Field Day 2020, APRS, Updates, and Civil Unrest

June 26, 2020

Well like many things in 2020, Field Day 2020 is going to be different this year.

I actually think it’s a good thing. For many groups Field Day has become way too much of Yet Another Contest (YAC) and a reset would be healthy.  I remember hearing some guys fussing last year about how Field Day just wasn’t as fun as it used to be and too much work to pull off. Sorry guys, but Field Day is like Christmas. If you’re tired, stressed out, and sort of glad that it is over with then you’re doing it wrong.

While the ARRL has hinted along these lines, consider doing something different this year. Maybe do something more off-grid EMCOMM realistic than YAC (Yet Another Contest) like operation. Maybe pack your gear up and go operate off battery or generator somewhere where you have to improvise more. This could be nothing more than going out in the back yard, a park, mobile on a high point, activating your favorite camping spot, etc etc.

Maybe do more than the usual SSB/CW stuff and also test your digital/packet modes off-grid.  Maybe pass some P2P traffic/messages over digital.  Maybe see if your state STM will guard some HF frequencies on a schedule for incoming P2P traffic. Try getting that message and acks/replies from point A to B without ANY internet transport while operating off backup/emergency power.

I often come across EMCOMM operators that constantly pick the lazy way of doing things commenting “well if power is out and internet is down I’ll just do this or that.”  Sorry but talk is cheap so go out and do it. See if you can actually do it fully off-grid during the optimal conditions of “normal” times.  Those that have worked a few real world disasters will tell you that if you haven’t actually tested things under realistic conditions then you are just asking for “I didn’t think about that” gotchas and quality time with Uncle Murphy later on when you really need things to work.

 

Summer Plans?

Well I’ve been bachelor’ing it for over a week now. Ah man it’s freakin’ amazing what one can get done when left alone for more than an hour! LOL The XYL went back to work on a long trip that will end in Denver. From there she’s taking a rental down to her family’s place in Iowa to visit with them till I get several items wrapped up here and head west in a few weeks.

Given what is going on now all our plans are “soft” this year but we both are suffering from serious mountain-time withdrawal LOL. Given the Festival de Crazyville going on lately it looks like a really good summer to go disappear into the mountains where it’s easy to unplug from it all.

Fall will equal a lot of work helping with harvests on both family farms. So a couple months of Summer is about all the break I think we’ll probably get this year LOL.

 

My Field Day 2020 Plans?

Well last evening’s shop project was replacing the coax on my 6m slim jim style antenna (300 ohm twinlead design) from where I made the mistake of originally using solid center conductor RG-58 for the feeder on a roll-up antenna.  After a few years of being packed around and used a lot you can figure out what happened inside that coax. Hey it was all I had handy at the time, but lesson learned. Ah those things you learn from actually using/testing your gear under real usage scenarios LOL.

If weather allows I plan on going 1-B portable QRP back at a hilltop camping site on the EM78PP/EM78PQ line. Hopefully I can get some on-air validating of the repaired antenna on 6m SSB and probably work some packet too.

Right now the weather forecast doesn’t look too promising as rain is fine, but I’m allergic to lightning LOL. Unless one is looking for a Darwin Award nomination it’s a bad idea to be on top of a hill, under a tree with an antenna hoisted up into it when lightning is around 😉

 

Ham Radio Time?

Well between work and playing wannabee farmer and helping with three gardens I haven’t had as much spare time for ham radio stuff as I would prefer. Still managing to get some projects done and have some fun on 6 meters SSB and packet.  If you haven’t been on the 6m weak signal modes this Spring then you are missing out on a lot of fun.

Yes even some 6m packet/APRS DX has been flying around lately with the Conway, AR node and VA 6m APRS stations popping in at times.  Some asked if K4AF-6 is down. Judging by APRS-IS it appears to have been down since the first of the year. I also didn’t note it on the air a few months ago when visiting family in Haymarket, VA. We had a nice strong opening to that area of VA on Father’s Day (June 21st) and it was not heard but the Calverton VA digi was ripping in at times.

I worked the CQ 160m Contest on remote from my sister’s place in SC. 160m is a band that is growing on me. No VHF contesting so far this year. I know, I know but just too many other conflicting priorities so far. Kind of hoping to maybe work part of the CQ VHF Contest from the mountains, but will probably be busy keeping some fly line wet if you know what I mean 😉

Been working on upgrading station grounds and installing some outside antenna disconnect boxes for the 4-land gear. I wanted to make it easy for my neighbor hook-up or disconnect the main lightning rod HF antennas here for me while we’re gone. Normally my cousin will handle that for me on his daily visit to check on things and feed the animals for us, but wise to have a Plan B. I have considerable lightning protection in place, but the best protection is always physically unplugging things.

Another project completed this winter was to build an identical hamshack desk for the 7-land QTH and then another frame to allow mounting the gear stacked “vertically” to allow easy tear down or moving it around. The first desk I built was originally for the 7-land QTH, but it became part of the 4-land home office/hamshack.

We’ll be looking at some land this summer and considering getting an RV to live in for awhile if we find a place we buy and want to get started building. Thus a perk of keeping the radio gear in an easily moveable frame makes it easy to move things from the shack to the RV as needed. Like any good ham I have my ideas for the ultimate hamshack/geek-cave layout when we settle down and I build the “last hamshack” I’ll probably build.  For now this approach works fine and provides consistency between the shacks.

I’m also enjoying getting back in SWL’ing which was my original radio enjoyments that led me to some of my career and hobby choices. Enjoying chasing NDBs, DXing the lower bands, and chasing mediumwave DX when time allows.  Spare time project has been installing a couple nice beverage antennas for VLF and mediumwave DXing.

Having some fun on 80/60/30/17/10m robust packet at times. Yes 17m is open at times. I worked the 4-land BBS via the KY Gateway on 17m several times from WY a few months back.

