wview Weather On The SheevaPlug

I have, for a long time, wanted a real weather station at my QTH. For Christmas I received a LaCrosse WS-2315 weather system.  It measures temp, wind, wind direction, wind chill, heat index. barometric pressure, humidity, rainfall, and the dew point.

My computers run the Linux operating system.  Specifically, Ubuntu Linux.  I found some nice weather software called “wview” that is compatible with my weather station.  I put wview on my desktop, configured my weather station, and have it upload the weather data to my web site.  You can see it http://mcdougallshome.net/wx/.  The whole system worked real nice, but my desktop had to be powered on all the time, and for some reason, when one of my kids would get on it, the weather system would crash.

My solution is the “SheevaPlug” plug computer.  The SheevaPlug is slightly larger than a wall type transformer.  In fact, the SheevaPlug plugs into the wall just like a transformer “wall-wart.”  It also has an option for a power cord, which I find more convenient to use.

Here are some specs from this small box:

  • 1.2 GHz Arm processor
  • 1/2 GB RAM
  • 1/2 GB solid state memory
  • SD/MMC card slot,
  • USB port
  • Gigabit eithernet port
  • USB port to use your computer as a terminal for the SheevaPlug
  • It comes loaded with Ubuntu 9.04 for the Arm Processor

I added an 8GB SD card and upgraded it to Debian Squeeze since Ubuntu does not support the Arm processor anymore.  I then loaded up wview weather software, and my webcam software scripts.  And voila, it works!  It was a fun process and not as clear cut as one would think.  The SheevaPlug is a development kit; and therefore, has no instructions, but there is a lot of information on the Internet.

I made a video (actually three parts) showing an overview of the process that I took to get it all together.  Also, here are some pictures of the setup.

— John – K7JM

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direktwview - SheevaPlug Part 1 embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direktwview - SheevaPlug Part 2 embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direktwview - SheevaPlug Part 3

Here is a list of web sites shown on my videos:

Lunar Eclipse 2010

My wife and I got up at one in the morning this morning to view the lunar eclipse. This was an unusual lunar eclipse because it happened on the shortest day of the year, Dec. 21.  So, some are calling it the darkest day of the year.  In fact, some are calling it the darkest day in some 632 years since that is the last time this phenomenon happened.  Here is a picture I snapped of the eclipse. Brrrr, it was cold outside… about zero F.

– John, K7JM

Click for a larger view.

Space Station Crew Uses HAM Radio to Call Earth

Here is a great YouTube video showing off Ham Radio on the International Space Station given by Expedition 25 commander Doug Wheelock.  He also gives a great partial tour through the Russian section of the ISS.  Very Interesting!

– John K7JM

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

The Joy Of Ham Radio

Another Ham discovers Linux’s ham friendliness ARRL’s website has another nice story about a Ham using Ubuntu Linux and fldigi to renew his love for Amateur Radio.  Check out the post HERE.  Good going Steve (KØSRE)!  For more of Linux In The Ham Shack, check out “Linux In The Ham Shack” podcast.

– John, K7JM

Ambiance Blue Theme For Ubuntu

My computers run on the Ubuntu Operating System – Not Windows.  If you did not know there was a choice other than Windows and Macs, you need to check out the totally FREE operating system Ubuntu!  Besides the operating system being free, ALMOST ALL of the application programs are free.  There are thousands of them, doing almost anything you need to do on a Windows or Mac machine.  And, if that weren’t enough, most of those thousands of free programs are installable from inside Ubuntu itself.  You don’t have to go searching the Internet for them.  Usually just ONE CLICK, and boom, your program is installed.  Besides all that, there is very little worry about viruses as on Windows, and increasingly on the Mac.  It is really NICE!

Anyway, that is not really what this post is supposed to be about.  This post is about a nice theme that I came across for my Ubuntu desktop.  Ubuntu, besides being FREE with lots of FREE applications, it is very nice looking, and if you want to dig deeper, you can make it REALLY nice looking.

I usually have my Ubuntu Desktop all decked out with some sort of modified Emerald theme, with transparency, and glowing frames and pulsating buttons and such.  As I was searching around one of the many Ubuntu web sites, I came across a proposed theme for the next version of Ubuntu coded named Maverick Meerkat due to be released on 10/10/10.  I am sure this nice theme I found will not be a default theme, as purple and orange seem to be someones liking on the Ubuntu development teams.  I am personally not that thrilled about the purple/orange theme, and usually look for other options.

The theme I came across is a beautiful blue theme called Ambiance Blue.  It is not fancy, or full of glowing parts, or throbbing buttons, but is a very nice looking simple blue theme.  The Ambiance Blue Theme can be downloaded from HERE.  See the picture of my theme below, or click on the small screenshot to see a larger view of one of my desktops.  Yes, in Ubuntu, you have MULTIPLE VIRTUAL DESKTOPS.  Very Nice!

