HamRadioNow produces about one episode per week.
There's no set schedule – we release them when they're ready.
In this episode we review what's been going on with the ARRL, from the Code of Conduct to the proposed revisions to the Bylaws and Articles of Association. We look at a new group that's formed to protest some of the ARRL Board's actions. And mostly we read some detailed responses to inquiries that Gary and others sent to some of the Directors. They're not coming on the shows yet, but they are being more responsive than we saw initially (though, as Roanoke Division Director Dr. Jim Boehner N2ZZ noted, those responses won't satisfy many critics).
That new group is called myARRLvoice. Some members of the 'steering committee' for the group are former Board members who could not speak in opposition to League policies until their terms expired on January 1. Now they can. Their web site will have links to the documents we reference in the show.
At the end of the show, you'll see a note about what we've been calling The Best Part of the Show™. That's the banter that comes after we 'formally' close the show (and say Over and Out), that may or may not be related to the main topics of the show. We're not fooling our guests into thinking they're having a private conversation. Facebook LIVE is still running, as is the recording hard drive. But it still gets a little looser than our usual taut, tightly formatted interview segment. And if you're not asking "What show is he talking about?" at this point, you haven't been paying much attention. But it really does get looser.
Anyway, we cut that off the YouTube version of the show this time. OK, it's still a 90 minute show. We're still not fooling anybody. But maybe it'll scare a few less people away.
The full show is in the audio version, and on the Facebook LIVE recording session, if you want it.
Radio Rating: A+. As usual, a few web sites, but we don't even put the text we're reading on the screen (Gary didn't have time to format it). [The 'Radio Rating' does not measure the quality of the program content. It's our guess as to good a radio show it is, without video].
* The show title is a somewhat awkward takeoff on Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which caused me to wonder 'how deep that is?' Wikipedia to the rescue: The title refers to the distance traveled while under the sea and not to a depth, as 20,000 leagues is over six times the diameter, and nearly twice the circumference of the Earth. The greatest depth mentioned in the book is four leagues. The book uses metric leagues, which are four kilometres each. - Gary KN4AQ
Hal Tourley W8HC is our tour guide for this preview of the 3Y0Z Bouvet Island DXpedition, where 20 top DXpeditioners will travel to the most remote spot of land on Earth to warm up from the brutal winter we're having in North America.
Radio Rating: B+. We've got some pictures and maps from the DXpedition website, so if you can visit there sometime soon, you're all set. (The Radio Rating is our estimate of how well you'll understand the program from just the audio track, without the video.)
The ARRL has yet another proposal coming to the January Board Meeting — a fairly extensive revision to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws with some curious changes in how the board can remove a member and a Director. CQ is pointing it out, but they've got their own trouble getting issues printed. And our friend Dan KB6NU has details on his Blog. David and Gary review the review.
Then they talk about the state of and future of HamRadioNow as Gary plans his escape.
David and Gary meander around several topics and eventually land on the proposal by ARRL Hudson Director Mike Lisenco N2YBB to confer voting privileges in board meetings on the League President and three Vice Presidents. We're told that Mike will submit the proposal as a motion at the January ARRL Board Meeting.
If you want to get right to that ARRL discussion, here's the direct link to that spot on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gwE5X66WCek?t=47m
And there are cats.
Radio Rating: A. You won't miss anything except the cats, and David's UFO. [The Radio Rating measures our guess about how well you can 'get' the program from the audio podcast, without the video.]
From the title, you might expect 2017 DCC Banquet speaker Tom McDermott N5EG to just list all the specialties that make up ham Radio, from ATV to DX, Repeaters to QRP. But that's not the direction he takes. Tom's looking at the leading edge of technology as it applies now, and will apply in the near future, to ham radio.
And that makes this talk depart from the usually non-technical DCC banquet presentations. He probably left some spouses behind, but even if you're a non-so-technical ham, eventually you'll catch up.
Radio Rating: C. You might need some of Tom's slides to help you keep up. Many of them are just headline text, but there are enough pictures and charts, and a few comics, that you'll miss the context here and there. As usual, if listening leaves too many blanks, watch the video. (The radio rating does not measure the quality of the talk. It is for the audio audience, indicating our estimate of their ability to understand the talk without being able to see all the graphics.)
