Pi-hole–network wide ad/malware blocking

Pi-hole has been around for a while but just recently I decided to take a closer look at what I’ve been missing out on. Pi-hole was originally designed to run on a dedicated Raspberry Pi but it’s not required.

Version 4.2.1 just released this month with several improvements but what really makes it easy is the setup. It took me about 5 minutes to have ad blocking for all my phones, laptops, and desktops in the house.

First you need a linux system on the network. This is why the Raspberry Pi is a popular choice. It’s low power, small, and most importantly under $40. For me, I used an Ubuntu vm running on my esxi stack.

Next, the one command setup

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

The next is running through the wizard that really isn’t any different than any other wizard on windows. It just looks a bit different. I recommend running a static IP, but it’s not required.

Next configure you DHCP server to specify Pi-hole as the DNS server. Let Pi-Hole do everything else for you. You can even run DCHP from the Pi-Hole but that’s not covered here.

image

Now just sit back and watch all the ads getting blocked. For more advanced users, custom lists, installing Pi-Hole on your pfsense router, etc are just the beginning of customizations. DNS blocklisting has been around for a long time, Pi-Hole just figured out a really easy consumable way to implement it. Hats off to that team.

Packet radio with Baofeng UV-5R with PTT control

It’s taken me a while to get this working but here is a collection of what I did to get packet working.

For those that don’t know, packet is a form of digital radio communication based on x.25 called ax.25 meaning amateur x.25. It sounds just like your modem back in the AOL days.

Hooking up a sound modem to a baofeng uv5R is difficult. The PTT ground will close when you plug the speaker and mic into a laptop. Some people switch to VOX which may work well on APRS but not packet.

Requirements:

A sound Modem. PC based is easiest. I used SoundModem from http://uz7.ho.ua/packetradio.htm

A terminal. PC based is easiest. I use AGWterminal from https://www.sv2agw.com/ham/agwterm.htm

Once you have the software installed, you’ll need to build or purchase some items.

Easy Digi is the cheapest and easiest way to solve the PTT ground problem. This is needed for APRS and Packet with a PC. You can find easy digi for $8 on ebay – https://www.ebay.com/itm/Psk-31-EASY-DIGI-Sound-Card-Interface-PSK-RTTY-SSTV-NBEMS-JT-65-PCB-KIT/322873075639

It comes with instructions on how to build the board.

Follow this diagram for wiring.

Once it’s built you’ll need to use 3.5mm and 2.5mm headphone wires for your PC and your HT. Ebay is a great place for these. Pickup a serial to USB adapter as well.

Some issues I’ve started to notice is the PTT will hang for a bit. Also be aware that if the PTT is on any windows sounds will go through to the packet net. It’s easiest to mute those sounds while doing packet.