The Blanton Command Post 2017

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blantonl

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Pictures are below.....

I buckled down and spent the past two weeks re-doing the "Command Post." My focus with this reorganization was to eliminate radios in the office, and move everything to a computer controlled environment hosted in the office closet. Here are the results.

Consolidated 5 different computers into:

1 iMac Retina with 24 GB RAM and SEIKI 4K monitor with the Retina display functioning as a secondary display

  • my primary workstation
  • development work
  • access to all resources in the office, network, home, etc
  • basically where I work from every day, and where this post was drafted.

1 Dell Precision 7910 Rack workstation, 2 Xeon 2900v4 processors, 128GB RAM, 25TB of raw storage - Ubuntu Linux configured as a KVM virtual machine host. Hosts the following:

  • - Storage server running on FreeNAS in a VM (Virtual Machine). Provides 14TB of ZFS storage via SMB, NFS, AFP and iSCSI
  • Windows 10 VM that provides 4 live audio feeds to Broadcastify
  • 4 to 8 CentOS instances to support RadioReference/Broadcastify development and testing
  • WinXP instance for Wavecom W-CODE
  • Windows 10 instance for all radio local and remote control. Accessed via Microsoft Remote Desktop.

Radios controlled are listed below.

Radios include:

  • Icom R9500 - for across the board monitoring. Everything from HF to Microwave is monitored using this receiver. Flavor of the day monitoring
  • Icom R8500 - used for monitoring ALE networks on HF, and UHF Satcom
  • AR5000D - Satellite monitoring
  • Icom PCR2500 - monitoring aircraft and mil-air
  • GRE PSR-600 - monitoring military public safety and local suburbs public safety
  • Uniden BCD536D with the Wifi adapter, providing primary public safety listening in San Antonio (ProVoice EDACS System)
  • Uniden BCD996T - local VHF agencies, two tone paging
  • WinRadio G39DDC Excelsior - hosted in the VM server and accessed via the Win10 instance via PCIe passthrough. Another HF-Microwave receiver that is computer controlled and my "go to" receiver for searching out signals
  • WinRadio G33DDC Excalibur Pro - hosted via the VM server and accessed via the Win10 instance via USB passthrough. Primary HF searching and decoding receiver.
  • (2) NetSDRs - used for satellite reception and decoding.
  • SDR-14 - provides spectrum analysis support for the AR5000
  • Airspy SDR - monitors the San Antonio EDACS system via UniTrunker
  • HackRF - used for a number of experimental satellite projects and other wideband projects that are based on GNURadio.
  • Unication G5 - paging for my local fire department (Shavano Park TX) - and other p25 minitoring
  • - (3) Uniden BCD436HPs - 2 providing audio feeds and 1 for mobile listening

Audio

Audio management is a yuuuge bigly deal in this setup. With 20+ audio sources all needing volume control and instant "ALL MUTE" capability, I opted for the Behringer X32 Rack processor with a Behringer S16 digital remote snake. With that setup you get 16 remote audio inputs on the digital snake (over a Cat5 cable) and 16 local inputs. Outputs are pretty much on par... I've configured outputs for front speakers, back speakers, decoding interfaces, and recording outputs via a USB card in the X32 which your PC can use as an input device. Audio flexibility in my workflow and the X32 platform performs flawlessly for this.

Antennas include: but are not limited to

  • roof apex mounted DPD-Productions OmniX Scanner Base Antenna
  • HF Loop Antenna
  • HF Long Wire Antenna (250 feet)
  • UHF Satcom Mil Trivec Avant
  • 2 Inmarsat antennas (One Dish, One Flat Panel)

Supporting Equipment

  • Rack mounted Dual-12V Power Supply to power all 12V capable equipment via Power-poll distributors
  • (2) UPSs - providing standby power to the server and USB hubs and storage.
  • (3) VHF/UHF 16 port Stridsberg multi-couplers providing antenna connections to all the radios
  • (2) HF 4 port Stridsberg multi-couplers providing antenna connections to all the radios
  • L-Band 70MHZ Downconverter for Satellite work
  • a ADS-B Raspberry Pi device that is literally mounted in the attic and connected to a DPD productions ADS-B antenna. provides ADS-B to numerous sources. (currently offline, I need to climb up there and see what's up)
  • multiple filters, pre-amps in all this

Misc Notes:

  • An internal SAN (storage area network) was created on the VM server to support disk access between the VMs and the SAN).
  • A VLAN was created to trunk uVerse TV Broadcasts between the uVerse router and the receivers, allowing the home GB network to support uVerse TV over IP.
  • 2 internet connections come into the house. A Time Warner Cable 300MB pipe, and a uVerse pipe for uVerse TV and their bare bones lowest cost Internet service.
  • Home Router provides failover between Time Warner and uVerse, and VPN access to the home network when I'm away - also provides DHCP and DNS services to the home
  • Numerous security cameras that backup to the SAN
  • The SAN backs up off site to an unnamed provider
  • There are 3 PICe USB 3.0 cards in the server that are all configured as PCI passthrough devices in KVM. Its buggy, and and feels like managing a house of cards. if you so much as breath the wrong way everything on that VM server will crash. :) But I've figured out how to breath in front of this server so far, it took me 2 weeks.

Questions? Concerns? Would love to hear from you. Enjoy :)

PS: Behringer X32 Rack can be found here http://amzn.to/2hc3fCC
 

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N9JIG

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I notice the Herman Miller chair, I just bought an Aeron myself last week. Love it!

I think the next thing for my shack is a 5K monitor for my 5K iMac, I don't know if it will support 2 5K's or not though I aim to try...

I like the server idea with VM's. I use VM's on the Mac with Windows 7 and 10 so I haven't turned on my Windows machine in months. I suppose I should just to run updates and make sure it still works.

Is the rack in a back room or in the office with you? I was thinking of using an enclosed server cabinet here if I could find one with split doors so I could keep the lower half closed (power supply, CPU etc.) and the upper one open for rack-mounted radios.
 

SCPD

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Like the martini glass on the desk. Makes scanning go much smoother..Bob aka KB9QHJ
 

blantonl

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I notice the Herman Miller chair, I just bought an Aeron myself last week. Love it!

I think the next thing for my shack is a 5K monitor for my 5K iMac, I don't know if it will support 2 5K's or not though I aim to try...

I like the server idea with VM's. I use VM's on the Mac with Windows 7 and 10 so I haven't turned on my Windows machine in months. I suppose I should just to run updates and make sure it still works.

Is the rack in a back room or in the office with you? I was thinking of using an enclosed server cabinet here if I could find one with split doors so I could keep the lower half closed (power supply, CPU etc.) and the upper one open for rack-mounted radios.
The rack in my office closet. When we built this house, I had 5 runs of LMR-400 coax run to various outdoor locations. All five terminate into the back of that closet.

The server IS loud... wife says it sounds like a "jet engine" - closing the doors on the closet fixes the problem. :)
 

fxdscon

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Awesome setup, some interesting engineering there....... frees up plenty of room for that Bombay Sapphire to breath properly!
 

03msc

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You may be the only person using an X32 in their shack! I think it goes without saying that your setup is amazing. Very impressive!
 

SCPD

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My first question was going to be about the server noise, but I see it answered above. I ran servers at home supporting my network (2 rack-mounted servers) and always had noise and heat problems (heat being the room got hot fast). Moved the servers to a basement to fix the heat problem but never did get the noise problem fixed. Ended up moving to Azure.
 

ka3jjz

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Very cool setup, but I gotta ask - is that a vodka martini sitting to the right of the big screen? Shaken, not stirred, right? (heh)....Mike
 

BlackSheepDue

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Amazing setup! Although I've always felt the need to see my scanners/radios. I'd be interested to learn more about remotely accessing the radios as you do. Some pics of how they look on your monitor would be great!

Would love some antenna setup and more "behind the scenes" pictures.


Thomas
 
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Steve2003

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I'm jealous Lindsay! I hear you on the ambient noise issue from the servers / PC equipment. I'm slowly migrating all of my equipment to the basement and starting to access it remotely as well.

Have you ever though of running some of your USB-based SDR stuff to another room separate form all your server/PC equipment and connect it with USB over Fiber extenders such as this?

https://www.amazon.com/Extender-Repeater-FireNEX-5000-Optical-extend/dp/B00EA27MJG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481313659&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+over+fiber

Curious as to whether or not it would help with some of the interference from the PC/Servers since the connection would be optical.
 

b52hbuff

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Definitely a "reference" standard system. Very impressive.

The only concern/observation is that it looks like your setup can only support computer controlled radios. So much for all of the historical radios in my collection. ;)

Did you do anything special in the closet to provide cooling to all of that gear?
 

redbeard

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Lindsay, not sure if you've seen them, but Behringer has these little devices called P16-M meant for monitor mixing. With an Ultranet router you can put one of these wherever you'd like another listening position, like in the kitchen or next to an easy chair in the living room. I've been considering the same kind of setup for some time.
 
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