The AC8ZD Wiki is mostly information and ramblings from me. I hope you find something useful!
I humbly activate/hunt POTA these days on HF and I tinker with M17/DMR/Fusion/Allstar. I don't do anything big.. but focus on having fun, experimenting and learning/sharing knowledge with others :)
This wiki is a constant work in progress and some information may be inaccurate, outdated, or could be better stated. Please take everything you find here as more of an introduction and inspiration to find out more.
I received my first ham radio license as one of the first “no code techs” in April of 1991 and received my first FCC issued call of N8NZD. I never went beyond VHF/UHF mostly due to the barrier of entry of needing to know 13WPM. I had upgraded to tech plus learning 5 WPM and passing the written General, but could never get that 13. I took a long break from the hobby starting around 1995. There were other priorities that took over and life.. About 30 years later after that initial license I picked it up again after renewing a 3rd time in 2021. In the summer of 2021, I had upgraded to General and then in fall of 2021 to Extra.
I've been guided by the older hams, helped mentor the new hams, and just enjoying the broader community of ham radio. This is a great hobby and lots of great people!
QRZ Page | YouTube | Mastodon | POTA Profile | What can I hear? and What am I listening to? | My QSO Map
You can find me on K8FBI Repeater 442.600+, 123hz PL (Allstar 43732) or ZOMBIE-ALERT. Occasionally I am elsewhere as well but those are best places.
You can also reach me on my experimental reflector: AC8ZD Reflector using DMR/YSF/M17 if you have a hotspot / use Droidstar
Listen to ARN (Amateur Radio Newsline) 12:00 ET Saturdays and 15:00 ET Sundays on AC8ZD Reflector
Listen to ARRL News 11:00 ET Saturdays, 12:00 ET Sundays on AC8ZD Reflector .
Want to become a ham? https://hamstudy.org is a good place to start for FREE!
You probably hear me mention things on air and tell you to come here to help you on your journey..
Allstar - AllStarLink is a network of Amateur Radio repeaters, remote base stations and hot spots accessible to each other via Voice over Internet Protocol.
DMR - Digital Mobile Radio
Visited K-3333 and did an impromptu 10 meter POTA activation. 10 watts with a hamstick on the vehicle roof. Did well. I was a muddy spot to park.
TLDR version is that I now have AC8ZD-L (echo link), Allstar 550461, M17-239 A, YSF 707777 all linked together. It's usually just me on it.. but can try to give a call to me or use it as an alternative place to have a QSO out of the way of the repeaters. The droidstar app is the best way to connect with M17 for now, and YSF you can use a pistar hotspot with your fusion / DMR radio. Your phone or if you have an allstar node for the others.
Learn More: AC8ZD Reflector
I've been helping out developing the new M17 Reflector Dashboard with KC1AWV.. take a look at its new look.. and see a live demo at https://m17.ac8zd.com
Find out more about M17: https://m17project.org
Want to help or have suggestion for dashboard? https://github.com/kc1awv/gomrefdash
TLDR: A 9600 baud capable radio, A Raspberry Pi 3B+ or higher, A Repeater Builder Board, Data Cable = high power hotspot. Optional.. another radio for receive + duplexer or isolation.
Before I explain what I did here, if you aren't familiar with what a hotspot is.. I recommend reading https://amateurradionotes.com/#hangingwithhotspots
I had been tinkering with hotpots, reflector software and all kinds of random things on my learning journey. I was interested in M17 and found out you can flash your mmdvm boards to support M17 and started with just modifying my mmdvm hotspots. Later I discovered you can get a board from http://repeater-builder.com/products/stm32-dvm.html and then I discovered I could wire it up to my Yaesu FTM-300 using a 10pin connector on the radio side, and a DB-9 serial connector into the repeater builder stm32 board. The long and short of that was I was able to get a working high power hotspot using my FTM-300 but only with DMR and YSF at the time. I got busy with other things and had set that project down. I had put everything back in a box and put it away in storage. I wanted to use my FTM-300 for talking on and decided I'd come back to this sometime later .
Maybe a year later, in summer of 2022 I had decided to rip out all the mmdvm boards out of my hotspots and try things out on some usb mmdvm boards I found really cheap. These little usb boards take the mmdvm hat onto a usb daughterboard and you can plug them into your computer. The purpose for this was to use with Droidstar as a low power transceiver for M17. This worked out well and was able to talk between two computers over RF. Once again I had put all that back in storage to revisit it later.
At the end of 2022, I had acquired a Yaesu FTM-6000, this is an analog only radio, but it had a data port. It was on sale for a really good deal, and has a good heatsink on it. This is the radio that I can now use for my M17 simplex node :) So I set out to hook up all the pieces to this. I'm using an old raspberry pi 3b with the w0chp dashboard bullseye (thank you chipster for updating this :) - In the screenshots I'm testing M17 RF transmissions between my desktop and the hotspot over RF. I'm using an mmdvm board connected via usb to my computer and using the droidstar software to control recording my voice and transmitting it over RF and vise versa. The FTM-6000 acts as the transceiver, and the repeater builder board has the modem that takes the RF and puts it into data for the mmdvm software to interpret and route to my server in the cloud. I tested with my friend KI5RNN who fired up his droidstar software. I was talking to him over RF on my side, and he was using software/internet. It was a success !
Finishing things up for now, and this is to be continued, I have the hotspot currently configured for DMR and M17. Depending on what mode is received/detected it holds it for 20 seconds after the last transmission. So it's a multi-mode (one at a time) simplex hotspot for now.
Disclaimer: I must caveat this with you need to have better than a pi-zero (single core processor). And you must be a little better than average skill level with computers and tinkering and willing to do things on your own.
So if you have a PiStar, you may have noticed it hasn't really been updated in a long time. There has been some questionable stagnation. Fortunately, there is hope! The W0CHP PiStar Dashboard: https://w0chp.net – not only is this a nice new look on the PiStar dashboard, it adds a load of features, including updating the OS to bullseye Raspbian, updating the binaries that are running behind the scenes, more configuration settings for TGIF and FreeDMR, etc.
Recently received my Anytone BT-01 to use with my Anytone 578 Mobile radio.. check out the Anytone 578 page here: Anytone 578