K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digipeater/I-Gate is QRT.

January 21, 2020

As previously announced the K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digi/I-gate was turned off this morning. Considerable notice and explanation was given.

I have no plans nor desire to return it to the airwaves even if I had a suitable location for it. If there is a real local need for 2m APRS infrastructure then others can step up and provide it.

The former WA4ZKO-15 2m APRS digipeater radio (50w ICOM) and TNC (a nice KPC3+) remain available for FREE loan out to someone with a good site in our primary service area. Part of the “free” deal is they commit to running it 24×7 under their callsign and will keep it well maintained. Our primary service area consists of Grant, Pendleton, Owen, and Gallatin counties.

The HF and 6m APRS infrastructure remain available and KYPN remains committed to providing those systems in addition to the BBS/Node infrastructure.


K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digi/I-Gate Shutdown

January 2, 2020

The K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digipeater/I-Gate will be turned off sometime in late January 2020. Due to my biz/future plans I no longer have any need to keep the location that currently houses that gear.

K4KPN-15 was always a temp fill-in location, low profile, and considerable previous notice of its shutdown has been given for awhile now. KYPN currently has no sites that would be friendly (either space or RF wise) to a busy 144 MHz transmitter.

The hopes have been that if there was enough 2m APRS interest in the area that others would step up and run a digi/i-gate at a better location. I personally offered the former WA4ZKO-15 TNC & radio “free to the cause” if someone had a good site and would assume 24x7x365 responsibility for it under their callsign….no takers.

I realize that the area’s 2m APRS scene has taken a lot of hits over the last few years. The loss of the Lawrenceburg (IN), Dry Ridge, and Edgewood KY digis really clobbered Northern KY coverage. The loss of the high profile Lexington digi did a number on Central KY coverage. A few low profile RX only gates have helped gate in trackers in a few areas, but they do nothing for 2-way messaging and other APRS network functions.

UPDATE:  Jan 2, 2020 – Good news, it appears Edgewood (K8SCH-10) was restored this morning.

In a way I hate to turn K4KPN-15 off, but there just isn’t enough local interest in 2m APRS now nor do we have a good site for it going forward.

Due to economy related job relocations, retirement related moves, and a growing list of Silent Keys the original KYPN crew is now just a fraction of what it was in the 1990’s. It is what it is. Fewer and fewer ops and resources keeping quality RF infrastructure on the air. As we’ve seen with the slow demise of the KY and IN DMR voice systems/networks, these challenges are not just limited to the APRS/packet scene.

KYPN’s wallet and resources are also not without limits. As such we can’t run everything for everybody and will have to periodically evaluate where our finite time/resources should be devoted.

For 30 years KYPN has kept packet systems on the air except for about a month in the summer of 2016 when things went from a multi-port stack to a single port (6m) TNC Mailbox. Those three decades have seen a lot of changes and challenges. As we head into this new decade I suspect there will be more of the same combined with new threats to our spectrum and the hobby’s future. My biggest recommendation to every ham is to get on the airwaves, be active, try and use new bands. There is more to ham radio than HF and 2 meter FM.

 

K4KPN-6 & K4KPN-10 Future?

KYPN will continue to provide the HF and 6m APRS digis/gates 24x7x365. Frankly those alone are enough of a time/money/resource commitment LOL.

The K4KPN-6 6m APRS digi/gate (K4KPN-6) is more of summer/winter “propagation toy” and a free perk running on top of an existing 6m packet node/app stack. 6m APRS definitely comes in handy at times, but it is NOT intended to replace the 2m APRS network.

The K4KPN-10 HF digi/gate is a key and valuable site on the NOAM HF network due to both location and the site’s very low noise floor providing excellent receive range. To save some money we changed it’s internet feed around after the last move, but we have no plans to turn it off. K4KPN-10 meets some real needs and the one piece of KYPN APRS infrastructure that gets noticed if it is offline for more than few minutes for maintenance/etc LOL.

 

 

K4KPN-1 Packet BBS Future?

The BPQ32 node/BBS/chat server remain key components of our local EMCOMM strategy. As such there no plans to turn any of them off.

The BBS and node have already been switched over to the club callsign to facilitate a future location change to the backup site. That location change WILL involve the loss of the 2m port due to available space and RF environment reasons.

The 6m port’s future is not guaranteed, but I may keep it online nearby and remote serial-IP linked in over the Canopy inter-tower LAN. We could move it to the backup site, but the VHF noise floor there is pretty bad. We would also prefer to keep that rack space available for gear to support a future 40/17m HF Robust Packet (RP) port for user access and likely some eventual linking to the 7-land BBS. We will cross that bridge when the time comes.

