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Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

This forum is for discussions regarding all aspects of Motorola radio programming, including hardware, computers, installation and use of RSS/CPS, firmware upgrades, and troubleshooting. There are subforums for discussions of codeplugs, and also for software/firmware release notes and issues.

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iotatron
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Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby iotatron » Mon Apr 04, 2016 6:03 am

Folks:

I've written a new tool that can program Maxtrac radios. It's posted on GitHub (URL below), and runs under Perl on Linux. If anyone out there uses both Maxtracs and Linux, I'd love to get some user feedback and bug reports. It can query and set modes and upload and download codeplugs. I'm working on adding radio blanking, upgrading radios to more modes (if it detects that EEPROM space is available), and an offline tool for editing codeplugs on disk.

A few things to be aware of... It's an alpha release, so don't use it on any radio that you can't stand to blank and start over with. I personally only own 16-pin Maxtracs with the larger EEPROM, so it may misbehave on other radios -- this is one of the key areas I'd like to have user reports on. It's not a full replacement for RSS, unfortunately -- it cannot do tuning, deviation, signaling, and a bunch of other stuff that RSS can do. Oh, and it runs the radio at the slower serial speed (about 950 baud) right now. I'll kick it up to the higher speed once I know it's working and stable, but for now it's pretty slow when uploading and downloading codeplugs.

One more thing -- your computer needs to have a UART-based serial port, because of the strange baud rates used by these radios. USB-serial adapters based on the PL2303 chipset do not appear to work. At least, I have not been able to get mine to transmit at the non-standard baud rate. I have a FTDI-based USB-serial adapter on order; I've heard that these are more flexible on baud rates, and I'll update you if it works. But you may have to spring for a $20 PCI serial card if you want to use this -- that's what I had to do.

Software: https://github.com/iotatron/linrss

If this software works for you, real credit should be given to Robert Meister of the repeater-builder website. His excellent and detailed documentation on the Maxtrac memory layout, codeplug structure, and serial protocol made this possible. I wouldn't have had the patience to do all that.

iotatron
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update -- USB serial works

Postby iotatron » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:32 am

A quick update -- My $14 USB->serial cable just arrived. It's made by Sabrent, and based on the FTDI chipset, not the more ubiquitous PL2303. And I can report that it works just fine with my LinRSS program. Good news for anyone who wants to program these radios with a laptop in the field, for example.

Looks like the subset of users that run both Linux and Maxtrac is pretty small, judging by the number of responses I'm getting. (Which is to say, none at all.) But I'll document a little more here in case anyone finds this thread via a search engine...

I've bundled LinRSS into a stand-alone Perl executable, which is simply named 'linrss' on the GitHub site. You will need Perl to run this, but all Linux distros install Perl by default, as far as I know. You will also need to compile a tiny program called oddbaud.c, which allows the setting of the serial port to the non-standard speeds used by these radios. The file on GitHub called INSTRUCTIONS has more details, and gives command-line examples.

If anyone feels like porting this Perl script to Windows or Mac OS, feel free. I'll happily take patches. It shouldn't be very hard; I just don't have either of those machines to do it. The code is GPL'd and open for modifications by anyone.

iotatron
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v0.5-alpha release available

Postby iotatron » Tue May 03, 2016 3:01 pm

My LinRSS program is working well enough that I've bundled it into a v0.5-alpha release on GitHub. It can be found here:

https://github.com/iotatron/linrss/releases

The 'linrss' program itself is now a standalone executable, and I've compiled oddbaud.c into a binary for x86_64. If you're running a 64-bit Linux, you should just be able to download both of these programs, put them in your path, and give it a try.

Latest upgrade adds support for the radio's high-speed serial mode. Makes uploading and downloading codeplugs a little less painful.

This works on every Maxtrac I've tried, including one with the HLN9123 board. (This is the board without external EPROM, and I'm glad I found one, because the more capable Maxtracs fooled me with their fancy 27-byte packets. These guys can only do 8 bytes at a time, and silently reject anything above that.) Still, testing and bug reports from others would be very welcome.