One of the Spring robust packet connections ended with a surprise tail-end connection from a friend /P in Haiti that got a nice DR-7400 modem for Christmas. That link up turned into a 24 minute 10m/17m crossband chat session via the Jonesville and my home home nodes…..gotta love BPQ32 + RP LOL. Was neat to hear what was really going on Brazil (his home country) weeks before it showed up in our news here stateside.

I even worked the KY Gateway on 15m (yes 21 mhz) RP from Iowa (usually a 30/40m path) on a short skip opening. Always fun to see hat you can do with “5 watts and wire” QRP.

Yeah 40 and 30m have been the workhorse bands for a couple years now, but the higher bands are so much less crowded. So even at the bottom of a solar cycle it’s a good idea to keep an ear out for short/e-skip propagation indicators.

 

APRS Stuff

On the 2m APRS front I helped an old packet friend over in SE Indiana work on resurrecting the Dearborn County 2m APRS Digipeater.  KB9GYO-2 is online from his office in a low power configuration till he can acquire the needed gear better suited for installation back at the old original tower site.  Even the temp installation has helped improve 2m APRS coverage in NKY. 

The BPQ32 Jonesville node can technically provide APRS digi/gate functions on any or all ports just like it does on the 6m 1.2k port. Over the past few months we’ve done some testing of alternate-QRG APRS on the 2m 1.2k and UHF 9.6k ports and found that approach could work very well if needed. Since we have done some APRS on UHF simplex in the past we may test enabling APRS on the node’s UHF 9.6k port this Fall to have handy if needed. That said, the existing 6m APRS and groundwave into K4KPN-10 should cover most anything we really need.

It’s also been an interesting tool for seeing what the real world mobile coverage of the system is on UHF, 2m, and 6m using APRS setups. I need to take a 220 radio out sometime and see how well it plays across the area, but suspect it will beat UHF and slightly outperform 2m even with half the TX power as that’s what we observe on classic packet uses.

When time allows I’ll do a more detailed posting on what was observed while doing mid-day (to minimize inversion enhancement) during heavy foliage loss season. Basically reasonably solid mobile coverage (modest mobile setup) for 30+miles on 6m, 25 on 2m, 20 or so on 70cm. Note that is mobile packet coverage, not voice coverage. Takes a decent signal level to get 1200 baud packet to decode a moving mobile station, even more so for the UHF 9600 signals. So basically some worst case mobile-to-base range testing.

Even had a little 6m/10m packet groundwave DX fun the other morning while in Richmond. There’s a couple spots down there that we can hit our dispatch repeaters if the band is in decent shape while down at the academy. While eating breakfast at one of them, for giggles, I tried the 10m RP port and got in fine. So I swapped in the 6m whip and worked the BBS via both ports at 64 miles mobile to base. I had to make a meeting so I didn’t have time to try the other ports but 6 and 10 meters were getting it done that morning.

 

Is W4VPN Still on 80m RP?

Since some have asked….yes it is still there. I got into it from a pit-stop in southern Kentucky the other day as I came back from SC.

80m_W4VPN_SKY_2020June

While I can tell the 80m antenna works better on the truck than the car, it’s always fun to see what a few watts of robust packet can do. S3-4 on the mobile and I was most likely at the NF (noise floor) on the other end but still linked up.  #GottaLoveRobustPacket

Admittedly I was unable to get into it from SC, but I only had my 40/30m end fed wire antenna available there. Only had some mid-afternoon downtime available and that’s a poor time for that 80m path even with a better antenna. Plus he may of had it offline due to local weather or testing other things.

PS – John KX4O sysop’s that system. Please contact him if you have questions regarding it.

 

Protests, Riots, Crazyville?

Several interesting exchanges in the inbox lately from friends in my LE and non-LE circles. I could write a multi-volume novel on things and several aspects few consider.

My soundbite answer is summed up as “I stand with the peaceful and innocent.”

Longer version…..

As someone with an LE background whose work sometimes has him on the grounds of three different LE academies, I would offer up a caution. Many of your large police agencies are increasingly struggling with recruiting new officers. Policing now pays a heck of a lot better than it did back in my day, yet fewer and fewer folks want to pursue that career. It’s a growing problem in law enforcement across several major metro areas.

This recruiting problem has resulted in more than a few of these agencies lowering the bar on their recruiting standards. More than a few instructor friends have commented that agencies are increasingly hiring folks that they would of never hired just 10-15 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, with a good FTO and adequate supervision most of these recruits will become good officers. Unfortunately some will be walking liability time bombs poorly suited to the challenges of modern law enforcement.

Note:  We have over three quarter million police officers in this country. Most do an exceptional job of keeping our communities safe by reasonable enforcement of our laws. Are there bad apples out there? Sure there are, just like any other large group, but I think the fair minded will understand a few exceptions do not equal the rule.

 

As far as the riots go?  Well unfortunately well intended peaceful demonstrations tend to get invaded by certain criminal elements. It’s also pretty clear there’s both money and organized support feeding a lot of the criminal element.

While keeping in mind this is a few weeks old, some good food for thought within. For the hams I know Jon is a ham and think the other two are also hams. For those looking to be offended and upset by the “Roof Korean” comment, its a term they don’t mind and you need to brush up on your history studies.

 

Are there some serious problems with policing today? Yes. Are some changes needed? Yes, but a lot of what I’m hearing is not going to help. Why not? To fix a problem you have to gather all the facts and then actually identify the root problems versus just repeatedly playing politics with the symptoms and exploiting people.

Unfortunately instead “take a breath, wait for all the facts” rational problem solvers we now get an ever increasing deluge of “we gotta look like we did something” political pandering, camera whores, and frankly insulting levels of virtue signaling. Too many politicians playing distraction from their own failures while acting like they had nothing to do with the collapsing conditions in their area.

Of course our shameful political media complex is a more than willing participant in a lot of this. Hate, fear, lies, and division sells. It’s now all they have to sell. Business is good and thus they see no need to change. It is now all about ratings, views, and clicks. The full truth is increasingly the first casualty of every incident. Real journalism in the national media is increasingly rare and usually only by accident. Sad, but it is what it is.

