Pi-Hole, Image Host, and RaspberryPi APRS Action

After what felt like a whrilwind couple of weeks of doing stuff, I took a break. I had something I had to do on Saturday and I was making sure I was prepped for it. But some things are broken, some things are working, and hamradio life is slipping in to this blog now.

Let’s start off with Pi-Hole:

This has actually been working very well. I actually didn’t wait to flip it over, I made the changes active later that evening. I already found a number of issues, like my Jitsi-Meet server going bonkers and requesting an “internal domain” over and over and over. Switching it over for IPv6 was easy; but IPv4 is not what I like and has made me start looking at just running a pfSense setup. My ISP supplied router has it’s local DNS hard-coded in to it DHCP configuration. I am able to change the DNS servers it uses, but it’s forwarder is always active. Devices still use Pi-Hole, but through the router. Requests on the IPv6 side far outnumber anything coming over IPv4.

The Image Host Is In A Weird State Of Broken

I cannot figure out why, but the browser upload interface keeps breaking. I can still upload from LinxShare just fine, so the server is still doing what it’s supposed to do. But, for some reason, the dropbox.js interface requires me to shut the server down and boot it a few times to work again. You can try to upload images but they just don’t go anywhere. I haven’t had time to dig in to it. I know it’s my odd configuration and probably code hacks screwing it up.

RaspberryPi APRS

In ham radio we have this thing called APRS, Automatic Packet Reporting Service. It’s actually an entire “service” based around networks of repeaters and “iGates”, devices that relay the information from the RF network to the internet network APRS-IS. It has a lot of great uses and many fun “out-of-design” uses. This past weekend it was being used as intended, to keep track of the position of a rider during a bike ride. The problem is the ride went through some very rural country; we had no problems with voice communications, but there wasn’t much APRS infrastructure out there. The motorcycle leading the group would not have a very powerful radio and have a compromised antenna system. So I rigged together this:

It’s a RaspberryPi connected to a Kenwood TH-D74 handheld radio, which itself is connected to an Arrow II Yagi. For those who don’t know, yagi’s are very directional antennas that provide “gain”. This very expensive radio contains a Terminal Network Controller, a device required for packet radio communications that’s usually an external unit. To make this radio even fancier is that the TNC can be used over USB or Bluetooth; and unlike most radios, it’s got all the USB-to-Serial conversion stuff built in. Most radios lack a built-in TNC…let alone allow use with just a plain USB cable.

The important part is that the RaspberryPi OS has all the kernel drivers to support the USB-to-Serial chip contained in the Kenwood; so getting access to the TNC is just as simple as plugging the USB cable up and finding it’s device name. Then it’s just configuring the APRS software to use the TNC on that serial device, and what you actually want it to do with those packets. In this case, the Pi3B+ was linked up to my phone’s hotspot so I could send those packets directly to the internet.

It’s not really anything that special, people do APRS digipeaters and iGates using Raspberry Pi all the time. However the total time to set this up and get it working, at least for me, was under an hour. On the other end, it was just a matter of plugging things together, making sure the hotspot was turned on, and booting the Pi.

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