The bulk of this episode is an on-location interview with two Raleigh NC area hams who gave a couple of live demonstrations of operating through satellites at the Raleigh Hamfest in April 2017. There's some banter between hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG and Gary Pearce KN4AQ back in the studio. And toward the end Gary announces a Viewer Challenge that we'll detail down below.
The satellite hams are John Brier KG4AKV and Tucker McGuire W4FS. At 19 years old, Tucker is a relatively new ham who first started operating satellites last summer, and quickly jumped into the deep end. John's been around longer, but ham radio satellites and space operation captured his focus, too. He produces videos about it on his YouTube channel, Space Comms.
Gary talked to John and Tucker after they completed their second demo, and he edited a little of each demo into the interview.
There's video of all of both demonstrations on YouTube. John shot himself operating through 'Saudi-Sat' SO-50, a "Mode J" (145.850 MHz uplink and 436.795 MHz downlink) FM crossband repeater. John used three cameras (including a GoPro on a headband for a unique view). Gary edited the video and put it on the HamRadioNow YouTube channel as an extra bit if video. See it here.
Gary added two more cameras to the mix to shoot Tucker operating through FO-29, a Japanese satellite that uses a 100 kHz wide 'linear translator' for mostly SSB and CW (and no FM, please) between two meters and 70 cm. There's a few minutes of that demo in this episode, and the whole thing is on John's Space Comms channel.
The 'Incompatible' Challenge
Regular HamRadioNow listeners and viewers have heard Gary's mildish rants about the proliferation of incompatible Digital Voice modes on VHF/UHF (D-STAR, System Fusion, DMR, etc.). His beef isn't so much that there are several modes (that's progress, and will never stop). He's unhappy that the majors don't make radios that operate on multiple modes - just their own (plus analog FM). While we're waiting for the DV4mobile and a Connect Systems HT (both delayed), there are no radios doing 'multimode'.
So he says inspiration struck the other day in the way of a song parody. Check out these new lyrics to the tune of the old Nat King Cole classic, Unforgettable:
Incompatible, that's what you are.
D-STAR, System Fusion.. DMR.
Just buy three HTs instead of one,
So that you can talk to everyone.
Which mode will it be,
When you're calling me?
Incompatible, in every way,
Marketing demands that's how they'll stay.
They could write a little software code,
Make a radio that's multi-mode.
But it seems that's nothing they'd ever do.
Incompatible, they drew the line.
You're in your walled garden, I'm in mine.
I guess we could just go analog,
Leave the future in a misty fog,
FM's not so bad - it's tried and it's true.
The challenge? Produce a video of you (or someone) singing the song, and post it on YouTube. Provide your own music (piano, guitar, kazoo), don't use an instrumental or karaoke track. And let us know (email email@example.com).
No prizes. We don't plan on picking a 'winner', but we will play some of the entries on the show. All fame. No fortune.
By the way, we (and you) don't have a license to rip off this song (written by Irving Gordon). And we've learned that it's not technically a parody, which would qualify it for Fair Use. It's satire. (A parody would make fun of the original song. Satire uses the song to make fun of something else). Satire has a weaker claim to Fair Use. It has a little claim, because doing this will clearly not deprive anyone from earning income off the song, and it's all very small potatoes.
Nobody's going to sue you. Worst case, if a music industry robot sniffs out a copyright infringement in your video, YouTube will either monetize it (put ads on it, and the copyright holder gets the pennies that it will generate), or they'll make it silent, or take it down. Don't monetize it yourself!
So if you're game for a little risk on YouTube (and a bigger risk of people judging your performance), belt it out, croon it sweet, jazz it up or tone it down, but sing it! Maybe it will spur IKenSu to make a true multimode radio some day (don't forget CODEC 2).
After all that, our Radio Rating is... B-. Oh, the video's fun to watch, but not vital. It's radio, after all, so the story is in the sound. Don't tell Gary we said that, though. He spent a lot of time editing that video.
Hams have been complaining about lack of activity on repeaters for well over a decade. Way back in 2003 I created a cover of a magazine I was editing (the SERA Repeater Journal) that spoofed the ARRL's Now You're Talking license manual by changing the title to Now You're Missing. See the art for this episode if it shows up in your podcast feed. I also wrote an editorial about the phenomenon in that issue.
14 years later and a ham poses the same question on Reddit: Where is everybody? (I'm paraphrasing. No, I'm totally re-writing, but that's the gist of it).
So I trot out my standard advice: make some noise. I even recommend calling CQ, because that's almost guaranteed to get someone to respond, if only to tell you that you're not supposed to call CQ on repeaters.
I don't know who made up that rule, but they're wrong. I think it happened back in the 60's and early 70's, when HF ops looked down their long pointed noses at us FM ops as something less than 'real hams.' So in retaliation we eschewed their cherished practice of calling CQ. That's my theory. 10-4?
I would have left it there, but then someone replied on Reddit that they tried my advice, and it worked! That warranted a short show (if 24 minutes counts as short, and for HamRadioNow, it does).
This is a talking-head show, and the only one talking is mine. I show the magazine and the Reddit text on screen, but I read it all to you. So this is that rare show where I'm thinking directly about the audio-audience. And if I'm doing that, I must award this show a Radio Rating of A-. The 'minus' is because I'm still really proud of that Repeater Journal cover spoof. That was a couple of hours of Photoshop, if I recall.
And BTW, I mis-speak the era that I was the RJ editor. I say 'early 70's', but it's really 'early 2000's'.
KN4AQ is 10-10 and 10-7.
Public Service Events can give hams excellent real world preparation for EmComm operations. Busy frequencies, real radio traffic, and some actual emergency communications when event participants encounter trouble.
David W0DHG and his daughter Gwen N6GMG assisted with the Baker to Vegas race, a 120 mile running event across the California and Nevada desert. Over 1000 hams and a complex communications system covered a very remote area with little permanent communications infrastructure. David brings video produced by David Ahrendts KK6DA from their small slice of the event.
Gary KN4AQ operated in another big event, the BikeMS bike tour centered on New Bern, North Carolina. Over 2000 cyclists rode up to 100 miles on Saturday and again on Sunday in the rural countryside near the coast. The operation was simpler, with about 35 hams using a single, wide-area repeater (and some simplex), but the basic communication was similar to the B2V event. Gary also produced a video segment for this show.
This program had some technical challenges as Gary's Wirecast "Studio in a Box" system crashed several times. Gary thought he lost a treasure: David's son Ian W0IHG performing a bit of Fiddler on the Roof with only a little coaxing, but then Gary remembered that it was captured on Facebook Live!
There is a fair amount of talking-head discussion, but the documentary-style video makes up about 30 minutes of the total show, bumping the Radio Rating down to a C. Sorry, but sometimes we just gotta be a TV show.
Both video clips are available separately. Maybe you can make time for those in front of a screen:
And if you want to learn more about the B2V comm system, there are several videos of presentations to clubs and participants:
Glen wrote about digital modes for EmComm in the February issue, and also participated in a state SET called Winter Fury. We talk to him about both.
We've got some pictures from Glen's web site, but mostly we're just chatting, so Yay, a Radio Rating of A.