And this completes our series from the 2017 ARRL & TAPR Digital Communications Conference, held September 15-17 in St. Louis, MO.
The New York Marathon. World's biggest, right? And Ham Radio is huge there.
The Boston Marathon. Ham Radio is big there, too. And it's, what, #2?
Nope. Worldwide, it's not even close. In the USA, it's #3 (as of 2015, anyway, the last year a quick web search had stats).
So who's #2. The Marine Corps Marathon in DC? Nope. (But ham radio is big there, too).
#2 is Chicago. The perpetual Second City (even though Los Angeles took that USA title a few decades ago). And yes, even though you've never heard of it, nearly 150 hams pitch in to help it run smoothly.
Rob Orr K9RST has been the lead ham for the Chicago Marathon for the past decade, recruiting from a coalition of radio clubs and individual hams to provide communications for the medical side of the event (similar to the ham's mission at Boston). And as you'll hear, he really has a handle on it all.
Host David Goldenberg w0DHG leads this chat, as Gary KN4AQ hides behind the scenes (mostly). And note that this is the usual in-depth interview, but the show really runs about 95 minutes, and the rest is the 'post-show party' (aka The Best Part of the Show).
Radio Rating: A+. Rob provided some stills that give you a flavor of the event, but you'll get the complete story from the audio.
This is Part Two of the Sunday Seminar at the 2017 TAPR DCC.
Part One was in HRN Episode 372 (immediately preceding this episode), and both are on the topic of the Citizen Weather Observer Program - all those weather stations that you and your friends have.
In Part One, Gerry Creager N5JXS described the station components, what data they generate and how NOAA uses it, optimal positioning of the components and stuff.
Here in Part Two, Gerry is looking to TAPR and hams to help improve the CWOP. There's a lot of detail, but it boils down to two elements:
- Better Data
- Lightening Reporting
These are two action items, and at the end of the talk, TAPR President Steve Bible recruited two TAPR members to lead the effort to identify what new data the CWOP needs, then figure out how to generate and forward it (APRS is a big part of data distribution, but it was never designed for this), and look into methods and maybe hardware for providing lots more rapid, detailed lightning strike data. Yes, we are making the sausage here, and you can grind some if you like.
The effort is just getting started, and as you'll hear at the end of the episode, when we produced the video, we didn't have all the contact data for hams who want to participate. We'll update it as we get it at the bottom of this episode page.
Radio Rating: B-. If you're a podcast listener, Powerpoint is not your friend (is it anybody's friend?), and there are lots of slides. Many are text headlines that Gerry covers. Some are graphs and charts that he describes fairly well, but you miss relationships.
The Citizen Weather Observer Program ties data from all those 'citizen' weather stations out there - the ones you see at the bigger hamfests - into the NOAA system to become part of the reporting and forecasting system. One of the guys in charge is a ham, Gerry Creager N5JXS.
Gerry came to the 2017 ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference in St. Louis to present the Sunday Seminar, the DCC's traditional Deep Dive into a single topic for four hours, closing the conference on Sunday morning.
This podcast is actually just Part One of the talk. Gerry covers a lot of ground, from what the various forms of weather stations are, to the optimum siting of the hardware, to the data supplied and how NOAA uses it.
Part Two, in the next episode of HamRadioNow, looks at possible improvements to the CWOP.
Radio Rating: C+. Gerry has lots of slides, as usual for a TAPR talk. Many are just text headlines, but there are some pictures (especially when he's talking about siting the hardware), and some charts. Most of the time he describes what's in slides well enough to get the idea. But you know, P=1kW.
Our cryptic title refers to the ARRL Code of Conduct for Directors, initiated in January 2017, that contains multiple provisions requiring Directors to support League positions even if they personally disagree, and not publicly speak against them.
This program brings CQ editor Rich Moseson W2VU, blogger and podcaster Dan Romanchik KB6NU and blogger and podcaster Sterling Coffey N0SSC together with hosts David W0DHG and Gary KN4AQ for an in-depth discussion of the Code of Conduct and the underlying issues with the ARRL Board.
