Linux and GPS Time for FT8

2023-05-20 by Rev. Fr. Robert Bower

One thing you need for FT8 is accurate time on your computer. Keeping accurate time on a Linux based operating system is quite easy today when your computer has access to the Internet. Most modern Linux distributions do it out of the box and no one thinks about it. Even in the field if you are connected to the Internet your computer has an accurate time, if it doesn't, with a quick trip to https://time.is/ you can set your computer's time with a click of a button.

What if you don't have Internet access? The answer is to use GPS time. Linux distributions use either timedatectl/timesyncd, chrony, or NTP. The first listed option timedatectl/timesyncd does not support GPS time which leaves chrony or NTP. Either chrony or NTP will work. On my laptop that I use for POTA is currently running Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS so I opted for chrony.

Things you will need for this project is a GPS dongle or an Android phone running GPSshare and a computer running a Linux based operating system.

If you use a GPS dongle use one with Pulse-Per-Second (PPS) support for the most accurate time. You can use one without PPS but your time may not be as accurate.

Rather than using a dongle I used my Android phone running GPSshare. My phone's GPS does not support PPS so if you go the phone route realize you will not have as accurate time as with a GPS that supports PPS.

What I did was based on https://ubuntu.com/server/docs/network-ntp.

  • I installed the following packages gpsd, chrony, pps-tools, and gpsd-clients on my laptop.
  • I installed GPSshare on my phone.
  • I already had this done but turn on ADB on your Android phone and install the ADB packages for your distribution.
  • If you are running Apparmour disable it for both gpsd and chrony. There seems to be a bug that currently is not fixed in apparmor that blocks gpsd and chrony.
  • Use the following guide to setup Share GPS via UBS http://jillybunch.com/sharegps/nmea-usb-linux.html
  • Edit /etc/default/gpsd to include the following if you use Share GPS.

# Other options you want to pass to gpsd

# Automatically hot add/remove USB GPS devices via gpsdctl
  • Edit /etc/chrony/chrony.conf to include the following if you are using GPS Share
refclock SHM 0 refid GPS precision 1e-1 offset 0.9999 delay 0.2
driftfile /var/db/chrony/chrony.drift
bindcmdaddress /var/run/chrony/chrony.sock
  • Assuming you have Share GPS setup, running, and connected to your laptop, now restart both gpsd and chrony with sudo systemctl restart gpsd.service and sudo systemctl restart chrony.service
  • Now run chronyc sources

You should see something like

MS Name/IP address         Stratum Poll Reach LastRx Last sample               
#? GPS                           0   4   177    24    +21ms[  +17ms] +/-  200ms
^- prod-ntp-4.ntp1.ps5.cano>     2  10   377   29m   +833us[ +833us] +/-   48ms
^- prod-ntp-3.ntp4.ps5.cano>     2  10   377   969  +1240us[+1240us] +/-   51ms
^- prod-ntp-3.ntp1.ps5.cano>     2  10   377   777  +1991us[+1991us] +/-   51ms
^- alphyn.canonical.com          2  10   377   998  +1522us[+1522us] +/-   80ms
^-                 2  10   357  1004  +2127us[+2127us] +/-   81ms
^- pittsburghmusicals.com        3  10   377   982  +1632us[+1632us] +/-   58ms
^+ ntp1.glypnod.com              2  10   377   923  +1561us[+1561us] +/-   37ms
^+ ntp01.nonexiste.net           1  10   377   21m  -6787us[-6787us] +/-   32ms
^- srv11.dynamigs.net            2  10   377   33m    +24ms[  +24ms] +/-  125ms
^+ triton.ellipse.net            2  10   377    44  +6464us[+6464us] +/-   27ms
^- srcf-ntp.stanford.edu         2  10   377   26m  +4218us[+4218us] +/-   37ms
^*                2  10   377   31m   +501us[ +539us] +/-   14ms

Showing that the GPS is providing time and everything is working.

Remember using your phone's GPS works but a GPS dongle with PPS support would even be better.

Almost a POTA Two-fer

2023-05-20 by Rev. Fr. Robert Bower W9RWB

This past Wednesday I went hiking at Pokagon State Park, K-2264 over by Angola. I brought my equipment so I could do POTA after the group hike I went on. Across the road from Pokagon State Park is the Trine State Recreation, K-4182. I figured as long as the two were across the street from each other why not do both. That is what I did. I first activated Pokagon and once I was sure I had enough contacts at Pokagon and hit a lull. I quickly packed up and moved over to Trine and setup again. Once I setup I started making contacts and was able to have a successful second activation at Trine.

While this is not a real Two-fer (a two-fer is when you activate two locations at once because of an overlap) it was almost as easy.

I had limited time so I couldn't do a third activation. But if one was so inclined it is possible. If you take the toll road over Pokagon, Pipewort Pond State Nature Preserve, K-4220, is on the way at Bristol. If you take US 20 over Pigeon River State Fish and Wildlife Area, K-4218, is on the way on SR 3. If you did a circle the over achiever could do four activations.

If you wanted to do an overnight POTA excursion, Pokagon would be perfect. Pokagon has a campground, cabins, and an inn along with a myriad of activities to do. The state website is https://www.in.gov/dnr/state-parks/parks-lakes/pokagon-state-parktrine-state-recreation-area/

Park Leaders at K-2265

2023-05-05 by Rev. Fr. Robert Bower

I jumped on pota.app to verify the park number for Potato Creek and what do I see but three club members listed under Park Leaders.

As of today, May 5, 2023.

Barry Keating (WD4MSM) has the most activations at Potato Creek with ten; Chris Cook (N9JV) is second with eight; and Dave Ellis (N9UH) is tied for third with four.

Barry Keating (WD4MSM) is also second at Potato Creek for Activator QSO's with 211. Chris Cook (N9JV) is third with 180.

I think we are going to have a horse race on the 13th.

Things to do on your POTA Days

2023-05-05 by Rev. Fr. Robert Bower

MARC is having a POTA event on May 13th from 9 am to 1 pm at Potato Creek State Park, K-2265. Besides POTA what are other things one could do, especially if you have family that is not into radio. Here is the list I came up with.

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Geocaching
  • Fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Fox Hunt for those interested in radio
  • Photography
  • Picnicking