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Ham Radio Now

The audio version of our TV programs for and about Amateur Radio (Ham Radio). The video version is hosted at www.HamRadioNow.tv (and, to be totally honest, on YouTube). Our shows come in three flavors: Talk Shows, Seminars/Forums, and mini-documentaries. Sorry for the mash-up, but any episode may be in one (or more) of those categories.
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Nov 12, 2017

Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).

Full title: How to Fill a Terabyte Disk: Using SDR in the HamSCI Solar Eclipse Experiment

Count on John Ackermann N8UR to put a TAPR spin on the HamSCI experiment. John combined his ultra-accurate time/frequency skills with the TAPR/HPSDR radios to generate a lot of information from the Eclipse QSO Party and WWV observations. All from a little island in Lake Michigan.

Radio Rating: C. You'll miss the data in the charts. So not an F, but watch the video if you can.

Nov 12, 2017

Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).

You probably heard about the Eclipse QSO Party that generated lots of activity during the Great American Eclipse of 2017. It also generated lots of science, currently being digested by the team at HamSCI. They presented preliminary results and talked methodology in this team-talk at the 2017 DCC, led by Nate Frissell W2NAF. (And they're all so young!).

Radio Rating: B-. There are lots of charts and graphs, and you'll miss some details, but the guys explain it pretty well, and the story is compelling.

Nov 12, 2017

Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).

Full title: Ground Based DVB-S2 Repeater for GEO Satellites.

At last year's DCC, Bob McGweir N4HY presented this talk:

HRN 272: A GeoSync Ham Radio Satellite for the Americas

(here's the audio link)

This year, Wally Ritchie WU1Y wrote a paper that was presented by Steve Conklin AI4QR with more detail on the satellite, but mainly on plans for ground-based repeaters to do make the satellite easier to use for hams.

Radio Rating: B. Steve has some graphics slides, but many are text. And much of the talk is Q&A with no slides. As usual, go to the video if you need a fill.

Nov 12, 2017

Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).

Actually TNC-Pi 9.6k - Mark Griffith KD0QYN has upgraded the TNC Pi to 9600 bps... if you're signal is strong enough. Lots of details in this talk that puts the P back in TAPR.

Radio Rating: C. Keep in mind that this is not rating the quality of the program, just how much you lose (or keep) without the video. So lots of charts and graphs, but pretty well explained.

Nov 7, 2017

Last episode we had a little fun with some clips from a recent episode of NCIS, a popular and long-running crime drama on CBS. The episode titled Trapped had a significant amount of amateur radio in the plot. What we found in a quick scan was the usual butchering of radio procedure, along with a nice pat on the back.

We missed a lot, and were promptly told about it in comments and email. Besides 'handles' and wacky call signs, one of the hams apparently had serious paranoid delusions, and we were all pretty much tossed under the anti-social bus.

So we went back and picked out three sets of clips. First, we'll hear what ham radio sounds like in this corner of TV-land. Then we'll get a look at the gear they assembled for two stations (Kenwood will be happy, maybe). Finally, we'll hear what the NCIS agents think of ham radio, and we'll meet the ham who represents us in Prime Time, now that Tim Allen has retired.

Speaking of Tim Allen, Gary reached out to Last Man Standing Executive Producer John Amodeo NN6JA for his thoughts. John didn't want to appear on the show directly (you'll hear why), but he did give us cogent comments in writing. Gary and John are used to ham radio being inaccurately depicted in the general media, but Gary thinks this time we're seeing some actual damage.

Radio Rating: B. The dialog plus Gary's descriptions should carry you through this one pretty well.

Nov 3, 2017

We lead this episode with a note from ARRL HQ responding to our Force of Two episode about ham radio's part in Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria. We invited the League's Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey KI1U to talk to us (or pass the request along). He did pass it along, HQ declined the invitation to appear, but did send a short note that we'll read.

Next, the click-bait headline story. On October 30, Ray Novak N9JA, Amateur Division Manager for Icom America, wrote a story on the ICOM blog titled Is Your Digital Repeater Ham Friendly? Our baitworthy headline comes from Ray's warning that some features in the radios designed for an un-named commercial digital radio service (cough dmr cough) can be used against the unwary operator (stun, kill, monitor) and have no place in the amateur radio service. We agree, but find Ray's treatment of the subject somewhat opaque, heavy-handed, and less than helpful. But what the heck - we're clearly not above a click-bait headline ourselves.

