HRN 373: IMPROVING Citizen Weather from the 2017 DCC

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. 

Links: 

PROJECT CONTACTS:

None available yet, stay tuned.

HRN 372: Citizen Weather from the 2017 DCC

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.

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more.

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.

Links: 

HRN 371: Where Never Is Heard (And the Bands Are All Open All Day)

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 siteCQ'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).

Links: 

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more.

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"). 

HRN 370: The HamCasters

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).

Links:

  • 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/

HRN 369: Eclipse Wideband RF Project - 2017 DCC

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.

HRN 368: HamSCI Eclipse - 2017 DCC

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.

HRN 367: Ground Based Repeater for GeoSAT from the 2017 DCC

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.

HRN 366: TNC-Pi 9k from the 2017 DCC

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.

HRN 365: NCIS Newington

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.

HRN 364: ICOM Stuns, Kills DMR (Click Bait Title)

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.

HRN 363: Firmware Tools for openHPSDR - Dave Larsen KV0S from the 2017 DCC

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.

HRN 362: Radio Tracking Fish with Drones - Dave Witten KD0EAG from the 2017 DCC

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.

HRN 361: Internet Telegraph - Scotty Cowling WA2DFI from the 2017 DCC

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+).

HRN 360: A New Generation of Ham Radio - Ward Silver N0AX at the 2017 DC

Whatever ham radio rut you're stuck in — ragchewing on 75, DX on 20, the daily commute on a repeater — it's good to listen to Ward Silver N0AX to break out for a while and look... in this case, forward across the horizon and think about what ham radio - and hams - will look like in a decade or three.

This is the least technical talk of the conference. It led off the Saturday morning sessions, and provided a good foundation for the purpose behind the more technical talks to follow.

Radio Rating: A+. Ward has slides, but they're mostly text 'headlines' that he expands on. Ward is an excellent public speaker, and you won't miss a thing without video.

This is a follow-on talk from Ward's 2015 keynote at the DCC Banquet in 2015, released online in February 2016 as HamRadioNow Episode 242: Ham Radio... Now What?

HRN 359, EmComm Extra #18: Force of Two

Can you tell the complete story of ham radio in the recovery effort on Puerto Rico following hurricanes Irma and Maria in two and a half hours? 

Well... no. OK, you probably could if you spend a couple months producing a highly edited documentary. Maybe somebody's going to do that. But right now you can listen to our guests, Jeremy Dougherty NS0S and Michael Smith N5TGL recount their experiences. They each spent almost three weeks on the island, mostly in the field (in separate locations), mostly with just one other ham, in areas that had zero communications with San Juan or the rest of the world until they arrived. 

This is not the story you'll hear on Ham Nation, and probably not the one you'll read in QST. If there was a plan, it was barely a plan. And it fell apart immediately. There was a lack of leadership and coordination, and little understanding of what the hams would face once they left San Juan. Both Jeremy and Michael were frustrated, yet they carried on with the mission, improvising both their interaction with local authorities and the technology they had to work with. In some cases they had to battle bureaucracy to get the job done.

We probed Jeremy and Michael for details, and we got a lot. Jeremy in particular has a bitter story of his final experiences. That begins at an hour and fifty minutes in, so if you can't listen to the whole program, skip down to that. And note that there are two sides (at least) to that story, and we're only presenting Jeremy's side here. HamRadioNow is open to presenting the counterpoint, or maybe you'll hear that on another show.

Here's the link to Jeremy's Extreme EmComm document.

Radio Rating: A. This is a talking-head show. We'll look at Puerto Rico on Google Maps some, and if you're not familiar with the island, it'll help to look at the map a bit.

Michael took a lot of pictures – some of the general island devastation, and some of the amateur radio activity. You can look at them here on his Flickr feed.

Another deployed ham, Wey Walker K8EAB, posted a 35-minute video on YouTube showing both the area of the island he headed to, and amateur radio there and in San Juan. It's very much an 'amateur' video, but it will add to your understanding of what hams did there.

HRN 358: Tim Shepard KD1KY 'Thoughts on Regulation' 2017 DCC

Tim Shepard KD1KY will give you a different perspective on why the radio spectrum needs regulation... or doesn't. Tim rounded out the Friday sessions at the 2017 ARRL/TAPR DCC in St. Louis.

Radio Rating: B+. Tim's slides have a few charts, but mostly text, and he does a good job reviewing them. 

