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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware

Field Day 2004 152

pa3gvr writes "This weekend many Amateur Radio operators (HAMs) throughout the US and Canada will take their equipment to public parks, campgrounds and Emergency Operation Centers. With all the coverage that BPL has gotten lately it might be interesting to see what this Amateur Radio thing actually is. Field Day is setup as an exercise for HAMs to test their readiness and ability to operate under less than ideal (emergency) conditions. Besides the training and exercise aspect, this is also a social event. Visitors are welcome to have a look and maybe even operate some of the equipment. K4FAU, Florida Atlantic University ARC and Boca Raton ARC will be setting up their Field Day station on the Boca Raton, FL FAU campus."
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Field Day 2004

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  • by L0C0loco ( 320848 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:24PM (#9534757) Homepage
    I'm an extra class ham, but I believe amateur radio is a dying art/hobby. The thanks go mostly to the internet and cell phones. While I'm a bit sad to see very few of the younger folk comming into the hobby, I'm not surprised.

    • HAM operators are like cockroaches.
      If the event of a thermonuclear war, they may provide us with our only mean of communication.
    • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:45PM (#9534880) Homepage Journal

      Coincidentally, I'm actually planning to take my technician's license test this weekend.

      As an outsider, it seems to me that there's a connection between the lack of popularity of ham radio and the severe restrictions placed on what can be done with it.

      For instance: sure, I can check my email over ham radio, but I'm not allowed to use encryption. So, to check my email I have to either a)broadcast my IMAP password to everyone within hundreds of miles, or b)disable passwords altogether and leave my mail account wide open.

      Neither of these options seem very appealling, In the networking community, cryptography is seen as a great thing.

      What do most ham operators think of these kinds of restrictions (no crypto, no music, no commercial traffic)? Do you like having the openness that a no-crypto policy implies, or do you prefer to keep the airwaves uncluttered by non-ham radio related personal/commercial traffic, or do you all grumble at the FCCs outdated restrictions?

      -jim

      • by josecanuc ( 91 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:49PM (#9534900) Homepage Journal
        I think it's been shown in an official comment or ruling by the FCC that encryption is not wholly illegal on ham radio. The wording of the rules states that amateurs aren't supposed to obscure the meaning of their communications.

        The specific ruling that I am too lazy to look up ;-) states that it's okay to use an encoding for authorization. So you could check your IMAP email over ham packet if you used the CRAM-MD5 method of authentication. You wouldn't currently be allowed to use SSL for the whole session, but CRAM-MD5 allows you to authenticate with a shared secret without exposing the secret over the air.
        • by Rorschach1 ( 174480 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:22AM (#9535065) Homepage
          Sec. 97.113, paragrah (4):
          (4) Music using a phone emission except as specifically provided elsewhere in this section; communications intended to facilitate a
          criminal act; messages in codes or ciphers intended to obscure the meaning thereof, except as otherwise provided herein; obscene or indecent words or language; or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification

          One-time passwords and challenge/response authentication are indeed used in some ham applications. Many hams have a knee-jerk reaction to any mention of cryptography, though, so be prepared to quote chapter and verse. The key phrase there is 'intended to obscure the meaning'. You're not obscuring any information, just proving who you are.
      • Coincidentally, I'm actually planning to take my technician's license test this weekend.

        Good luck!

        Some of the restrictions have annoyed me as well, but much of this is only due to current FCC policies. These can be changed, and there are ways of changing the policies. In fact, some HAMs have proposed elimination of the morse code test (CW) since it is now no longer required by international law. FCC is taking comments on the proposals now. I'm just too lazy to learn it. :-)

        However, if they allowed encry
        • However, if they allowed encryption, it would close the hobby and people would use it for commercial purposes. Bandwidth is very scarce. (Well, that's a topic for another post!)

          Maybe an acceptable compromise would be to allow encryption and/or commercial use, but only for digital communication methods that don't use much bandwidth (such as PSK31 [psk31.com]). That way, the people who want encrypted email or ssh from the boonies, and want it bad enough that they'll get a license and live with low speeds, can have i

        • In fact, the CW requirement has been eliminated from the Technician licsense for a number of years (FCC [fcc.gov]). The General licsense allows opperation on certain CW only bands that the Technician licsense does not. It makes sense to keep a code requirement if people are going to be allowed to operate on CW only frequencies.
      • (good luck!)