Ports that are safe bets long term?  The 70cm 9.6k and 220 1.2k primary ports and the 10m RP port. They are key to our operations and historically seen the most “real” usage over the years.

 

 

K4KPN-14 Winlink RMS Future?

I would expect a shutdown notice for it in the coming weeks. No date has been set yet.

I would note that this does not depend upon the upcoming FCC ruling. Plus let’s face it, the first ruling will likely be just the first of many rulings needed. It’s not hard to see and connect the dots of what is really driving that mess.

Plus it doesn’t seem that many (if any) of the Winlink HF gateway operators have learned anything from this mess. Still scattered all across the digital sub-bands with more than few poor frequency choices just asking for QRM problems.  One only has to sort this list here by frequency and in many places be left asking “are they really that inconsiderate or just that incompetent/ignorant of the spectrum they operate in?”

 

73
WA4ZKO /7


KYPN Status, K4KPN-14 Shutdown Rumors, ARES, NG0O, Etc

December 19, 2019

Holiday greetings from a snowy 4-land…well it tried to snow. Lots going on around here which I will not even try to cover it all in this posting. Seems like just yesterday we just got back from a long Thanksgiving out in Iowa visiting the XYL’s family and tomorrow we start packing to go spend the holidays out in 7-land. Wow, time flew by this year.

Let’s deal with some rumors and FAQs showing up in the inbox lately.

 

KYPN Packet Systems Status?

All KYPN packet radio systems that were online last summer have been online all of 2019 and remain so as of today. Preventive maintenance was done back in the Spring and all systems are running fine.

Update:  Dec 19th – PM done. I tested all ports, QRP (4-5w)  mobile from 24 miles out, all functioning fine. Quick check on service monitor shows all radio gear operating fine,. Antennas checked, 10m port showing signs the surge suppressor might be failing, replaced, all is fine there.  441/223/28 MHz ports are the most used, all are in great shape. The 10m/6m/2m noise floor remains extremely low so excellent Rx range. 2m port often hears stations over in WV.

The “Orange” sheet for the packet system was updated in July and can be found here in PDF format. The public and internal County ICS-217a forms were refreshed in July and have been distributed as appropriate. New Outpost and BBS/Node cheat sheets were laminated and distributed as appropriate.

For those wondering about the color names?  We print many of the cheat sheets we use across our EOC, MCP, and go-kit documentation binders on colored paper to make them easier to find when needed. Examples?  A ham ICS-217a = red, PS/AuxComm 217 = blue, NTS = yellow, etc.

Some may of noticed that everything is being phased over to the club callsign (K4KPN). There is no need to read anything into that like some have. Nothing more than just part of our forward planning towards the day we fully retire out west and others will be taking over daily control op responsibilities.

Yes blogging has been very scarce and sporadic. No need to read anything into that. Frankly one should get used to that. I’ll try to post more in the coming winter months, especially if we decide to “winter” in 4-land again this year.

 

K4KPN-14’s Future?

Some have heard that we are shutting K4KPN-14 down on December 20th. Shutdown of the RMS (only the RMS functions) on the Jonesville node/app stack has been discussed, but no final decision has been made.

None of our local KYPN crew, FD/EMA, and CERT/AuxComm folks here are even interested in Winlink so its future has been a big ? for awhile now. Some of it is they were never interested in it and some not wanting to get near the black cloud that hangs over Winlink lately. If we need email access then we have a long list of ways to access that. We are far more concerned about what happens if the internet is down or is too hostile to be used and we have a heavy messaging need well suited to digital transport.

Outpost against the KYPN BPQ32 packet BBS has been and always will be our primary local digital messaging strategy, nothing has or is changing there.  Frankly these fiascos of late have helped us appreciate the wisdom in building our own locally owned, locally oriented, and locally controlled internet independent packet node and BBS system.

 

K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digipeater/I-Gate Shutdown Plans?

The only system we currently have any shutdown plans for is the K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digi/I-Gate. It is no secret that has been coming and many months (actually over a year) worth of notice has been given. This may be part of the rumor mill confusion regarding K4KPN-14 RMS.

Current plans are to turn K4KPN-15 off in late January 2020, maybe early July 2020 at the latest depending on how much longer I need to keep leasing it’s current home location as part of my day job needs. Have no doubt that its days are numbered. If there is enough 2m APRS interest in the area then hopefully some others will step up and run the needed infrastructure for it.

 

Are you still involved in KY ARES?

No I have not been active in KY ARES since around 2016. If nothing else was at play here, I wouldn’t have the time to commit to it even if I wanted to. Plus given my family plans there is little need for me to get involved in 4-land ARES when I’m scarce here and will become more so as time goes on.

