2023-03-31 - Amateur Radio and the Big Disruption, Linux Packet Node, Talkpod A36Plus 7 band portable radio
Emergency communication: I look at the activities of our German society DARC and find large conceptional holes at the very base. This starts with ignoring the personal preparations like supplies for a few days to weeks for every family. Or: How should any alarm or coordination work when standard communication means have broken down? Remember that this is no topic only within the ham radio community: Emergency authorities must be able to easily contact the ham radio groups in a standard way. The central ham radio organization must be able to alarm their people etc. For this for example a JS8Call infrastructure could be helpful: The authorities contact one of two or three hams that had been named before. Those hams get a JS8Call TRX that interfaces with their smart phone. The JS8Call TRX has an alarm buzzer and is battery powered. Group calls could be used to alarm people. Point-to-point contacts can be used to request contacts with more conventional ham radio means. In their stand-by mode these transceivers could be operated with a minimum of power and a very basic antenna. Consider a form factor like a portable radio.
I read the letter N2AA wrote and that you posted just now, and I saw a few days ago that Ria had stepped down. I wasn't sure why, and to be honest I still haven't investigated it, but I'll give you my take on the ARRL and some of its motives.
Their standpoint on "radio active hams" seems to be predicated on whether or not they are ARRL members, by using the math that most active hams are members of the ARRL. How could the ARRL determine how many "radio active hams" there really are? This is a non-starter for me, and I can see where this is going. This is about memberships and money. Because it seems to me, what David is really saying is, 'We helped make licensing easier, to obtain more licenses/memberships, but they get their license and we never hear from them again; evidenced by the number of licenses having increased, but the number of ARRL memberships hasn't increased along with them.' He's disguising his language "active" = member.
I've been a member since getting my license a few years ago, but I only donate for the advocacy of spectrum and the magazine. The ARRL is akin to the NRA and other lobbyist groups and organizations. Most importantly, the ARRL is a business, and makes decisions based on what businesses are about. Money. This idea that DEI is some path to more money is a disillusion that seems to be sweeping across the corporate landscape. "Go woke, go broke" is a common catchphrase that has some merit. The fact is, manipulating somethings natural course to effect the outcome leads to unintended consequences. The matter of diversity in ham radio is a complex system, just as the diversity issue in general. As a matter of course, the "problem" would eventually self-correct, as it's been doing for decades, and getting in there and turning knobs and pushing buttons isn't going to help.
Old white men making up the majority of ham radio is not a problem that needs fixed, and is not a result of some mechanism of oppression. As I see it, there is complete freedom and inclusion in who can obtain a license, and the rest is up to them. Yes, it would appear that there are "gatekeepers" that think they're the true essence of ham radio. But these folks need to be ignored, and for the most part they are. I've had to deal with them starting out, but I quickly realized that I need not worry about their opinions. It's not a fraternity, a guild, or a club. No one is hand-picked and there is no interview process. We're free to do what we want after getting licensed, with in the law of course.
To sum it up, the ARRL is looking for ways to pull people in, not for amateur radio's sake, but for their own. Looking to project inclusiveness as a rallying cry is the wrong route in my opinion. It's not genuine and it shows. They need to slow their roll when it comes to their outreach efforts and focus on lobbying. They continue to interject themselves into matters they have no business getting into and it's having a negative effect on the hobby. Just my opinion.
Great job as usual, and thank you for the recommendation! In addition to the thoughtful, opposite-of-social-media format of Substack, I think one of its greatest features are the network effects. It reminds me a bit of the old blogroll days. I hope that we can get more hams both writing and commenting here, so that we can better leverage that network effect.
Thanks for the link the RFBitBanger. I had not heard of it yet. I'll be watching that one for sure. It's now the SDR era in amateur radio, for good reason, but I think that classic analog RF design should never truly go away. That's the big impetus for Project Yamhill. Well, that plus the new solar cycle. :)
Over here we also have a DAPNET implementation, often combined with HAMNET, our portion of 44net. See https://hamnetdb.net. My mentioning of JS8Call stems from the fact that JS8Call uses shortwave and our pagers work in the 70cm band. My combination of JS8Call and smartphone has other possibilities like "silent alarms": The national emergency control center of DARC could send repeated group calls to all participants that then reply via WLAN and the internet connection of the respective ham. If this answer does not come, the ham could be informed about the problem. As long as only JS8Call is involved, no outdoor antenna should be needed.
Like I alluded to before, these issues will resolve themselves without intervention. We all value diversity and it's not just a novel youth movement. Youth are not shying away from amateur radio because of DEI or the lack thereof. If you have solid evidence of this, I'd be open to see it here. Perhaps you can present it in Zero Retries. I'm not challenging you, as I do see the future is bleak for amateur radio if there isn't a change in outreach. But the discussion needs to be based in true reality. Amateur radio is pretty big and growing in developing countries such as India and China, and I don't they're concerned with diversity nearly as much as we are, but granted, they're a more homogeneous society.
The bottom-line is that amateur radio is dying in the western world because the youth see no value in it. Unless that changes, we'll have what we have. Cell phones and internet service everywhere we go isn't doing amateur radio any favors. There's also so many more distractions in day-to-day life, kids aren't going to take the time. That's the crux of the issue, in my opinion, not a lack of diversity. The diversity thing is far too overused and seems to be a hot topic. Like a panic button that is presented, but one that doesn't really do anything besides provide temporary relief. CRT has infiltrated our minds and institutions of all kinds to look for oppression at every turn. Even where it isn't.
In short, we need to focus on the real reasons that folks (not just the youth) aren't drawn to learn and use ham radio. It's an honest discussion and it's important that we continue having it for the sake of our passion and arguably for the sake of our overall safety. I could make an argument for EmComm as being the savior of ham radio as things escalate into chaos more and more each day. Presenting radio as a means of free speech has a solid argument as well and should be on the table.
In middle of Manhattan, I've had to adapt to living on a low floor with a high noise floor--especially after building management dismantled my HF and VHF antennas. One way is with LoRa devices, e.g., https://github.com/flengyel/RYLR998-LoRa in the 33cm ISM/ham band. LoRa, as everyone subscribed likely knows, is suitable for long-range, low-power, low-bandwidth communications below the noise floor and is used in off-grid communication and remote sensing. As for operating in the Upper West Side during one of the all-encompassing disasters you mention, my plan is to slump forward in my chair. de WM2D.
I looked into JNOS earlier this year and was curious why it was not packaged for Debian. It seems that even though the source code is available gratis, the licensing hearkens back to such statements as "for amateur radio use only" which is incompatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines. No one has apparently opted to package it and add it to the "non-free" repository.
I do know that the history of NOS goes back quite a ways. I'm not sure how much of its predecessor NET became a part of NOS. Back in the '90s I was able to make the acquaintance of Joe Buswell who held K5JB at that time who told me some of the history of NET but that I've sadly forgotten.