Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Take Your TYT MD-390 Portable with the SharkRF Openspot and TP-Link Router

How to Link your SharkRF Openspot and TP-Link Router for Portable Operation

I recently purchased a TYT MD-390 DMR radio and soon found that I was on the fringes of coverage for the only 3 DMR repeaters in our area.  Unless I was within range of the repeaters, I couldn't fully enjoy the fast growing DMR experience....Enter the SharkRF Openspot.  

The SharkRF Openspot is a standalone digital radio IP Gateway / Hotspot  and is a great little device that will connect you to the various networks by using an internet connection.  

The SharkRF Openspot has one limitation in that it currently does not have wireless capability to connect to the internet and it only works with an actual ethernet connection....enter the TP-Link N300 (TL-WR802N) Wireless Travel Router.

Both the SharkRF Openspot and the TP-Link N300 travel router are powered by USB connections and power consumption for both of these devices are very minimal, using about 380mAh.  

I chose to go with the Rav-Power 26800 mAh portable Power Bank.  Depending on what online battery calculator you use, this Power Bank would give between 49.3 to 70.5 hours using both the Openspot and TP-Link before requiring a recharge.  Mine gets between 45-50 hours before a charge is necessary.

Here's how I set up everything to work together for portable operation. This method assumes you already have your SharkRF Openspot properly configured and that your TYT MD-390 has a working operational codeplug installed.

You can also download these instructions in my PDF file....Link Your SharkRF Openspot and TP-Link Router for Portable Operation.

Configure your Android Device Hotspot
  1. On your Android device, go into Settings
  • Click on the Mobile Hotspot option
  • Select Configure
  • Set a Network ID....NOTE..keep it simple.  NO special characters or spaces or the TP-Link may not recognize it.
  • Channel = Auto
  • Security = WPA2 PSK
  • Password = minimum 8 digit password
  • Show Password=checked
  • Broadcast network name=checked
  • Click Save
2.  Turn your Mobile Hotspot ON

There are 2 setup options to choose from:  Hotspot Router mode (WISP) or Client Mode.  Either mode will work.

Hotspot Router: In this mode, the device enables multiple users to share Internet connection from WISP. The LAN port devices share the same IP from WISP through Wireless port. While connecting to WISP, the Wireless port works as a WAN port at WISP Client Router mode. The Ethernet port acts as a LAN port.

Client: In this mode, this device can be connected to another device via Ethernet port and act as an adaptor to grant your wired devices access to a wireless network, especially for a Smart TV, Media Player, or game console only with an Ethernet port.

Option 1 - Hotspot Router Mode (WISP)

1. Power up your TP-Link router by plugging it into the Rav-Power portable power bank USB Port
2. On your PC, search wireless connections and connect to TP-Link.  Once it connects you'll be able to log into the TP-Link web interface

3.  To access the configuration utility, open a web-browser and type in the default address  http://tplinkwifi.net in the address field of the browser.

After a moment, a login window will appear. Enter admin for the User Name and Password, both in lower case letters. Then click the Login button or press the Enter key.

If the above screen does not pop-up, it means that your Web-browser has been set to a proxy. Go to Tools menu>Internet Options>Connections>LAN Settings, in the screen that appears, cancel the Using Proxy checkbox, and click OK to finish it.

4. After a successful login, you can click the Quick Setup menu to quickly configure your Router.

5. Click Next and then Working Mode page will appear.  Select Hotspot Router.  When you choose Hotspot Router Mode on Working Mode page, take the following steps:
Click Next, and then WAN Connection Type page will appear.

In most case, select Dynamic IP.
  • Dynamic IP - Your ISP uses a DHCP service to assign your Router an IP address for connecting to the Internet. When the Router connects to a DHCP server, or the ISP supplies you with DHCP connection, please choose this type.

6. The router will scan for the wireless network automatically, and then AP List page will appear.
Find the SSID of the Access Point you want to access, and click Next.