I have a completed AF MARS application here in the office waiting on a date and signature. That will be the direction I go in when time allows for such a commitment after we get settled into retirement.

Locally our county, like many others, is going down the CERT/AuxComm team road. It has an amateur radio component and I’m helping facilitate that when and where I can. Our EM wants a well trained and well vetted (the felon and sex offender problem in our ham ranks is becoming an increasing concern) team of guys/gals ready to fit into an AuxComm environment more effectively than a group with to many unknowns.

KY ARES is suffering from a long list of problems and challenges that could be a lengthy blog posting alone. Let’s just boil it down to a lack of participation, lack of credibility, and obsessing over things not worthy of much (if any) attention when compared to the mission and current preparedness levels.

Lot of “wearing the hat, but not the boots” and tons of “all hat, no horse” as we say out west. Toss in some bullying (lets call it what it is, you should see an email that I was given a copy of, wowzer) of both ranks and critics and it’s not hard to see why participation is so low in state with nearly 10k hams. Actual relevant training and on a air practice of that training is MIA and what’s there is often counterproductive. Results of last major exercise revealed several problems including  basic message handling failures. It is what it is.

There are some good folks involved in places, I wish them well, but as a whole KY ARES has unfortunately have fallen into the same traps of the past.  I’ll leave it at that.

 

Seems 2019 vindicated your preaching about the coming spectrum threats.

I was not the only one warning of what is coming so nothing to vindicate. Yes “is coming” is exactly what I meant to say. What we’ve seen thus far is nothing compared to the spectrum sucking monster that is coming. The days of us being so lazy and complacent towards spectrum utilization must come to an end.

Soapbox warning……

Newington needs to stop the “quantity over quality” approach that is helping lead us down a road of ever decreasing relevance. We are not going to keep our spectrum just so a bunch of appliance operators can play with internet linked toys, contest, and DX. Not saying those are bad pursuits (I enjoy the last two myself), but they’re not going to keep a healthy sized band chart on our hamshack walls.

That said, if you are a U.S. ham radio operator and you are NOT a member of the ARRL….then shame on you if you don’t change that. Yeah I get it, I detest some of what they are doing but right now they are the only unified voice we have in Washington.  The last thing we need as we head into the new decade is a weakened ARRL. Plus it seems when they struggle for membership they become more open to dumb ideas LOL.  Yeah, pinch your nose, take a stiff drink, write the check and join.

AMSAT needed to get back to dreaming big a decade ago. Enough of the endless 2m/440 FM voice toys. Let’s get some serious birds up there that are truly useful for emergency and remote communications. Imagine where we’d be at if we had a few modernized 9600 baud store-n-forward birds up there?  Imagine if some of them had nice microwave data forwarding links on them?

Imagine if the crew that went into KP4 was able to fire up a D710 or D72 radio, a tablet, and modest antennas and not be screwed if there is a useful attachment because they had the speed to handle it. Imagine the field teams using D710/D72’s at 9600 back to the San Juan via a bird, then San Juan also has a multi-megabit microwave satcom link back stateside? Yeah that’s easier said than done, but we didn’t even try working towards it?  Available spectrum is not on the list of challenges here…well at least for now.

I look at something like the OtherNet box I installed this summer at a friend’s cabin in in southern Idaho. A 12 GHz LNB, no dish needed, just a freakin’ LNB strapped to a rail with some plumbing strap and pulling down a clean 20 kbps stream 24×7 of useful information for a remote location. Cell service is on the other side of the mountain (literally) so just the news feed alone is handy. Even as limited as OtherNet is one has to wonder why we hams don’t already have something similar to it.

AREDN, you guys were warned about focusing so much on the “easy” (and increasingly noisy) 2.4/5 GHz band approaches. Imagine where we’d be at if we’d focused a lot more on some of the other bands vs just letting them languish. My what we could of done with just 1.2 and 3 GHz makes one want to cry.

In case you haven’t noticed we’re going to have to start ACTUALLY justifying our spectrum going forward. A node on the air isn’t going to count for much minus actual usage data. Defensive arguments based upon theoretical or possible future uses of spectrum we are not using much (if at all) equals spectrum we best get ready to scratch off our band charts.

For the Ham Internet toy folks, how are you going to feel as we loose good chunks of our VHF/UHF bands? How are you going to feel when “they don’t need all that link/aux spectrum, they are already doing more and more of it over the internet vs RF anyways” is one of the compelling arguments the commercial interests use against us? May I suggest using a lot more Ham Radio and a lot less Ham Internet.

