Category: Amateur Radio

The Future of Ham Radio: Freedom

This article on the ARRL website summarizes quite well the situation with ham radio – and radio in general.

Although it is exciting to be part of a club of radio enthusiasts around the world, one must question whether the licensing system on its own is a hindrance both to freedom and innovation.

The basic debate has these two sides:

Restrict Frequencies for Licencees

“By proving skills and taking tests, you can keep a higher quality of person on the frequencies.  If we don’t do this we will have CB radio on ham frequencies”

Let Them Go

“By restricting access to the airwaves we all breath and share, you are exerting controls that should not be there – especially on a technology that enables humans to transmit data.  By restricting the airwaves you are limiting both God-given freedom of speech but also innovation because the technology remains only in the hands of those who can (and will) exploit it for gain.”

And it’s a very great debate and one worthy of fighting for.

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Should Amateur (Ham) Radio Operators Submit to Distracted Driving Laws?

Should ham radio operators be treated as cell phone users and ticked for using their radios in the car?

 

++ SHORT VERSION ++

No.

They shouldn’t.

===================

++ EXTENDED VERSION ++

Unlike cell phones, radios are simple devices with big buttons.  While looking at the road,  you grab this big dangling mic thing (think truck driver saying “breaker breaker one-niner, little buddy”), in the same way you would grab your big travel mug, and start talking into it, much like how you talk to your travel mug when it dribbles down your chin when you misalign the hole where the coffee comes out and pour down your nose and cheekbone while scalding yourself.

So, unless you would like to start ticketing coffee-drinking commuters and fining them like a down town parking meter maid then I suggest you go and find better things to do with your time, oh wonderful law enforcers of the world.  The guy texting may be a better target and if I got caught texting and driving I wouldn’t argue the ticket.

The main issue is this: ham radio operators, if you take away their mobile communications, take away most of the value.  If/when the entire communications system goes down, mobile ham radio operators will be a big part in emergency communications.  What I see happening now is that radio operators are simply not bringing their radios to the car or not using it while in the car. They don’t want to risk the ticket.  So they are also losing contact with each other and the entire community is taking a hit as a result.

Although it’s not technically illegal, the police officers don’t seem to know that.  Here is a story I wrote a while back about my experience.

WHY IT’S ALMOST NOT WORTH BEING A MOBILE HAM RADIO OPERATOR

These fine chaps from the Delta, BC Radio club have taken the  ‘political approach’.  You know, like trying to do the right thing. That’s fine if you have time to do so and great for trying.  However, the problem now is that neither police officer nor licensed hams know exactly what the law says about it.

DELTA BC AMATEUR RADIO GUYS TRY TO MAKE THINGS BETTER FOR MOBILE HAMS

Unless there is a concerted effort to properly train police officers in every district to not only stop bothering hams, but actually encourage them, I’m not very optimistic about the future of ham radio as it is.  Perhaps that’s a good thing though.  Perhaps the ham community needs to find new and interesting ways to build community…

 

 

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How to Remove or Delete the Tone for Repeater Use in Baofeng UV-5R

This is part of a series of posts that hopefully will save people a bunch of time.

How to Delete or Remove the Tone for Repeater Use in Baofeng UV-5R

Important note: if you wait more than 9 seconds between any step below it will automatically go back to home screen and you have to start again, so work those fingers, baby!

  1. Press Menu button
  2. Press 13 on keypad (T-CTCS).  This will bring you to the section of menu where you can edit the tone frequency which will get you into repeaters.
  3. Press menu button again.  This means “I am now editing this part of the menu”. You’ll see a little arrow appear if you have options to see by using the arrow keys.  In this case, a menu will appear because you can toggle between all the tone options.
  4. Toggle with up/down arrows to the setting you want. You can either press the button repeatedly, or press and hold which will turbo-speed you through the frequencies, but what you need to do is get to  *one step above 254HZ* or *one step below 67HZ* which will show the ‘OFF” option.
  5. Press Menu again. This means “I am now saving the settings I edited in step 4. If the voice audio is on you will hear ‘confirm’ which means victory
  6. Press ‘exit’ to get back to the home screen or just wait the 9 seconds or more and it will go there for you automatically

Note for this setting: You will *not* see any indication on your home screen that you have no tone on until you transmit.  When you transmit you will *NOT* see CT lettering appear which means you successfully deleted/removed the tone.

