Category Archives: Ham Radio

Ham Radio

Using A Computer With No Internet Connection

Using A Computer With No Internet Connection

What if you woke up and there was no internet connection?

No Wifi Area Sign 2315098 Vector Art at VecteezyI have written similar blogs a couple of times in the past but like to keep it up to date as technology cruises forward or if I discover new hardware.  Just what would you do if you woke up and there was no internet connection?  This could be due to a massive telecom hack, or natural disaster, or an act of war.

Surprisingly, your computer can do quite a lot without a network connection, even if you can’t picture in your mind how that could be.  Let’s explore how we can use a computer with no internet connection.

What Can We Do With No Internet Connection?

Quite a bit actually.  Let me make a quick list:

  • GPS
  • Radio (AM, FM, shortwave, weather, air band, etc.)
  • Television
  • Monitor Emergency Communications (Police, Fire, EMS, Military, etc.)
  • Establish Emergency Communications between computer using Long Range Radio  (LoRa)
  • Track Weather Satellites and download weather data
  • Program Radios with CHIRP
  • Files such as manuals
  • Entertainment such as books, magazines, music, and movies

Let’s build our SHTF machine, shall we?
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What Can You Do With A Computer With No Internet?

IS A COMPUTER WITH NO INTERNET VIABLE?

This is one of my favorite subjects.  And it kind of goes along with being prepared for the worst. Small devices such as computers can be easily recharged or used on even a small solar set up. So what can you do with a computer when there is no internet?  Quite a lot actually.

I’ve done this before in 2018 with a Linux computer but I’m going to do it this time with a Windows laptop.  But it is time to update that post a little bit, I suppose.

And as per my previous recommendation you want to probably use an old laptop and preferably something like a ToughBook.   If the internet is down, and life is getting harder you don’t need some baby computer that won’t hold up.

TV

Yep, your computer can be a TV with no internet connection.  You do need a USB TV Tuner though.  I use the Hauppauge 955Q which is probably obsolete since I couldn’t find it anymore on Amazon.  This seems to be the latest generation.  Despite which tuner you get make sure that it is ATSC and not PAL.  ATSC is US and PAL is European.   Your tuner combined with software called NextPVR or probably any number of software programs you can download will give you an Electronic Program Guide and allow you to watch Over The Air Live TV.  That program guide does come down from the internet though, and you won’t be able to access it if the grid goes down.  Still, you know what your local channels are though.

NOTE:  I probably should state that my grid down situation is most likely a hurricane and all the local stations are 40 or so (driving) miles away and inland so they will most likely still be operational.  Your situation may vary.

Being able to watch TV during a power outage or while you are Sheltering in Place could provide vital, life saving information.  Or it could just provide much needed entertainment in a bad situation.

NextPVR (click pics to enlarge)

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Best Tech of 2019?

So here it is, New Years Eve…….I’m up at 1 AM and reading “Best Tech of The Year” articles.  Either one of two things has happened.  Either nothing tremendously wonderful happened in Tech this year or the imagination and writing skills of journalists are now nearly non-existent.

Every list shows the latest cell phones or drones, or gaming device or newest TV offering.  I’m sorry, but that just isn’t that inspiring to me.   I may be a dinosaur but newer is not always better.  Case in point.  Look up the home entertainment category and most lists have some SONOS player.  That’s a networked streaming audio system.

I’ve been using Logitechmediaserver so many years it isn’t funny.  It streams Spotify, Tidal, TuneIn, Pandora (I dropped my Pandora subscription) and many, many more services.

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How To Add an OLED To A Zumspot DMR Hotspot

I got the distinct honor of speaking at the local Amateur Radio Club last night and it caused me to dust the, errrrrrr, dust off of my DMR Hotspots.    After the club meeting I came back and updated the OS’s (PiStar) on my Zumspot and JumboSpot and updated the firmware as well.

The JumboSpot has one distinct advantage over the Zumpsot I have.  It has a cool OLED display.

That got me to thinking.  I could probably add an OLED to my Zumspot.   I could. Here’s how you do that:

Zumspot OLED (click to enlarge)

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Why Is Radio So Important To Me?

