Monday, January 13, 2014

Raspberry Pi QRP Station Computer

I love to start new things. I love the feeling of learning and stumbling. I’m really good at being a Newb. Following through on projects I began…well, not so much.

I have at least a thousand projects currently under way. So, obviously, I’m ready for a new one. All these feel stale. Do you ever feel that way? I’ve often felt bad about going in so many directions without ever really settling on one, but my sporadic interests have also allowed me some unique opportunities that might not have been available if I wasn’t familiar with so many different things.

If you read around the web or the bookstore, there are a lot of “experts” out there, but no one seems to be selling themselves as a “generalist.” Why is that? Is a lot of knowledge about one thing more valuable than a little knowledge of a lot of things? I’m not sure. But this is the string of thought that I’m using to justify a new purchase and a new project. J Enter the Raspberry Pi.

While this little computer is on order, I am thinking through how I plan on incorporating it into my radio operations. A few ideas I am playing with:
  • Logging contacts on portable ops, especially during SOTA or Field Day
  • A dedicated Packet and/or digital modes computer
  • A mobile web server for ARES activations or club events, especially field day
I have read about a lot of hams buying a Pi and not ever using it, but I think they were expecting a lot more from a mini computer. The Pi isn't meant to replace the shack computer, it's meant to perform computing tasks on a more sparse level. It's design and architecture allows a high play to pay ration, which is also appealing. I'm excited to get tinkering with it as I continue my quest for the "perfect" portable QRP Shack.

I'm also excited about the possibility of interfacing the Pi with my TenTec Rebel 506. The "Rebel Alliance" on the TenTec Rebel 506 Yahoo Group have already developed some great software and hardware hacks for the chipKit(TM) Uno32 (Arduino compatible) platform, but a micro controller like the Uno32 has its limitations. Many of these limitations can be overcome by the processing power of the Pi, without necessitating a full-fledged desktop or laptop powerhouse, or weighing down an already heavy SOTA backpack with more computer than needed.

Here's to a fun new adventure in Ham Radio.

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