KD8FWV

HAM Radio & Technology

Redfield Weather Code Now on Codeplex

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I have published the code for my weather website on Codeplex.  This is my first project on Codeplex.  I hope to get a lot of great feedback and maybe even some people will want to use the code for the base for their own weather website.  The code includes all the ASPX and the supporting DLLs that I have also previously made available for download from my site.

The code should work with any zip code for forecasts and any personal weather stations that are sending data to Weather Underground.  It defaults to my zip code 49120 and personal weather station ID KMINILES3.  The constructors for the objects should take a zip code or station ID.  I don’t have any documentation on using the code, but now that all the code is available I hope developers will find most of it self documenting.  I try to be really good about using descriptive class and variable names.

Well if you are interested in the downloading the code you can get it from here http://redfieldweather.codeplex.com

Written by KD8FWV

April 9th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Posted in Weather

Weather Spotter

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SkywarnLogoTxtOutln2I took a basic weather spotter class in Edwardsburg, MI on March 31st.  I want to take the advanced training next year.

If you are interested in spotter training you should contact your local Warning Coordination Meteorologist.  For my area you can get more information about Skywarn at the Northern Indiana NWS Skywarn Information website.

You might be thinking why should I do this? We have modern equipment and RADAR. Why do they still need weather spotters? Well after going to this class you will know why. Radar really has a lot of limitations. It takes about 5 minutes to get an image and at about 50 miles out from the radar it can’t see anything under 3500 feet. Think about that for a few minutes. If you have low level rotation in the storm it is possible that the radar can’t see it and a lot can happen in 5 minutes. Early warning is what saves lives and as a spotter you could help. It only takes about 3 hours out of your life.

I have also updated my weather site Redfield Weather with a bunch of interesting links I got at the spotter training class.  You can get to those links here, http://www.redfieldweather.com/NOAA/Default.aspx.  I also made several other updates.  I have updated the regional radar map to a larger animated image and I also added an animated lightning strike map that is populated from my lightning detector.

Written by KD8FWV

April 2nd, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Weather

Microsoft Transparency

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So I tweeted this late last night (3/2/2011)
image

I have gotten many response asking me WTF I am talking about.  There was no way I could respond in 140 characters so I thought I would create a blog post.  Partly because it was time to post something else to my blog and also because I truly believe Microsoft has been doing a good job lately at being transparent and I wanted to state my case.

Let me start out by saying I am a Microsoft fan boy.  I have been for many many years.

Has Microsoft ever disappointed me? Yes.

I have been disappointed with how long it is taking to get the first update for Windows Phone.  I really was hoping Microsoft would be doing updates very quickly to show they are really going to kick ass.  I think the Windows Phone 7 OS is the best OS out there.  iOS is showing its age and Android just reminds me of Windows Mobile 6.5 with a pretty shell on top of it.  Android seems to have the upgrade and fragmentation issues that Windows Mobile had in the 6.5 and earlier days.  With Windows Phone Microsoft has finally said wait a minute enough is enough.  This is what you have to support for hardware and we are going to make sure no matter who makes the device that we have a consistent API and hardware.  This is great for software developers as you don’t have to worry what Bluetooth stack is installed on the device like you would have had to with Windows Mobile.

I don’t know of many other companies that have podcasts run by their employees that talk about their major hardware and software platforms. You may think podcast by Microsoft employees are going to be a hour 30 minute or longer commercial on why their products are the best. That isn’t how there podcasts go. They tell you what is going on the good and the bad.

The first podcast I want to talk about is Windows Phone Radio which is hosted by Brian Seitz (@brianseitz) and Matt Akers (@skipdeez) .  In this podcast they try to be very transparent and talk about issues customers have found.  This is very relevant to current events and issues Microsoft is having trying to release their first update for Windows Phone.  They have hit some snags with some Samsung devices. Having a Samsung device this is annoying because they stopped the update for Samsung devices and I want the update.  I know all this because I have read about it on Windows Phone Blog, they have many questions and answers about this issue in this blog post.

Matt Akers has another podcast he does with Jessica Zahn (@jetherealz) for Zune called the Zune Insider. Here they also do a very good job of being up front with Zune customers. If there were problems with the service even if it was something you might not have noticed they talk about it. They even ask for user feedback and input. They want to know what we like or don’t like about the products.  If you have questions about Zune you should make sure to send an email to askzune@microsoft.com.

The last podcast I want to talk about is Major Nelson Radio which is for their Xbox platform.  This podcast you have four great hosts Larry Hyrb (@majornelson), e (@thevowel), Stephen Toulouse (@stepto), and Laura Massey (@lauralollipop).  They discuss everything gaming and not just for the Xbox platform.  Don’t get them started on Civ V.

