Ham Radio Now

The audio version of our TV programs for and about Amateur Radio (Ham Radio). The video version is hosted at (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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Ham Radio Now







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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 31, 2016

Last Man Standing is a hit, prime-time TV sitcom on ABC starring Tim Allen as Mike Baxter, a husband and father of three girls, employee of Outdoor Man (an outdoor-everything store like Carbellas or Bass Pro Shop) and ham radio operator KA0XTT. Ham Radio appears in the background of every show, with a fully functional shack in Mike's Outdoor Man office. Two episodes have put ham radio right in the spotlight as a major part of the story.

Last Man Standing co-Executive Producer John Amodeo NN6JA has often told the story of how ham radio came to be part of this TV show. If you missed it on other ham media, he'll repeat it here, but then go in far greater depth about how ham radio does and doesn't fit into it, ham radio in general media (and why most shows get it 'wrong'), John's personal history (he thought he was going into the ski industry), and a little on ham radio's own new media.

John says that he appreciates HamRadioNow for our long-form programs. He'll really like this one, not (just) because he's on it, but because it's over 2½ hours of in-depth one-on-one with KN4AQ.

This is an extra-long, mostly talking-head show, and it's earned our first Radio Rating of A+. There are a few video clips, but you'll miss almost nothing.

We've reviewed Last Man Standing episodes twice before when they aired those episodes that put ham radio front and center. Here are links to the YouTube videos (sorry, not available as audio just now):

Dec 20, 2016

TAPR's John Ackermann N8UR details this little Arduino based device - he calls it a stopwatch - that will measure time to the trillionths of a second. Why does anyone need that, when, according to Star Trek, it's possible to give verbal start-stop commands controlling spacecraft going faster than light? Aaaaand... Go! But we digress. 

This is a fully assembled device, not a kit (Gary will make that mistake in the intro).

There are lots of charts and diagrams, so the Radio Rating is D+, though if you're already conversant with the material, John's description might carry you through. If not, enjoy Gary's diversion for the first 8 minutes, then skip to YouTube.

Dec 11, 2016

Author Jim George (JK George) N3BB talked to Gary about his (relatively) new book Contact Sport at the 2016 Dayton Hamvention®. The book takes you deep into the world of the participants of the 2014 WRTC (World RadioSport Team Championship), perhaps the most elite contest in Amateur Radio. Jim was embedded with one of the teams, but got lots of additional detail through interviews (and spies?). As a former WRTC competitor and referee, he knew what to look for. And as a writer, he knew how to tell the story.

Lots of background noise, recorded in a busy exhibit hall, and we're maybe a little more fun to watch talking, but still a talk show, so Radio Rating of A. If you get the thumbnail picture with your podcast, pretend the mouths are moving and you'll have it.


Dec 10, 2016

Emcomm Extra co-host David Goldenberg W0DHG reviews a hospital Emcomm drill that he participated in a few weeks ago.

Then Army MARS Program Manager Paul English WD8DBY/AAA6B introduces us to Air Force MARS Chief Dave Stapchuk KD9DXM/AGA5C, and they review the MARS/Ham Radio Interop Exercise A Very Bad Day.

We've got a few graphics, but mostly this is talking-head territory, so it gets the Radio Rating of A, and it's almost two hours with, so happy listening!

Dec 7, 2016

Mel Whitten K0PFX leads this double-length session to show how practical High Definition Digital Amateur Television is for you, today. Great picture, lower bandwidth, and affordable equipment available now.

So this is a superb contradiction – an audio show about television. And Im afraid you'll miss a lot, from the graphics to the demos. So a Radio Rating of C-. But as usual, listen and see if it drives you to the screen.

Well help with one – click HERE for Gary's VHF/UHF Band Plan chart PDF.

Dec 2, 2016

2016 is the 20th anniversary of Gary writing A Ham's Night Before ChristmasIn this episode, he'll tell the story of writing it, performing it live, then recording audio and finally the video. Then he 'performs' the poem on camera (sort of), which, of course, you miss here in the audio version. 

