Adding a Pi Zero to the Pi menagerie

A Pi Zero

So I already have a Pi 4 4GB and 1GB. The 4GB Pi is where this web site is hosted along with our stash of TV shows and movies and as well as serving up the web site we use it to play our shows via VLC and a 4K HD TV. That all works very well and it just sits there and does its stuff. It’s visible to the internet on ports 443 for the web server and 22 for maintenance when I’m not at home. It has 1TB or storage attached.

The 1GB Pi is our file store – backups of our Windows systems, our digital photos, iTunes music, our movie and show collection, etc. It is also a MySQL server for various databases that I keep for community group stuff. This Pi isn’t visible to the internet at all and has about 5TB or storage attached all SSD.

Both the 1GB and the 4GB Pi’s are running 64 bit kernels although the 4GB Pi is 32bit userland. The 1GB Pi is fully 64 bit. They both boot from USB SSD devices.

Both of those Pi’s have Samba running and they share various directories. The whole setup works very, very well.

When I first got the 1GB Pi it was supposed to be a sort of development and test system for other stuff I’m working on. That scenario lasted only a short time, however.

So what to do about a test system ? A Pi Zero of course. It doesn’t matter what I wreck – I can just make another SD card if I mess up too badly. So I ordered one along with a power supply, a HDMI adapter and a plastic case.

After a small hiccup within about an hour or so I had it in its case with the 128 x 32 OLED Display  from Core Electronics attached and working.

The hiccup was born of not paying attention. I imaged the 64bit PoOS to the brand new SD card and spent a bit of time trying to work out why it wouldn’t boot. I should’ve read what the Pi Imager was telling me and used the correct version of PiOS. You can take it from me that a 32bit PiZero can’t use the 64bit OS. Idiot….

The longest parts were making the SD card from the latest correct download and updating it once I had it booted.

Pi Zero with plastic case and 128×32 display

First impressions ? Geeze it’s small and for such a small package it’s surprisingly capable – much more so than my 80’s IBM Thinkpad running OS/2 Warp.

Now that I’ve got my bascic configuration up and running I’ve taken a copy of the SD card using the handy built in utility so I’ve got a basic fallback position should I mess things up irretrievably.

Next step is to make a start on a python3 script to control the fans on the other two Pi’s then there’s a couple of other MySQL things that I want to do with the community group database and that’ll be followed by some HAM radio stuff that I’ve been looking at for a while now.

 

 

An even bigger small display

Adafruit 240×240 display

So after a bit of success with the previous two Adafruit displays I figured that I’d try their 240×240 display so I ordered one and given the current COVID-19 induced postal delays it eventually arrived.

I wasted no time in disabling the script that runs the 128×64 display and plugging in the new one.

Getting it working with a sample Adafruit script took no time at all so I now had to write another Python3 script to run the bigger display. I worked out roughly what I wanted to put on it and in which orientation. With a decent font size and by tweaking the height and width parameters in the script I found that I had eleven lines to play with.

As ever my Python3 skills are a bit Neanderthal so it took a while and was really, really messy to start with. But at least it worked.

Once I set to work putting a bit of doco in the script and cleaning it up a bit I only needed an hour or so to make it look a bit respectable, to me at least, and to have it still work. It’s here for your perusal if you so desire.

It even looks fairly neat apart from the fan wires that are not connected any more due to the display taking the 5V pins. I’ll have to work out a way of sourcing the 5V from somewhere else although the fans aren’t really needed – the Pi 4 4GB usually runs at less than 60 deg C even when playing HD videos with VLC.

Adafruit Mini Pi tft 1.3-240×240

What it displays

After a bit of messing around I have it displaying the date, the time, CPU temp, CPU and memory usage, disk usage, swap usage, uptime, boot time and three lines for button presses, etc. I’ll probably mess around with these lines and the button callbacks some time in the future.