Done! You’ve got rid your tone thingy.

Go to this page for more tutorials as I write them:

RANDOM BAOFENG UV-5R TUTORIALS

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How to Set the Tone for Repeater Use in Baofeng UV-5R

This is part of a series of posts that hopefully will save people a bunch of time.

How to Set the Tone for Repeater Use in Baofeng UV-5R

Important note: if you wait more than 9 seconds between any step below it will automatically go back to home screen and you have to start again, so work those fingers, baby!

  1. Press Menu button
  2. Press 13 on keypad (T-CTCS).  This will bring you to the section of menu where you can edit the tone frequency which will get you into repeaters.
  3. Press menu button again.  This means “I am now editing this part of the menu”. You’ll see a little arrow appear if you have options to see by using the arrow keys.  In this case, a menu will appear because you can toggle between all the tone options.
  4. Toggle with up/down arrows to the setting you want. You can either press the button repeatedly, or press and hold which will turbo-speed you through the frequencies.
  5. Press Menu again. This means “I am now saving the settings I edited in step 4. If the voice audio is on you will hear ‘confirm’ which means victory
  6. Press ‘exit’ to get back to the home screen or just wait the 9 seconds or more and it will go there for you automatically

Note for this setting: You will *not* see any indication on your home screen that you have a tone on until you transmit.  When you transmit you will then see a CT lettering appear which means you got the tone saved successfully.

Done! You’ve got your tone thingy all set.

Now, you need my tutorial page below to figure out how to remove that little gaffer because it ain’t that simple!

Go to this page for more tutorials as I write them:

RANDOM BAOFENG UV-5R TUTORIALS

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How to Set the Plus/Minus Offset Duplex Setting for Repeater Use in Baofeng UV-5R

This is part of a series of posts that hopefully will save people a bunch of time.

How to Set the Plus/Minus (+/-) Offset Duplex for Repeater Use in Baofeng UV-5R

Important note: if you wait more than 9 seconds between any step below it will automatically go back to home screen and you have to start again, so work those fingers, baby!

  1. Press Menu button
  2. Press 25 on keypad.  This will bring you to the section of menu where you can edit whether duplex is + or – (default is 600 by the way).
  3. Press menu button again.  This means “I am now editing this part of the menu”. You’ll see a little arrow appear if you have options to see by using the arrow keys.  In this case, a menu will appear because you can toggle between + , – and blank
  4. Toggle with up/down arrows to the setting you want.
  5. Press Menu again. This means “I am now saving the settings I edited in step 4. If the voice audio is on you will hear ‘confirm’ which means victory
  6. Press ‘exit’ to get back to the home screen or just wait the 9 seconds or more and it will go there for you automatically

Done! You’ve got your offset duplex thing all set.

Go to this page for more tutorials as I write them:

RANDOM BAOFENG UV-5R TUTORIALS

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How to Quickly Manually Program a Frequency in Baofeng UV-5R

This will be a series of posts that hopefully will save people a bunch of time.

How to Simply Manually Punch in a Frequency

 

  1. push VFO/MR orange button to make sure it’s in ‘frequency mode’, not in ‘channel mode’.  If you have the voice feature on (on by default) the girl will tell you which mode you are in.  Push it again to check if you aren’t sure and cycle through the two options
  2. Punch in all the numbers in frequency but don’t forget the last number.  146.55 for example you would punch in as 146550

Done! You’ve got your frequency.