Most of what I’ve seen offered up lately is just going to make the jobs of the “good” officers out there even more difficult. This will cause more recruiting difficulties, increase the number of officers leaving large metro agencies for other careers or smaller agencies, and add to a flood of early retirements. That’s not theoretical, it’s already happening. Several of my old LE friends comment “glad I’m retired” and others can’t wait to retire or seriously considering relocating or retiring early.

One of our newer deputies out west is from a large SoCal agency and oh the stories of political insanity he can tell. He now enjoys working a low crime area full of good hard working people that for the most part we all get along just fine. Works where he feels welcome, supported by his bosses, supported by the community, gets to be more peacekeeper than revenue generator, and doesn’t even have to be careful about where he grabs lunch or a cup of coffee while on patrol. His comment of “we should of left that sh#%2hole 10 years ago” speaks volumes.

 

The Seattle Mess?

Thankfully all my Seattle family moved out into the distant suburbs years ago.

Seattle is a good example of a once great city (one of several) that has been “circling the drain” for years now. A city in dire need of productive policy changes versus all the political denial and distraction blame games. The ongoing neutering of law enforcement is ultimately just making things worse for everyone there.

I recognize the following is a long video, but it is a rare piece of actual journalism. Worthy of at least watching the first 30 minutes of if you want some insight into what is going so wrong in several of our major cities. Warning, you are going to see some things that not easy to watch if you care about your fellow man.

To be fair to the good people of Seattle, you could replace Seattle with the name of several other cities in our country.

That’s enough for now.

73

WA4ZKO

 


Memo to Mr. Brown, This is America and….

April 23, 2020

Oh boy, stick with it and enjoy a good LOL…

Memo to Mr. Brown:   We Americans use a different rule book than you are used to. We define the limits of our governance. We don’t “heel” to our government unless we agree to and then only to the limits we agreed upon. That rule book may not be perfect, but it has served us well considering how far this nation has come in just under 250 years.

As far as that pesky 2nd Amendment thingy? Well Mr. Brown it doesn’t exist just so we can go hunting or plinking.  Maybe the following graphics will help you understand why it exists and why we defend it so passionately…..

Oh wait it gets better….

…..that idea of individual freedom and liberty is much stronger in the U.S. than it is Australia,

Well no poop Sherlock. Thank you for such insightful commentary there Captain Obvious. #ImagineThat #CitizenVsSubject

Thank you for your service to your country Mr. Brown, but pardon me for expecting better from a Aussie military officer. You may not like the rule book we play by here, but you should at least understand it better.

 

As far as some of your other commentary…..

Those that have worked a few large disasters here in the states know that the best response comes from the state and local levels with Washington backing them up with Federal resources.  We have these fifty experiments in progress called STATES for a lengthy list of good reasons. There will be many lessons to be learned by examining how each state responded to this mess and the subsequent results.

 

Yes our President needs to be more careful with his choice of words, but nothing new or surprising there. I’m often baffled when folks continue to be shocked when Trump acts like Trump. Akin to being surprised by the sounds of breaking glass after you herded an agitated bull into a china shop.  #WellDuh

PS – I didn’t vote for him but hoped he would grow into the job. That said it would of been a -100F day in hell before I voted for her.  #ThereWasAthirdChoice

 

Memo to the protesters:   If you wish to be taken seriously then act like you will take things seriously if restrictions are relaxed.  Standing there shoulder to shoulder in a crowd with virtually no one wearing a mask = hard for the general public to take you seriously. Yeah we all want to get back to work, but let’s do it smart versus recklessly risking a repeat of 1918 history.  No I’m not saying this is that deadly, but there are lessons to be learned there.

PS – Leave those ultra-powerful (LMAO) scary looking black semi-auto modern sporting rifles at home…or paint ’em pink. You’re apparently triggering a non-native that needs an emergency prescription for two testicles.

 

So some of our politicians are scared of civil unrest? Well maybe they should be scared of the mess they helped create in their districts. Frankly I think most of the country has been relatively well behaved all things considered. I do suspect that could change in a few of our urban zip codes. Plus there are interests out there that will probably send some of the usual paid troublemakers in to stir the pot to get some headlines.

Yes Mr. Brown we Americans are a rowdy bunch at times. Get used to it…or not. We’ll be just fine other than you might want to stay away from some parts of our major cities if this drags on much longer 😉 The bulk of the country will make it through this with some sacrifice, restraint, and copious patience. We’re not nearly as divided as some would love to make you think. If you know American history then you should know how foolish it is to bet against the Americans when times get tough.  ’nuff said.

 

WA4ZKO


Coronavirus Math

March 10, 2020

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. I’m not an Epidemiologist nor do I play one on TV.  Just the opinions of an average guy worth exactly what you paid for them. I do have some HazMat training in my background, but that is only minimally relevant here. Do your own research, form your own informed opinions.

 

Late Breaking….. This interesting study just landed in the inbox tonight as I was working on this. Yeah it’s from China, but at this point we’ll take any relevant transmission data on this particular virus into consideration.

Coronavirus can travel twice as far as official ‘safe distance’ and stay in air for 30 minutes, Chinese study finds

Key takeaways from the above?  This little bastard can survive on a surface for up to a few days depending upon several variables. It can stay airborne for 30 minutes and travel at least 14-15′ in an environment like a bus, train, plane, etc.  My guess is depending on how well it was aerosolized and the localized environment (airflow, thermals, etc) it may drop to a surface faster or slower than what was observed there in that bus.

 

Now onto my original posting….

Yes more testing/screening could of/should of been done sooner as it may of helped “flatten” the spike in cases that few communities in this country will escape. There will be plenty of time for the would of, could of, should of finger pointing after this mess fades away.

That said, some need to realize the limits of even the best testing scenario in a country of 327,000,000+ people scattered across 3,797,000 million square miles. Read that again and let the scale of it sink in. As I reminded a friend from Portugal “dude you’re in a country with 10 million people packed into a land mass of just under 36,000 square miles. What is a big challenge there does not scale up that well here.” #Perspective

Yes China appears (if we trust the news out of there???) to have done a decent job of containing things. That said, remember they knew before anyone else did that they had a problem and locked things down a draconian manner around the source area. It is likely to flare up in other regions in the coming weeks/months, but they did buy themselves some time albeit at a heavy cost to their economy.