Anyway another success with an Adafruit display. If you have a look at the script that drives it you’ll no doubt see that my Python3 skills are lacking and that I’ve probably gone about everything in the most inefficient way possible.

There are a few bits of the script that I found as code snippets and messed about with to get the results that I wanted, other bits are directly from Adafruit.

For my next trick I want to have a slideshow running and have the buttons set up in such a way that I can switch what I’ve got now to a slideshow and back again. I was think to have both buttons present a sort of menu so that I can Poweroff, Reboot or go with a slideshow. I have absolutely how I’m going to do it yet though.

Stand by for future developments. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for the script(s) that I’ve already written please let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A slightly bigger display

The Adafruit 128×64 OLED Bonnet for Raspberry Pi

So after getting the little display I decided to have a go with the Adafruit 128×64 OLED Bonnet for Raspberry Pi. After a bit of messing about this is what it looks like in operation

Adafruit 128×64 OLED Bonnet for Raspberry Pi

I’ve put eight lines of text on it and enabled a few of the buttons / joystick. The test is date, time, cpu temp, CPU and memory used percentages, root partition usage, swap usage, uptime and the boot time. The buttons thus far assigned are button 5 for reboot, button 6 for power off, joystick down is Samba restart and joystick up is Apache2 restart. It required a fair bit of messing around as well as learning a bit about GPIO pins and acting on the buttons.

Anyway here’s the Python3 script. It isn’t particularly well commented – the comments were more for my use while I was writing it. And nor is there any error checking. Python3 seems to do a pretty good job of that.

The next step

For my next trick I want to have a play with a Adafruit Mini PiTFT – 135×240 Color TFT Add-on for Raspberry Pi. I don’t know what I’ll display on it yet but I’m sure I’ll think of something.

I’m also tossing around the idea of having a play with the PiTFT Plus 320×240 2.8 TFT + Resistive Touchscreen

Because of all this messing around during the COVID-19 restrictions that we are living under here in Victoria, Australia I reckon I may have to get another Pi. Probably a 2GB Pi 4 this time – I already have a 4GB and a 1GB and I cant see a reason for forking out the extra cash for the 8GB iteration.

Of course another Pi means another SSD to boot from, another case and probably a fan shim. Hmmm. I can see the price of all this creeping well toward unaffordable already.

 

 

A neat little display

A four line system monitor

Whilst doing a bit of idle web surfing I stumbled across this little gizmo and thought that it would provide me with a few hours of amusement so I went ahead and ordered one. After it arrived it sat on my desk for a few days while we shot off to Omeo for a bit of a break for a few days.

When we got back I installed it and started playing. Fortunately Adafruit have a sample python script which I was able to massage to come up with this.

Raspberry Pi 4 4GB with a heatsink case and four line display

As you can see it displays the date, time, CPU temp and memory and CPU usage.

I’ve already got USB booting happening so it boots from a 1TB Seagate USB 3.0 SSD which is just two partitions – “/boot” and “/”. That works well too.

The python script

This was, or is, my first ever python script. I’m adept at Perl, COBOL, Fortran, etc. so I was able to work out a simple script with only minimal messing around. It’s a good thing that Adafruit have some detailed instructions which include a python script to get it working. A bit of modifying / rewriting the Adafruit script and I had it displaying what I wanted.

So, without further ado here’s here’s the Python3 script which I was going to embed here but WordPress is wilfully destroying the indentation.  A quick look will reveal that there is no error handling whatsoever. I haven’t learnt how to do that yet so that’ll be introduced on another day. There’s also almost no commenting either.

 

What now

Well now that I’ve got this working and working well I thought that I’d get one of these which has buttons and is a bigger. The little one that I have now will go onto my other P1 4 (1GB) which is used for storage and as a test bed for this site. It’s also booting from USB and is also running Pi OS 64bit which seems to me to be nice and stable.

The bigger display will allow more lines of text but I don’t know what I’ll put there yet. It also has a couple of buttons and a joystick. I can use the buttons for things like “sudo reboot” or “sudo poweroff” or something.

