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Shiawassee Amateur Radio Association [SARA]

Established: January, 1958 an ARRL Affiliated Club since 1961

"Whiskey 8 Quack Quack Quack"

Meets at: James P. Capitan Center, Lower Level; 149 E. Corunna Ave.; Corunna, MI 48817 Monthly: 2nd Tuesday @ 7:00 PM

Club station located in the James P. Capitan Center - Lower Level.
IARU: 2 Grid Square EN72wx   Latitude: 42.9819 N   Longitude: -84.1164 W   Alitude: 760 ft.

Contact us at:   SARA / W8QQQ <Email>

You're invited to a club meeting!  7:00 PM the 2nd Tuesday of each month in Corunna, MI.


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SARA Raspberry Beginning

Introduction to Raspberry Pi [RPi] ~ SARA Suggests You Start Here

Some Essential RPi Information

Some things which are critical to your RPi enjoyment (lower fustration levels) need to be said at the beginning. Many sites say these things, but bury them down in the details. A quick list from SARA of things you really need to know before you get started. The different versions of RPi have differences, learn the specifics for what hardware you have chosen to use. Capabilities are different between models and power requirements may shift around.

  • Software

    There are two parts, first the SD card and then 'computer style. You MUST learn how to program your SD card on another computer. Many are 'Windows' systems, but there is support for 'Apple' and 'Linuix' operating systems as well. You WILL be doing this much more than once - take the time to really learn this step. It is something you will just need to learn.

    The RPi distro you choose will change what you see and do as you boot the RPi system.

    An easier approach (on Windows) is to burning your SD card is to use Etcher by Resin. The program allows quick and easier burning of SD cards and USB drives. Select the version you need; 64 bit or 32 bit Windows system.

  • Physicaly Connecting Hardware

    Carefully double check what you have done - BEFORE power is applied to the RPi, then power it up. This goes a long way to eliminate the "I let the smoke out step". You miss unhappy question of: "Now what do I do?".

  • Network Connection

    You will NEED an internet network connection to get things going properly on the RPi. You can use a cable (direct) or WIFI (may require extra effort on your part).

  • Update / Upgrade

    You need to insure you are working with the latest RPi software. You will learn to update / upgrade to keep thinks going smoothly. You should do this whenever you are installing software on your RPi system. Learn the steps as you first start.

  • Power It Down {Properly Shutdown is VERY important}

    It is very important to correctly power down the RPi especially after an initial setup. This insures the SD card will have all the updated information saved to this point. Always, always, always shutdown a RPi correctly. Linux is a 'cached' computer system, meaning it stores information in 'temporary' storage. You need to move this to the SD card before powering down (or you will become very practiced at burning S/D cards). If you do not correctly power down, then the card will not reboot properly and you probably will need to 'reprogram the SD card'. This step is one new comers will quickly learn as reburning the corrected SD card is kind of an unnessary learning experience. You did make a current backup of your SD card data? Right? If not you need to rebuild the entire file/card.

Learning to always do these things every time on the RPi will lead you to fewer problems and a much more enjoyable time.

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Raspberry Pi [RPi] Models

The number of RPi models continues to expand and indications it will continue for the future. Our site does NOT offer details on all the various models. We will be better served to follow on the official RPi site and on the magazine site -- the "MagPi". Downloads are free so you can find almost any topic that someone has documented. See: The MagPi Magazine for 'cover shots' of the magazine and books and links to the free downloads. Go here for a MagPi Magazine and Books listing. The "Zero", "Model 2", "Model 3" and "Model 4" with variations inside each model are the basics of what you need to track. The cost impact runs from about $10.00 to $50.00 for each RPi unit.

The RPi series of microcomputers are based on an "ARM Architecture" and accesory parts that yield USB ports, Video, operating power interfacing and various intefacing hardware. Basically the ARM GNU/Linux distribution supports the operating system characteristics you chose to use.

Oh, adding to the cost of the RPi, you will spend about $65.00 for additional hardware to get an initial RPi operating. Pretty frugal for getting started with a new computer. Your costs will get lower (or higher) depending on what hardware and computer system stuff you may have on hand. You will be adding additional capabilty as you progress. Most hobbyist top out below $500.00 for their RPi system support.

More information on some RPi models:

The "RPi Zero" is a smaller, lowest price model (a less featured) aimed at the $5.00 computer market. Suggest you start with "Mag Pi #42" the feature articles are on the RP Zero.

