My "happy with it for now" shack, 2023 edition

jschmall

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Anderson, CA
Since I seem to have the shack where I want it for now, I figured I'd post a few photos! Photos are at the bottom of this post.

The amateur side of things includes the following:
  • ICOM IC-7300 (MARS modded)
  • ICOM ID-5100 (MARS modded)
  • ICOM ID-51A+ (MARS modded)
  • DX Commander Classic
  • Arrow Antenna J-Pole
  • Pi-Star hotspot for DSTAR on a Pi Zero W
  • HamClock running on a Pi Zero W
I first got my Tech ticket in 2020 and quickly moved to General a few months later. I've been fairly active in FT8 with a little bit of voice here and there. Unfortuanelty with the weather we've been having this winter, my DX Commander has been down more than up and in use. Hopefully that changes this spring!

All physical audio in the shack (i.e. radios/PC) is fed through the mixer to a small 50w amp to feed my desktop speakers. I like to listen to multiple things at once haha.

Regarding the scanner side of things:
  • (8) RTL-SDR V3's
  • (1) FlightAware ADSB stick
  • (1) Airspy Mini
  • Old Tram Discone for general purpose scanning
  • Custom made Ed Fong knockoff J-Pole
  • Laird Low Band CHP antenna
  • Larsen 800MHz yagi
  • Custom made ground plane ADSB antenna
  • (2) Belden PPC 0-gain powered splitters
The general order of operations for scanning is as follows:

Five of the RTL SDR's are for VHF/UHF LMR agencies in the region (CAL FIRE, Sheriff, Police, CHP, EMS, etc...). Those are being used by an RTLSDR-Airband instance that is then fed to a PulseAudio server, then fed into a Liquidsoap server for EQ and balance, then fed to Broadcastify and my own Icecast server. Obviously many of those feeds don't make it to BCFY due to regulations so I listen to them for my own personal use.

Two more of the RTL SDR's are used in an OP25 (boatbod) server which is used to monitor our local P25 system. I monitor multiple TG's and feed the police dispatch to BCFY. The audio is fed to PulseAudio, then to Liquidsoap, then to Icecast just as above.

The last RTL SDR is being used for ACARS data that is fed to airframes.io.

The FlightAware SDR is used for ADSB traffic and is currently being fed to about 6 different servers, as well as my own tar1090 instance.

The Airspy Mini is attached to a spyserver instance so I can share it around my network incase I decide to scan while I'm on my laptop on the couch or the desktop right next to it.

Something else I monitor is local fire dispatch so I feed audio to a TwoToneDetect instance and email/text myself tone outs for stations I care about monitoring due to being near family or friends.

All of the above instances are virtual machines and it has taken me a lot to get things stable and how I want them.

Thanks for looking!

IMG_1188.jpeg
IMG_1189.jpeg
IMG_1190.jpeg
 

CKnobb

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Jan 30, 2023
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Central NY
Very nice and tidy! I'm very impressed with the wire/cable organization. I've been trying for 46 years to get my ham shack this neat and organized.
Jim
 

ka1njl

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Jul 20, 2007
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Location
Fairport, ,New York
That looks great! I'm just starting a similar project with multiple RTL dongles connected to a single computer. What are you using for a computer to control all of this? Also, what operating system are you using? I'm considering buying a relatively cheap Windows 10 or 11 box but I'm very comfortable replacing the OS with Linux if necessary.
 

jschmall

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Jul 15, 2017
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Anderson, CA
That looks great! I'm just starting a similar project with multiple RTL dongles connected to a single computer. What are you using for a computer to control all of this? Also, what operating system are you using? I'm considering buying a relatively cheap Windows 10 or 11 box but I'm very comfortable replacing the OS with Linux if necessary.
Since I also have a home lab, I’m virtualizing all the services on a Debian system called Proxmox. But and PC running Debian or Ubuntu will work just fine.
 

tomz23

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May 14, 2023
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Looks like a nice setup.
Question: Does the iCOM 5100 with MARS mod output full power in the GMRS range? Asking for a friend.
 

enCrypt

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Oct 22, 2015
Messages
90
How did you manage to get all those RTL sticks working on one machine? (maybe its on multiple machines)
Anyway, I pass through the whole USB controller of a Proxmox node through to one VM and I can only use a max of 2 RTL sticks on it before I get laggy performance etc...
 

jschmall

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Anderson, CA
How did you manage to get all those RTL sticks working on one machine? (maybe its on multiple machines)
Anyway, I pass through the whole USB controller of a Proxmox node through to one VM and I can only use a max of 2 RTL sticks on it before I get laggy performance etc...
This setup has changed a bit since that photo was taken. I have a total of (12) SDR's across (3) 4-port hubs, powered by a Meanwell LRS-50-5, 5V 10A power supply. I have no issues whatsoever with power and stability.

Those SDR's feed into a Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro running Proxmox as part of a cluster. I am running (9) LXCs on that node, with (4) of them having the SDR's passed through (that was a royal pain in the ass to setup originally but I've got it figured out now).

The containers I have running are: RTL-Airband, OP25, ADSB and ACARS docker containers, a Virtual Radar server, a Pulseaudio server, a Liquidsoap server, an Icecast2 server, and TwoToneDetect. This one node runs all my RF related systems.

I plan on increasing the capacity soon, probably going to add another couple SDR's or integrate my amateur radios in some way, like a winlink/pat server, maybe something for packet radio using Direwolf, etc.
 

