ClearNode API 106 and App 1.42 released …

This is a follow up release for SkywarnPlus – fixed a couple of bugs and several new configuration options, including enabling SkyDescribe.

To use SkyDescribe you will need an API Key from Once you have it, enter into Node Details > AllStar Setup > SkywarnPlus Options > “VoiceRSS API Key” and Save. You can’t activate SkyDescribe without having an API Key.

Don’t Enable Test Mode – unless you know why you are doing it.

Don’t forget to enable the corresponding Timed Event which should have been automatically installed during the update.

Note that you cannot have AutoSky and SkywarnPlus enabled at the same time – they would stomp on each other’s “tailmessage”.

Likely the defaults for “Play Wx every (ms)” and “Play Wx after busy delay (ms)” are incorrect in your default AllStar Setup – set them to 180000 and 60000 respectively. (Looks like they both had an extra zero in the default setup.)

Big Thank You to the folks that contributed knowledge to this update – you know who you are – Cheers !

73 … Gerry.

ClearNode API 104 and App 1.41 released …

(Both iOS and Android apps are now available in the respective App Stores.)

This release upgrade process might take a little time (depending on your internet connection) and will reboot a couple of times – don’t interrupt power ! Here’s what’s going on:

  • Installation of SkywarnPlus – all the files you need – minus a working configuration. That’s so we don’t stomp on any existing configuration if you have already installed SkywarnPlus. To get a working configuration, you need to go to Node Details > AllStar Setup > Weather Options … turn on “Generate SkywarnPlus configuration” and tap Save in the top right corner. The configuration will be generated with your call sign and the same NWS County Code you use for AutoSky. There are an awesome number of configuration options – so far we haven’t exposed any of them – let us know what you need – we’ll work on it. You also need to enable the Timed Event “SkywarnPlus Check Advisories” which was automatically installed during the upgrade. If you’re already using AutoSky, you should disable it if you’re going to use SkyWarn Plus – Node Details > AllStar Setup > Weather Options … turn off “Enable AutoSky at Boot” and tap Save in the top right corner. Also turn off the associated Timed Event “AutoSky Check Advisories”.
  • If you have multiple nodes and you use the Digital Modes – you no doubt have run into AllStar’s restriction that prevents creating a loop if you connect them together. That’s because we use the default “1999” node number for the pseudo-node that implements the endpoint for the Digital Mode audio. To get around that restriction, each of your nodes needs to use a different pseudo-node number. With this release you can go to Node Details > Digital Bridge Setup > Global Information > MMDVM Node NUmber and choose a new number. We suggest using a sequence such as 1999, 1888, 1777, etc. If you have a single node, you probably don’t need to deal with this.
  • Some of you have implemented a hardware vocoder on a separate piece of hardware and can use it over the network instead of plugging one in locally. To facilitate that we’ve exposed that in two configuration options – Node Details > Digital Bridge Setup > DSTAR Setup > Network Vocoder Address / Port ***
  • The live GPIO control settings have moved from the bottom of the Node Details > Node setup section to the top section “Radio” – Type: RedRPT – Tap to configure”. Just to keep the UI as consistent as we can from device to device.

*** Wah! – just spotted the bug – “Network Vocoder Address/Port” was mis-labelled in iOS. Will fix it in the next release.

Want to know more about SkywarnPlus : SkywarnPlus on Github.

73 … Gerry.

ClearNode API 102 …

Some of you have already noticed the release of API 102 – you will get it automatically if you have automatic updates enabled and your reboot your node … or you can get it manually by tapping on “Node Details” > “Versions” > “RedNode API Level”. Do upgrade when you get the chance.

No new functionality, this is a maintenance release to clear up some minor bugs and installs some “Support” utilities to help us inspect your node when you call for help.

73 … Gerry.

DSTAR is available …

In release API 101 and ClearNode App 1.40 we included support for DSTAR.

However, there are caveats – you must use a DV3000 hardware voice encoder USB dongle to get acceptable audio quality. The audio without it is unusable and likely will get you banned from the Reflector. So the node won’t allow connections if it doesn’t detect the hardware encoder.

There are occasional hardware incompatibilities that sometimes means the DV3000 hardware encoder disconnects – see our notes referenced below.

We’ve put up some extensive notes on using DSTAR on your ClearNode. Please read them thoroughly before you get in touch to request enabling of DSTAR on your node (your node will have to be online for it be enabled).

73 … Gerry.

ClearNode API 101 and App 1.40 released …

In this release:

  • Provisional support for DSTAR – there will be another announcement on that later – we’re still sorting out some details – so don’t email asking us how or when
  • “Jitter” is exposed in the Digital Bridge Setup > DMR Setup
  • Ability to clear COREDUMPS from the Node Details context menu
  • You can use the ADD CONNECTION screen to Tag your own nodes – those tags will then be displayed on the Your Nodes screen. You will have to connect from one of your nodes to the one you want to tag so you can Tag it. If your nodes are all on the same network you will have to run “Configure Private Nodes” first so you can connect one node to another. If you only have one node then you can’t Tag it since it can’t be connected to itself, and why would you want to anyway.
  • Some changes in the Manage WiFi Networks screens to make sure that leading and trailing spaces are trimmed off any Network Names (SSIDs) and Password.
  • AllStar Setup now checks your Broadcastify “BCFY Play Url” is populated so you can play the stream in the ClearNode mobile app.

