Building your own Digipeater with Le Potato or Raspberry Pi
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This is a set of instructions to follow to build your own digipeater using the Libre Computer “Le Potato” device that is similar to a Raspberry Pi. This section is the follow along for video number one of the series.
You will need a few things in preperation (Including Links to more specific items):
- A computer (Windows or MacOS)
- Le Potato board from Libre Computer => https://amzn.to/3KL76EQ
- Power supply for the Le Potato device => https://amzn.to/3HlaNQX
- An ethernet cable => https://amzn.to/3RqNICb
- microSD Card (16GB or 32GB) => https://amzn.to/3GZgALM
- SD Card Reader (You may already have one if you’re using a laptop) => https://amzn.to/3Pnh1CZ
- DigiRig => https://amzn.to/43MnyNZ
- Be sure to also get a DigiRig cable for your specific radio
- A way to scan your WiFi network (We’ll be using Fing which is available for both Android and iPhone)
- [OPTIONAL] Case (or any Raspberry Pi 3 case) => https://amzn.to/3UPCS8t
- [OPTIONAL] Power supply for 12V battery => https://amzn.to/3UPtMIU
Downloading & Flashing
Download the Raspbian Image
The Linux Operating System we’ll be loading on the device will be Raspbian. We will need to download it so it can be loaded on the SD Card. The image can be downloaded from the following page - https://distro.libre.computer/ci/raspbian/11/
On this page, you will see a list of available downloads. You need to download the one specific to your device. The device used in the video is LePotato, which is has a model number of AML-S905X-CC. Look on this list for the download containing that, which is currently
2022-09-22-raspbian-bullseye-arm64-lite+aml-s905x-cc.img.xz Click the link for that and save it to your computer
Download & Install Raspberry Pi Imager
Next we need a way to flash the Raspbian image to the SD Card. This is done using the Raspberry Pi Imager. Download this by visiting the following link: https://www.raspberrypi.com/software/ and selecting
Download for Windows or
Download for macOS if you’re on a Mac.
After the download is done, run it to begin the installation. After the installation is complete, you’ll have the option to Run Raspberry Pi Imager. Make sure that box is checked and click Finish
Flashing the image
You should now have the Raspberry Pi Imager program open.
Click on the Chose Storage button and take note of what you see (make sure the SD Card you’re planning to flash isn’t in your computer yet). You may see nothing, or you may see some drives appear. If you do, remember what they are and close the Choose Storage window.
Now, go ahead and insert your SD Card into the computer. Click on the Choose Storage button again and take note of what you see. You should see a new device show up. Remember this device. Close the Choose Storage window now.
Click on the Choose OS button and scroll down to where you see Use custom and click on that. Navigate to the Rasbian Image file you downloaded earlier and double click on it.
Now, click on Choose Storage and select the device that showed up after putting the SD card into the computer.
Click on the Gear button to open Advanced Options. Scroll down to the bottom and make sure all of the checkboxes do not have checks in them. Especially Eject media when finshed
Click on the Save button
Click on the Write button
Click on the YES button to begin flashing to the SD Card.
When it’s done flashing, you can click on the Continue button and then close the Raspberry Pi Imager program. You can now also remove the SDcard from the computer.
Enable SSH and Create User
Unfortunately, Le Potato does not support setting up the user and enabling SSH via the Raspberry Pi Imager Advanced options menu. Not to worry though, it is easy to do manually. Just follow these steps
To enable SSH, you simply have to create a file named ssh (with no file extension) on the boot directory on the SD Card you just flashed
If you open up the Windows File Explorer, you should see a drive named “boot”. Go ahead and open this up. This is where you will need to create the file named ssh. Before we do that, we need to make sure we can create the file with not file extension. To do this, click on Start menu and type in file explorer options and open that up. Now click on the View tab and look for a checkbox that says “Hide extensions for known file types” if this has a checkmark in it, uncheck it and then hit the OK button
Now, back at the drive named “boot” in the Windows File Explorer, you should see a few folders and a bunch of files. Right click on an empty area and select New then Text Document. You’ll see a new file called New Text Document.txt appear. Rename this file to ssh (Make sure the .txt is gone from the end!) You should see a message pop up saying “If you change a file name extension, the file might become unusable” click on Yes
Creating a user
Next we need to create a user with username and password. Take the following steps to do This
Just like you did in the previous step, right click on an empty area of the drive named “boot” and select New and then Text Document. Name this file userconf.txt (be sure to include the .txt on this one!)
Double click on this file to open it to edit. This file will need a single line of text that will contain the username you want to use, followed by a colon, then followed by an encrypted version of the password. See the example below
You can change “joe” to whatever you would like your username to be, but keep the encrypted password the same. Go ahead and copy the example above and paste it into the userconf.txt file you’re editing and change “joe” to whatever you like. Then save the file.
Booting up, finding the device IP address, and logging on
With those steps complete, the SD Card is ready and can be taken out of the computer by right clicking on the drive named “boot” on File Explorer and clicking Eject and then removing the SD Card from your computer.
Insert the card into your Le Potato device, connect the device to your network via the ethernet cable, and now plug the device into the power supply. You should see Blue Green Red lights on the device light up, with the blue one flashing eventually.
Finding the IP address
Logging on to the device
To log on, click on the Start menu and type in terminal and open up the terminal. Now, type in ssh yourusername@your-device-ip-address-here like the example below with the usename joe
192.168.1.100 with the username you made in the userconf.txt file and
192.168.1.100 with the IP address of your device. Hit enter and then you will be asked to enter in a password. The password is
digipeater. Type this in and hit enter
You should now be logged into the device and see something like the following
Linux raspberrypi 6.0.12-00858-gb98721ea4575 #1 SMP PREEMPT_DYNAMIC Thu Dec 8 19:08:19 UTC 2022 aarch64
The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.
Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
The first thing you will want to do is change the password. To do this, type in
passwd and hit enter. You’ll be asked to enter in the current password and new password.
Installing and Configuring Direwolf - Video 2 Instructions
This section is the follow along instructions for Video 2 in the series. In this part, we’ll be installing and configuring Direwolf.
To make the process as easy as possible, I’ve created a script that you can run that will install all of the prerequisites and direwolf which can be found on the https://github.com/TheCommsChannel/digipeater-setup page, but I will include the command here as well:
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheCommsChannel/digipeater-setup/main/tc2_direwolf.sh && chmod +x tc2_direwolf.sh && ./tc2_direwolf.sh
Just run the command above to begin the install. It will begin by running updates and installing prereqs needed for Dire Wolf. You will also be asked if you would like to install HamLib. If you’re just using a DigiRig, then HamLib is not needed. If you’re using something like an Icom 705, Yaesu 991, and a long list of other radios, then you will need HamLib to control the PTT for your radio.
After the script is complete, you should see a number of files in your home directory, including direwolf.conf, which is the configuration file for direwolf. This file has tons of comments explaining the various different options and is helpful to go through it when you have a chance. To simplify things, I’ve created a couple simple config files
direwolf.ic705.conf to show an example setup for the DigiRig and the Icom IC-705. I’ll edit these to my needs during the video, but feel free to follow along and edit to fit your situation.
After editing the config file to your needs, you’re ready to start direwolf. Direwolf allows you to specify which config file you would like to use with the
-c options. For example, if you wanted to use the digirig config file, you would run
direwolf -c direwolf.digirig.conf
If you get the following error when trying to run direwolf
direwolf: error while loading shared libraries: libhamlib.so.4: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory, this is a result of installing Hamlib, but this is an easy fix. Simply run the following command to fix:
echo "export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib" >> ~/.profile && source ~/.profile