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

I now have an AllStar/EchoLink node! Join me: 47923 or KV4S-L (1003254)

After being on and still on the Digital HotSpot craze, I started looking at the Analog options and that brought me to the Open Source AllStar system.

I was actually a little surprised to see how much EchoLink and IRLP are still used for over 20 year old systems. AllStar plays very nice with EchoLink and to a degree IRLP. Most of the IRLP nodes I’ve looked at connects up with AllStar as well.

To find out more check out: https://www.hamvoip.org

Based on that site I invested in the equipment and just got it going about 2 days ago. The setup is harder than the other digital hotspots but most of that is because it’s command line Linux that you need to be familiar with or at least be able to follow from the guides. The guides over on HamVOIP are outstanding.

At any rate my nodes are online!

AllStar: 47923
EchoLink: KV4S-L (1003254)

Link up and lets chat!!

For all my modes and ways to connect check out this page: https://kv4s.com/connect

73,
Russell, KV4S

Google Duo – Day One First Impressions

I’m truly at a loss to understand why Google has released yet another messaging platform. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt since Android and Google Voice are my platform of choice but I just can’t seem to see the point of Duo and the yet to be seen Allo.

My first issue is you can only use it on one device. I was able to install it on my phone and my iPad(LTE) but could only be signed in, in one place at a time. I was not able to install it on my Nexus 7 as it wasn’t “compatible”. Talk about a step backwards. As a hangouts user I can run it on any device I have with no conflict. Some argue it’s because it’s using your phone number and not your google account well, a phone number is an account if they did it right. It’s my same complaint with Snapchat, WhatsApp, and ect. For years we seemed to be on the path of device agnostic apps now we are going the other way? Why? Was something broken? Is it too hard? Frustrating to say the least.

I made one video call with it and it seemed no different quality wise than a hangouts video call which i also don’t really use. I typically text and make occasional phone calls rarely do I need/want to video call anyone. It would actually be more useful if you could just make a voice call only option?

Hopefully, I’ll use Allo more if it ever comes out but most likely not if I can only use it on one device. I’m not a fan of SMS. It’s an old outdated messaging service. The only purpose it’s serves is a way to send messages when you are having severe network congestion and your data won’t work and your network phone calls won’t work and maybe you can get an SMS out when everything else fails. However, because all of my contact use it I have to use it but Google Voice makes SMS more like an IM messenger so that’s the appeal to me.

Hangouts remains my messenger of choice for these few powerful reasons:

VOIP done right. Utilizing Google Voice I can take and place calls from any device whether it is connected via wifi or cell network and the same with Text messaging. I can text from any device and it’s already cross platform.

While we haven’t seen Allo yet I don’t think Duo/Allo are going to be able to take on Hangouts as my messaging platform of choice. I just hope Google will actually improve it.

 

 

Tech I’m using update 2015

I’ve been away from my blog for a while. The reason is mostly time. Starting a new family was a huge time hit to my blog as well as the convenience of quick updates available through social media (Twitter, Google+).

As a follow up to an old article I wrote here: https://kv4s.com/2010/06/22/why-i-passed-on-the-iphone-again-and-got-the-htc-aria-android

I wanted to give an update into the tech I’m using.

After my Aria phone, I upgraded to the HTC Vivid which didn’t last long because I managed to get it wet in a pool and had to pay an enormous amount of money to get a Samsung Galaxy S3 which i kept for a few years.

In September 2014, I upgraded to the Moto X (2014) and also got a smart watch the Moto 360. A few months earlier Google announced smart watches and i was hooked but i did wait for the Moto 360 before jumping in. Even a year later I still think it’s the best looking watch on the market. However, the biggest drawback is the LCD display as it doesn’t take advantage of the Always on because of how it activates all the pixels vs how an LED display does. It’s not a huge issue for me. I have grown very accustomed to getting text and select notification on my wrist can’t wait to see how the product matures as smart phones have. I’m still on the Android side of the fence. While battery life and platform fragmentation are still my biggest gripes I still love the platform as a whole and am still more excited with anything Google does that what Apple does.

I had a brief time with an iPad at work. While I was blown away at how great the battery life was and how much more convenient Cisco Anyconnect is that’s about all the praise I could give it. I sorely missed all the customization I’m use to with Android. I was surprised how many Google Apps could be installed over there but it was missing Keep. Couldn’t stand the keyboard even though I installed SwiftKey it’s just not what I like on Android. Wasn’t sad to give it back.

