HRN 342: It Ain't Parity Until We Say It's Parity

The Amateur Radio Parity Act drew plenty of critics — and plenty of supporters — in its original form (HR 1301, the early days). The supporters celebrated the language that took away the HOA's 'Just Say No' antenna veto. Critics opposed the idea of the federal government interfering with what they saw as a private contract.

The bill was stalled in the House until the ARRL and the CAI (Community Associations Institute) arrived at compromise language. Then the US House of Representatives was happy (and passed it), but ham critics accused the ARRL of 'selling out'. The bill is awaiting action in the Senate that may or may not ever come.

More recently, several hams, prominent lawyers in the amateur radio community, crafted their own considerably more thoughtful arguments about to why the compromise bill (now HR-555 and S-1534) is not good for Amateur Radio.

Two of them, former FCC attorney Jim Talens N3JT, and well-known antenna law attorney, author (and contester) Fred Hopengarten K1VR, join David and Gary to make their case. Former ARRL Vice-Director Marty Woll N6VI also contributed his expertise.

If you want an explanation of what's in the Bill, pre- and post-compromise, check out HamRadioNow Episode 259 (Click-bait titled PokeHAM GOta). The link will take you to the spot Gary starts his review. And here's a link to HRN 213: Parity in the SenateGary's discussion with Chris Imlay W3KD, ARRL's General Council, and Mike Lisenco N2YBB, Hudson Division Director, on the original HR 1301.

Here are links to the documents that Fred, Jim and Marty published, and the ARRL's FAQ rebuttal:

And our previous programs on the Amateur Radio Parity Act

Audiophiles... this episode has some text of the bills in the video, but we're pretty careful to read everything out loud. So we'll give it a Radio Rating of B+. 

HRN 341, EmComm Extra #15: Eclipse 2 - ARES Fights Back

Last time on HamRadioNow... David and Gary wondered if there was an ARES mission with the coming Total Eclipse. Something about millions of people cramming into a 70-mile wide swath of darkness, overloading the highways and cell systems, and taxing emergency services. So yeah, maybe there was. But we hadn't heard much about it. Just Propagation studies and QSO parties.

Well, watching that show were Don and Betsy Reid, W7DMR and K7BTS. Don is EC for Benton County OR ARES, and Betsy is his AEC. And they were already making plans with their ARES group to be on the air from the county EOC, running a net. 

So in this show we'll get the details. We'll also talk to the HamKid, Sam Reynolds KM4WDK. Sam and his family are planning to drive down to South Carolina from their home in Charlotte. Sam was a good foil for our concerns that, while there will be ARES activity in many areas (and especially in South Carolina), it's hard for hams who may be traveling to those areas to learn about them.

OK, we'll stop doing the whole show here in the cliff notes and let you listen. Especially since this talker gets a Radio Rating of A. That one pesky map keeps it from getting an A+.

HRN 340: Eclipsing ARES

All the chatter about Amateur Radio and the Eclipse (coming August 21 to a sky near you, if you're in the USA...) has been about propagation - what effect will the eclipse have on the bands? - Special Event Stations and QSO parties.

But major HRN fan Mark Cartwright noted that one county in Idaho had declared Eclipse Day to be a State of Emergency

Think about it. The path of totality is about 70 miles wide, stretching from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic in South Carolina. Most of it is in very rural territory, and a few small to medium size cities are right in the middle. Millions of people are expected to flock to that zone. In any given county, it could be tens to hundreds of thousands, depending on expected viewing conditions.

It turns out that emergency management in most areas have been preparing for months. The State of Emergency may (or may not) be a bit too much, but at a minimum, EM is expecting gridlock on most major arteries in the zone. So are astronomers who have experienced total eclipses before.

While an eclipse isn't a 'natural disaster', and won't wipe out communications (maybe a little on HF), that many people in rural territory will certainly overload the cell system.

Does Amateur Radio have a role? And are ARES groups stepping up to fill it?