We're conflicted about the Radio Rating of this episode. The poem's first media was audio, so this should be an easy A. But you'll miss all the cute QST covers and ads from across the decades, so that knocks it down to a C-

So if you can scratch up the bandwidth, the High Def video version is only three minutes long. Listen to the story here, then go play the video:

Dec 1, 2016

Tampa Bay NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dan Noah WX4DAN joins Dan and Gary to talk about SKYWARN Recognition Day. The Special Event will see 24 hours of ham operation from dozens of National Weather Service offices from 7 PM Friday December 2, to 7 PM Saturday (Eastern Time). 

SKYWARN is well known, but needs lots more participation from hams, especially in rural areas.

We show some maps and web sites, but this show is mostly talk, so Radio Rating of A. Maybe A+ considering how much Dan and David's Skype video is frozen.


Nov 22, 2016

We haven't heard a lot from FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith lately, but she spoke at Pacificon, a large ham conference in the San Francisco area, last October. Her talk was recorded by Bob Miller WB6KWT and his son Robert KA7JKP, and Bob gave us permission to use the talk for HamRadioNow.

Gary adds a long intro, with a summary of the talk's highlights and a few comments, along with a status report on the Amateur Radio Parity Act, before we play Laura's talk in full.

The title is a bit of click bait. Laura does actually talk about repeaters and uses that phrase, but she talks about a lot of other things, too. The headline should probably be about the plan to have ARRL Official Observers work closer with the FCC on initial investigations of complaints.

This show is mostly just Laurel (and Gary) talking to the camera. Gary tosses in a few graphic elements, but it's still a Radio Rating of A. 

Nov 20, 2016

There is life left in P25, perhaps the first somewhat popular digital voice mode on Amateur Radio VHF/UHF. The life comes from a linking system that David Krauss NX4Y introduces at the 2016 DCC. He calls it P25NX - Network Exchange.

The P25 mode started in Public Safety radio in the mid '80's. After about 10 years, those guys say their radios are due for replacement. Hams bought the trade-ins and put them on the ham bands. But the repeaters were isolated islands. D-STAR became more popular because were linked, bringing in traffic from around the country or world. P-25 is about to have even more cheap equipment on the market as they migrate to Phase 2, and David's link system could make P25 a competitive mode in ham radio again.

There are charts and diagrams in David's talk, but you'll get the idea from the audio, so the Radio Rating is B-. Someday we'll commit to a solid letter-grade without the + or -.


Nov 20, 2016

AREDN Project Manager Andre Hansen K6AH details this mesh based data network that's up and running in the San Diego CA area. It uses the 2.4 and 3.4 GHz ham bands to haul data across the region, and then distribute it to local users, with a primary EmComm goal.

Andre gave this talk at the ARRL & TAPR Digital Communications Conference in St. Petersburg FL in September 2016. There are the usual slides with text and charts that are helpful to see, so we'll give this one a Radio Rating of C.

Nov 15, 2016

From the ARRL & TAPR Digital Communications Conference in St. Petersburg FL, September, 2016.

Lou Romero W4LT has been doing remote for a long time - before it became the popular thing it is today. He'll tell his story, review the options for private and public remotes, club-based remotes, Off the Shelf and DIY.

This is not super-technical talk. It's more 'what the pieces are and
how they go together.' Lou will demo his club's system at the end of the talk, and there's some good Q&A. Lou will say that he doesn't "read the Powerpoints", but he does a pretty good job of talking to them, so that doesn't matter for the text slides. But on toward the end of the talk there are some software demos and screen shots that you'll miss, so this gets a Radio Rating of C. Maybe C+.

Nov 13, 2016

Scotty Cowling WA2DFI details a new TAPR kit that turns a Raspberry Pi into a 20 meter WSPR beacon - cheap and easy. From the 2016 ARRL/TAPR DCC.

There are the usual Powerpointish slides, but most are text that Scotty reviews. You'll get enough to know if you're interested and want to go to the web to check out more.

Nov 5, 2016

Bob McGweir N4YH wraps up the 2016 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference (and the Sunday Seminar) by revealing what the Future of Amateur Radio will look like... in 5 years, according to Bob.

You may disagree! But note that the discussion begins here, it certainly doesn't end here.

Nov 4, 2016

Bob McGwire N4YH begins his portion of the Sunday Seminar from the 2016 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference. 

