Packet

What is DRAWS

A few questions have come up about DRAWS.

WHAT IS DRAWS

Digital Radio Amateur WorkStation Board

 

 DRAWS is a platform with multiple components.

First, it is a Raspberry Pi HAT.  This is a purely hardware solution that puts several components that are useful for amateur radio projects on a single board; namely a high-performance sound chip (CODEC), a GPS with pulse per second (PPS) that includes an embedded battery backed real-time clock (RTC), and a 12VDC power circuit to power the onboard devices and the Raspberry Pi from a single power supply.  It has two mini DIN-6 audio sockets that match the ‘TNC’ specification found on many radios designed for amateur radio, an SMA connector for a powered GPS LNA antenna, power connection socket, and a small GPIO array for additional I/O.

Secondly, the DRAWS Workstation, which is the HAT plus an SD Card, Raspberry Pi, and an optional metal case, which creates a self-contained unit.  The Raspberry Pi provides the computing power for the workstation to run the drivers for the HAT components and applications to provide various functions.  Those functions are mostly in the realm of packet radio (Direwolf modem, AX.25, APRS, etc.), other digital modes (fldigi, WSJT-X, etc.), and digital voice (D-STAR, etc.), and ancillary utilities and applications such as a Stratum 1 timeserver, GPS location, and so forth.

Is there a prebuilt image for DRAWS?

The short answer is Yes.

Starting with delivery of the DRAWS HAT, a downloadable image will be available to run the DRAWS workstation.  It will contain the current version of Raspbian (Stretch) including preloaded DRAWS HAT driver and a selection of applications that have been compiled for and tested on the DRAWS platform.

The image is known as Compass Linux, however, except for the driver, application selection, and some configuration parameters, it is plain old Raspbian.  After booting the image, Raspbian repositories are used for updates of the operating system.

What technical support is provided for DRAWS?

NW Digital Radio supports the DRAWS HAT hardware and its driver software.  All other applications are provided on an ‘as is’ basis, with support for configuration and operation of those applications provided by the authors and user community for those applications.  NW Digital Radio’s DRAWS HAT driver and configuration is Open Source Software and is free for amateur radio use.

Can I just use Raspbian or another distribution?

Yes. However, you will need to add the Compass Linux repository to install the DRAWS HAT driver and to access pre-built applications for the DRAWS Workstation.

Creating your own image using Raspbian or other components assumes that you are familiar with the creation and administration of such a system. NW Digital Radio cannot provide support or technical assistance for images created independently of the Compass Linux distribution.

Can I use another single board computer in place of the Raspberry Pi?

NW Digital Radio will provide schematics and pin out information for the DRAWS HAT and the driver is open source software.  Experimenters are free to use this documentation to try other platforms but do so at their own risk and NW Digital Radio is under no obligation to provide advice or engineering support.

We like experimentation, and wish to encourage amateurs to ‘put the amateur back in amateur radio’, however we do have limited resources and must focus them on our supported configurations.

Why is there a distinction between the DRAWS HAT and DRAWS Workstation?

In the design phase of the DRAWS platform we recognized we have two primary communities we need to offer products to:

First the DYI community.  They like to get under the hood and understand the various parts of a solution. They like building/assembling projects, experimenting, and sometimes save a little on the upfront cost.  These are candidates for the DRAWS HAT.  They can purchase other components as needed.

Secondly, there are those who want to buy a pre-assembled solution, connect it to their radio(s), power up, configure, and operate.  These are candidates for the DRAWS Workstation.

In either case, their solution may be dedicated to one configuration or they may want to explore additional modes and configurations using a single piece of hardware.

Is my application or mode supported by DRAWS?

We get the question “Does DRAWS do ‘XYZ’?”  The answer to that is, “Is there and application that does ‘XYZ’” already ported to the Raspberry Pi which uses a soundcard and configurable GPIO, USB, or network (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth) for control and access.  If the answer is yes, then it should work with the DRAWS platform.