This show began as an off-line Skype discussion between hosts Gary KN4AQ and David W0DHG. At some point, David said 'this ought to be a show', and Gary pushed the Facebook Live button. 

We'll probably do another show after we've rounded up a few ECs, etc. in the zone to talk to about what they're planning.

Gary shows some maps of the path of totality. You can see it here:

But mostly it's a discussion. So an accidental Radio Rating of A.

Toward the end of the show, they go off-topic, and Gary discusses the 'Future of HRN'. Spoiler alert: Gary says that view counts and downloads do not justify doing the show. Only the level of fan contributions make it worth doing (and that's at the 'just barely' level).  So while this 'show-not a show' rambles and ambles a bit (typical, really), you might want to stick around to the end.

HRN 339, EmComm Extra 14: Minimal Impact (from TS Emily)

Early this morning, Tropical Storm Emily spun up in the Gulf of Mexico, aimed at Tampa FL and a path across the state in just a few hours.

It wasn't expected to do more than rain a lot. But ya gotta be prepared, right? Just in case?

So we talked to Darrell David KT4WX, the ARRL Section Manager for West Central Florida. And he told us. The short answer is "Stand By". The longer answer is... this show. 


HRN 338: Fix It! Volume 2

Back in HRN 335: Fix It! with AC4ZO Jeff an Gary reviewed a fix of Gary's Icom 7000, and then looked briefly at a new (maybe) problem that surfaced — a hollow 'ping' and ringing in the transmit audio. And in that episode, we noted that swap and replace is one of the most effective (speed, if not cost) troubleshooting techniques. 

So that's just what we did. Gary borrowed another 7000 and played with all the settings that made (or mitigated) that tin-can sound.

What happened? We mean and you won't believe what happened next! 

You will quickly notice that this episode audio is entirely SSB. Awesome, right? And really, this is barely an episode. But corporate policy is to put an episode number on everything. Gary sneezes, it's an episode. That's how we keep ahead of Ham Nation.

RADIO RATING? Well, the video shows the radio display and menus a lot. Maybe not critical for understanding what Gary's doing (he describes them most of the time). But enough to pull the RadioRating down to B-.

HRN 337: Jamboree

[This is Episode 337, not 397 as Gary says at the top of the show... twice. He's distracted by figuring out the 'new' title options in Wirecast]

Bill Morine N2COP, the ARRL Roanoke Division Vice Director (and friend of the show) dropped in on the national Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia this week to bestow an award on the Scouts from the League. Bill is a long-time Scout leader himself, and a decade ago was a volunteer at the K2BSA station at the Jamboree back when it was held on an Army base in Virginia.

So hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG, a Scout leader himself , and Gary Pearce KN4AQ (a former Cub Scout) talked to Bill about the Jamboree and ham radio's place in the grand scheme of the event. 

Toward the end of the show, we put Bill back in Vice-Director mode and talked about Field Day, the Parity Act, and Media & PR at the League.

We've got the usual bunch of web pictures and a little video from the K2BSA Facebook page, so this isn't a total talking heads show, but mostly it is. So we'll issue a Radio Rating of B. It should get you through your commute - both ways unless you're in NYC, DC or LA. Or maybe Chicago.

HRN 336 'Episode Name' (Facebook LIVE title test)

This was not supposed to be an Episode.

It was just supposed to be a quick test on Facebook Live, checking out the work I'd done in Wirecast to be able to add titles to the video 'live' as I'm recording the show, rather than later in 'post production' (editing). We're tending to do most shows on Facebook Live as we record them, so we needed a title upgrade.

But I'm a wind-up toy. Put me in front of a mic and camera, and I perform. The 'test' ran over 20 minutes, and one of the clever viewers on Facebook said, "It should be a show." So it is. 

The title of this show, Episode Name, came from the 'generic' title I'd built as a placeholder so I could just fill in the title of whatever episode I'd be doing. I was planning ahead... just not for this to be a real episode. And it's still open to debate over whether or not it is a real episode. But at least the placeholder had the 'correct' episode number (336), if not a real date. And if you look carefully at the picture here, you'll notice that there is no drop shadow around the 'Episode Name' title. Wirecast's title maker keeps unclicking the shadow button. Eventually it seems to stick. 

