All posts by Andrew Lawson

MD380tools

This past year I dove into the use of DMR – Digital Mobile Radio! There are two reasons I enjoy using DMR, alongside conventional analog communications. Those reasons are the computer and radio science involved in the implementation of DMR systems, and the fellowship with other amateur radio operators!

Recently I was speaking with an operator on DMR and he brought up a great point. Currently there is not a website available to indicate when MD380tools has been updated. So, I have taken a moment and I have compiled a way to tell when ‘tools has been updated, and also an easy to follow guide on installing tools.

But before we go any farther I suppose I need to explain exactly what MD380tools is. ‘tools as it’s often called is used on Tytera, a.k.a. TYT, radios which have the model number MD380, MD390, and MD2017. These radios are approved by the F.C.C. for amateur radio use, but they have more “land mobile or business service” traits about them. Some of these traits inhibit the ability to change frequencies, or talk groups via the keypad. What MD380tools does, is allows amateur radio operators the ability to control the radio via the keypad, much as they would use any other amateur radio.

I have furthered my use in DMR by successfully building a Raspberry Pi 20mW DMR repeater, using an OpenSPOT SharkRF, which works great for use around the house and neighborhood. By using the Raspberry Pi for its internet connection, I have created the ability to remotely log into the Pi and the OpenSPOT anywhere I have an internet or cellular connection. But I will touch more on that topic later.

I am going to mainly focus on the links to find the information and files needed, but I recommend reading the PDF file which details the installation of MD380tools. This PDF can be downloaded in its entirety at this link: https://github.com/KD4Z/md380tools-vm/blob/master/MD380tools_VM_installation_3.08.pdf

Other links regarding MD380tools are below:

Google Group MD380tools: http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/5.2.0/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-5.2.0-118431.vbox-extpack

Facebook Group MD380tools/KD4Z Toolkit Custom Firmware Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KD4ZToolkit/

Step 1: Downloading the image file containing the VM (Virtual Machine). I have found the best success for installing ‘tools by downloading from the mirror site, the software titled tyt_kd4z_3.0.ova. Here is the link to mirror site: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwoi2MrlPb3vVEt3Ym4tVHF3SDQ/view

Step 2: Download Virtual Box. You must download Virtual Box to run the software titled tyt_kd4z_3.0.ova, which you downloaded in Step 1. Here is the link to Virtual Box: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

Step 3: Installing Virtual Box. DO NOT FORGET TO COMPLETE THIS STEP! Once you download Virtual Box you have to install the Extension Pack, which is located on the Virtual Box Downloads page. The link for the download page is in Step 2. You have to click on the link titled “All supported platforms”. The All supported platforms link is here: http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/5.2.0/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-5.2.0-118431.vbox-extpack

Step 4: Reboot Your Workstation. The PDF you downloaded recommends rebooting the workstation to ensure your USB devices integrate with Virtual Box. It is also recommended to connect the radio and USB after rebooting your computer.

Step 5: Import the Virtual Machine File tyt_kd4z_3.0.ova. In Virtual Box, click File > Import Appliance, then select the file tyt_kd4z_3.0.ova from the folder you saved it to.

Step 6: Start the Virtual Machine. Easy as it sounds, just load the software for MD380tools.

Travis Goodspeed, KD0KKV has done a fantastic job building this software, and Warren Merkel, KD4Z has done a great job forking this project, and allowing other ham radio operators the ability to use our Tytera MD380 radios to connect to others all over the world!

These steps are just the simplified basics, and I STRONGLY RECOMMEND reading the entire PDF Installation Guide before, and during installation, to ensure that no steps are missed. The primary purpose of this post is to point you to the links with relative ease. During my installation, I had difficulty locating the links and I wasted valuable time trying to find where I needed to navigate to online.

 

Mac Terminal Command Tricks, Games & Movies

Greetings everyone! So this article is going to be a hit for all the Mac users out there who enjoy using Terminal for fun and games! Recently I wondered what types of Terminal uses could be had for a little fun and games. To my suprise I found quite a few answers and decided to share them with you all!

Please if you see something you would like added, send me a message and let me know!

Games

Okay so the cool thing about playing games in Terminal on your Mac is they are already installed, you just have to know how to access them! So below is a list of how to access these games.

First you have to load Terminal. Once you have loaded Terminal, in the command line enter emacs to access GNU Emacs, then press Enter on your keyboard.

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 10.54.54 PM.png

Next once you see something like this (see below), hold Esc and press on your keyboard. This will prompt at the bottom of Terminal M-x.