7. You can configure the basic settings for the wireless network on this page.

  • SSID - The SSID of the AP your router is going to connect to as a client.
  • BSSID - The BSSID of the AP your router is going to connect to as a client.
  • Key type – The Key type is the same as your AP's security type.
  • WEP Index - This option should be chosen if the key type is WEP (ASCII) or WEP (HEX).It indicates the index of the WEP key.
  • Auth type - It indicates the authorization type of the Root AP.
  • Password - If the AP your router is going to connect needs password, you need to fill thepassword in this blank.
  • Local SSID - Enter a value of up to 32 characters. The same Name (SSID) must beassigned to all wireless devices in your network.
  • Wireless Security Mode - You can configure the security settings of your wirelessnetwork.
  • Wireless Password - Input the password of your Local SSID.
8. The Review Setting page is shown as below. Click the Reboot button to make your wireless  configuration take effect and finish the Quick Setup.
  • NOTE:  You'll have the option to save the configuration as a text file on your computer for later reference if needed.

9. Your TP-Link is completed after reboot.

Option 2 - Client Mode

  • With Client Mode option, it can connect to a wired device(e.g. SharkRF Openspot, etc.) and works as a wireless adapter to receive a wireless signal from your wireless network (e.g. Android and iPhone Hotspots, Mobile Hotspots, Home routers, etc.).

1. Power up your TP-Link router by plugging it into the Rav-Power portable power bank USB Port
2. On your PC, search wireless connections and connect to TP-Link.  Once it connects you'll be able to log into the TP-Link web interface

3. Open your browser and type in http://tplinkwifi.net in the address bar
4. At the Login screen enter: Username: Admin   Password: Admin

5. Once logged in, Choose the Quick Setup option...click next

6. When you choose Client on Working Mode page, take the following steps:

7. AP List page will appear as shown below. Find the SSID of the Access Point you want to access, and select the choose checkbox in the corresponding row. For example, the 7th item is selected. The target network’s SSID will be automatically filled into the corresponding box.

Click Next and then Wireless Setting page will appear.

8. The Wireless Security Mode should auto-detect WPA/WPA2-PSK
9. Enter in your password that you put in your Android Hotspot...click next

10. Click the Next button. You can configure the IP parameters of LAN on this page.  If you are not familiar with the setting items in this page, it's strongly recommended to keep the provided default values, otherwise may result in low wireless network performance.

11. Click the Next button. You will then see the Review Setting page. Click the Reboot button to make your wireless configuration take effect and finish the Quick Setup. 

12. Once the TP-Link reboots, it will be in Client mode and automatically connect to your Android device Hotspot.  Once connected, the blinking green light will turn SOLID GREEN.  

  • NOTE:  If your Android device doesn't connect, the TP-Link light will stay flashing.  You can start over by connecting to the TP-Link again from your PC and relog again from the step 3 above
  • ....if all else fails, you can insert a pin into the reset hole to reset the TP-Link.

Connect the SharkRF Openspot
  1. Turn on your TYT MD-390 and go to TG9 to hear when your Openspot connects to the network
  2. Plug in an ethernet cable from the SharkRF Openspot to the TP-Link router
  3. Plug in the USB Power cable to the RAV-Power portable Power Bank
  4. The SharkRF Openspot will power up and attempt to connect to your selected network and server through the TP-Link router and to the internet now supplied by your Android Device Hotspot.
  5. Have Fun going portable DMR with your SharkRF Openspot

Monday, October 23, 2017

Setup of APRS GPS on TYT MD380/390 to link with APRS.fi

The TYT MD-380/390 DMR radios that has the GPS functions can be setup to link to APRS.fi to show your position on the APRS maps.

Instructions for this in English has been difficult to locate online.  I've managed to glean the info from a couple of youtube videos and a couple of other websites and translated the basic instructions into the following steps.

