Friday, 22 October 2021




I have recently built a nice ham-radio-clock for the shack using an old computer monitor, a Raspberry Pi 3 and ClearSkyInstitute's amazing HAMCLOCK software. It's a very worthy addition to the shack and I recommend it to everyone.

So with my little Pi3 tied up to that task, I purchased a used (but like brand new in the box) Model Pi400. Unlike the Pi3, this package came complete with everything you need (apart from a monitor) to have yourself a decent-spec home computer, including the keyboard, mouse, power-supply, leads, SDcard with operating system and even a comprehensive Guide Book. It's a self-contained unit with the Pi 'motherboard' built into a compact and attractive keyboard.

So what you have here is an extremely compact PC which you can use for running various tasks without tying up your main PC. And that's why I got this because it seems to me, that every time I want to use the big computer, it's already running some radio-related task. With the Pi400 and HamPi software, I can pretty much run everything I want in the shack - we'll see!

The specs are as follows....

  • Processor: Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.8GHz
  • RAM: 4GB LPDDR4-3200 
  • Connectivity: Dual-band (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz) IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac Wireless LAN, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE Gigabit Ethernet 2 × USB 3.0 and 1 × USB 2.0 ports 
  • GPIO: Horizontal 40-pin GPIO header 
  • Video & Sound: 2 × micro HDMI ports (supports up to 4Kp60) 
  • Multimedia: 265 (4Kp60 decode) 264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode) OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics 
  • SD card support: MicroSD card slot for operating system and data storage 
  • Keyboard: 78- or 79-key compact keyboard (depending on regional variant) 
  • Power: 5V DC via USB-C connector 
  • Security: Security lock port 
  • Cooling: Large internal heatsink plate and underside vents Operating temperature: 0°C to +50°C 
  • Dimensions: 286 mm × 122 mm × 23 mm (maximum)
To make the Pi400 even better than it already is, you can download the software suite I mentioned above, which was designed purely for Ham Operators. It's a staggering collection of really useful apps called HamPi by W3DJS and it includes the HamClock mentioned at the top of the post. I doubt very much that I'll find a use for all the software (I don't even understand what half of it's for, lol) but there's definitely some stuff on there that will free up my Windows PC. And best of all, this package gives you lots to experiment with, and that's the big attraction of the hobby to me.

Conveniently, the HamPi software is downloadable as a 4Gb image which you simply transfer to a fresh SD Card and then insert into your Pi. Switch on and BOOM, all ready to go!

Here's a list of the Apps that are currently included in the package...

General Ham Radio Applications
HamLib - Ham Radio Control Libraries
grig - graphical user interface to the Ham Radio Control Libraries
CHIRP - Radio Programming Software
APRS Message App for JS8Call - GUI to send APRS messages via JS8Call
QTel - EchoLink client
QSSTV - Slow Scan TV (e.g. "Fax")
Gpredict - Satellite prediction
FreeDV - Free digital voice vocoder
BlueDV - Client for D-Star and DMR
WsprryPi - WSPR software
ADS-B Flight Tracking Software
Pi3/4 Stats Monitor - by W1HKJ
VOACAP - HF propagation prediction
GPS Support
Auto WiFi Hotspot - Automatically turn your Pi into a WiFi hotspot when in the field!
wxtoimg - NOAA weather imaging software
twHamQTH - an online callsign look up program
twclock - a world clock and automatic ID for amateur radio operators
acfax - Receive faxes using your radio and sound card
colrconv  -  convers client with sound and ncurses color support
D-Rats 0.3.9 (by new maintainer Maurizio Andreotti) - A communication tool for D-STAR
fbb - Packet radio mailbox and utilities
gcb - Utility to calculate long and short path to a location
glfer - Spectrogram display and QRSS keyer
Xdx is a DX-cluster client
DXSpider - DX Cluster Server
fccexam - Study tool for USA FCC commercial radio license exams.
gnuais / gnuaisgui - GNU Automatic Identification System receiver
hamexam - Study guide for USA FCC amateur radio (ham radio) license examinations.
hamfax - Qt based shortwave fax
inspectrum - tool for visualising captured radio signals
predict-gsat - Graphical Predict client
splat - analyze point-to-point terrestrial RF communication links
wwl - Calculates distance and azimuth between two Maidenhead locators
AX.25 – Packet Radio drivers for ax.25 protocol
linpac - terminal for packet radio with mail client
PyBOMBS - GNU Radio install management system
AMBEServer – AMBE vocoder chip support
HamClock – GUI HamClock by WBOEW
Adifmerg – command-line ADIF conversion utility
Lopora – QRSS Beacon Reception
Universal Ham Radio Remote (UHRR) – UHRR provides remote radio operation
RpiTx -- Turns Raspberry Pi into low power transmitter
ACARS Decoder – for tracking aircraft transponders
CygnusRFI – RFI analysis tool for ground stations and radio telescopes)
Update Scripts -- to update Fldigi suite and WSJT-X 
Radio Explorer - Displays shortwave radio broadcast schedules
OrssPiG - QRSSS (Raspberry) Pi Grabber
Minimodem - General purpose software audio FSK modem
Orca - Screen-reading software which supports blind hams
RBNC - Reverse Beacon Network Client
QDMR - a GUI application and command line tool to program DMR radios
wfview - a program to control modern Icom ham radios
DUDE-Star - RX/TX D-Star, DMR, Fusion YSF/FCS, NXDN, P25, M17, IAX (AllStar client)
Lady Heather - GPS Monitoring software
Cqrprop - Small application that displays propagation data from Paul, N0NBH website