Bob reviews a lot of history as he lays the groundwork for his prediction of a major shakeup in communications (and Ham Radio) that he'll detail in Part Three.

Lots of text-filled slides that Bob will mostly read, and a few more detailed graphics and charts, but still mostly explained well in the audio. Radio Rating B.

Nov 3, 2016

PART ONE of the Sunday Seminar from the 2016 ARRL/TAPR DCC.

Michelle Thompson W5NYV talks spectrum and cognitive radio. She expects technology to really disrupt the radio art in the near future.

That's just the warm-up act, getting ready for Bob McGwire NY4H to really shake things up in Parts TWO and THREE (coming tomorrow). If Bob's crystal ball is accurate, it will be the End of Ham Radio As We Know It. 

Yeah, we've hear that before, but this time... if we're going to have a new generation of hams... it just might have to happen.

Michelle has some slides, but you'll get most of it from the sound track, so this gets a Radio Rating of B+.

In the intro, Gary mentions a pair of TV shows that have a significant ham radio component:

Before MARS



Oct 30, 2016

Another classic HamRadioNow clickbait title. We're really talking about the fall 2016 Ham Radio/MARS Interop test, this one titled "A Really Bad Day". Gary and David talk to Army MARS Program Manager Paul English WD8DBY and get detailed about this exercise that starts TONIGHT (if you get this in time - 11 PM Eastern on Sunday, October 30). If you're just a little late, it goes on thru Monday, ends Tuesday.

Radio Rating of A. All talking heads.

Oct 26, 2016

Gary KN4AQ and new Co-Host David Goldenberg W0DHG launch the HamRadioNow EmComm Extra with Episode 2, because Episode 1 was a rush job during the onset of Hurricane Matthew. 

This time they talk to two hams who participated directly in ARES activity as Matthew roared by. Scott Roberts KK4ECR is an Assistant EC and PIO for Clay County ARES, just outside Jacksonville FL. Linda Selleck KJ4EVV is the EC for Berkeley County ARES, next to Charleston SC. 

Before the interviews, David and Gary talk about what they'd like the EmComm Extra to be. We're not going to hold them to it, but it'll give you a clue.

This is 95% Talking Heads, minus a few maps, a little TV video, and some pictures and video Linda shot of her operation. And because it's over two hours long, it gets a Radio Rating of A.

Oct 24, 2016

FEMA Chief Technology Officer Ted Okada K4HNL addresses the 2016 ARRL & TAPR Digital Communications Conference. Unlike most DCC talks, this is not highly technical, but Ted does conclude with a challenge to develop digital tools to advance the art of preparing for and responding to disasters.

Ted does have a lot of slides, but audio listeners should be able to keep up pretty well. Radio Rating B.

Oct 20, 2016

When is an episode not an episode? When I say it isn't. And I don't give it a number.

Getting young people into our aging hobby is hardly a new or original idea, and best I can tell, we haven't come up with any one gamechanger. There probably won't be. If we are to keep our avocation alive through the next several generations... when our current demographic bubble has "moved to a higher band" as Don Wilbanks says... the key(s) will probably be a lot of smaller things, and probably more at the local level than anything generated on Mount Newington. And I think they'd agree up there.

Well, this show... not a show... seeks your ideas so I can use them in the next 20 TAPR DCC videos as one of the "Corporate Sponsor" messages. So they need to be short (30 seconds). The pitch can (must?) lead to something bigger, and hopefully something you've done yourself that worked.

In this not a show I mug the camera and point to a web page now and then, but it's mostly a monolog, so it gets a Radio Rating of A, if not an A+. 

Oct 14, 2016

We've been hearing about a Geosynchronous satellite for the Western Hemisphere for a while now, but not many details. In this episode from the DCC, project leader Bob McGwire N4HY fills in a lot of blanks. There's no launch date yet, and maybe not quite enough info to start building your ground station (a 'Five & Dime' setup - 5 GHz up, 10 GHz down), but you can start thinking about it.

There are a lot of supporting graphics, but you'll probably get a good idea of what's coming from the audio. Radio Rating of C+.

