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.

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.

HRN 353, EmComm Extra #16: Orbiting SATERN

SATERN's been busy. Well, so have all the EmComm services, but SATERN's in our spotlight for this episode. We're talking to Salvation Army National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist WB8BZH (pronounced "Feest" or "Feast").

Like most Amateur Radio EmComm groups, SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network), is going digital... slowly. We'll find out about that and lots more in this patented HamRadioNow In-Depth conversation. Bill reviews activity for the Eclipse, and back-to-back-to-back hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

And as nice as the Skype video is, this is another radio show. All talking heads (and a little web you can look up yourself), so a Radio Rating of A.

HRN 349, 350, 351, 352: Friday Morning at the DCC

Almost like binging Netflix... here are five talks from the 2017 ARRL & TAPR Digital Communications Conference, held September 15-17 in St. Louis.

  • HRN 348: Welcome to the 2017 DCC

    • Before the DCC sessions get started, TAPR President Steve Bible N7HPR spends a few minutes welcoming everyone to this year's conference, giving the lay of the land (bathrooms, lunch) and introducing the people who help put on the event.

      Listening to this session gives you a little more of the "DCC Experience." If you consider attending in person one year, you'll have a better idea of what to expect.

  • HRN 349: Radio Amateur's Digital Notebook

    • Jon Poland N0WL reviews ways to keep track of just about everything in your ham radio life with tools on the Internet.
  • HRN 350: Education, Testing, Training

    • David Bern W2LNX and his local club (the Montgomery MD ARC) cover all the bases in making new hams, with the help of the Laurel VEC.
  • HRN 351: Fusion from the Inside

    • Chris Petersen K9EQ digs into the capabilities and possibilities of Yaesu's System Fusion.
  • HRN 352: Noise in a Digital World

    • I really wanted to call this something obscure, like The Wet Diamond Noise Blanker (you'll see why), but I restrained myself.  FlexRadio's Steve Hicks N5AC gives an illuminating talk on how SDR technology lets you detect signals that are 'below the noise level' - and how you might not even know what 'the noise level' really is.

HamRadioNow has been covering the DCC since 2008 — 180 video programs (and counting), all on-line and free to watch. Details HERE.

HRN 347: Old JOTA

Did you know the Boy Scouts Jamboree on the Air has been around for 60 years? So that's why Old JOTA. But our panel of hams — Scout leaders from around the country — keep the discussion fresh.

Gary and David welcome Bill Stearns NE4RD, Brian McDaniel N4AE, Mike Crownover AD5A and Jim Wilson K5ND to the show to talk JOTA, the annual Scouting on-air event that's coming up October 20-22. 

If you or your club are interested in hosting a JOTA event, it's not too late to get involved (assuming you see this in early October). Here's a good place to start, but you'll have to dig a bit to volunteer: The guys give more tips during the show.

This show is (a lot of) talking heads, so the Radio Rating is A. If you want to know who's who in the graphic, the top row, left to right, is David, Mike and Brian, and the bottom row is Bill and Jim. 

HRN 346: Bull Session/West Coast Studio Test

Oh, geez, what to say about this 'episode.' In quotes.

This was just a Facebook Live session to let fans see how David W0DHG was progressing in his quest to duplicate Gary KN4AQ's ARVN Studio.

We would say this is hard to do, if Marty Sullaway KC1CWF, who busts in halfway through this episode, hadn't done it himself practically overnight. But that's the kind of thing that makes Marty the Newsline Young Ham of the Year (and our late friend Bill Pasternack WA6ITF should be in that title somewhere).

So there's a lot of screwing around, and a lot of references to the video (really... shouldn't this all be just audio, and wouldn't it be a lot easier?), so a Radio Rating is hard to pinpoint. Somehow we continue this ramble for more than 90 minutes. And it really is just for diehard fans of the show. And it's here in the audio feed only because we've got the bandwidth here at the end of the month, and we don't hold anything back.

HRN 345: Appliance Boy meets Circuit Girl

Jeri Ellsworth, co-founder of the Augmented Reality company castAR (among many, many other things) has added ham radio to her list of accomplishments. She's now AI6TK. We spotted her at the Dayton Hamvention this year (AmateurLogic TV snagged the interview).