RPi 3 had better hardware than previous models (on board WIFI, better USB connection capability, bluetooth, etc.). It is a quad core 64 bit processor, but uses only 32 bit architecture. It has 32kB Level 1 and 512kB Level 2 cache memory. The RPi 3 GPIO is 'pin compatible' with the 40 pin GPIO from RPi 2, but does use a different UART porting (software takes care of that for you). Briefly some specifications can be summed as below.

RPi 4 added more capabilities, like dual 4k HDMI video. We suggest you visit the MagPi Issue 83 (RPi 4 Intro) for details. See MagPI Magazines site for feature function articles on any RPi.


See "Mag Pi #43" for the RPi 3 review and lots of information (free to download).


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RPi System Considerations

Here are some of basic details to check for your model:

SCHEMATICS: Check the Raspberry Pi site for schematics for the Raspberry Pi Model A, B, A+ and B+, etc. Schematics for the Raspberry Pi Model A, B, A+, B+ and Model 4. You can check out what configurations are available with a little snooping. All models are here for your review, also. Pay attention of logic pin voltage levels.

GPIO: Early RPi models had a 26 pin GPIO configurations and later models have a 40 pin design. GPIO stands for "General Purpose Input/Output", which are pins that a user uses to directly connect into the system. RPi GPIO pins can be configured as either general-purpose input, general-purpose output or as one of up to 6 special alternate settings, the functions of which are pin-dependant. You need to insure you do NOT over power the pins. Voltage greater than 3.3 volts WILL DAMAGE the unit (called bricking the unit). For additional GPIO information see: GPIO for RPi from Also, check out eLinux GPIO data for BCM2835 (just similar for RPi 2 details) and Raspberry Pi Tutorial on GPIO, etc. See: GPIO Pinout Documentation for your model.

POWER: can (will) be an issue with the RPi, especially if you use a powered USB hub (for expanding the USB ports). You need to know that some USB hubs can 'back power' the RPi (eliminates the need for a separate RPi supply), HOWEVER this will eliminate the PS protection circuits on the RPi. This means that if the hub backpowers the unit and a 'surge' comes from the USB hub side, then the RPi can be damaged (it lets the smoke out ~ they are NOT good paperweihghts). You have been warned! BE CAREFULL. See site: RPi Power.

USB Ports: There are some issues using USB 3.0 devices on the RPi. Some configurations will require USB 2.0 hubs along with USB 3.0 hubs to get things sorted out. See the following linked information: USB port information from The SARA reccommendation is to get a multiported (four or more) USB 2.0 p(or newer) powered hub with diode backfeed protection. These are not to hard to find on the internet shopping sites).

SPI Bus: You can utilize the single SPI by proper configuration (software). See the following linked information: further SPI information from You are best served with searching the internet and MagPi magazine articles.

Video Output(s):The RPi 4 has new video output specifications (dual HDMI mini). Again do some information mining and you will be all set. The 'dual outputs' have some items to work on but information is out there.

Raspberry Pi Information on the Web: The web has several great places for information on the RPi. Start with the founder's site {Raspberry Pi Org}- lots of great stuff for you to absorb! Adding another nice, well organzed page with great information for the RPi family at ARCH Linux site for RPi Information. Use the site for RPi Hub for another resource.

See SARA's RPi Web Resources topic lower down this page for a list of some great links.

A suggested first next step ~ Got hardware now where, lets send you to engadget now what? is a good place to start. Discusses initial startup and beyond (nice step-by-step). Also, see SARA's Initial Powering RPi another "SARA's idea page".

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Raspberry [RPi] Hardware Listing

RPi Computer board (Model = TBD). Decide where you are going to start for the support of your project. Micro Computer Center [USA] carries a selection of models. Shop around as prices vary.
So answering "Which RPi board / version to grab?" becomes a starting point issue you need to understand. Board cost is usually NOT the reason to decide between boards, all high end models cost between $30 ~ $50, if you watch for sales. Suggestion on best choice: the higher the model, the added probability you will continue to use it in the future. Look at specs and decide where you want to start. You need to decide if your going to be 'headless' for you project(s). Many user got 'headless', meaning no monitor or keyboard or mouse in the final project.

Answers then develop a list of "NEEDED Supporting Hardware" (mine follows)

Other Hardware "between" a need or strong want:

A list of starting hardware DESIRES (you may want to consider):

This selection allows a large amount of development capability for you to use. There 'sensor kits' that adds another 30 to 40 sensor for consideration.

NOTE: A HAT is a direct hardware plug-in for the RPi. Unsure which convention came first the 'HAT' or the 'Hardware Above The' RPi, they are now interchangable terms. A HAT formally 'requires' a chip on the HAT board which identifies the HAT (each HAT has separate ID) and allows for 'auto configuration' of the device via software. No chip on board, then it is not a truely a HAT. The board may be 'hardware above the' RPi, but fails official definition.

