Category Archives: FLx/FLDigi

July Training After Action Report

On Saturday, July 16, 2016, PWCARES conducted our regular training outside at the Prince William County government facility. During this training we did two things:

  • Learned how to remotely control a station using TeamViewer[1], remote control software
  • Practice digital communications with FLDIGI

Remote Control

Chuck, KA3EHL, demonstrated how to remotely control a radio. The use case for this is in case we have to use HF, but we cannot run wires. For example, at the EOC, where the building has to remain secure. There are two parts to the system.

Chuck working the remote station
Chuck working the remote station


The first part is the remote system, a laptop running Windows and the TeamViewer software. The second part is the host station, connected to the HF radio, running TeamViewer software, and additional digtial software and radio control softwere. Chuck’s radio, an IC–7200,[2] comes with control software, but you could easily use FLRIG if your radio supports it. Chuck demonstrated sending a message with FLDigi, set to the Olivia[3] transmission protocol.

The HF host machine and HF rig
The HF host machine and HF rig


This is possible by setting up a BBHN[4] mesh network. TeamViewer needs a network connection, whether that connection is a Local Area Network (LAN), an Internet connection or a BBHN mesh connection. Chuck had flashed two Linksys routers with the BBHN software and connected each laptop to the router. Each router was powered by its own battery, but could be powered by commercial mains if available. He then sent a message which was received and responded to by Larry, K0LB, and was also seen at Tom, W4PIO’s station on the other end of the field.

Tom, W4PIO, working HF
Tom, W4PIO, working HF


Chuck’s full presentation is posted to the PWCARES website in Operating Procedures[5].

Digital Exercise

The second part of the exercise was the sending and receiving of messages using FLDigi. This exercise utilized the standard setup for FLDigi in a VHF environment[6]. We had a couple of team members operating from their home station as well as some in the field. There was a combination of radios and laptops and as we have discovered in the past, just bcause it worked yesterday, it may not work today. Each problem was worked through as it came up, and some problems will require a bit more research.

Members of PWCARES getting ready for the next exercise (Photo: A. Lenhart
Members of PWCARES getting ready for the next exercise (Photo: A. Lenhart)


Thanks to those who came out and those who partcipated from home.

  1. You can use TeamViewer for non-commercial purposes for no charge.  ↩
  2. Details about the IC–7200.  ↩
  3. Details about the Oliva protocol from Wikipedia.  ↩
  4. Details about broadband-hamnet  ↩
  5. A quick link to Chuck’s presentation.  ↩
  6. As detailed in Section 6.11 of the PWCARES Action Plan.  ↩

July 2016 Exercise

Prince William County ARES July 2016 Exercise

Version: 20160713–01 v1


Because of the high temperatures expected, we will move the beginning of the exercise back to 0830 EDT .

If you are not coming out, but are going to be around during our training hours, please feel free to jump on the air and participate as well, either by voice or digital means.

I will bring out a couple of pavilions for shade (and so you can see the monitors) and I will bring out a large video screen as well. Tables, chairs, and gear as I have room.

We will be conducting a multi-pronged exercise.

  • There will be a demonstration of remote control of an HF station by Chuck, KA3EHL
  • There will be a demonstration (and hopefully some traffic passing) of HF digital
  • We will again exercise VHF digital
  • We will practice sending and receiving voice traffic

Remote HF

Chuck, KA3EHL will demonstrate remote control of an HF station, using BBHN. This should be quite interesting!

HF Digital

As part of the demonstration of remote control, we will do some HF digital work. Coordination and details of the HF digital part of the exercise will be hashed out over the next couple of days with the parties who have volunteered.

VHF Digital

We will follow our normal plan of operations for VHF digital (see the Action Plan, section 6.11 for details). This is a good chance to come out and get your gear working, configure your gear, or find out more about digital.

Please make sure you have the FLDigi software loaded prior to coming out, as we will not have reliable Internet connectivity.

Voice work

Please bring a sample ICS–213 form as we will do some voice message traffic work as well!

Good-bye 2015

Where did the year go? No, really? What happened to 2015? It will go down as being warm. Thank you El Nino for providing us with one of the warmest Christmases on record. It was quiet, from a hurrican perspective in the Atlantic basin. Again, thank you El Nino. It was, weatherwise, a very calm year.

It was also a quiet year event wise. Prince William County ARES participated on one exercise, Operation Summer Deluge and a couple of Marine Corps runs providing safety and security on the course. We will be doing it again in 2016.