If the virus has been here in the U.S. since early January then it is safe to say we entered this ballgame way behind in the containment power-curve. It’s here, been here for awhile now and full containment seems virtually impossible at this point minus some seriously draconian measures.

Our leaders are left with only a few tough options and they all suck. How we can flatten the spike in cases to keep the seriously to critically ill patient load on our healthcare system somewhat under control? How to keep the panic and economic damage minimized?

If we take the data out of China then we can realize the ugly math of this…

  1. 80% of those infected will only suffer very mild illness no worse than a cold or mild flu.
  2. A good percentage of those above (I see 20% being tossed around) will be asymptomatic. They will not even realize they have it and likely go around spreading it. That’s good for them, but bad news for the rest of us.
  3. 15% will become seriously ill. Some of those may need to enter into the healthcare system to some degree.
  4. 5% will become critically ill and require hospitalization. Let’s focus on just this 5% number below.

Now for the part where you might want to skip reading further and just click here if you are a recovering alcoholic or having trouble sleeping at night.

Well the spread models on this are all pretty much showing 40-70% of us are going to get this virus within the first year. I suggest many of us need to make peace with that. My immediate family has done so. In a bittersweet way I’m glad my late parents (both in their mid-80s) are gone otherwise I’d be seriously worried about them. I still have members of my extended family that I pray don’t get this virus considering their age and health risks.

So let’s just run those numbers above against the U.S. population….

U.S. population is 327,000,000+ people, probably more like 335-340 million but we’ll run with the 327 million figure.

Let’s go for the low end of the infection spread models where 40% of the population gets the virus. That is around 131 million people infected in the U.S.

5% of 131 million means equals around 6.5 million “critically” ill cases. Let that number register with you.

Total bed count for all U.S. hospitals is around 925,000 beds. Obviously a good percentage of those beds are already in use for patients with other problems. I don’t have good numbers for total ICU bed counts, but it is safe to say we don’t have 925k ICU beds.

You take the above and do your own math of the brutal problem we face here.

Obviously we need to pull that 40% infection number way down. We need to get a lot more proactive otherwise a “reactive” only approach is going to be even uglier. At this point total containment nationwide is probably a pipe dream. Lets focus on flattening out that spike of that 5% patient load over time versus a sudden deluge. All while figuring out how to deal with the economic consequences.

Time to go proactive. Secure highly vulnerable populations like nursing homes, assisted living homes, and yes even existing hospital patients. Close the schools for at least a few weeks. Cancel events that create large crowds. Let’s examine the wisdom of keeping air and rail going for anything other than cargo. TeleWork, TeleEducation, TeleHealth and so forth need to become a new norm for those businesses, schools, and etc that can pull that off.  Yeah all a heck of a lot easier said than done.

This is not 1918. We have much better medicine, a lot more knowledge on how to fight something like this, and we have a lot of technology that can help.

Maybe NYC (and some other major cities) should also consider having their jail inmates start making shovels and start building field hospitals. We have a bigger problem here than a shortage of hand sanitizer.

Our European friends are not going to fare any better. Situation on the ground in Italy provides a real world example of how fast the medical system will be overrun as the spread ramps up.

Picturing what happens when this gets into highly vulnerable areas/populations here in the states is ugly enough. I want to cry when I think about what happens if this goes exponential in places like parts of India and Africa.

Need surgery? Suggest you get it scheduled and done asap.

 

If you are of the prayer type then pray for a vaccine, some containment miracle, or another mutation that tames this virus way down. Also pray for peace and cooler heads to prevail in the months to come. Not hard to envision the tremendous global anger aimed towards a certain country in the far east after we bury so many of our Fathers, Mothers, Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents. Never mind that we’ll be lucky if we just go into a short but deep economic recession versus a depression.

 

As for what we are starting to see here and the likely explosive spread to follow over the next few weeks? Allow me to leave you with the very relevant quote below…

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” Albert Bartlett

 

UPDATE March 10th:   Well the leaked AHA document would seem to indicate the math above was definitely in the ballpark. Consensus of the experts is 96 million infected here in the states. 4.8 million hospitalized, and 480k deaths.

My guess is they are running with the S. Korea numbers which are not perfect, but seemingly the best available. That will point towards a case fatality rate of around 0.5%. For perspective, the flu case fatality rate runs around 0.1%. Appears they also feel around 5% of cases will require hospitalization. That 96 million infected number means they expect around 30% of the U.S. population will get infected. Still a huge problem for our hospitals to manage. The math is what it is.

I doubt that was “leaked” in the traditional sense. More like an unofficially blessed incremental release of bad news. If you have to feed the population some really bad news, you don’t do it all at once. Still going to get interesting watching how our population reacts to the reality that will become more and more unavoidable in the days to come.

Get some rest. You are about to witness a dark chapter in world history. I have not drank since my Father’s passing just before Christmas 2018, I’m having a glass of Woodford Reserve tonight.

 

WA4ZKO


Video – Harvard Forum on Coronavirus Situation

March 8, 2020

““We have an entirely susceptible population” “The potential for this to burn through a population very quickly is very high without extraordinary measures.”  Michael Mina, Epidemiologist at Harvard

Yes the politics show/lean in certain directions at times, but an interesting discussion.

FYI – for those that haven’t made any preparations….ah….you best get to it.

 

WA4ZKO


Video – Coronavirus and Interview with Dr. John Campbell

February 29, 2020

Dr. Paul Cottrell and Dr. John Campbell talking shop over Coronavirus. Plenty of fresh info and food for thought from two sharp minds. Dr. Campbell is the calm wise elder keeping the youngster Paul in check, but the two make for a good interview.

The “viruses are just these most amazing devious scallywags”    That was a good line 😉

 

Thoughts….