AUDIO: Now the key word here is video. Except for the picture that some of you see in your podcast apps, the titles don't mean squat to you audio listeners. But I don't want you to feel left out. And in an earlier show I wrote that an episode would get a Radio Rating of F only if there was no sound at all. And I am talking here. And there are even a few sound effects. So this is a solid Radio Rating of D.

Scared you there with that bold F, didn't I?

- Gary KN4AQ

HRN 335: Fix It! with AC4ZO

Co-co-hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG and Jeff Wittich AC4ZO join Gary to talk about troubleshooting techniques, centered on a problem Gary had with his ICOM 7000 mobile HF/VHF/UHF transceiver. And toward the end, David recounts an ARES drill that dovetailed with a real activation

In this episode, Jeff refers to a compound called bismuth that will lower the melting point of solder, making it easier to remove components from circuit boards - especially surface-mount components. Jeff and Gary visited the properties of bismuth in a previous episode, HamRadioNow #166when Jeff swapped the driver transistors in Gary's Icom 756PROIII. Jeff will talk about it in a terrible online connection, followed by a telephone connection. Here's a link to Chip Quik. They make up their own name (Chip Quik Alloy), but that's probably bismuth.

Radio Rating? Well, this is a studio show, with Gary's new 3-way split-screen. But Gary set up a working radio in front of Jeff, and took a bunch of still pictures detailing the repair, and you kind of need to see them to really understand what they're talking about.

But that's maybe 30% of the show, leaving you 70% that you'll get fine by audio. Still, we'd feel a little dishonest with a Radio Rating greater than C. Not even C+. We'd like to, but we gotta sleep tonight. 

Below are the pictures Gary took while Jeff worked on the radio (the same pictures you'll see in the video). You can zoom in by right-clicking (or maybe Option-clicking on a Mac, or press-and-hold on a mobile device) to open the image in a new tab.

HRN 334: Field Day TOUR

Gary joined NC Section Manager Karl Bowman W4CHX for a tour of 10 Field Day operations in western North Carolina. In between the site visits, they operated as 1C mobile

This show is basically a video documentary... a television show. So how much can you get from just the audio? Well, maybe more than you (we?) think. Theater of the mind? We were going to ding this show with a really low Radio Rating because of how long it too to edit the video, but after listening to a lot of it, you know, it's not such a bad radio show. So the Radio Rating is B-. Couldn't see our way clear to a solid B.

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HRN 333: The HamKid

Sam Reynolds KM4WDK is The HamKid.

The what now? Who says?

Well, he does, based on producing a couple of episodes of his new YouTube show The HamKidbeing a ham, and being... well, a kid. Sam is 13, but he was licensed almost a year ago, when he was 12.

We'll talk about how he got into ham radio and YouTubing (is that technically podcasting?), scouting and stuff. And Gary will demo a side-by-side comparison of his PR-40 and a much cheaper Audio Technica mic, the ATR-2100 that all the podcasters are flocking to (at least those who don't have $350 to spend on a Heil mic). 

As a Skype show, there's not a lot to see besides our smiling faces. Radio Rating: A.


SNARS is the Sierra Nevada Amateur Radio Society, and literally yesterday (as I type this) their President, Tony Marcin W7XM, invited us to speak via Skype at their next meeting. Well, the next meeting was today, and while Tony was really thinking about some future date, this meeting happened to be open, so David and I jumped on it.

Of course we recorded it, and put it on Facebook live, and here it is! 

I present a lot of my history leading up to creating ARVN and then HamRadioNow, and David describes how he got involved in the program. Then I talk a little about the 'new media' landscape, and we take a few questions from the audience.

We've done the 'origin' story before, but hell, Spider-Man has done what... three of them? Maybe I cover something new. In any case, it's 99% talking heads, so the Radio Rating is 'A'.