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 10.56.09 PM.png

From there you can enter the name of any number of games below, then press Enter on your keyboard.

  • 5×5
  • animate
  • blackbox
  • cookie1
  • decipher
  • dissociate
  • doctor
  • dunnet
  • fortune
  • gamgrid
  • gametree
  • gomoku
  • handwrite
  • hanoi
  • landmark
  • life
  • meese
  • morse
  • mpuz
  • pong
  • snake
  • solitaire
  • spook
  • studly
  • tetris
  • yow
  • zone

To quit the game, press Ctrl and X then Ctrl and Z.

Movies

You can also watch Star Wars Episode IV in Terminal! To do so is rather simple. In terminal enter the following command.

telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl

After tpying this command, press Enter on your keyboard.

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 11.27.33 PM.png

After pressing Enter, the movie will play! It is downloaded via the internet and played in Terminal, altohugh I have no reaosn to believe the data needed for this is extensive. So for all you Star Wars fans, HAVE FUN AND ENJOY THE SHOW!

Amateur Radios and Their Use Saving Lives

Recently our world was rocked with the news that Annie Schmidt, daughter of Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guy’s, had gone missing while hiking in the back country of Oregon State. Immediately Jaime and myself, along with many others, began praying for her safe return. Days turned into weeks as the search for Annie continued, which lead to my wondering of what may have happened to her. Tragically the news came in weeks later, that Annie had fallen from a cliff and sadly perished. Her body was found at the base of the cliff weeks later by Search and Rescue teams, led by cadaver dogs. We all were praying for her safe return, and were heartbroken to learn of her fate.

A few years ago, Geraldine Largay went missing while hiking the Appalachian  Trail in the great state of Maine in 2013. Searches were performed without success, and she was presumed dead, and the search halted. Unknown to would-be rescuers she survived for nearly one month, and weeks after the search was halted, in the back country of Maine, along the Appalachian Trail. She was left to die alone and afraid, waiting for help that never came. She tried to send multiple text messages to her husband requesting help from police. It would not be until the year 2015 that her remains would be found by a forester, two years too late.

http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/25/report-geraldine-largay-kept-journal-during-weeks-lost-in-maine-woods/

What is the point of this article you may wonder? Well, when I heard of Annie Schmidt’s case where she was missing, and ultimately found deceased, I wondered what if she was like Geraldine Largray. Because I first poised the question when I heard about Geraldine’s case and her disappearance. What if they were so far back in the woods, conventional cellular telephone reception was not available. How would someone call for help?

Amateur Radio is how someone could call for help.

See, Amateur Radio is far more reliable than typical cellular telephones. Amateur radio operators, “Hams” as coined by our ranks, often build repeaters, similar to cell towers, that cover areas in remote mountainous regions where cell phones do not work. The only difference is our radios have far more power than cell phones, and they are far more reliable. If someone is stranded and in need of help, where cell phones fail, a simple 5 watt radio with Amateur Radio Repeaters programmed into the memories, may be the difference between life and death.

See I have a view from both sides of the coin, as a public servant, and as an amateur radio operator who enjoys his time spent in the mountains and back countries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee National Forest, and everywhere in between.

While I am in the back country I employ the use of the Yaesu FT1DR, a handheld radio that is equipped with an internal GPS capable of use on APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) and transmits my location on 145.390 MHz, which is received by digital repeaters, and the information can be located at www.APRS.fi by searching the call sign of the amateur radio operator, and the SSID if one is used. For example my call sign and SSID is N2AL-7. If something should happen to me I can transmit messages via text on APRS to other stations, requesting help, and communicating back and forth with other stations. Most importantly APRS.fi can be used to find station locations when they have their GPS enabled.

I can also use my handheld radio to transmit on amateur radio FM repeaters which are programmed into the radio, and request help that way. I use a program called RT Systems for my radio, and I can automatically program all repeaters within a 100 mile radius of where I select, into the memory banks. This way I have all the repeaters available for use, and can signal for help if needed.

This can mean the difference between life everlasting, and death all alone. It would not have saved Annie Schmidt unfortunately, but it may have saved Geraldine Largray. The cost for amateur radio use is not expensive at all. My radio, with the software, and an extra battery, and an MFJ 12.5 inch dual band VHF/UHF antenna cost me close to $300.00 a few years ago. Add some solar panel chargers for the batteries, and you can take the radio with you, charge it on the go, and have the capability to signal for help if needed. You are not constrained to finding a wall power outlet to charge the radio with. You can use the solar panels and let them do it for you, while you hike.