We have simply become too lazy, cheap, and apathetic towards real radio communications to survive much longer. Too many appliance operators, too few communicators. Even fewer with much useful technical talent beyond running to their favorite search engine to copy the work of others versus taking a manual and actually learning something. Well those lazy chickens are just starting to come home to roost. If we don’t snap out of this soon we’re going to be setting around wondering “what the hell happened to our hobby.” I used to think we had about 15-20 years left, but I’m starting to think that is a bit too optimistic.

The days of commercial interests thinking “don’t bother even asking about the amateur spectrum” is changing over to “it’s time they start justifying what they have or give it up to those that can put it to uses that better serve the public interest.”

Let there be another lackluster response like post-Katrina and brace yourself for a full on onslaught against all our spectrum.  Hint, they are doing their homework on our spectrum while we are doing what? Fighting over antiquated symbol rate silliness. Plus I’m sure all that symbol rate headache we’re causing the FCC is doing wonders for how they feel towards “the hams and all their valuable spectrum.”

We’ve gone from being respected by the commercial radio world to often being LOL material tying up way too much valuable spectrum. One doesn’t need much imagination to hear the arguments coming, we’ve done a wonderful job of providing them the ammo they need to come raid what they want.

Heck, one doesn’t have to read much between the lines of recent news to realize that our 3 GHz allocation is ALREADY gone. I don’t think I’ve seen a more thinly disguised “they want it, we’re taking it for them, thank you, you kids can feel free to formally pout about it if you want” NPRM in 30+ years.  Wowzer, OMG the precedent this is going to open up here stateside.

Wake up, pay attention, ignorance will not be bliss much longer.

 

What do you think of the NG0O murder case?

Obviously a tragedy. A major loss on many levels. A good reminder of how domestic violence can easily turn deadly.

As far as some of the good father or bad father allegations that are out there in public?  Who among us is a perfect Father? Sure there’s always a little room for a surprise in these things, but nothing justifies murder and the dots are not hard to connect here regarding what most likely happened.

I realize this seems completely out of fashion in our society lately, but let’s try waiting for all the facts to come out after a proper investigation has completed before passing much judgement.   #GoodFreakingGrief

Sorry, maybe I’m a tad jaded but my first instinct is to not trust anything coming from the mouth of a felon that just confessed to a murder after being caught fleeing the scene. If that’s not enough go read the existing DVO against him.

For the knuckleheads trying to make it anti-gun? Zero evidence of any gunfire involved. All evidence points to Marvin being killed with a hammer, a freaking hammer. Suspect we’ll find out that if he would of had a gun handy he might still be with us. Never mind it was good guys with guns that brought his killer in to face justice.

 

 

I’ve seen you out on the reservation. Arapaho or Shoshone?

Neither of those. I have a family there that I’m friends with that I met on a work project out there. We’ve spent a few nights with them there on the Res since the Iowa to NW Wyoming portion of our roadtrips is a wee bit too much for one day’s driving LOL.

I’m part Seneca Indiana via my Grandfather on my Dad’s side. A very distant descendant of Chief Strong of the Buffalo Creek Reservation. Family rumor is I likely have some Cherokee in me via my Grandmother’s family but she never wanted to talk about it.

Unlike a certain politician I don’t try to “gain” from it even though I suspect my bloodline is considerably thicker than her PPM levels LOL. I never lived their life or struggles so I would never try to profit off it. It’s just part of my ancestry and something my late Father and Uncle got me interested in. The other half says it explains my affinity towards horses and why riding into the backcountry to go fishing/camping is “Jeff’s happy place.” Guilty as charged LOL.

 

A true Wyomingite has a Wyoming worthy Rifle, what is yours?

Gee, never heard that before LOL.  Actually we both fit well into the rules of Wyoming worthy calibers…..those calibers that start with either a number 4 or 357 LOL.

Rifle = it depends. Trunk gun is usually an AR-10.  An old .444 Marlin lever-action is usually in my saddle scabbard and backed up by either a Glock 35 in .40sw or a Sig P320 in .357 Sig if needed. The other half is fond of her Henry lever-action in 357 Magnum and her work HK USP in .40sw. All go into the backcountry appropriately loaded with “hot-n-heavy” handloads well suited to intense final negotiations with a large angry or hungry 4-legged problem if it comes down to that.

 

Word is you camp in a real teepee?

Sometimes. A friend down in on the WY/CO border has one they built next to a private lake. The fishing isn’t that great, but the views there are awesome. They built it primarily for a hunting camp.

Don’t laugh, a well designed teepee is a great camping shelter, even in cold weather. It’s actually a pretty neat camping experience so don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

For the radio geeks….the top makes a decent antenna support and offers a couple easy feedline entrance options LOL. Hey most see top poles merging, I see antenna mast 😉

No, I haven’t done any sweats, put on war paint, wore a headdress, or smoked a peace pipe (I have one)…..yet LOL.

