Thursday, February 11, 2010

It seems to me....

Of the three ham magazines I received this week, zero really of interest in QST. Big surprise.... however the editors Eclectic Technology column titled "The cost of Codecs" did catch my eye. It's a pretty rudimentary quick explanation of what a codec is, but goes on talking about cost issues and mentions that we are fortunate to have access to some free "Open source" codecs.

CQ-VHF has two articles on Digital Television. Sub-described as the new ham frontier. So these get my "promoting something different" seal of approval. There is also a Digital Wattmeter Element for the Bird Model 43. This is how Mark, WA8SME replaced the analog meter with a digital meter.

Lastly the RSGB Radcom magazine has an account of David, G4ULF's homebrew D-Star repeater. It's a nice summary of everything he has blogged about at

One of the "news" items in QST is how the ARRL website has been revamped. "More than two years in the making, the new ARRL website is finally here...."

Big whoop..... Speaking of websites:

I and several other locals are getting excessively annoyed by the annual paper trail ritual of repeater coordination. You'd think this could all be done online... streamlined to make the volunteer coordinators and systems owners jobs easier. What a novel concept. Unfortunately once again, it seems there is no guiding hand from a national level in this area. Yet we all know is can be done, just look at the Log of The World website. All done online.

Speaking of coordination.

What is going on with the ARRL Microwave Band Planning?

The committee was established two years ago and a chairman named a year ago. I helped submit data to Will Payne a year ago for his trend graphing. Other than that I haven't really heard anything more about this band-planning.

Apparently the board is to busy Ramping Up Focus on EmComm Issues.

Here is a pop quiz for any ARRL board member or officer in the event they read my drivel. In the above "To Go Kit" or "Jump Kit" pictures, what key thing is notable absent? Here is a hint, it is also not mentioned in Chapter 10 "Preparing for Deployment" of the ARRL Emergency Communication Handbook. Answer: A soldering iron.

Lastly, I am making a request for feedback on this blog. I have been blogging for a while, and simply put, I really don't know if ham radio these days is worth the effort I put into it. :-( My email address is on my website and on QRZ.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Developing Wireless Networking using OLSR

I've written before that mesh network topology on-top of standard 802.11 can make a powerful system. There is a group of hams in North Texas pioneering the way. They have been developing firmware using the Optimized Link State Routing (OLSR) Protocol. This is an IP routing protocol which is optimized for mobile ad-hoc networks.

You can read more about this groups work at their newly launched website:

This is the place for info about the efforts of a special interest group of Travis County ARES that is working on linking various hospitals and government agencies with high speed 802.11 equipment. It is an extension of the ARCHES program to establish and maintain communications ability during times of emergency when the normal channels are no longer available. The bulk of the work so far involves implementing mesh networks using the venerable Linksys WRT54G wireless router.

Here we will try to enlighten and educate you all about the High Speed Multimedia MESH network HSMM-MESH™ currently being designed, developed and deployed as an amateur radio broadband communications system. It is being used in and around Austin, and Plano Texas, as well as other sites.

Just further proof that there are still things out there to be discovered and developed in the hobby.

If you are interested in what you see on their website, I highly encourage you to check out a free Ebook titled "Wireless Networking in the Developing World" -Second Edition by Rob Flickenger.

If you are like me you'll likely be ordering yourself the printed copy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

RTTY - Packet - 802.11

Anybody remember 2 meter RTTY? There is still some on HF, but it was pretty popular from 1950 to 1980 even on two meters.

RTTY declined in popularity, as faster, computerized transmission modes were developed, using less-expensive equipment.

That equipment was the TNC. And now roughly 30 years later, (just like RTTY) it too has declined as faster, less-expensive equipment exists.

Vellman K8055 & Activity Graphs

I recently picked up a Vellman K8055 interface board.

My original application was in conjunction with Jonathan, G4KLX's D-Star project. He has since added other methods of support for transmitter control, such as legacy serial port keying.

The Vellman board has 5 digital input channels and 8 digital output channels. In addition, there are two analogue inputs and two analogue outputs with 8 bit resolution. As one can imagine, it has a lot of potential applications.

I had a guy interested in my repeater activity graph scripting that I mentioned a few years ago. That was designed around repeaters with IRLP as this would just be a simple add-on for the Linux machine.

So for my first Vellman idea, I whipped up some perl code to watch a COR of a radio and provide the same logging and graphing functionality.

Refer to the original documentation if this interests you. I have updated it.