Stand by for future developments.

 

 

 

USB Boot

Why ?

Why USB boot ? Well for a start I’m a tinkerer who just can’t leave things alone. Secondly I’ve had an SD card fail and didn’t want to go down that path again – maybe I should’ve got better cards ? And thirdly I’ve always, rightly or wrongly, regarded the SD card boot scenario a bit clumsy.

I got rid of some of the clumsiness by moving the root partition to a 1TB Toshiba X1 portable SSD. This was easily done and was a great success. I still had a bit of SD clumsiness though which I wanted to get rid of.

Then along came the announcement of USB booting and for once in my life I didn’t leap into the deep end with the first BETA. I waited until the BETA was elevated to STABLE and then leapt into the deep end.

What follows is what I did to get it working.

First steps

The first thing to do was to get my hands on another portable SSD.  This time it was a Seagate 1TB portable SSD. Not cheap but hey, you can’t let money stand in the way of a bit of tinkering, can you ?

The second thing to do was to make sure that my existing installation was completely up to date by doing “sudo apt update” followed by “sudo apt full-upgrade”. Because I hadn’t done this for a while there were about sixty packages updated. While I was at it I had a look to see what I could get rid of and removed a couple of packages that I didn’t require.

Next on the list was to update the boot loader and get it configured. That’s the bit the seemed a bit daunting at the start.

Update the bootloader

I was a bit worried about this bit but only because I had no real backout plan if it all went badly. I needn’t have worried.

First up I had a look at “/lib/firmware/raspberrypi/bootloader/” and saw that there was a “stable” directory and saw that there was “pieeprom-2020-06-15.bin” which was what I was after according to this topic on the Raspberry Pi forum.

Because I have a second Pi that USB boots 64 bit Raspbian that I set up a couple of weeks ago I had already done a lot of reading about the configuration. The story of the second Pi is here.

Anyway I’m jumping the gun a bit here. Before updating the bootloader I downloaded the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS and using the Raspberry Pi Imager I set my Seagate portable SSD up with it. While that was happening I got the bootloader updated and configured. Easily done in a few steps.

I needed a configuration so I used the one from my 64 bit Pi :-

[all]
BOOT_UART=0
WAKE_ON_GPIO=1
POWER_OFF_ON_HALT=0
DHCP_TIMEOUT=45000
DHCP_REQ_TIMEOUT=4000
TFTP_FILE_TIMEOUT=30000
ENABLE_SELF_UPDATE=1
DISABLE_HDMI=0
BOOT_ORDER=0xf41

I got this by doing vcgencmd bootloader_config > bootconf.txt on my 64 bit USB booting Pi. It was a simple matter to copy that to my non USB booting Pi.

Back to the 32 bit Pi and I did “rpi-eeprom-config –out pieeprom_new.bin –config bootconf.txt  /lib/firmware/raspberrypi/bootloader/stable/pieeprom-2020-06-15.bin”  which gave me a new bootloader called pieeprom_new.bin to install.

Installing the bootloader was my mental sticking point. Up to this point I had a working system with the root partition on an SSD and the /boot partition still on an SD card. Would it still boot after the new bootloader was installed ? I certainly hoped so!

Anyway I went ahead confident that I could roll it back to the old non USB booting model simply by installing the bootloader from the “critical” directory. Anyway I did a “sudo rpi-eeprom-update -d -f ./pieeprom_new.bin” followed by a reboot and it booted just fine. I did a “vcgencmd bootloader_version” and a “vcgenccmd bootloader_config” and was greeted by the new version and the new configutation. It had worked and my web server / samba / other stuff system worked as it it always did.

 

Making the new boot SSD

Now to the fun part.

Remember the SSD that I made with the latest Raspberry Pi OS ? Well now its time to shine has arrived.