We have had a couple of quiet years. It has been nice. We have added new members, and focused on beefing up our digital activities. We will move on in 2016 to increasing our use of digital systems and work with Prince William County to integrate with their systems as best we can.

Our goals for 2016?

  • Practice, practice, practice. There is never enough time to practice.
  • Traffic handling. We need to practice traffic handling, both voice and digital. Again, we never practice this enough.
  • BBHN. I am looking forward to seeing what BBHN can do to improve our digital connectivity.
  • HF Digital. I would like us to work on our HF skills, and HF digital is an increasingly popular way to do that.
  • MCM support. We will again be supporting the Marine Corps Marathon program office at the Crossroads 17.75 and Turkey Trot directly as well as the Marine Corps Marathon indirectly.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Did I mention we will be doing lots of practice?

Want to get more invovled? Our next meeting is Saturday, January 16, 2016, at 0900 at the Prince William County EOC, 3 County Complex, Prince William, VA. Hope to see you there.

July Exercise Write Up

Stu, WA0DYJ (L) and Dave, W4DAV (R) getting set up to operate
Stu, WA0DYJ (L) and Dave, W4DAV (R) getting set up to operate

On Saturday, July 19, 2014, the Prince William County ARES cadre took to the field for a communications exercise. The exercise was centered around a recovery operation, the day after a hurricane came through the region. There were seven operational stations representing the Emergency Operation Center, the two primary hospitals in the county, two shelter locations, and two points of distribution for supplies. The exercise was designed with a mixture of message types, both voice, and digital. The messages were representative of the types of traffic that would be passed during a normal activation. There were fifteen operators acting as the various locations. It was a successful exercise with numerous lessons learned and several opportunities for improvement in the coming months.

What went right:

Clarence, K4CNM acting as Novant Hospital (Prince William)
Clarence, K4CNM acting as Novant Hospital (Prince William)
  • One of the best exercises we have done! It was one of the first blended (voice and digital) exercises we have done as a cadre and the first real exercise we have done in the last couple of years.
  • Everyone using digital stations did manage to pass at least one message and the messages were received by every participating station.
  • Voice messages were passed.

What do we need to work on:

Chuck, KA3EHL (back) and John, KK4TCE, (foreground) act as Net Control/EOC
Chuck, KA3EHL (back) and John, KK4TCE, (foreground) act as Net Control/EOC
  • We need to work on our voice message passing.  We are out of practice. Some additional work on “prosigns” and procedure needs to be done.  Eric, KK4NXU has offered to spearhead an ARES practice network. Details to come.
  • Digital messages are improving but there is a request for:
    • Another confiruation session (including some documentation). David and Chuck have volunteered to host a configuration session in August.
    • A useage session was also requested to go through how to do things, like send message traffic. A session for this will also be set up.
    • We need to start moving the stations apart and to that end, as part of the potential ARES net, we will work on voice and digital. This is also a work in progress.
  • A PC in the EOC will need to be configured with FLDigi and be part of the EOC network for access to WebEOC for cutting and pasting. David will take that up with Pat this week.

Thanks to Paul, N2PJ, for the great pictures!

PWCARES Digital Exercise AAR

The inital three stations before setup
The inital three stations before setup

On Saturday, May 17, 2014, Prince William ARES took to the field in the green common in front of the McCoart building at the County Government Centre for a small digital exercise. The key goal was to set up one or more FlDigi stations and pass communications between them. A second goal was to set up a broadband hamnet mesh network. And finally, it was a great opportunity for the members of PWCARES to exercise their go-kits, digital gear, and work out in the field without commercial power.

Welcome to Amateur Radio!
Welcome to Amateur Radio!

Three “station” set-ups were provided. At the height of the exercise, as many as nine stations were in operation around the perimeter of the common and two different types of mesh networks were in operation. Most operators had a standard set up of a laptop, radio, and some type of external sound card device, such as SignaLink. A couple of stations tried the “headset to mic” interface method. At the end, four stations were able to successfully pass traffic, both ad hoc messages and more formal ICS-213 messages. These stations were all using SigaLinks.

Clarence provided a traditional broadband-hamnet network, with an access point connecting the field to the Internet.

Clarence, K4CNM's go kit in a box.
Clarence, K4CNM’s go kit in a box.