PRRESCUE

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Feb 19, 2006
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This setup has changed a bit since that photo was taken. I have a total of (12) SDR's across (3) 4-port hubs, powered by a Meanwell LRS-50-5, 5V 10A power supply. I have no issues whatsoever with power and stability.

Those SDR's feed into a Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro running Proxmox as part of a cluster. I am running (9) LXCs on that node, with (4) of them having the SDR's passed through (that was a royal pain in the ass to setup originally but I've got it figured out now).

The containers I have running are: RTL-Airband, OP25, ADSB and ACARS docker containers, a Virtual Radar server, a Pulseaudio server, a Liquidsoap server, an Icecast2 server, and TwoToneDetect. This one node runs all my RF related systems.

I plan on increasing the capacity soon, probably going to add another couple SDR's or integrate my amateur radios in some way, like a winlink/pat server, maybe something for packet radio using Direwolf, etc.
May I ask what you are using for ACARS?
 

enCrypt

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Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
90
This setup has changed a bit since that photo was taken. I have a total of (12) SDR's across (3) 4-port hubs, powered by a Meanwell LRS-50-5, 5V 10A power supply. I have no issues whatsoever with power and stability.

Those SDR's feed into a Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro running Proxmox as part of a cluster. I am running (9) LXCs on that node, with (4) of them having the SDR's passed through (that was a royal pain in the ass to setup originally but I've got it figured out now).

The containers I have running are: RTL-Airband, OP25, ADSB and ACARS docker containers, a Virtual Radar server, a Pulseaudio server, a Liquidsoap server, an Icecast2 server, and TwoToneDetect. This one node runs all my RF related systems.

I plan on increasing the capacity soon, probably going to add another couple SDR's or integrate my amateur radios in some way, like a winlink/pat server, maybe something for packet radio using Direwolf, etc.
Thanks for the info.
Your setup is very similar to mine. I have a 3 node Proxmox cluster running on 3 x Lenovo M710 Tiny PCs with one node reserved for radio related apps. I also use an audio mixer for PC and radio outputs through an old Hifi unit and speakers.
Can I please ask the following...
1. What is the brand of USB hubs you are using for the RTLs?
2. Do you passthrough all USB ports / controllers on your physical host to Proxmox via IOMMU, or just the individual RTL sticks?
3. For each LXC in Proxmox, are you running your apps directly on top of the OS or is it, Docker apps on top of an OS? (I've been an IT guy for 25 years and I've looked into Docker but it confuses the hell out of me :()
4. I assume all your LXCs / Dockers apps are all Linux based? I'm using a Windows 10 VM for my main apps which might explain my laggyness with only 2 RTLs plugged in...

Hope you don't mind all the questions, just looking for some tips on how I might be able to run all my stuff a bit more efficiently.
 

jschmall

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Location
Anderson, CA
Thanks for the info.
Your setup is very similar to mine. I have a 3 node Proxmox cluster running on 3 x Lenovo M710 Tiny PCs with one node reserved for radio related apps. I also use an audio mixer for PC and radio outputs through an old Hifi unit and speakers.
Can I please ask the following...
1. What is the brand of USB hubs you are using for the RTLs?
2. Do you passthrough all USB ports / controllers on your physical host to Proxmox via IOMMU, or just the individual RTL sticks?
3. For each LXC in Proxmox, are you running your apps directly on top of the OS or is it, Docker apps on top of an OS? (I've been an IT guy for 25 years and I've looked into Docker but it confuses the hell out of me :()
4. I assume all your LXCs / Dockers apps are all Linux based? I'm using a Windows 10 VM for my main apps which might explain my laggyness with only 2 RTLs plugged in...

Hope you don't mind all the questions, just looking for some tips on how I might be able to run all my stuff a bit more efficiently.
1. What is the brand of USB hubs you are using for the RTLs?
- I am using these from Amazon, been great so far: https://a.co/d/gKdAKNs

2. Do you passthrough all USB ports / controllers on your physical host to Proxmox via IOMMU, or just the individual RTL sticks?
- I am using unprivileged Ubuntu 22 LXC containers with the following amendments to their .conf file:
Code:
lxc.cgroup2.devices.allow: c 189:* rwm
lxc.mount.entry: /dev/bus/usb/001 dev/bus/usb/001 none bind,optional,create=dir
This ensures they have permissions to that USB group but the downside is each LXC with that conf sees ALL SDRs. But as long as I give each dongle a unique serial, it's not that big of a deal.

3. For each LXC in Proxmox, are you running your apps directly on top of the OS or is it, Docker apps on top of an OS? (I've been an IT guy for 25 years and I've looked into Docker but it confuses the hell out of me :()
- Docker is a finicky beast but I do have it running, with a very basic config, on top of Ubuntu for the ADSB and ACARS containers. The other two are straight on top of Ubuntu.

4. I assume all your LXCs / Dockers apps are all Linux based? I'm using a Windows 10 VM for my main apps which might explain my laggyness with only 2 RTLs plugged in...
- Yes, all my systems are either Ubuntu or Debian, no Windows environments.

If I could, I would compile all my sources but this was an ever evolving project over a year.
 

enCrypt

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Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
90
Awesome, thanks so much for all the info, that is really helpful.
If I change to more Linux based VMs / LXCs I will need to figure out how to route audio that way (currently use virtual audio cables into Zello in Windows) but I should be able to figure out that myself.
Thanks again and well done on a really nice setup
 
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