I plugged it into the Pi and copied /boot/*.elf and /boot/*.dat to the boot partition of the SSD. I closed the Pi down (sudo poweroff and unplug the power) and unplugged the original SSD and the SD card leaving the new SSD plugged in. I plugged the power in and lo and behold it booted OK and I went through the whole setup process. That’s half the job done. The brand new SSD had the boot and root partitions and all was right with the world.

I powered off again and rebooted the original configuration – SD + SSD (Toshiba). The new Seagate was plugged in and I formatted the root partition “mkfs -t ext4 /dev/sdxx” and mounted the new empty, clean partition in /mnt. Then came “rsync -axv / /mnt” There’s about 700 GB in that partition so it was going to take a while so I went to bed.

One caveat here. If I plug both SSD’s into USB-3 ports it will fail at some point probably, I think, because it’s on the edge of the available power from a genuine Pi power supply. If I plug one of the SSD’s into a USB-2 port it’ll work OK so I did that which made it a lot slower.

It worked

The next morning, after a couple of cups of coffee, I had a look at what happened overnight. The “rsync” had completed without error.

At this point I needed to copy from the SD card config.txt and cmdline.txt to the new SSD so I did that. I also needed to edit cmdline.txt to make sure that the PARTUUID pointed to my new SSD. On the new SSD I needed to edit /etc/fstab to put in the new PARTUUID’s for the boot and root partitions.

At this point I was very hopeful but not certain that it would work out properly but I went ahead and powered the Pi down and removed the original SD and SSD and plugged the new SSD into a USB-3 port and plugged the power in. Success. Everything works OK. This web site works OK as does Samba and everything else.

The whole operation was a success. Apart from the “rsync” it only took about half an hour. Because of the sheer quantity of “stuff” the “rsync” was a lengthy affair.

The next step will be to update with Raspberry Pi OS 64bit when that becomes prime time. I’m sure that won’t be a simple upgrade like this ended up being.

Pi 4 USB Boot and 64bit Raspbian

Introduction

I have a perfectly working Raspberry Pi 4 1GB which is acting as a Samba server with a few TB of storage attached which we use to store our nightly backups, scanned and digital photos and a bunch of other stuff which is important to us. It was working well and didn’t need fixing or otherwise messing with at all.

Then the USB boot and 64 bit beta’s became available so I just had to try them out, didn’t I ?

Suffice to say that it all worked perfectly and now my Samba server has booted from a USB device and is running the new 64 bit beta OS.

Here’s how I did it.

USB Boot

All I did was to follow the instructions here. Please have a read of this most excellent doco before you do anything else.

Another thing that must be done before you start is to make sure that the proposed USB boot device works properly with your Pi. I have a couple here that work perfectly with Windows and iPad but just will not be recognised by Raspbian Buster.

Make a new SD card. I downloaded the image from the Raspberry Pi download page and put it on a new SD card using the Raspberry Pi Imager – Your mileage may vary if you use Balena Etcher or something else.

The next step is to put your image burner to use again and burn the image to the USB boot device that you will wish to boot from and put it to one side.

Boot from the new SD card that you just created and go through the setup process. Then do a “sudo apt update” followed by a “sudo apt full upgrade”. I rebooted the Pi at this stage. Next comes the first of the fun parts.

As root, edit /etc/default/rpi-eeprom-update and select BETA releases. I found that you need to have “beta” in lower case. Then do “sudo rpi-eeprom-update -d -f /lib/firmware/raspberrypi/bootloader/beta/pieeprom-2020-05-15.bin”

Do “rpi-update” and copy *.elf and *.dat from /boot to the boot partition on the USB device that you’ve put to one side. Do a “sudo poweroff” and remove the SD card. Reconnect the power and it should boot from the USB device if you’ve done it right.

I followed the instructions here and they proved to be invaluable. The whole operation worked properly the first time I tried it so follow the instructions in the doco and you’ll probably not go wrong. If it all goes wrong just go back to the beginning and start over.

