AllStar / Echolink Pico Node

10 10 2012

Well I’m off onto another project after sometime away.  This time I’m working on building an AllStar / Echolink node for amateur radio using the BeagleBoard-xm and LOX Expansion board.  I originally wasn’t going to make posts about this project but as I start working on it like all my other projects I think I’m going to want to be able to repeat this.  So I’ll log it all here for other folks in the net who it might help.  So far I’ve found forums and bits and pieces of how to get this all to work but nothing like an install process or even here are some steps you will need to do. Of course I can glean those details from many spaces on the internet (and that is what I’m going to do) but I’m just going to consolidate what I find and what works here.

Background

AllStar and Echolink are services that allow ham radio operators to talk to other operators out of their radio signal range using the internet as a middle pipeline (IRLP is also related but currently can’t coexist with AllStar and Echolink on a single node).  If you want more information on those particular services visit Mr. Google.  My partner in crime and I decided we wanted to make the smallest portable node possible. Ideally, one day it would use the internet from a cell phone wifi as its backbone but that is a bit off.

With that in mind we choose to go with the Beagleboard-xm and the LOX expansion board as the heart of our operation.  The BeagleBoard-xm is 3.5″ and the LOX expansion board is a radio control board that is designed to work specifically with the BeagleBoard-xm so it too is 3.5″ square and plugs in right below the BeagleBoard-xm.  All we are technically left with to add is a power supply and radio setup.  This whole package is about 1.5″ tall so super tiny and super low power.  eventually, our goal is to marry this to an inexpensive handheld transmitter and a more high power base station transmitter. On paper the LOX board allows us to do 2 radio controls from it. So I am hoping I can create 2 nodes: 1 for the permanent installation and 1 for the mobile installation and use a different radio for each node.  The idea would be when node X is up it is base installed. Unplug the radio, move the node, plug in the portable radio, and then node X is down but now node Y is up.  We will see how this pans out in real life.

 

 

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