Sunday, September 10, 2023

Another repeater rebuild

Since 2003, I have been the hope to the former Ashwabenon High School Tech Club's VHF repeater. It started with a Micor at the high school and about 2004 is when we rebuilt it using a Kenwood TKR-750.

I live on a bit of a high spot, though most the area is pretty flat with the exception of Scray's hill where the TV transmiters are.

Over the past 20 years I have basically come the conclusion a 50 ft VHF repeater serves little purpose. I've watched the noise floor grow considerably.

The concept this lower profile repeater was started by a friend that will retire in less than 5 years and I promised him long ago I would continue being its home till then. The concept started in the 90's when all the repeaters were very active and it served as a place for a younger generation to hang out and "shoot the shit."

While I wasn't really interested in another rebuild, I welcomed the Kenwood TKR replacement. The TKR-750 and its poor internal isolation between the transmitter and receiver at 600 KHz splits. (The only solution to that noticeable desense and annoying mixing is to run the thing less than 15 watts, use a larger split or, get a new repeater.) The guy who started the club donated a Motorola Quantar which is capable of mixed mode; analog and P25. I am not sold on any specific digital mode I do see P25 as somewhat logical. Its been around since the early 90's so there are options on the used market for radios from several manufacturers. The vocoder is also out of patent and there is a good sounding open source implementation.

It will mostly be used in analog mode, but this does permit others play with another mode.

So I am still doing things in ham radio for anyone wondering.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

When all else fails?

You may have heard about a young boy from Hurley, Wisconsin reported missing in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness.

There is no no cell service in this area. AT&T & Verizon volunteered to set up COW's for a long team search, and what a game changer.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

VHF/ VHF Radio Firmware

For those of you who have noticed, I have not been active.

I started this blog many moons ago, when blogging/RSS was new as were smartphones. There was a pretty good following then as most web content wasn't very mobile friendly.

A different Steve, Steve Stroh, N8GNJ has been pointing out much of the same sort of thing I had been doing here. Advancing ham radio, this blog's title was supposed to focus on more modern things, that the traditional sources I felt overlooked.

So I encourage you to check out his news letter, which he calls Zero Retries:

Wayne Green once said he was impatient with new technologies. I can see that had rubbed off on me. I am beyond annoyed that we still don't have a mainstream radio that we can load our own firmware on.

I've written about that at length here as it related to AMBE and M17.

As a matter of fact in 2008 (15 years ago), I made the observation that ;

Technology is ever changing, which makes standards hard to set. This is why open standards are so very important. It expedites production and advancements , as you are effectively working together or sharing information. Be wary of any thing proprietary, as this impedes technology and is terribly unhealthy for the hobby.

Protocols and standards need to be dynamic as possible to avoid equipment obsolesce. This is where the software defined radio (SDR) concept is key. However once again between here and there, manufactures should highly consider flash/field upgradeable firmware.

While some very talented hams have spent the time and effort reverse engineering a few radios to bring us closer, the fact is, 15 years later we still have a manufacture controlled firmware scenario instead of that radio with an open application space (apps) idea.

And I am pretty much tired of beating the drum that we need better leadership than the ARRL knuckleheads who are really good at drama, but sadly not very good at their job of advancing the radio art.

PS; If you are thinking of publishing a ham radio book, please do NOT reach to the ARRL to be the publisher. I have spent a good portion of my life trying to track down and obtain copies of information (mostly obscure/local history) that is out of print. Here is to hoping future content creators are smart and don't give all their rights away all haphazardly like in years past. Self publishing and crowd funding are more logical this day in age, than continuing to fund the ARRL and their tantrums.