Monday, September 16, 2013

SK: Wayne Green, W2NSD

By now I am sure you have heard that publisher Wayne Green has past away.

There are a number of people posting fond memories of Wayne on the net.

Here is one that I especially liked:

It starts off pointing how important Magazines and people like Wayne who were on the ball with publishing new ideas and technologies was to the dissemination of information and advancement of technology. Wayne often was ahead of the curve, which I suspect is not easy to do in the publishing business. I have noticed at least with QST, it takes a year or better for articles to be published on happening topics. (I figure next year I will read something about the Raspberry Pi and ham radio in QST)

"Before there was a PC revolution, before the days of PC Magazine and MacWorld, before COMDEX, there was Wayne Green."

Now days that role is somewhat diminished, with the internet an all. But some people won't go research things on their own, so shoving the ideas in front of them monthly is still important to keeping things active and moving forward.

David Sumner, K1ZZ on the ARRL website notes a an important technique to keeping things lively in the hobby:

In the early days of packet radio he (Wayne Green) gave me some good advice as to how the ARRL should promote the new technology: ‘Talk about it as if everybody’s doing it, and eventually they will be.’”

A while back a took on a big project in hopes 73 magazine would live on. Wayne did give the okay to place his publications in the public domain. So he maybe be gone, his his legacy lives on.

73 Magazine Archive

Byte Magazine Archive

80 Micro Magazine Archive

Kilobaud Microcomputing Archive

His last three missions toward the end where to change the world on health and oil and education. In his honor it would seem logical to share his Secret Guide to Health and maybe track down the Cold Fusion Magazines.

I think a local New Hampshire paper coined him in the 1980's as the "World's Most Interesting Man," and I have to say that fits him well. I look forward to reading the Wayne Green biography when it comes along. 73 OM!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Amateur Radio in 2037

As the focus of my blog has been more of a modern ham radio theme, it seems appropriate to share this video about ham radio in the future.  This is a must-view by all as it provides us timely perspective on the future challenges.

It's from a 2012 webinar, where Chris Imlay W3KD and Ed Hare W1RFI predict and speculate what ham radio will be like in 25 years.

The first part is more a regulatory look by Chris Imlay W3KD, where as the second part is a bit more of a technical/operational look by Ed Hare, W1RFI.

Ed Hare predicting the continued use of Amateur Radio MESH networks, and Software Defined Radio all entangled with the internet.

~57:00 "Software defined radio super stations perhaps accessible by the internet put at locations where you can put up antennas (future antennas restrictions).  This could allow licensed amateurs to log on to that transmitter, that's generating a broad signal across the entire band, filling each little channel within that band with an different actual amateur signal.  So that that all those hams have an easy way to operating from a good location, even if they are operating from an apartment....
Amateur radio will have developed a nationwide amateur radio digital back bone, using a broad range of frequencies and technologies.  I think its going to grow ad-hoc.  Planning is all good, but if you look at the same way the radio relay network was developed in the spark days, we are going to see that same type of approach.  That same type of pioneering spirit.  Ham equipment will be fully integrated with the internet.... 
Analog repeaters will be real legacy technology, replaced by digital repeaters that will allow multiple users on the same spectrum channel.  Right now the repeater paradigm is such that we are limited by the maximum number of possible users.  Where we have a lot of repeater that are used, but might spend 50%, 90% or more of their time not being used.  And in the meantime, nobody else can use that pair.  If we can imagine ways of multiplexing all of these repeaters together so that anytime someone wanted to get on the two meter band on a quote "repeater", a virtual repeater could be created out the multiple repeaters that are there.  Kind of a trunking system on steroids."


At the September 2013 DCC, Heikki Hannikainen, OH7LZB, presented on Friday morning a talk about authenticating amateur radio services on the Internet.

Some of the interesting sites allow you transmit RF, directly or indirectly.  Such as IRLP, EchoLink, Allstar APRS-IS, etc.  And there is more potential for that.  I.e. text messages for DMR, APRS, SDR, and remotely operated stations.

Presently each such service has a different manual authentication method.

The ARRL Log of the World Certificate conforms to the X.509 standard used all over the internet.   It may be installed on web browser, and used to log into web services.  Any third party can technically validate that the web user connecting really has an ARRL LoTW certificate.  Any one implementing this method on their website to restrict access to hams, does not get access to the users private key.   This is the same crypto used by banks and the military.  The ARRL doesn't need to do any addition work to make this happen.  Websites implementing this do not need to query the ARRL anything about the user.  No single point of failure.

There are plenty of developers who would be happy to create new web services for hams.  They just don't have the time or motivation to go though all the license papers to manually authenticate them. - Providing authenticated amateur radio services on the Internet - OH7LZB Video presentation from the DCC
Notes on setting up a OpenVPN server that uses LoTW keys - authentication demo site - Apache configuration and PHP scripts

From the client/user end it looks like this:

Add the LoTW CALLSIGN.P12 file to your browser like so.  Options -> Advanced -> Certificates in FireFox

In the future websites seeking authentication will show this.

If you've ever logged into a third-party web site with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account by granting the app permission to that respective account, then whether you knew it or not, you've used OAuth (an open standard to authorization.), and it's a great way to dole out permissions.  

Ham Radio needs something simple like this.   It would be great if it could be implemented at the regulatory level (FCC), where your FCC ULS login could be used to log in to other ham radio websites, that seek to authenticate you as a ham.  Fat chance of that, so the next best would probably be the ARRL login.

I also recommend watching Vint Cerf's Re-thinking the Internet, if you haven't already:

Peter, K4PNG did a forward-looking article of his own in his local newsletter (see page 8).

When you are ready to start messing with software defined radio, look into HackRF (capable of transmission or reception of radio signals from 10 MHz to 6 GHz): 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Remote Ham Radio Station Control

The concept is increasing in popularity, due to renting or whatever the case maybe be that prevents one from setting up a home station.

Oddly enough there are very few straight forward ways to do this.

Not to long ago I detailed how to set up a web based receiver, using a Raspberry Pi, Icecast, and a CIV/CAT capable radio using hamlib:

Think; two cheap Raspberry Pi micro computers.  One with a speaker mic.  Stream with speakfreely, over a VPN, and use the hamlib php web for remote frequency control.
Many are familiar with hamradio deluxe for local station control. It does have remote server and client functionality. What it lacks is a way to transport the audio. You have have to use other software such as Skype to transport the audio.

One of perhaps the most elegant ways to operate remotely is with a fairly new product (2010) from Remote Rig. The RRC-1258MkII consists of two devices; one placed at the host, and the other at the client. They handle remote control and audio. They require no computer either (after setup), just a compatible radio with remove-able head. The head connects to one device, the RF guts to the other, and just ethernet between them.

It's not the cheapest solution, but perhaps one day radio manufactures will adopt this idea of a an ethernet transport cable between the head and radio deck. Till then, ham clubs could invest in one. Many club stations see little use, and this way a number of members (some not able to afford a nice station or able to put up antennas) would benefit.

I have to say however the remote rig guys figured out the TTL communication between the head and deck and managed to encapsulate that in standard TCP/IP is truly awesome.

It even works with radios that don't have direct CIV/CAT control, like the FT-8800, FT-7800, so you don't need to own a really expensive radio to be able to use it remotely.

Perhaps in the future there will be more radios that are remotely tunable (CAT/CIV). It would be awesome if the cheaper handhelds like Baofeng, would support this. Till then, the Kenwood F6A HT works great with Hamlib.

It would be nice if future base/mobiles like the Yeasu ones would just have an ethernet jack on them.
Yeah I know, but it's nice to dream!

Here is some good info about remote transceiver operation: