Month: August 2013

How to Program your Baofeng UV-5R with Ubuntu

First of all, I thought I had published this long ago and then when i needed it for my own reference it was gone!  I searched high and low but alas – I shall start again. So, as I re-learn this class, I hope it helps you too.

First, credit where credit is due.  This gent happened to have all the command line instructions to make it possible.  I will paste the codes right here below, but here also is a link to his site:

sudo apt-get install python-serial
sudo apt-get install python-libxml
tar zxvf chirp-0.3.0.tar.gz
cd chirp-0.3.0/
./chirpw

The problem I had with the instructions above were as follows:

  1. I didn’t know how to use the command line well and had to give myself a tutorial.  For your reference it’s quite good enough to do a quick self study.  Here is the full meal deal.  However, for our purposes you really just need to know how to change folders (directories) and execute the Chirp file you downloaded.  This link will also teach you how to open the Terminal if you haven’t done so before.
  2. I somehow wasn’t logged in as ‘sudo’ so the software opened but it wouldn’t actually do anything.  I found a random post somewhere where someone suggested adding ‘sudo’ to the command lines. It worked.
  3. I thought you could just edit a .csv file and upload it to the radio but I found out after many hours it was just easier t edit everything in the Chirp software
  4. I couldn’t really figure out how to deal with all the stuff that showed up in my radio after I got it working!

So, here is a super, duper slow version of the other gent’s tutorial.

Getting Chirp on your Ubuntu Machine for Use with your Baofeng UV-5R

1. make sure Baofeng is totally wiped of stuff.  Press ‘menu’ and ’40’ (reset all) and then ‘menu’ again.  ‘All’ should be on the screen so press ‘menu’ again. It will ask ‘source?’  Once you press it one more time it will say ‘wait’ which means ‘Wait.  I’m wiping your radio.”  It will soon finish with a friendly Chinese greeting.  Since I don’t know a word of Chinese, I immediately press ‘menu’ and ’14’ and ‘menu’ again, down button until ‘ENG’ shows up and then the ‘menu’ button again whcih sill save it.  Done.  Your radio is wiped and back to English.

2. Make sure you have run these scripts in your terminal:

sudo apt-get install python-serial
sudo apt-get install python-libxml
tar zxvf chirp-0.3.0.tar.gz

3. It seems that this file above gets downloaded to different places or some people want to move it to their own ham folder. No problem. Do so but remember where you put it.  Now use the the command lines in the terminal to point to your downloaded folder using this command:

cd chirp-0.3.0/

You might have to do some other ‘cd’ commands until you find the place where you put it. Once you find it and hit the command above, you will be inside the chirp folder and just one command away from opening Chirp software.  Now run this one one:

sudo ./chirpw

It may ask for your master password so input it.

Getting your Favourite Repeaters into your Baofeng UV-5R using Chirp

Now that your software is open, let’s put in some repeaters and then drop those into your radio.  You can just read Marcus Jennings’  page again about how to plug in the radio

Before you do anything, if this is your first time, you must download from your radio the set up.  You just, in Chirp, go to “Radio” menu option at the top and ‘Download from Radio’.  That should give you the fields that are in your radio.  From there you can just edit away.

It might also be helpful for you to know that when you use the ‘save’ or ‘save as’ feature in Chirp, it saves the file as a .img file.  This file didn’t seem to play well with Calc.  It seems that the .img file is the one that goes back and forth to between the radio and your computer.  I was messing around with the import/export feature. I’m sure there is an awesome way to use that feature but I’ve not figured it out yet…

Now what I do is edit my original and then do a ‘save as’ to get my new file that can go up to my radio.  I use ‘save as’ because I’m worried about goofing something up and then not being able to revert…

That’s all for now. This will need a review from someone else as well as myself when I’m not so tired.

 

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Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Customers at Closing Time

Everyone who has worked in a cafe  for the closing shift knows about one thing all too well – the customers who just don’t seem to understand that you don’t want to stand there and watch them chat after closing.  They are usually very well-meaning people but they just don’t ‘get it’.  Maybe they haven’t worked in a food and beverage business before?  Who knows.  All we know is that at closing time we want to, as politely as possible, encourage them to go outside and enjoy the weather so we can go home while trying to avoid losing them as a future customer.