And thanks for inviting us, SNARS!



HRN 331, BS #9: Field Day Review

Just David W0DHG and Gary KN4AQ ruminating about the just-concluded Field Day.

Radio Rating: A+. Just stow those cameras in the storage case, Gary. Nothing to see here. Move along....

HRN 330, EmComm Extra #12: Auxcomm... Explained

What is Auxcom(m)? 

Well, no surprise that a somewhat generic name (and ambiguous spelling) got applied to a few different concepts in auxiliary communications. HRN hosts David W0DHG and Gary KN4AQ wondered about it aloud in a few episodes.

That caught the attention of Steve Shroder KI0KY, an Assistant Emergency Coordinator for Colorado ARES Region 8. Steve explained it to us in an email, and we brought him on the show to explain it to you, assuming you were as confused as we were.

And since that only took a few minutes, we talked about how ARES, Emcomm and Auxcomm worked in his area, in the western mountains of Colorado.

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Radio Rating: A! Woohoo. Gary hits a few web sites that might leave you in the dark (he tried to remember to say what they were). Here's the one you might really want to visit:

HRN (PhasingLine) 329: No morePOTA

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This is officially a PhasingLinePodcast, recorded in the SIB that we shared with Marty KC1CWF (the Chicken With Fries). So if you subscribe to their show, you've probably already heard this show. All we can add is the video.

Emily Saldana KB3VVE is (was) a self-described NPOTA addict. NPOTA is National Parks On The Air, the ARRL's year-long on-air celebration of the centennial of the USA National Parks system. It was a follow-up to the ARRL's own centennial celebration with W1AW stations operating from each state the previous year. While the W1AW event stations were limited to a select few in each state, NPOTA allowed for every ham who wanted to activate a national park to get out and create pile-ups.

Emily activated 53 parks, including the Statue of Liberty and several parks in the Washington DC area. That made her one of the top activators, as well as being one of the top chasers working as many parks as they could.

Emily documented her year with lots of pictures on her page. Gary stuck a bunch of them in the video.

And the Rapid Response activity that Gary fumbles to remember is actually the RaDAR Rapid Deployment of Amateur Radio group. They don't have a web site per se that we've been able to find. The link is a Google Group.

This talking-head show is another Radio Rating of A+If you go look at Emily's pictures yourself.

HRN 328: Carl Laufer's RTL-SDR (from the 2017 Hamvention)

Carl Laufer isn't a ham (yet), but he got caught up in the RTL-SDR craze in his home town, Auckland NZ, as he was completing his PHD. He began writing about them, and selling them, on his blog at, and soon discovered that the little SDR receiver dongles could stand some improvement. So he designed ways to make them work better, and contracted a Chinese manufacturer to build them with his mods. That just about doubled the price, from $10 to about $20. Yeah, big deal.

TAPR invited Carl to come to the 2017 Dayton Hamvention to talk about them at both their Friday Forum (part of HamRadioNow Episode 324) and as the main speaker at the TAPR/AMSAT Banquet.

And we got him for a conversation with HamRadioNow's KN4AQ and PhasingLine's Chicken With Fries in the SIB back in Tent City.

Podcast listener's celebrate: this is another talking-head show with just a few graphics to spoil the perfect score. Makes you wonder why Gary even bothers with the cameras, doesn't it? Radio Rating: A+.

HRN 327; EmComm Extra #12: Rick Palm K1CE

Rick Palm K1CE writes the Public Service column in QST Magazine for the ARRL. He also publishes the monthly ARRL E-Letter, with a compilation of ARES and other public service Amateur Radio activity. In this EmComm Extra, Rick joins HamRadioNow hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG and Gary Pearce KN4AQ for what's basically an EmComm Bull Session (but we stuck with the EmComm number, not a BS number, in a futile attempt to keep it simple).

Not only is this mostly a talking head show, but Rick – brand new to Skype – couldn't get his camera going. David was at lunch in a borrowed conference room with a hard cutoff time, so we went with a still picture of Rick from the mid-90's. So the only thing you'll miss is Gary's 80's-vintage graphics at the top of the show (you'll hear what they're for, so just think crappy TV and you'll be close enough).