        As the other post says, encryption is acceptable for authentication, but not for the message contents. Whether that addresses your concern is a good question(grin)...

        The prohibitions on music and commercial traffic date back to the 1920s, and commercial stations' fear of competitions. Many of the earliest broadcast stations were hams transmitting music - once it became obvious broadcasting would be popular there was a fear that the ham bands would be filled with low-power broadcasters.

        Comme
        • Interestingly you can cover quite a bit of ground on the AM broadcast bands without needing a broadcast license -- there's a Part 15 station running in Brighton, MA called Allston-Brighton Free Radio (www.abfreeradio.org, I believe) that covers not only Brighton (the westernmost fragment of Boston) but parts of the neighboring towns of Brookline, Cambridge and Newton.

          You can't do that on FM though (there's about a quarter mile limit), and part 15 broadcasts on AM have some pretty severe antenna restriction
      • You could set something up with a one-time password system like S/Key. The FCC's concern is that ham frequencies would be used for unauthorized purposes if crypto were in regular use to obscure the meaning of transmissions. I think (not totally sure) that using encryption to provide secure authentication alone is OK.

        They don't want commercial interests taking over a hobbyist-based system and obscuring their intent by encrypting all transmissions.

      • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:39AM (#9535320) Homepage Journal
        "For instance: sure, I can check my email over ham radio, but I'm not allowed to use encryption. So, to check my email I have to either a)broadcast my IMAP password to everyone within hundreds of miles, or b)disable passwords altogether and leave my mail account wide open..."

        I have to speak up in response to this. I'm proud to have been active in amateur radio for 27 years.

        The Amateur Radio SERVICE was never intended (nor needed, IMO) as a path for checking one's E-mail. If you want to do that via radio link, you need only invest in a wireless network card for your laptop, and hook up with any WiFi hotspot [wi-fihotspotlist.com] in your part of the country.

        Permit me to quote from a few of the sections of FCC Part 97, in response to your specific queries regarding the "outdated restrictions" you refer to.

        More specifically, let's start by looking at Section 97.1, Paragraphs a through e. [gpo.gov] Pay particular attention to Paragraph a:

        "Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications."



        While it is possible to extend the term 'Emergency communications' to include E-mail, keep in mind that this is amateur RADIO, not amateur E-mail. We already have a perfectly usable infrastructure in place for E-mail, and I don't see why amateur RADIO needs to supplement it.

        As to encryption, yes, it is prohibited for use on amateur frequencies. That point has been debated many times in many places, and the reasoning is simple enough. Given the service's strong emphasis on support of volunteer communications assistance, in times of disaster or other emergencies, the FCC believes (rightly so, IMO) that the use of encryption in amateur radio is contrary to fulfilling that basic purpose.

        In short: Encryption is simply not necessary for any part of amateur radio, with the single exception of satellite command and control signals transmitted from an earth station. The FCC allows encryption for that signal type alone for reasons which should be obvious.

        If I may be so bold: You appear to be trying to fit amateur radio into the mold of something that it is not (wireless data networking, specifically Internet connectivity), and was never intended to be.

        Also remember that another of the primary purposes for the existence of the service is to foster experimentation and ongoing learning in the realm of radio and communications theory (in short: a whole lot of tinkering with electronic goodies -- yes, that means learning how to solder), as spelled out in 97.1 paragraphs b, c, and d.

        If you're going up for your Technician license exam, you should already be fairly familiar with Part 97, and have (hopefully) taken at least section 97.1 to heart. Based on your statements in your post, I get the distinct impression that you have not.

        My questions to you are: Why did you decide to get your ham license? What do you expect to get out of the hobby? What are you planning to contribute to it?

        Amateur radio, like any other hobby -- for that matter, like Life itself -- is a near-perfect mirror. You get out exactly what you put into it.