Just remember:

  1.  We have hardly started testing here in the states, so expect a burst of cases next week or two. Resist the urge to freak out too much over “spikes” in the near term but do watch the trends over time.
  2.  Reports are the tests are around 70% accurate. A roughly 30% false negative rate is not a good batting average on something this serious.

I’ve already made some lunch bets on how our media will play the data coming from #1 above over the next two weeks. They just can’t help themselves.

 

I’m often amazed by how hard simple mortality rate math seems to be for so many in our media.  Let’s take a look at this evening’s numbers off the Johns Hopkins dashboard:

Friday February 28th numbers as of 10pm Eastern.

85,176 confirmed cases, 2,919 deaths. That works out to a 3.4% mortality rate. Yeah there’s plenty of unavoidable errors and other problems in those numbers. That said, they do provide a useful peak into the “ballpark” of what’s really going on. That confirmed case number is undoubtedly on the low side so a good guess is that 3.4% is probably more like 2% global view.  Serious for sure, but far from a super plaque that’s going to wipe us all out.

Also note that number above is the global view. The mortality rate will vary country from country due to many factors including the differences in healthcare systems. The mortality rate for 1st world countries is obviously going to be less than a 3rd world country etc etc. Some countries are doing heavy testing, some barely doing any. As such even the best data out there leaves a lot to be desired. For the techies, remember GIGO.

 

Have faith that all the highly motivated talent locked in on this viral “scallywag” will figure out a vaccine for it. Problem is that will not happen overnight. So some good questions are how bad will the public panic be? Another is how bad will the economic carnage be? How overwhelmed will the medical system get?

It would be nice if our leaders would come together as a team, stop playing politics, and just be honest with us. Most of us can handle the truth no matter how ugly it is. Let’s tackle this problem in an informed fashion. Let’s learn what we can from it towards the next inevitable pandemic that could be far worse than this one.

 

Perspective is a good thing. Remember that this current flu season has already killed 10,000+ in the U.S, sickened 19 million, and put over 180,000 in the hospital thus far.

 

Maybe once this mess blows over we can have a global conversation about how far we want to go with our tinkering with Mother Nature in some of our labs. Rule #1 – Respect Mother Nature because she has zero respect for you.

 

WA4ZKO


Video – Coronavirus Pandemic?

February 26, 2020

Well this one will be a long ways from Packet Radio or EmComm.

First off, as a friend commented “Thank You to the WHO for not using the P word….yet.” Kid yourself not, as of today SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) is a pandemic.  The data now meets the definition of a pandemic. Ignoring reality does not change reality.

I can almost hear some of my “tin foil hat” readers going “oh boy this will be a good one.”  My friends, that know me better, are probably thinking “oh no, surely Jeff is not going to go full Alex Jones on us?” The first group is going to be disappointed. The second group can rest easy.

Sadly today too many folks turn mostly if not exclusively to social media, main stream media (MSM), late night comedians (#gasp), politicians (#doublegasp), and other daily propaganda outlets for their news. The problem with using these sources of information is that they are are now overflowing with click/view-bait, agenda peddling vs journalism, and copious amounts of endless alarmism. This makes it tough to find quality information as it becomes increasingly buried in an ever deepening noise floor.

This morning I had breakfast with some of my friends and one of them was falling prey to a lot of this alarmism and really stressing over things. After we watched and read some of the nonsense he was falling prey to we spent some time pealing him off the ceiling LOL. One of his granddaughters was clearly feeding him a lot of bad information off social media.

I told him not to fret and I’d put together an email with better sources of information. Since he clearly preferred videos, I went over to YouTube to see what could be found there. This evening was spent chuckling at a lot of the silliness out there along with lots of click bait and doomsday prepper peddling of this or that.

I eventually found a Doctor named Mike Hansen. Mike just seems to be a calm professional guy with nothing more than a passion for medicine and exercise. I liked that he’s not peddling anything, just calmly presenting facts as facts, providing professional insight, questionable data out of China treated with due skepticism, no politics, and admitting the unknowns. How refreshing eh?

Below is one of his videos on the topic that IMHO is worth a dozen minutes of your time if you’re concerned about Coronavirus. It is about 3 weeks old now. Since then he has posted other related update videos on his channel here that are worth viewing.

 

The Johns Hopkins Outbreak Map mentioned in many places is here. Another handy page is the U.S. CDC COVID-19 Situation Summary page here. I’d consider both good browser bookmark material.

 

If you must have something to ponder or worry about, then:

1.  The reporting out of China is not worth much. It’s most likely worse than reported, the question is how much worse?

2. What if this mutates into something more deadly?  That is not to make light of those ill with it or have died from the current version, but yes it could be worse.

3.  Let’s be brutally honest here. A good portion of our current society here in the states is hyper-fragile. They are quick to panic, constantly stressed out over silliness, and have poor to zero coping abilities when life gets challenging. Top that off with most of them are poorly prepared (if at all) for any serious emergency.

Personally….I’m far more worried about the panic side of this than the virus itself.

4.  If we see transportation impacts in our JIT (Just In Time) delivery economy the downstream impacts could be serious and spread quickly. Remember that if transportation is down then the shelves of your local grocery store are empty in a day or two. If mass panic is occurring then it may be gone in hours. For those that LOL observing how people freak over a incoming hurricane or winter storm it is not hard to picture how this could play out on a national scale.

5. What will be the economic impacts as more major world economies are impacted?

6. Now that it is spreading into other more “open” societies we should get more trustworthy numbers/data. Is this just a little more dangerous than the Flu, less dangerous, or a lot more dangerous? Time and better data will tell the story.

7.  If things start to really go sideways I would not want to be in some of our major cities.

8.  It’s an election year here in the states. In times like these douchebag politicians tend to double down on being douchebag politicians. A few will step up and try to do what’s right first and put politics on the backburner, but those are an increasingly rare species at the national level.

 

What to do?

Sorry, but I’m not going to give much detailed “prepping” advice here. Mostly just some things to consider. There is all kinds of preparedness information out there. Some of it gets a tad crazy, but some of it is good information worthy of consideration.