Helping us understand the details is Jason Johnston KC5HWB from the Ham Radio 2.0 show. Jason reviews just about every Chinese/DMR radio that crosses the ocean to America. Ray also casts a shadow over a DMR 'required feature' called talkgroups. Our discussion branches out to cover that and other comparisons between DMR and D-STAR.

Finally, the night before the show, CBS aired a new episode of NCIS that had a significant ham radio element. We show (you'll hear) a couple of clips that do the usual hack job on real ham procedure, but also include an almost press-release explanation of what ham radio is. Unfortunately (we are told... we didn't watch the whole show) the ham-protagonist in the plot turns out to be unstable, and (we are told) that hams are portrayed as anti-social in general. Maybe we should watch the whole thing.

Radio Rating:A-. We read all of the ARRL's note, so you won't miss that on-screen. There's a link to Ray's blog so you can see it all for yourself, as we don't read the whole thing to you. And you'll miss the video from NCIS, but if you picture a well-equipped, Kenwood-centric station, the dialog will carry you the rest of the way.

Oct 30, 2017

This is an archive episode from the 2015 Hamvention® DX forum. It hasn't appeared on the podcast, and we have a little upload space left at the end of October, so here you go...

If you were a DXer in the 1960's, you knew all about Don Miller W9WNV. Or you thought you did. I became a ham in 1965, but my attention was elsewhere, so learning about this now, decades later, has been fascinating.

Don wasn't the first DXpeditioner, but he expanded and refined the game. He helped demonstrate the need for clear rules and definitions, sometimes by breaking them. He spent time in prison (serious, disputed, but not ham related), and regained his ham license after his release in 2002.

Google Don's name and call sign, and spend a few hours digesting all the material about him out there. In this episode from the Hamvention DX forum, Don talks about much of this (not the prison part). His story may not be over... -Gary KN4AQ

Radio Rating: A+. Gary adds some graphics in the intro, but you won't miss the pictures.

Oct 30, 2017

Skip the 'generic' intro - fast forward to 5:15 (but think about 'click the pig' to support the show)

Dave Larsen KV0S's complete title for this talk is Development and Design of Firmware Programming Tools for the openHPSDR Hardware. And that says a lot about where this talk is going.

HPSDR - High Performance Software Defined Radio - is an ongoing DIY project that began in conjunction with TAPR that designed and built the first direct sampling SDR HF 'transceiver' for amateur radio. It's been going on for more than a decade, and the ARVN videos from the 2008 and 2009 DCC's have several talks describing the progress (find them on the HamRadioNow.tv web site's TAPR archives).

Dave's talk is something of a history lesson, focusing on tools to program the boards. 

The industry has moved on, with companies like FlexRadio, ICOM, Elad and others producing off-the-shelf SDR radios, but the HPSDR project continues for hams who want to learn more and build their own.

Radio Rating: C or D. Dave has a lot of text, but also some slides with charts and pictures of the software GUI's. So if you're already familiar with the HPSDR system, you might not need the images to absorb the talk. If you're not deep into HPSDR, but you are interesting in programming, you'll probably need the pictures. And if you're not deep into either, come back to the video when you've gotten your feet (ankles, and maybe knees) wet in SDR.

Oct 30, 2017

Skip the 'generic' intro - fast forward to 5:15 (but think about 'click the pig' to support the show)

Midwestern rivers have a serious problem with an invasive species of carp that the USGS was trying to track using radio tags (yep, on the fish). But they needed some radio expertise to advance the project to receive the signals using drones rather than people with yagi's on boats. Dave Witten KDOEAG got involved through a request for help at his local radio club.

This talk follows the progress of the project, which rapidly grew to include multiple agencies (including NASA) and experts... and Dave. It's not ham radio, but it is an interesting exploration of radio technology where you might not expect it.

Radio Rating: C+. Dave has lots of pictures of the devices and locations, and some charts and graphs. You'll miss that detail, but you'll get the gist of the project. Go back for the video on the HamRadioNow.tv web site if you're more intrigued.