        • I'm a young ham and its crap like this that keeps us out. Because you are too stubborn and DON'T want NEW uses for ham radio. Let it die then I say. Then when the FCC takes away your frequencies so someone can check their Email from their blackberry device I don't want to hear you bitching!

          How about this... Phone lines are used for talking with voice! Why the hell would we ever want fax machines?! Theres another well setup infrastructure for sending documents, its called THE POSTAL SERVICE! Or why would we
          • I'm a young ham...when the FCC takes away your frequencies so someone can check their Email from their blackberry device I don't want to hear you bitching!

            Did you ever imagine that there might be a reason for not letting you run commercial services over your amateur frequency?

            RF is a scarcity model universe (and concepts such as UWB only 'help themselves' to those frequencies with an alleged 'limited' impact to other frequencies and services). Licensees such as AT&T have paid heavily for PCS, cellula
          • "I'm a young ham and its crap like this that keeps us out. Because you are too stubborn and DON'T want NEW uses for ham radio. Let it die then I say. Then when the FCC takes away your frequencies so someone can check their Email from their blackberry device I don't want to hear you bitching!"

            Essence Above! I believe I've set a record for myself. NEVER before, in the entire time I've been posting to /., can I recall when one of my posts has been more grossly misinterpreted.

            To start with: If "crap like this
        • Well, I've been a ham for 12 years, and I can tell you that the hobby must expand or it WILL die. I totally understand that it is a hobby, and keeping it non-commercial is very important, but stifling the innovation and different ways it can be used WILL kill the hobby. Especially when the hobby was born out of the pioneering aspects of people who said, "Hmm, I wonder if this would work?" Placing ten tons of rules on the hobby has both helped it and hurt it. The morse code requirement kept the hobby rel
          • "Don't handicap the hobby by placing restrictions on reasonable technologies. Encrypting a password is not unreasonable. The Amateur Radio service is still free and anyone who wants to put forth the effort can get into. These days though, 2 meters is dead around here, and there's not much activity due to the internet and cell phones, as someone else said. We sure don't want to be hurting the hobby further by stifling its uses and ability to draw new blood in, and as a result, innovation and continunace of t
        • The Amateur Radio SERVICE was never intended (nor needed, IMO) as a path for checking one's E-mail

          I think you realize by now just how damaging you are to our great hobby. Part of what makes amateur radio great is that people come up with new functions and uses all the time. Can't stand digital modes, huh? After 27 wonderful years making terrific contributions to the hobby like this little gem, you must have learned the phrase "use it or lose it". Did you know that we have frequency allocations above 30MHz
          • "I think you realize by now just how damaging you are to our great hobby. Part of what makes amateur radio great is that people come up with new functions and uses all the time. Can't stand digital modes, huh?"

            Of all the people that replied to this thread, your post struck me as the most angry and short-sighted.

            What in the multiverse did I say in my original post to the effect that I "can't stand digital modes?" I operate APRS frequently, I'm getting the gear together even as I type this (receivers, compu
            • Thanks for the undeservedly calm response. I'm sorry I freaked out on you. I just can't stand how you positioned yourself as against anything that the service "was not originally intended for". In my calmer voice, *that* is the single worst attitude to have in the hobby, and that is what causes the most harm. Our bands are under fire every day, and if you keep turning interested newcomers away because they want to do something that wasn't envisioned in the 20's, that is a real problem.

              You basically told th
        • If you want to do that via radio link, you need only invest in a wireless network card for your laptop, and hook up with any WiFi hotspot in your part of the country.

          I think you have a bit too much faith in 802.11 if you think it's a drop-in replacement for a ham radio. I have used 802.11 at five miles with 24db antennas and direct line of sight. I wish there was a happy medium - I can either use high-throughput 35mw radios that go a few miles at best, but I can do anything I want with them, or I can

      • As an outsider, it seems to me that there's a connection between the lack of popularity of ham radio and the severe restrictions placed on what can be done with it. For instance: sure, I can check my email over ham radio, but I'm not allowed to use encryption.