– John

Ubuntu and Ham Radio

The ARRL web site had a nice entry about Ubuntu for Ham Radio.  The article could have been four times as long and not cover all the aspects of why Ubuntu Linux is good for Ham Radio.  Also, several of the applications that the author mentioned in the ARRL article that he used with WINE, have alternates available for Linux, including PCB layout software, and Circuit analysis.  Almost ALL FREE.  Besides, Ubuntu’s super easy to install Ham Radio repository of applications, HERE is a page full of stuff, ranging from the latest and greatest to older Linux Ham Radio programs.  Ham Radio is about innovation, and experimentation.  It is sad to see so much of it is built up on a closed, unexperimentalable, unmodifiable, and costly solution like Windows.

John – K7JM

How to install Gridwars2 on Ubuntu Lucid 10.04

I enjoy playing Gridwars2 on Ubuntu Linux. It used to be available on getdeb.net for Ubuntu Jaunty, but since then, it has disappeared.  It can be downloaded from the authors’ site, but it will not run out of the box on Ubuntu Lucid Lynx.  Here are instructions to get it working on Ubuntu Lucid (and newer releases of Ubuntu).  It is quite easy once you figure out how.  This how to, assumes you know the basics of getting around in linux, and know how to work as administrator.

Get the gridwars_lin.zip file from


Click “lin” for the Linux version.

(*UPDATED* 10/11/10) Here is another source for gridwars_lin.zip.  It can be found at:

Unzip all the files and folders into a directory of your choice.  I put mine in /home/myusername/games/gridwars.  If you have multiple users on your system, you might put it all under /usr/share/games/gridwars

Set permissions:  Locate the file gridwars in the …/gridwars folder.  Right click on it and select Properties.  Click on the Permissions tab and make sure “Allow executing file as program” is checked.

Gridwars2 requires two additional files to run.  They are libstdc++.so.5 and libstdc++.so.5.0.7 .

(*UPDATED* 12/11/10) The lib files are no longer available in the jaunty source as shown below.  Ryan, posted a reply with a helpful hint.  It worked for me in a new install.

Ryan says:
October 24th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

A simpler solution to the dependencies is to open a terminal and run this command

sudo apt-get install libstdc++5

Works on maverick as well.

They can be obtained from the jaunty package libstdc++5_3.3.6-17ubuntu1_i386.deb .

libstdc++5_3.3.6-17ubuntu1_i386.deb can be gotten from

http://packages.ubuntu.com/jaunty/i386/libstdc++5/download .

Pick a download location and save it on your computer somewhere convenient.  DO NOT INSTALL the deb package.  You will most likely get an error if you try.

As admin, open up libstdc++5_3.3.6-17ubuntu1_i386.deb with Archive Manager (not the GDebi Package Installer) and place files libstdc++.so.5 and libstdc++.so.5.0.7 into the /usr/lib32 folder .  These are 32 bit files but will work on 64 bit Lucid.

To use nautilus as admin for the above steps, type

$ sudo nautilus

in a terminal window.  You can then right click on libstdc++5_3.3.6-17ubuntu1_i386.deb and select “Open with Archive Manager.”  You then can drag and drop the files where you need them.

(*UPDATED* 06/26/11) If you can not get the sound working, try THIS!

That is it.  To run gridwars2, locate the file “gridwars” in the gridwars folder and double-click to start it.  You can use System -> Preferences -> Main Menu to add gridwars2 to the menu system. A nice icon can be located at …/gridwars/gfx/High/whiteplayer.png .

Enjoy playing gridwars2!

– John K7JM

(Please, read the comments, as they have some good updated information)

HELP, The Transistor Poles Are Exploding

Since I have a sick sense of humor, I find these kind of things entertaining.  A large area of Helena, MT lost its power yesterday because… “A TRANSISTOR POLE EXPLODED”.  I read it in the news paper, it HAS to be TRUE. 🙂  Here it is…

Click the article to got the the Helena Independent Record‘s web site.

Linux In The Ham Shack

New Logo, New URL

I am an avid user of the Linux operating system, and of course, a Ham Radio Operator. There happens to be a great podcast that combines these two endeavors into one.  Linux In The Ham Shack.  Recently, they have moved their web page and therefore have a new URL and here it is:  http://lhspodcast.info/ Check out Russ’s and Richard’s Linux In The Ham Shack site and their podcast.  If you are a regular listener to the podcast, it might be worth mentioning that they also have a new feed, so if you have been missing episodes lately (like I have), try updating the podcast feed.

I’ve also updated their link on my Links page.  Check that page out for other places I visit often.

Keep up the great work guys!

John – K7JM

It Happened!

I’ve been hacked! My web sites have been hacked.  Fortunately, the hack was so bad that it just broke the web site and I noticed it right away.  It looks as if they came in through my hosting company some how, but I have not received any notice that a server at the hosting company has been compromised.  I deleted the web site and restored it all from a reliable backup.  It was a learning experience; and I am glad that I am fanatical about backups!

John – K7JM