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Raspberry Pi [RPi] Software

Starting out software thoughts [SARA]:

Most users start with a Linux based operating system. You can then use C & variation as a base system environment. There are other choices but we will ignore those here. Generally new users will load Linux, then transfer to a higher level language of their choice. This allows the "user" to choose the language to us. The RPi should not 'force a particular language' to the user. The user controls what language to speak and the system responds. Most computer languages are available to the user in the RPi environtment. That is why the RPi is very popular choice... use the language(s) you already know and develop your project where you can use that expertise you have worked hard to develop computer understanding. The system cost is "low", the flexibilty is "large" and YOU are in control.


Choosing a distro [distribution] for your RPi particular needs can be a daunting process. I can almost guarantee you will use more than one as your knowledge grows. You can choose a 'simple to operate' distro at the start [NOOBS], but you will most likely migrate to one that better meets your specific needs at some later date and then probably go through several different ones until you find the one you like the most. Then you may wish to modify that one thus creating your own specific Linux version.

The suggested NOOBS installation manager will allow you to choose from the following: See NOOBS Setup Site on the page. The difference between 'NOOBS' and 'Raspian' is exactly what gets installed. The 'NOOBS' allows choosing some other program language choices as the insall proceeds, the 'Raspian' goes straight to a Debian based Linux, but does include some application programs. You choose to make it what you want. The RPi 2 and RPi 3 models make pretty good standalone computers for web surfing and simple usage (earlier models were 'not so much' as a general purpose computer ~ slow).

You can install from CD or by Internet Downloading

Network Installs {Others} ~ requires an active internet connection:

PROGRAMING LANGUAGE CHOICES: {a limited list for a start}

Additional Software Items will come as we learn and work our configurations. 'C', Fortran, and many others are avaiable. Please come back later to see what develops.

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Raspberry Pi2 Beginning Information - SARA

Start the Learning

See a "first time setup" for RPi 2 on this You-tube video You-Tube Video for RPi 2. Then go to RPi Tutorials {You-Tube} and try the 'Related Channels" on the right side of that page.

Now go over to and read up and click on lots of their links for RPi on the RPi Hub page. Also, checkout their RPI for Beginners and RPi Tutorials pages. The 'Tutorials' page has many, many RPi things you can try, so be sure to look it over closely. A useful introduction to the RPI is at: Code Project's Intro RPi.

Other blogspot/uTube links to check for getting going on RPi Linuix is Trying Out Rpi. For some essential Linuix commands try: uTube on Essential Linux commands (22). Network Command Line Tools.

Programming S/D Card

A process you will want to learn to use is the S/D card programming. Study the process and make sure you get it memorized, you will use it frequently. Make sure to 'backup' each card file you use. This becomes very important when you need to restore an S/D card. Many hours can be wasted rebuilding a file versus using a backup copy.

You will need to learn and use a S/D card programming utility program. There are many to choose from but one 'open source' project is Look it over and see if it fits your needs.

Basic Linux Directory Layout

Linux has everything grouped under the root file system as a branch on a RPi. A quick ls / command will display the root directory list. It will have the following structure:




Folder for Linux Kernel and other packages necessary to booth/start the Pi


The Raspian related binary files including those for required to run the GUI of the OS


This is one of those virtual directories and this is used for accessing all the connected devices including the storage


Misc config files like encrypted passwords are put in this


This is like My documents and each username will get a separate directory under this


Lib= libraries, code required by various applications


Dump of pieces of files are stored here when the system crashes


Dir for removable storage dives like USB and CD


Used to mount external hard drives and similar storage devices manually


Optional software directory, any apps that are not part of the OS will go here


Another Virtual directory, this contains info about running processes (programs)




System maintenance binaries typically used by the root/superuser



Operating system files


Temporary files


This is used as storage for user accessible programs


Virtual directory that a program can use to persist data

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Some Steps to Consider:

Booting You RPi

After going through the links above, you are then ready to get going on your RPi. The latest releases of software will 'auto boot' you into the graphical User interface [GUI] with some setup items already taken care of for you. You may wish to open a terminal window and go to the 'raspi-config' and insure you have things setup the way YOU want. In the newer 'Raspian' releases there is a GUI application for this: "Menu-Preferences-Raspberry Pi Configuration". From there you can quickly do 'System' changes like S/D card expansion, change password, etc., then on the 'Interfaces' tab you can enable/disable SSH, camera, etc. 'Peformance' does not currently allow you to adjust much. The 'Localisation' tab is where you can set the clock variables, and let the RPi know where you are. Set the 'Locale'; 'Timezone', Keyboard Type' and 'WiFi country' for your particulars. You probably should reboot after any changes (it sometimes tells you that, but not sure if it always does).