Microsoft also has Twitter accounts for support and if you have any questions you about Xbox, Zune, or Windows Phone I would recommend sending a tweet to @XboxSupport, @ZuneSupport or @WinPhoneSupport for the product you need help with.  This is out there for everyone to see.  With all this on Twitter you can see any problems other customers have contacted them about and see what if any resolution was found.  I have used both @XboxSupport and @WinPhoneSupport and have always had great service.

With all these lines of communication directly to customers from employees not PR, but real honest employees like project mangers and in some cases developers/testers.  With all this I am not sure why people don’t think Microsoft is trying to be transparent or communicate.  Yes, there are still some things they aren’t transparent about, but I really think they are trying harder than any other company.  Do you think Apple would release details about iOS 5 or show iPhone 5 9 months before it is released?

Now a few things I think Microsoft could do better with the Windows Phone 7 developer program.  I would love early developer access to OS updates like Apple does with iOS after have announced the new features of the OS.  I would also like to see multiple developer login under 1 master developer account.  Apple does this with their developer account and makes it easy for distributed developers to get work done.  This would be great for the company I work for.  I don’t want to have to give someone in our other office my Live ID and password just so they can developer unlock a Windows Phone to test the software.  I remember hearing about being able to do beta releases of your Windows Phone software you were going to be able to post it to the marketplace as like a hidden beta.  Where me as the developer would need the beta users Live ID and then I could send them a deep link into the marketplace and then they could install the software.  I don’t know this was ever implemented but I am really hoping it does as this would be a much better solution than what you have to do on an iPhone to run pre-release software.

Microsoft has recently announced just some very cool stuff coming this year for Windows Phone 7, and they also have announced a Kinect PC SDK,. I am very exited to see what else will be coming from Microsoft this year and what will Windows 8 bring. Can’t wait for that beta.

I know most people still won’t agree with me, but you can’t please everyone.  Just ask Microsoft.

Written by KD8FWV

March 3rd, 2011 at 12:51 am

Posted in Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 HAM Application

with 4 comments

So I really want to do a Windows Phone 7 HAM application and I am looking for comments on what people would like in that application.  Give me some suggestions.  I am working on a small Morse Code training application currently, but I am thinking something more. 

Do you want?

  • A mobile log that will send data back to home and sync with your log at home? 
  • A repeater lookup so using your GPS location it will tell you what repeaters are in your area? 

So please speak up and comment away.  Let me know what you would like in an application. 

Written by KD8FWV

December 18th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Posted in HAM,Windows Phone 7

Updated Weather Site

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So I finally got around to updating my weather site, www.redfieldweather.com.  It has been something I have been wanting to do for a while.  I couldn’t update it for the longest time because my hosting provider didn’t want to install ASP.NET 4.0 until they made sure it was stable.  They just got my site switched over to ASP.NET 4.0 this month.

My new site has a what I think is a cool Silverlight control that shows the current weather conditions.  It is updated every 5 seconds so it should only be a few seconds behind what my weather station is showing at home.  Now my next big challenge is to rebuild my weather computer.  I get random crashes in the Virtual Weather Station software I use and that computer has been running pretty much non stop since I installed my weather station back in 2005.

I have completely changed the layout of the site as well so any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Current Weather Conditions Page

Shows the current weather conditions using the new Silverlight control and if there are any current weather alerts they will be right under the current conditions.  Today’s current forecast is displayed right under that and then some basic almanac data is displayed.

Forecast

Shows the 6 day weather forecast

Weather Maps

Displays weather maps of the area and region including lightning strike data

I am sharing the objects I have created with anyone who wants to use them.  You can download them from here:  RedfieldWeather.zip  These objects use the API-XML Feeds from Weather Underground.  These objects are not yet complete.  As I add more functionality and complete missing functionality I will update the file and my blog.  By downloading and using these objects you agree to not hold Demiurge Software LLC liable.  You use these objects freely and may redistribute them freely.  I may also include the source code in later versions.

I currently don’t have any sample code on how to use them, but I will be working on that for a future post.  Right now I just wanted to get the word out that the site has finally been updated.

UPDATED (3/14/2011):  I have fixed the link to the RedfieldWeather.zip file.

Written by KD8FWV

December 11th, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Posted in .NET,Weather

Updating Redfield Weather

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Well it has been a long time since I have posted anything to my blog.  Things have been very busy, and I am very excited about the updates to www.redfieldweather.com that are coming.  One of the big things I am waiting for is my hosting provider to start support ASP.NET 4.0.  I am using the new framework in my site and I am adding Silverlight (www.silverlight.net).  I am very excited about what I am doing with Silverlight.  I am working on some cool user controls.  I do plan on making the Silverlight controls I have created freely available.