HRN 357, EmComm Extra 17: Shake & Bake

They've got a sense of humor out in Earthquake County. Gallows humor to the rest of us, maybe, but they call the statewide preparedness drill The Great California Shake Out.

Ham Radio is right in there, of course, and HRN host David Goldenberg W0DHG, an EC in the Los Angeles area, took us to the middle of it, live. Until he got called away to go do some actual communicating.

A few hours later, safe and sound in the ARVN West Coast Bureau (aka David's garage), he recaps the event and reviews lessons learned (like 'Don't try to do a TV show when you're supposed to be paying attention to the radio...').

Radio Rating: B-. The video is a little rough and not all that important, though David does show the Comm trailer and the surrounding area. What you'll miss most are David and the other ops ducking and covering as the klaxons go off initiating the actual event. That's sort of what you see in the bottom of the poster. for this episode (assuming you see that). On the other hand, the audio is kind of rough, too, with a lot of competing voices hitting Davies microphone.

HRN 356: Bruce Perens K6BP "State of Digital Voice" 2017 DCC

Bruce Perens K6BP at the 2017 ARRL/TAPR DCC.

Do we really need to say any more? 

OK, Bruce's main point is one he's been making for several years: The major manufacturers have been screwing up Digital Voice with mediocre implementation and their incompatible walled gardens. And we're slowly getting closer to VHF+SDR radios that can do better.

He is especially critical of Yaesu, but actually compliments Kenwood for introducing a radio that's compatible with at least one other line of radios (ICOM/D-STAR).

Radio Rating: A. All but one of Bruce's slides are text, and he reads them verbatim, and then adds more ad-lib comments. The one slide that's not text is a picture of an old telephone modem with acoustic coupler.

this is what bruce's t-shirt says

this is what bruce's t-shirt says

Oh, and that picture? Well, that's Bruce ranting, as he is wont to do. Then it started looking like he's yawning. Which neither he nor the audience were doing during his talk. Just wanted to clear that up.

HRN 355: All Your Modems Are Belong To Us - 2017 DCC

Brady O'Brien KC9TPA is a young ham who has been working with David Rowe VK5DGR, the creator of the open source CODEC2 low bitrate voice codec. In this TAPR talk he talks modem tech in SDR (a generalized way of saying that Gary doesn't understand it well enough to describe it).

He concludes by talking about the on-channel TDMA repeater project that David Rowe is working on using a VHF version of FreeDV and CODEC2.  http://www.rowetel.com/

Oh, and that title? It refers to an iconic line in a old video game, and Brady's rip-off probably should be All Your Modem Are Belong To UsLook it up. And check out the last 15 seconds of this show.

Radio Rating: B-. Brady has a few graphs showing signal performance of various modems, but he gives a good verbal conclusion of them. Most of the rest of his slides are 'headline' text for the topics he's discussion.

 

HRN 354: Lightning Talks from the 2017 DCC

What do you do when a DCC presenter can't make it to the conference?

Invite the audience to jump in. That's what happened on Friday afternoon. Steve Bible N7HPR solicited 5-minute "Lightning Talks" and the audience stepped up.

00:00 Our fundraising pitch comes first, then...

3:57 Kurt Kiesow KF6QNC "Autonomous Wave-Powered Ocean-Going HF Station"

9:55 Sterling Coffey N0SSC "Faraday Open Source Digital Radio"

15:37 Bill Engelke AB4EJ "DWatcher: D-STAR / DX Monitor App"

21:10 Dr. Brandon Wiley KF5WVW "Emergency Data Exchange Network"

25:38 Ward Silver N0AX "Need for a Sessionless, High-Rate, Interference Tolerant Mode for Competitive Use"

31:28 Tom Holmes N8ZM "The DARA Thursday Night Group"

The impromptu Lighntning Talks were a great success. Expect a somewhat less surprising reprise in 2018.

Radio Rating: Four of the talks came complete with Powerpoint slides (who brings slides to a conference when they're not scheduled to present a talk?). Those get a Radio Rating of C+. Sterling only had a web site, but it was useful (and Steve Bible commented on how good it was), so we'll give him a B-. Ward Silver was the only one without graphics. so that gives him an A. Remember, the Radio Rating doesn't measure how good a talk was, just how good it is as 'audio-only'. And your mileage may vary.