I've also saved this as a downloadable PDF file on my shared drive....Setup of APRS GPS on the TYT MD380/390.pdf

Setup of APRS GPS on TYT MD380/390 to link with APRS.fi

  1. First set up a Digital Contact in your codeplug….to TG310999 (private call) for U.S. or TG5107 for U.K…I named mine APRS-310999

  2.  Add a Channel on your Channels List… to activate GPS function.  (Mine is named APRS GPS-On)
·        Check Send GPS Info
·        Check Receive GPS Info
·        GPS System: Select 1 (this will point to the GPS System options-tab 1)

 3.  Also add a separate Channel to turn off GPS…(Mine is named APRS GPS-Off)
·        Change GPS System option to “None”

  1. Setup GPS System option on tab 1
    • GPS Revert Channel:  Select your channel APRS GPS-On that you made to activate GPS.  (or You can also use Local 9 if you choose, but radio will need to be on Local 9 to activate GPS)
    • Default GPS Report Interval:  I set mine to 600 (10 minutes).  You can use a smaller interval but will increase your battery drain faster.
    • Destination ID:  Select the TG you created in your Digital Contacts (TG310999 private call for U.S., or TG5107 for U.K)

  1. Add the APRS-GPS On/Off Channels in your Zone (Optional) if you want to have them on your channel selector switch.
  •  Save your codeplug and upload it to your radio

  1. Go to the Brandmeister dashboard at https://brandmeister.network/ and login to your account.  Set one up if you haven’t created an account.

·        Click on your Profile pic and select Self Care
·        Brand: Chinese Radio
·        APRS Interval: 60 sec.
·        APRS Callsign: Select the appropriate APRS call from the list to display on APRS.fi for your operation setup.

Activate your APRS-GPS
  • Select the APRS GPS-On Channel and press PTT to activate GPS function
  • Locate MD-380/390 in an outside area for about 10 minutes.  GPS icon to show a solid Globe icon when radio has locked on the Satellite.
  • You can check your coordinates in the radio Menu….Menu/Utilities/RXGPS Info.
  • Go to APRS.fi website and you should be able to see your location on the Map.

Turn Off GPS

·        Select the APRS GPS-Off Channel you created earlier and press PTT to turn off GPS function.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Double Cross Antenna (DCA) - A NOAA Satellite Receiving Antenna Construction Project

Recently I've been playing with receiving weather images on 137 Mhz from the NOAA satellites and found a construction project for building a Double Cross Dipole antenna (aka DCA) at https://imgur.com/a/TiZ41.  I've modified my version below just a little from these plans and have had excellent results.

I'm currently using an SDRPlay RSP2 and initially I received some very good images using a horizontal V-dipole antenna that I had found on the internet.  Other software that I use is a Satellite Image decoding program called WXtoimg or APTDecoder, a Satellite Tracking program called Orbitron, and a virtual cable called VB-Cable to route the audio from my SDRPlay to WXtoimg.

As my interest in this activity grows, I wanted to experiment with building a different receiving antenna to help reduce the fading that I was sometimes experiencing with the V-dipole.  Initially, I wanted to make the QFH antenna and the construction seemed to be a little complicated so I opted to build the DCA, also known as the Double Cross Antenna.

In building this antenna, I wanted to document each step of my construction project so that it would be available to others who would like to give it a try.  There are other construction methods out there however this seemed to work fairly easy for me.  I've saved the documentation this PDF file for download...DCA Antenna Construction Project.

The antenna works very good and I'm really happy with the results.  If you really want to know how this antenna works, you can read the article An Illustrated Guide to Understanding the Double Cross Antenna (DCA) for APT Reception posted on the PY4ZBZ website.

You can view my captured images that the decoder programs upload to their own created webpages stored on my server located at this url....http://weathersats.w9fe.com

W9FE NOAA Weather Satellite Recording Station

And now....Building the Double Cross Antenna

Double Cross Antenna
A NOAA Downlink Satellite Antenna

Parts List:
QTY     Lowes Item #         Description                                             Total
(2)        #23786                   ½“ x 10’ Copper Tubing Type M          17.64
                                             2 @ 8.82 ea.

(1)        #23967                    ½“ x 5’ Sched 40 PVC Pipe                    1.67

(4)        #23873                     ½“ Sched 40 PVC Tee 401005               1.64             
                                              4 @ .41 ea.

(8)         #23761                   ½“ InCoupling CPVC                              2.00
                                             8 @ .25 ea

(1)        #22695                    ¾” Sched 40 Adapter 4361                         .98

(1)                                        1” x 5’ Sched 40 PVC Pipe

12’                                        RG-58 Coax (with PL-259’s)

Miscellaneous Hardware

(8)                                        6x32x1” screws

(8)                                        6x32 nuts

(24)                                      6x32 washers

(8)                                        Electrical Crimp-on Connectors

(1)                                        PL-259 Barrel Connector

(1)                                        PVC Cement or Gorilla Glue 


  1. Cut 8 pieces of ½” copper tubing to 18.5” lengths each.  You’ll be able to get 6 pieces from one of the 10’ sections and 2 pieces from the other 10’ section.  It was cheaper to purchase 10’ lengths of tubing than smaller lengths for this project.

