Brandmeister USA Team Kills DV4mini

It has been apparent for some time that at least one of the members of the Brandmeister USA team has it in for the DV4mini. There have been occasional actions to block users of the DV4mini from connecting to the master servers operated by the USA team. Comments in a Facebook group by a team member have long indicated a desire to eliminate connections from this somewhat flawed, but useful and prolific device.


While investigating why my DV4mini stopped working on the Brandmeister network, I learned that the USA team disabled reflector access. Reflector 4999 is needed on the Brandmeister DMR network to take advantage of extended routing. I note a comment from Corey Dean (N3FE) on the Brandmeister USA Facebook group back in October that states, “DV4MINI and reflectors are disabled on all US masters.” This shows what I believe to be the true intent of disabling reflector access, although the DV4mini is not specifically mentioned in the Brandmeister USA wiki. He later makes comments about this freeing up talkgroups in countries whose codes start with 4. However, there is no code assigned to a country that starts with 499, so extended routing could still be allowed and not interfere with any Asian or Middle Eastern nation that wants to jump on the Brandmeister wagon.

So, DV4mini users in the USA who connect to one of the 4 master servers (3101, 3102, 3103, and 3108) now need to resort to connecting to a server outside of the USA.

Dissatisfaction and requests for reconsideration to allow extended routing should politely be directed to

Baofeng UV-3R+ Repeater Offset Broken

I was recently in search of a small, low power HT that has dual band (2m/70cm) capability. A bit of interwebs reading pointed me in the direction of the now discontinued Baofeng UV-3R+. For less than $25 each, including slow boat shipping from China, I grabbed a pair from Ali Express during the recent 11.11 sales.

The form factor of the radio is just right for my XYL’s purse, so she will carry it as an emergency radio. She also has a tiny Puxing PX2R purchased years ago via eBay, but it is UHF only and we wanted dual band capability so that she could hit KC2GOW’s new machine near her work QTH.

However, programming via software was quite difficult. It turned out that both the native software and CHIRP fail to adequately handle repeater offsets. A bit of reading came up with a couple of references to using .006 MHz rather than .600 as the VHF offset and then using .05 rather than 5.0 as the UHF offset. As you can see, the value has been shifted two decimal places to the left. Anyway, this is how it works with CHIRP.

Even worse is Baofeng’s own software, which requires entry of separate transmit and receive frequencies, rather than an offset. So, for a repeater which transmits of 146.76 and receives on 146.16, the Baofeng software needs a transmit frequency of (146.76 – .006) or 146.754 MHz.

OK, the radio is cheap. It is worth what I paid. But it is no Yaesu or even Alinco. Caveat amateur!

OBi in Trouble?

OBi, now owned by Polycom, seems to be in the midst of a major technical failure. Users are unable to provision both newly purchased devices as well as re-provision existing devices to correct issues such as the inability to receive Google Voice Calls.

OBi 202 Device

OBi markets devices that provide the capability to have Google Voice ring an actual hardline telephone. In recent weeks, according to posts on their user forums, their provisioning process via the portal has been regularly failing.

Numerous tickets opened by users have not been resolved. If you were thinking of purchasing an OBi device, while I normally recommend them highly, I’d think twice until this is resolved.

In one support thread, SteveInWA — who is a “Hero Member & Beta Tester” states that, “According to Polycom, they are continuing to investigate this problem; it is intermittent, and so meanwhile, their recommendation is to keep trying, and it should eventually work.” This was posted yesterday morning, so there seems to be a distinct lack of progress.

Google’s Fake Weather

Where there is “Fake News”, is “Fake Weather” likely to follow? Google doesn’t seem to know where I am. At least the Google News homepage no longer knows. Allow me to explain.

I use Google News as my web browser homepage. For many years, near the upper right hand side of the page there has been a box that presents my local weather forecast. Some weeks ago, the box started presenting the weather for another part of my state. I provided Google with web feedback and some days later noticed that the caption changed to “Your Local Weather”.

A number of days passed and we were experiencing the umpteenth heatwave of Summer 2018. However, the outside temperature reported by Google appeared to be way too mild for our local reality. I clicked the link below, which took me to, and learned that Google News thinks I am in Dearing, KS. Interestingly, this is near the geographic center of the continental United States and is often used to represent a geographical location for the USA when no other details are known.

On the other hand, my Google Home devices all seem to know my location and report the correct weather (well, their understanding of the correct weather) for my location. Chromecast, however, is as confused as the Google website.

I’ve reported this issue via the Google web feedback mechanism and hopefully I will again be able to get my real weather instead of Google’s “Fake Weather”.

In the meantime, I am living the dream. Google is doing a bad job of tracking me and I can always claim I was in Dearborn, KS should the need arise!

Scam Call Center @ 1-855-332-0777

I recently posted a message in an online technical forum run by Google about an issue I’m having making outbound voice calls with the “Home” devices. Within an hour, I received several messages from different forum “members”, all saying that I should call technical support at 1-855-332-0777 for further assistance.

