We seek the grail
Saturday morning coffee with Jen
DTLA From DWP
…Or the Ahuago AW470, or Helida M2, or whatever it is called. I do know it is a tiny FM two-way radio running on UHF at 400-470mhz, with the ability to program input/output frequency pairs with encoded tones. So it can work simplex or on repeaters. Theoretically anyway.
I finally got some time to play with this radio. It’s been a long-term project spent waiting for doo-dads to arrive.
The programming cable:
Those sat around until this weekend. One issue with these cheap oddly built radios is that to program them, you have to download the programming software from some sketchy places. Luckily I have an old Windows 7 Netbook laying around that I can put on a guest network I have running at the house, so I think my exposure is low. The software link comes from this interesting site http://www.opg.org/2017/03/10/tiny-radio-ahuago-470-felida-helida-nktech-m2/
About halfway down is a link to the programming software https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8BGmr-vYNsbNUQ3eENLWUZsZGM. I had previously installed other software from NKTECH that looked right but never worked, luckily the OPG gang had the right link.
Next came the problem of device drivers. The trick here was to get the old driver from Prolific, available here http://pdxpiedmont.net/node/52 That worked like a charm. And plugging in the cable to the old Netbook caused the drivers to load and assign to COM3.
From there it was pretty simple. Plug in the radio to the cable, launch the sketchy software, and type in frequencies. Except the software is in Chinese by default and has an English language setting. But how do you find it if the program launches in Chinese? OPG guys to the rescue – 5 menus to the right and second entry down. Bam, ‘murica.
The audio is pretty rough, but it works. The size is fun, ridiculously small. Cool color. All said and done though, the lure of these little radios is waning. When you want to use a radio, just use a radio that is solid, always works, and sounds good. For most of us, that’s Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, etc.
Here is the what the Nktech sounds like as recorded on my TH-D74:
Here is the what the TH-D74 sounds like on the Nktech:
It hit me on the plane the other day. What I’d really like isn’t an iPad. I want an iPad-sized device with keyboard cover that runs MacOS.
I’d rather not have to switch to the touchscreen mode when I’m seated with a screen and keyboard in front of me. And as someone who uses Windows for work, and at home uses MacOS, iOS, and Linux, I get mode-switch fatigue.
So to heck with the rumored 16″ MacBook Pro, I want an 8″ MacBook Pro.
GoTenna https://gotenna.com is a really interesting product that allows you to send text messages to cell phones over Bluetooth without using the cellular network. Basically it is a little hardware stick that pairs to your phone that becomes an antenna that can connect to other GoTennas. Very useful if the cellular network is out due to a local emergency, if you are out of range, or if you just feel like stickin’ it to the man.
My first test was to just set it up on two phones and send messages to myself. Got about 1/4 mile range. Not great but okay. The app is convenient and works very well.
Being an amateur radio guy, I had to dig into the specs and understand how they work. The forums link have been very useful.
I set up a “relay node” at my house and at my work. Relay nodes help other goTenna’s connect with each other. Mine are up high (roof top at my house, and second story on a hill at work). So they theoretically extend the mesh and help out other users (I can’t see what goes through my relay node). Here’s a cool example of nodes at work https://community.gotennamesh.com/t/mammoth-mountain-ca-ski-areas-now-fully-meshed/1897 .
I’m also playing with their python SDK on a raspberry pi. More to follow on that.
Canceled my DayOne premium subscription after 2 years. Just never made it a part of my day or workflow.
Watching airplanes since flight home delayed