Monday, June 17, 2013

Amprnet - net 44

For those who don't know; the amateur radio service has a good chunk of the IPv4 Internet address space (, and it's not being used to its fullest potential. Meanwhile, the rest of the Internet is crowding into the remaining address space and will no longer have any left in the near future.

The address space isn't being used because of a chicken-and-egg problem: the necessary digital repeaters aren't available for users, and there are no users to justify building the repeater network. A background I wrote some time ago.
For mote info see:
Historically the 44 net space has been used by packet radio starting in the 1970's when the IP allocation was first obtained.

But it doesn't have to be limited to just slower packet radio for TCP/IP, either. Some of the newer 802.11 wireless ethernet devices use frequencies that meet with amateur radio spectrum in the 2.4 GHz area. As a result, amateurs can modify the Part 15 compliant devices to increase the power and use better antennas, providing more gain and increasing usable range. These devices are considerably faster at up to 54 megabits per second than the 1200 and 9600 bit per second speeds of VHF and UHF packet radio.

Good connectivity enables a number of applications that were not previously practical to experiment with due to bandwidth requirements; among these could be digital voice repeater linking, digital quality facsimile picture transmission, television (D-ATV), Web-SDR, multimedia, and so on.

European amateurs are the most active users and builders of HSMM/WiFi radio networks.  They have been busy since 2009 building networks.  Most of their network is not directly reachable from the internet as it is an independent radio network.  It can be reached via tunneling from other 44 net addresses.

In the United States there has been debating a bill to create an Internet kill switch, also known as the PCNAA bill. Echolink, IRLP, APRS gateways, and many other services assume the Internet's original distributed design won't allow a single entity to take out the entire network. If the PCNAA passes, this will no longer be true. For true redundancy, a non-critical network can and should be built by the amateur service to avoid this single point of failure.

The cost of the equipment has finally come down to the point where even a modestly funded amateur radio club can afford to set up a small regional network by themselves. Through advocacy and standards development.

Ham radio used to be a good starting place for many who later entered broadcast and electronics careers.  Today those positions are few and far between due to disposable electronics and consolidation of engineers with mega broadcast groups.  What is the most notable/abundant "tech" career today is IT (information technology) work.    Building these networking helps ham radio stay relevant.  These networks have the potential to draw new blood into the hobby.  New hams who have software skills that can help the community with software defined radio and so forth.

In the USA the Broadband Hamnet HSMM-Mesh website is the most active collection of people trying to accomplish the same thing our European amateur friends have.  What their firmware build lacks in a way to use the amprnet and the 44 net address space and it's automatic tunnel connectivity.  The firmware so far also lacks a way to address channels outside of the Part 15 overlap where there is typically a better noise floor.

Attached are some screen shots of interesting things I have stumbled into on the Amprnet.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Amateur Radio in the 21st Century

Many of today’s experienced engineers got their start in electronics through amateur, or ham, radio.

Over the years, however, the demands of these engineers’ work, families, and communities took precedence, and many hams lost interest and let their licenses lapse. Meanwhile, with the rise of personal communications and Internet connectivity in homes, many young engineers never needed ham radio as a way to explore electronics. They’ve missed the opportunity that this fascinating hobby presents.

The first wireless communicators were by definition all amateurs. Guglielmo Marconi himself, generally regarded as the inventor of radio, once famously remarked that he considered himself an amateur.

Experimenters have created modulation schemes and accompanying protocols, complete with forward-error correction, which enable direct keyboard-to-keyboard contacts even with low power and small antennas.

(Intro taken from an excellent EDN Magazine article written by Doug K1DG)

Above are some current books that help us fulfill part of the basis and purpose of ham radio; to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

Ham radio is a hobby for those who like to learn (usually by experimentation) and would never be satisfied being just a mere consumer of today's technology and gadgets.

The engineer and hams mindset is "how does this work, how can I make it better?"

There is an excellent fairly new website that I stumbled into along this theme:

And old stand by is the website.

The local club that I belong to recently took a look at their bylaws basis and purpose.

1. The promotion of the interest in amateur radio communication and experimentation.
2. The establishment of amateur radio networks to provide electronic communications in the event of disasters or other emergencies.
3. The furtherance of the public welfare.
4. The advancement of the radio art.
5. The fostering and promotion of non-commercial inter-communication by electronic means throughout the world.
6. The fostering of education in the field of electronic communication.
7. The promotion and conduct of research and development to further development of electronic communications.
8. The dissemination of technical, educational and scientific information relating to electronic communication.
9. Provide encouragement and educational opportunities to any person interested in participating in the radio art.
10. The printing and publishing of documents, pamphlets and other information necessary or incidental to any of the above purposes.
The hard question is how specifically have we fulfilled these in the last year.

I think this is a good idea for clubs, to annually review what there have done in the name of what they are about.

An idea was presented at our most recent meeting to donate some ham radio books to the local libraries (both public libraries and at the colleges). A special committee was formed to investigate what is currently on the shelves.

Being on that committee, license manuals are at several public libraries, along with small scattering of other traditional books.

Ward Silver's "Ham Radio for Dummies" I feel replaces the old Now Your Talking Book. Now Your Talking was not only was a license manual, but also gave a pretty good explanation of the different facets of the hobby. Ward's book does a great job explaining the different facets. There were a few copies of this floating around at the different libraries, which is good.

At the local technical college, there weren't any books specific to ham radio. When I attended, QEX magazine was in the periodicals area. Today there isn't anything of the sort, nor any Circuit Cellar, Elektor, Nuts and Volts or really anything of the nature. I was saddened to see this.

So to help the hobby in the right direction, the books above, I'd love to see in the colleges.

If your club decides to donate books, you can put a sticker on the inside cover to read something like "Donated by the Green Bay Mike & Key Club." To point them in the right direction if the book interested them.

There is plenty of information about ham radio on the internet, but the newer areas currently being explored by hams, isn't as prominently displayed to would-be hams or even the existing hams.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Big Bend 50 race use of HSMM-MESH(tm) cover story of July QST

---------- Forwarded message ----------

The July 2013, QST magazine contains an article on page 68 on the use of HSMM-MESH(TM) / Broadband-Hamnet(TM) in support of the Big Bend 50 Ultramarathon foot race.

Beyond that, it is the cover story of the July QST. Our Austin mesh crew made the cover!

Some of you may have known K8OCL, John Champa, who was the first ARRL HSMM Working Group chairman. He is now a Silent Key.

He had a photo taken of him back in 2003, with a "dream" photo-shop edition of QST in his hands with HSMM on the cover. He worked hard for many years to help hams realize that we have been gifted with some mass produced consumer gear ( like the LInksys WRT54G ) that allows hams to get into wireless broadband radio at prices of a lifetime!

I am glad to see that we managed to carry on his efforts with HSMM gear and have actually made the cover of QST, 10 years after he held up his "dream" copy of QST.

Your printed copy of the July QST should arrive soon. Please do what you can to help raise interest in HSMM efforts in your area. It would make John happy to know that the word is getting out - cheap ham gear with massive bandwidth capability, so hams can have their own version of a wireless broadband tool.

-Glenn KD5MFW