I “Googled” the number, and it seems to come up as a technical support contact number for every software and hardware product ever created. Too good to be true? Oh yes, especially this reference in a Microsoft forum.

Naturally, I called to see what kind of scam this is. The background sounded like a typical noisy offshore call center with the agent accent to match (yes — I know I am making a broad assumption here). I started to explain my issue and it was clear that the agent did not know a Google Home device from a Palm Pilot. I gave him a simplistic overview of my problem but terminated the call as soon as he started asking for my name and other identifying information.

So, be aware of any scams that refer to the number in question, or any other suspicious responses that you receive to support queries, even in reputable manufacturer sponsored forums. The responders were reported as spammers and their responses removed.

noaacap with Dire Wolf

I’ve heard from Patrick (N3TSZ) who says that noaacap works well with Dire Wolf as an alternative to aprx. While I have not tested this myself, Patrick writes,

I discovered that noaacap works in Direwolf. Install noaacap as per your instructions. Then add the following line to direwolf.conf:


The string returned by noaacap is inserted in the information portion of the packet and transmitted. If a string is not returned, “INFOCMD failure” is displayed, and Direwolf continues on

Thanks for this useful feedback!

Look here for more information on noaacap.

DV4mini image supporting RPi3B+

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, let’s celebrate the latest iteration of the K2DLS DV4mini image for the Raspberry Pi 2, 3, and 3+.  Thanks to the folks on the Facebook DV4mini support group for pointing out that the November release did not contain code to boot on the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

This is a fresh build, based upon the latest Raspbian Stretch.  ssh and RealVNC are ready to go and it works nicely with the official 7″ touchscreen.  The DV4mini console and the Brandmeister XTG Dialer start up automagically.

Default user: pi
Default password: raspberry (please change on first use!)

You will find the new image here.

Art Bell and the Alien Pirates

You’ve probably heard by now that Art Bell, known to radio amateurs as W6OBB, is now a silent key. That’s what us ham ops call a dead guy. Well Art may be physically dead, but I think he is alive somewhere (or many wheres) in time.

Art Bell, amateur radio operator and talk show host extraordinaire.

My favorite memory of Art goes back to a show he probably did about 20 years ago. I don’t remember the exact date, but he announced one night that if aliens were really trying to contact us we should agree upon a common radio frequency. He threw a frequency out on the air and said that people should listen in case the aliens call. So I listened.

Sure enough, after some time listening to static, someone turned on a transmitter and started playing the sounds from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I don’t know if it was transmitted by Art himself, but what a prankster.

73 Art, you will be missed.

Facebook Fails the Third Party Risk Test

Information security professionals often examine “third-party risk”. Simply put, associations with business partners and contractors can present outside risks to the data, financial, and/or physical security of an organization. The risk may be contractors with access to secure areas or sensitive business processes. The risk can be shared data in the temporary custody of a partner. The risk can be virtual access to a network or a facility without adequate audit.

Today I was informed by Facebook that my privacy could have been compromised because “friends” of mine used an application platform profiling app called “This is Your Digital Life”. I wish I could tell you more or show you the notification, but in typical arrogant Facebook fashion, the notification was a fly-by. It was presented on the screen of my smart mobile device. I put the phone in my pocket and headed to my office to compose this piece, but once the Facebook feed refreshed I can no longer find it. It is not on my notification list. So much for transparency. So much for ease of use. Now you see it, now you don’t.

So what does this mean? Well, in this case Facebook allowed a third party that I did not authorize to access my profile data. They allowed the third party because a second party (my Facebook friends) accessed an application that pulled the data. They allowed this even though I opted out of the Facebook application platform and therefore had a reasonable expectation of data privacy. Facebook fails. And my mom was right. You are impacted by the actions of your friends.

What is the answer? Take ’em down. Let’s see a class action lawsuit financially impact Facebook. There are enough of us in this potential class that have, by Facebook’s own admission, suffered harm. Congress is not likely to impose a satisfactory regulatory solution any time soon. So let’s take it to the courts and show companies that a willful direct and careless violation of our data privacy will be the most expensive mistake that their companies can make.

A New Raspberry Pi for π Day

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. This incremental design improvement provides some interesting features.

  • 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0)
  • Power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT)
  • Improved PXE network and USB mass-storage booting
  • Improved thermal management

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

The 5 GHz wifi and power over ethernet capabilities are especially interesting improvements. The Raspberry Pi is a great experimenter’s computer. Many amateur radio operators and makers are using them in purpose built applications such as digital hotspots and home control. You can see more here.

Update: 03/19/2018 — One difference that I failed to note betwee the RPI 3 Model B and the B+ is that while the RPi 3 Model B sported 1 GB of RAM, the B+ cuts it back down to 512 MB. While 512 MB may be enough for your application, if it is not, you may with to stick with the original RPi 3 Model B.

Update: 05/03/2018 — I have verified that RPi 3 Model B+ does still have 1 GB of RAM.  The reference to 512 MB RAM came from the specifications listed on the RPi Foundation web page when originally released.