The "Menu-Preferance-Keyboard and Mouse" are where you adjust the properties for these ~ I like a different mouse sensitivity then the default values.

Hey hams! look at the "Menu-Preference-Add / Remove Software" and in the search box enter 'Ham Radio" for large list of relevant software you can download (all free stuff). All the other areas give you an idea of what you can do. Welcome to the Linux side of computing!

See SARA's Initial Powering RPi for a 'Step-by-Step' process on your initial boot (using earlier RPi2. Just go slow at the start and you will not have too many issues. Thinking and working through any issues as they come up will lead you to learn Linux as you go. Try to understand what you are doing and why the initial issue came up. This 'go and try' approach will teach you faster then any other process. Take time to really understand as you go along and you will be surprized how much and how fast you learn. Do NOT get discouraged by what you see as you progress, just continue to work through the individual issues and you will learn and improve quickly. Even little kids can go through this, so you can to, just keep kicking the pile and it will move and your leaarning will progress.

REALLY IMPORTANT HINT: Whenever you power down the RPi, take the time to do it correctly, otherwise issues will show up that may force you to start with a new / clean SD install. This can waste a lot of your time and really be tuff, if you have made many personalized changes to the system. That leads to 'a system backup' being a highly desired thing to master early in your learning process. So proper 'start-up'; 'shut-down'; & 'backup' are areas you need to spend time learning early in your journey.

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SD Card Backup

The latest 'Raspian' releases of Raspian have a S/D card backup installed (RPi3)

For Windows users the 'Raw HDD Copy Tool' from HDD Guru works well to backup and restore your SD card between projects. This can backup and restore the entire card sector by sector to/from an img file, and doesn't care which file system is on the card.

Get and read information on the Raw HDD Copy Tool here.

Linux and Mac OS(X) users can use the dd tool that comes with most versions of Linux (including Raspbian) to save the contents of an SD card as an image file. Warning: be sure to use this tool carefully as accidentally choosing your hard drive as the output will destroy all data on it. Read you 'man' page to be sure you understand the processs.

Mac OSX users can use PiCloner. The PiCloner app is easy to use and will help you detect your SD card, back it up to an img file and is able to compress the img using GZIP to decrease backup size. PiCloner is Free Open Source Software (FOSS) released under a BSD License.

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RPi Remote Access ~ SSH

You may wish to control your RPi from a differnet computer. Better monitor, improved operating position, or better control of your projects might be a valid reason(s). Using a terminal program (or a Graphical Interface) on another computer is easy to do on the RPi. The first thing you need to do is get the IP valid address for your RPi and insure 'port 20' is open. Check RPi Remote Access {eLinux} for how to do this. There is another way to do this with VPN, but we will leave that for you to explore as it is more advanced. It also, a little more secure then opening up port 20.

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Connecting RPi to Your Printer

Use CUPS to install a printer is a good first step towards priniting. See CUPS Printer Setup.

You can then use your RPi as a printer interface for other wireless devices (computers, phones, tablets, etc.). Not necessarily easy for a beginner, but the instructions are detailed enough you can get through them by using the information at Mobile Print Server from RPi. Imagine an older USB printer and a RPi as a wireless print server for all your portable devices. I am thinking this might be a great project for a "RPi zero".

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USB and Hard Drive Installs

You may desire to add USB drives and/or hard drives to your RPi system. Usually HD (USB) will be much faster then either USB and SD devices. Read about this topic at Adding USB and HD (eLinux).

GPIO Hardware & Software

Using the GPIO on RPi is where "the rubber hits the road" for radio amateur radio applications. See the eLinux site GPIO Hardware & Software for detailed information. For the GPIO voltage level shifting see: GPIO Level Shifting {eLinux}. The thing to remember is that direct connecting to GPIO pins requires a circuit protection strategy or you will fry the RPi!

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Serial Port on RPi

Some consideration must be given to the serial port on the RPi. First is the voltage levels of +/- 3.3 volts... these are NOT the standard for RS-232 ports and different than the +/- ports of some other serial port devcices. You MUST use caution here, or bye-bye RPi. Go searching for some voltage level circuits for the RS-232 for use with you RPi. eLinux RPi Serial Port is a page to review some of the specifics. Check the following as some more information is available:

View the schematic from AB Electronics showing the earlier 26 pin GPIO connection process for adding a SPI

Schematic of Serial Port from AB Electronics.