I can still boot from my original SD card if I need to so I have a fallback if I need it.

64 bit Raspbian

While I was making my Pi boot from a USB device, Raspberry announced a 64 bit beta of Raspbian Buster. Of course, I just had to try it out in conjunction with USB booting.

I downloaded the 64 bit Buster image and using the Raspberry Pi Imager I prepared a USB SSD with it.

I did a “sudo poweroff” and swapped the USB devices over and plugged it back in. Imagine my surprise when it booted without any issues. I did the setup and I had a Pi with 64bit Raspbian Buster booted from a USB device. Not an SD card in sight..

Next was to get it updated and Samba installed. Again it went without a hitch. To make life a bit easier I copied fstab, /etc/dhcpcd.conf and smb.conf from my original SD card. “fstab” was not a direct replacement. I just edited the fstab (on the new 64 bit device) and put the mounts for my storage in it. The other two files were direct replacements though. Rebooted and it looks exactly the same as it did with the original SD card.

And it all came together

Well, at the end of the processes it all works perfectly. I’m sure that there will be more issues to overcome as the USB boot and 64 bit Raspbian move out of “beta” and into “production”

In the grand scheme of things it gained me exactly nothing apart from a bit more knowledge about the workings of the Pi and Raspbian.

I’m not touching the Pi that this web site is on – it’s a web server, a media player and store, a database server, etc. This Pi I regard as being critical and all precautions are taken to keep it up and running. I take nightly incremental backups and weekly full backups of the whole system including MariaDB database backups.

Sooner or later though, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and fully upgrade this Pi – a prospect that I’m most certainly not looking forward to.

LAMP+WordPress

Seeing as I managed to get USB boot and 64 bit Raspbian working so easily I figured that I may as well go for broke and get a duplicate of this web site happening.

First up I installed Apache, MariaDB, php and php-mysql. That was all very easy as it usually is.

Next up was to make a database for WordPress and create the relevant user. No problems here either. Then I installed the latest copy of WordPress and configured it. Again, no problems.

The bit that I expected the most trouble from was getting a copy of the WordPress installation and data across from this site to the new Pi configuration. All I did was to install the duplicator plugin on both sites and export it from this site and install it on the test Pi.

So now as well as Samba, I have LAMP+WordPress working. It’s hardly the definitive test, I know, but it’s an encouraging preview for when 64 bit Raspbian comes out of beta and into the real word.

Another good thing to come out of this exercise is that I may have discovered a path towards upgrading when USB boot and the 64 bit OS comes into prime time.

Why an Elecraft KX3

Everything else

Before the Elecraft KX3 was released I was using a Yaesu FT-817. I still have this radio and occasionally use it as an Echolink node. It has served me quite well but there were a few shortcomings both in the field and at home. In the field five watts and the lack of an internal ATU were my biggest frustrations. Having said that though, it’s a really portable package and gives good battery life. The two antenna connectors are very handy too. But the power connector is flimsy – I had to resolder mine – and is of an unusual size. Sure they can be got hold of easily but why not just use a more common size.

Then there’s the “blown finals” issue. The repair is easily done and the parts are affordable but why was the radio put on the market with such a glaring design fault.

Filters are an after market thing which is another frustration.

The Icom IC-703 was worthy of a look. It was big and heavy but the real show stopper was current drain on receive. It’ll suck batteries dry pretty quickly. I stopped looking at it when I discovered that.

At that stage there was no KX3 so the FT-817 was a no brainer and I got one. As I said, it’s served me very well. It’s done a number of outback, remote area bicycle trips being bounced around in a pannier and exposed to good old red dirt for weeks on end without issues. All that was needed was an antenna of some sort, an external ATU and a battery pack and it was good to go. The ATU is a home brew Z-Match using polyvaricons and a small toroid as well as some switched capacitors. It can handle the five watts from the FT-817 but I wouldn’t trust it with much more – maybe 10W at a stretch. For batteries I use a LiFePo4 pack and charger that I built up myself. Carrying batteries and charger around is something that will have to be done no matter which radio I have though.