  1. Cut 4 pieces of ½” PVC tubing to 10” lengths 

  1. Drill 1” hole in center of ½” PVC Tee
  2. Label openings of PVC Tee 1, 2 at 0, 180 deg. and 3, 4 at 90, 270 deg. 

  1. Apply PVC cement or Gorilla Glue to ¾” adapter.  Screw on the adapter to PVC Tee.  This assembly will be the mast attachment at the project completion. 

  1. Cut 1 piece of RG-58 Coax terminated with one PL-259 to approximately 24”
  2. Separate Braid and Center conductor on the free end of PL-259 terminated coax. 

  1. Cut additional 4 pieces of RG-58 Coax to approximately 36” to allow sufficient coax to work with.  The coax pairs will be trimmed down to the proper lengths of 14.25” and 28.5” later in the project. 

  1. Separate Braid and Shield on one end of the 4 cut pieces of Coax. 

  1. Label the 4 cut pieces of coax, 1, 2, 3, and 4 near the separated end. 
  1. Make Wiring harness per figure 9 below. 

    • Solder Center Conductors of Coax 1, 3 together
    • Solder Center Conductors of Coax 2, 4 together
    • Solder Shield of Coax 1, 2 together.  Tape cable pair to insulate shields
    • Solder Shield of Coax 3, 4 together.  Tape cable pair to insulate shields.
    • Solder Center conductor of free end of PL-259 cable to 2,4 cable
    • Solder Shield of free end of PL-259 Cable to 1,3 cable
    • Trim excesses as needed, tape entire connection assembly.

  1. Measure and label at 14.25” on Coax cables 1, 2.  Shield and center conductor will be separated up to this point later.
  2. Measure and label at 28.5” on Coax cables 3, 4.  Shield and center conductor will be separated up to this point later. 

  1. Feed numbered wiring harness cables through center hole of PVC Tee and through corresponding labeled hole.


  1. Insert ½” PVC arms into the center PVC Tee assembly. 

  1. Cement or glue the ½” cpvc incouplings into ends of the ½” PVC Tee’s

  1. Insert and snugly secure ½” copper tubing into the ends of the ½” PVC Tee assembly. 

  1. Drill hole through center of PVC Tee Assembly of sufficient size to allow coax cables to be fed through it. 

  1. Drill holes through each end of the copper tubing at the PVC Tee assembly.  Insert a 6x32x1 screw, washers, and nut to secure copper tubing to Tee assembly. Use 1 washer at the screw head and two washers at the nut end. This will be the Dipole coax feedpoints. 


  1. Pull the longer coax cables 3, 4 back through the center hub until marks meet up with the end of the pvc arms. 

  1. Attach the completed PVC Tee dipole assemblies to arms and feed coax through center hole. 

  1. Separate center conductor and shields of each coax cable back to previously marked end length. 

  1. Attach electrical connectors to coax ends.  Secure to the dipole element between the double washers and screw nut. After securing the connections, dipoles will be oriented with the center conductors attached to the UPPER elements when placed on the mast (per wiring harness diagram instructions).


  1. Tape excess coax in center of hub.  Run a length of 50 ohm coax through 5’ PVC mast.  Connect to antenna assembly with a barrel connector. 

  1. Attach Antenna to the 5’ PVC mast.  Secure assembly on a tripod or other mount.
  2. Orient dipole 1 (center conductor up) facing to the North.  Rotate dipoles to approximately 30 degrees from Vertical (60 degrees) as indicated in article.  Dipoles 1, 2 will be offset opposite of each other as will as Dipoles 3 and 4.  
  1. Enjoy the NOAA satellites. 


Click to Download the QST Article – February 2008 - Double Cross - A NOAA Satellite Downlink Antenna, by Gerald Martes, KD6JDJ