Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Amateur Radio in 2037

As the focus of my blog has been more of a modern ham radio theme, it seems appropriate to share this video about ham radio in the future.  This is a must-view by all as it provides us timely perspective on the future challenges.

It's from a 2012 webinar, where Chris Imlay W3KD and Ed Hare W1RFI predict and speculate what ham radio will be like in 25 years.

The first part is more a regulatory look by Chris Imlay W3KD, where as the second part is a bit more of a technical/operational look by Ed Hare, W1RFI.

Ed Hare predicting the continued use of Amateur Radio MESH networks, and Software Defined Radio all entangled with the internet.

~57:00 "Software defined radio super stations perhaps accessible by the internet put at locations where you can put up antennas (future antennas restrictions).  This could allow licensed amateurs to log on to that transmitter, that's generating a broad signal across the entire band, filling each little channel within that band with an different actual amateur signal.  So that that all those hams have an easy way to operating from a good location, even if they are operating from an apartment....
Amateur radio will have developed a nationwide amateur radio digital back bone, using a broad range of frequencies and technologies.  I think its going to grow ad-hoc.  Planning is all good, but if you look at the same way the radio relay network was developed in the spark days, we are going to see that same type of approach.  That same type of pioneering spirit.  Ham equipment will be fully integrated with the internet.... 
Analog repeaters will be real legacy technology, replaced by digital repeaters that will allow multiple users on the same spectrum channel.  Right now the repeater paradigm is such that we are limited by the maximum number of possible users.  Where we have a lot of repeater that are used, but might spend 50%, 90% or more of their time not being used.  And in the meantime, nobody else can use that pair.  If we can imagine ways of multiplexing all of these repeaters together so that anytime someone wanted to get on the two meter band on a quote "repeater", a virtual repeater could be created out the multiple repeaters that are there.  Kind of a trunking system on steroids."


At the September 2013 DCC, Heikki Hannikainen, OH7LZB, presented on Friday morning a talk about authenticating amateur radio services on the Internet.

Some of the interesting sites allow you transmit RF, directly or indirectly.  Such as IRLP, EchoLink, Allstar APRS-IS, etc.  And there is more potential for that.  I.e. text messages for DMR, APRS, SDR, and remotely operated stations.

Presently each such service has a different manual authentication method.

The ARRL Log of the World Certificate conforms to the X.509 standard used all over the internet.   It may be installed on web browser, and used to log into web services.  Any third party can technically validate that the web user connecting really has an ARRL LoTW certificate.  Any one implementing this method on their website to restrict access to hams, does not get access to the users private key.   This is the same crypto used by banks and the military.  The ARRL doesn't need to do any addition work to make this happen.  Websites implementing this do not need to query the ARRL anything about the user.  No single point of failure.

There are plenty of developers who would be happy to create new web services for hams.  They just don't have the time or motivation to go though all the license papers to manually authenticate them. - Providing authenticated amateur radio services on the Internet - OH7LZB Video presentation from the DCC
Notes on setting up a OpenVPN server that uses LoTW keys - authentication demo site - Apache configuration and PHP scripts

From the client/user end it looks like this:

Add the LoTW CALLSIGN.P12 file to your browser like so.  Options -> Advanced -> Certificates in FireFox

In the future websites seeking authentication will show this.

If you've ever logged into a third-party web site with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account by granting the app permission to that respective account, then whether you knew it or not, you've used OAuth (an open standard to authorization.), and it's a great way to dole out permissions.  

Ham Radio needs something simple like this.   It would be great if it could be implemented at the regulatory level (FCC), where your FCC ULS login could be used to log in to other ham radio websites, that seek to authenticate you as a ham.  Fat chance of that, so the next best would probably be the ARRL login.

I also recommend watching Vint Cerf's Re-thinking the Internet, if you haven't already:

Peter, K4PNG did a forward-looking article of his own in his local newsletter (see page 8).

When you are ready to start messing with software defined radio, look into HackRF (capable of transmission or reception of radio signals from 10 MHz to 6 GHz): 

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