And along came the Elecraft KX3

When the KX3 first came to my attention (before it was available) I did a lot of reading about it. It could be configured with an internal ATU and it seemed to be a Software Defined Radio with knobs which meant that with the optional filter I could have easily variable and tailorable filters. There was a 100W amplifier mooted as well as a panadapter. The more reading that I did the closer it seemed to be to what I wanted for both a portable and a home station. The only things missing was 2 metres and 23 cm both of which the FT-817 has. Given that I only rarely use those two bands that could be easily lived without. As a bonus, though, it had even lower battery drain than the FT-817 on receive.

Sure, the form factor was a bit bigger than the FT-817 and the layout was different but nothing that was a show stopper so I ordered one as a factory kit requiring assembly.

The assembly manual was spot on and I had no trouble putting it together. Following the Elecraft procedures the filter optimisation was a bit time consuming but it really is a breeze.

After a couple of nights with a glass or two of red it was ready to be fired up in anger. First impression was that the receiver was so much better than the FT-817. The roofing filter made separating signals easy. The audio equalisation (receive and transmit) made tailoring the the received audio easy.

It has a facility for up to eight macros that can be assigned. I’ve written a bit about that here.

Digital modes are a breeze – just select the right mode on the radio, plug it into the computer soundcard, load up the digital software of your choice and have at it. I use the DXLab Suite which can be used for radio control, logging, digital modes, etc.

Getting all that working perfectly was just so much easier than the FT-817. Elecraft have come up with a top notch product which suits my needs perfectly. I can use the radio as a home base radio, with the PX3 and the KXPA100, or as a portable radio when I’m out and about either in the camper or on my bicycle. With a decent antenna on the car it’ll also make a damn fine mobile radio.

A final word about the noise blanker and noise reduction. I drive a Land Rover Td5 Discovery 2. The Td5 engine has electronic unit injectors which make an incredible amount of electrical noise. With the FT-817 it was untameable. My original D2 almost had it’s own body weight of ferrite beads in it but anything less than a S9+10db signal just got lost in the din. With the KX3, careful setting of the NB and NR and a S5 signal was copyable.

The final word

Since I’ve had the KX3 I’ve got the PX3 panadapter and the KXP100 amplifier with built in ATU. It all works perfectly together and has provided me with many hours of pleasure. The inbuilt ATU manages to match just about any old bit of wire thrown in  a tree. Not the most efficient but you can make contacts, which after all is the object of the exercise.

The importance of backups

What happens when it all goes pear shape

A couple of days ago we had a small power “glitch” here. Apart from the microwave clock going back to zero and the TV going off the Raspberry Pi that this site runs on went down.

When I powered it back up I found that my WordPress site was devoid of content. Further panic stricken investigation revealed that the “wp_posts” table in the database had a corrupt index. After much gnashing of teeth, googling and experimenting (after taking a copy of course) I was unable to fix the problem.

What to do ? Well I bit the bullet and restored a backup I’d take about a week earlier using the “Updraft” plugin. Apart from losing a week’s worth of content all was well. And this is where good fortune stepped in.

During the couple of hours before the power glitch I’d been messing around putting an “RSS Subscribe” in the side bar and testing it on my iPhone. It proved to work well too so on a whim I had a look at the RSS on my phone and it had handily retained all of the content from this site so I was able to e-mail it to myself. From there it was a simple matter to copy and paste the content to the recreated posts. Whew.

The only thing that I lost was about a week’s worth of stats from “WP Statistics” plugin. I can live with that but I’d rather that I didn’t have to though.

OK so I was lucky

So, this time I was lucky ! I only lost a very minimal amount of stuff. The stats and the configuration for Google AdSense.

As a retired large system administrator I know full well the importance of good backups. I wasn’t taking them on a regular basis because “what could possibly go wrong”.

