ISS Packet Radio Over Secure Shell (SSH)

Last night I finally put the radio in the shack. I had to take it from the Jeep. I should have a second Yaesu FT-1900 by middle of next week.

Flow diagram for my SSH packet radio system

The heart of this whole operation is my Ubuntu server (labeled: Linux Box) that resides in my shack. Without that computer, which serves up files and printing at home, this wouldn’t have been possible. My ISP assigns me a dynamic IP address, so my server checks for that and emails me if it changes. This makes it easy to access my computer from anywhere that has Internet.

The programs that I use are as follows:

> Minicom – to communicate through the serial port
> PuTTY – to SSH using a Windows machine or…
> Terminal – to SSH from a Linux machine or…
> Connectbot – Android SSH client
> VIM – to type text messages before ISS passes

The steps that I take to make contact are extremely simple. Many of the difficulties in making contact are self-contained to remembering how to use Minicom efficiently. It has short cuts that are important for quick operation. Minicom has a menu (ctrl-A then Z), but on an ISS pass, you don’t want to have to read through that. Here are the Minicom shortcuts that I use (all begin with ctrl+A followed by the letter):

> L – select a file to record whatever is received on the serial port
> Y – select a file to paste into the terminal (used to send pre-typed messages)
> Q – used to quit Minicom

Here are the steps to make ISS contact using my system:

  1. SSH into my home system (using either a computer or a tablet)
  2. Start Minicom (it is 9600 baud, 8n1…different TNCs require different settings)
  3. ctrl+A L – Then I select a log file to record everything that happens
  4. Start my TNC into converse mode to send messages
  5. ctrl+A Y – Send a pre-typed message (like perhaps my lat/long in APRS format)
  6. When I’m done… ctrl+a Q – exit Minicom

No SSH capabilities in the Chick Fil AThe great thing about this setup is that I don’t have to drop what I’m doing to get in on the fun. I can be out in town, at home, at a friend’s house, or on vacation. If I have access to either a computer or wifi, I have access to my system (so as long as power hasn’t been lost since the radio does not turn itself on). The other issue of connectivity is when I find places that don’t seem to allow connections through the SSH port 22. Such as my Tweet from earlier. I also know of a few hotels that don’t have good wifi in the rooms (Ramada in Lakeland, FL and probably everywhere). I’ll be sure to check about wifi from now on at places I plan on being.

About robbie

I am an electronics enthusiest and a ham radio operator (W1RCP). I like to play with electronics. It's fun and educational. I looked forward to working in the engineering field in the future. I have a BS in Electronics Engineering Technology from DeVry University. I also have an Associate's degree in Marketing Management from Moultrie Tech, and a diploma in Electronics from MTC.