NOTE: Rig control usually uses a serial port [SPI] so is of an interest. Some modern rigs are changing to USB methods, but is not very wide spread, yet (2017).

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Software Install ~ General

Using the Bourne Again Shell [BASH] to install software

The best way to install software on your RPi (and learn some Linux at the same time).

  1. Log in to your Raspberry Pi, but don't enter the GUI desktop environment. Alternatively, if you're in the desktop environment, double-click the LXTerminal icon to open a shell session (open a 'terminal') or go to logout in the "Shutdown" menu.
  2. The first step before installing any software is to update your system using the repository, which is a online list of packages the package manager knows about. You do that by entering the following command: sudo apt-get update . The apt cache contains an index of all the software packages available, and you can search it to find the software you want. For example, you can find all the games by using sudo apt-cache search game | less .

    Suggestion you do a 'man' page on the 'apt' command. Understand the 'install'; 'purge'; and 'remove' aspects of the command and what is really going on. The 'apt' command is used for removing software also. If you use 'remove' instead of 'purge', you run a risk of leaving behind configuration files on your system waiting for future problems.

  3. From this listing, find the software package you want to install. Each line has the name of a package, a hyphen, and then a description of the package.
  4. Use the up and down cursor keys (or Page Up and Page Down keys) to move through the list of files. Press Q to finish browsing the list. In the listing, the part before the hyphen tells you the name of the package, which is what you need to know to be able to install it. That might not be the same as the programs title or its popular name.
  5. When you know the name of the package you would like to install, the following command downloads it from the Internet and installs it on your system, together with any other packages it needs to work correctly (known as dependencies): sudo apt-get install program-name. The last part (program-name) is the name of a program package found by searching the cache.

Your software is now installed! You should be able to run it either from the shell by entering its name, or through your Programs menu in the desktop GUI environment.

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Raspberry Pi [RPi] Web Resource Links

A list of web links for RPi & Linux (knowledge sources) ~ You must investigate these!

Linux and Raspberry Pi [RPi] Print Literature ~ Magazine and Book Resources

A list of printed literature for Linux and RPi: (knowledge sources ~ check some offer downloads that are 'free' to 'very cheap')

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Raspberry Pi2 WIFI Access Point

See a tutorial on setting up a RPi as an Access Point RPi WIFI Access Point

You need to replace driver=rtl871xdrv with driver=nl80211 in the hostapd config, there is no need to update hostapd as described in the docs - the one in the latest Rasbian image works just fine. [March, 2016]

RPi 3 and 4 have built in options for WIFI.

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Raspberry Pi2 [RPi] Ham Radio

A growing list of starting ham radio usages and concepts to work will be added at a later time. Stay tuned and check back often!

Check the Yahoo group: Raspberry_Pi_4-Ham_RADIO for some other resources.

TNC / Packet Setup

Setting up a RPi for RPi TNC can be a challenge. Check these out:

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Ham Radio Programs for 'Raspian'

Link Ham Radio Projects takes you to 'Debian' where you can choose to look at various programs. Age and stability of the system is a choice you need to work around and understand ;>)

Seven Segment Display from the RPi

Driving digital display may be of use in some of your projects. Check this site: Seven Segment Disply on RPi.

RPi with a SDR Scanner Application

Use the RPi with a SDR dongle and you have a "scanner" for you usage to see what RF is around. RPi Scannner from SDR Dongle.

GPS on Your RPi

Get GPS information from 'Ultimate GPS Breakout' on you RPi GPS information from 'Ultimate GPS Breakout'.

Satelite Ground Station

See HackSpace #18, page 42 for an interesting article on building a 'satelite ground station' and connecting to SATNOGS network (see Design Spark SATNOGS article for additional information.) It takes a RPi 3, an SDR Dongle, and an Antenna. Thanks to Dennis Phillips, KC8ETW for this linked information.

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Raspberry Pi with HSMM {BBHN}

The RPi makes a great HSMM computer (node) providing easy way to get going. {Especially the RPi3 with it's built in WIFI.} Look through these for some ideas.

Please let us know what you and/or your group is doing with Raspberry Pi and HSMM.

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First RPi Page Summary ~ SARA

All the above information is a quick "flash" of information. It is not meant to be presented in a straight step by step manner (perhaps open for a future project), but is a large amount of information to get you started searching for RPi & Linux on the internet. Enjoy and 73's.


Future Content Alert ~ SARA

SARA will keep adding here as we find and work our systems around to 'ham radio' usage(s). Let us know if you find something we should be aware of, please. Use the email link in the footer of our web pages.



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