73 … Gerry.

Did you know ? … Episode 9

ClearRPT has a programmable GPIO

Five of the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins are wired out to the ClearRPT‘s DSUB 15 connector. You can control them in real time from the ClearNode mobile app – at the bottom of the Node Details screen tap on “GPIO Control”.

You can also control them from your Timed Events – create separate events for each pin and for turning them off and on.

73 … Gerry.

(This is the latest episode in a series of posts to help you discover all the functionality that you might not know exists in your ClearNode, ClearAlpha, ClearZero or ClearRPT. We’re going to publish episodes periodically – some come back often and join us !)

ClearZero is back in stock !!

After a hiatus of over a year, we were able to get a significant shipment of the Raspberry Pi Zero 2W boards – ClearZero production is under way !

73 … Gerry.

HamVoIP “” update …

Apparently there was a bug in the script that announces time in 24 hr mode that had been lurking around for quite some time. The folks at HamVoIP jumped on the fix as soon as they became aware of it. The update is now available. This is a minor fix and has not security implications.

You can get the update by tapping on the “Asterisk 1.4.23 …” row in the Versions section of Node Details.

Be patient and wait for your node to reboot after the update. Do not interrupt power during the update. The version # in that “Asterisk …” row will not change.

73 … Gerry.

Did you know ? … Episode 8

Who are you really connected to …

When you start an AllStar connection to another node or hub it generally looks like this on the Node Details screen in your ClearNode mobile app.

The underlying AllStar software is based on the Asterisk telephony open source system – it’s an incredible system with a rich feature set. One of the things it does in the background is keep a list of all the endpoints that are connected to each other. So you might think you’re only connected to 41522 – but actually you’re connected to every other endpoint that is also connected to 41522.

In the ClearNode app you can expose this plethora of links by simply tapping on the 41522 connection – it will transition to a “Links” screen that will enumerate all the other links. (This only works for direct AllStar connections.)

So mind your Ps and Qs – you never know who might be listening !

73 … Gerry.

(This is the latest episode in a series of posts to help you discover all the functionality that you might not know exists in your ClearNode, ClearAlpha, ClearZero or ClearRPT. We’re going to publish episodes periodically – some come back often and join us !)

The Care and Feeding of your Pi …

It’s fair to say that the Raspberry Pi is an amazing little device – and generally it costs under $50 ! Having said that it does have some weak spots – but if you’re aware of them you can minimize the potential for bad things to happen.

USB Power Connector

Probably the weakest spot is the Micro-USB power connector on any of the Pi 3 devices. It may also be the case for the USB-C connectors in the Pi 4 devices, but they haven’t been in the field long enough to observe.

Many of you take your ClearNode traveling which often entails repeatedly pulling and re-inserting the power cable into the connector on the side of the Raspberry Pi PCB. Unfortunately this does tend to loosen up the connector over time – eventually the connection becomes intermittent. If your finding that your ClearNode mysteriously reboots or works intermittently – that’s a good place to start looking.

It’s best if you can avoid repeatedly reconnecting power – try to keep that connector permanently in the node. The pins on the “wall-wart” end of the power supply are much more robust – disconnect there instead. In general, our advice is keep you node powered 24×7 with a weekly reboot to clear out the log files – if that’s an option.

So in short – do your best to minimize the number of times you reconnect that USB power connector – it will stay functional a whole lot longer.

SD Card and Housing

The other weak spot is the SD Card housing – we’ve had nodes returned for repair where that socket was torn completely away from the Raspberry Pi PCB, necessitating replacement of the Raspberry PI. Do your best to minimize the number of times you remove and re-insert the SD Card.

Many of you are religious about making backups of your SD Cards in case of failure. This has been a source of many calls to Support – the card gets trashed by some means during this process. Keep in mind that the historical justification for making backups is a little less credible when you’re dealing with ClearNode.

We use the distribution as our base image, which is configured to write log and temporary files to memory and not the SD Card. This has effects on the longevity of the SD Card. Firstly, since the system is not constantly writing to the SD Card, the possible destruction of the card by accidentally interrupting power is by and large eliminated. Secondly, the number of times a “bit” can be written to a location on the card is finite – they wear out ! Again, this issue is drastically limited because the system rarely writes to the card.

You are far more likely to zap the SD Card by mishandling it than it is to age out from normal use.

When handling an SD CARD always, always, always use a grounding strap on your wrist to eliminate static discharges.

It is a relatively simple process for us to regenerate your SD Card for you – generally including your latest configuration if it’s backed up to our servers. Maybe making copies of your SD Card is less justified than you think.

Raspberry Pi availability

If your ClearNode is based on the Pi 3 – we no longer have stock of that board and there are none available for purchase at the moment. If your Raspberry Pi 3 fails – you will be between a rock and a hard place !

In conclusion – give some thought to the well being of your Raspberry Pi – keep your node running as long as possible.

73 … Gerry.