That’s enough for now.

 

73
WA4ZKO

FAQ:  I’m Interested in APRS but I Have Security Concerns With It.

December 19, 2019

A common question regarding APRS is the security risks of putting your home, car, etc on a public map. I tend to think a lot of that concern is over-blown, but the risks are not zero. I know that some of the recent ham gear thefts, including some high profile ones have understandably created some legitimate physical security concerns across the ham radio community.

As someone with a LE background I can tell you that most vehicle burglaries are more spontaneous crimes of opportunity versus targeted thefts. If your vehicle is targeted by a thief then they probably just saw your visible antenna collection or they walked by and saw radio gear that you left in plain sight just asking for a smash-n-grab.

Home and business burglaries are the ones more likely to be targeted efforts. Often there will some searching for targets and “casing” them prior to the crime. Still I wouldn’t worry too much about a home station on an APRS map when you have a radio tower or antennas visible from the road LOL.

That said life will never be a zero-risk adventure. The wise will mitigate risk as much as practical then plan for and insure against the rest.

If you have serious security concerns about being active on APRS there are many things you can do to help minimize risk/exposure. Obviously how much or how far you should take some of these ideas will vary and depend upon your particular risk profile.

 

1.  Take advantage of position ambiguity. You don’t have to use high accuracy position data in your beacons. Some of the APRS capable radios, software, and even some GPS systems can run with reduced precision. Part of my commercial gear has a GPS output that I can limit the resolution of and even which particular GPS sentences it outputs. I often take advantage of it for my Tracker’s GPS feed then use a separate GPS system for high accuracy full-time navigation needs.

For fixed (non-moving) objects maybe consider just manually adjusting things to plot at another nearby location.

 

2.  Consider getting a PO Box or using another address for your public FCC data versus listing your full home address.

 

3.  Neighbors looking out for neighbors is a powerful tool. When we lived over in town we were on a good street, but the next ridge over was a source of some concern when we were not home.

Now both QTHs are in very low crime areas and we have great neighbors. We all stay in touch and have a good feel for who and what is normal or not. A retired state trooper and detective both live down the road plus a deputy sheriff living up the road from our 4-land QTH doesn’t hurt either.

We are also blessed to have have a retired elderly neighbor that spends most of her day by a window that overlooks our 4-land place. We often joke that she probably knows more about what is going on there than we do.  I have received a call when a FEDEX delivery guy spent too long in the driveway for her liking LOL.

 

4. Install good physical and electronic security in and around your home.

Our former 4-land home was a lease and we couldn’t install a wired security system. Plus decent affordable wireless systems had not hit the market yet. Today it’s a whole different game.

One of the first things I did this year with the 4-land QTH was to beef up both automation and interior/exterior electronic surveillance of the house and property.  It’s handy for more than just security and paying for itself in a multitude of ways including 7% off our homeowner’s insurance.

 

5. Beacon upon departure from a location versus your arrival when parked in strange or high risk areas.

I use this approach a lot since it fits well with how I operate HF when on the road since I’m usually swapping the 60m/30m antennas for the smaller 6m antenna used when mobile in the car.

You can also turn off your beacons just prior to arrival. Or as the other half likes to say “turn off the tracking collar” LOL.

 

6. Don’t be “daily predictable” in your movements if you don’t have to. Actually good advice for more than just your movements on APRS if you feel you are at higher than normal risk.

 

7. Think twice about mounting clearly visible GPS and radio control heads up on top of your vehicle’s dash for the whole world to easily spot.

 

8.  Use simple camouflage techniques.

Put a ballcap over that GPS puck on the dash when parked.  Get a towel that matches the interior color of your car. Use it to cover up your radios while parked. This works especially well if you have them mounted down low or in the console….I use this often.

 

9.  Learn “gray man” techniques. Don’t make yourself or your vehicles stand out from the crowd. Blend in, don’t unnecessarily attract attention.

Don’t have “please burglarize me” signs/decals on your vehicle. Think twice about those decals that advertise you have valuables inside. Take the ham radio and car audio decals off your car. You are advertising that you likely have valuable electronics inside. Yes for some of you with mobile antenna farms on your vehicle those decals may be the least visible part of the equation LOL.

