Thursday, 23 February 2017

Monday, 13 February 2017

IoT gone mad

Spotted this in WalMart yesterday. It's a Wi-Fi enabled slow cooker. Yep. You heard me right. A Wi-Fi enabled slow cooker. It's got an app too!

The more I think about this the more I think it's a food poisoning outbreak waiting to happen. You dump your ingredients into the pot (see below for chili recipe) and then you leave the house for the rest of the day. Somewhere around lunchtime you connect to your slow cooker and turn it on for 6 hours. What's been going on with the raw meat that's been sitting in the pot all morning? I'll leave that to your imagination.

Hmmmnnnn ... I wonder what a hacker could do with access to your kitchen?


2lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2cloves garlic, finely chopped
1can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1can (16 oz) chili beans in sauce, undrained
1can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2teaspoons ground cumin
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon pepper

1 In 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
2 In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix beef, onion and remaining ingredients.
3 Cover and cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

Friday, 10 February 2017

JNOS on Raspberry Pi

Inspired by the PiGate and already possessing the constituent parts (including the 3D printer to make the enclosure) I decided to try my hand at getting a JNOS system together. TCP/IP over radio fans will probably remember JNOS from way back when. Good news! It's still being maintained by Maiko Langelaar, VE4KLM

As it turns out this project was quite trivial to put together. Maiko has done all the hard work with his software and John Hanson, W2FS did more hard work with his TNC-Pi hardware


The top 2 pictures show a RPi3 and a TNC-Pi housed in the PiGate 3D printed enclosure (should have printed it in OEM Orange!). The bottom picture shows the completed PiGate hardware connected to a KPC3+ via a direct audio cross-over cable.

So how do I build the JNOS? I started with a shiny new 8GB SD card that I picked up at Microcenter for $4 and a RPi3 which I also got from Microcenter for $30. I also downloaded the latest edition of Raspbian Jessie Lite. The Lite version does not have a GUI. Real men can use the Linux command line. /JFDI!! I'm not going to tell you how to install the RPi and get it onto your network. There are plenty of other resources available for that.

Before we start, have you confirmed that your TNC-Pi works correctly? You can use the tools from the TNC-Pi website to talk to the modem? You removed and added lines per the instruction on the website? Good.

Let us start by installing the the latest updates, patches and a few required libraries ...

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install libssl-dev libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev

Now get the latest sources from Maiko's website and unpack it. Navigate to the 'src' directory. Copy the config.h.default file to config.h and edit it to your requirements.

Now for the hard part. Go ahead and 'make' JNOS. It'll take about 10 minutes so go and make a nice Brownian Motion producer.

So it's JNOS, right? So that means you'll need to craft all the relevant config and support files, autoexec.nos, ftpusers, rewrite, forward.bbs etc. But just to be nice I'll give you a head start on the modem config in autoexec.nos ...

# ---------- TNC-Pi specific----------
# We are using a single TNC-Pi KISS modem from Coastal Chipworks (hi John!!) configured to use the serial port @ 19200bps
attach asy ttyAMA0 - ax25 pitnc 1024 256 19200
# That's all. Carry on with the config
And that's really all there is to it. As stated previously I connected the RPi/TNC-Pi directly to my KPC3+ via a cross-over cable. I was able to connect to the JNOS BBS prompt as seen below. It just works.

Some links ...

Monday, 6 February 2017

Express Tracker as a KISS TNC

"AX.25 style Packet Radio is dead".That's what the old timers will tell you. They'll tell you it gave way to the Internet because the speeds were better and you didn't have to modify your rig. They may be right in that statement but when you're in a Red Cross shelter with no network access Packet Radio may be your only way to move that pile of ICS213 forms that have just arrived at your station.

In my search for a modern Terminal Node Controller (fancy term for data modem) I've looked at all sorts of designs. Readers of my blog will be familiar with my various attempts to find something that will connect to the USB port of a modern PC/Laptop for OEM type uses.

I _think_ I've found it. Say "hello" to the Express Tracker from RPC-Electronics. It's a small translucent box that's not quite as big as a packet of cigarettes. It can do APRS tracking when fitted with a GPS RX, act as a APRS Digipeater and most importantly for my needs has a _full_ KISS implementation.

KISS? What's that? I'm not gonna go into that here but suffice to say that it's a way of using a radio modem without all the overhead of a Terminal Node Controller getting in the way. Go here for more about KISS. KISS is interesting to me (and hopefully you too) because it presents a standard interface that many software packages can talk to.

So in my scenario I foresee our local ham club deployed at Red Cross shelters across the town after a severe storm. The local OEM has requested that all traffic be submitted digitally via ICS213 and similar forms. The problem is that there is little to no power to run email and fax machines etc. Enter Packet Radio. It'll run from your laptop and use the same power supply you are running your station from.

I'm not going into how you would operate your chosen package or why this one is better than that one. What I will do is show you how to add your Express Tracker to your Windows and Linux PC's. Mac users _may_ be able to follow the Linux instructions.

OK, Windows first. We are going to use AGWPE to attach to the ET. It's all trivial really. Plug in the USB cable and install the drivers if necessary. Then fire up AGWPE and configure your TNC as below. Your port number may be different to mine. Click OK and then restart AGWPE.

So now you have AGWPE running your ET. Fire up your favourite packet application such as Outpost Packet Manager (pictured below) and configure it to use AGWPE. That's it. You're now on Packet Radio using your Express Tracker.

Here's a few shots of a mail swapping session I had between OPM (Windows) and my real TNC;

And this is OPM talking to JNOS on Linux;

Linux is much simpler (isn't it always?). The modem comes out of the box pre-configured for KISS @ 19200bps. Simply plug it in, find out what the serial port is called (/dev/ttyACM0 on my machine) and then either kissattach /dev/ttyACM0 $PORTNAME $IPADDRESS to run the ET under the native AX.25 tools or add the following to your autoexec.nos file ...

# ---------- Express Tracker specific ----------
# We are using a USB<>Serial interface which forces hardware handshake. KISS spec says no handshake of any type so we have to turn it off
shell stty --file /dev/ttyACM0 -crtscts # nip out to the OS and turn off the RTS/CTS on the USB adapter
pause 1 # wait a second for the command to complete
attach asy ttyACM0 - ax25 etrack 1024 256 19200 # attach the Express Tracker to JNOS as a KISS device @ 19k2bps
# That's all. Carry on with the config
And that's how it's done!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Bet you've never seen this before?

I keep getting called for Jury Service. Whilst I have no objection to doing my civic duties the law in the US of A is such that I am not allowed to serve on a Jury. I'm not an American y'see. But that does not stop "them" from calling me anyway. And every time I have to trot down to the court and prove that I'm not eligible to serve. And every time they call me anyway.

I might have won this battle though. I got this in the mail randomly today. I bet you've never seen this before?