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OpenRepeater Project

Open Repeater Projection

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New Name, Same Project

RPi-Repeater-Controll-ConceptThe Raspberry Pi Repeater Controller Project has a new name…the OpenRepeater Project. It’s the same project but as some things change like working on making the project open source, building a community around the project, and expanding out to other embedded linux boards, like the Beaglebone Black, besides just the Raspberry Pi, a name change was a no brainer.

Introduction

I started this project as a small proof of concept idea but as I worked on it, it’s potential started to become more evident. I have spent the past few months deciding if I wanted to take a commercial route with the project or make it open source. GREAT NEWS FOR HAMS…I have decided to go the route of Open Sourcing the project!

Also, some of the code under the hood will be changing. I was originally coding my own Python program to handle the repeater operations. In the process of doing some research, I discovered SVXLink, an open source Linux based EchoLink program also capable of acting as a repeater controller with a slew of other features already built in. The OpenRepeater Project is going to wrap this up with my Web Interface in a custom Debian Linux distribution intended for single board computers like the BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi. The goal of the OpenRepeater Project is to merge the power of SVXLink with a simple interface and essential feature set making it easier for the average Ham to get their system up and running.

Goals & Features

In setting out to develop this project my primary goals and features are to develop a low cost, low power, but feature rich duplex repeater controller suitable for setting up a temporary / emergency repeater systems with radios that can be run on portable power. However with a more complete feature set and a modular design, it could also be used as a primary or a backup controller for a permeant installation repeater. With the low cost, modular design, it would make it easy to keep backup hardware on site for easy service swap-outs.

The additional circuitry required to interface a Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone Black to the radios would ideally mount on a “cape” or “daughterboard” style circuit board that would mount on top of the SBC by plugging into the GPIO connector. This repeater setup is initially intended for use on Amateur Radio, but could be potentially useful on other radio services such GMRS, Commercial, etc.

  • Low Cost
  • Modular Design
  • Low Power Consumption
  • Flexible connectivity to various radios

Purpose of SBC (Raspberry Pi/Beaglebone Black)

  • Provide all logic control of repeater operation
  • Timers (Timeout, Identification, etc.)
  • Voice Synthesis for identification
  • CW Generation for identification
  • Playback of courtesy tones (user selectable)
  • Web server Interface for controlling settings – Will be provided by built in ethernet jack.
  • DTMF Decoding
  • CTCSS Encoding/Decoding
  • Optional EchoLink connectivity (requires connection to internet)

Purpose of External Circuit Board

  • PTT control for transmitter
  • COS Control
  • OPTIONAL – Real Time Clock to maintain time if not connected to the internet. This would be useful for time announcements and logging/statistics.
  • OPTIONAL – Extra Control Relay(s)
  • OPTIONAL – Power Lose Detection

Web Interface & Image Gallery

Related Blog Posts

 

More to Come. Please Check back regularly.

42 Responses to "OpenRepeater Project"

  • Henrique Martins
    February 2, 2014 - 7:00 pm Reply

    Good luck for this project.
    I think that has much potential for Ham and PMR446.

    73

    • Aaron Crawford
      February 2, 2014 - 7:17 pm Reply

      Hello and Thanks for your comment and interest. Yes I think it will have a lot of potential. I have the core of the python program done, so I hope to post a video to YouTube soon demonstrating what I have so far.

      73

  • Mike Rice
    February 22, 2014 - 2:20 pm Reply

    My club is looking to replace its older repeater setup. I’ll keep an eye on this as some of the members think any money spent is too much, but some also like wielding their soldering irons. Also, cool toys/project!

    • Aaron Crawford
      March 11, 2014 - 2:59 am Reply

      Mike, Thanks for your interest and support. The project is at a pivotal point right now…deciding between open source and commercialization (read my reply to Erik). Definitely check back for updates in the future. 73s, Aaron.

  • Justin - VK2HJA
    March 1, 2014 - 7:55 am Reply

    Love it!!

    Keen to do some testing if you need another set of hands…..Just building a 6m repeater now…

    • Aaron Crawford
      March 11, 2014 - 3:07 am Reply

      Justin,
      Thanks for your interest and support! I am working on some circuitry design at this point and my next step is to build a functioning prototype connected to radios. Check out some of my other replies I just left. The project is at pivotal point in its development right now. If I choose to open source the project, I will definitely be reaching out to those that are expressing interest in helping.

      73s,
      Aaron – N3MBH

  • Erik Arendall
    March 10, 2014 - 10:55 pm Reply

    Is this going to be released under GPL or are your plans commercial?