Oct 30, 2017

Skip the 'generic' intro - fast forward to 5:15 (but think about 'click the pig' to support the show)

Although Morse code is no longer required to get a ham license, it's still quite popular, and can be a draw for some potential hams before they get licensed. Learning it is one thing, but being able to use it while still learning is a challenge before you're licensed and have a station set up.

Scotty Cowling WA2DFI faced this problem with his Explorer Scout Post. First, he used his TAPR skills to develop an improved, inexpensive and easy-to-build CPO (Code Practice Oscillator). 

Then he discovered a Rabpberry Pi based online system for using Morse over the Internet, but it had some drawbacks that he used his TAPR skills to improve. The project is fairly simple and inexpensive, and something every club should consider. You don't have to be a Scout – or even young – to jump on board.

Radio Rating: C-. Scotty has lots of pictures and diagrams, and you won't be able to duplicate the project without them. It might even be a D-, but Scotty is such an enthusiastic and engaging speaker that listening to his talk may spark your interest enough to go to the videotape on HamRadioNow.tv.

Oct 30, 2017

Skip the 'generic' intro - fast forward to 5:15 (but think about 'click the pig' to support the show)

Whatever ham radio rut you're stuck in — ragchewing on 75, DX on 20, the daily commute on a repeater — it's good to listen to Ward Silver N0AX to break out for a while and look... in this case, forward across the horizon and think about what ham radio - and hams - will look like in a decade or three.

This is the least technical talk of the conference. It led off the Saturday morning sessions, and provided a good foundation for the purpose behind the more technical talks to follow.

Radio Rating: A+. Ward has slides, but they're mostly text 'headlines' that he expands on. Ward is an excellent public speaker, and you won't miss a thing without video.

This is a follow-on talk from Ward's 2015 keynote at the DCC Banquet in 2015, released online in February 2016 as HamRadioNow Episode 242: Ham Radio... Now What?That's only on YouTube video, but it's ripe for an archive episode here on the podcast side of the show.

Oct 27, 2017

Can you tell the complete story of ham radio in the recovery effort on Puerto Rico following hurricanes Irma and Maria in two and a half hours? 

Well... no. OK, you probably could if you spend a couple months producing a highly edited documentary. Maybe somebody's going to do that. But right now you can listen to our guests, Jeremy Dougherty NS0S and Michael Smith N5TGL recount their experiences. They each spent three weeks on the island, mostly in the field (in separate locations), mostly with just one other ham, in areas that had zero communications with San Juan or the rest of the world. 

This is not the story you'll hear on Ham Nation, and probably not the one you'll read in QST. If there was a plan, it was barely a plan. And it fell apart immediately. There was a lack of leadership and coordination, and little understanding of what the hams would face once they left San Juan. Both Jeremy and Michael were frustrated, yet they carried on with the mission, improvising both their interaction with local authorities and the technology they had to work with. In some cases they had to battle bureaucracy to get the job done.

We probed Jeremy and Michael for details, and we got a lot. Jeremy in particular has a bitter story of his final experiences. That begins at an hour and fifty minutes in, so if you can't listen to the whole program, skip down to that. And note that there are two sides (at least) to that story, and we're only presenting Jeremy's side here. HamRadioNow is open to presenting the counterpoint, or maybe you'll hear that on another show.

Radio Rating: A. This is a talking-head show. We'll look at Puerto Rico on Google Maps some, and if you're not familiar with the island, it'll help to look at the map a bit.

Michael took a lot of pictures – some of the general island devastation, and some of the amateur radio activity. You can look at them here on his Flickr feed.

Another deployed ham, Wey Walker K8EAB, posted a 35-minute video on YouTube showing both the area of the island he headed to, and amateur radio there and in San Juan. It's very much an 'amateur' video, but it will add to your understanding of what hams did there.

Oct 24, 2017

Skip the intro: zoom forward 5:14

Tim Shepard KD1KY will give you a different perspective on why the radio spectrum needs regulation... or doesn't. Tim rounded out the Friday sessions at the 2017 ARRL/TAPR DCC in St. Louis.