But you might not have your tone or your offset frequency.  To deal with those bad boys, try:

HOW TO SET THE OFFSET FREQUENCY FOR REPEATER USE IN BAOFENG UV-5R

and…

HOW TO SET THE TONE FOR REPEATER USE IN BAOFENG UV-5R

 

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Should I Kill my Dumb Smart Phone Forever?

You know, sometimes you read an article and when you read it you are sure it’s wisdom screaming out at you.  You know there is truth there.  You know you should listen.  This article is just such an article but before reading it, let me state a few things:

  • she should also ditch google and all the other invasive companies who are ruining her life secretly
  • is there a need even for the landline?  This is a debate on with my friends now.

The ‘cell phone’ has become a ‘computer in your holster’.  Everyone knows it.  Everyone feels the addiction and gets panicky when they can’t feel the bulge in their pocket…

It is undeniably a chain, a leash and perhaps even a noose.

Also shared by my buddies was this link.

This article speaks of some technological and privacy reasons why it might be wise to bench the stench.

What we need to do here at W.O.T. is create a useful series about how to break the chain of addiction one day at a time.

Oh! There is one solution, like the landline, not mentioned here and that is that you could get your ham radio license (amateur radio) and communicate just fine and dandy in plain view of the world.  Then you can say “Text??  How about ham me at VE7CAK at 5:00pm?”  Actually, you *can* text message with ham radio, if you want.  I’ve forced my parents to license up because one neato thing not mentioned in any of these articles is that these dumb phones are radio transmitters that can’t talk to each other without a cell phone tower or wifi connection in between.  In Canada, that means they are useless across most of the land!  So with radio you control your own network, not your telecom. Ham radio baby.

This dumb smart phone ain’t no bottle of vodka – it’s much stronger.

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Morse Code in Music

As a licensed and active amateur radio operator, I started learning morse code a few months back.  My reasoning is that it’s like audible brail – why would I not want to learn that?  If I was fluent at it I could communicate effectively without words…

Anyway, my buddy Joe found this video on youtube which actually caught me off guard and make me wonder more of the history of Morse Code and what kind of people surround it.  I was surprised to see some of the modern folks who used it… but I digress.

For now, just watch this interesting video about modern use of morse code in music.  Please note that there are some highly offensive sections so if you have kids this wouldn’t be a good fit for them, sadly.

Here is the video about Morse Code in music.

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Sound problem with Qtel (open source Echolink) in Ubuntu 14.04

If you are looking to get set up Echolink on your shiny new Ubuntu 14.04 machine, be sure to read the how to article I wrote before.

However, even after having such a formidable victory and feeling waves of joy when the repeater list finally populated Qtel on my Trusty Tahr, I had a less-than-raring experience of not being able to hear the ECHOTEST server, or any other repeater, sound.

I remember VA7OBI told me that he had success when he opened 5200 TCP but when I tried everything it didn’t work for me.  In fact, remind me to publish the way that this frustration led me to fighting my ISP and how I got two months free internet out of the deal…but I digress… After I did a DMZ on my computer it instantly started working so it was definitely a port problem.

Here is what solved my problem *instantly*.

1. Open router or modem/router configuration page

2. Go to your firewall settings. 

3. Open (or often called ‘port forwarding’) the following port range:

5198-5199 UDP

4. Make sure this new rule in your router/modem is pointing to the machine (or multiple machines) where Qtel is installed.  In my case it was 192.168.1.75 to show an example IP address.

If you don’t know how to find your IP address, it’s very easy in Ubuntu.  Just open your terminal (control + alt + t) and type this:

ifconfig

you will see this kind of spew:

eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:16:76:b4:24:17
inet addr:192.168.1.75  Bcast:192.168.1.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
inet6 addr: fe80::216:76ff:feb4:2417/64 Scope:Link
UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
RX packets:11386 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:10070 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:9551513 (9.5 MB)  TX bytes:1181280 (1.1 MB)

eth0 is your hardwired connection which mine, obviously is.  If your machine is connected by wifi, it will look roughly the same but you will see ‘wlan0’ or something like that which will have your ipaddress beside it like mine above.