I’m now using a Linux backup package for the whole Pi and I’ve scheduled a backup of WordPress once a day. As well as that I’m taking an Updraft backup right atfer I do anything of any note to WordPress or the system as a whole.

Raspberry Pi and TVheadend

How to turn a standard definition TV into a HD TV

What you’ll need.

A Raspberry Pi 4 and a Raspberry Pi DVB TV Hat or a DVB-T/T2+C+FM+DAB dongle. You’ll also need a TV with HDMI input to plug the whole shooting match into.

The first thing to do is to get Raspbian installed and updated to the current standard. I didn’t pay any attention to secure passwords, etc. as this Pi is not going to be connected to the internet directly. Access is only going to be from the home network.

The next thing to do is to plug in either the Pi TV Hat

TV Hat

or your dongle.

DVB-T/T2/C+FM+DAB dongle

 

Next step is to install TVHeadend – “sudo apt install tvheadend” will get the job done. Before you start on the next step a very important step is to plug the antenna into either your TV Hat or dongle.

 

 

Getting it configured

When you are installing TVHeadend be sure that you select a username and a password combination that’s dead easy to remember.

When you’ve got it installed break out your trusty web browser and go to https://x.x.x.x:9981. The x.x.x.x could be localhost if you are doing it from either a TV or monitor connected to the Pi or it could be another system connected to your home network. In either case you’ll be prompted to supply the username and password that you specified during the TVheadend installation. You’ll be presented with a configuration page which is easy to work through. There’s a wealth of info at tvheadend.org which will see you right.

At this stage you should have an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) visible in your browser and now’s the time to test it to see if it all works. If at this point if you have no success go back to the TVheadend configuration. It took me a few iterations to get a handle on how it works. Once you can see the EPG you’re home and hosed.

Be aware though, you really do need a decent TV antenna to get it working. I don’t think the receivers in either the dongle or the Pi TV hat are very sensitive. Another problem that I ran into was getting the correct region to scan. I started out using “au-other” which was incorrect. When I used “au-Melbourne” it worked as advertised. Like all of my other issues, it was my faulty configuration.

Testing and Job Done

At this point yould be able to select a programme in your browser. You now may have problems getting your browser to support the stream from TVheadend. Don’t worry, salvation is at hand in the form of VLC which can play network streams.

Just install it on the system that uses your old, slow, standard definition TV. Open it up and go to “media -> Network Stream” and enter the followung “https://username:password@x.x.x.x:9981/playlist/channels.m3u” where “x.x.x.x” is the network address of the system that uses your TV as the display. Or any other system on your local home network. You may have to select “View -> Playlist” from the menu to get the playlist. From there you just select the channel that you want. Double click on it and hit full screen mode.

Be aware though, you’ll need a high speed network connection between the system with TVheadend and the system with the TV attached. Of course if the system with TVheadend is directly connected to the TV then this is redundant.

With this setup I can take my tablet down the back yard to the BBQ area and kick back with the cricket and a glass of wine or two. I can’t watch HD TV there though – I’m only just in range of my 2.4GHz wifi which doesn’t quite cut it but hey, it does the job.

Sit back with a glass of your favourite and watch the programme of your choice in HD whilst congratulating yourself on a job well done.

KX3 Macros

Macros in the KX3 are incredible useful. I have eight of them – a full complement. I use them to switch between using a headset, a microphone and speaker and microphone and earphones. I also use them for setting presets for voice equalisation, compression, etc.

Here’s a table of the macros  –  KX3 Macros in PDF format and KX3 Macros in Excel format

The first five macros are assigned to PF1 and they loop back. When you get to the WSJT macro another long press of PF1 will run the DX macro. The remaining three macros are are assigned to PF2 and operate in the same round-robin fashion.

If you decide to use these macros enter them in the KX3 utility from top to bottom macro one to eight.

