AMBEserver

2018 – State of the Union

NW Digital Radio has been evolving over the last few years.  Our initial focus was to develop a 70cm radio focused specifically at higher speed digital communications for the amateur radio market.  This is still a goal, however, due to a series of conditions we cannot predict when this will happen.

While working on the various aspects of the radio we have been able to produce a series of products that have sustained the ongoing efforts of the company.

We have learned a lot in the process and will be taking that knowledge into new products going forward.

We at NW Digital Radio are problem solvers, and like the process of assembling a project from components, both hardware and software, and have delivered products based on that model.

For some products this model works very well, like our ThumbDV™, which has been very successful when used with software like BlueDV, WinDV, AMBEserver, DummyRepeater, XLX/ambed, and more.  Thousands are finding that the ThumbDV™ is just the right product at the right price point and are successfully using it to communicate from computer, over the network, to Digital Voice protocols such as D-STAR, DMR, and more.

Other products, such as the UDRC and UDRC II, have allowed the creation of digital communications systems whether D-STAR repeaters,  fldigi workstations, Direwolf sound modem TNCs, or other soundcard DSP based systems.  Many of these projects have come about by experimentation and integration by individual amateurs working with open source software and our boards.

However, as we talk with customers and potential customers, we find that many are more interested in solutions that are prepackaged with hardware, software, and a case.  Basically, they want a “plug and play” solution that requires little to no integration beyond basic cabling to radios and some minor, guided, configuration.

In 2018, you will see NW Digital Radio evolving from a component provider to a solution provider.  We continue to be dedicated to products that leverage open source software and standard platforms, but will be focusing on delivering solutions that are pre-integrated with hardware, software, and packaging.

We will also continue to provide the experimenter and developer a platform that they can access and build upon.

Furthermore, we intend to use the kick starter model on some products where there appears to be an interest in the community, but where we need to know the level of that interest before proceeding with full inclusion of an idea into our product line.  If you find a product on our kick starter list, please support it, the risk to you is minimal, while helping us bring out innovative solutions.

Some of the projects we have under design at the current time include:

  • A networked, multi-speed, TNC for packet radio
  • An Emcomm workstation
  • A device for combining multiple SDR-RTL dongles into a single platform
  • An integrated low power radio/TNC

and more.

Look for these projects to roll out over the next few months.  We think 2018 is going to be a great year to continue to put “The Amateur back in Amateur Radio” —

Your NW Digital Radio team.

Kickstarter for a 6 Channel USB AMBE Device

We are pleased to announce the launch of a Kickstarter for a 6 Channel USB AMBE device which is compatible with the XLX Reflector System.  The XLX system creates reflectors for the DCS, DExtra, and DPLUS systems and also supports integration with DMR.

To transcode AMBE+ (D-STAR) and AMBE+2 (DMR/YSF/dPMR/NXDN/P25-Phase 2/…) requires a hardware solution.  This can be accomplished using pairs of ThumbDVs or other USB based AMBE-3000 devices.

Reflector systems may have multiple reflectors (A-Z) that require transcoding simultaneously, which requires multiple streams available and that is where the XCode-3006 comes to the rescue.

The folks behind the XLX system designed a board that can provide up to 6 streams on a single USB port and it is in operation now at XLX950 (XRF950/DCS950/…) which is using the board to cross connect with DMR.

NW Digital Radio is running a Kickstarter to fund an initial build of 50 of these units. 50 units is the minimum production run in order to keep costs down.

This is where you can help:

If you run a reflector, you can obtain a XCode-3006 via a pledge on the Kickstarter at one of two levels.

If you use a reflector, you can help the operator of that reflector by helping them obtain a XCode-3006 via the kickstarter.
If you just like the idea of a six channel AMBE transcoder, and want to help out, there are pledge levels for supporters like you.

This can only happen if we meet the funding goal set for the Kickstarter, and we only have 30 days to reach it.

Having this board available opens the opportunity for other projects such as:

Analog <–> DV Gateways (eg. Allstar, Echolink, … to your favorite DV system)
DV –> Analog Streaming for online monitoring of DV systems

The link to the Kickstarter is:

Special Pricing on the Purchase of Multiple ThumbDV™

AMBE USB 3000 ThumbDV™

ThumbDV™ – DV3000U

AMBE USB 3000 ThumbDV™

ThumbDV™ – DV3000U

There are some projects that are using multiple ThumbDV™ to handle transcoding digital voice data from one protocol to another.

In support of these projects NW Digital Radio is offering a 5% discount on the purchase of 2 or more ThumbDV™ on the same order, to the same address, through the end of 2017.

To receive this discount, simply order 2 or more ThumbDV™ and in the shipping cart input the coupon code transcode and the discount will be applied to your order.

If purchasing more than 10 items (ThumbDV™ or UDRC) on the same order, contact sales@nwdigitalradio.com to inquire about quantity discounts.

Holiday Sale on ThumbDV

The ThumbDV™ is on sale through December 25th for $99.95, that’s a savings of $20 over list price.

ThumbDV™ – See the Resource Page for SW

Check out the Wikis

Check out the Wiki pages for the newest documentation.

AMBE Wiki for information on the ThumbDV™, PiDV™, and AMBEserver

UDRC Wiki for information on using the UDRC™ for applications such as APRS™, dstarrepeater, direwolf, fldigi, and Xastir.

We have more information coming for application users, developers, and experimenters.

Putting AMBEserver on the Internet

If you have a low latency and responsive Internet connection, you can place an AMBEserver directly on the Internet and access it remotely through Buster, DummyRepeater, or any other program that provides AMBEserver connectivity.

Raspberry Pi with PiDV and ThumbDV

Raspberry Pi with PiDV and ThumbDV

The first step is to connect a PiDV™ to the GPIO of a Raspberry Pi or a ThumbDV™ to the USB port of a computer which will run the AMBEserver.  A Raspberry Pi is more than sufficient for this task and provides an economical platform for AMBEserver, however, the choice of computer is up to you.  Follow the directions on this page (updated instructions on the wiki) for a Raspberry Pi build and configuration.

Once you have built your AMBEserver, verify that it is working with the included Python scripts, ‘ambesocktest.py’ will test the UDP socket, it returns the AMBE-3000 model number repetitively until killed (with control-C) if the daemon is functioning properly on port 2460.

On your local network, configure Buster or DummyRepeater to access the AMBEserver on the LAN IP address of your AMBEserver. When you have a working AMBEserver, then it is time to make it available outside your LAN.

Picture of Buster Preferences

Buster Preferences for AMBEserver

DummyRepeater Select AMBEserver

DummyRepeater Preferences for AMBEserver

Since there are a variety of routers/firewalls/modems that connect you to your ISP it is beyond the scope of this article to provide specific instructions, but all that is required is to forward an external port (default 2460) on your public IP to the LAN IP address of your AMBEserver (e.g. 192.168.0.5) at the designated port (default 2460).  You may want to choose a different UDP port in your AMBEserver and for your public facing IP address.  If you use the same port for both, then you most likely can configure Buster or DummyRepeater once for use at home and away by using your public IP address (replace the LAN IP address or Localhost IP Address).

Now take your Buster or DummyRepeater system to a remote location and test accessing AMBEserver over the Internet using your public IP address.

Update: The PiDV is not currently in production.  Check out BlueDV for Windows and BlueDV for Android at http://www.pa7lim.nl/bluedv — the latest BlueDV for Android can use AMBEserver.

AMBEserver (DV3000) Daemon Source

The current source for the AMBEserver / AMBEserverGPIO can be found at AMBEserver Daemon Source