 

dont_be_this_guy

Don’t be this guy. #OhDear

 

Evaluate your antenna needs. Do you need that big shiny fancy looking (to a thief), easy to spot across the parking lot high gain mobile antenna or would you be just fine with a flat black painted 1/4 wave spike or similarly sized dual-band antenna? Maybe use a compatible mount and keep the bigger antennas in the trunk for when you really need them. Trust me, a well located and fed 1/4 wave spike will work just as well as a poorly located high gain mobile antenna. A few dB of gain doesn’t help if it’s not going in useful directions. I’ve seen my share of “nice high gain antenna, shame you wasted it that way” installs.

For the firearm enthusiasts in our ranks consider taking those NRA/GOA or Glock/Sig/etc decals off your vehicle. Many of your fellow firearm owners and law enforcement appreciate that you enjoy legal firearm ownership, but also cringe when they see those. Why? You are advertising to thieves that there is probably a firearm inside your vehicle. A stolen radio is bad enough, but a stolen firearm is a risk to public safety for what should be obvious reasons. Own it, respect it, secure it, …..your responsibility.

Don’t leave valuable items unsecured in parked vehicles if you don’t have to. Yes vehicle alarms are a good idea, but depending upon the situation they may not help you with a smash-n-grab. Quick question…did you even do more than a glance (if that) the last time you heard a car alarm going off out in a parking lot?

Consider installing a vehicle safe to put things behind a second serious lock. FYI – the locks on factory glove boxes and center consoles will barely slow down a thief and those are the first two places they will look once inside your vehicle.

 

10.  This is a biggie that many people are walking failures at. Practice good situational awareness (SA). Good SA will not only help you avoid becoming a property theft statistic it will also help with your personal safety.

Get your head out of that damn cellphone and pay attention to your surroundings when out in public. Learn to pay attention to your gut instincts. Did that out of place car just go by again? Why is that guy wearing a coat in hot weather? Is that guy approaching us acting odd? Was that really a magazine salesman knocking on the door or a scout for a home burglary crew checking to see if anyone was home?

When pulling in somewhere to park take a look around as you choose a spot. Is that group of rowdy kids over there just having fun on a Friday night or are they a pack of trouble brewing? Don’t park in high risk areas if you don’t have to. Park near security cameras in well lit central/front areas of a parking lot, not some dimly lit or dark corner.

Good SA will not only help you avoid becoming a property theft statistic it will also help with your personal safety. This doesn’t mean you live in fear or operate at DEFCON 2 all the time. You just live prepared, observant, and take a few easy steps to help reduce risk.

Those looking for trouble are not much of a problem to those ready for them.
The late Patrick Swayze line from the Road House movie.

Or you can stick your head in the sand and operate under the “ignorance is bliss, bad things never happen to good people” illusion and take your chances.

 

73
WA4ZKO


K4KPN-15 APRS Digi/I-gate Outage

November 15, 2018

Update 11pm local: 

  • K4KPN-15 has been back on the air since around noon local time.
  • The Dry Ridge site lost its primary internet feed due to an extended power outage impacting an upstream distribution facility. The site was quickly failed over to a backup connection via the inter-site Canopy WAN. Another good test of “Plan B” procedures and resources. Also a reminder of the dangers of using the internet as your backbone minus a lot of redundancy.  What is your Plan B and C?
  • Also a good lesson that just because you have generator power doesn’t mean other adjacent 3rd party systems will have the same. Don’t be lazy, plan accordingly.

 

—- original post —-

K4KPN-15 is temporarily down due to widespread ice storm related power outages in the region. As previously noted that site has no backup power nor is it considered a priority site for power/service restoration.

The Dry Ridge site (K4KPN-10) remains online even though it has transferred to generator power twice in the last few hours due to the controller not liking the input power quality. Guessing the grid feed there is just barely holding on. Well at least we have our first real world storm induced test of the recently repaired transfer switch 😉

The Jonesville East site (K4KPN-1,-4,-6,-13,-14) has alarmed a few times due to power fluctuations, but all gear there remains fully functional with the UPS systems handling those brief brownouts/drop-outs. Security cameras show significant icing on the antennas and trees there, but I have seen worse.

Obviously expect the usual signal degradation from iced up antennas. Remember that depending upon the design and band involved, ice accumulation tends to degrade antenna efficiency and drop the resonant frequency to varying degrees.

Talking with my Dad and friends there the predicted “trace” of ice turned out to be considerably more than just a trace. A client said the sounds of limbs cracking and transformers exploding started around 1am and intensified into the early morning hours. Judging by the reports and outage maps the Cincinnati area is dealing with the impact of a serious ice storm.

Judging by radar the freezing rain is almost out of the area. Once that stops and the temp stays above freezing things have a chance of melting off. Telemetry shows 32.2F at K4KPN-4 and hopefully that will start climbing soon.