        I've been following the work of the ARRL High Speed MultiMedia (HSMM) WorkGroup [arrl.org] and they found a nice hole in the law. You can actually use encryption as long as you publish the key. If someone (the FCC) wants to listen to your broadcast, they onl

    • by SYFer ( 617415 ) <`syfer' `at' `syfer.net'> on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:55PM (#9534935) Homepage
      Cheer up. I believe at least some of the spirit of HAM radio lives in the heart of every Linksys WiFi router hacker who is trying to tweak maximum performance out of a wireless mesh network or clambering around on the roof to aim a yaggi antenna at an AP across town.

      Voices talking or packets flying, it's still magical to pull stuff out of the thin air and today's WiFi geek gazing at his Kismet data is like yesterday's HAM operator putting push-pins in a map on the wall.

      • And some of us are still squeezing everything we can out of a 1200-baud AFSK mesh network. Yeah, it's 1970s technology, but it's easily hackable and cheap.

        I think European hams have taken the lead in bringing the open source movement to the hobby. It's strange that it's taken so long in the states, since the communities seem to have so much in common. I've got my own open source project [n1vg.net] going, and I'm happy to see that my efforts have apparently led to at least a couple of other projects being open sou

        • There's no denying one thing: the most interesting stuff being done with amateur RF engineering these days is beind done with systems related to but far more advanced than AX.25 packet radio. You don't need a license to work 802.11.

          Actually, learning about packet radio was one of the reasons I got my ticket... I was deeply dismayed to find out that a) packet radio is way, way behind the technical curve, and that b) it's dying out anyway. Kinda sucked the wind out of my sails.
    • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:29AM (#9535093)
      I believe amateur radio is a dying art/hobby.

      This gets kicked around a lot on ham forums. Mostly, the most accurate answer is that ham radio is changing. The era of becoming a ham because you want to talk to people around the world has changed. At the same time, there are many young hams who want to learn not because of the hobby aspect as much as the challenge of the radiofrequency theory, science and technical challenge. Quite honestly, there are enough "passengers" in the world and not enough "drivers" (802.11/wifi of today and CB radio of yesteryear is a perfect example of this).

      Compare it to the era of the "home computer programmer" of the late 70s and early 80s. Where are they today? People typing in BASIC codes in the latest Byte magazine. A hobby, yes, but not much more. Today's open source developer is a different breed, just as today's new ham operator is. It's a serious professional interest. I know weather spotter hams who have self-educated to levels beyond the local TV weatherman, for instance. While the number of "hobby hams" has declined, today's new hams take the practice to a new level and are pioneering new applications. At some point, we'll discover a hobby application that will probably attract the masses again, but mass interest validate the practice? As long as amateurs are professionally operating disaster control networks, providing trained weather spotting services, and quietly operating other important services, the lack of countless hobbyist users is visible but not critical.

      Slashdot readers should know this dynamic by now. The model rocketeer of the 1960s is no longer sufficient; private commercial rocketry is today's "hobby." Typing in 300 lines of BASIC does not make one a developer; learning and contributing to the F/OSS world does. In light of cell networks, packet switching and other technologies, should amateur radio be exempt from this dynamic?

      The thanks go mostly to the internet and cell phones. As long as you are content with riding on someone elses network. Care to know what really is going on within the RF? An amateur license will teach you a great foundation necessary for learning all those things you've taken for granted (while one of us is running things).

      *scoove*

      • True, I think those that do choose to get involved in the hobby are more technically inclined. But the big problem with losing numbers is the lack of commercial hardware. Cheap, high-quality hardware will only be available as long as there are enough people to buy it. In fields like packet radio, this is already a problem. Look at the offerings from companies like Kantronics - they've offered very little in the way of innovation in recent years, they're still selling the same old entry-level 1200 baud T
        • Open source can change some of those things, but as far as hardware goes you still need someone willing to put up considerable amounts of money for manufacturing.

          Let me provide some suggestions. I work with F/OSS development for network security and wireless applications, and have spent a few years working with low-cost embedded systems that support Linux. With a Linux kernel and OS in a small box, there's not much you can't do per amateur/wireless development.

          My current favorite foundation is:

          o RouterB [routerboard.com]
          • Computer hardware's not the issue. I've got a Soekris net4501 box here running Debian that I've been thinking of setting up as a digipeater. It's been sitting here happily running on solar power alone for three weeks now.

