Flotsam and Jetsam: Odds and Ends
The "I have the day off" Happy New Year edition of the RandomWire
If you’re not familiar with the phrase “flotsam and jetsam,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tells us what the terms mean:
Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship's load.
In colloquial usage, the term has lost its connection with the maritime environment, says Grammarist, and has become a more general term describing miscellaneous odds and ends:
In maritime lingo, flotsam is wreckage or cargo that remains afloat after a ship has sunk, and jetsam is cargo or equipment thrown overboard from a ship in distress. The precise meanings are lost in the common phrase flotsam and jetsam, which describes useless or discarded objects. The phrase is sometimes used to describe items floating or washed ashore, but it has also been extended into metaphorical use for any accumulation of odds and ends.
Being a sailor, using “flotsam and jetsam” feels comfortable to me. For the rest of us, please think of it just some odds and ends. This edition of the RandomWire℠ is a collection of odds and ends that I’ve become aware of.
Listen to ARRL News on AllStar
As I was listening to ham radio podcasts on my way to get my morning coffee, it occurred to me that my cloud node 57945 (see https://kj7t.net for notes about this node) is a repeater, and as such, I should be able to broadcast amateur radio content. Coffee in hand, when I got home I searched the web and found that sure enough, someone has already done this.
David MacAnally WD5M runs exactly this service on node 516229 with a few important caveats. He has constructed a “Radio over Internet Protocol” (RoIP) system that automatically plays back the ARRL© Audio News® for EchoLink, IRLP and other Amateur Radio RoIP systems.
The most important caveats are:
Connect to node 516229 in monitor mode to hear the ARRL Audio News. The first node to connect starts the audio playback.
Any node that transmits to 516229 will automatically be disconnected. Connecting in monitor mode will avoid disconnects during playback.
All nodes should automatically be disconnected after playback is complete, but please check your node and disconnect manually if so needed.
I’ve added 516229 to my favorites on my desktop node 588412. This is handy for me since my desk node is always on, and getting the ARRL Audio News this way is simpler for me than pulling out my phone or a podcast service to find and play the ARRL Audio News podcast recording.
I’ve not added node 516229 to the favorites on my cloud node 57945 because of potential abuse by folks who don’t understand the need to connect in monitor mode. If you are using AllScan, just punch in node 516229 and click the Monitor button. If you are using DTMF codes, enter *2516229 to connect in monitor mode (and later, *1516229 to disconnect, if necessary).
There is a lot more to discover and to think about on David’s ARRLNEWS Automatic RoIP Audio page. He describes how to connect over Echolink and via IRLP.
Hamshack Dashboard Display (experimental)
I downloaded a copy of the page and put it up on my cloud server located in Seattle. It’s running at https://kj7t.net/HamshackDashboardDisplay.html. It looks like this on my home computer screen:
When you click on one of the rectangular blocks, that block goes full screen for 20 seconds, then the display returns to the dashboard view as shown above.
There is also a bar with buttons below the dashboard. The buttons are hidden until you mouse over them:
David indicated that it runs (barely) on a Raspberry Pi. I have it running on a Dell Wyse 3040 thin client that is also running AllStar node 588411 inside my LAN and it doesn’t seem to bog it down. The CPU temperature goes up a couple of degrees Fahrenheit when I access the Dashboard on 588411. On my cloud node on Vultr.com, I am seeing almost no different in CPU usage:
Before loading the Dashboard page yesterday, my vCPU usage was 6%. Today, with the Dashboard operating, I’m seeing the load at about 7%. That seems pretty good to me! Network traffic from the cloud server has increased but I knew that would happen; it is still well within the limits of my cloud account.
MMDVM hotspot is in the mail
I have a ClearNode device but I don’t want to experiment on it. I have a Skybridge Plus hotspot but I don’t want to break it, either. I ordered up a cheap-ish MMDVM duplex hotspot that runs Pi-Star and am looking forward to experimenting on that device. It won’t arrive until around the end of the month, so you know I did not source it within the United States.
One thing I’m hoping to discover is that I can build an MMDVM hotspot that works “good enough” for a lot less money than the ClearNode or the Skybridge devices. Putting together a simple how-to might help open the door for other folks to enjoy the interesting systems Pi-Star makes available to amateurs.
ECO-WORTHY 12V 100AH LiFePO4 Lithium Battery
I did purchase the ECO-WORTHY 12V 100AH LiFePO4 Lithium Battery and got a good discount. My cost was $164.78 US. It was delivered yesterday.
What does a battery this size need? A battery box! Amazon is delivering a Newport Trolling Motor Smart Battery Box Power Center with USB and DC Ports later this week.
What else does the battery need? A charger suitable for a 12.8-volt lithium ion chemistry. After spending a few hours looking at options on Amazon, I ordered a 20-Amp Lifepo4 Lithium AGM Gel Smart Battery Charger that will also arrive later this week.
Once the battery box is here, I plan to affix a PowerPole block to the box and wire it into the system. This package will give me a strong, long-lasting battery if we have an extended power outage and I can also take it in the RV as a backup system.
TACNEX Vehicle Rigid MOLLE Panel for Car Visor/Headrest/Seat Back
Finally, in the realm of “this isn’t amateur radio but will be useful when I’m traveling,” I ordered the TACNEX Vehicle Rigid MOLLE Panel for Car Visor/Headrest/Seat Back.
Something that bothers me with modern vehicles is there is no good place to carry a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and perhaps a few emergency tools that make it easy to get to these items in an emergency. I have a first aid kit in my Honda Ridgeline but it is stored in the under-the-bed storage in the truck bed. Same with my fire extinguisher. That does little good in an emergency when I might have to direct a stranger on where to find those items.
Placing these must-be-accessible items directly behind my driver’s seat is going to resolve that concern for me. “Grab the red first aid kit mounted behind the driver’s seat” will work much better than trying to describe how to get into the hidden storage compartment and where to rummage around to find the first aid kit. This becomes a matter of life and death when seconds count.
I have an assortment of small MOLLE pouches, clips, and hook-and-loop straps also coming so I can secure my emergency items to the MOLLE panel.
Also, I have a shovel and saw in the storage compartment but no axe. I’m fixing that with the purchase of a Pulaski fire tool on eBay. I can chop firewood with it while in camp. I can help grub a fire line or chop through a tree blocking a roadway with it. This expands my ability to be self-reliant in a SHTF moment. I need to pick up a sturdy collapsible bucket to carry. We already carry several gallons of spare water and some freeze dried food, just in case!