And she just attended the ARRL/TAPR DCC in St. Louis with her friend Amy Herndon KM6FZE. Over the past year, Jeri and Amy have jumped into ham radio with both feet, but even for these technically accomplished women, ham radio had a steep learning curve. We'll talk about that and lots more in this quick hour.

AUDIO ONLY? This is a sit-down, talking heads conversation, and while those heads are interesting to watch, you'll get 97% out of just the audio, so we award a Radio Rating of A. (YouTube?... YouTube?... we don't need no stinkin' YouTube...)

The 2017 DCC just wrapped up. We didn't do a KICKSTARTER to fund our video production of this one, but we did just finish recording all the sessions and we'll get them on YouTube as fast as we can... which, as you know, means sometime between now and the end of the year (or early next year).  

I hope you'll support the DCC videos with a contribution through our regular channels - PayPal, credit card or Patreon. You'll find them on the CONTRIBUTE page.

If you want a USB stick with all the shows, I'll make them available as the editing is wrapping up. They'll be the usual $150. To prove you're super-dedicated and 'order' one right away (before I create a formal 'click to order'), make a standard PayPal contribution (you don't need a PayPal account - they'll let you just use a credit card). You'll notice, though, that there's no $150 option. So select the $50 option and set the quantity to 3. Wa-La... $150. In that info field someplace, add your call sign and 2017 DCC USB. AND drop me an email to let me know ( with the subject 2017 DCC USB. 

HRN 344: Ham Radio PreCheck

How much ham gear will TSA let you take in carry-on luggage? More than you might think.

How short can we make a show? Less than you ever dreamed. So short we're not going to make an audio version. Mostly because the sound is terrible.


Jeff AC4ZO, his wife Bobbie KD4ZVW and Gary KN4AQ traveled to Wyoming and became Eclipse Evangelists. Totality Or Bust is their new motto. And Totality is what they got, in a clear, blue sky.

Gary's wife Cyndi KD4ACW took her parents to South Carolina - a much more 'iffy' location for weather - and got lucky (and lunch) with a clear sky. David W0DHG got all the way down to a parking lot in Los Angeles and saw a pinhole crescent shadow.

This episode is their story. Jeff, Bobbie and Gary spent a couple days being tourists around the Denver area (Pikes Peak, WWV, Red Rocks, a kite shop..) and visited the Denver Ham Radio Outlet and a local hamfest that just happened to be that weekend (and where Gary was recognized as the celebrity he is), and you'll see snippits of that.

Gary set up two - TWO - mobile radios in a rental Jeep — a dual-band D-STAR radio and a UHF DMR radio, hoping to catch some ARES activity. He did, but not much. So there's very little ham radio in this episode. You won't miss it.

You won't miss it because the Eclipse was the thing. They'd all seen partial eclipses before, but this was to be their first total. Old hands (and photographers) will tell you to avoid futzing with the camera and just watch it happen. You've only got a few minutes to see something you might, if you're lucky, see a couple times in a lifetime. 

So of course Jeff and Gary both futzed with cameras, but spent at least some time watching the real thing with real, wide eyes. Gary did follow the pro's advice enough to point his video camera at the people, not the sky, as totality approached. And that turned out to be a really good idea. He also sacrificed precious seconds of totality to swing the camera around and show that, too. Again, worth it.

Extra thanks to Frank NF9H and KC KC9MTL, who contacted Gary after seeing a previous HRN episode where he talked about going to Wyoming. Frank had seen 10 total eclipses in his life, and had a Wyoming location scoped out in advance, not far from where Jeff had planned for their trip. Jeff looked at Frank's spot, realized it was way better, and we asked if we could join them. Frank invited us along, and we had great company in addition to a prime viewing spot.

Frank's web site has pictures and stories of this trip and his previous adventures. Check it out:

AUDIO? Sure, here it is. But this show is all about the pictures. Or is it? 

After all, we'll say (as newly ordained Eclipse Evangelists), that pictures don't do it justice. No amount of magazine covers or PBS specials can prepare you to see it person. You just have to see it. So maybe you're better off with the podcast? 

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.

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!