Since this Linux program doesn't seem to generate much interest, would anyone be interested in an Android port of this software?

Jim202
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby Jim202 » Wed May 04, 2016 11:16 am

Probably the reason your not getting much for a reply is that most of the radio systems that were using the Maxtrac have either had to go narrow band or had to change the frequencies to a splinter that for the most part, these radios wouldn't do.

They are still being used on the ham bands in the normal wide band mode they came as. They do work well to be able to get into repeaters and as link radios. They were a workhorse and hard to kill.

Jim

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escomm
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby escomm » Tue May 17, 2016 11:37 am

OP: cool stuff, I don't have a use for it personally but it's great you've invested the time to make it work. Thanks for sharing with us, I'm sure there will be a few here that will give it a shot

k9wkjham
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby k9wkjham » Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:34 pm

cool!
i dont have a maxtrac but i think i will have soon
but i do have a Maratrac and those are very very close
and then on to Spectras !

k9wkjham
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby k9wkjham » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:17 am

could LinRss be rolled into a "app image" like Charles is doing with CubicSdr ?
some users eyes glaze over as soon as they see the words "compile" or "dependency"
i know it isnt a effiefent use of resources, but the trade off is worth it if it
A. can keep users from needing windows
B. make it simple and fast for those of us that program equipment from many different sets of equipment

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kc9ksn
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What radios do you own?: AS, XTL5000, XTS2500

Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby kc9ksn » Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:54 am

My two cents, first thank you for devoting your time to create this! I would be interested in a Windows version and have no idea about what would be involved with it or if it would even be feasible. Not sure what the ratio between Linux, Windows, and or Android users is, but a little more interest may be generated within the Ham community in your project if a Windows platform was added. I did dabble in Linux, and it was nice and all, but some of the software I needed to run wouldn't run no matter what I did so I still needed two operating systems, not including DOS.

I have a few Maxtracs kicking around and it would be nice to not have to get out the old laptop to program them. I'll have to see if I can get the old Linux box working again.
Dan K.

WX9EMS
WQOC936

k9wkjham
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby k9wkjham » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:18 pm

kc9ksn wrote: but a little more interest may be generated within the Ham community in your project if a Windows platform was added


one of the great annoyances in my life is having to deal with windows
why do windows users always want linux software made to run on windows?
i can only hope someday soon that folks will see that windows isnt really relevant
and let the world move forward in great ways instead of wallowing in mediocre carp
most everything is done via a browser anyway so what OS one uses has little to do with anything

come join us!!!
we wont break errr... upgrade you system while you sleep with out your consent!!

iotatron
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby iotatron » Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:40 pm

k9wkjham wrote:could LinRss be rolled into a "app image" like Charles is doing with CubicSdr ?
some users eyes glaze over as soon as they see the words "compile" or "dependency"
i know it isnt a effiefent use of resources, but the trade off is worth it if it
A. can keep users from needing windows
B. make it simple and fast for those of us that program equipment from many different sets of equipment


I don't know what an "app image" is, but if you click on the release links I've given, you'll see that I've compiled everything into two binaries. No more compilation or dependency chasing is needed. Just download the two files 'linrss' and 'oddbaud' and give it a try. Do make sure to set the executable bit on both files before running them.

These things being computers, there is one always at least one caveat, and here's mine: oddbaud is compiled for x86_64. If you're running 32-bit Linux, then sadly, you'll still need to compile.

k9wkjham
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Re: Request for testers -- new Maxtrac programming software for Linux

Postby k9wkjham » Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:46 pm

iotatron wrote:I don't know what an "app image" is

well we can fix that! http://appimage.org/

iotatron wrote:oddbaud is compiled for x86_64. If you're running 32-bit Linux, then sadly, you'll still need to compile.

well thats a good thing IMHO, i proudly dont have 32bit anything anymore


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