Now just make sure those 5198-5199 UDP ports are open and pointing to that machine where qtel is.

Final note: your modem/router may, from time to time, send out new IP addresses to your computer(s).  If Qtel stops working one day again, it’s probably just a matter of running this tutorial again and updating your IP address in the port forwarding rule in your router/modem.

If you feel really saucy and snazzy, you could set a static IP address for your machine and never run this tutorial again. I’m too lazy for now so I’ll risk having to do this again, ha.

Take it easy and keep on being Ubuntu

 

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How to Use Echolink (QTEL) on Ubuntu 14.04

Thanks to Joe for actually searching the solution(s) and emailing me.  I figured we should publish this for others.  I figured worst case scenario, I would probably need to log these solutions for later when I forget, ha.

First of all, you can apparently use the native Echolink windows app using Wine in Ubuntu. But that’s kind of like praying while sitting on the toilet – it might work but it just feels wrong.  But I digress.

I will use this outdated tutorial designed for Ubuntu.   This is kind of like roasting your own coffee – it might be hard, and there might be a faster way to do it but nothing compares to that first sip if you sweat it out.  But I digress again…

Let’s put this Qtel thing onto our Fresh and Saucy Ubuntu 14.04 machines so we can ham with our homeboys in Nunavut.

Edit 140728 – It seems that Joe’s ports 5200 below did *not* help me but, everything was solved when I opened port range 5198-5199 UDP only in my router.  Instantly my Qtel sound was working on Ubuntu 14.04.  I hope this helps you all!  I’ll so another post exclusively on this issue.

Edit 140718

So, if you want the long and painful story of what I had to go through before I finally got Qtel (echolink) working on my Ubuntu 14.04 machine, please take all the time in the world and read through the story. It’s kind of funny if you like watching people suffer.  Otherwise, I’m just leaving it below to hopefully catch a bunch of SEO and save other people from the certain loss of hair and sanity as they try to figure it out.  The solution turned out to be very fast and easy, thanks to Joe (VA7OBI).  All of that will begin under the header “The Long Battle” below.

How to Get Qtel (Echolink) Running on your Ubuntu 14.04 machine

First, we  are not sure if you need this PPA added to your machine.  Both of us added it before doing this so let us know this tutorial works without adding it as we are both curious (sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-hams-updates/ppa) .  If this tutorial doesn’t work for you, come back and add that repository.

1. Add the “Felix Repository”

In your terminal (control + alt + t) enter this verbatim and press enter: sudo apt-add-repository ppa:felix.lechner/hamradio

2. Open software center. Go to Software Sources

qtel-tut-soft-sources-01
Should see something like this list:
qtel-tut-source-list

Go through and find the ‘felix repository’ which will look something like this but the end will be different (maybe):

qtel-tut-felix-source

3.  Click ‘edit’ and a box will pop up like this.  Change ‘trusty’ to ‘raring’ in that field.  If you are still on ‘Raring Ringtail’ then you don’t even need this tutorial because it should work as is now. For those of us on 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) Just change it back to ‘raring’ like this image:

qtel-tut-felix-source-raring

Click ‘ok’ and then ‘save’ or whatever the option is.  Then, do the same thing for the ‘source code’ line as well. Do ‘edit’ and change the name to raring so you end up with it looking like this

qtel-tut-felix-final

4. Now, go back to your terminal and run these two commands one after the other:

sudo apt-get update

(this one puts felix in your list of software sources so you can actually download and install the Qtel app)

sudo apt-get install qtel

 (this one installs the qtel app)

That’s it!  It should work. Now you can just start typing ‘qtel’ in your HUD (or however you like to find your installed apps) and click it.  It should open and prompt for your ham radio license and password.