            The real problem is on the RF side. Ham radio operators need radios. All the crusty old farts who sit around ragchewing on HF and 2 meters all day at least keep hardware sales going. When there are fewer of them, the rest of us are going to suffer from increasing prices as volumes dro
    • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:03AM (#9535202) Homepage
      I'm an Extra class ham too and have been licensed since 1958 at age 11. While there is clearly truth in what he said, as others have pointed the number of licensees has been increasing over the past few years and we're finding a number of new challenges and that's what ham radio is really about, technical challenges. I've operated with full legal power to a beam on a 125 foot tower and it's not nearly as much fun as the station that I have now which maxes out at 20 watts with a dipole antenna at 30 feet. It's a lot more of a challenge. The MOST fun is my 4 watt rig on 20 meters in the car using a 4 foot antenna. I've made solid contact with all continents using that setup. Now that's really a challenge.

      There are lots of other ham radio areas that offer geek challenges, too. You can still "homebrew" your own gear. It doesn't take thousands of dollars to have fun. Microwave distance records fall regularly as do records at the opposite LF end of the radio spectrum. Data communications using packet techniques on VHF/UHF and other digital modes, such as packtor, on the HF (shortwave) bands predate the Internet as we know it we know today. In 1962 I had a teletype machine and a "terminal unit" AKA modem tied to my shortwave setup and was routinely communicating with friends around the world digitally. Now we hook our computers to our radios

      Ham radio has been VERY good to me. In 1969 and 70, I got to travel to parts of the world I'd never have seen without ham radio. I was with Project Hope and I used ham radio so that the doctors, nurses and volunteers talk to their family and friends back in the states via phone-patch without it costing $13 for the first 3 minutes via landline.

      Being involved with ham radio also encouraged me to go to college and get a degree in Electrical Engineering which has provided me with a very interesting and satisfying career that has consistantly paid me well on top of being fun.

      I've watched ham radio evolve over the course of almost 50 years and it's still evolving. I'm not ready to declare it a dinosaur just yet.

      73 & CUL

      "Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain
    • by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:40AM (#9535322) Journal
      There is some recent salvation of Ham radio through the internet itself, believe it or not!

      There are 2 new (relatively) systems called IRLP [irlp.net] and another called EchoLink. [echolink.org] These use the internet to link Ham repeater sites all over the world, using streaming audio (like "RealAudio") between stations.

      There are nearly 1000 nodes in IRLP, my repeater uses that protocol, and I'm not sure but EchoLink probably has a similar number of nodes as well.

      This is helping to unite Ham radio interests with those related to the internet. This is also providing new Hams, most of which are Technician class and have no "HF" or long-distance communications privileges, a means to talk outside of their local repeater area for a change.

      Previously, operating on Field Day or going over to an "Elmer's" house and having him let you work the low bands was the only DX (long distance) exposure most new Hams would ever get. These new internet linking systems are helping to make that experince more readily available. Before the internet became popular, talking to someone in a strange and foreign land was a rare and exciting experience.

      • Pardon me replying to myself, but I just thought of a good P.S. to the parent post - I forgot the best part, that IRLP is a Linux-based application!! It runs under a stripped down version of Red Hat Linux. EchoLink is Windows-based freeware, AFAIK.

        • Echolink is also on the mac. Do a search for Echomac.

          I also believe there's a EchoLinux available as well.

          The unique thingh about Echolink is you do not need a radio to use it. The Echolink server and their admins verify you inb the callbook and then you sign into the server....no radio needed, IRLP requires a radio on each end (I think).

          Ham radio's biggest problemm now, besides BPL and besides declining intrest is that the older hams will poo poo technology such as Echolink and say it's not Ham Radi
    • "a bit sad to see very few of the younger folk comming into the hobby, I'm not surprised"

      You (geezers) shouldn't be. You recommended keeping code requirements even AFTER the maritime service licensing dropped ALL code requirements. Most clubs I've seen are the same old repeater fools protecting (not developing) the same old shit! Just plain ignorant.

