Our Next Meeting: Wednesday 18th October 2017 Linux/Ubuntu Update

At our next meeting we'll take a look at the final Beta of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) before it is released to the world the following day.

Artful is a standard 6 monthly development release rather than a Long Term Support (LTS) and therefore allows Canonical to introduce new features and technologies - and this release a big one in the form of a new Desktop environment.

Ubuntu has shipped, by default, with the Unity desktop shell since 2011 but announced earlier this year a shift in focus away from maintaining an independent desktop and a switch to GNOME 3 in the 17.10 release cycle.

At the meeting we'll preview Artful release together with the Ubuntu take on a Desktop environment. and also look at some of the other under the hood changes including a switch to netplan for network configuration.

Gareth also has some YouTube links around model railway control and the very much more budget end of SDR we didn't have time for at the last meeting which are shown below.

On the subject of last months meeting - I'd like to thank Duncan again - I thought it was excellent, very in depth, but I know others including Paul also communicated how much they enjoyed it.


I also have some software details for Model railways and telescopes control which we did not get to last time.


Our Last Meeting: Wednesday 15th September 2017
Alternative software applications :Model Railways, Amateur Radio and Telescope control etc.

We were pleased to welcome Martin from the EAUG club who had made a long journey from Brentwood.

Duncan provided all of the presentation for this evening on Amateur Radio in the form of Software Defined Radio (SDR) and since his contribution was so detailed, interesting and informative we became engrossed and ran out of time for the other topics, apart from a brief discussion about railway modelling since we all had memories of early train sets which were DC driven with their speed controlled by voltage. Later the engines all had chips installed with address codes and they could be individually controlled, the track voltage was then a constant value.

Duncan then went on to discuss an interest in Amateur radio and had purchased a Software Defined Radio this is driven by an app downloaded from

http://sdrplay.com running on either an Raspberry PI 1 or 2. Duncan played a YouTube video of an interview with the developer Jon Hudson describing the system. Basically the RPI1 ,2 or 3 has an aerial input all the frequencies are generated in software. The App gives a quite complex desktop (dashboard) which allows setting of the frequency spectrum covered and the selectivity and amplitude of the signals being observed. This is effectively a spectrum analyser.

(Being able to scroll through frequency bands with a mouse on screen is so totally different to the my old days of slowly turning a tuning knob to pick up one station at a time and then being completely dependent on the sound output. (Ed.) )

In this system you can set up a scan of a completed amateur band like 14.1 to 14.5 MHz and let it show any signals which appeared and with no receiver drift- Amazing!

In the case of the RPI1 and 2 this gives the cheapest way for a wireless listener to obtain a sophisticated receiver. Duncan admitted he is still learning to drive the software which has various filters which can be set up.. They can be purchased for £160 from http://nn4f.com for the RPI2 with SDRUno v1.1 version software.

The radio can be used from very low frequencies up to 2GHz (thereby missing the mobile phone coverage) and will accept AM and FM and DAB. I think he also mentioned SSB (single sideband). You can use a bias-T aerial input which would allow power to a mast head amplifier and there are multiple aerial inputs. Unfortunately since we were indoors and only using a short 1 m aerial reception was not great. Duncan managed to show local DAB channels, MW transmission and TV channels.

The software is being actively developed and the RPI2 Pro version has more features.

Here are Gareth's links

Software Defined Radio using GQRX on Ubuntu Linux -

Software Defined Radio: How to Use a RTL-SDR and GQRX with a Raspberry
Pi 3 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7rMiaFmsUY

RTL_SDR - Ubuntu 16.04 Install -

DAB+ with RTL-SDR under Ubuntu -

How to Connect a Telescope to Stellarium -

How to use Stellarium program to control a Synscan mount via computer
UTUBE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0RzOsVXhAQ

Raspberry Pi Model Railway Controller - 2 -

Raspberry Pi controlling N-scale model railroad stop/start/turn. -

Here are some links I found related to Model railway layouts.

https://www.anyrail.com /en

This allows you to design layouts comprehensive track libraries with branded components e.g. Hornby, Bachmann, Peco etc. Available for Windows as a free trial which I currently tried out. Trail is for as long as you want but limited to 50 sections of track or buy a full version £40 with licence key with no restrictions.

https://www.scarm.info/index.php This is a similar package again for Windows and with a 3D view of the model. Haven't tried this one.

For Mac or Linux there is also TRAX a free software package that runs on almost any system as it is a web based package and plans are stored in the Cloud. It is supported by adverts. https://www.traxeditor.com but this

For astronomy I just had a quick look and apart from the sky map types of software as found in the App Store for iPhone Apps like Star Atlas, Star Walk and Night Sky Pro there are also many telescope control programs.


ICENI Future programme

ICENI Future programme 2017/2018
October 18th Linux /Ubuntu updates. Gareth et al
November 15th Slide/Video Evening All
December 20th Gadgets and Party Evening All
January 17th Winter Social Evening - The Wooden Fender, Ardleigh (Provisional)
February 21st Arduino/Raspberry Pi / BBC :Microbits All
March 21st Backup systems - Cloud/ CCTV, Acronis All
April 18th AGM - Virtual Reality and secure password storage All
May 16th Computer surgery evening All

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website.


Membership fee currently £10, visitors free.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

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I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website. If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.