Antenna Ham Radio Applications
antennavis - Antenna Visualization Software
Atlcl - Arbitrary Transmission Line Calculator
gsmc - A GTK Smith Chart Calculator for RF impedance matching
nec2c - Translation of the NEC2 FORTRAN source code to the C language
xnecview - NEC structure and gain pattern viewer
yagiuda - software to analyse performance of Yagi-Uda antennas

Digital Mode Ham Radio Applications
WSJT-X - Weak Signal (FT8, FT4, etc.) by W1JT
GridTracker - Graphical mapping companion program for WSJT-X or JTDX
JTDX - Alternate client for Weak Signal (FT8, FT4, etc.)
JS8Call - Messaging built on top of FT8 protocol by KN4CRD
JS8CallTools - Get Grid coordinates using GPS
(FLDigi is in its own section below.)
gnss-sdr - GLONASS satellite system Software Defined Receiver
linpsk - amateur radio PSK31/RTTY program via soundcard
multimon - multimon - program to decode radio transmissions
multimon-ng - digital radio transmission decoder
psk31lx - a terminal based ncurses program for psk31
twpsk - a psk program

Software Defined Radio
CubicSDR - Software Defined Radio receiver
cutesdr - Simple demodulation and spectrum display program
GQRX - Software defined radio receiver
LeanSDR – Lightweight, portable software defined radio
SDR++ - Brand new cross-platform and open source SDR software
SDRAngel - SDR player
lysdr - Simple software-defined radio
SoapyAudio - Soapy SDR plugin for Audio devices
SoapyHackRF - SoapySDR HackRF module
SoapyMultiSDR - Multi-device support module for SoapySDR
SoapyNetSDR - Soapy SDR module for NetSDR protocol
SoapyRemote - Use any Soapy SDR remotely
SoapyRTLSDR - Soapy SDR module for RTL SDR USB dongle
SoapySDR - Vendor and platform neutral SDR support library
SoapySDRPlay3 - Soapy SDR module for SDRPlay3 API
Support for RTL-SDR
Support for SDRPlay SDR
Support for HackRF SDR
Support for AirSpy and AirSpy HF
SoapySDRAirSpy- Soapy SDR module for AirSpy SDR
SoapySDRFUNcube Dongle Pro+- Soapy SDR module for FUNCube Dongle Pro+
SoapySDRPlutoSDR- Soapy SDR module for Pluto SDR
SoapySDROsmoSDR- Soapy SDR module for Osmo SDR
SoapySDRRedPitaya- Soapy SDR module for Red Pitaya SDR
SoapyUHD- Soapy SDR module for Ettus ResearchUHD SDR
SoapySDRVOLKConverters - Support for VOLK-based type converters