Here is an example of what my current conditions screen is going to look like

.newweather

My plan is to integrate weather alerts/warning for the area as well as forecasts.  I am also thinking about using Bing maps (maps.bing.com) and displaying the lighting data.  I would love to find a good source to weather radar images I could overlay on Bing maps, but I don’t know of one.

I am also planning on releasing a Windows Phone 7 (www.windowsphone7.com) application near or at release.  It just depends on how mature the SDK for it is before release and how much time I have.  With these Silverlight controls I have created for my website it should be really easy for me to get a Windows Phone 7 application out as they can share a lot of the same code.

Well that is it for know, but I hope to be posting more as this project moves on.  I am very excited about Silverlight and Windows Phone 7.

Written by KD8FWV

April 26th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Weather

Packet Radio

with 9 comments

Yes I know with the Internet speeds you can get hooking your computer up to your cell phone why would you want to do 1200 bps or 9600 bps over radio?  Well I tell you why, because it just sounds cool and is something I haven’t done before.  This could also come in very handy in an emergency situation where all the cell towers could be down.  I can always rely on my HAM radio equipment.

I am using, "The Ultimate Linking Interface" to connect my computer to my radio.  The ULI, is a nice little device with all the inputs and outputs you could want.  I also just purchased a FT-7800R so I could dedicate a radio to this effort.  Like all my other equipment I purchased this from www.hamcity.com

.packetradio

After a little trial and error I was able to get it up and running using the RJ-45 connector on the ULI and the 6 PIN DIN on the FT-7800R.  Here is the wiring layout that I used to connect the ULI to the FT-7800R.

Wiring Layout
FT-7800R to ULI
FT-7800R   ULI
PIN Description   PIN Description
1 PKD (Data in)   6 MIC Input
2 GND   5 MIC GND
3 PTT   4 PTT
4 RX9600   3 AF Output
5 RX1200   3 AF Output
6 PKS (SQL)   8 SQL Switch

Depending on the speed of the packets you want to send you would connect PIN 4 or 5 from the FT-7800R to PIN 3 on the ULI.  The ULI uses a standard RJ-45 connection and the PIN layout starts from the left.

I am running this on the same computer as my WiRES-II system.  I installed a second sound card, and to not cause any conflicts I am running VMWare Workstation 6 and Windows XP Pro inside the VM.  VMWare allows me to chose which sound card the Virtual Machine will use and this doesn’t cause any MIC or Speaker conflicts on the sound cards and each can be configured independently.

packetradio2

I am currently using AGWPE as my packet engine and I am using WinPak as the packet radio program.  It rides on top of AGWPE.  I haven’t done much with this yet, but I am hoping to get more involved with some people here locally that are doing this type of stuff.

Last weekend I also finally mounted my antenna a Diamond CR8900A 29/50/144/440 antenna on the roof this weekend.  It has been sitting just outside my basement door.  I know this probably isn’t the best base antenna, but for now it is working.  I don’t know much about antennas so any suggestions would be great.

packetradio3

My antenna is up on the same tripod as my Davis Vantage Pro2 system.  It is the tallest point I have right now.

Written by KD8FWV

June 12th, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Posted in HAM

Redfield Weather

with 19 comments

I have become a real big weather buff over the last couple of years.  I have a Davis Vantage Pro2 station on the roof.  All of my data is live on the Internet at www.redfieldweather.com and the Weather Underground at, http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KMINILES3.

I bought the Davis Vantage Pro2 a couple years ago now, and last year I added a Boltek Lightning detector.  That data is also pushed to my web site and to StrikeStarUS.

redfieldweather1

This picture is of my weather station computer and you can also see my FT-8900R radio along with the HRI-100 that connects it to WiRES-II.

The top monitor shows my lightening data and WASP2.  WASP2 is an application that displays data from StrikeStarUS and also display Doppler RADAR images.  WASP2 creates the main image on the top of my web page at www.redfieldweather.com.

The bottom monitor displays all the data collected from the Davis Vantage Pro2.  The software is Virtual Weather Station, not the coolest looking software but it does give me a lot of data and a lot of images that can be used on my web site.

Here is a very cold picture of the weather station in the ice we had earlier this year on 1-15-2007.

redfieldweather2

I also have a weather radio on my desk that is streaming the local NOAA weather radio to the weather underground.  You can listen to the stream here.  The weather radio also has an LED strobe attached to it, so when there is a weather alert the LED will flash.

My wife makes fun of me, but I think all this is cool.  I love computers and stuff that can connect to them.  Not a cheap hobby but a fun one none the less.