The knowledge required for amateur radio operations, and testing to obtain a license, is not complicated at all. It actually is quite easy. I studied for three days, mostly consisting of watching The Ham Whisperer on YouTube, where he went over all the questions, then the answers, for the test banks. I received my Technician Class license a week later and I was on the air.

The Technician Class license, next the General Class, and finally the Extra Class license, are not difficult to obtain. But for the purpose of VHF & UHF FM communications while portable and hiking, or driving, about the back country or the city, all that is needed is the Technician Class license.

To conclude, Amateur Radio has the ability to save lives, and they save lives far more than someone might think. Where I live in East Tennessee is close to The Dragon, The Cherohala Skyway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee Forest, and other places that are prone to cell phone coverage lapses. Often when trouble occurs in these hard to reach places, Amateur Radio operators use their radios to summon help. It happens quite frequently, and as of this article, I know of two cases this week alone in East Tennessee. If we could get more people who spend their time outdoors in remote regions to use Amateur Radio’s, then we could save more lives when disaster happens.

Now as a side note I DO NOT recommend using Amateur Radio as the sole method of signaling for help. A lot of professional companies have developed ways of requesting assistance during an emergency.

One such device is a PLB, also know as a Personal Locator Beacon, which is very similar to an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio-beacon Station (EPIRB) used on marine vessels across the world. These devices are relatively inexpensive, although you cannot put a price on your life and safety. The basic concept is relatively simple -It can be automatically activated when certain conditions are met, or manually activated when emergency assistance is required. The devices are battery-powered and some work via GPS and radio beacon. More information on these devices can be found at the links below.

Please join me in continuing to keep the families of both Annie Schmidt, and Geraldine Largay, in our thoughts and prayers. These are two tragic cases where two families lost loved ones. God bless them, and God bless us all.

 

Day 40 – Thirty Pounds Lighter!

Wow! Day 40 came and went close to two weeks ago! What an experience it has been to see the difference from 40+ days ago, until now.

I am down close to thirty pounds and holding steady at that weight! I have continued to eat healthy, just larger portions that adds up to 1000 calories per day. The main key is to stay away from foods such as starches, breads, unhealthy fats and oils, and eat more healthy foods such as vegetables and proteins. Above all else the key is to STAY AWAY FROM FAST FOOD!

If you would have asked me two months ago if I thought this accomplishment was possible, I would have laughed and said no. But today I see the positive and real results and I could not be more satisfied!

I recommend to anyone who wants to do more to become healthier and lose weight to call NutriMost in Knoxville!

NutriMost Knoxville
306 Prosperity Rd
Suite 102
Knoxville, TN 37923

(865) 262-8079
http://truebodywellness.com

Tail of the Dragon

Today is the first opportunity this year to drive what many around the world call The Tail of the Dragon! While off work today I took the chance to take my Honda Civic to Deal’s Gap store inside North Carolina, and turn around. A good friend of mine, Al otherwise known as WA4HSM, has a photography business called Moonshine Photo, and he sits on US Hwy 129 near Calderwood Dam, and snaps photos of cars and motorcycles on the Dragon. I recommend checking out his website at moonshinephoto.com and see what pictures you can find of yourself!

Al told me about the old community of Calderwood, where people who worked at the dam lived. I took a moment to drive through the delapitated community, which is open Monday – Friday until 3 pm, and viewed where the old houses and churches stood. A few buildings are still standing and they are quite remarkable. This also happens to be a nature reserve and the wildlife is bountiful! I had the chance to see deer and turkey, and while no bears were spotted, beware if you are in the mountains as many live in the woods.

On my way back towards civilization I took a moment to stop and marvel at the Little Tennessee River. Currently (as of today, Friday, August 12, 2016) repairs to Calderwood Dam have forced the company that owns the three dams on the river to drop the water level. I rememver when this was initally done the police found a bounty of cars and other items discarded in the river, that some parties probably wish were still underwater. Ha who knows, maybe Jimmy Hoffa is at the bottom of the river.

I took Foothills Parkway back to Maryville and enjoyed the drive through the mountains and nature. I do recommend careful driving as some drivers choose to drive recklessly, but law enforcement stay on the Dragon to keep them in proper check.