    • Aaron Crawford
      March 11, 2014 - 2:52 am Reply

      Hello Erik. At this time I am keeping any code under wraps because I haven’t decided yet what path to take with the project…Open Source or Commercial. There would be advantages and disadvantages to both. GPL would allow me to make it a community project and crowd source it to many, but I run the risk of diluting the code with forks and such which would make consistency and support an issue. Commercializing it would help support its continued development financially and provide support over the long haul while maintaining a consistent product. If I went the commercial route, I know that I lack the resources to effectively develop the hardware and bring it to market, so I would have to find a partner company to assist with that. I have some feelers out right now to see if there are any small commercial US based amateur electronic manufacturers that would be interested in this endeavor.

      This is a pivotal decision point for the project. I have a ton of hours in this project so far and plan to invest many more. My ultimate goal is to make something easy to use and setup on the surface (Web UI) and that supports the amateur radio community, probably something you don’t find a lot of. I would also like to keep it as affordable as possible too. There are many ways this project could go which are up in the air at the moment, but hopefully in the next couple months I will make a decision and be able to offer updates here. Thank you for your support and check back for updates.

      73s, Aaron

  • Nick
    March 21, 2014 - 7:22 pm Reply

    Just a thought, are your plans to make this a single port unit or would you consider having multiple (expandable) repeater ports to control/link multiple repeaters from a single controller.

    Also, are you working on a “flat” audio path or are you using de-emphasized audio?

    • Aaron Crawford
      March 25, 2014 - 6:48 am Reply

      Initially my plans are to keep it simple. So probably single port and flat audio. But I have though about multiple ports as an option or even echo link. I got to get the basic prototype working first then I will see where it evolves from there.

  • Justin - VK2HJA
    March 30, 2014 - 6:10 am Reply

    Have you looked into using a cheap USB interface like the URI from dmkeng.com?

    these units have been working well for quite a while now.

    • Aaron Crawford
      April 2, 2014 - 1:07 pm Reply

      Hello Justin,
      Thanks for the suggestion. I looked at the site and it is pretty vague. I cannot seem to find any additional information or specs on these. Kind of pricy, especially if I ended up needing 2. The goal is to make a simple but cost effect controller that is easy to configure. I won’t rule it out completely, just not the direction I am looking to go right now. Thanks for your interest and your input.

  • Joe
    April 8, 2014 - 9:58 am Reply

    This will be a great contribution to the ham community no matter if it is open sourced or not. Keep up the good work. Looks brilliant! KD8WZU

  • Michael - KE4EST
    April 8, 2014 - 5:27 pm Reply

    Been following this for a couple of months now. I have myself been tinkering with a Raspberry Pi as a repeater controller. I used an old Atari 130xe for years as a controller, but the thing just requires to much power and hard to keep a drive functioning for it. A few months ago I go the idea of using a Raspberry Pi and in researching have came across your project. I love having some sort of computer running the repeater, cause I can change or add functions/features pretty easy by changing some code. Looking forward to see where you go with this.

    • Aaron Crawford
      April 10, 2014 - 3:52 pm Reply

      Thanks for the support. I hope to get back to this project soon. I have some other things going on and some springtime and home projects to knock out of the way first.

  • Angel
    April 18, 2014 - 1:38 pm Reply

    Hi Aaron.
    Great project, can not wait to see when you finish it, since I entered because I was looking in google just what you’re doing.
    The raspberry, offers many opportunities to change the states of others, please do not forget to include options to add a fan and an extra battery.
    You know that SD cards are often corrupted by you exceed your limits of writing, I have my toy with the / root on a USB.

    If you need a beta tester I have some time now two motorolas GM340 and ready to run a couple of very boring raspberrys ….

    You have my email, I’m at your disposal. EA5HNU / Angel Tomas

    • Aaron Crawford
      April 21, 2014 - 8:34 am Reply

      Hello. Thanks for the interest. Stay tuned…I am looking into open sourcing the project.

  • btocb
    April 29, 2014 - 4:06 pm Reply

    Hi, how did you interface the Pi with the radios?

    • Aaron Crawford
      April 29, 2014 - 7:38 pm Reply

      Hi, Nothing has been physically interfaced as of yet. In the video demo, the breadboard is a proof of concept for the hardware/software interoperability via the GPIO pins on the Pi. There will be a circuit board that will replace that which will actually interface with the radios. Right now I am in the beginning process of open sourcing the project and getting a GitHub repository going and posting some circuit designs. I have a number of people that expressed interest in help develop and test the project. If you are interested, be sure to sign up to the mailing list at the top of the page. I will be sending details out to those interested soon. Thanks for your interest.

