30 March 2014

WSPR 'ing CubieBoard 3 and FreedomeBone

I thought I knew everything and things would go easy and fast ... but it wasn't so. But not for the reasons I struggled with in my last posts. As you may remember I built up the WsprBone to find out that the system I used was very limited due to the internal memory. So I found that the FreedomBone was far more attracting and it is running now as my communication server, while the WsprBone is resting in the internal memory. I didn't touch it anymore.
With on Bone gone I was missing the dedicated Ham-computer. I remember that hint of Bob Mottram, that there was an embedded Linux system with 2 GB DDR3 and 8 GB NAND flash, ... and it was called Cubietruck.

The Cubietruck

When you read the specifications, there seems to be no problem and everything is possible. So I ordered on.

It arrived soon and as promised, it was plug and play. I powered up connected my LCD-Display on the VGA interface, waited some time and there it was Android. The first time I saw and the Android system working on a different machine. I pocked a little bit around, but found out, that this is not what I was looking for. I had a newer version working on my Nexus.

So as usual I was looking for a Debian image. I will not tell the stories of installing, erasing, searching and so on. The community of Cubieboard is there and some seem to be very active, but there is not really a central place to start with. There is one, but when you click on a link you will be elsewhere. On the official pages I found no Debian, only Android, Lubuntu and a link. The installation were mostly done with a special software from Windows, which I didn't want to use. So why not giv e try and use Lubuntu. I already knew, that I had to distinguish between an SD-card and the Nand installation. I did it and the screen stayed blank and there was no ssh. I stumbled in the dark until I decided to hook up the truck on  the HDMI-Interface of my TV. It worked. Sow that ssh was not enabled and found no switch to change to vga output. The memory was limited to 4 GB, ... Perhaps the Lubuntu SD-card version would be better. No. I wanted Debian anyway and found Cubieez, Cubian-Desktop, CT-Debian, .. Installed them on the Nand on on SD-card, never got my display working, found out, that the Nand was slow compared to the SD-card.

I have a big SD-card and decided for Cubieez, Debian 7.3. I installed it additionally on the Nand to expand later on the partition on the SD card. And I used the Windows installer. Of course the Display was black, but I was able to log in via ssh. Done this the rest was easy. Pure Linux.

When you are used to work with a terminal you don't miss the display. And so I took the script of  Bob Mottram FreedomBone and worked my way through setting up a nice and secure Linux desktop. This time with Xfce running blind. I was astonished to find out that most of his installation worked without any problem on the Cubietruck. The exceptions were already included in the script. Again: WELL DONE!

But now I wanted to install the Ham-Radio software. It took a long time to find a solution. But
some days later I found a script to switch from HDMI to VGA.
#wget http://dl.cubieboard.org/software/tools/armhf/cb-display-tool
#chmod 777 cb-display-tool
#cb-display-tool -o 8 -m 11  #switch to VGA type
#cb-display-tool -o 4 -m 4  #switch to HDMI type

And after some trials I found a configuration that worked for me: ./cb-display-tool -o 8 -m 3

WSPR running on a CubieTruck
Again, look at my articles concerning the BBB and you will notice, that no hardware dependent settings need to be twitched. So it was a matter of some hours to install all the software running on the WSPRBone. Until now I was not able to get the other software of Joe Taylor WSJT-X running. The compiled version starts but crashes immediately. I have to recompile them later. Anyway, this is a good place to start and do something useful. Although I haven't managed to get Wifi and Bluetooth working.
So I will try to assemble the rest of my WSPR Station. The propagation analysis section is already running and the basic installation of VOACAP including the graphical output is done. But that is another story.

When I set aside the problems of finding the right solution for the background OS and some nerving problems with the VGA Display option I must confess, that the Cubietruck is a impressive piece of hardware and I will stay for the time being with that PM (Poor Man)-Computer.

I want you to have a good time.

Stay Tuned!