We talk about how the Board has apparently been systematically removing 'disruptive' members by finding ways to keep them from running for re-election (Doug Rehman K4AC [former SE Div Director], Bob Famiglio K3RF [EPA Vice Director, seeking to run for Director]), and how we predict that will happen to current SW Div Director Dick Norton N6AA following his censure by the Board for allegedly speaking out against the Code of Conduct at the Visalia International DX Conference in April 2017.
CQ's December editorial, ARRL: Circling the Wagons, and a White Paper with even more details on what's happening at the ARRL Board, will be online soon at the CQ web site. CQ's January editorial will focus on the Code of Conduct itself.
Dan Romanchik KB6NU's blog post - What the heck is the ARRL Board thinking? - on Dick Norton's censure contains comments from prominent hams who were there and said that Dick spoke about the Code of Conduct, but not against it. The minutes of the meeting where the Code was approved show that Dick and two others Board members voted against it.
The Directors most vulnerable to criticism for their support of the Code are the ones up for re-election next year (assuming they choose to run again). They are (courtesy of N0SSC's Blog):
- Kermit Carlson W9XA (Central Division, member of the now-infamous Ethics & Elections Committee and maker of the censure motion)
- Mike Lisenco N2YBB (Hudson Division, member of the Executive Committee and the one who seconded the censure motion)
- Tom Frenaye K1KI (New England Division and member of the Ethics and Elections Committee)
- Jim Pace K7CEX (Northwestern Division and member of the Ethics & Elections Committee)
- Jim Boehner N2ZZ (Roanoke Division).
- Code of Conduct for Directors, with KN4AQ's notes
- Code of Conduct - original from ARRL
- ARRL web article on censuring Dick Norton N6AA
- Dan Romanchik's BLOG What the heck is the ARRL Board thinking?
- Sterling Coffey N0SSC's BLOG written after our show
- CQ Magazine Editorial from March 2017 with initial comments on the Code of Conduct
- CQ Magazine Editorial and White Paper (available when the December issue links are published)
- Very long QRZ discussion forum on the ARRL Code of Conduct censure "Catch-22"
Radio Rating: A++. We do show the text of the documents, blog posts and web sites, and a very few pictures, but we read all the pertinent parts. Otherwise, talking heads.
And for what it's worth, while the show clocks at about 2 hours, the pointed discussion is about 90 minutes. The last 30 minutes is our post-show confab (aka "the best part of the show").
The name HamCasters was created when Gary used it to label a new Reddit sub designed to be a place for ham radio podcasters, YouTubers, bloggers and media creators in general to announce their work, and for the audience to comment on it. There are several Amateur Radio subs on Reddit, but they discourage 'self-promotion' more than on rare occasions. And while a whole sub dedicated to promotion skirts the line, too, this sub is for promoting all Amateur Radio media. So far, the Reddit g(m)ods have not hurled a lightning bolt at it.
The sub is just getting going. Not all ham-media creators have signed on, but it's picking up one or two a month.
So for this episode, Gary and David invited a bunch of show creators and regular participants to get together for a pre-holiday gabfest (because that's what we all do). Here's who we got:
- Sterling Coffey N0SSC (Phasing Line Podcast, YouTube star)
- Dan Romanchik KB6NU (ICQ Podcast, author, blogger)
- Curtis Mohr K5CLM (Everything Ham Radio Podcast)
- Onno Benschop VK6FLAB (Foundations of Amateur Radio Podcast)
- Sam Reynolds KM4WDK (HamKID YouTube show)
- Bill Stearns NE4RD (Linux in the Hamshack, Newsline)
Radio Rating: A+. All talking heads, and a few web sites (and one clip of Sterling at school looking young and nerdy, but he's young and cool now, so it's OK).
- Phasing Line Podcast http://phasinglinepodcast.com/
- N0SSC Blog: http://n0ssc.com/
- ICQ Podcast https://www.icqpodcast.com/
- KB6NU Blog http://www.kb6nu.com/
- Everything Ham Radio Podcast http://www.everythinghamradio.com/
- Foundations of Amateur Radio Podcast http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/
- HamKID show www.HamKid.com
- Linux in the Hamshack https://lhspodcast.info/
- Newsline https://www.arnewsline.org/
Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).
