BirmingHAMfest 2023

I’ll be attending the BirmingHAMfest 2023 this year.

I’ll be running my FT-5DR and my Anytone 878 and monitoring the following:

441.0 DMR Simplex Chanel 1
145.5625 C4FM in Group Monitor Mode
APRS beaconing and Messaging.

I’m not in the market to buy anything but I am researching base mounts, antennas, and coax for the house for some potential future projects.

Latest Project Setting up an iGate/Digipeater on a Raspberry Pi using a spare HT as the radio

I wanted to give a quick update on a Ham Radio project I’ve been working on lately. I’ve been playing with APRS for about 20 yrs now and I really like the technology and it’s offering in emergency situations.

My first dabbling was taking a Tiny Track 3 and with the help of Bert KG4BEC we soldered the kit together and build an interface cable between the FT-2500M (my first mobile radio) and the TT3 and other cable to my Garmin E-trex and the TT3. I used that to beacon my position when i was mobile around town and abroad.

After all this time I never really played with the messaging aspect of the platform and when I was looking at the Offerings from Yaesu. Yaesu seems to be the only manufacturer that has a full APRS set of features as compared to others.

I picked up an FT-DR recently and I took it on a trip with me and had fairly good success picking up other RF stations and even some messaging on a limited basis as not all other stations are message cable much like my older setup.

To continue experimentation at home out of range of any digipeaters. I built an iGate/Digipeater.
During my research I was leaning towards a Mobilinkd but they were out of stock while I was ready to get something. Then I found DigiRig which is a sound card that could easily connect to a PC or in my case a Pi. They also sold interface cables with several radios. I had a FT-25 single band vhf radio that I won from a Ham Radio Concepts giveaway that I wasn’t using a whole lot and decided to get the DigiRig and an FT-25 connection cable.

Next step was to install Direwolf on a Pi. I did this in a round about way but it can be done from this guide:

Once I configured the .conf file I had a working iGate/Digipeater and It’s been running great!

Nets hosted on my system

I’m honored to announce the following nets are now hosted on my system!

  1. Alabama Friends Net each Wednesday evening at 8pm CT. (Analog connection)
  2. The University of Alabama Amateur Radio Club Net each Thursday at 8pm CT. Both Analog and Digital connections available.

for connection info see:

How to install an IRLP Experimental Reflector with TheLinkBox

This article explains how to build an IRLP experimental reflector with TheLinkbox. It also induces enabling codec trans-coding, Allstar connectivity, and installing a basic dashboard.

There are a lot of brains behind this and I like to give credit where credit is due. I used the references below and I primarily worked with Fred W5MGM getting the trans-coding and Allstar working and I’m hoping I documented it all correctly if I (or someone else) ever needed to replicate this in the future.


I setup a server on that was Debian 10 64bit.

Install section:

These SSH Commands Will Install TheLinkBox
cd /home
tar xvzf thelinkbox-compiled-debian9.tgz
cd /home/thelinkbox

Go into the file /home/thelinkbox/tlb.conf
sudo nano /home/thelinkbox/tlb.conf
Put in your personal echolink callsign and password
Then start up the linkbox with the following command
linkbox/tlb -d -f tlb.conf

After the software is installed and working to your satisfaction
you can run it in the background with this script
sudo nano /root/start

once you are in editing the start file paste this in:


sleep 1
echo -n "Changing Present Working Directory PWD to home"
cd /home/thelinkbox
echo "Done!"

sleep 1
echo -n "Update the timezone to central time... "
sleep 1
TZ='America/Chicago'; export TZ
echo "Done!"
sleep 1
echo -n "here is the current time and date"


sleep 1
echo -n "Starting up the Link Box "
linkbox/tlb -d -f tlb.conf  >&/dev/null 2>&1 &
echo "Done!"

sleep 1

echo -n "this is the end of this script - - - " 

sleep 1 

echo " good bye." 


Now start at an fresh ssh command window and type
to start your LinkBox in the background on the server (if the server reboots you must do this again).

Transcoding section:

Create the following script
cd /home/thelinkbox/scripts; sudo nano

Paste in:

# tlbEvent script
# Set path to this script in tlb.conf as: EventScript = /home/tlb/scripts/tlbEvents
# There are many other things you can do from this script baesd on tlb events.
# See TLB documentation.
# WD5M
TLBCMD="/usr/local/bin/tlbcmd"    # path to "tlbcmd" executable
# Logging - calls to this function have been commented out.
function log {
        local LOGFILE=/home/tlb/log/messages
        local MESSAGE="TLB: $@"
        echo "${0##*/}:$MESSAGE"
        if [ -n "$LOGFILE" ]; then
                echo "`date '+%b %d %Y %T %z'` $MESSAGE" >> $LOGFILE
function linkit {
	# The linkit function loops through connected users and links new connection
	# Be sure to set ConfEnable = 0 in tlb.conf
	var1=$(${TLBCMD} -s ..users)
	for line in ${var1}
		unset IFS
		set ${line}
		if [[ "${1}" == *[0-9]. ]]; then  # --> user number
			if [[ "${3}" == *K* ]]||[[ "${3}" == *x* ]]; then   # Kicked
				#log "${THISCALL} allready kicked or inactive: ${line}"
				continue        # Already kicked or inactive"
			if [[ "${2}" == "${THISCALL}" ]]; then
				#log "${THISCALL} skip same node: ${line}"
				continue        # skip same node
			if [[ "${3}" == *R* ]]; then   # Monitor enabled
				if [[ ${MONITOR} -eq 1 ]]; then # unlink when both enable monitor
					#log "unlink ${THISCALL} ${line}"
					JUNK=$(${TLBCMD} -s "..unlink ${THISCALL} ${2}")
					#log "${THISCALL} link -m node: ${line}"
					JUNK=$(${TLBCMD} -s " -m ${THISCALL} ${2}")
				#log "linking ${THISCALL} to ${2}"
				JUNK=$(${TLBCMD} -s " ${THISCALL} ${2}")
} # end of linkit function

