APRS Go Box, the latest update..

Since building APRS Go Box in early 2017, I’ve been looking for an easier way to transport it. Finally the idea to add the backpack frame came to me while visiting C & C Army Surplus & Sporting in Crossville, Tennessee.

Want to see more detail and whats inside the ammo can, check out my original APRS Go Box video that has over 6K views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzNm_eD7MdI


No More Naked MMDVM

Please Note: I’ve sold my DRM radio and Hotspot in July 2019.

Was a bit tired looking at the bare Raspberry Pi 2 with the MMDVM board, so I started looking for a case. Most of the dedicated hotspot cases I looked at had something I really didn’t like, ended up finding a regular Pi case, made the purchase and with a a 5 minute mod was able to install the board and antenna nicely.

Please check out the following video for full review of the C4Labs Zebra Bold Black Ice case:

At $17.99 each, it’s one of the nicest cases I’ve ever used. Though this case is not intended for a Hotspot, it only took 5 minutes with a cutting wheel on the Dremel to clearance (the second clear layer from the top) for the MMDVM board and drill the hole for the antenna. Can’t beat the price too, my total cost was $35.98 (with free shipping) for two cases ordered from their website: https://c4labs.net/products/zebra-bold-black-ice-for-raspberry-pi-b-and-2b


Zero On, Zero Off..

Please Note: I’ve sold my DRM radio and Hotspot in July 2019.

N9SIR HotSpot

With an awesome Code Plugs from KF1SH, I quickly purchased a MMDVM Jumbo Spot from eBay at a really decent price. The Seller even configured it for me and it truly was plug-in-play device.  After a week of running, the Raspberry Pi Zero died, which really wasn’t that big of a deal as I had a Raspberry Pi 2 collecting dust.

I moved the MMDVM board and the Micro SD card over to the Raspberry Pi 2 and was up and running again.  It’s been in operation a few weeks and I’ve had no problems at all, plus a nice surprise, it has a much lower bit error rate (BER) now.

Just a bit of advice if you’re just getting a MMDVM board, skip putting it on a Zero and just go with a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3.  It’s cake to download the Pi Star image file, burn it to a Micro SD card, add your WiFi file (to the root of the card) and configure Pi-Star watching a YouTube Video.

Hope to catch you on DMR !

73, Tony N9SIR


My First DMR Code Plug

Please Note: I’ve sold my DRM radio and Hotspot in July 2019.


Soon after receiving the TYT MD-UV380 GPS I wanted to get on the air, then I found out quickly that this would not be the case as every Code Plug I bummed was geared towards using a Hotspot.

Not having a Hotspot, I decided to start building my own Code Plug so I could hit a few local repeaters. After reading quite a few websites and watching several YouTube video I started in on building, and after making several major changes I have all the simplex frequencies and one repeater with all the approved talk groups.

I can turn on the radio, connect to one repeater, hear other stations, key the mic on the Echo Test (9990) and can hear myself, more importantly, I understand the process of building the Code Plug to easily navigate and use this new radio.

Not to get too technical I’ll explain how I build my Code Plug; I dedicated a ZONE for one repeater, I created a CHANNEL for each of the Talk Groups on that repeater.  Those Talk Groups on Time Slot 1 would be assigned to ZONE – CHANNEL MEMBER A and to their own DIGITAL RX GROUP CALL (called TS1).  Talk Groups on Time Slot 2 would be assigned to ZONE – CHANNEL MEMBER B and to their own DIGITAL RX GROUP CALL (called TS2). Each of the simplex frequencies have their own CHANNEL and only on a SCAN LIST too. If you would like to see my Code Plug, download it here.

Honestly, figuring out how I wanted to layout the Code Plug out and adding just one repeater took me right at week, if it’s your first time with DMR don’t throw in the towel after a few days.  I actually packed up this radio on the third day and was ready to ship it back, then I decided to read more about it, watch a few videos and even attended a Workshop; How to Build a DMR Code Plug presented by John Burningham, W2XAB of the Sevier County Amateur Radio Society.  My willingness to unbox the radio again and to put in a little effort into building my own Code Plug has brought me to a new level of happiness in this hobby.

Even with only one repeater programmed, I’m excited to now have a working DMR radio and planning to add my second repeater today.  I’m also looking forward to getting a Hotspot so I can start trying some APRS, that’s going to be my primary use for this new radio, voice is really secondary.  I’ll most likely build and setup a Pi-Star, because the Raspberry Pi platform is more in my wheelhouse.

Just remember, an old dog can indeed learn a new device..

73, Tony N9SIR

DMR – old dog, new devices..

Please Note: I’ve sold my DRM radio and Hotspot in July 2019.

N9SIR Blog Image

First, I was dead set on never getting a DMR radio, that is until I heard the Brandmeister servers are now connected to >aprs.fi servers..

APRS on DMR, now I’m interested. Just getting into this new Ham Radio platform, I wanted a few things: 2M/70cm handheld radio that was both digital and analog on both bands, most importantly it has to have a build in GPS.

After looking through posts on social media, forums and personally talking with other Hams, I decided to purchase a TYT MD-UV380 GPS (same main board as the MD-390).

Delivery was quick from an eBay Seller on the West Coast, that first day I was excited and ask local hams for a Code Plug and many emailed some very complex builds. Once i get a Hotspot, these Code Plugs will be handy but I’m just looking to get on the local repeaters. With 4 DMR repeaters, I decided to build my first Code Plug..

Thank goodness for YouTube, I found a video that walked me through build my first Code Plug which didn’t worked too well. I ended up trashing the original Code Plug on the radio, I contacted TYT by email (info@tyt888.com) and they sent a fresh Code Plug back to me, super impressed by they’re quick response as this was done over the weekend. TYT Customer Support is 5 Stars !

Was able to build a simple Code Plug for two of our local repeaters, I have a separate channel for each Talk Group, each UHF and VHF Simplex frequency. It’s very easy to navigate on the radio, I’ve been able to hear a few conversations today but have not been able to get a QSO. Back to working on the Code Plug and this old dog needs to learn this new device a little more..

73, Tony – N9SIR

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I’ve been wanting to try a Blog, here we go – Tony, N9SIR


The above picture is the results running a 20M WSPR-Pi (QRPi), a little transmitting board that sits on the top of a Raspberry Pi2. It’s amazing that a fraction of a Watt of RF can travel so far in distance and carry a data packet with my call, N9SIR.

The data modes on HF is fun, even QRP (low wattage) data, if you’re interested in getting a 20M WSPR-Pi (QRPi), visit this website: https://www.tapr.org/kits_20M-wspr-pi.html

I do not enjoy QRP voice that much, I built a µBITX and have a really nice Caras HF magnetic loop antenna, I can hear the world but can only be heard across town. I’ll do a separate Blog post one day..