Welcome to Winter 2018-2019. While snow and power outages are commonplace here, it is odd hearing about 4-land nuisance snows and a nasty ice storm during the Fall months. Makes one wonder what else Mother Nature has in store for us when Winter officially arrives.

 

WA4ZKO


Fall 2018 6m APRS and Misc Update

November 2, 2018

Figured I’d take this “downtime” evening in 4-land and toss together a quick update on the 6m APRS system and a status report. Note that I have several draft blog postings that I’ll try to finalize in the coming weeks. Sorry for the lack of posts, but get used to that being the new normal on here due to other priorities. Hey, you get what you pay for 😉

Well hopefully everyone had a good summer. I wound up being back-n-forth bi-coastal more than originally planned but it’s all good. It stresses the XYL at times, but like I remind her “we’re healthy, we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, we can pay our bills, job security is not a concern, and we’re ahead of the game on retirement plans so let us realize just how blessed we are.” We recently got in from a nice Fall trip up in New England. We were a bit late for peak Fall foliage color in the inland areas, but there was some spectacular color along the coastal areas.

We stopped in 4-land for a quick work project and I needed to absentee vote this year. A longtime friend and former co-worker is running for Judge Exec and his Chief Deputy is running to fill his shoes as Sheriff. We also have a somewhat interesting statehouse race.

So I just cast what may be my last vote as a Kentuckian. The other half is an official Wyomingite so we’re heading back west this week so she can vote there. Plus we both need to get a pile of work done before holiday hustle and bustle arrives.

Hey where the heck did 2018 go to? Current plans are Thanksgiving in 4-land, then another extended family Christmas in the Idaho mountains, followed by New Years Eve in Wyoming. Hey the snow is piling up on the mountains so holiday mountain grandeur and fresh powder to play in = yes please!

Hopefully during some of the holiday downtime I can get the blog and some other ham radio documentation projects caught up for the locals. No guarantees though LOL.

Okay, moving on to some status reports….

6m APRS:

K4KPN-6/-4 was moved from the Jonesville tower site to the Jonesville “East” tower site (my personal tower) in early September after some coverage testing. The east site has a lower noise floor (better receive performance) and still meets coverage needs into the three tough to cover EMCOMM relevant locations we keep that port around for.

The K4KPN-6 6m APRS Digi/I-gate remains on the air 24×7 on 50.6200 MHz using 1200 baud AFSK and no changes are currently planned.

KI4WEF recently got his home Outpost PMM terminal on the air again from the new home he is building. He’s on a temporary 6m antenna till he finalizes how he’s going to setup his new station. His station is also beaconing an APRS compatible beacon so we have another 6m APRS station on the air.

I haven’t had time to confirm the details but scuttlebutt is 6m APRS is being used in some of the Marine Corps Marathon events. Cool eh?

 

Packet and Repeaters:

Most all the packet gear has been shifted over to the club callsign.  I just got the coordination for 444.4250+ repeater switched over to the club callsign and will reprogram it’s ID when time allows. This is all part of an evolving plan to move things over to the JFD tower site and let Greg, Lonnie, and Mark manage it once we fully retire out west.

There has been some talk about making 425 dual-mode analog/FUSION or analog/P25. The reasoning will be explained later on. It’s currently on the air from Williamstown in low profile test mode as I need to finish tweaking it. Current plans are to relocate it back to its primary site at JFD once some antenna and feedline repairs are completed there. ETA on that move = good question, probably going to be next Spring.

 

Node/BBS/RMS Shutdown plans:

Several have understandably asked if these systems will still be around in a few years. First off I’m not going to guarantee anything. I have plans but I can’t predict the future. It is just just a hobby, we don’t charge a dime in dues, we do what we do for the love of packet radio. Several silent keys and folks moving off for work/retirement reasons have left KYPN and packet activity in N. Kentucky at a fraction of what it used to be. It is what it is.

Actual local utilization will drive choices on what remains. Rack space and site integration issues at the future site will also play a role. There’s not going to be room for everything there so if I was to hazard a guess? The 10m RP, 220 1.2k, and 441 9.6k ports will be what remains. For those wondering what packet gear to invest in? There’s your answer 😉

 

2m APRS:

The K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digi/I-Gate is scheduled to be turned off January 2020. It is at a location where I lease space for my day job. I’m slowly extricating myself from my KY obligations and will not need that space come 2020.

I don’t have any free site that would accommodate K4KPN-15. Hopefully some others will step up and run some of the local 2m APRS infrastructure.

K4KPN-15’s days are numbered. Plenty of notice has been provided.

 

30m RP APRS / K4KPN-10:

While there are no current plans to shut down K4KPN-10 I am looking at moving it to a site near the VA/KY border. This is where one of my day job clients has a spare HF antenna and some rack space.