That yields a Radio Rating of A+. Nothing to see here... move along....

HRN 326: What's Coming from D-STAR (from the 2017 Hamvention)

Robin Cutshaw AA4RC (left), co-inventor of the DVDongleDVAP, and the D-Plus networking system for D-STAR, and John Hays K7VE, co-founder and Marketing Director for NW Digital Radio join Marty (Chicken With Fries) and Gary KN4AQ for a discussion of digital voice radio, with a decidedly D-STAR focus.

If D-STAR is 'dying,' you couldn't tell it by these guys.

Radio Rating: A+. Oh, it's kind of fun to see Gary scrambling to pick up the power cords as a thunderstorm rolls by, and watch as the tent gets really dark during the peak of the storm. But otherwise this is a radio show with pictures. So plug in for your commute.

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HRN 325: Amateur Television

This episode was recorded in the SIB* at the 2017 Dayton Hamvention, thunderstorms and all!

Mel Whitten K0PFX brought over Mike Collis WA6SVT, editor of ATV Quarterly, the magazine for Amateur Television, and that's what we talked about.

This is as general a conversation as a bunch of geeks can have, which means it lapses into the jargon and details of ATV now and then. But if you're not one of the ATV ops (and odds are strongly that you're not), you'll still get the flavor of this niche mode that everybody seems to mention when they tell the general public about ham radio ("Oh, and we have television!").

The big thing in ATV these days is the transition to digital. While FM voice operators can argue the merits and demerits of the digital voice modes (D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, etc.), Digital ATV is all upside. But there is still a lot of analog out there.

This show is 99% talking heads, so the Radio Rating is a big fat A. The only thing that robs is of a + is how loud the rain gets in the middle. 

You know, since this is all about television, you'd think Gary would have slugged in a bunch of ATV video as Mike and Mel talked about it. And while there is a lot of it on YouTube, Gary couldn't find any that came from the guys we were talking about. So if you want to see it, head to YouTube and search for Amateur Radio Television ATV. (Just plain "Amateur Television" will get some interesting results, but not what you're looking for).

*Studio In a Booth

HRN 324: TAPR Forum at the 2017 Hamvention

Here's the TAPR Forum from the 2017 Dayton Hamvention.

And here's the breakdown of the segments, with links to the specific points in the YouTube video:

  • 00:00 Studio introduction by Gary KN4AQ
  • 9:20 Opening remarks by moderator Scotty Cowling WA2DFI and TAPR President Steve Bible N7HPR
  • 17:25 Low Cost, Open Source Spectrum Monitoring by Michael Ossmann AD0NR and Dominic Spill.
  • 40:39 Advanced SDR Algorithms for Noise Blanking and Noise Reduction by Warren Pratt NR0V.
  • 1:07:08 Introduction to RTL-SDR: Ultra cheap software defined radio by Carl Laufer.

AUDIO ONLY? This is a typical forum with Powerpoint slides. This group had more graphical slides than usual (so less 'just reading the slides'), which is good for the audience and the video, but it means you'll miss some useful stuff as you listen. They are generally well described. So as usual, go fill in from the YouTube video if you need it. Radio Rating: C.

By the way, sorry about the background noise. The lectern was right in front of a massive air conditioning intake, and it was pretty loud.

HRN 323: Hamvention Wrap-Up (or, Here's Mud in your Eye)

Gary, David and Marty (the podcast wannabees) review the recently concluded Dayton Hamvention and Mudfest. 

This episode included a little more video, mostly of the mud, and an interview with Hamvention spokesperson Michael Kalter W8CI.

Spoiler alert: we declare it a (slightly qualified) success. And we'll be back next year.

AUDIO ONLY? Radio Rating: A- (the minus is because the mud video is pretty good). You can subscribe and get audio downloads to your phone. We're available on iTunes and pretty much any podcast app.