      There are the movers and shakers in the hobby today(they're just not represented by the ARRL).
      • That could not BE more wrong. Spoken of someone who does not belong to the league. The ARRL only made these reccomendations because of what they were hearing from the membership. Now, the membership is saying we needs new blood and to do that, you get rid of the morse requirement for the low bands. You can now get a license by taking one test. Take 2 more teests (General and Extra) and a 5 wpm code test and you get an Extra. The code requirement may die off soon. By the way, it was only recently that
    • Try out QRP and building equipment (homebrewing) and you'll find out the service is alive and well. I'm president of a small local club; we just got two new members this month. One is 14. :-)

    • BSD is dying as well :-)


    • by Anonymous Coward
      I got my license in 1965 and have been pretty much continuously active since then. I've heard these same forecasts of doom & demise for the past almost 40 years! Somehow ham radio lives on, morphing itself into a hobby that either invents new technologies, or incorporates other modes into new forms.

      The one thing people need to keep in mind is that, when all other forms of communications fail (e.g., the Internet, cellphones, public service radios -- remember 9/11) ham radio gets through.

      73,
      GJ
      (at the
    • Radio doesn't die, radio just is. Experimenters (hackers) for radio will always exist.

      http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/ [orcon.net.nz]

      Case in point, above.

      Ham radio's not dying, it's just constantly evolving. It all just depends on your definition of radio and whether or not you continue to experiment with it. Most newer Hams aren't experimenting, and if the "I buy my radios off the shelf and talk on them" aspect of the hobby dies off, I won't shed a tear. I'll still be experimenting with radio, with or without a
  • Pretty cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grant29 ( 701796 ) * on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:26PM (#9534772) Homepage
    HAM radios are not as popular as they once were. I think events like this have the ability to bring the hobby to a new generation. With email being so easy to communicate with others around the world, it makes HAM radios look cumbersome.

    I think the real attention grabber would be to show how these HAM radios have been around for so long and still continue to get the job done. After all, you can communicate around the world with technology developed before the Internet!

    --
    11 Gmail invitations availiable [retailretreat.com]
    • Re:Pretty cool (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      It makes me wonder who would be connected first in a real disaster these days... HAM or an ad hoc WiFi net...

      Maybe we should hold a race in some remote area to see who can deploy and communicate fastest in an unknown environment.
      • Re:Pretty cool (Score:4, Informative)

        by Grant29 ( 701796 ) * on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:32PM (#9534815) Homepage
        I think I remember seeing articles about how people used HAM radio's during the 9/11 attacks to call for help, report situations, and communicate with others. Of course wi-fi wasn't as popular then, but I believe HAM radios would have the edge on distance. Some wi-fi access points don't have coverage more than a few hundred feet.

        --
        11 Gmail invitations availiable [retailretreat.com]
      • Re:Pretty cool (Score:3, Interesting)

        by josecanuc ( 91 )
        The question I would ask is: Connected to what?

        Sure both Ham radio operators and wireless networking enthusiasts (note that those two groups aren't mutually exclusive!) could get connected to each other pretty darn quickly if a catastrophe were to occur.

        WiFi operators are pretty much restricted to the low power transmitters and short wavelenth that the off-the-shelf equipment provides. Good antennas, amplifiers, and path design can make for links that extend dozens of kilometers, but the HF Ham rig in my
      • I heard nothing about HAM during the blackout last year and I doubt Wi-Fi would've made much of a splash.

        But going to public parks and using HAM equipment would mean portable power and thus blackout-resistent.

        More than I can say for heavy resource based Wi-Fi.
        • Re:Blackout 2003 (Score:2, Informative)

          by macman552 ( 675277 )
          during the blackout, no, we weren't used to a great extent, however, we were used a little. I was in a spot where i could hear at least 3 counties where, although power was out in the cities, the repeaters were up and running using emergency power, and many hams were running using emergency power. All of them were on their radios ready to provide information if they needed to... however, we weren't needed except in a select few areas. We were ready to help in any way possible though.
        • Hams a Bright Spot During Power Blackout [arrl.org] has some info on Ham activity during the 2003 blackout.
      • Re:Pretty cool (Score:3, Insightful)

        by scoove ( 71173 )
        HAM or an ad hoc WiFi net...

        Actually... in our small town ham field day setup, there's both (why not?) Regarding first to be connected, there's much about ad hoc wifi that doesn't play in the real world of disasters. Running a fixed wireless company, I can tell you there's a niche certainly for gigahertz services, but nothing can replace the value of true slow NLOS services.

        So while speed might be impressive at times, reliability trumps all in a disaster.

        *scoove*
      • Re:Pretty cool (Score:3, Informative)

        by ipb ( 569735 )
        How about ad-hoc 802.11 lan's linked via ham radio?

        I've been preaching the benefits of this for several years now and the local ham community is starting to come around. More and more local Amateur Radio Emergency Service / Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (ARES/RACES) groups are becoming involved. 802.11 networks linked via packet radio TCP/IP based networks, with gateways to the internet as well as radio links amongst themselves.

        See http://wetnet.net for details about our local Field Day plans.

        N7

      • Text based networks still have a place in ham radio. Even with the internet, packet has not gone away and has morphed into other uses (APRS).

        In Minnesota, there's a guy on a crusade to completely cover the state with two separate text chat only networks (no mailboxes).

        Fire in the BWCA? Amateur radio won't be replacing overloaded or destroyed infrastructure - there's none to begin with. Fire up a portable packet station and type in real time to the state EOC in St. Paul.

        The project can be found here: h [14567.org]

      • You hit it on the head there, my friend. This is excactly what Field Day is all about. Test deployment of emergency equipment to simulate what would happen in a disaster situation. People go to remote areas all over the country (world?) and try to race to see how many contacts they can make in a 24 hour period.

    • After all, you can communicate around the world with technology developed before the Internet!

      Even after -- all the lights go out.

      KFG
  • BPL Info (Score:4, Informative)

    by nwf ( 25607 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:26PM (#9534774)
    A good line from ARRL is at:

    http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/

    Seems wireless internet would be far cheaper and more effective. Plus, some BPL solutions rely on 802.11 for the last 25 feet or so.
  • CQ FD CQ FD CQ FD (Score:2, Informative)

    by macman552 ( 675277 )
    Hope to work you-- listen for K2CT on the air! Albany (ny) Amatuer Radio Association!
    73 de KC2KVY
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I will be going up to Beaver Tail in Rhode Island with my dad... the PRA is the oldest Radio club in America (I'm pretty sure) lots of fun I hear.. 10am setup! HAM Radio is still alive and kicking... Nick
  • If anyone is interested in seeing ham radio in operation, come to Domino's Farms Saturday, and look for the antennas by the Petting Farm. We'll have HF ("shortwave" radio), and VHF/UHF radios and hopefully an Oscar station. We'll be trying to listen to some of the stronger stations that do Moonbounce, too.

    Ham Radio isn't dying exactly--the numbers have stayed fairly static for the last several years, and in fact have risen in the last 10 or so, with the 'no code' Technician license. But it needs more
  • Yeah.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hangin10 ( 704729 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:36PM (#9534833)
    I'm not that into HAM stuff, but my
    father was. I went to plenty of HAMFests
    and Field Days with him. Field Day is quite
    fun, especially when you camp as well.

    Before he died I managed his site with the
    equipment he (mostly) used.
    http://k2pts.home.comcast.net/

    Field Day is fun, even if you're not into
    HAM/radios, check it out!

  • its not an acronym (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macman552 ( 675277 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:41PM (#9534860) Homepage
    hey, uh, guys? its not HAM radio, its Ham radio. no acronym... and I am 17, and i have several good freinds that have their tickets(ham liscences) that got them before i met them... and i didn't meet them on the radio. So obviously, the interest is out there... and anyone who is interested in some of the stuff here on /. might enjoy amatuer radio. 73 de KC2KVY
  • Ham Radio is Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ihgwb ( 791714 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:58PM (#9534949)
    Field Day is great. Hams are volunteers serving their country in a time of uncertainty. We owe hams a great deal of gratitude for their work. Numerous incidents have shown how fragile our infrastructure has become (blackouts, hurricanes, tornados). Our country is ill prepared to handle disaster. This is why ham radio needs to be protected. Most people do not understand ham (or amateur) radio. They believe it's all about talking. It's not. Aside from the emergency service aspects, ham radio is about science. It's about engineering and design. It's about physics theory. A large number of professional engineers are also hams, such as electrical engineers, computer scientists, and pilots. The Internet has tremendous value. But long distance ham radio is much more challenging. The challenge is to build your own station, to understand Earth's ionosphere, and to make far away contacts with modest power. You hold the infrastructure. Hams have even put numerous satellites in orbit. I'll be operating at field day this year. If you want to find out what ham radio is all about, show up at your nearest club and take a look. It's fun! And what you do with the hobby is up to you!
  • by leighklotz ( 192300 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:20AM (#9535048) Homepage
    I will be helping out at the "Get On The Air" station
    at the Palo Alto Amateur Radio Association [paara.org] field day. Non-hams are welcome to come to the GOTA station in Saturday after 11AM and get on the air.

    I will be helping demonstrate something called "PSK-31" which is
    kind of amateur radio Instant Messaging. With your laptop
    computer and a small radio running on AA batteries and a piece of wire,
    you can talk halfway around the world, instantly.

    Read all about it at my PSK presentation for non-hams [wa5znu.org]. And if you are in the Bay Area, come check us out, or
    one of the other area Field Day sites such as

  • ... will be held at the American Red Cross Center. Fish fry for lunch.

    73,
    KD5ZEF
  • Fun if done right! (Score:2, Informative)

    by rspress ( 623984 )
    I have been to many a field day and in our part of California it is usually freakin' hot. We used to stay outside and grab sleep when we could.

    My last field day a friend and I arrived in an air conditioned motor home with lots of food and cold drinks in the fridge. We also had our Macs hooked up to do digital communications like Packet, RTTY and the like. Good thing, it was the hottest Field day they ever had.
  • by kavachameleon ( 637997 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @02:02AM (#9535382)
    The SAR (Search and Rescue) team my college runs uses Ham for most of our communications needs. It's actually a pretty sweet setup, and a joy of a thing to see. We set up a mobile communication station with very little notice that runs off marine batteries in the middle of nowhere and talks to half the state. We're thinking of connecting the search teams' GPS units to a small packet radio transmitter, which would broadcast back to the Strike Team Leader's laptop, instantly plotting their locations. The STL laptop would rebroadcast the packets back to the Operations Center at the campus.

    At least in New Mexico, Ham radio has saved countless lives.

    73 de KD5ZPL
  • That scene towards the end of the movie wasn't unrealistic at all. Think about it some time...amateurs maintain a world network, pretty much primitive, and low tech, yet powerful enough to not worry any government, yet be able to communicate how they want when they want, without government interference (Licensing of course...).

    My personal ham site [qsl.net] where I have a few pictures of the first and second field day I participated in. The first one, I was 17, organized the whole event in about 3 days. The second
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The last couple of years, I've done Field Day w/ one of my best buds. I don't ham...likely never will, just don't have the desire, but my buddy is pretty heavily into it, and has developed some popular PSK31 s/w (sorry, no URLs, I'd hate to /. his site).

    Its both fun and very educational. For those of you stuck in the digital realm, events like Field Day expose (yet again) how flexible/adaptable analog comm can be compared to internet or any other digital environment.

    Downside: many operators now seem hun

  • My Pet Peeve (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChuckleBug ( 5201 ) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @02:56AM (#9535535) Journal
    Dammit, Ham is NOT AN ACRONYM!!!

    PLEASE stop writing HAM as if it were. There is more than one etymology for the word, but none of them are acronyms.

  • The AARL has a lot of information on Field Day events, but much of it is difficult to find. For those of us in NYC Metro, the relevant information is: here [arrl.org].
  • Reagan Funeral (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hypertex ( 165243 )
    Lots of Ventura county's Disaster Communications hams helped out the Secret Service and others keep track of the goings on in the past weeks. You'll never read about it in the press. For instance, they actually "ploughed the road" in front of the motorcade.
  • probably a bad weekend to hold this since most parks here in atlanta are full with gay pride participants.

    Seriously, I would like to go but seeing as its Gay Pride festival weekend I dont think there will be any space for amatuer radio.

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