  • stevmills
    May 7, 2014 - 10:01 am Reply

    Hi! I am excited about this project.. it is exactly what I was looking for – a way to use my Raspberry Pi as the controller for a GMRS repeater. I plan to run the repeater to provide an alternative means of communication for my family/extended family in the event of an emergency, and would also be very interested in helping with any kind of beta testing effort, if you go that route, as I have work experience as a Software QA Engineer. Thanks for your work on this!

    - WQTY571

    • Aaron Crawford
      May 7, 2014 - 10:34 am Reply

      Thanks Steve for your interest in the project. I am in the process now of open sourcing the project. I will be posting a blog entry and sending out a message via the mailing list as soon as I have things in order.

  • Donald
    May 20, 2014 - 12:46 am Reply

    This is very cool. I think it would be very nice to be able to upload a MP3 of the Rain report or Amateur Radio Newsline and have it run on a cron job or something like that…

    de W5DRO

    • Aaron Crawford
      May 20, 2014 - 7:01 am Reply

      Hey Donald. Thanks for your interest and I will keep that in mind as I make improvements. 73s

  • Joseph Colson
    June 20, 2014 - 6:33 pm Reply

    Aaron my up most respect for making this open source! I look forward to beta testing your product.

    • Aaron Crawford
      July 9, 2014 - 12:29 pm Reply

      Hello Bruno. Definitely still alive. I hope to be getting some code out in the wild here soon. Been busy with the spring an summer months. I see you are on the mailing list which is how I plan to reach out to those interested. If you can fill out the contributor form also. Thanks.

  • mark
    July 16, 2014 - 1:27 am Reply

    how soon till we can download it???? also it would be awesome the get it working with allstarnode as well.

    good luck 73
    kc9zhr

    • Aaron Crawford
      July 16, 2014 - 7:08 am Reply

      Mark, I am hoping to have something out to developers here soon. Once I do that hopefully the process will move along a little faster. If you can, fill out the contributor form so I can keep you in the loop.

  • roy
    July 17, 2014 - 1:23 pm Reply

    Can’t wait to see how this project gets going I wonder if a kickstarter would be good for circuit design and distribution, I’d love to buy a prefab board that is made to be plugged into the RPI and has a socket for Baofeng radios… even if we have to assemble the board.

    Looked at the rPi B+ this has good specs for a solar driven repeater! can’t wait to see how this project progresses.

  • Michael Moller
    July 27, 2014 - 2:06 pm Reply

    I’ve been trying to accomplish a Baofeng to Baofeng repeater for a few weeks now. The problem is that there is no COS out from the RX radio. Using the Raspberry Pi as a controller would solve this problem of mine by creating the COS needed to pass the audio to the TX radio. The only problem I see is that the Raspberry Pi has no mic port/jack. IRLP uses a CM119 based USB sound card for the Pi. I can’t wait to see and use the Open Repeater Project software!

  • Larry Ellsworth
    August 1, 2014 - 5:58 pm Reply

    I have a Mastr II and an MSF5k sitting here waiting for a controller. THis is the one I would like to use. Also have 3 PI’s with the adafruit 16×2 displays sitting on them that would be great for status visuals. Anyway to intergrate that into the code using Python?

    • Aaron Crawford
      August 2, 2014 - 12:45 am Reply

      Hi Larry and thanks for your interest in the project. As of right now there are no immediate plans to incorporate a display. That could be an addon module later maybe. It would probably need to tie into the SVXLink. There will be simple LED status for PTT.

  • Brian
    August 15, 2014 - 5:59 am Reply

    Have you any idea of a release date, please? The amateur radio world needs this project!

    • Aaron Crawford
      August 15, 2014 - 12:52 pm Reply

      Hello Brian,
      Thanks for your enthusiasm for the project and I agree. I’ve recently release the code to some of the developers and we are getting the GitHub project repository up and going to manage the code and schematics. Once we have a chance to do some bug squashing and come up with some basic circuit designs, I will feel more confident releasing the project to everyone. I don’t have an exact date, but I want to get something out there as soon as I can.

      Even if you don’t have much development experience, I would still recommend signing up for a free GitHub account so you can participate in discussions (called “issues”) on the GitHub repository.

      Also, be sure to sign up for the mailing list so we can send you updates. 73 for now.