Derek set up a mesh network that was a custom set up that was not BBHN or HSMM. The equipment he brought for the mesh was three WNDR3700v2 routers [1]. On these devices, I had loaded the OpenWRT firmware. One device ran DHCP and an XMPP server[2], while the other two acted simply as relays. The network was configured so the 5 GHz radio connected ad-hoc while the 2.4 GHz radio provided an AP, different name and channel from each node.

Station 3, operational
Station 3, operational

Significantly different from BBHN, the adhoc 5 GHz connections were connected with the B.A.T.M.A.N. protocol (BBHN uses OLSR). The bat0 interface thus provided was bridged with the 2.4 GHz APs. This has the effect of making the entire network link-local. Thus, wireless clients could pull addresses from the node running DHCP.

One of the generators providing power
One of the generators providing power

At the exercise, David KG4GIY and Keith KM4AA connected their laptops and used Pidgin to connect their XMPP accounts, while Mark Redlinger connected with his iPhone and the ChatSecure app. No downtime was noted, though use was not heavy. The ability to connect Android and iPhone devices through the second AP is a big advantage to having a dual-band radio. The clear weather and flat terrain meant all of the APs were visible from the entire area of the exercise.

Derek welcomes any questions on this topic.

No gas? How about the sun?
No gas? How about the sun?

We learned there were a great number of power options available to everyone. Deep cycle batteries, generators, even solar panels, which meant there was no need for commercial power during the exercise. We also discovered that a physical device between the computer and the radio worked better than other lash-ups for sending and receiving data via fldigi. Several observers were present and learned how to use the system and what value it brings. It was also a good learning experience and we need to have more opportunities. A suggestion was made to have little workshops to review settings and set ups and then have another exercise. The digital list will be used to coordinate. The mesh nodes demonstrated the ability to utilize traditional TCP/IP based technologies successfully. More research and work needs to go into establishing the best way to implement it.

Bill and Louis with the signal testing gear
Bill and Louis with the signal testing gear

Bill did a signal study during the exercise, the results of which will be provided as soon as he has completed his analysis.

Thanks to everyone for their participation!

1 –
2 – XMPP is an instant message protocol, perhaps likened to a computerized form of the National Traffic System

Compiling fldigi on the Raspberry Pi

Why, one might ask, would one want to run fldigi on a raspberry pi? Perhaps you want to get familiar with Linux before sacrificing a larger system to it.  Maybe you feel like you need practice compiling software. And maybe, you are like me, and when asked I said, “Because I can?”

Whatever your reason, the raspberry pi is not the ideal platform to run fldigi on, but it is not a bad platform for demonstrations, and testing.  But getting from here to there is not straight forward.

Now, you don’t have to compile the code.  You can pull a version from the repos with:

sudo apt-get install fldigi

But the version you are grabbing may not be the most recent one, and there are occasionally some issues with backwards compatability.  I did try downloading the precompiled binary but at least for version 3.21.78, the binary did not run on the pi, even though it ran without issues on Ubuntu on my netbook.

Which leaves the tried and true method. Compile the code from scratch.  And I thank the developers for providing the source code that allows me to do this.

But, like most software, when you start down the path of compilation, you occasionally have to make a detour (or three) to get it working right. So I will help here by taking you down the road I went, but I don’t guarentee you will get there from here.  This is just what I did, and what I wrestled with getting there.

One thing I will point out is that this is a long process, partly because of the number of packages that need to be fetched and installed and partly because of the capabilities of the pi.  Can you do it all in one sitting? Yes. But you might want to plan to take a couple of breaks along the way.

Ready?  Here we go…

In the beginning

Before you begin, you need a running Pi. I am going to assume you have already installed the software, and performed the inital configuartion, but not much more. If it has been a bit since you lastupdated your Pi, you might want to do that first. By the way, I will assume throughout that you are connected to a live Internet connection and have already figured out how to log in. Most of the following commands are excuted at the command line.

  • Update the repository on your Pi:
sudo apt-get update
  • Actually upgrade the Pi:
sudo apt-get upgrade

It might take a couple of minutes for this to grind through all the packages it needs to get, and then update.

Although you do not have to reboot the pi, if you got a new kernel during your update, it will benefit you to reboot and make sure the new kernel is working properly before you dive into the next part.

To reboot, you can issue this command:

sudo init 6

You can also issue this:

sudo shutdown now -r

Now that the software is up to date, and the kernel is good, we can get serious!