If you and your family are well prepared for a variety of likely natural disasters then you are in better shape than the vast majority of the population.  I’m not talking about the laughable recommendations of 3 or 5 days worth of supplies. Yeah a few days of supplies is better than nothing, but IMHO a month’s worth is a good minimal place to be.

Mentally brace yourself to not panic if others start panicking. Have a plan before you need it. Fear and panic are not helpful. This is serious, but not the end of the world. Heck we may just have to learn to live with it. The comparisons to the Flu are fair enough so far. It’s obvious that many don’t understand the annual mortality rate of the seasonal flu. As with many things in our society today, perspective is often MIA.

Don’t think your family needs to be at least minimally prepared to be on your own for a few weeks? Well go research the close call we had back in July 2012, the projected impacts, and see if you still feel the same way. How many of you even knew about it?

AGAIN – unless you or a loved one are in bad health then you should probably worry more about the potential impacts of widespread public panic than COVAD-19 itself.

Let’s hope in a few months we are looking back on this with a sigh of relief. Hopefully a lot of medical knowledge will be gained from it and maybe even a vaccine comes out of all this.,

 

WA4ZKO


RIP – Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician

February 24, 2020

Not packet radio related nor do I think she was a ham, but we have lost a math/space legend that we all owe a “tip of the hat” to.

NASA’s statement on the passing of Katherine Johnson at age 102 can be found here.

If you haven’t seen the movie “Hidden Figures” then watch it. It is well worth your time. At times you’ll be embarrassed by our history, but by the end it will (should) make you proud as hell to be an American and how far we’ve come.

PS – If you have a teenage daughter then please watch it with her and discuss afterwards. Many good life lessons can be drawn from it.

 

WA4ZKO


The Winlink QRM and Poor Choices Continue.

January 12, 2020

I get that our hobby is a “reflection of our society” so it’s not surprising to see so much lack of personal responsibility, lack of consideration of others, and the entitlement mentality increasingly on display. That said, one would think a group (Winlink) seeing so much ongoing anger, frustration, and regulatory heat aimed their way would realize they need to be making widespread on-air operational changes. Nope.

One only has to sort this list here by frequency and see a long list of poor frequency choices that are just asking for QRM problems. Admittedly on some bands the choices are tougher, but not impossible. There is zero excuse for what is observable there on a band like 20 meters.

Rather than be like virtually every other digital mode and pick one or two watering holes (centers of activity) they choose to spread across entire sub-bands like a virus. Then many of them set around apparently dumbfounded why so many are frustrated with the QRM their HF gateways and users cause and why someone like Ted Rappaport has so much support.

Thus what is easily STILL observable today begs the question of “is this leadership/gateway operator ignorance or arrogance?” Sorry for the harsh question, but what else is one left to conclude?

 

A few examples?

For many decades the Network 105 folks have used 14.105 LSB. For over a decade they have suffered ongoing QRM from Winlink gateways whose sysops either too lazy or too incompetent to make better QRG choices. Yet after all the drama of the last year or so we still see something like this:

#OhDear

Sadly this is just snippet of how several of the Winlink gateway operators just ask for and add fuel to dangerous regulatory fires like the Ted Rappaport/NYU mess. A mess that is undoubtedly the first of many our hobby is going to face until some operating behaviors change or they get HF Email gateways like Winlink banned or effectively shut down. Question for some of these gateway folks….is that what you want? Not to mention you’ve helped create a pending regulatory situation that threatens the entire digital side of the hobby. Bravo, good job, good freakin’ job….not.

Heck recently I was out west in the car swapping HF/6m antennas around before heading out to grab lunch for my crew. I tossed the 30m antenna on the mount to run an HF APRS test and check on the gateway back home. Flipped on the ham gear and the 30m APRS window is being clobbered by a Pactor 3 link in progress. Okay, NBD….I put the 6m whip back on the mount to use it for monitoring since driving around with a 7+ foot tall HF antenna on “her car’s” trunk isn’t going to happen LOL. Go down to Subway to get our takeout lunch, the link is still going. Leave the store, the link is still going. Get back to the office, link is still going.

After lunch I check to see who the hell was downloading half the internet on a crowded band like 30 meters LOL. Looked to be a VE7 /MM station downloading a pile of weather data. Okay, maybe he is at sea with no other options available like Satphone/SatFi/etc, but something tells me he had other more appropriate options available.  Something tells me there was either some WiFi available in port (hints that he was docked) or a satphone and either too lazy or cheap to use them.

Was his content legal? Yes if there is no “common carrier” angle to it. Was it appropriate and considerate use of crowded spectrum? Well that depends and I don’t want to get into the “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” debates or the like. All I can offer up is I would not be comfortable tying up several KHz of an already congested 10 KHz window for that long, especially if I had other options available. Again, I have no way of knowing his full situation or available options, but I’ve yet to meet a /MM operator that wasn’t packing a satphone with them at sea. Never mind that if they are on HF Winlink then they already have at least some (if not all) of the gear needed for HF SailMail.

 

Why don’t I use HF Winlink?

I’ve been asked before why I don’t use Winlink for remote email considering we often wind up in places where there is no WiFi and or cell service. Well I’m far from a “rich guy” but I have better ways to access my email. One is called a satphone plus a tablet or laptop. Laptop or tablet depends on our load-out & charging capacity. It isn’t broadband fast, but it gets the job done and a lot more spectrum considerate.

Portable SatPhone terminal for remote email access.

While sometimes I have to reposition for “clearer sky” the satphone has never failed us. The HF gear, if I even bring it with me is Plan C at best. Yes Plan C versus Plan B, since we usually have two satphones, my personal one and the other half has access to several from her aviation day job. Each is on a different constellation so we have system redundancy. If one of the aircraft is nearby then we have several voice and data options available on it although that’s a $$$ “generator” to fire up LOL.

I generally don’t use my winlink account for anything more than testing/stress testing the latest “version of the week” of Winlink Express with the Tracker modem/firmware across RP, 1200 and 9600 baud. This also allows confirmation that the club RMS gateway is operating fine and the newest version hasn’t broken something.