Note: In my case, it seems like it’s working just fine.  In the case of Joe, he had to open ports 5200 (UDP and TDP) in his router. If you don’t know how to open ports in your router, this website has been amazing for years.

We hope this has helped you and that you will look me up on Echolink and send me a note. I think it supports voice and chat.

 

The Long Battle

Below are the details of the things I tried before finding the quick and easy solution.  I never got to the final solution because the above solution happened right before, ha.

Edit 140717 7:30am-8:30

I contacted VA7OBI on the ham (it’s cooler to fix ham issues on the ham) and we walked through this.  Joe in a moment of revelation decided to click the qtel .deb file and badda bing/boom it started installing with the software centre.  It gave a warning of bad quality but I also got this method to start to work and it shows it as installed now.

Edit 140717 5am-7am – Current situation: FAIL! Do not do anything in this post yet if you aren’t pretty advanced because I mucked up my computer doing some of this, but please feel free to help me!

What I’m going to do is follow these steps provided by Charles Socci K1DNR verbatim and if they work, you’ll have screenshots and stories along the way.  If there are hiccups, hopefully I’ll find them and fix as we we go.  Let’s begin:

1 – Download packages from http://www.chrisronk.net/ham/qtel-debian.tar.gz or http://lz5pn.homeip.net/lz5pn/echoli…-debian.tar.gz.

Comment: second link didn’t work but it went to a kind of cool blog.  Use the first link.  What I’m going to do is save the file as download and then move it to my documents directory in one I just named QTEL.

2 – Extract

Comment:  I did a right click on the tar file and ‘extract here’

3 – Install getlibs – (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=474790)

Comment: What the heck is a ‘getlib’? Sounds like a domain for promoting the liberal party…but I digress..  And I will install…ok, so this link doesn’t work.  I knew this would happen so that’s why I’m making this post. Now I went back and read this post referred by Charles which turned out to be quite interesting.  Maybe don’t do anything yet until I find out it’s necessary but note that it expands on the original Charles Socci post and may solve issues I don’t here.

Dang… that took a while.  Finding getlibs was hard but I found it on this page somewhere in the middle.  Save yourself the time and just put these in your terminal one at a time and hope it works (seems to have worked for me without a hitch)(thanks Jeff Hendricks whoever you are…):

wget -c http://jeffhendricks.net/getlibs-all.deb

sudo dpkg -i getlibs-all.deb

4 – Type: sudo dpkg -i –force-all qtel_0.11.0-2_i386.deb (or whatever the name of your qtel .deb file is – we won’t be using the other deb files you extracted)

Comments: I’m going to first check the file name of that thing I extracted to see if it’s the same as this file name here…it indeed appears to be the same.  I’ll try just plopping this in the terminal to see what happens…error. No directory.  I figured.  So I obviously have to direct my terminal to this first.  I will type:

cd /home

cd /usernameofcomputer

cd Documents

cd QTEL

cd qtel-debian

now I will try it again: sudo dpkg -i –force-all qtel_0.11.0-2_i386.deb

It did something…maybe…it worked? Next!

5 – Type: getlibs /usr/bin/qtel

Comments: Not looking good. Here is what I got:

No match for libecholib.so.0.13
No match for libasyncqt.so.0.16
No match for libasyncaudio.so.0.16
libqt-mt.so.3: libqt3-mt
No match for libmng.so.1
libjpeg.so.62: libjpeg62
libsigc-1.2.so.5: libsigc++-1.2-5c2
No match for libasynccore.so.0.16
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Package libqt3-mt is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

E: Package ‘libqt3-mt’ has no installation candidate

But what I noticed is that at least some of these ‘no match’ folks are in the qtel directory debian file I just downloaded above…. Weird? I’ll just try to open the software and see what happens:

Fail. It did not open by clicking app icon, nor did it open by entering ‘qtel’ in terminal. By doing the latter, though, it showed it to be missing the echolib file…

–> libecholib.so.0.13: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Back to this dude’s blog to try that install order…

Install in this order:

1 getlibs-all.deb
2 echolib_0.13.0-2_i386.deb
3 libasync_0.16.0-2_i386.deb
4 libsigc++1.2-5_1.2.7-2_i386.deb
5 qtel_0.11.0-2_i386.deb

I’m trying this in my terminal in the qtel directory:

1. (already done above)

2. sudo dpkg -i –force-all echolib_0.13.0-2_i386.deb (seemed to do something but I am out of order from this dude’s blog since qtel is already installed…)

3. sudo dpkg -i –force-all libasync_0.16.0-2_i386.deb (seemed to work, though forced)

4. sudo dpkg -i –force-all libsigc++1.2-5_1.2.7-2_i386.deb

5. (already done above)

Now I’ll try step 5 again:

5 – Type: getlibs /usr/bin/qtel

Not looking good again:

libqt-mt.so.3: libqt3-mt
No match for libmng.so.1
libjpeg.so.62: libjpeg62
libqt-mt.so.3: libqt3-mt
No match for libmng.so.1
libjpeg.so.62: libjpeg62
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Package libqt3-mt is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

E: Package ‘libqt3-mt’ has no installation candidate
E: Package ‘libqt3-mt’ has no installation candidate

I’ll just try entering qtel in terminal again and see what happens this time…

FAIL:

libqt-mt.so.3: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

I’m going to try now to remove qtel since it was out of order in my install.

sudo apt-get remove qtel

Now I’m going to install it again by going to that package directory with debian files and typing this again:

sudo dpkg -i –force-all qtel_0.11.0-2_i386.deb

It ‘seems’ better:

dpkg: error processing archive –force-all (–install):
cannot access archive: No such file or directory
Selecting previously unselected package qtel.
(Reading database … 272460 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack qtel_0.11.0-2_i386.deb …
Unpacking qtel (0.11.0-2) …
Setting up qtel (0.11.0-2) …
Processing triggers for gnome-menus (3.10.1-0ubuntu2) …
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils (0.22-1ubuntu1) …
Processing triggers for bamfdaemon (0.5.1+14.04.20140409-0ubuntu1) …
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/bamf-2.index…
Processing triggers for mime-support (3.54ubuntu1) …
Errors were encountered while processing:
–force-all

Try again qtel in my terminal:

FAIL! same error: libqt-mt.so.3: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

what’s this libqt thing? I want to kill you slowly and painfully!

Try clicking icon app through super key:

FAIL! Nothing.

I’m going to sudo-apt-get-remove-kill-and-destroy all of them now and do them one at a time again…

1. sudo apt-get remove getlibs

2. sudo apt-get remove echolib

3. sudo apt-get remove libasync

4. sudo apt-get remove libsigc++

5. sudo apt-get remove qtel

Man. Doesn’t seem to want to uninstall qtel. I might have goofed by not listing the full package names above.  Maybe I messed up my computer and should have followed verbatim these package names when doing the sudo apt-get removes….

I will try install again…

1.

wget -c http://jeffhendricks.net/getlibs-all.deb

sudo dpkg -i getlibs-all.deb

2. sudo dpkg -i –force-all echolib_0.13.0-2_i386.deb

3. sudo dpkg -i –force-all libasync_0.16.0-2_i386.deb

4. sudo dpkg -i –force-all libsigc++1.2-5_1.2.7-2_i386.deb

5. sudo dpkg -i –force-all qtel_0.11.0-2_i386.deb

ERROR!

libqt-mt.so.3

how to get you!

This nasty thread probably has some answers. I will do it for the team 🙁

and by the way I screwed up my software centre at some point so it’s messed. May need full new OS.

Time for a break.  I’m calling Joe!

 

 

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