In 2014, I also dropped my AT&T grandfathered unlimited plan due to the throttling reasons than anything for which they got slammed for from the FCC  (ha ha ha). I got a promotion program where the 15GB plan was upgraded to 30GB for the same price. Plus a few months after I signed up they started roll over data too. I’m on a shared plan with another family member but they are not heavy data user. At least no throttling for the same amount of data I’ve always used.

I also got the Nexus 7 for a tablet. Very nice to be on Google’s update schedule vs the carriers. The tablet is basically my phone when I’m at home. Thanks to Google voice and last year’s hangouts update you can take and place calls and text from hangouts essentially making any device on Hangouts an IP phone. They can also MMS now even though I’m not a big MMS person.

I’ve been bouncing around twitter clients again. Plume is by far the best client for Android and feature rich but I’ve had to leave for the Official twitter client because for some reason after they did the material design update the program became very unstable and crashes often. I’ll keep an eye on it in hopes they fix it. 

I really enjoy Google+, in my opinion it’s the best social platform however user adoption and perception is not great. I sure hope it survives. I love the notification control and threaded conversations. Communities are great little social gatherings. I use it for games I play and tech devices. I think if they had a write API it would help.

I cut cable about 3 maybe 4 years ago. While I pay for a few streaming services, I’m well under my old charter and dish bills. Internet providers are slowly raising rates so that’s cutting into the savings as well.

I cut land line about 3 years ago. I use gvmate to hook up my cordless phones to Google voice.

Since Google Listen shut down I went over to Pocketcast which is a far superior podcast app.

Home automation and smart devices are my next projects. I’ve got my eyes on ring.com for a way to watch the front door even while away, Smart thermostats probably the nest, and/or maybe a full home camera system? 

Anyway, exciting times for technology changes. 

Until next time!

-Russell

Google Music

Finally playing around with Google Music after getting into the beta way before it released.

Concept is to upload your music collection to the service then it’s available to you via app or browser anywhere. After transferring for 4 days I now have access to my 14GB collection anywhere. If I’m on my phone I have the option to stream or make available offline anything I want.

It’s much easier to maintain playlist because I know if wont’ loose it since it’s in the cloud vs tied to a pc.

Google music solved everything I hated about iTunes and Double Twist. Yet another Google product that has changed the way I do things!

Google Listen

I’ve never been an Apple guy, but trying to use an old windows mobile 6.1 phone to run with and listen to podcast on was a horrible experience. A few years ago, I bought a used iPod nano 2nd gen and began using it for podcasting and Nike+ for running.

Unfortunately, about a month ago the iPod took a trip through the washer and is no more.

I had gone with Android for my last phone so I thought maybe give it a try instead of spending the ridiculous amount of money they want for a new apple device.

I came up with Google Listen.

I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with it. I have to point out the barrier to entry is high, its probably not for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or understands basic RSS feeds. However, I’m a developer, I live technology.

I found the search for a podcast really worthless. (I’ll be using TWIT as my example through the rest of the article.) I tried searching for TWIT – This Week in Tech and I found about everything under the sun that wasn’t it. It was in the list but if you didn’t know, you weren’t finding it.

Going to the podcast home page, I found, was the best way to get a RSS feed url.

Feed Url’s are the driving force behind Listen. When you go to a website and view the podcast feed you are looking for it to enclose the audio file (usually an mp3) in the feed.

Site links sometime setup like this:

What a feed looks like in Google reader Notice the “twit0309.mp3” shows and can be played in reader:

Notice my use of Google Reader, the backend sync for Listen is google reader. While it doesn’t sync your play time (meaning you can’t listen on in reader and listen or switch between and keep your place) but it give you an easy way to manage and add new feeds.

However, to get that to work properly, I ended up adding one feed manually in Listen:

Once i did, I now have a new folder available on google reader I can associate podcast feeds with for Listen specific feeds.


Let’s take a peek at the dead simple interface.

My listen items is anything available to listen too.
My subscriptions shows what you subscribe too.
The other too are worthless to me.

Fresh items are waiting for download or waiting to be organized in the queue.
Queued items work like an ordering system to how your podcast will play (order: top to bottom).

Menu and settings are pretty basic, i recommend only downloading on wi-fi though.

That’s it you are now enjoying your favorite Podcast/Netcast via Listen on your Android phone!

Oh, and I use Endomondo to track my running now (for Android and iPhone), it’s uses the GPS instead of the shoe sensor!

What I’ve been up to: Video creation with XtraNormal

Did you see the EVO vs Iphone 4 video? If not here it is: (warning foul language)

Well, I dug a little deeper and found it was created from a website: http://www.xtranormal.com

So I threw this together:

Guys at work go out to eat at least once a week and the conversation about where to go seems the same.

I also put this together:

We have a running group at work and we are always joking around so here’s a taste of their humor!