Full title: How to Fill a Terabyte Disk: Using SDR in the HamSCI Solar Eclipse Experiment
Count on John Ackermann N8UR to put a TAPR spin on the HamSCI experiment. John combined his ultra-accurate time/frequency skills with the TAPR/HPSDR radios to generate a lot of information from the Eclipse QSO Party and WWV observations. All from a little island in Lake Michigan.
Radio Rating: C. You'll miss the data in the charts. So not an F, but watch the video if you can.
Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).
You probably heard about the Eclipse QSO Party that generated lots of activity during the Great American Eclipse of 2017. It also generated lots of science, currently being digested by the team at HamSCI. They presented preliminary results and talked methodology in this team-talk at the 2017 DCC, led by Nate Frissell W2NAF. (And they're all so young!).
Radio Rating: B-. There are lots of charts and graphs, and you'll miss some details, but the guys explain it pretty well, and the story is compelling.
Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).
Full title: Ground Based DVB-S2 Repeater for GEO Satellites.
At last year's DCC, Bob McGweir N4HY presented this talk: — HRN 272: A GeoSync Ham Radio Satellite for the Americas – (here's the audio link)
This year, Wally Ritchie WU1Y wrote a paper that was presented by Steve Conklin AI4QR with more detail on the satellite, but mainly on plans for ground-based repeaters to do make the satellite easier to use for hams.
Radio Rating: B. Steve has some graphics slides, but many are text. And much of the talk is Q&A with no slides. As usual, go to the video if you need a fill.
Skip the intro - FF to 5:14 (but think about clicking the Pig).
Maybe the title should be TNC-Pi 9.6k (or 9k6) – Mark Griffith KD0QYN has upgraded the TNC Pi to 9600 bps... if you're signal is strong enough. Lots of details in this talk that puts the P back in TAPR.
Radio Rating: C. Keep in mind that this is not rating the quality of the program, just how much you lose (or keep) without the video. So lots of charts and graphs, but pretty well explained.
Last time on HamRadioNow we had a little fun with some clips from a recent episode of NCIS, a popular and long-running crime drama on CBS. The episode titled Trapped had a significant amount of amateur radio in the plot. What we found in a quick scan was the usual butchering of radio procedure, along with a nice pat on the back.
We missed a lot, and were promptly told about it in comments and email. Besides 'handles' and wacky call signs, one of the hams apparently had serious paranoid delusions, and we were all pretty much tossed under the anti-social bus.
So we went back and picked out three sets of clips. First, we'll hear what ham radio sounds like in this corner of TV-land. Then we'll get a look at the gear they assembled for two stations (Kenwood will be happy, maybe). Finally, we'll hear what the NCIS agents think of ham radio, and we'll meet the ham who represents us in Prime Time, now that Tim Allen has retired.
Speaking of Tim Allen, Gary reached out to Last Man Standing Executive Producer John Amodeo NN6JA for his thoughts. John didn't want to appear on the show directly (you'll hear why), but he did give us cogent comments in writing. Gary and John are used to ham radio being inaccurately depicted in the general media, but Gary thinks this time we're seeing some actual damage.
By the way, we were hit with copyright infringement claims by CBS. See the QLOG post Copywrong for details.
Radio Rating: B. The dialog plus Gary's descriptions should carry you through this one pretty well.
We lead this episode with a note from ARRL HQ responding to our Force of Two episode about ham radio's part in Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria. We invited the League's Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey KI1U to talk to us (or pass the request along). He did pass it along, HQ declined the invitation to appear, but did send a short note that we'll read.
Next, the click-bait headline story. On October 30, Ray Novak N9JA, Amateur Division Manager for Icom America, wrote a story on the ICOM blog titled Is Your Digital Repeater Ham Friendly? Our baitworthy headline comes from Ray's warning that some features in the radios designed for an un-named commercial digital radio service (cough dmr cough) can be used against the unwary operator (stun, kill, monitor) and have no place in the amateur radio service. We agree, but find Ray's treatment of the subject somewhat opaque, heavy-handed, and less than helpful. But what the heck - we're clearly not above a click-bait headline ourselves.