Before you can begin, you should grab all the files you will need. I find it easiest to put all my downloads into a single place, called source, so I can find them when I am looking for them later.

mkdir source

Depending on how you download your code, you can open a browser and download it (suggested because how often fldigi changes) or you can use wget.  Grab the files you want from the fldigi download site. You will also need some other files.

  • Install the X11 development libraries (we will do that in a minute)
  • Install the libpng development libraries
  • fltk. I used version 1.3.2 (
  • Python Setup Tools (incl Easy Install)
  • Secret Rabbit Code. I used version 0.1.8. You need this for the samplerate python code (
  • scikits.samplerate. I used version 0.3.3. (

Install the development libraries from the repositories:

sudo apt-get install libx11-dev libpng12-dev python-setuptools python-dev python-numpy python-scipy libblas-dev liblapack-dev

It will ask to install some additional dependancies. Say yes and let it go.

Compile the fltk toolkit

  1. Chage into the source directory.
    cd source
  2. Untar the source file (I will only document this once – I will assume you can follow along after this).
    tar zxvf fltk-1.3.2.tar.gz
  3. Change into the fltk directory.
     cd fltk-1.3.2
  4. Configure the source tree and makefile (note the dot before the slash – you have to do that or it will error out at you).
  5. Compile! (and grab a snack…took about 15 minutes).
  6. Install the software.
    sudo make install
  7. With luck, there are no errors and the software is installed.  I did get a few errors about depricated code in the X11 libraries that the fltk program warned about, but did not error out at compile time. You can safely ignore those sorts of errors.
  8. You are done with this step.

Compile the samplerate toolkit

  1. Chage into the source directory, untar the file and move into the directory.
  2. Configure the source tree
  3. Take note of the compiling information
    Compiling some other packages against libsamplerate may require the addition of "/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig" to the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable.
  4. Compile! (It takes a bit to compile this code, be patient)
  5. Install
    sudo make install
  6. Update the package configuation path (PKG_CONFIG_PATH) – command is all on one line.
    export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig
  7. Move into the scikits.samplerate directory
  8. Python programs are or can be a bit tricky.  When in doubt, alway review the README to make sure nothing has changed.  You may need to do this first:
    sudo easy_install -U distribute
  9. Move into the scikits.samplerate directory and run
  10. python
  11. You will get a menu like this:
    pi@jake:~/source/scikits.samplerate-0.3.3$ python
    Starting interactive session
      i       - Show python/platform/machine information
      ie      - Show environment information
      c       - Show C compilers information
      c - Set C compiler (current:None)
      f       - Show Fortran compilers information
      f - Set Fortran compiler (current:None)
      e       - Edit proposed sys.argv[1:].
    Task aliases:
      0         - Configure
      1         - Build
      2         - Install
      2 - Install with prefix.
      3         - Inplace build
      4         - Source distribution
      5         - Binary distribution
    Proposed sys.argv = ['']
    Choose a task (^D to quit, Enter to continue with setup):
  12. Choose 0 to configure, then press Enter. It will dump you at a “press Enter to close.” Go ahead and press enter.
  13. Start it again, select 1. Press Enter and it will start building (you might get a few warnings). Press enter to be returned to the command line.
  14. To install the packge, start it again, with sudo:
    sudo python
  15. Press enter to return to the command prompt. You are done with this step.

Comple fldigi

  1. Change directory to the source directory and untar fldigi, then move into the fldigi directory.
    cd ~/source
    tar zxvf fldigi-<version>.tgz
    cd fldigi-<version>
  2. Configure the software source tree and makefile.
  3. Compile! And grab a snack…it takes a bit and maxes out the CPU.
  4. Install
    sudo make install
  5. And that is that. You can now fire it up by opening up and testing it. The most straigtforward way is to click on the bird-like icon on the far bottom left corner, which brings up a pick list. Slide up to “Internet” and Fldigi is on the list. Click on it and it will start. (Fldigi does not like running through vnc).
  6. Now on to the other software! (What you thought you were done?)

Next, we will compile and install flmsg.



Outbrief – 15 Feb 2015 Digital Workshop

On Saturday, February 14, 2014, the Digital Working Group met along with some other interested parties to discuss the current state of the digital technologies, as well as  try and find a road map for implementation within the PWCARES framework.  After introductions, we went through some presentations.