Oct 14, 2016

This... well, the second half of it, is TAPR President Steve Bible N7HPR's welcome to the hams assembled in St. Petersburg FL for the 2016 DCC. The first half is Gary talking about the video production. So nothing critical here - just an orientation to give you an idea of what the DCC is like if you attend in person.

There are some slides, but again nothing critical. Most of the upcoming DCC talks will be more graphics intensive, so head's up. This one, though, can get a Radio Rating of B. Maybe B+.

Oct 7, 2016

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Florida, Gary conducts an Emcomm Bull Session with LA area EC David Goldenberg W0DHG (David will be a regular Emcomm Extra co-host) and Ham Media Gadfly Marty Sullaway KC1CWF (Chicken with Fries). 

This isn't your typical Emcomm discussion. It's the HamRadioNow version. And good news for audio listeners, this one's mostly talking heads, so it gets a Radio Rating of A. 

Sep 29, 2016

The US House has passed HR 1301 (the Amateur Radio Parity Act), and we're awaiting (some of us hoping, some not) for passage in the Senate. We've never been this close.

This process didn't begin in 2012, but that's the year we took a big step... backwards, it seemed at the time. The FCC had declined to issue rules overriding HOA covenants on its own. At the ARRL's urging, Congress directed the Commission to do a study on the actual effect the restrictions had on hams.

We were at that point when Gary interviewed then ARRL CEO Dave Sumner K1ZZ to find out more. This is Episode 8 of what was then a very new podcast! This was just a Skype talking-head show, so it gets a Radio Rating of A.

And yes, we're at the end of the month, so we're using up our allotment of storage. We'll pick one more tomorrow. Maybe two.

Sep 28, 2016

HamRadioNow doesn't do 'unboxings', and we don't do product reviews per se, but this time we do both. A new BaoFeng UV 5x3 tri-band handheld (144-220-440) caught his eye, and at about $80 he thought 'why not'. He needed to learn more about this wave of cheap Chinese radios, and very few radios include the 220 band. 

The main rap on the Chinese radios is that they're hard to program. Gary finds this one different than the Japanese brands, but not necessarily more difficult. And it programs easily with free Chirp software.

Harmonics have been an issue. This episode includes an interview and demo from ARRL Lab Product Review Engineer Bob Allison WB1GCM from the 2014 Hamvention, where Bob was testing ham's radios on a spectrum analyzer. 

There is a lot of video involved in this episode, but also some discussion of the issues, so if you can't get to YouTube, it's probably worth a listen. We'll give it a Radio Rating of C.

Sep 27, 2016

As I remembered this show, I didn't think it was a good candidate for an audio Blast from the Past. Two Emcomm Vehicles? Wouldn't that have a lot of important video?

Well, the way my Roku shows YouTube is 'interesting'. It's always trying to suggest things it thinks I'd like, including a lot of older HamRadioNow episodes (are we old enough to say 'Vintage'?). It popped up this one, and I pushed PLAY.

What I didn't remember was that the show starts with Jeff AC4ZO and me bantering in the studio for about a half hour (so.. a radio show). Then we went to a pair of interviews shot on location at the 2013 Orlando HamCation and the 2013 Dayton Hamvention, featuring two very awesome Emcomm vehicles. And here there is a lot of show and tell, so the video is important, but not critical. You'll get a lot from the guys talking to us. Some of you can see a picture of the two trucks in the thumbnail for this episode, depending on how your podcast app works.

But then there was something I totally forgot: Jeff and I bantering early Sunday at the Hamvention, recording an 'intro' for a tour video we never shot because we got too busy with more interviews. And our special guest for this little bull session was ARRL President Kay Craigie N3KN. Yes, we did a full interview with Kay just after that, and it's an Archive Episode (HRN 80) a few weeks ago, but this is even more... well, more Kay and me, along with Jeff. Very relaxed and casual. And about the only thing you'll miss from the video is the antique and unusual pump handle sideswiper key that Jeff bought in the flea market. You can see him oggling it in Episode 78 at 28:48. The link should take you to 28:48, but if it doesn't, well, go to 28:48. The bantering was pretty good, so I stuck it on the end of this show.

So I'm going to give this surprise Archive episode a Radio Rating of A-.

Back in school, didn't you hate getting an A minus? I mean really... that shoulda been an A.   - Gary KN4AQ

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