Another reason for driving the Dragon was to see how well simplex radio communications were received a distance away in Philadelphia. To our surprise and joy it received quite well! The only place that had difficulty via simplex and repeater was at Deal’s Gap store, located just inside North Carolina. Transmissions were still readable, although with significant static and difficulty. But along the Dragon, radio communications to the W4YJ, 145.250 MHz and KK4DKW, 145.270 MHz repeaters were nearly full quieting the whole trip, and with minimal difficulty. A note to other ham radio operators in the area, these two repeaters can be of assistance while on the Dragon, and all of US Hwy 129 from Tennessee into North Carolina.

Take a look at the pictures below!

Day’s 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 & 38 – Approaching Day 40!

Wow! It is difficult to believe but Day 40 is just around the corner! When I started the NutriMost program 38 days ago, forty days seemed so long to look forward too. But after beginning the program the days have flown by! During the program I have learned a lot about not only myself, but how to better myself and my health, and how to keep myself healthy.

Still unbelievable to me is the fact I am using barely ANY insulin! As a type-1 diabetic, I have grown accustom to large bolus’ of long and fast-acting insulin. But that has since changed! While eating healthy and taking proper care of my body and my health, I have stopped nearly all fast-acting insulin mainly due to there being no need for it. While I eat healthy I have cut out the bad fats, starches, breads, and other sugar intake. On the flip side of the coin I have introduced healthy fruits, vegetables, and meats in healthy portions.

My long-acting insulin has decreased too! While I will always need long-acting insulin to sustain my blood sugars at a normal level, due to the changes in my diet and lifestyle I too have seen a decease of insulin intake. My long-acting insulin dosage has been cut in half from where I was 40 days ago, and the more I adhere to the NutriMost program, the better it becomes!

But this new healthy and positive way of life is not temporary. While approaching Day 40 I shall continue to follow the program through Phase 4 and beyond, but I shall above all else use this new knowledge of proper eating and healthy lifestyle choices, and enjoy the longer lasting health I am growing used to.

On another note for a moment I have tried a new take on a recipe I have previously shared. Bison Meatballs is a recipe for Phase 2, Phase 4, and Beyond, that I tweaked to my own tasting.

First you can customise the recipe to any meat on your meal plan-this time I used ground lean turkey. Instead of using mushrooms, I substituted a tablespoon of jalapeno, and pour in a dash of jalapeno juice, with crushed red pepper, and a few spices (onion & herb, and garlic), then baked in the oven as the recipe specified. The result was amazing! Not too spicy but it had a small jolt and tasted fantastic! Side note for a moment I need to submit this customized recipe to NutriMost Recipes.

But if you are interested in NutriMost and you are in the East Tennessee (Johnson City & Knoxville) area, I recommend that you contact NutriMost Knoxville. Their information is below for your convenience.

NutriMost Knoxville
306 Prosperity Rd.
Suite 102
Knoxville, TN 37923

(865) 262-8079
http://truebodywellness.com

NutriMost Johnson City
2 Worth Cir.
Suite 3
Johnson City, TN 37601

(423) 202-9636
http://truebodywellness.com

Challenge Accepted – Learning Morse Code

After years of being a ham radio operator, and an Extra Class, I have choosen to learn Morse Code. When I was licensed the Morse Code portion of the exam was no longer required, although older hams had to copy Morse Code to obtain their equivalant licenses of Technician, General, and Extra class.

But a few things lead me to make the decision to learn Morse Code. A few of those reasons were for knowledge, use, and wanting to follow the footsteps of other hams.

When repeaters identify, a lot if not the majority of repeaters, use Morse Code to identify, even if they have voice identification enabled. Well not knowing code makes it exteremly difficult (more like impossible) to copy who the repeater licensee actually is. Knowing how to copy, and subsequently receive, Morse Code gives an operator the ability to copy the repeater which they happen to be monitoring.

Another practical use of code is DX’ing. A lot of DX stations will utilize Morse Code for making long distance DX contacts with other amateur radio stations. All too often I have been voice DX’ing and while generally able to break into a pile up, on the CW side there are not a lot of stations to break up in order to QSO with that hard to reach station.

Above all else is not wanting to be “that ham”. While respected as an amateur radio operator, I never had to learn code like other more mature hams had to do. When I began studying for my license I did after the code requirements were aboloshed. Side note: the reasoning for abolishing the Morse Code requirements was to generate more interst into the hobby, as it was experiencing a decline in use and licensees. But to set the example and follow what others before myself did, I am taking the opportunity to learn Morse Code.

