The goal in geekdom is to always advance the skills but we should NEVER forget where we came from and re-visiting it from time to time is nostalgic and cool to the up and coming geeks.
One particular rite of passage for being a geek is taking an Altoids tin and doing something geeky with it. Here’s my favorite project and then right after showing this I’ll go further back into my geek roots with my first Altoids tin project.
Ok…..This started innocently enough. I’m into short wave radio and saw a website where a guy had a little cloth bag that looked kind of sort of military in style, and looked very durable. He used the bag for a radio, power brick, antenna, etc. As I was looking at that picture I kept keying back in on that bag………..so I emailed the guy and said “what bag is that”?
Red Oxx was the reply. So I ordered one of these bags which was called the Lil ‘Roy.
And wow is this thing ever built great!
So I used it for the shortwave radio and then this cute gal around the corner needed something fixed. So I’m looking and looking for something to carry my tools in and then it hits me. Lil Roy is a tool carrying machine!
I have a Whistler TRX-1 Police Scanner and live in New Bern, NC. There are two systems that I track in New Bern.
The New Bern Public Safety (NBPS) and North Carolina VIPER system. VIPER works great however the New Bern Public Safety……..not so much. It only rarely grabs a transmission and then if it does it is very broken up or robotic. Not good.
Thanks to TV reporters pretending the storm was a lot worse than it was the entirety of the free world thinks that all of New Bern is destroyed and is now just like the Lost Colony of Roanoke. I’m not trying to minimize the damage to New Bern as it was substantial but New Bern is a Semi-Large Small Town and everyone doesn’t own a home or business on the River.
Basically the Hurricane created HARD days all of Thursday and Friday with some wind and rain on Saturday but no so bad that you couldn’t perform your recovery actions.
As Barry Manilow said……….”Looks like we made it”. The hurricane is over but the aftermath lingers on. This is me at 2AM. What a fella won’t do for coffee. When times are hard having your favorite beverage helps tremendously. I can’t stress enough what a morale booster it is.
Day 3 of no power begins. I have a full generator tank and 10 gallons of gas left. I also have 1 inverter generator with about half a tank and THREE more waiting that says I can keep the fridge on a few more days.
Today is the day we find out if I’m as prepared as I think I am. While it no longer seems to be a direct hit it does seem like we are JUST outside the hurricane force wind zone and will be in the Northeast Quadrant of the storm where the heavy rains are. Some forecasts show 20-40 inches of rain in this area which will cause massive flooding. I fully anticipate our neighborhood will get cut off.
I’m an RTL-SDR geek and in a pinch that means when the NOAA satellites fly by I can download the Automatic Picture Transmission signal (APT) directly from the satellite and receive real time telemetry. That’s pretty cool I think. Here’s one from Sep 12th in the late afternoon.
Hurricane Florence coming! You’ve all seen weather radios and you’ve all seen they generally cost $50 or more. On a good day you can find one for $35 or so.
The goal is to receive NOAA which transmits on the following 7 frequencies. There will be one or two specific to your area. The frequencies below are in MegaHertz (MHz).
So at this point it is safe to say I’m a police scanner junkie. This started with my love of Software Defined Radio (SDR) devices. You get an SDR then you tune to FM stereo, then you track aircraft ADSB, then somewhere along the lines you start listening to anything you can which includes emergency services stuff.
First you just listen to analog police, then you find out there are digital trunked systems. That evolves into using programs such as DSD+ with Unitrunker or another program called SDRTrunk or OP25.
Then you realize that you’re into hardware scanners. I started out with a Uniden SDS100 which is probably the most technologically advanced consumer grade scanner on the market at this moment. It probably unseated the Whistler TRX-1. If you read the forums there is kind of a Ford/Chevy thing going on with Uniden/Whistler. I had to see what all the fuss was about so I got the Whistler TRX-1.
So I bought the Uniden SDS100 hardware scanner, and I love it. But it cost $700, and then I added DMR decoding for $60, and NXDN decoding for $50. So I’m into this in a big way. The SDS100 is POWERFUL. It is not a toy by any stretch of the imagination. It comes with free control software called Sentinel (yeah the download is hard to find on that page). Sentinel is adequate for managing favorites and reading and writing to the scanner and it is all you NEED.
However I stumbled across this hunk of software called Proscan which looked interesting but it also costs $50. Where does the cost with this scanner end? Well, like most programs Proscan has a 30 day trial version so I gave it a shot. After playing with it for like an hour I knew it was worth the cost so I bought it. It does NOT disappoint.
Ok, I’m more and more impressed with my new SDS100 scanner and just learned that it has GPS capability (with an added external module). Heck I was impressed that you could just type in the zip code and pull in all the local services fit to scan.
And that’s all good unless you are MOVING because as you move on down the highway your zip code obviously changes. Also if you have a GPS module then you don’t even have to know what zip code you are in. Win, win.
Trouble is the “official” accessory for the SDS100 GPS module costs another $100 (with shipping) or so on top of the scanner which already costs about $700. In addition to that you need a $20 cable not included. Ouch! So…..$120 for GPS or roughly $40. You decide!
This module was designed by a poster at RadioReference.com named Hit_Factor who came up with a $42 DIY module.
This is what we are going to make. We need:
GPS Receiver – $35
Mini USB Connector – $7.50 for 10
A USB cable with a USB “A” connector on one end. You probably have one laying around somewhere. Doesn’t matter what is on the other end as you’ll chop it off anyway. It needs to be of sufficient wire gauge so it can carry current. Some cables have tiny, tiny 28 ga. wire. That won’t cut it.