Hosting an AllStar Node and an AllStarDMR bridge in the cloud

Update: The DVSwitch group is working on some documentation you may also want to refer to as it is official 🙂
ASL to DMR:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eN50Csr29eAprBu7eKA0Bfa2XUcsXw5iktY1Ey-Qjkg

DVSwitch: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-Ot5pGaibmEGmmFh-l8HUq2LRyZoujiJYulr-VSga9s

Since jumping into Digital Modes and hotspots in November of 17 and Allstar stuff in early 2018, I decided to look at setting up something for my club, ALERT, to have EchoLink and bridge it over to DMR so members without DMR radios could still interact with each other.

There were several considerations made as far as hosting the node and bridge. I considered using my existing raspberry pi but there were some technical challenges with the OS and how you got the bridge software to install and extract. I think it can be done but I didn’t invest further time into it when it gave me trouble. I considered formatting an old windows computer with Ubuntu but after some thought about this being for the club maybe hosting this at home was not the best idea. Even though the title says host in the cloud you can totally do this on an Ubuntu computer at your home to (and if you are ok opening some ports), I’m explaining where mine ended up in this post. So, I chose AWS (Amazon) to host them both. There are also other great host I almost went with if I had heard about them earlier in the process, Vultr and DigitalOcean. I don’t know the AWS cost yet. I do know that I have 1yr free of AWS EC2 and that based on the data stats I may be able to stay in the free tier after that depending on usage. I suspect our usage will be small except during severe weather season so, we have time to watch it. I’ll update down the road when this gets nailed down.

I don’t plan to cover setting up AWS as it’s pretty straight forward after setting up an account. However, I had to do this a few times because the image I chose (trying to get 32bit) cause me more install issues with the Ham stuff. I finally, found out I needed this and 64bit was fine:

chrome_2018-05-23_14-49-44

Once you get the instance running they give you all the ways to connect to it which I also don’t plan to cover since they have their own guides as part of the setup. You can use your SSH tool of preference. I use Putty and Bitvise (client is free server is not but you shouldn’t need server). For AWS you download a user key (you do not use a username password) that you need to load into your ssh client. For Putty, AWS gives you instructions on converting the key to a putty file. With Bitvise, you just import the .pem file. Once you are in with SSH you can start installing the ALS Software.

Alltar (ASL):

Update: This might be a better guide as it’s more automated than my way is manual: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGqdTvyObIU  The video is for a Vultr install but may apply to AWS as well if you can install via ISO.

Based on the video there is a menu that I didn’t know about when I setup my node that would be easier for a first time setup:

cd /usr/local/sbin
sudo asl-menu

end update.

The AWS server user logon is Ubuntu (covered in their docs) but so I didn’t have to use sudo all the time I set this after i got in. sudo -s and that switched me to root user.

To intall ASL run this:

Note on linux commands: enter these one line at a time and hit enter. You can cut and paste if your ssh client supports it. Right mouse click in putty and bitvise.

cd /tmp
wget https://github.com/AllStarLink/Asterisk/raw/develop/allstar/repository/install-repository
chmod +x install-repository
./install-repository

If Raspbian: apt-get install raspberrypi-kernel-headers -y

Otherwise: apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` -y

apt-get update
apt-get install allstarlink -y

Follow the “Manual setup” from this guide: https://www.hamvoip.org/config-setup.pdf

Even thought this guide is for the hamvoip image most of the manual setup things apply or maybe minor edits. I didn’t rewrite these instructions to fit an ASL intall, I just “made it work”.

To enable EchoLink make sure to modify the echolink.conf accordingly then enable it in the modules.conf.

Check your Node and made sure it’s online and you can connect to it before moving to the bridge part.