Written by KD8FWV

May 31st, 2007 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Weather

WiRES-II Setup and Running

with 19 comments

Well I finally got everything setup and running.  My server ID is 1468, and it is running in simplex mode on frequency of 433.125 MHz and a tone of 94.8.  It is running from a tower on my roof, so not the greatest footprint, but it is a start.  To get a list of active WiRES-II stations click here, http://www.vxstd.com/en/wiresinfo-en/activelist.html.

wiresii

There were some problems along the way and getting information from Yaesu was like getting your teeth pulled.  I would also like to thank WD7F John from Arizona for helping me fix some problems in my configuration and tolerating me tying up his repeaters.

One of my problem was trying to figure out how to connect the HRI-100 to the FT-8900R.  Every diagram I have seen on how to setup WiRES-II shows the configuration I have, so you would think it would include everything you would need to connect these 2 devices.  However when you get the HRI-100 it doesn’t include the expected cable.  It does include a 8 pin DIN connector with about 2′ of wire, so I ended up having to order the CT-39 packet connector for the FT-8900R.  This is a 6 pin DIN connector with again about a 2′ of wire.  You would think that after getting all this hardware that it should go together in a snap.  Well you would be wrong.  I couldn’t find anywhere online where there was a wiring diagram on how to connect the HRI-100 to the FT-8900R.  I just couldn’t believe that the configuration they display doesn’t have a wiring diagram.  Well I emailed the support email on the WiRES-II web site, and would you believe the email address they have for the US is a bad address, so that was no help.

After about a week of emails to any address I could find I finally emailed the main customer service email on the Yaesu site complaining about the lack of support, and would you believe the next day I got an answer to my email.  I finally got my wiring diagram got everything connected together and it wasn’t working.  The system wasn’t transmitting, so I rechecked my connections and I did everything that they showed.  I reviewed the packaging of of the CT-39A and I noticed that the PTT line wasn’t connected in their diagram.  I thought that was strange so I decided to wire the PTTs together and see what happened, and would you believe it worked.  I finally had WiRES-II transmitting and receiving on the Internet and on my local radio.

So nobody else has to go through the headache that I did wiring this up here is the correct wiring diagram (pin outs) that you would need to connect your HRI-100 to a FT-8900R

Wiring Layout
FT-8900R to HRI-100
FT-8900R   HRI-100
PIN Description   PIN Description
1 PKD (Data in)   3 Audio Out
2 GND   5 GND
3 PTT   6 PTT
4 RX9600   8 N/C
5 RX1200   7 AF Input
6 PKS (SQL)   1 Busy/COR

Well I hope that can help someone out there.  Where my headache can be someone else’s joy and easy setup.

You would think that this would be the worst of it, but you would be wrong.  I can’t believe in this day and age that to sign up for an Internet based service you have to snail mail in your application.  I don’t understand why I can’t fill out this application online and then within a few hours I should get my server ID.  I sent in my application and about 10 days later I got an email with my server ID.  The software I had was older so I went to the web site to download the newer version.  To access the download site you need your server ID and the serial number of your HRI-100.  Well my login wouldn’t work, I couldn’t login to the download site or sign-in to the older software that I already had.  The serial number that they had was wrong.  Several emails and many hours later they fixed my serial number on their servers and everything was working.

All that said I am pretty happy with the setup, it is nice to see a manufacture make a full Internet solution.  I do have a couple suggestions that I would like to see.  First I would like to see them put user forums on their WiRES-II web site.  Their email support is so slow and user forums could really help.  I would also like to see them make the software compatible with EchoLink.  There should be no reason they couldn’t do this and it would really widen the reach of a WiRES-II system.

WiRES-II isn’t very popular in the US, so I may have to switch to EchoLink down the road.  I may see if I can cross connect them myself on the same radio and computer, but I am not sure if all this will run on one computer with multiple sound cards.

Written by KD8FWV

May 31st, 2007 at 8:50 pm

Posted in HAM

Got My License

with 10 comments

Well I just got my HAM radio license KD8FWV. This is something I have wanted to do for years. My dad WA8MNF has been a ham for as long as I can remember. Since they have removed the Morse code requirement from all the levels I figured it was about time. I only have my Technician right now, but I am thinking I want to go all the way to Extra. Not sure what else I will do with it but I am looking forward to learning new stuff. I am really excited to see what I can do with my computer and my radio.

For my first radio I purchased a Yaesu VX-7RB. I purchased it from www.hamcity.com, and I would have to say I would high recommend them. When I purchased my radio I accidently ordered an extra belt clip. They emailed me before they shipped the order and told me about the problem and credited my credit card the money for the extra belt clip.

I have on order everything to setup a WIRES-II (Wide-coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System). I purchased a FT-8900R and a HRI-100 to get my radio on the Internet. I haven’t gotten them yet; the FT-8900R is on back order. I should get them this week and I am pretty excited to get this up and running.

I will get pictures and more information about my WIRES-II site up when everything is up and running.

Written by KD8FWV

April 23rd, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Posted in HAM