Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New APRS Node up!

So I've finally deployed the APRS node for full time use at the local Sheriff's department. The node was built on a RaspberryPi 3 connected to my Icom 8000 with a Signalink Interface. It's running Direwolf 1.4 for both digipeater and iGate functions.

I sent some time getting it configured to pass traffic back and forth between the RF channel and the Internet. I used a couple of local filters to only pass items within an 80km radius of downtown Henderson.  I let the unit run 24/7 at my house for about a month just to make sure it was stable and reliable. I had good results with it.

The whole unit was going to the SO, so I wanted a package that was compact and neat looking. The Pi also including the Adafruit 2.8 touch screen which I picked up from Fry's about a year ago for $35. A trip to Lowes led me to an $11 outdoor junction box. I cut a whole for the screen and mounted the Signalink and the Pi inside so they wouldn't move around. I routed the cables through a hole I drilled in the back.

I mounted the radio on top using the stock mounting bracket. I left a USB keyboard dongle in the Pi so I can used a miniature keyboard (made for use with a TV set-top box) as an input.

The biggest hurdle was trying to find a way to log into the Pi once it was deployed. It would be behind a firewall on a guest Wifi network. I eventually found ngrok (thanks to my brother-in-law). Ngrok is a small program that facilitates the tunneling of a variety of services to ngrok's servers. Then I can connect to ngrok and track back to my Pi. The basic level of service is free and plenty for my needs.

I deployed the unit and its been working great. From my home or office I can log in, update, restart or reconfigure it as needed!