The Presentations
Rick, KJ4ZIH
  • Evolution from a discussion about “is there a role” for digital in ARES to  clearly there is, especially the farther west in the US you go.
  • Rick has issues getting from his home in Haymarket getting to the repeaters (WWI/OHV) on voice
  • EOC is currently VHF/UHF oriented
  • Two parts of the story – the tools (FLx) and how the PA group is using them (NBEMS)
  • Rick went the route of the SignaLink, but there is software that can do the same thing with your built in sound cards (mostly inexpensive)
  • Similar to a fax machine over a telephone line – stuck pig sounds
  • Multiple ways to move the noise – usually mic and speaker, with the right cables to make the connection


  • Ran through the NBEMS presentation
  • Digital is accurate in the information being transmitted
  • FEC in a number of them protocols
  • Served agencies are moving along the digital message paths
  • NBEMS is an application of the FLx programs
  • Flamp – broadcast message to all
  • Open Source, multi-platform
  • Fldigi – encoder/decoder, with multiple codex
  • Sometimes you need to tweak the time calibration of your soundcard
  • MT-63 is robust, quick, FEC, used by MARS, resistant to noise
  • Good for increased distance performance
  • Olivia is preferred on HF.  Sounds like a flute in the air. Stands out
  • Flmsg is pre-formatted, good fill in the blank ability
  • Text based, self-limiting to 3KB files, with a 3 minute limit for transmission
Derek, KV4SH
  • High-speed Mobile Mesh
  • Now called “Broadband hamnet”
  • Autoconfiguation fault tolerant ham radio coverage (part 15/part 97)
  • Because it is mess, it it multipath
  • High bandwidth
  • Transmits IP
  • Not limited by size of file
  • upto 150mb/sec depending on quality
  • Need to flash your router with a new image, configure, put on the air
  • Infrastructure based set up
  • There is the ability to get the hook up on to the Internet…there are issues with doing this
  • LinkSys, Ubuiquiti brand (
  • Under 1 watt of power out of the repeater
  • Until you boost power, you are covered by part 15. Once you boost, you fall into part 97
  • Under part 97, no encryption, no WPA, no SSL/HTTPS/Encrypted chat
  • Coverage up to 10 miles but realistically, much more reduced
  • Emcomm – videos, large images, web cams
  • A discussion of the nuts and bolts of Internet vs Mesh set ups – ssid/esid vs IP address

David, KG4GIY

  • David reviewed the packet and WinLink
  • Packet is still a viable technology, but with a high learning curve.
  • Some masking is done by Outpost, a Windows-based piece of software.
  • Store and forward as well as direct connect. Also has the ability to hopscotch from node-to-node to improve connectivity.
  • Heavy infrastructure requirement, most packet nodes are no longer active.
  • WinLink is a long running, Windows-based message service.
  • Many have had success with it.

The Direction

After the presentations, we made some decisions. To wit:

OS: Windows (for now)

Mode: Ad Hoc

Band: VHF/UHF (for now)

With that as the preconception, the FLx stack of programs makes the most sense to implement. So:

OpMode: MT-63 2KL (2000L)

Freq: 146.475 (ARES VHF 2)

The Concept of Operations

At this point, digital messages are being utilized in experimental mode. While it is desirable to have a digital node at each location, until we are completely comfortable with operation, it may not yet be possible.

Further, these are the identified (but not exclusive) types of messages that could be passed by digital methods.

  1. Bulletins. These are messages that are sent out from NCS regarding the state of the operation, active locations, operational period data, weather updates, etc. that are necessary for all stations but could utilized excessive bandwidth on voice.
  2. POD Supply lists. These are lists that may include equipment and supplies needed at a Point of Distribution, either basics or medicinals.
  3. Low priority messages. These are messages that would take up unnecessary bandwidth on voice but still need to be passed.

While these are not all the types of messages that can, or could be sent by digital, it is a good start.

While we are working through the process and procedures, there are some additional issues we need to keep in the back of our minds.

  • Printers? What is the need for being able to print out these digital messages? Do we need to arrange for access to printers? What sort?
  • Directed Net? Does digital operations require a directed net? How would that operate?
  • Time segments? Would it make more sense to have a time slice management plan instead of a directed net. For example, in any 15 minute segment, the first x period is reserved for priority or emergency traffic, the rest of the period is a free for all?
  • Can fldigi be set to auto select operational mode? If so how so?

Finally, there was a decision to try and set up smaller hands on working groups to configure and test configurations before we take it to the field. There also needs to be a separate effort to create a quick reference guide. This can be managed via the digital list or this site.  If someone would like to volunteer to host a working group, please identify yourself and we will get it on the calendar.


Here is a link to the presentations and other information from the working group.