Update for Amateur radio on Linux in September 2016

We had a stand at the Telford Hamfest coming up so I decided to do something a little different this year, I had been given an exVHS Camcorder carry-bag which had openings for cables, that gave me the idea to set up a radio station in it to go portable with.

I had a Raspberry Pi 3 sitting gathering dust so tried out connecting it to my FT817 via USB adaptor and a straight-through audio cable. It worked and using the standard Pi distro I installed Fldigi – used /dev/USB0 for the CAT control and all was well – some Macro editing later I had a contact to Italy on 14Mhz using PSK31 mode via my loft-mounted wire dipole and 5w (more likely 3w) RF out from the FT817 through an antenna tuner.

Not just a Home based setup.

I also had a Waveshare 7″ HDMI screen I bought not long ago but hadn’t used – I put the ‘TF’ card  into an adaptor and I edited the /boot/config.txt files to make it run full-screen – details found on this link:

Here is a photo of the kits. See more about the Hamfest on the SLUG home page – soon. Dave.  G0CER




Sept 2015

There have been many updates made to software on Linux for amateur radio use. People are writing, often Linux first then windows later.

Always the first thing you need to consider is the Linux distribution – I choose Mint Linux – it used to be Ubuntu but I just didn’t like Unity interface and this move towards switching between mouse and keyboard entry when you want to run something thats not on the desktop or one click down. Feels wrong in usability terms to me.

I’ll got with Mint 17 for now – very fresh and minty..

I’ve installed it a on pc and connected the pc up to my FT817 Yaesu – all tried and tested over years now.

Standard desktop with a button to access a menu of applications to run – nothing much changed here, I’m happy with that – no excess chrome.

You can use various installers to find amateur radio application and even download compile and install them if you like – it’s not too much to learn these days. There are still occasional problems – but generally not so much library chasing and infinite loops of “this won’t work with that but you need that to make something else you want as well”

Here is a desktop – just an example of one of the many images you can choose from – like any other graphical os.

Here are some pictures from the desktop

screen qsstv gperdict fldigi xdxwsjtx

  • 1desktop – one of the crazy pics – you can change this
  • 2 – QSSTV This programme does both analogue sstv and also digital – this was an analogue grabbed on 14,230 – poor signal, you can transmit too. The DRM digi mode sstv looks a lot better and is on 14233.
  • 3 – Gpredict a satellite tracking program. You can choose which sats to track – including the ISS and new ones as they get launched. You can update the TLE Kepler data and select which to show on the map. I’ve set up my location on it too.
  • 4 – FLDIGI for Linux – this is very well developed now and many types multi-mode digimode and is better with contests too. Here it is in action decoding psk31 transmissions – you can transmit too.
  • 5 – XDX dx cluster client – connect to a dx cluster and watch what is being reported on air. Pre-set actions on certain words or calls.
  • 6 – WSJTX the very recent version of wsjt which has the JT9 mode – you can download the beta versions too manually – all the instructions are on the site.

Mint is a nice distro for putting amateur radio applications – this is just a fly-through of some things you can do with it. PS Xastir is still on there in recent versions – I’ll do a screenshot when I install it.

Dave H G0CER

Previous versions of this page

APRS on Xastir feature.

I’ve run this for a long time and through various versions. It comes ready to install in a Ubuntu distro – In the UK our problem is a lack of good maps – Americans have free open access to public utility created maps, but we have to buy them despite having paid for them already in taxes and to add to that we can’t even use them as we like because of copyright from publicily funded organisations. Surely something wrong there! Anyway.

APRS is packet radio and internet network of unconnected stations – sounds a bit odd I know. Radio stations transmit their location and small amounts of data about themselves, they and others can map this data onto screens using programs linke XASTIR. Serious uses can be search and rescue and emergencies – tracking who is where and passing pack information to cordinating stations. There is no need to hold up a radio data link for any long period – just send the data and confirm and thats it. Another example is the balloon across the Atlantic tracking experiment – but most people just have an equiped radio (like Kenwood TM-D710) radio in their cars or a home base setup or work based setup. APRS is also echoed onto the Internet by various servers and individuals. Indeed at work I’m unable to have a radio permenantly setup (the roofspace is coated with metal which stops me hiding a radio up there). So – I run Xastir on a server which only has an internet connection, it points out a location and runs 24/7.

Here is a screenshot of Xastir with tracking of a a friends communications when he came to visit – as you can see short text-like conversations can be had.

As you can see the map is not very good – its somethnig I put up with and would like to convert Open Source Maps – but don’t know how to at this time.

Anyone interested in this – check out Xastir site for a lot of information here at

Below is an example of what the Americans have to access better maps and levels of detail can be switched on, including weather – which has been more of a concern in the US compared to the UK (that might change though!)

– you can pick out stations and tracking as they drive across Florida state near to Orlando and my American call is located near the centre – you can also on any place interogate stations for information (this can be weather stations, but the below shows the mobile station and its location/speed).

Another image from the UK showing what happens when you get a map with too much detail.

I think you can follow my track (G0CER-3) from the RSGB convention to home (view images full size by clicking on them)

I’ll post more on APRS soon, but please leave XASTIR APRS comment too.

Amateur Radio is an interest similar to Linux – those interested share information, develop new ideas and help each other to learn about this technology we have access too. Dave H G0CER

A high percentage of the Shropshire group are licenced to use amateur radio, so we feature distros which are specific to it or the use of applications on this page.

Ubuntu includes an Amateur Radio section in its repository – typically DX Clusters, AX25, QRSS Morse, rig control, Logging and many more. I would recommend this, mainly because there is a huge community of Ubuntu users, so help and discussion is never too far away.

All distros can have more or less these type of applications installed, depending on use and capability. Naturally we would recommend installing from source or CVS and keeping them up to date, but appreciate people can have library problems.

More here soon. Dave

4 responses

12 10 2008

We recently had a stall at the Telford Hamfest and found that a regular stream of visitors came to us and already knew about Linux – last year was the same, contrary to previous years (back to about 2001) where the majority knew nothing.

27 02 2014

I see your date as 2008. Does interest still continue please? I am experimenting with xastir and, indeed, several Linux-digital projects. Discussion might be helpful at least to me!
Thanks, 73 Bob G3UDI

7 11 2014

Yes it does Bob, Shropsire LUG has over 70 members and many are radio Hams so this is a thing we are always tinkering with 🙂

7 09 2016

Hi Bob I think 2008 is reference to the ist post to our “new” website. We have 2 meetings a month and many are Ham related with at least 10 our of our 70+ group members of TDARS the local HAM radio group

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