I’ve had the VA site patched into the WAN loop since July. I’ve been playing with both IP and stream feeding a spare modem on the remote radio there into K4KPN-10. Results show very little difference in NOAM and S. EU coverage and a slight improvement on the N. EU path. So that’s looking like an option I may explore further when time allows for me to run more tests from out west.

 

Well I’m beat and we want to hit the road early so that’s enough for now.

WA4ZKO


K4KPN System FAQ

June 1, 2018

This is a work-in-progress….

FAQ #1 – Any other HF bands than 10 meters?

Answer:  Not at this time. We may add 80/40 or 30/17 meters in the future, but that is a big maybe at this time.

 

FAQ #2 – Why only 10 meters, why not a lower band?

Answer:  The 10 meter port’s primary purpose is to provide an additional coverage option for local fringe locations that even the 6 meter 1200 baud packet port struggles with due to noise/distance etc.

Remember 28 MHz behaves very much like 30 MHz VHF-Low with propagation characteristics well suited to the hills and valleys common to our coverage area. 10 meter Robust Packet fills the need.

We are not offering lower bands at this time due to the main HF antenna the site is dedicated to remote HF/VHF station use and that takes priority for now. A future site may allow for a 30/17m port, but no scheduled date of availability or guarantee on that.

 

FAQ #3 – Why Robust Packet, why not one of the soundcard modes?

Answer:  We have not found soundcard modems to be reliable enough for 24x7x365 use at a remote site. It is one thing if the system is down in your basement or over in the corner of your hamshack, but modem evaluation criteria changes when the system is miles away at a tower site. We also wanted a mode/modem that was suitable for BOTH interactive use with packet applications (BBS, Chat server, etc) and message transfers. Lot of the other modes are okay for message transfers as that was what they were designed/optimized for, but often poor choices for interactive connections.

Robust Packet is hardware modem based and gives us an excellent mode for interactive access and plenty of message transfer speed for our particular needs. It also works well with weak noisy signals, has considerable immunity to multi-path, and often works in fringe locations where the 6 meter AFSK packet port will not.

 

FAQ #4 – Is DX use of the  6 or 10 meter ports allowed?

Answer:  Yes, but please yield to any local users on QRG.  The 10 meter port beacons every 10 minutes to help detect band openings.

The 6 meter port beacons an APRS compatible beacon every 5 minutes to help detect band openings. The 6m port also functions as a WIDE1-1 APRS digipeater.

 

FAQ #5 – What is WYJAC, BBSJAC, etc?

Answer:  WYJAC (WA4ZKO-4) / BBSJAC (WA4ZKO-1) is a test/dev node and BBS at our 7-land QTH. The Dry Ridge site is linked to it over a private network, thus you will see those nodes/applications showing at times. It will also allow migration/expansion of the KYPN packet network and applications later on down the road.

Please do not leave messages on the WA4ZKO-1 BBS as it is just a test BBS for now.  Please leave all messages on the K4KPN-1 BBS unless instructed to do otherwise.

 

FAQ #6 – Is telnet access available?

Answer:  Yes, but it will be considered on a case by case basis. For now it is restricted to those with access to the inter-tower KY<>WY VPN LAN/WAN network. Those within VHF/UHF range will be required to have a functional and actively used “RF” packet station before telnet access will be considered. The goal of the packet BBS is to provide a RF only messaging system, not breed laziness and apathy towards having effective RF access.

Yes having a Winlink RMS gateway on the system kind of conflicts with the above LOL. It is secondary to the conventional packet systems. Trust me, it took some convincing for me to even offer it, especially on VHF/UHF.

The K4KPN-14 Winlink gateway is on “probation” as far as I’m concerned. If it’s not used then it will eventually be turned off. If it becomes a PITA in terms of admin or abuse then it will be turned off. Many said they wanted it, now we’ll see if that was just talk and how it will be used 😉
 

FAQ #7 – Does the KYPN systems have backup power?

Answer:  The K4KPN-10 HF RP APRS I-Gate/Digi is at a secure tower site with backup power options.

The K4KPN-1 (BBS), K4KPN-4 (Node), K4KPN-6 (6m digi/I-gate), K4KPN-13 (chat svr), and K4KPN-14 (RMS) systems are located on a private tower site near Jonesville. This site has short term battery bank backup in place to allow it to stay online till manual transfer to an on-site generator.

The K4KPN-15 2m APRS I-Gate/Digi is located in Williamstown. The station has very limited battery backup. Normally it will be shut down during an extended power outage. It should NOT be counted upon for emergency uses. Also note current plans are to decommission it in January 2020.

 

To be continued….

WA4ZKO