Thought I’d do some philosophical stuff today instead of technical stuff today.  Beware.

One of the things that first fascinated me as a little kid (besides baseball and before women) was radio.  Specifically short wave radio.  We had a world band radio in the house and it had the TV audio band.  I used to think that was so cool.  Then along came Citizens Band (CB) radio.  Oh God how I loved that.   I really find that odd because now at my advanced age of 57, and the fact I’m a licensed Ham, I really don’t care to talk.

But oh how I love to listen.  I almost don’t care what I’m listening to as long as I’m LISTENING.

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Chuwi HI10 Air Windows Tablet Review For RTL-SDR

Batten down the hatches and store food.   The end is near.  I bought a Windows Device and I am going to review it.

Let’s be clear.  I F’n-ing hate Windows.  I have been using Linux and Mac way before it was cool to do so.  Windows is an abomination.  That being said I have long since owned a Vinyl Sign Cutting machine.  The very best software for it runs on Windows.  Also recently I bought an SDRPlay RSPDuo and the only real software to exploit it properly is called SDRUno and it is Windows only.

This is a review for a Chuwi HI10 Air Tablet .  I bought it EXCLUSIVELY for using RTL-SDR radios on.  If you are looking for a review of how well this tablet does ANYTHING besides RTL-SDR, then by golly you are in the wrong place.

I travel a lot and I love listening to radio signals and like it or not I just need to carry around a Windows device.

Sure I can run Windows in a Virtual environment but I’m kind of king of the low power devices (read:  CHEAP) and the things I try to do require more power and speed than what I typically carry around.

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How Do You Like To Listen To Shortwave?

Probably not a lot of us shortwave junkies out there.  That being said there are several ways to listen.

  • Portable shortwave
  • Tabletop shortwave with external antenna
  • RTL-SDR
  • Internet based SDR

Probably missing something but those are the ways I can do it at Castle Hagensieker.  And while I own many, many portable shortwave radios……………

I have pretty much two preferred ways to listen.

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Using the SDRPlay RSPDuo – A few weeks in

I’ve had my SDRPlay RSPDuo for a few weeks now and I’m prepared to talk about it a little bit.

First let me preface this by saying I also own an RSP1 and an RSP2 and while I think they are both fine radios I’ve always had a tiny beef with the SDRPlay devices.

Beef #1 is that to really pack a punch with an RSP device you need SDRUno which is a Windows program.   With every fiber of my being I despise Windows.  Don’t like it don’t trust it.

And while you most certainly can use an SDRPlay on Linux weird shit happens.  Let me also preface this by saying that if you install the Non-Windows Workflow as they say in that Lego movie………..”Everything is Awesome”.  Yeah, well, I’m not that guy.  I have every SDR known to God and Man and I build the gr-osmosdr stuff by hand to try to use other devices such as PlutoSDR and LimeMiniSDR.

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Yaesu FRG-7 Short Wave Receiver

Here on my Tech Blog I really long to be on the cutting edge…..I like to discuss new technology, and how to exploit that technology.  But let’s make no doubt about it, I’m old school.  The Yaesu FRG-7 Short Wave Receiver fits into that niche perfectly.

And I’m about to prove that once again.  Let’s face it, there were some things that were just done RIGHT that are old school.   Let’s list a couple of those things.

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What’s Left To Do On ShortWave

Ahhhh Shortwave radio.  If you’re my age you probably remember it fondly in the 70’s and 80’s. Every home probably had at least one World Band radio.  If you are my kids age you may not even know it exists or if you do ………… what exactly it is.

Everyone knows what AM radio is.  What most don’t know is AM Radio is actually called Medium Wave (MW).  The frequencies BELOW AM are called LONGWAVE.  So it stands to reason the frequencies on the other side of AM are called “SHORTWAVE”.

Shortwave kind of fell out of popularity mostly due to the big old orange ball in the sky firing solar storms at us.  The sun works in cycles and sometimes shortwave listening is really really good and sometimes it is really really pointless to try.

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