Radio Rating: B+. Tim's slides have a few charts, but mostly text, and he does a good job reviewing them. 

Oct 19, 2017

They've got a sense of humor out in Earthquake County. Gallows humor to the rest of us, maybe, but they call the statewide preparedness drill The Great California Shake Out.

Ham Radio is right in there, of course, and HRN host David Goldenberg W0DHG, an EC in the Los Angeles area, took us to the middle of it, live. Until he got called away to go do some actual communicating.

A few hours later, safe and sound in the ARVN West Coast Bureau (aka David's garage), he recaps the event and reviews lessons learned (like 'Don't try to do a TV show when you're supposed to be paying attention to the radio...').

Radio Rating: B-. The video is a little rough and not all that important, though David does show the Comm trailer and the surrounding area. What you'll miss most are David and the other ops ducking and covering as the klaxons go off initiating the actual event. That's sort of what you see in the bottom of the poster for this episode (assuming you see that). On the other hand, the audio is kind of rough, too, with a lot of competing voices hitting Davies microphone.

Oct 19, 2017

Bruce Perens K6BP at the 2017 ARRL/TAPR DCC.

Do we really need to say any more? 

OK, Bruce's main point is one he's been making for several years: The major manufacturers have been screwing up Digital Voice with mediocre implementation and their incompatible walled gardens. And we're slowly getting closer to VHF+SDR radios that can do better.

He is especially critical of Yaesu, but actually compliments Kenwood for introducing a radio that is actually compatible with at least one other line of radios (ICOM/D-STAR).

Radio Rating: A. All but one of Bruce's slides are text, and he reads them verbatim, and then adds more ad-lib comments. The one slide that's not text is a picture of an old telephone modem with acoustic coupler.

Oct 19, 2017

Brady O'Brien KC9TPA is a young ham who has been working with David Rowe VK5DGR, the creator of the open source CODEC2 low bitrate voice codec. In this TAPR talk he talks modem tech in SDR (a generalized way of saying that Gary doesn't understand it well enough to describe it).

He concludes by talking about the on-channel TDMA repeater project that David Rowe is working on using a VHF version of FreeDV and CODEC2.

Oh, and that title? It refers to an iconic line in a old video game, and Brady's rip-off probably should be All Your Modem Are Belong To Us. Look it up. And check out the last 15 seconds of this show.

Radio Rating: B-. Brady has a few graphs showing signal performance of various modems, but he gives a good verbal conclusion of them. Most of the rest of his slides are 'headline' text for the topics he's discussion.

http://www.rowetel.com/

Oct 17, 2017

What do you do when a DCC presenter can't make it to the conference?

Invite the audience to jump in. That's what happened on Friday afternoon. Steve Bible N7HPR solicited 5-minute "Lightning Talks" and the audience stepped up.

Our fundraising pitch come first, then...

3:57 Kurt Kiesow KF6QNC "Autonomous Wave-Powered Ocean-Going HF Station"

9:55 Sterling Coffey N0SSC "Faraday Open Source Digital Radio"

15:37 Bill Engelke AB4EJ "DWatcher: D-STAR / DX Monitor App"

21:10 Dr. Brandon Wiley KF5WVW "Emergency Data Exchange Network"

25:38 Ward Silver N0AX "Need for a Sessionless, High-Rate, Interference Tolerant Mode for Competitive Use"

31:28 Tom Holmes N8ZM "The DARA Thursday Night Group"

The impromptu Lighntning Talks were a great success. Expect a somewhat less surprising reprise in 2018.

Radio Rating: Four of the talks came complete with Powerpoint slides (who brings slides to a conference when they're not scheduled to present a talk?). Those get a Radio Rating of C+. Sterling only had a web site, but it was useful (and Steve Bible commented on how good it was), so we'll give him a B-. Ward Silver was the only one without graphics. so that gives him an A. Remember, the Radio Rating doesn't measure how good a talk was, just how good it is as 'audio-only'. And your mileage may vary.

Oct 16, 2017

SATERN's been busy. Well, so have all the EmComm services, but SATERN's in our spotlight for this episode. We're talking to Salvation Army National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist WB8BZH (pronounced "Feest" or "Feast").

