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Cheap USB interface to connect Ham radios and other devices to the PC October 14, 2011

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, diy, Electronics, Hamakor, ITU, linux, open source, wireless.
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12 comments

Ham radio PC interface

Hi all,
As promised in my last post, I have finally finished designing and building a cheap interface to connect ham radios or any other audio device that does not share audio common ground to a PC, including a PTT interface. Price should be around $17 or 60 NIS.  The control is done using a USB interface, so unlike most ham radio hardware that uses serial connections, this one is plug and play in modern PCs. The neat thing is that it uses them same commands as a RigBlaster. So this interface works out of the box with common ham radio programs like Echolink and Svxlink. The interface should also work with soundmodem which can be used for X.25 packet digital communications, without any extra hardware (I am still trying to get this to work). This interface could also be used to connect to other devices that don’t share a common ground. For example like phone lines.

Parts you will need

  1. TTL USB Serial interface – The main part is a simple CP2102 $4 controller that can be percussed from ebay. It simulates a serial device, meaning you can still work with older pieces of software with it. Note though you need to solder a cable from the RTS pin on the board, because normally they don’t come with a pre-made pin.
  2. Audio line isolation transformer – This can be easily salvaged from any old dial-up modem. That’s how I get mine, it seems to be much easier to get them off old modems than finding them in electronics shops, plus they are so easily identifiable (just make sure not to break the contacts when you take them out, happened to me twice). If you can’t find any old dial-up modems you can get it from ebay. (more…)

Echolink Node Native on Linux with Svxlink, and a Cheap PTT Hardware Interface August 8, 2011

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, diy, Electronics, Hamakor, ITU, linux, open source, programming, wireless.
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10 comments

The Jerusalem Echolink Node

The Jerusalem Echolink Node (4Z7GAI-R)

Hey all,

I recently got my amateur HAM Radio license from the Israel ministry of communication. My call sign is 4Z7GAI.

I have been working on getting an Echolink node running on the Jerusalem repeater using Linux. Echolink is a closed proprietary software that lets you connect ham radios to one another and key them across the Internet. Luckily someone wrote a FOSS program called Svxlink, which lets you connect to the Echolink network on Linux., A remote radio control with an echolink server, svxlink-server and an Echolink graphical client, Qtel. I am going to explain in this post how to get svxlink compiled and working (compiling is the hard part). I will also giving out here an Ubuntu package for the lazy ones among you.

I will also add a small section on the physical connection to the radio, an old Icom IC-02AT from the 80s (around my age). (more…)

TEDxRamallah – My first TED event and visit to Bethlehem April 20, 2011

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, IGF, ITU.
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9 comments
Holding the x in TEDxRamallah

Holding the x in TEDx

Hey all,

Last Saturday I was at my first TEDx event at TEDxRamallah, which took place in Bethlehem. As a TED lecture lover this was a fantastic experience for me. Moreover, this is also the first time I classified as a “Jewish” Israeli citizen (As an atheist its somewhat confusing to refer to myself as such). This does put me in an unusual position slightly different from most people there. I will try and summarize my own experience in this special event. I feel its important to for me to relay what I see to both sides that rarely see eye to eye.

I shall summarize the talks that I found interesting to me: (more…)

TEDding from the car – gPodder video Plugin for Rockbox April 7, 2011

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, diy, Electronics, ipod, ITU, linux, open source, podcast, programming, python.
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11 comments
TEDing from the car

TEDing from the car

Hey all,
After a few weeks of bouncing emails with Thomas Perl I am happy to announce that we have a working plugin for his wonderful podcast application called gPodder. With this plugin installed, any mp4 video podcast that is downloaded with gPodder is automatically converted to a format playable by rockbox MPEG player plugin. Effectively meaning seamless sync of video podcasts to any rockbox enabled device. I am specifically using the Sansa fuze player, but just changing the screen resolution at the top of the plugin should make it work with any other rockbox device, and with the right screen size. The final product for me of all this technical stuff is that I can listen to TED lectures in the car. Or using the verb was coined by my friend Uzair “TEDding” from my car.

How to Install

  • First you should have gPodder installed (available also as “apt-get install gpodder” or any other distribution install equivalent).
  • Second you will need these packages installed too:
     apt-get install python-kaa-metadata  ffmpeg python-dbus
  • Now all that is left is to copy this script to
    mkdir -p ~/.config/gpodder/hooks/
    cp rockbox_mp4_convert.py ~/.config/gpodder/hooks/
  • If your are using a different player from the Sansa Fuse, modify the first lines to your screen resolution:
    DEFAULT_DEVICE_WIDTH = 224.0
    DEFAULT_DEVICE_HEIGHT = 176.0

    make sure to include the .0 at the end.

  • Thats it! Now each time video is download, for example from the TEDTalks Video Podcast it would be converted on arrival, and relinked as the file to be synced.

As usual, I would love to hear feedback from users and suggestions.

