Category Archives: wardriving

Summiting Browns Peak 21APR18

http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=952118

7659′ elevation – clean prominence: 3297′ – isolation: 25.6 mi

GPS log available at peakbagger link above.

Time-lapse video of trip from SR87/Cline Cabin Road turnoff, to trailhead, then down to SR188, and return to SR87/Cline Cabin Road intersection via Punkin Center.

Drive time to the trailhead depends only a little on the route taken. Going there, I left SR87 at about 0658 and arrived the trailhead parking lot around 0821, for a distance of around 19 miles and a elapsed time of about 83 minutes. Slow road in parts, but completely 2WD street car quality. Had to compete with mountain bikers on the way up.

On the return to civilization, I left the parking lot at 1251, went down the 10 miles of the dirt road to SR188, then up to regain SR87 and then to the SR87 – Four Peak road / Cline Cabin road. That was a total of 62 miles (11 dirt) and 51 miles at highway speed. The elapsed time for that return path was about 1245 to 1412, or 87 minutes. On this side, had to compete with buggy drivers coming up. Actually longer in distance and time but subjectively, the east side dirt road was less stressful than the west. But enough to justify the extra distance? Meh.

Arrived at upper parking area. Sierra Estrella high point is about center in the distance at around 62 miles.

Looking up at Brown’s Peak from the parking area. This parking lot appears to be an overflow for the main lot immediately at the trailhead. However, I like this one a bit better as the view is much wider.

To the southeast with Roosevelt Lake below.

Up the trail a short bit, and able to look back to the truck parked in the upper lot.

Trail is well defined until getting up to the rock.

Looking north toward Mt Ord (the radio communications site) and Mazatzal Peak, the next major bump to the left and the one I summited two weeks before.

More thorny shrubberies.

Up a little higher, looking down into the Tonto Basin.

The Superstitions and The Flatiron in the left middle ground.

Looking up toward Browns Peak.

Spring has sprung – buds on the trees.

The bottom of the chute. This is quite steep. Fortunately, it’s not on a ridge line so there’s little or no wind, and the only way to fall is down %^)

Looking at the crowd atop Browns from the rise atop the chute.

Toward the Salt River canyon with the Browns slope to the left and Brother/Sister/Amethyst to the right.

Atop Browns looking back toward the lower summit.

Didn’t find a benchmark, but this is interesting. Also, did find the peak register and signed in there.

The other 3 of the Four Peaks, with The Flatiron hidden behind Brother peak.

Looking at Mazatzal about center in the image, and realizing it’s 250′ higher.

Headed down the chute, with folks coming up. There are the two in the foreground and one about 100′ below. It’s hard to perceive the extreme slope in this photo.

Looking back up the chute with some people either climbing up or down (hard to see in the glare).

While not a cakewalk, it was surprisingly straightforward. Definitely was sometimes at the edge of scary in the chute, mostly coming down. Some large rocks are only metastable. Several times while descending I realized that the drop below me was too great, so I had to retreat a bit and find a more doable way down.

Summiting White Tank East (radio site visit) 14APR18

For the White Tank peaks, I’m lazy. I can get the key and drive. This morning I went up to check on the radio site on the east ridge where I have an ADS-B receiver and a railroad data receiver setup. The Windows PC there had apparently died a while back, the ADS-B link failed at the beginning of April, so it was time to fix things.

Time-lapse video of the drive between I-10 Verrado offramp to and from the peak

The cool thing about the White Tank road is it goes through the old Caterpillar proving grounds, where they pitted Caterpillar bulldozers against the mountain. And the White Tank road was part of the testing arena.

Verrado’s north end currently ends at the golf course; the tower road is the wide diagonal that heads northwest into the narrows up-canyon.

While Verrado continues to inch its way up the lower portions of the road, it’s unlikely it’ll ever get up this far. This what I call “the bowl”, where Caterpillar dozers not only moved millions of tons of rock back and forth for test and fun, but also cut the 20%-grade, ~0.6 mile long ramp that climbs north out of the bowl and then descends into the White Tank park boundaries.

On this fine day, there’s plenty of people walking the ramp. It’s windy as heck out, and the temperatures are in the mid-50’s, but the sun is warm.

Hauled out the dead PC. Am rebuilding it now to put back on the hill in the next week or two.

 

Shocking new amplifier

Is finally built. I bought three of these a couple years ago from kuyaya520 on eBay and they’ve languished since then, heat-shrink protected and tie-wrapped in place, like for the truck’s half-deaf GRE PSR-600 scanner.

Finally put one in my new die-cast case that I got 10 of last month, and used a 82 ohm resistor to set the operating voltage to around 10 vdc when running off 13.8 vdc. According to the eBay page about the amp, its best gain and noise figure is around 9-10 vdc.

Checked out the gain, and it’s pert darn near what the vendor says it is. Don’t have a simple way to do noise figure. Need to get myself an ENR noise diode so I can do y-factor.

This amp will likely go into the truck to replace the tie-wrapped kludge… I’m starting to get reasonably good at assembling these things.

Truck computer screen

Not sure I’ve posted a picture of this before, but my Tahoe has a nifty RAM-mount 8″ LCD touchpanel screen for my viewing pleasure. Of course, it only shows maps and navigational information while I’m driving.