I have found a few good websites online that have information to assist with learning Morse Code. One happens to be The Ham Whisperer where he has videos that teaches the Technician, General, and Extra courses, and Morse Code. I strongly reccomend The Ham Whisperer, and other links found on the N2AL website Under Training Materials & Links.

Below is a picture from a Pinterest article I found. I pinned it to my N2AL Amateur Radio Board, and wanted to share it with others taking the endeavor to learn Morse Code.

Best wishes for those studying to learn Morse Code, and thanks for taking the time to read my blog! If I can assist you with this endeavor please send me a messag

Morse Code

Day 30 & 31 – Clothes Shopping!

Wow Day’s 30 & 31 have been great! I finally went clothes shopping, for a polo actually, and left with blue jeans too! I have dropped a pants size and I am looking to drop more! It feels great knowing I am fitting into clothes that I once wore, so now all I need to do is continue the success!

One problem that I have ran into is I cannot seem to drop more than about 20 pounds. When I do it just stops at that point. I plan to call the great staff at NutriMost in Knoxville and obtain their opinion on how to fix that. If I can get past this plateau I can continue losing weight and get to looking more like my old self!

I have continued to cookfrom the NutriMost Recipes website and that has been fantastic! I can cook some of my favorite foods, but with a healthy twist instead of using bad products that contribute to weight gain. Some of the recipes I have made are below:

If you have not checked out NutriMost Recipes please take a moment to do so! Their link is http://nutrimostrecipes.com and you will love their recipe submissions!

Please comment below and let me know what you link, and any great recipes I may enjoy or would want to share with others!

 

Day 27, 28 & 29 – One Month Fast Food Free

Day 27, 28 & 29 have blown by! After a plateau of weight loss I am once again on the losing band-wagon. Dropping two more pounds I have realized I may need to look into shopping for new clothing, which is great news!

I have realized that some of my previous weight gain may have had something to do with my carrer choice. Staying stressed all the time is never healthy, and some of those poor health choices made is eating to releive stress, and eatign fast food because having time to stop and eat something healthy is not always a viable option.

But today marks Day 29 and I am one month without fast food! It is amazing to think that such an accomplishment has been possible! The reason Americans are so overweight is due in part to fast food and the large amount of which we consume. I am proof that cutting fast food, breads, starches, bad vegestibles, bad fats, heavy food intake, etc. really does play a positive role in your health. Taking my supplements has furthered my health that much farther too. Still I have decreased my insulin intake dramaitcally and knowing that I can eat porperly without the heavy insulin dosage is uplifting! It is uplifting because I know with every continued day I am one more day healthier than the last!

I still have 60 pounds to my ideal weight, which I ballparked on an even number rounded to the nearest hundredth, but everyday I see a difference made toeards acheiving that goal! I am looking forward to the future of my health and to see what other positivie gains will be made! This all has been made possible due to the NutriMost program administered by Dr. Andy Harris in Knoxville, and by my mentor who is going through the program with me.

Day 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26 – Continuing Steps Forward In The Right Direction

Days 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26 have gone okay, with yesterday consisting of an “Apple day”. Not being completely satisfied with no loss of weight, I consulted with the great staff at NutriMost in Knoxville and we chose to go that route. Six apples later I believe it has helped. I saw a reduction in weight and looking in the mirror I continue to see results.

I am currently at nearly one month without fast food which feels wonderful! It is amazing how bad fast food, and eating out in general, is to our bodies and our health. Instead of eating healthier options, eating out often incurs deep fried foods, and foods cooked with oils and butters that are terrible for our health, and most importantly stack on weight.

I was speaking with some guys at the auto service center yesterday and we had that conversation. One mechanic detailed the reason he continues to gain weight is due in part to his fast food breakfasts that he eats each morning. That was the same position I was in prior to starting NutriMost, and looking at where I was before and where I am now, I can see a positive difference in my health!

One key though is not to cheat. I know for some that is easier said than done, but cheating and eating foods that you are not supposed to eat is a quick way to go backwards on the diet, rather than forward. Every bite of the wrong foods is another step in the wrong direction, and you will see the difference when you step on the scale each morning. We need to continue making steps forward in the right direction, and cheating by eating bad foods is not the way to go.

Another key element of this program is following the regime of supplements, and a healthy lifestyle. This includes drinking appropriate water, in my case spring water, because it keeps the fluoride and other chemicals found in water from entering your body. This is why following the program’s requirements is such an important issue. The diet works hand-in-hand with supplements and a healthy lifestyle, and when it all works together it produces results.