A list of pre-installed applications will be included with the release of the image, and more will be added over time.  Some early known applications include: Direwolf, AX.25 tools, Fldigi, dstarrepeater/ircddbgateway, WSJT-X, and more.

I have an application that I would like to add to the DRAWS platform, how do I get it added?

If you are the author of an application or a builder/integrator of an open source project, then contact support@nwdigitalradio.com and we will discuss access to engineering and other resources to get your project on DRAWS.

Software projects work best if the source tree includes all of the resources to build a Debian package.

Who do I contact about orders, delivery, and warranty issues?

All standard ordering should be done at the website at https://nwdigitalradio.com/shop/

Once your order is shipped, you will receive a tracking number for the shipment.  Use it to follow your package’s progress to its destination. NW Digital Radio does not have any additional information than what is presented by the tracking service.

If you wish to enquire about large quantity orders, need a formal quote for a special purchase, warranty follow-up, etc. contact sales@nwdigitalradio.com

Where is the best place to discuss questions and ideas for the DRAWS platform?

 Join the forum at https://nw-digital-radio.groups.io/g/udrc

Help NW Digital Radio with your view on GPS for next generation UDRC

NW Digital Radio is seeking input for the next Raspberry Pi based Amateur Radio digital station platform.

The new Raspberry Pi HAT will contain a CODEC (sound card) based on the successful UDRC II and will include two amateur radio packet standard mini DIN-6 ports allowing one or two radios to be connected with PTT and SQL detect and support programs/protocols such as:

Direwolf – providing multi-speed packet radio modems (2 channels) [APRS, RMS, Xastir, URONODE, …]
wsjt-x – K1JT family of digital modes including FT8
fldigi/flrig/… – digital modes
dstarrepeater – D-STAR hotpsot/repeater
and more

This will be an integrated package, in a custom case, with available pre-built images requiring minimum configuration.

Please participate in the survey, and give your opinion on GPS integration. It is only one multiple choice question and should only take a minute of your time.

Take the Survey

Thank you.

Feel free to forward this email to appropriate individuals and mailing lists.

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.

NW APRS Summer Gathering 2017

NW Digital Radio team members will be presenting at The Northwest APRS Summer Gathering in North Bend (WA) on September 9th.

Topics to be presented will include:

  • UDRX™ Status Update
  • A Raspberry Pi Based ~1W Transceiver mentioned at the Dayton Hamvention® (Xenia)
  • NetTNC an EMCOMM Appliance
  • UDR-Tracker an APRS® Mobile Appliance
  • ThumbDV™ New SW and Applications

To learn more about the APRS® event, subscribe  to the newsletter.

Presentations will be posted on the web after the gathering.

Note: NW Digital Radio team members will not be presenting at TAPR DCC in St. Louis this year.

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.

9.6Kpalousa

It’s time to move from 1200 bauds (it’s been 38 years).
NW Digital Radio will setup a test bench at the Northwest APRS Summer Gathering (Sep 9-11 at Valley Camp) to help get stations operating at 9600 baud packet.  This is your opportunity to get your equipment up and running on 9.6K packet.
We will have spectrum analyzers and deviation measurement equipment setup to make sure your configuration is optimal.
Bring your 9.6K capable hardware or software TNC, your radio, connection cables, and documentation on adjusting the radio’s deviation and TNC levels.
If you don’t have a 9.6K capability.  We will be offering the UDRC for sale on site (or pre-order).  You need to provide
  1. A Raspberry Pi 2 or 3
  2. A 9600 baud packet capable radio with appropriate cable
    • Mini Din 6 on the UDRC to your radio’s interface
    • We will bring a soldering station if you need to put a connector on a Mini Din 6 cable,
  3. A micro SD Card, preloaded with Compass Linux and direwolf
    • We can load your SD Card on site.
  4. A power supply for the radio and the Raspberry Pi (3A recommended)
There will also be examples of messaging applications as well as APRS applications available for running on the Raspberry Pi.

The $800 Tri-Mode Repeater: UDRC™ + Yaesu DR-1X

John’s Presentation at Hamvention® 2016. (Begins at 0:55)