Happy New Year, Everyone!

First, I want to thank you for your donations and support. I was able to raise enough capital to purchase a refurbished Panasonic CF-20 MK1 Toughbook at the end of 2021. It's an amazing machine considering that it was born in 2008.

In order to help execute on the vision for EmComm Tools, I needed to find a hardware platform that was up to the task of serving in the elements. The CF-20 Toughbook offers MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-461F and IP65 certifications that make it a great choice for field operations. Yes, this is not a Raspberry Pi. I am switching gears a bit and packaging the initial release as an appliance that will run on the Toughbook under Linux.

What does this all mean? Well, I struggled making an EmComm Tools installer that would integrate nicely with its dependent software (e.g., Dire Wolf, AX.25, YAAC, fldigi and Pat) on existing systems. I tried the Build-a-Pi route, but there was too much change in the all the dependent applications that resulted in breakage over time. I don't want breakage. Additionally, I needed to change how some of the ham software is configured and I have no intention of breaking your existing system.

EmComm Tools is designed to be a tool, not a toy. I envision it as a tool to carry out digital communications in support of public service events and emergency scenarios. It's designed to support voice operations, not replace it. To help achieve this goal, the initial release will be delivered as a custom Ubuntu ISO image. This will allow me to package all dependencies as a single system that is known to work together. Additionally, this will allow me to maintain and include offline maps and data sets (e.g., repeater lists, FCC call signs, RMS gateways, etc). This has the added bonus of requiring no Internet access to install EmComm Tools. I still need to work through the logistics, but I plan to send out USB thumb drives via snail mail for a small fee for those who want the true "offgrid" experience.

Don't worry, the Raspberry Pi will be supported and the project will be open sourced later. There are no plans to support Windows, yet.

Success for me will be demonstrating the use of EmComm Tools at a wilderness public service event early this year. If it works for my county's local group, it should work for other groups with similar needs. Here's the hardware planned for the event:

All digital operations will be performed over FM on 2m/440 with EmComm Tools abstracting the following transmissions:

  • Email

  • Text (SMS)

  • Chat (keyboard-to-keyboard)

  • File transfers

  • Data set transfers (tabular data)

At any rate, that's the vision. There will be more on this topic.

If you're still reading, here's the video on the CF-20 Toughbook.

"Be strong, be safe and by prepared" -- The Tech Prepper KT1RUN