# ${1} = <event> see SCRIPTING.txt in tlb source.
# ${2} = <type> one of "echolink" "speakfreely" "rtp" "outbound"
# ${3} = <user>
# ${4} = <user_count>
if [ "${1}" = "connected" ]; then
	linkit "${3}"     # link to other ports

exit 0

Save the file and make it executable with this command:
cd /home/thelinkbox/scripts
chmod +x

Go into /home/thelinkbox/tlbcmd.
I copied the tlbcmd file in this directory to /usr/local/bin

To test it out I typed in

In /home/thelinbox/tlb.conf
On line 29 I added ConfEnable=0
On line 30 I added EventScript = /home/thelinkbox/scripts/

I changed the CompressionType on line 37 from 3 which =GSM to 5 which = ADPCM.

Rebooted the tlb machine, when it came back up started tlb connected through remote admin on my nano node using adpcm.
It transmits packets through echolink. Echolink transmits packets back through the nano node.

Verify everything is working as expected before continuing.

ASL Section:

Thsi assumes you have ASL running on another server somewhere already

Setting up Allstar (ASL not Hamvoip):
Open ports on ASL machine:
44966 as UDP
2074 as UDP

Configure your LinkBox tlb.conf like so:

###### Your personal settings ######################################
; Callsign MUST be UPPERCASE and either a link "-L" or repeater "-R" 

ConferenceCall = redacted
ConferencePass = redacted
ConferenceQth = redacted
EmailAdr = redacted

###### Echolink - no need to change these settings #################
; EchoLinkEnable = 0
ConferenceID = The Linkbox TLB
Banner = Welcome to this Echolink/IRLP conference
Banner = TLB
; Banner = This is line 3 of the Banner
MaxConferenceClients = 99
WorkingDir = /home
EnableRemoteDTMF = 0
ShowStatusInInfo = 2
DirServerHost1 =
DirServerHost2 =
DirServerHost3 =
LoginInterval = 360
StationListInterval = 600
InactiveDirTimeout = 51000
LogFileRolloverType = 1
CmdPort = 5198
ChatPort = 5199
ConfEnable = 0
EventScript = /home/thelinkbox/scripts/
BlabOffTimer = 0
###### speakfreely/IRLP - no need to change these settings #########
SF_Enable = 1
RTP_Pass = -
RTP_Port = 44966
SF_Port = 2074
SF_ReplyPort = 2074
FullDuplex = 1
CompressionType = 0     ; 5=ADPCM   3=GSM   0=Uncompressed/uLaw

In /etc/asterisk/modules make sure you make the tlb channel load. It’s set to noload as default.
Then you’ll configure the /etc/asterisk/tlb.conf to connect to the machine you have the linkbox on via ip address.

Note the astnode can be your public node or private. I setup a private in case I needed to disconnect it.

call=callsign-something ; Call of the app_rpt station
port=44966              ; Start of UDP port range (this port, port + 1)
astnode=1995            ; app_rpt node associated with this instance (for incoming connections)
context=radio-secure    ; Asterisk context for incoming connections
codec=ULAW              ; Default CODEC to be used

1001 = W6ABC,,44966      ; This one is for W6ABC at ip default CODEC
1002 = W1XYZ,,1234,G726  ; This one is for W1XYZ at ip with G726 CODEC

1001 example:
1001 = KV4S-R,555.555.555.555,44966 ; direct IP address not host name.

Next use your Allmon and connect node 1001 to your astnode you defined above.

make Linkbox show IRLP stations instead of IP addresses.
/home/thelinkbox/src/conference.c change line 3025 to
bFoundCallsign = TRUE;

take an attached tlb and replace the tlb file that’s in there with this one.
Make it executable.
chmod +x tlb
Reboot the linbox and then restart it.
Irlp nodes will then show up as node numbers.

Install a very basic dashboard:
Instructions found here:

Here is a text version in case commands or scripts are problematic copying from wordpress:

Lastly, we found the tlb.log fills up pretty fast at some point it will crash the linkbox. At this time I’m not sure what the threshold is but if you add this to a crontab schedule of your choosing it will truncate the file:

> /home/tlb.log

That should have everything working (LinkBox, Transcoding, Duplex, Allstar, and a dashboard).

Have fun!

[Android] Setting up a Ham Radio hotspot in the cloud (or Raspberry Pi) and accessing it with DVSwitch Mobile

There are times when you can’t always have your HT and/or hotspot with you but you want to stay in contact with a certain talk group or club.

For Android users, it’s pretty easy to setup a hotspot in the cloud or a Rasperry Pi at home and use DVSwitch Mobile to access any of the digital modes. Note: I only set mine up for DMR.

Update 11/6/2020:
The DVSwitch group now has a image and install instructions:
All Modes (Raspberry Pi): InstallGuide

These are the manual instructions but you must follow them to the letter or you may not get audio in one or both directions:

DMR & YSF (cloud): Install Guide

While these instruction are for a Raspberry Pi the only modification I had to make for Ubuntu was change the lines that called for .armhf to .amd64. Also, be careful with copy and pasting from the PDF sometimes it adds a space in some links and they didn’t actually work so watch the screen after you do something. Give me a shout if you need help.

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