trainer
xastir – APRS application which can use network or rf connection
And . . . A surprise demo that I think is very interesting. The success of that demo will depend on reception conditions at the meeting. If I can’t make a full-functioning demo I’ll show what I can.
The meeting is at the Huntsville American Red Cross Chapter house at 7:30.
Next Friday, March 5th at the same time and place, we’re going to be having an installfest to install Ubuntu Linux on your computers.