FT991a, Raspberry Pi 4 Portable Field Station

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Ive had a few requests for more information about my portable radio so I’ve made a video that shows the components I have used. You can fund a link to the video on YouTube below.

I’ve built it into a Pelican 1440 case. I chose this case because it’s top loading and the controls for the Yeasu FT991a are on the front panel so it makes sense to mount it in a case that allows easy access to control the radio, that case is waterproof and has wheels which offered protection and ease of transportation.

 The first part of the station is the internal power supply. This is a 12 amp hour lithium iron phoshate battery that is low weight and offers an excellent amount of power for its size and weight. This is intended for short term operation of the radio and attached raspberry pi. In my typical use case I’m getting between 3 and 4 hours use for the JS8 digital mode at thirty watts.

 Next I added a power distribution panel. This houses Anderson power poles for charging the internal battery via mains charger or solar charge regulator. I use a patch cable to the row of power poles to power the case from the internal battery or I can use a longer cable to power from and external battery or power supply. The switchable 3A USB power includes a voltage read out to monitor the power source voltage.

 The radio is housed in a plastic frame custom made for me by Avatar Engineering. All the cables required for the radio have been wired to the front panel along with a speaker. The frame has 2 12 volt fans for air circulation to help cool the radio.

The frame can be removed from the Peli case if I want to use the radio from a table or in a vehicle or boat.

 On the front panel I have SO239 connectors for the HF and VHF antennas, power input cable so I can easily use different power sources.

 All the power cables are marine grade tinned copper wire to help eliminate corrosion.

 Finally on the front panel I have a switch to turn the fans on and off, and the USB cable to the Raspberry Pi.

 The radio probably needs no explanation, it’s a Yeasu FT991a. My decision to use this radio was because it covers the HF, VHF and UHF bands and has touch screen operation, areal time spectrum scope and most importantly a single USB computer connection giving both cat control and sound input/output between the computer and the radio.

 The final component of this portable digital amateur radio station is my raspberry pi 4. This is the version with 4GB of memory and I have configured it to boot from a USB3 Solid State Disk which improves performance and is much more reliable thanks an SDCard. I’ve added a screen to it that shows some useful information such as the WiFi network it’s connected to and it’s IP address which means I can easily find it when I’m connecting my IPad to control the Raspberry Pi using VNC. 

I will also be adding location details obtained from the GPS and notifications from software such as JS8Call. I have another raspberry pi that uses an eInk display that has room for more text, but this one has a back light and also has some touch sensitive buttons that I intend to use. You can find more details of the eInk screen on my channel.


That’s all for now, follow and subscribe for future content featuring this radio and raspberry pi, if you have any questions or comments then please use the comments below. I’ll do my best to reply as soon as I can.

 Thanks to Mark at Avatar Engineering for the help building this radio into the case, and to Paul at KnightMarineElectronics.com for supply of some of the parts.


73 until next time. This is Mark M0IAX.

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