I therefore present to you,  the Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Customers at Closing Time List

This list in most polite to most severe order.  We all hope we never get to number one, but keep all the tools in your toolbox.  This list should be modified to meet your unique environment.  

10. Walk around to all the customers and collect any washable items while politely saying:”I’m going to run the last dishwasher load now so may I take these dishes?”  – make sure you do it to everyone so they know you are kicking everyone out equally.  If some people don’t have dishes, make sure they can hear your voice as you speak to others.

9. Start wrapping up food items and other such things in front of the existing customers.

8. Make (or fake) a very ‘obvious’ phone call with a dialogue that sounds something like this while making sure all the customers hear you as you walk around:

“Hi Honey!  I’m almost closed.  I’ll be home as fast as possible after closing.  I’m sure I’ll be out of here in just a few more minutes.  We have just a few customers finishing up right now.  I can’t wait to see the kids!”

7. Turn off the air conditioner in the summer.  Turn off the heat in the winter.  This will send 85% of people running within 10 minutes.

6. Start giving very loud and obvious warnings to new customers something like the following, while making sure the camping customers hear you loud and clear:

“I just wanted you to be crystal clear that we are closing in __ minutes and I need to leave right at close tonight so you may want to reconsider ordering.”

5. Shut off the music – Completely.  The silence will create an immediate awkward and eery feeling that is certain to get 80% of people to pack up and move on.

4. Mop as close as possible to the customers while making sure mop water has a double dosage of bleach to get all of their senses in tune with the fact that they will be leaving with you shortly.  If possible, you could add a vacuum into this step if you have one.

3. Make excessive noise while moving large items like patio tables, metal signs, chairs, etc, from the outside patio in.  This combined with the eery silence created by Step #5 will leave only the most oblivious and/or selfish customers

2. Shut off the lights.  All of them.  Start with one set and gradually move the darkness towards them until it’s just you and them in pitch darkness.  Offer them your cell phone as a flashlight to help them see each other.

1. Say to the customer with a huge customer service friendly smile:

“Hi there!  I’m so happy you have been enjoying our establishment but,  as you can see from the darkness that has enveloped us, we are closed now [laugh a little here].  Would it be alright if I lock the door and go home now? “

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Getting Global Wit’ it (bitcoin)

Yuliya Talmazan had previously called me and then published this article featuring myself as one of the retailers accepting bitcoin in Vancouver.  I still find it amusing how there are two Taylors in the same article. Then she dropped by during her coverage of bitcoin for her time on the 6 oclock news.  I grabbed the file and decided to host it right in this site instead of uploading to youtube.  If you have any problems viewing it let me know and I’ll concede.

All in all, I wanted to thank Yuliya for being a leader with these kind of stories.  Vancouver incubates a surprisingly large number of such communities.   I think she would do well to consider the Vancouver Ubuntu community as well. There are quite a few crossovers and some very passionate members – including myself.

So, thanks, Yuliya and I hope you will keep an eye on this.

 

(should pop open your media player)

 

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Buying Bitcoin with your Old Gold

Catchy title, isn’t it?
Throws some monkey wrenches into the ol’ investment ideas, don’t it?

The interesting thing to me – and I’m already a big fan of bitcoin – is that it may be not far away.  Check out this article where gold has fallen from grace.  One of my favourite quotes was “People own gold because they don’t trust the central banks.”

That’s also why people own bitcoin.  But with bitcoin you can easily buy your coffee and fine Indian dining (at least in Vancouver, BC) as explained by Yuliya Talmazan in this article from Global News.  It’s much harder to whip your gold dust out while there is a line up behind you.  Also, gold has an unknown amount remaining in the earth below which has the potential of lowering current values based on the supply and demand understanding.  With bitcoin there is a finite amount and the day is coming when the miners won’t find any more.

And, really, at the end of the day it’s all about trust.  Some people, in their ignorance,  think their paper cash holds value on its own. Banks and governments long ago made sure they removed themselves from actually having to pay up if anyone wanted to collect by removing terms like ‘in silver payable’ from the paper bills.  I strongly recommend watching this simple Youtube series to make sure you understand the history of money.  In fact, if you are like I was – very ignorant amount money and our monetary systems, you may end up with a sick feeling in your gut.  But ignorance is not bliss so watch it.  The trust we have towards a currency, investment, or anything else for that matter, dictates the value.  Value is truly in the eye of the beholder.  If I told you that there was no actual asset backing the $100.00 bill in your hand and that the government could, with the push of a button dump a million more of them into the system,  would you receive that bill happily as payment?