The macro codes are all in the Elecraft Documentation but here’s a description of my macros. The elecraft documentation is sometimes not that easy to read but all the information is there.

 

 

Macro explanations

As promised, here’s an explanation of the macros that I use. The TE directive is Transmit Equalisation and the CP directive is Compression. Please bear in mind that these two are tailored to my voice as is MG.

The headset I use is the Heil Proset that I got from Elecraft when I bought my KX3. The microphone is the Elecraft MH3 hand microphone. The headphones that I use are Heil and are the same as the Proset.

Right let’s get to it…

DX macro

TE-16-16-06+00+06+12+12+09 gives me a response curve that suits my voice and the microphone element n the headset.

MD2 is operating mode USB. MG010 is microphone gain = 10. CP015 is set compression to 15 which is very high but it suites my voice. You will probably need to reduce this. Experimentation is the key here. AG010 is audio gain set to 10. PC050 is to set power to 50 watts (I have a KXP100).  SWT19 is a short press of the PRE button on the radio which toggles the preamp on and off. As the preamp will be off by the time we get back this macro we need to turn it on again.  MN110 sets the MACRO MENU FUNCTION. SWT27 selects the macro in position 2 SWH18 is a push and hold of PF1 which assigns the selected macro to PF1. MN255 exits the MACRO MENU FUNCTION.

 

HEIL macro

This macro changes the transmit equalisation to values suggested in the Heilsound web site. It also increases MIC GAIN. I don’t use this one much.

MN110;SWT20;SWH18;MN255 enters the MACRO FUNCTION MENU and assigns the macro in position 3 to PF1 and exits the MACRO MENU FUNCTION.

Elecraft macro

Again, this macro changes the transmit equalisation to suite my voice and the Elecraft MH3 microphone. It also changes the MIC GAIN and Compression.

MN110;SWT28;SWH18;MN255  enters the MACRO FUNCTION MENU and assigns the macro in position 4 to PF1 and exits the MACRO MENU FUNCTION.

PSK macro

This one sets the transmit EQ to flat, sets MIC GAIN to 10, MD6 (DATA) and DT0 (sub mode A) is to set the radio to DATA A. BW0400 is filter bandwidth in 10 Hz units. Compression is zero, power is 50W and audio gain is 20. The preamp is toggled off and the string MN110;SWT21;SWH18;MN255 assigns macro 5 to PF1

WSJT macro

This one is pretty much the same as the PSK macro. As everything is set up for digital mode I only needed to reduce AG (Audio Gain) to suite the WSJT software adjustment range.

The string MN110;SWT19;SWH18;MN255; assigns macro  1 to PF1.

 

That’s the end of the PF1 macros and what follows is the PF2 macros.

HSET macro

MN082 is the first part of setting MIC buttons and MP000 is a bit mask so 000 turns mic buttons OFF. The ML directive sets the monitor level. Power is set to 110W. The string MN110;SWT32;SWH26;MN255 assigns macro number 7 to PF2.

MIC macro

MN082 is the first part of setting MIC buttons and MP005 is a bit mask so 005 turns mic buttons ON. The ML directive sets the monitor level. Power is set to 110W. The string MN110;SWT33;SWH26;MN255 assigns macro number 8 to PF2.

M&H macro

This macro is for when I’m using headphones and the Elecraft MH3 hand mic.

MN082 is the first part of setting MIC buttons and MP005 is a bit mask so 005 turns mic buttons ON. The ML directive sets the monitor level. Power is set to 110W. The string MN110;SWT29;SWH26;MN255 assigns macro number 6 to PF2.

 

That’s the end of the description of the macros. I really, really hope that I haven’t got anything wrong that could mislead.

This set of macros means that I don’t have to do anything except press PF1 or PF2 and select the macro(s) to suit the current mode or circumstances.

Enjoy and have a play to make the best use of the KX3 abilities.

If you find any errors or see any glaring omissions PLEASE leave a comment so I can fix it.