Like most Amateur Radio EmComm groups, SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network), is going digital... slowly. We'll find out about that and lots more in this patented HamRadioNow In-Depth conversation. Bill reviews activity for the Eclipse, and back-to-back-to-back hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

And as nice as the Skype video is, this is another radio show. All talking heads (and a little web you can look up yourself), so a Radio Rating of A.

http://satern.org

Oct 4, 2017

I really wanted to call this something obscure, like The Wet Diamond Noise Blanker (you'll see why), but I restrained myself.

FlexRadio's Steve Hicks N5AC gives an illuminating talk on how SDR technology lets you detect signals that are 'below the noise level' - and how you might not even know what 'the noise level' really is.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

Chris Petersen K9EQ digs into the capabilities and possibilities of Yaesu's System Fusion.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

David Bern W2LNX and his local club (the Montgomery MD ARC) cover all the bases in making new hams, with the help of the Laurel VEC.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

Jon Poland N0WL reviews ways to keep track of just about everything in your ham radio life with tools on the Internet.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

Before the DCC sessions get started, TAPR President Steve Bible N7HPR spends a few minutes welcoming everyone to this year's conference, giving the lay of the land (bathrooms, lunch) and introducing the people who help put on the event.

Listening to this session gives you a little more of the "DCC Experience." If you consider attending in person one year, you'll have a better idea of what to expect.

 For us, it's a chance to pitch our fundraising. The DCC videos are expensive to produce, and we pay for it with viewer (listener?) contributions. Here's how to 'click the pig' on audio: https://www.hamradionow.tv/contribute/

There will be 16 individual talks, each appearing as a HamRadioNow episode. We'll also have the Banquet talk from Saturday night, and the Sunday Seminar, a 'deep dive' into a single topic that takes four hours on Sunday morning. That usually appears as a three or four-part episode. 

That's about 20 episodes! It takes time to edit each talk. We usually produce two or three a week, and the fall holidays slow things down. It will take until December... maybe January, to get them all done.

Radio Rating? Always a problem with forums that are heavy on PowerPoint slides. Sometimes the slides are mostly text, and the presenter reads them and elaborates on the points. Sometimes there are pictures, graphs, formulas - stuff that doesn't translate well to speech. We don't want to have to analyze them that closely and carefully calculate the grade. Our cop-out is to give them all a Radio Rating of C. If we do remember well, we'll fine-tune the grade. This episode has some slides, but you don't miss much, so this one is upgraded to a B.

Oct 2, 2017

Did you know the Boy Scouts Jamboree on the Air has been around for 60 years? So that's why Old JOTA. But our panel of hams — Scout leaders from around the country — keep the discussion fresh.

Gary and David welcome Bill Stearns NE4RD, Brian McDaniel N4AE, Mike Crownover AD5A and Jim Wilson K5ND to the show to talk JOTA, the annual Scouting on-air event that's coming up October 20-22. 

If you or your club are interested in hosting a JOTA event, it's not too late to get involved (assuming you see this in early October). Here's a good place to start, but you'll have to dig a bit to volunteer: https://www.k2bsa.net/jota/. The guys give more tips during the show.

This show is (a lot of) talking heads, so the Radio Rating is A. If you want to know who's who in the graphic, the top row, left to right, is David, Mike and Brian, and the bottom row is Bill and Jim. 

 

Sep 30, 2017

Oh, geez, what to say about this 'episode.' In quotes.

This was just a Facebook Live session to let fans see how David W0DHG was progressing in his quest to duplicate Gary KN4AQ's ARVN Studio.

We would say this is hard to do, if Marty Sullaway KC1CWF, who busts in halfway through this episode, hadn't done it himself practically overnight. But that's the kind of thing that makes Marty the Newsline Young Ham of the Year (and our late friend Bill Pasternack WA6ITF should be in that title somewhere).

So there's a lot of screwing around, and a lot of reference to the video (really... shouldn't this all be just audio, and wouldn't it be a lot easier?), so a Radio Rating is hard to pinpoint. Somehow we continue this ramble for more than 90 minutes. And it really is just for diehard fans of the show. And it's here in the audio feed only because we've got the bandwidth here at the end of the month, and we don't hold anything back.

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