  • tobiasdh1tw
    August 28, 2014 - 7:36 am Reply

    The control via WebInterface is a cool idea. However the idea with the two Baofeng radios won’t work in real life, except TX and RX are octaves separated (i.e. 70cm – 2m). For Inband (e.g. 70cm repeater), the Baofengs lack proper filters. Even with a commercial 6 cavity 70cm Duplexer the Baofengs start blocking at approx -20dBm. This restricts significantly the radius of your repeater.

    • Aaron Crawford
      September 1, 2014 - 11:01 am Reply

      Hello Tobias,
      Yes, I agree that the Baofengs would probably not work for same band repeat and that there are probably better choices (like Motorola). It’s just a graphic I threw together really quick at the beginning of the project. I hope to get around to some marketing stuff here soon like a project logo. I will likely change that graphic at that time so there is no confusion. Thanks.

  • Frank
    August 31, 2014 - 10:17 am Reply

    Hi. I just joined the project.
    Could you please consider replacing the speech synth. with user-uploaded wav files.
    There is nothing more annoying than synthesised voice announcements.
    I have built a couple of repeaters and would like to help build the ultimate controller.

    Do you envisage using external CTCSS hardware? (Such as the Comspec TS-64) as the UK repeaters heavily rely on CTCSS.

    We also need to think about repeater linking in the spec.

    Frank

    • Aaron Crawford
      September 1, 2014 - 11:32 am Reply

      Hi Frank,
      Welcome to the project!

      Yes, it is in my plans to add an option to allow user upload-able WAV files for ID. In theory this is entirely possible. I’ve already built the PHP side to process uploaded audio files into the proper WAV format for SVXLink and create the TCL overrides based upon user selection.

      I’ve already done some programing to create the overrides for the ID to add CW ID. I just need to work on that section more to add more user selectable options. I hope to allow the user to choose CW only, Voice Synth Only (with option to append CW), and WAV file ID only (with option to append CW). I even plan to add a feature to allow the user to change the pitch and WPM of the CW.

      Same goes for courtesy tones. You currently can choose your tone, but I also plan to add options for a basic beep and no tone. This would allow each operator to custom taylor the controller to suit their own preferences with out having to conduct rocket science to do so.

      Currently, I don’t have any plans to implement CTCSS in hardware as this is already handled in software by the SVXLink Core. I do have to do a little more testing and refining of my front end and how this builds the config files. CTCSS is pretty common here in the State for both TX and RX.

      As for the linking specs (radio linking), SVXLink does support this. It is just a matter of building a logical front end for it. You can add as many ports as you like it is just limited by how many sound channels you have going in and out and system resources. I was thinking it would be cool to build a block interface that could be wired together much like Yahoo Pipes. I think it needs to be visual, but this could be a lot of work. This may be some time off.

      The next major milestone for the project is getting some good schematics for basic hardware interfaces designed, tested, and available on GitHub for those wanting to test the project. I am relying on some help from others to do this. Once we have a foundational system, then we can build upon it.

      Also, need to prove that the current iteration of the Raspberry Pi is a viable option. It might not be up to snuff. I think the Beaglebone Black and some other SBCs would be better options.

      Thanks for you interest and your desire to help make this project great!

      73s,
      Aaron, N3MBH

  • Frank Johnson
    September 1, 2014 - 2:15 pm Reply

    Hi Aaron.
    Thanks for the reply. It all sounds very exciting.
    The reason I suggested hardware CTCSS is performance.
    The hardware units mange decode at very poor signal/noise ratios (3-6dB) which is what is required. They also decode after just a few cycles of tone.
    Can we replicate this level of performance?
    Frank, g0gsr

    • Aaron Crawford
      September 1, 2014 - 2:58 pm Reply

      Frank That still remains to be seen on the software CTCSS. There is a pretty good following around SVXLink already which lead me to believe it fairly reliable. Feel free to jump in the discussion on this GitHub issue: https://github.com/OpenRepeater/OpenRepeater/issues/11
      I copied our previous comments in there for group reference. That is where the action is happening at the moment. Right now we are trying establish some ground framework and get the ball rolling to ensure the success of the project. Thanks.

  • Vincent Pichot
    September 4, 2014 - 4:21 pm Reply

    Dear Aaron,
    very nice to see how your project is running. In fact i’m looking for HW to replace old controller for an intercom repeater (UHF repeater coupled with one simplex VHF frequency). The frequency output on VHF is programmable through dtmf on UHF and should take into account vhf repeater shift. the Rpi should eb the smartest solution. Ready to make some tests and build hw interface for the project. Txs for yourgreat job.
    best regards.
    Vincent / F5LUZ

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