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Seeking advice on Allstar node

Discussion in 'Echolink/IRLP Tech Board' started by KJ5T, May 19, 2020.

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  1. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There is a group that meets each week for a net held on an Allstar node that I would like to join in on. While I may be able to use a club repeater, which I recently joined our local club and am waiting to hear back on their rules I also started looking into what it would take to have my own node.

    It seems a bit more involved than the DMR/YSF/D-Star hotspot type set-ups. A lot of the information I have found is a few years old which by tech standards is dated. Perhaps that is because the DMR stuff took over. I am not ready to bite the bullet and buy a DMR radio, I already have analog radios and can acquire a Baofeng much cheaper than a DMR radio. I may eventually invest in a hotspot but if I do I will probably go the YSF route and get an FT-70R.

    Back to the Allstar nodes. It looks like most of my options are going to be in the realm of a little homebrew. My soldering skills aren't the best but this looks fairly straight forward (http://www.bay-net.org/uploads/1/2/2/7/122774721/w6mnl-allstar-baycon2018.pdf). I am curious if anyone has built a node like the one mentioned in this presentation and if you can share any thoughts on it.

    I am not looking to run a full radio, even low power at 5 watts is overkill for what I want,I just want to be able to be able to use the node around my apartment, out on the balcony, maybe just around when walking outside. I am also not looking to spend a ton of money on this, in fact if I did the UV-82 route I wouldn't bother with the fancy box for everything.

    I am still researching stuff, not sure if WB3DZZ is still in business his name came up as someone making cables cheaper than the URI ones. If I got over a fear of complete and utter failure and had spare parts I could probably try my hand at the cable, again my soldering does need work.

    Looking for thoughts and feedback from the pros.
     
  2. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    AllStar is still typically in the world of homebrew; both in the radio/hardware sense, and in the software sense. Soldering skills are not the only issue. Linux skills play a part as well. I have built several AllStar nodes, but I would caution anyone without Linux and Asterisk experience that it may well be a process getting everything configured properly. All setup and maintenance is done in the command terminal and .conf text files. There are simply too many variables for a step by step, "do this and it WILL work 100% of the time" kind of guide--something will go wrong.

    The most critical portion of the hardware setup is a sound card with a very specific chip.

    None of this is to dissuade you, simply to help set expectations.

    There is only one commercial node option of which I am aware: https://www.node-ventures.com/buy-clearnode/

    It is not cheap, but it is well made and works quite well. Not only is all the hardware put together, but the node is completely configurable through a graphical interface via the app. Depending upon your level of knowledge and skill, it could well be worth what is probably any extra $100 in expenditure over building your own node.
     
    AH2AP likes this.
  3. KA1MXL

    KA1MXL Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are a slew of 'commercial' options out there for Allstar nodes and sound fobs. Hamvoip software uses a text based menu and will get you up and running in no time.
     
  4. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are a slew of commercial parts that can be used to build an Allstar node. It is not difficult for me, but I have guided enough people though it to know that it is quite challenging to many.
     
    AH2AP likes this.
  5. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would go with a RPi 3, And make a radio less node. Hardware cost about $50, Help Free.

    Enjoy.
     
  6. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you all for the feedback. I think I have mostly decided to scrap this project. At least for now. Just probably not worth my time for how little I am on VHF FM now. The group I was hoping to join doesn't actually seem very active. Looking to buy a house in the 4-6 months and may end up revisiting this after we get settled and I am putting together a shack.

    As mentioned above my soldering skills aren't the best. A lot of that is just lack do practice and never having the right equipment. Cheap soldering irons where you can't control the heat or not knowing to get the 60/40 Rosin Core solder can lead to mishaps. One of the things I do want to get when we do get a house and I have a little more space is a Hakko FX888D and then get some the through hole soldering kits that aren't too expensive and get the right practice.

    As for Linux and Asterisk skills, I may be a little rusty on Asterisk but I did administrator an Asterisk phone system for a non-profit in my early days in the tech industry. I spend a little time as an Linux Systems Administrator. I am not a wizard and I don't wear a kilt and rarely wear a Fedora but I am pretty comfortable with working in a shell and using vi/vim. The group I was hoping to join the net is the SDF ARC (http://sdfarc.org/).
     
  7. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is not a need to solder anything if you make a radio less node.

    You can attach to your node with a cell phone or computer using Asterisk.

    Maybe your group uses Echolink, That may be another option.

    The Hamvoip software for a RPi also lets you setup Echolink as well as Allstar. https://hamvoip.org/

    Have Fun.
     
  8. KB4UHK

    KB4UHK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a bit late to this but there is the Shari node, https://hamprojects.info/shari/ which includes the radio components as well. All that is needed is the Raspberry Pi.
     
    K2FDR and KA9JLM like this.
  9. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    That looks Cool. :cool:
     
    KB4UHK likes this.

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