(more…)

Build your own Free SMS to Twitter gateway with open source tools and cheap hardware March 27, 2011

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, diy, Electronics, Hamakor, IGF, ITU, linux, open source, programming, python.
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19 comments
SMS Twitter Gateway

SMS Twitter Gateway logo

Hey all,

I am releasing here set of instructions and source that will enable anyone to set up a phone number, that if you SMS it, will post your massage on to your own twitter account. This service is called “Twiter SMS Gate”. The service handles multiple users, and should be easily modified to support other services like statusnet (and with a bit more code maybe even other social networks). The SMS hardware required is any cheap cellphone that can work with gammu-smsd (mine is a fake Nokia from India). Twiter SMS Gate also lets users easily register to it with their own cellphone.

I hope that people that like this idea would start hosting more SMS gates, as we create a wide network of those around the world. SMS Twitter Gate-IL , The Israeli Gate, has been running for a few weeks now and even got covered in the local media here.

The source is written in Python, which includes the phone hardware hooks, webserver, twitter client and database access.

Here is the cellphone used to run my server, just to show you how simple it is to do this, no super-expensive hardware required! (server is also my personal Linux-running PC:

Fake Nokia Cellphone acting as a dedicated SMS server

Fake Nokia Cellphone acting as a dedicated SMS server

If you have any kind of difficulty setting this up, please give me feedback, so we can make it as easy as possible.

3arabi – Arabic chat to English translator December 4, 2010

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, ITU, open source, programming, python.
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31 comments
3arabi Logo

3arabi Logo

Hi  all,

As some might have noticed, Arabic speakers on the net use a form of writing called ‘Arabic chat‘ or 3arabi, which involves using Latin characters and Hindu-Arabic numerals to write words in Arabic. I wrote a small service called 3arabi that lets you translate this Arabic chat directly to English.

Apparently there are tools to do transliteration (converting Latin letters back to Arabic), and also translation. But nothing that does them both. That is why I wrote a small script that uses Google’s transliteration service and ‘Google Translate’. This does the job, but is not perfect, however, it does actually help me understand some messages.

The source is also available in GitHub (its in python). If anyone contributes better code I’ll merge it back to the service.

Thanks to Ira Abramov for hosting the service!

Thanks to Rajesh who wrote the transliteration API though after using it I moved to the javascript google tool with his help.

Thanks Muhammad Khatib who wrote Google Translate python API and for releasing it.

Enjoy,

Guy

Update: Google seem to be blocking the translation service, thinking its spam, if anyone knows how to contact them and asking them to lift that ban would be appreciated.

Using CHDK to photograph blackboards in University Courses August 5, 2010

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, diy, Hamakor, ITU, linux, open source, programming, python.
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6 comments
CHDK in University

CHDK used in university for capturing blackboards

Hi all,
During last semester I developed a set of scripts that lets me photograph pictures of the blackboards during my university courses, categorize them while I am taking them and automatically generate PDF document for each course week. Because physics equations are not the simplest things to input in to a laptop in realtime, I have developed the following method. I am writing the post because I have a feeling this tool could help people in many ways, since it did change how I study in lectures.

You can see my blackboard photographs here (and here is a simple pdf example, if you get lost in the Hebrew).

How it works in a nutshell

The Work Flow

The work flow - photograph, store, generate pdfs

During the lesson I take the photographs of the blackboard with a script I wrote for CHDK. In the script you set the course and week of the semester and this is stored per-picture on the SD card.
(more…)

Twitter hashtag support in non-Latin letters using Greasemonkey July 30, 2010

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, ITU, open source, programming.
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1 comment so far
Hashtags working in Hebrew

Hashtags working in Hebrew

Hello all,

I have been using twitter quite a lot recently and to users that are using non-Latin tweets, it might have occurred that the hashtags don’t work.

So I took the time to write a greasemonkey script that does the job (for Firefox, Chrome, Webkit and others).

It will add a search link on the word, unfortunately due to a twitter bug, I had to remove the number sign (#) because twitter can’t search with it.

  • The script should work with all non-Latin languages (tested Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese)
  • The script does not work when the “more” button is pressed. If anyone knows how to solve that please contact me. fixed!

I hope this becomes a useful tool for people.

Qutecom Portable – a sip phone for your USB Flash Drive April 18, 2010

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, ITU, open source, programming.
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23 comments

QuteCom PortableHey all,

I came across the need for a portable VOIP phone for windows, apparently there is no package out there for this.

So I repackaged QuteCom, a cross-platform softphone. Just adding a simple parameter did the job!

You can download the package here.

Extract it and simply run the “runme.bat” file in the folder.

The package is kindly hosted for me on Hamakor FOSS Society. There is also a wiki page with additional information about Qutecom portable there.

Cheaper Than SkypeOut!

Thanks to this package I can now call anywhere on my VOIP accounts. Where usually only skype was available, meaning I have a cheaper-than-skype providers :) (Curently using voipvoip.com and callcentric). I really think standard VOIP should be more out there among the people giving a healthy competition.

Would love to hear feedback!

Bumble-B and an ADC with OpenGL make an oscilloscope February 22, 2010

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, diy, Electronics, Hamakor, ITU, linux, open source, programming, python.
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2 comments

Hi all,

During my small semester break I managed to connect my Bumble-b chip to an analog-digital converter (ADC).

With this I can read voltage changes and send the information to the computer to plot live.

Here is a demonstration video:

How its all connected

(more…)

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