If not you may need support from this group: http://lists.allstarlink.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/app_rpt-users

DVSwitch:

This is the Bridge software. They actually support bridges to all the digital modes I believe (DMR, C4FM, P25, NXDN, ect). They use a MD380 emulator to get around the hardware requirements of most systems with dongles or boards. Sign up for their email list they will provide great support for your project if you can’t get it going yourself. https://dvswitch.groups.io/g/main

To install:

As root
cd /tmp

wget http://dvswitch.org/install-dvswitch-repo
chmod +x install-dvswitch-repo
./install-dvswitch-repo
apt-get update

apt-get install analog-bridge
apt-get install mmdvm-bridge
apt-get install md380-emu

These get installed to the opt folder:

BvSsh_2018-05-23_15-19-06

Edit the ini files in the Analog folder and MMDVM folder (I did not have to modify the DVSwitch.ini for this bridge)

I used beyond compare to show the difference between the original ini and what i changed to make it work:

The Analog_Bridge.ini allows you to set decoding to the emulator and your DMR information that will also be updated or used from your MMDVM_Bridge.ini

Analog_Bridge

MMDVM_Bridge.ini sets up a MMDVM configuration which isn’t much different than setting up the parameters on a hotspot just without the radio. So, you will most likely need to register for the Brandmeister self care website and once setup you need to set your desired TalkGroup as static. In the config your DMR ID is the callsign DMR will see and the Repeater ID is the DMR ID + 01 (or any 2 digits) Note: DMARC is not supported unless there is a D-plus bridge to it.

MMDVM_Bridge

In the rpt.conf turn off the dahdi and enable the USRP lines.

rpt

in the modules.conf enable the usrp.

modules

Recommended rpt.conf settings for cutting off tones and connect/disconnect messages to DMR: https://dvswitch.groups.io/g/allstarlink/wiki/home

If you plan on using IAX, EchoLink, and SSH you may need to open some ports to your system. I did IAX and EchoLink:

chrome_2018-05-24_14-24-46

Now you are ready to load up the bridge software with these commands:

systemctl enable md380-emu
systemctl start md380-emu

systemctl enable analog_bridge
systemctl start analog_bridge

systemctl enable mmdvm_bridge
systemctl start mmdvm_bridge

If you have issues there are logs located here to review:

BvSsh_2018-05-24_13-57-33

As long as your server/bridge/nodes are running you have a live bridge between the 2 modes. Users on either side will not have to do anything out of the ordinary. AllStar users coming over to DMR do not have DMR numbers so DMR users will see the club/personal number of the number you chose in the MMDVM config.

Hopefully, with that, your AllStar Node and DMR bridge are going!

If not don’t stress help is an email or remote session away.  It’s probably something small and stupid that’s stopping it. There are lots of ways to do this and none of it is documented that great but be persistent and ask questions it took me a good week on an off to get mine online and tons of trial and error. Maybe this guide will help you with the concepts and get you going faster than it took me.

73,
Russell, KV4S

Author: KV4S

http://KV4S.com Amateur Radio Operator, Software Developer, Star Trek Online gamer. Game Handle: @Russell-KV4S

3 thoughts on “Hosting an AllStar Node and an AllStarDMR bridge in the cloud”

  1. Hi Russell,

    What a fantastic write up and exactly what I’m looking for! I will be attempting this soon. Thanks so much for your time and effort. I’m pretty familiar with setting up ASL on Pis and Linux, so this should be right up my alley.I’m fairly familiar with Linux but I’m a network professional not a programmer…

    Can you expand a little on usage after I get it working? Does it allow me to use the configured AllStar Node to connect to a DMR Talk Group? Then anyone on AllStar can connect to the node and be bridged to that particular Talk Group? Can it bridge to Brandmeister and/or DMR-MARC?

    Or, can someone on DMR connect to a private contact and be bridged into the AllStar node, and whatever other AllStar nodes it’s connected to?

    Thanks again and 73!

    -Will
    KE4IAJ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well good news is no programming needed unless you want to work on the project or write custom scripts for your node! 🙂

      I’ll attempt to answer your questions below:

      Can you expand a little on usage after I get it working? I did update the post for something I missed but essentially the bridge is always on at that point. The configured AllStar node and configured TalkGroup are live as long as the server is running.

      Does it allow me to use the configured AllStar Node to connect to a DMR Talk Group? Then anyone on AllStar can connect to the node and be bridged to that particular Talk Group? That’s correct, the ini files you setup will create a bridge between the AllStar Node and one DMR talk group.

      Can it bridge to Brandmeister and/or DMR-MARC? Or, can someone on DMR connect to a private contact and be bridged into the AllStar node, and whatever other AllStar nodes it’s connected to? It’s Brandmeister and DMR+ but DMARC is not supported pretty much just like a hotspot is. I don’t believe private calls are supported unless perhaps your talkgroup was your DMR ID but I have not tried it.

      Like

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