Tuesday, December 17, 2013

RMS Express installation improved by using AGW Express Interface-Solution Set

Quite some time back I decided to use my amateur radio to send and receive packet messages, so I carefully researched what I needed, which included:
Hardware - 2 meter capable amateur radio; antenna; computer and interface between computer and radio AND of course "some" software.

Back then it was, to say the least, a challenge to get find everything you needed then get it all  installed, configured and running correctly.

Not so now!

Now, you can go over W2YG's Software web site and download AGW Express Interface - Solution Set which will assist you in installing and configuring all the software parts needed to send and receive packet messages.  BTW, it also covers HF messages as well, but I won't touch on that  here.

Here is my list of parts:

  • Yaesu FT-897D
  • SignaLink with appropriate cabling and jumpers
  • Old Dell laptop (running Windows 7)

Procedure for setup:

  1. I will assume that you followed the directions to install the SignaLink. If not, finish those steps using the Tigertronics web site instructions.
  2. You now have the USB cable coming from the SignaLink and the SignaLink's other cable plugged into your radio.  The USB of course gets plugged into your PC.
  3. Download the AGW Express Interface , also snag the documentation from there as well.
  4. Run the downloaded file.  Follow along with the instructions, carefully.  There are a couple of spots where the answers to the installation choices aren't exactly obvious.
  5. Once the installation is complete, you can run the AGW Express Interface and it will start all the pieces needed and then ask if you want to start RMS Express. Since you installed it as part of the solution set, of course you will start it.
That's all there is! Well, you need to get familiar with RMS Express, but also reasonably straight forward.  Just remember there are two parts the main screen and then the piece that does the send and receive.  This send/receive is started using the "Open Session" icon which looks like this

Previously, I was using AirMail as the packet client, RMS Express does both VHF/UHF and HF packet, plus it is being actively updated.  So it feels like a better choice.

Okay, I lied! There is one more thing you need and I bet you already asked... How do I get a Winlink email address?  Check out the How to get a Winlink RADIO e-mail account? It is fairly straight forward, but relies on you having the ability to connect via your radio to an RMS Gateway using your new packet setup. The information and links on this web page will be of immense help.  If you can find an local elmer it goes much quicker.

Good luck!  If you have questions, feel free to post comments or email me at K7RFH at arrl.net

Other resources:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Face palm: Why didn't I get a monopod? A DSLR video must, but I use a real camera!

Attended an online seminar which focused on cinematography.  Now as everyone knows video has moved to the DSLR realm.  Why use those heavy, bulky video camcorders, just doesn't makes sense.

Yea, right!

Nope, I love those big ol' cameras. BUT, never ignore the tools of the trade and experiment with everything!

I recently did a shoot that required handheld capture for long periods.  Needless to say by the end, I was quite shaky.  Could have hauled around my lighter tripod, but that would have been a bit disruptive in the small theater during the sensitive classical music moments.

Back to the seminar.  They talked quite a bit about using a monopod for run and gun action.  Their favorite one seemed to be the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 Fluid Video Monopod and Head. This has proven to work well with the lighter DSLR rigs.  Check out one of the reviews.  This felt like another opportunity to try something new and solve the shaky cam, wearing out the old guy's shoulder issue.  But could this one handle the cameras that I use. The cameras are just too heavy.  However, Manfrotto makes another model  which can handle triple the weight of the 561BHDV.  Since I already own a couple Manfrotto fluid heads, this was an obvious choice.

I have had the monopod for a few days now and after experimenting with it, I find that this will solve my exhaustion shaky cam issue.  Plus, I now have several new options for shooting.  First, the monopod gives you the ability to perform a limited range dolly-style move for a forward and backward motion.  Next, it is far taller than my tripods so I can get above the scene and still occupy a large footprint. Finally, this allow a much more run and gun style for me and my big cameras.

Not all is nirvana.  Unlike a tripod, you can't just leave it stand while you prep some other aspect of the shoot.  It does require some planning to make sure you have everything ready prior to dedicating all of  your attention  to the monopod.

Also, I am using an old Manfrotto 501HDV Pro Video Head as the topping for the monopod, so I will still need to keep working out to make sure that I can haul this entire rig around easily for long periods of time.  But at least now I get to rest a bit during extended shots.

I really like this setup and can't wait to try it out for some actual assignments