I prefer access to my personal and work email addresses in a more secure and spectrum considerate manner. Since I still run a business a lot of even my personal/hobby email threads can easily wander into biz related communications. Thus I just keep all my email flows off Part 97 spectrum and never have to worry receiving an email that I read and think “oh boy, that wasn’t suitable for Part 97 airwaves.”

Real world use has shown the satphones are 10x more reliable and usually 1000x more appropriate than HF email. Never mind that where we are often camping/fishing can be a 1 or 2 day horseback ride in. The reality of that means if we have a dire emergency in the backcountry then we are neck deep in “the land of you are on your own for awhile.”  HF Email = unlikely to be immediately useful unless we’re sending our preferred obituary language to the family LOL.

grandeur

“I believe there’s something to be said for exploring beautiful places…it’s good for the spirit.”   David Scott (Cmdr Apollo 15)

In most remote location dire emergency scenarios I’m not going for a HF radio first. Sorry guys wrong tool for the job. I’m activating a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon…think EPIRB for land use). Preferably going to activate two of them. We have one in each medical pack plus an air-band HT with one pack to compliment our usual FM gear. From there we’re going to be making some satphone calls while one of us finds a helicopter LZ.  There is no just dialing 911 and a few minutes later we have an EMS squad pulling into our driveway as there is no driveway out there.  #PlanAccordingly #GearUpAccordingly

Family/friends on our registered emergency SARSAT contact lists know they are on it. They know to tell the SAR folks that one PLB active might be accidental, but unlikely so send the cavalry and keep trying both satphone numbers. If both PLBs are active then that’s not an accidental activation, tell that cavalry to step it up along with ensuring they know which VHF air & UHF FM frequencies we’ll be guarding for their approach or overflight.

When you are where cell service = nil to maybe one bar up on high ground on the right side of the mountain (if lucky) some good rules are….

Rule #1 – Be prepared for emergencies.

Rule #2 – Have a plan, at least for the most likely scenarios.

Rule #3 – Have a backup plan since the first plan may not work.

All skill is in vain when that Angel named Murphy pisses in the flintlock of your musket.”  My friend Tim’s adaptation of an old military saying.

Rule #4 – Don’t depend upon cheap gear made in a sweatshop in a certain SE Asian country. Quality is cheap when a life is expensive. 

 

So far over several years now we’ve only had one minor (compared to what it could of been) medical issue out there involving an ugly fall resulting in a broken wrist and head laceration. We splinted and bandaged her up. Then rode her out (~5 hours) on our strongest/calmest horse…..for the locals, good ol’ “do it all, seen it all” Star. The satphone performed just fine when used for hourly check-ins once out of UHF range and calling a SP dispatch friend to fill them in on our location, plans, and flight weather checking some air-evac resources (aka “that backup plan”).

Hard to describe the priceless comfort of looking over to see the L-band satphone strapped to my shoulder locked onto a constellation of serious communication birds above us. A GPS synced up solid so we knew exactly where we were at on our reverse track out. Comforting knowing that we had “fly her out” options available at the press of “Send” if she started showing any signs that the head injury was more serious than just needing a few stitches.

While taking a break by the river and letting her call her Dad back in Connecticut to fill him in on what happened, I watched thinking “Geez isn’t modern comm-tech just amazing.” Needless to say that was one phone and airtime bill that I gladly paid. Also several ounces of weight that I will never complain about packing around. #WorthEveryPenny #WorthEveryOunce

GlobalStar

Iridium

 

All that is not “dissing” HF. It just is what it is in today’s modern communications world.

I realize that some hams will take any criticism of HF too seriously. Others think every EmComm nail requires a Part 97 hammer. The above is not intended to be critical of HF or ham radio, but in today’s communications world the Part 97 hammer is often not the first tool you should be reaching for. If it is all you have then fine, but if you’re at sea or enjoying the great outdoors well outside of cell service then it should NOT be the only option you have. Plus I’ve yet to figure out a practical and effective HF antenna setup for /HM (horseback mobile) LOL.

Moving on…

 

Ham Radio is not to be a Common Carrier.

Remember we are not to be using Part 97 spectrum as a “common carrier.” I would not be surprised if we get a “reminder” of that from the FCC here in a few weeks.

If you are regularly using email over Part 97 spectrum to communicate with non-hams when you have other more appropriate options available then I think we all know deep down that is, at best, dancing dangerously close to common carrier use. Spin all you wish, it is what it is and 97.113 says what it says.

 

Be considerate of how much HF airtime you use.

Our HF spectrum is not yours, you share it with others. More accurately one could say it belongs to the public and it is all just “on lease” for us to use towards the items listed in the Scope and Purpose of the Amateur Radio Service. If we don’t put it to good use then it’s subject to being reallocated away from us to those that will put it to better uses. The recent bad news for our currently allocated spectrum is just foreplay for the spectrum sucking monster that is coming. #WakeUp #UseMoreBands #MoreHamRadioLessHamInternet

What you do on HF has a high chance of impacting others either positively or negatively so operate accordingly, especially on our very crowded lower HF bands. I used to catch heat from some of the BBS crowd when KYPN’s policy was (still is) that we were not going to tie up 80/40/30 meters with heavy BBS bulletin forwarding. Restrained use for p-mail and NTS flows was okay, but that was all we were comfortable with.

In years past it was common to see bulletin forwarding sessions (not ours) on 40 and 30 meters that went on for hours…yes hours. All to move stuff highly unlikely to be read by anyone and easily available elsewhere. Hard to reconcile that with considerate operating.

Obviously message forwarding over VHF/UHF is a whole different story compared to HF. One could argue we could use more utilization of the VHF/UHF packet channels.

 

 

Emergencies and the occasional training exercises = different story.

Obviously actual emergency/disaster HF communications equal a whole different story. You do what you gotta do and most of us will gladly clear off all the HF spectrum and airtime you need.