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It’s connected to a dual-core Atom running Windows 7 Pro, and a bunch of electronics monitoring the vehicle…  The touchpanel comes in handy but there’s times when a real input device (like a wireless mouse or wired keyboard) is absolutely mandatory.

Update on wardriving/walking/cycling setup

The stackup that I did inside the enclosure was fairly crude. The GPS receiver and its attached antenna are at the “top” of the stack, and stuck to the inside uppper surface of the enclosure using double-sticky foam tape. Immediately below that, the dual-band Wi-Fi board is component-side down. I’d removed both the SMA-RP female and the USB male board connectors to reduce height and length. The bottom of the stack is the USB hub, again with USB female sockets removed and component side down as there’s two electrolytic caps that stick up 8 mm or so.

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I’ve used double-sticky foam tape for things like this over the years, and as long as it doesn’t absorb moisture, it’s quite RF-transparent and the antenna has no issues.

The Wi-Fi board has a ground-plane on top and bottom, but I wanted to reduce to a minimum any local fields from the components, so the board goes in component-side down to isolate it (maybe a bit) from the GPS antenna.

The GPS receiver itself is completely encased in a shield, and is slightly larger than the antenna, so there may be some added attenuation of spurious emissions from the Wi-Fi getting into the GPS.

The USB hub, at the very “bottom”, also has a top/bottom ground plane.

The Wi-Fi sniffing performance is as good as my permanent mobile setup, and the GPS gets excellent PDOP (<2.0) when there’s a decent field of view of the sky.

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The apps used to grab the GPS data is 4river’s NMEA Monitor, a fine little program.

Highly Portable Wardriving, Warcycling, and Warwalking Setup Update

Before I left on a trip this past week, I was able to shoehorn all the components (GPS receiver w/integrated antenna, dual-band Wi-Fi module with external antenna input, 4-port USB hub, TTL to serial to USB adapters) into a single plastic case. It’s not yet weatherproof, but at least it’s splash- and rain-resistant.

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The original cable on the USB hub was only a meter, so I grabbed a 2 m cable from the box, whacked off the end, and replaced the shorter cable.

I used double-sticky foam squares to create an electronics sandwich, with the GPS antenna at the “top” of the stack, the Wi-Fi below, and the USB hub at the bottom. The cable passes through a silicone-sealed hole in the case, and I removed the SMA-RP female from the Wi-Fi dongle and replaced it with a short RG178 cable and bulkhead SMA-RP connector that pokes through the top of the case.

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As one can see, the box is a cheap one from Radio Shack or similar, it’s some kind of ABS. The box’s lid, which would usually be on the top, is now the bottom of the assembly. I silicone-glued 3 NdFeB rectangular magnets to the inside of the lid, and put 4 rubber-bumper feet to reduce any potential surface marring. Next, I took the thing out for a drive on a local freeway to see if it’d blow off. It did. I adjusted things a bit by getting rid of the rubber bumper feet, and replacing them with electrical tape on the outside of the lid for more of an anti-skid, compliant surface than the bare plastic alone. The next drive, and subsequent ones this week, proved that the widget is now fairly stable even at “high” highway speeds. I thought about painting it white to reduce heat absorption, but that would make it have higher visibility and I’d prefer to stay low profile.

In taking it for a drive or two around the neighborhood, it matches my mobile setup almost exactly in reception, and takes all of 30 seconds to deploy when getting a rental car.

I’m wondering if I can somehow add a temperature sensor inside and read it via the USB. But that’s not so important.

Trimming the fat from my wardriving setup

As you may remember, several weeks ago I wrote about my soon-to-be wardriving setup that centered around my new TW700 Winbook. I had a cheap USB hub, a TP-Link dual-band Wi-Fi stick, and an EM506 GPS receiver.

I finally took some time on Saturday to get rid of the fat, i.e., all the individual plastic housings, the USB connectors themselves (physically large and limited my layout options), and am about to repackage the whole thing into a single weathertight enclosure that can either be attached via magnets to the top of the rental cars or carried in a backpack/fannypack as I walk around an area.

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Here’s the setup without all the excess plastic. The GlobalSat EM-406A (SiRF Star III) modular GPS is at the left, with its built-in antenna the white/beige square; the TP-Link dual-band Wi-Fi dongle has been reduced to just the board, and as well I removed the USB connector to reduce the length; the USB hub has had the two dual-port USB assemblies removed to reduce height; and all the former USB connections have been reduced to bits of ribbon cable. The TP-Link dual-band antenna is quite good and so I’ll be keeping that. The 3′ USB hub cable still needs to be replaced with a 6′ version, and I think I’ll remove the RP-SMA connector from the side of the TP-Link and directly connect the coax to the board.

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The most difficult thing so far has been removing the excess USB paraphernalia and cleaning up the board. To that end, yesterday I bought a new tip for the soldering station, and more 63/37 solder. I use a solder sucker to remove the existing solder, but have found it’s quite difficult with the RoHS solder used nowadays. The 63/37 solder seems to dilute the RoHS solder and make it easier to remove with the solder sucker.

Today I’ll finish this up and put it in an enclosure.