[OT] Re: On the air easy thanks to the Magic of Direwolf

Don Fanning don at 00100100.net
Wed Apr 18 16:22:34 PDT 2018

Recently, the company I work for invited the director of the City of 
Seattle EOC over for a brown bag as we're only a couple blocks from each 
other.  The long and short of it is that anyone working in EMCOMM within 
King County isn't looking to learn lots of new software or gadgets.  The 
end user audience is essentially: office workers.  So that means phones, 
faxes and emails - and HamWAN's allure.  If one could snap a picture and 
transmit it over 2-way radio, even better as during the last Cascadia 
exercise that was one of the highlighted "improvements" over previous 
exercises. So, unless your passion is teaching entire offices of 
quazi-governmental workers how to pass a FCC test or are content with 
being the guy that's referred to "Oh, well.. we do have that guy over 
there who could send a message for some logistical needs...", the 
benefit in their eyes is purely being the backup of the backup when the 
generator dies or CenturyLink's Central Office goes into a catastrophic 

As for the Win/Linux debate, being OS ambivalent, would like to remind 
that Windows 10 is available for ARM processors in the IoT space - thus 
likely could run dire wolf - let alone be ran on a $50 Kodi box.  If 
it's as simple as some scripts and color coded cables to wire a radio to 
the discriminator port  and your soundcard,  I don't see the fuss.

Software at today's computing power is way more adaptive than the 1970's 
era IC's inside a TNC-2.  While I hate wasting perfectly good tech or 
money, the fact that a RPi3 can easily outdo what an PK-900/232 can once 
matching hardware is added - and it still fits into my pocket/bag vs my 
PK-900 and it power supply and AEA Tomb of Knowledge contained in 3 
rings and hardcovers just to work the thing.

In today's world and "sharing economy", maybe the better way would be to 
Uber your shack out - whatever it may be - and get some side income just 
for letting them burn your electric and heat the sky.  It would also 
keep the waste down.  Only problem is the very nature of radio is 
getting enough propagation.  While I can see every major city using one 
or two logistical "wormholes" to span the empty distances, I can't see 
the need to continue to carry every single boat anchor from now back to 
1982 while touting how well today's tech is.

While I suspect many on here either has built or rebuilt a heathkit 
either due to interest (mental or fiscal), I can't say the same for kids 
under 30 today...   And tbh, it's a different world now with FPGA and 
desktop 3d printer vs wirewrap and tuning your tubes or "filing" on 
oscillator crystals.  Today's experimenters are doing it today - but not 
on ham bands due to archaic content/speed restrictions.  It would be so 
much easier to say, "These bands are reserved for experimentation and 
not corporations."  While the novelty of talking around the world isn't 
as big a thing anymore, the half-duplex of SSB/Voice or the magic of 
wireless data still brings a interest and stokes the passion.

I think the hobby needs to align with that reality - or people need to 
look to revamp citizen bands with digital technology.