If you have a problem with that or “the EmComm” folks then go review 97.1 and The Amateurs Code….or just turn in your ham license. ’nuff said.

 

73
WA4ZKO


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


FAQs – KYPN’s Stance on the Winlink vs NYU-Rappaport Clusterfudge

December 19, 2019

Ah, the Winlink versus NYU-Rappaport clusterfudge in progress. My, my, oh my what a mess the kids have made with this one.

I think G8BPQ summed up the core issue very well here:

“This is not an issue with Pactor but with FBB compression, which has been around on packet as well as pactor for over 25 years. To use it as an excuse to ban Pactor is laughable.”  John Wiseman, G8BPQ

Yeah, that John, the guy that rarely publicly comments on such things. I think I saw where even Phil Karn (KA9Q) voiced his concerns over this silliness.

 

For those asking “what if” the FCC does this or that with this Rappaport vs Winlink mess?

There are some good folks involved with Winlink. Unfortunately Winlink leadership and some of it’s HF gateway operators (and some users) have been their own worst enemy. As such many of us really struggle to feel sorry for them.

Ted Rappaport is definitely Winlink’s worst nightmare come true and a large flock of their chickens have come home to roost. That said, we are gravely concerned for all the collateral damage Ted’s poorly chosen approach here may bring to large swaths of the digital side of the hobby.

There used to be this well founded old ham wisdom about “Police ourselves, work together to solve our problems, and think twice before asking the FCC for their opinion.” Why? It has this nasty way of coming back to bite us all in our backsides.

While I’m sympathetic to some of Ted’s concerns, others are just off the charts ridiculous. Even worse it opened the doors to some more perpetually miserable, easily offended, and overly entitled kids wanting to get in on the dramafest.  Wow, all over core problems that could of been solved with some HF bandplan tweaks, Winlink leadership not ignoring ongoing complaints, Winlink HF gateways being A LOT more considerate in frequency choices, and better enforcement against flagrant abuses of our spectrum using the existing rules.

Given the spread of lack of personal responsibility and perpetual adolescence across our society today, I’m not surprised by this mess at all. Even more sadly, I suspect this is just the first legal battle on this topic. Something tells me Ted and crew are not going to give up if they don’t get the ruling they want this time around. Especially if it’s true what some think is actually driving this. All as we head into a new decade full of increasing threats to our spectrum from commercial interests that would love to see our ranks distracted and divided.

Plus let’s not kid ourselves here, Winlink is far from the only bad actor on our HF bands when it comes to piss poor operating, violations, and unnecessary QRM.  How much are you hearing about that side of things? ’nuff said.

 

Did Winlink contact you regarding the Open Message Viewer?

That question pretty much blew up the inbox for a couple weeks earlier this year. No they never contacted me regarding the Winlink Open Message Viewer or about the “A Compromise?” suggestions in one of my 2018 blog postings.

The interesting part was watching how long it took for the bulk of the ham Winlink community to realize it was out there. It was there for awhile before the news on it blew up. A lot of what followed reminded me of that old farmer saying of “If the rooster is crowing then he’s damn sure been in the henhouse.” LOL

IMHO what they did was a good start towards some needed transparency. I think a years worth of archives should be the minimal retention period. Should also be searchable by band and time/date period which would make going back to ID a QRM source a lot easier. Would even be handy for the ARRL to vet the Field Day bonus point messages having at least used some non-LTE (LOL) RF to leave the sites.

Gateway operators and members of the Official Observer program should be able to sign up for ongoing archives via email so they can archive and search for problems as needed. Now that it is undeniable that the Winlink system is being abused by some users, it seems the above would be a good minimal foundation towards real transparency and deterring abusive/violative behaviors.

I have mixed feelings about putting the archives behind a login. There are ways to mask out email addresses and PII data before serving it up publicly while maintaining the original message in case needed by the FCC.

 

For those I saw commenting “our served agencies are going to freak out over that Open Message Viewer”

Well that’s on you. You clearly oversold yourselves and the system to your served agencies. Anything that sensitive should of never been going over Part 97 airwaves to begin with. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything they want and frankly you shouldn’t be doing so.

It’s NOT the job nor the proper role of ham radio to routinely be the “Plan B” they should already have. Be the backup for their backup and make it clear what you can and can’t do for them.  Undersell, over deliver not the reverse. Learn to say “no” to folks that just want you to save them some budget money for backup comm gear they should already have.

We are the Amateur Radio Service not the Emergency Radio Service so know where draw that line. Hint, hint the FCC has previously reminded us of that.

 

The K4KPN-14 RMS Gateway’s future?

I suspect its days are numbered. Regardless, rest fully assured that I will not loose a single tear as I edit the config file on the Jonesville node/app stack to disable the RMS functions and restart things. You may well hear a “thank you lord” shouted from the radio room LOL. Those that followed the old blog know that I’m not exactly a big fan of Winlink.

The RMS gateway app on that BPQ32 node stack has been and continues to be an optional component of our local AuxComm digital plan in that it “might” be handy in some limited cases. That was turned on after hints and nudging from KY ARES, yet the only consistent ARES usage has been out of Ohio…not Kentucky LOL. Don’t get me wrong, they are welcome on the system, but that’s not our primary service area. Once the Winlink Open Message Viewer and WinlinkArmageddon news hit the ranks then the already minimal usage disappeared over the summer.

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.

 

Predictions on the FCC ruling?

Who knows. I want to have faith that the FCC can sort through all the noise and give us a good ruling that doesn’t cripple a radio service that is already struggling to remain relevant and facing increasing threats to our spectrum.

I’m starting to detect they may not be overly happy with the PITA the ARS is becoming for them. Remember they don’t exactly make money off us.

We also need to realize that we don’t have a Riley Hollingsworth working at the FCC anymore. One of the things that makes what Ted & Crew did so darn reckless.

A good ruling could actually bring some clarity to some of the issues brought up here.

That said, if my ARES/AuxComm/CERT team was dependent upon Winlink I would be working on Plan B for my digital messaging needs.

 

73
WA4ZKO