Helping us understand the details is Jason Johnston KC5HWB from the Ham Radio 2.0 show. Jason reviews just about every Chinese/DMR radio that crosses the ocean to America. Ray also casts a shadow over a DMR 'required feature' called talkgroups. Our discussion branches out to cover that and other comparisons between DMR and D-STAR.
Finally, the night before the show, CBS aired a new episode of NCIS that had a significant ham radio element. We show a couple of clips that do the usual hack job on real ham procedure, but also include an almost press-release explanation of what ham radio is. Unfortunately (we are told... we didn't watch the whole show) the ham-protagonist in the plot turns out to be unstable, and (we are told) that hams are portrayed as anti-social in general. Maybe we should watch the whole thing.
AUDIO LISTENERS: Radio Rating: A-. We read all of the ARRL's note, so you won't miss that on-screen. There's a link to Ray's blog so you can see it all for yourself, as we don't read the whole thing to you. And you'll miss the video from NCIS, but if you picture a well-equipped, Kenwood-centric station, the dialog will carry you the rest of the way.
Dave Larsen KV0S's complete title for this talk is Development and Design of Firmware Programming Tools for the openHPSDR Hardware. And that says a lot about where this talk is going.
HPSDR - High Performance Software Defined Radio - is an ongoing DIY project that began in conjunction with TAPR do design and built the first direct sampling SDR HF 'transceiver' for amateur radio. It's been going on for more than a decade, and the ARVN videos from the 2008 and 2009 DCC's have several talks describing the progress (find them on the HamRadioNow.tv web site's TAPR archives).
Dave's talk is something of a history lesson, focusing on tools to program the boards.
The industry has moved on, with companies like FlexRadio, ICOM, Elad and others producing off-the-shelf SDR radios, but the HPSDR project continues for hams who want to learn more and build their own.
Radio Rating: C or D. Dave has a lot of text, but also some slides with charts and pictures of the software GUI's. So if you're already familiar with the HPSDR system, you might not need the images to absorb the talk. If you're not deep into HPSDR, but you are interesting in programming, you'll probably need the pictures. And if you're not deep into either, come back to the video when you've gotten your feet (ankles, and maybe knees) wet in SDR.
Midwestern rivers have a serious problem with an invasive species of carp that the USGS was trying to track using radio tags (yep, on the fish). But they needed some radio expertise to advance the project to receive the signals using drones rather than people with yagi's on boats. Dave Witten KDOEAG got involved through a request for help at his local radio club.
This talk follows the progress of the project, which rapidly grew to include multiple agencies (including NASA) and experts... and Dave. It's not ham radio, but it is an interesting exploration of radio technology where you might not expect it.
Radio Rating: C+. Dave has lots of pictures of the devices and locations, and some charts and graphs. You'll miss that detail in the audio-only presentation, but you'll get the gist of the project. Watch the video here if you're more intrigued.
Although Morse code is no longer required to get a ham license, it's still quite popular, and can be a draw for some potential hams before they get licensed. Learning it is one thing, but being able to use it while still learning is a challenge before you're licensed and have a station set up.
Scotty Cowling WA2DFI faced this problem with his Explorer Scout Post. First, he used his TAPR skills to develop an improved, inexpensive and easy-to-build CPO (Code Practice Oscillator).
Then he discovered a Rabpberry Pi based online system for using Morse over the Internet, but it had some drawbacks that he used his TAPR skills to improve. The project is fairly simple and inexpensive, and something every club should consider. You don't have to be a Scout – or even young – to jump on board.
Radio Rating: C-. Scotty has lots of pictures and diagrams, and you won't be able to duplicate the project without them. It might even be a D-, but Scotty is such an enthusiastic and engaging speaker that listening to his talk may spark your interest enough to go to the videotape. Remember that our Radio Rating is only an evaluation of now well a program translates to audio, with no pictures. It does not reflect the overall program (where every HamRadioNow program receives an A+).