my .02 de KL7EET

On 2018-04-17 03:10 PM, Bob Nielsen wrote:
> IMHO, Windows 10 has become more difficult to use than MacOS or most 
> forms of Linux.  I hadn't really used Windows much in recent years but 
> since most (non-Chirp) programming software is only available for 
> Windows I picked up a recent laptop for that use.  I have now reached 
> an age where forgetfulness is becoming a regular thing and I don't 
> expect to recall everything that I have learned since I started using 
> computers 53 years ago (actually I punched a bunch of data cards 61 
> years ago).  Still, it is taking me a lot longer than I would have 
> expected to come up to speed on a number of points.  A few minutes ago 
> I was attempting to download a codeplug for my latest DMR radio and in 
> the midst of typing in the URL in Edge, suddenly I was on some Bing 
> web page and had to start over.  Whatever happened to good old CLI 
> where I always felt that I was in control of the process?
> Pardon my ranting.
> Bob, N7XY
> On 4/16/18 2:07 PM, Scott Currie wrote:
>> Thanks Steve!
>> For the cool kidz who want to play with this stuff outside of the 
>> EMCOMM environment, I'm fine with that, have fun, pledge allegiance 
>> to the penguin and trash Windows all you want (I've done plenty of 
>> that myself) For the life of me, I can't figure out why any cool kidz 
>> would actually want to do /_anything_/ with such slow data rates, but 
>> I present my test results here for you to ponder (or laugh at).
>> Like it or not, the typical EMCOMM volunteer these days is a Tech 
>> with an HT, runs a Windows laptop, and can barely unzip a file (and 
>> won't know what to do with it after that). God bless them, they 
>> /_do_/ volunteer, take the ICS classes, come to the training 
>> sessions, the public service events, and the drills, and will 
>> probably be there when disaster strikes. I can (maybe) teach them to 
>> get Winlink Express running with their radios and send some useful 
>> digital comms. No way I will get them functional on Linux, or even a 
>> Mac. We got another bunch sending 1200b packets at the workshop this 
>> weekend, and a handful might even play at faster speeds somewhere 
>> down the road.
>> Winlink Express is by no means state of the art, but it does work, is 
>> easy to learn, and will be useful in a disaster. If y'all come up 
>> with something better, I'll test it, and even adopt it if I think I 
>> can train the masses on it.
>> -Scott
>> On Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 1:34 PM, Steve Stroh <steve.stroh at gmail.com 
>> <mailto:steve.stroh at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>     I had a small epiphany (actually many, but only one I'll address
>>     below) at Communications Academy 2018 this past weekend.
>>     Apologies, Scott, for my past participation as one of the "cool
>>     kidz".
>>     In defense of Scott... and even though I'm guilty of the same thing
>>     the same thing I'm going to address below...
>>     If you're serious about promoting the use of Amateur Radio for
>>     Emergency Communications, I think we should drop the "Windows only"
>>     purity test, that if a particular system is "Windows only" it's not
>>     worthy of consideration in consideration of higher data rates in
>>     Amateur Radio VHF/UHF.
>>     The reality is Windows is THE platform for many / most average users
>>     at the moment, until someone is successful in developing an
>>     "appliance" that is as "easy" (yeah, I know that's a loaded term) to
>>     use as a TNC and can be widely / easily supported, including peer to
>>     peer training.
>>     The primary driver for Windows usage in Amateur Radio, other than the
>>     fact that everyone... literally everyone... knows how to use it (yes,
>>     even you Linux / BSD and Mac folks - you can muddle through it if you
>>     have* to), is that Winlink is a dominant force in Amateur Radio
>>     Emergency Communications. For a LOT of formal Emergency
>>     Communications, it is THE environment. Closely coupled with that is
>>     that the most polished, best supported, best available training, to
>>     ACCESS Winlink is Winlink Express... which is Windows only.
>>     (There could be comparable software to Winlink Express for other
>>     platforms... there just isnt
>>     Scott is doing an amazing job evangelizing "better than 1200" data
>>     rates. He did an exhausting set of presentations this weekend at Comm
>>     Academy. He (and others) can only do that because he's using
>>     Windows -
>>     a platform that nearly everyone is comfortable with and doesn't have
>>     to teach a whole new platform before he even gets the new paradigm of
>>     a software modem. It's hard enough to get the idea across that
>>     the TNC
>>     needs to be abandoned (after 30 years). The Windows-only UZ7HO
>>     software is reasonably well polished. Given the dominance of Windows
>>     in general, and Winlink Express in particular, the fact that UZ7HO is
>>     Windows-only is a non-issue.
>>     But trying to evangelize "faster than 1200, don't use a TNC" AND
>>     debating "the cool kidz who don't like Windows" is asking too much.
>>     * Scott convinced me that if you are one of those who hate Windows...
>>     get over it, and get in the game, by buying a reasonably-priced
>>     Windows appliance like this:
>>     https://amzn.to/2ER3rRS (Amazon Associates link that would credit me
>>     if you buy from that link)
>>     Buy a Windows appliance. Firewall it if you need to and never let its
>>     Internet bits transit your home network. Take it to the library or
>>     Starbucks when it needs to periodically update itself. Install
>>     software from a USB flash drive. Etc. Point being, it's a MANAGEABLE
>>     issue to treat it like a dedicated appliance.
>>     I'll reserve judgement on the merits of Dire Wolf vs UZ7HO
>>     overall - I
>>     just haven't used both enough to have a qualified opinion. Yes, kudos
>>     to Dire Wolf for being open source and thus port-able to other
>>     platforms (like the above fantasized "appliance"). But equal kudos to
>>     UZ7HO for making software modems polished enough to the point where
>>     people like Scott can consider bearing the pain and effort to
>>     evangelize the concept of advancing beyond the TNC to our fellow
>>     Amateur Radio operators who don't live and breathe packet radio,
>>     Linux, Raspberry Pi, etc.
>>     Also, if you're a REAL cool kidz, you can use UZ7HO on a Windows
>>     appliance with your "more pure" platform. The various bits of UZ7HO
>>     are modularized, coupled together using IP addresses and sockets. By
>>     default, they're set to, but if you're really cool, you can
>>     change that to let the UZ7HO software operate as a modem, and the
>>     higher levels of the stack can be on your favorite platform.
>>     Thanks,
>>     Steve N8GNJ
>>     On Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 12:46 PM, Bill Vodall <wa7nwp at gmail.com
>>     <mailto:wa7nwp at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>     >> OK, next test.
>>     >
>>     >> This is running VARA FM, the HF modem optimized for VHF FM links.
>>     >
>>     > Windows only?
>>     >
>>     >> First test, running the radios in "1200" mode on 145.030MHz.
>>     Ideal path,
>>     >> radios are 15' apart. VARA FM stayed in 3rd gear, but still
>>     very good
>>     >> *** Sent 1 message.  Bytes: 30800,  Time: 01:19, 
>>     bytes/minute: 23174
>>     >
>>     >> Next with the radios set to "9600" mode. VARA FM shifted all
>>     the way up to
>>     >> 5th gear (top gear). This comes very close to 9600 packet!
>>     >> *** Sent 1 message.  Bytes: 30828,  Time: 00:47, 
>>     bytes/minute: 38905
>>     >
>>     > 9600 was less than double the 1200 mode...  I sure wish they'd
>>     > standardize on CPS..
>>     >
>>     > Was this with Discriminator flat audio or 'real' audio?
>>     >
>>     > Is there a middle mode that would work with radios that don't have
>>     > flat audio?  To get something (3600?  4800?) better than 1200.
>>     >
>>     >>
>>     >
>>     > Bill, WA7NWP
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>>     -- 
>>     Steve Stroh (personal / general): stevestroh at gmail.com
>>     <mailto:stevestroh at gmail.com>
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>> -- 
>> */-Scott/*
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