APRS Applications
Xastir - APRS GUI client / Digipeater / Igate
YAAC - Yet Another APRS Client
DireWolf - Software "soundcard" AX.25 packet modem/TNC and APRS encoder/decoder
aprsdigi - digipeater for APRS
aprx - APRS Digipeater and iGate
soundmodem - Sound Card Amateur Packet Radio Modems

FLDigi Application Suite from W1HKJ
flrig - Rig Control program which interfaces with fldigi
fldigi - Digital Modes Communications
flaa - RigExpert Antenna Analyzer Control Program
flamp - File transmissions via Amateur Multicast Protocol
flarq - ARQ data transfer utility for fldigi
flcluster - Telnet client to remote DX Cluster Servers
fllog - Logbook application which can use same data file as fldigi
flmsg - Editor for ICS 213 Forms
flnet - Net Control Assistant for Net Activities (Check-In Application)
flpost - NBEMs post office
flwrap - File encapsulation and compression for transmission over amateur radio
flwkey - Winkeyer (or clone) control program for K1EL Winkeyer series

Logging Applications
10 10 QSO Logger - Logging software for Ten Ten International Users
TrustedQSL - LotW client
CQRlog - Ham Radio Logging Application
PyQSO - Logging software (written in Python)
klog - The Ham Radio Logging program
tlf - console based ham radio contest logger
tucnak2 - VHF/UHF/SHF Hamradio contest log version 2
twlog - basic logging program for ham radio
upload_adif_log – Upload only new log entries to LotW, and ClubLog
wsjtx_to_n3fjp - Logging adapter to allow WSJT-X to log to N3FJP
xlog - GTK+ Logging program for Hamradio Operators

WinLink Applications
Pat WinLink - WinLink for Raspberry Pi (and other platforms)
ARDOP support for Pat WinLink
ARDOP-GUI - Provides graphical representation of ARDOP connections
Find ARDOP - Retrieves local ARDOP sources by KM4ACK
Pat Menu 2 – Menu for Pat by KM4ACK
PMON - a PACTOR® Monitoring Utility for Linux

Morse Code Applications
aldo - Morse code training program
cw - sound characters as Morse code on the soundcard or console speaker
cwcp - Text based Morse tutor program
xcwcp - Graphical Morse tutor program
cwdaemon - morse daemon for the serial or parallel port
ebook2cw - convert ebooks to Morse MP3s/OGGs
ebook2cwgui - GUI for ebook2cw
morse - training program about morse-code for aspiring radio hams
morse2ascii - tool for decoding the morse codes from a PCM WAV file
morsegen - convert file to ASCII morse code
qrq - High speed Morse telegraphy trainer
xdemorse - decode Morse signals to text

Just how amazing is that?? 

I struggled with the download a few times and I think it may have been that I was trying to download it straight to my 64Gb USB Stick, because after 4 failed attempts (even though there was PLENTY of space available on the stick) I tried to download straight to my C-Drive and it worked no problem.

Once you've got the image saved somewhere, you have the task of copying it over to an SD Card, which is extremely simple. A 16Gb should more than suffice but I used a 32Gb for future-proofing (it was only £3 more than a 16Gb card)...

Download a copy of Balena Etcher and install it, then run the program to complete the image writing. It's very straightforward but takes about half an hour to write it and verify it.

Once it's all finished, simply insert the card into your Pi and it should boot up with all that HamPi loveliness!

I could have connected the Pi400 to my main PC monitor because it has dual input ports, but that would then stop me using the main PC again for other things, so I decided to get a little monitor specifically for the Pi. It made sense to purchase a "Touch" screen and I found one which has a built-in stand and has regular and micro HDMI connections (plus USB to power it). The thing to be wary of with cheap screens is the power-supplies which come with them because they're often very noisy. That's why I opted for a screen which takes its power from the Pi itself.

Once I've spent more time using the software suite, I'll report back to this post.

73, Tom, M7MCQ


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Tom, love to see something like that. A computer dedicated to HAMradio is really something useful for us. I love the way the computer is build in the keyboard. 73, Bas