Bitcoin allows a very convenient way of ‘quantifying value’ and facilitating the exchange of goods and services.  Since there is a finite amount of bitcoins, we can agree in principle that each unit will have value based on the supply and demand concept.  Bitcoins don’t have any physical asset backing them, but people have proven with the example of cash that that will not prevent them from trusting it.  So, the only thing preventing bitcoin from becoming dominant is consumer confidence and governments and other organizations who don’t want to lose control of their citizens.

So, I have two bitcoins reserved to buy your failing ounce of gold if you’d like.

 

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Echolink for Amateur Radio: Why is it still the best kept secret?

I’ll admit that I’ve been a weekend warrior ham man for too many years.  I’m definitely not the guy to have the right to complain about anything based on my participation in the community.

That said, my name is VE7CAK and I’m back.  And I’m here to stay – God willing and the creek don’t rise.  Special thanks to VA7OBI for re-igniting my airwaves and for the folks who set up the Burnaby 147.060 repeater with the kick (_!_) coverage.

Echolink has always been mysteriously well hidden – even in the midst of ham-sters. I’m not sure why but here are my guesses:

  • Real radio men believe internet-connected radios are for sissies.  I partially agree. If you can’t do it with your own radio and antennas then you are relying on some ISP (Internet Service Provider)
  • Club members who pay for the hardware and service don’t want outsiders to figure out how to use their gear (highly unlikely)
  • The Echolink material was written for the people who set up and maintain the node, not for the end user.  They just have to figure it out (quite likely).
  • The likelihood of someone using a radio to connect to the Echolink node using DTMF tones versus those who will connect with an app on their smart phone are far less so all energy and instructions are focused on the appy people.
  • The original software was designed for the ever-proprietary Windows OS only so you are dealing with people who don’t know how to think for themselves, let alone help others think.  If it was designed for Ubuntu there would probably be a feature length instructional video by now and it would be integrated in the operating system (That was just a mini-rant).

Regardless, we need to pull together as real radio men (and women, and children) and make this Echolink thing more approachable so we can start connecting more.

The following are the areas that I realized are missing or lacking in Echolink. I will post the results of my research right after I summarize the points and hopefully this can remain a ‘live document’ so I can update it as I learn more:

  1. A super clear tutorial about how to connect from your radio (ie. mobile in your car) to the Echolink node, and then off to wherever you want to chat in the world.
  2. There is no Echolink software in the Ubuntu Software Center.  I wish I could program!
  3. There is no place, it seems, where you can go for a language translation of amateur radio terminology.  I thought I would try to connect to a South Korean Echolink node and realized I didn’t know how to say “VE7CAK monitoring” in Korean.  I could speak a basic conversation but I didn’t have this kind of terminology.  This probably wasn’t relevant at all ten years ago but Echolink has literally revolutionized the posibilities.  Here is a quote from their site:

     There are more than 200,000 validated users worldwide — in 151 of the world’s 193 nations — with about 5,200 online at any given time.

  4. Within the Android Echolink app, the nodes don’t display their node numbers!  This is kind of amazing to me.  I *must* be wrong….

Here is the evolving and improving document as I [hope to] find solutions to these challenges:

  1. A super clear tutorial about how to connect from your radio (ie. mobile in your car) to the Echolink node, and then off to wherever you want to chat in the world

I thankfully found a snippet of a post from this forum which seems to answer my question.  I haven’t had a chance to make it work yet but I hope to do so soon:

KE7VLC
10-06-2010, 06:39 PM
hey all, this might be a dumb question, but do you need a computer to use echolink on the radio? if not, how do you use it?thanks guysTo use Echolink you need one of two things. Either a radio that you are able to connect to a repeater that has Echolink capabilities…..or a computer.You can use an HT or a mobile radio that has a DTMF pad to connect to a repeater….if it has the capabilities of connecting to the internet and has an Echolink node. All you need to have is the node number of the other repeater or station you want to connect to. For example driving down the highway the one repeater you can reach has the capability, all you would have to do is key up and keep holding it down while you are punching in the DTMF (the repeater owner should advertise this but if you can’t find it then you will have to ask around) that keys up the Echolink program connected to it then punch in the node number and let off the key. The repeater should announce that it has connected. Then you transmit just like any normal QSO on a repeater. Once done with the ragchew just follow the directions to drop the node. Make sure you ask if anyone is using the repeater first and wait a min or so for a response….if not then announce that you are trying to activate Echolink and proceed. Once you are finished let everyone know that you are done using the repeater. It’s really close to the same proceedure for a phone patch.If you don’t have a mobile radio or an HT OR a repeater in the area that has a Echolink sysop then you will have to use a computer. Echolink requires an internet connection so it’s obvious why someone wouldn’t want to set one up….especially if there is no internet connection near the repeater.Hope this helps.
2. There is no Echolink software in the Ubuntu Software Center.  I wish I could program!
A pathetic workaround solution is to use a virtual box, install windows in that, and then install Echolink there.  This is annoying because you need the virtual box running every time you want to monitor repeaters which could be every time you turn on your computer.  Alternatively you could use Wine and install it.  I’m sure I saw some tutorials about that around the internets.
3. There is no place, it seems, where you can go for a language translation of amateur radio terminology.  I thought I would try to connect to a South Korean Echolink node and realized I didn’t know how to say “VE7CAK monitoring” in Korean.  I could speak a basic conversation but I didn’t have this kind of terminology.  This probably wasn’t relevant at all ten years ago but Echolink has literally revolutionized the posibilities.  Here is a quote from their site:

 There are more than 200,000 validated users worldwide — in 151 of the world’s 193 nations — with about 5,200 online at any given time.

I was really surprised about this one.  I searched pretty high and pretty low for Korean.  There are 55 nodes in South Korea so I figured there *must* be some document with relevant ham words in Korean and English but I was mistaken.  I will attempt to first search for it from the Korean side, failing that, I will build the document over time.  I’m sure other languages have the same issue so it might be nice to team up on the English vocabulary ‘master list’ and then just translate that to other languages.
4. Within the Android Echolink app, the nodes don’t display their node numbers!  This is kind of amazing to me.  I *must* be wrong….
For now, you can go to this web page and use the control+F feature to search out repeaters and locations: http://www.echolink.org/logins.jsp  It’s also very good for you to know about this link where you can search for the closest Echolink-enabled repeaters in your part of the world.  Just click the last radio dial that says ‘show links near’ and enter in your information.  Pretty great resource.  You can now reference all this information back to your Echolink smartphone app.  It’s ridiculous that you can’t just get all these deets from the node in the app…. but…
**Update 1: If you happen to live in BC, click this link to see all the Echolink nodes in the province.  Click the frequency to see all the details related to that repeater, for example, how to turn Echolink on or off – I suppose.
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If You Want Dedicated Bike lanes, Then Ticket the Snot Out of Bad Bikers

I like bikes.  They look healthy and clean and I remember enjoying them when I was a kid.  I’ve also heard they are good for adults.  I’ve even considered riding one again, but I don’t have either money or time thanks to a devastating investment I made five years ago… but I digress.

I’ve been meaning to write this rant post ever since buddy boy decided to approve the questionable bike lanes downtown Vancouver.  Thankfully, my downtown coffee shop wasn’t in the line of their devastation because life is hard enough as a small business owner.  But if it was, I’d be be an even more unhappy camper.

First of all, let it be known to all of you who have driver’s license that a bicycle, has all the rights of a car when they use a car lane on any road.  Surprised?  That’s because you missed a class in your driver’s ed course.  Go back and review it.  They always have had the rights and they still do.  That means that if you approach a bike while you are driving you have to clear the *entire lane* when you pass.  If they are left-turning, you have to wait, just as if they were a car.  You have to respect them whether you like it or not.  It’s the law.

So, my question from the beginning of this ‘bike lane’ fiasco was this:

If bikes have the same rights as automobiles, then why in the world are we spending money on dedicated infrastructure for them?

From this standpoint, you can imagine how frustrated I was when I saw the hurt and inconvenience these lanes caused and are still causing, especially when [get ready for it] *they are riding on the sidewalks and any ol’ place they want!*

So, after all that hard work and pain, I’m still dodging bicycles on the sidewalk and avoiding them in all the non-bike-lane roads when I’m driving my car (rare).

And so there you have it.  My rant is finished.  We erred greatly by not focusing our time, energy and money on educating and punishing bad automobile drivers.

 

 

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