Tag: ham 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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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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Amateur (Ham) Radio: No, Officer, I won’t Pay That ‘Use of Electronic Device Ticket’ This Time

I’m sick of it.

I have gotten 2 violation tickets for allegedly using an electronic device while driving.

The first time I was at a red light and I moved my cell phone from my dash (it was sliding around), checked the time on the phone’s clock, and put it on my passenger seat.  The officer behind not only pulls me over, but actually writes me a ticket for ‘use of electronic device.’  Stupid me, I paid it.  Well, no.  Not stupid me.  I weighed up the time I would spend fighting it and decided not to bother.

The second time I had the phone mounted on my phone mount thing suction cupped to my window.  I was told that I could do a one button ‘push’ to start a call and one to end it.  So I did.  When I did it, the officer behind me pulled me over and wrote me up – again!

The good news is that I’m an amateur radio operator licensed with the government.  There is a special and not well known regulation under the motor vehicle act under section 214 (Use of Electronic Devices) that makes amateur radio users exempt.  Read it for yourself, here, if you don’t believe me.  You should read this PDF anyways for your own interest.  If you are a licensed operator, you need to print this and keep a copy in your car at all times.

So, once again, I decided to fight this.

Here is a point form summary of the events with the officer’s name removed (because the story ended well):

-I was driving and speaking to my crew on my amateur (ham) radio

-A police check for electronic devices was set up and an officer pulls me over

-I asked why I was being pulled over and he informed me that I was using my electronic device while driving

-I explained to him that I indeed was, and that I am a licensed amateur operator and exempt from the law.  I did *not* have a printed copy of the Act with me.

-He was young, and he looked at me like I was from Mars and he went back to his car for a very long time.

-He came back and said “I’m writing you the ticket anyways.  If I find out what you say is true I’ll toss the ticket”

-I explained to him this would be a colossal waste of his time because I was correct on this topic.  He handed me the ticket anyways

-I called the next day on time to ask if my ticket had been thrown out.  No reply.

-I called again the next day. No reply.

-I called the Sergeant above him.  No reply.

-I called the Sergeant above him again.  He finally called me back and said in a voice mail “There is nothing I can do.  The officer who wrote it is the only one who can toss a ticket.  I still don’t believe this but…”

-I called the officer again. No reply.

-I called the RCMP front desk.  She patched me straight through to him in his patrol car.  The officer said ‘Can you email me the law on that?” I laughed and said sure and then emailed it.

-No reply.  Ever.

-I call a lawyer who immediately, after quickly reviewing the law, advises me to call the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP for writing a ticket when they knew it was not needed.

– I file the complaint (which incidentally took two calls which took three days between!)

-As soon as the lady from the Commission called me and heard the story she immediately called some kind of person with a title like “Professional behaviour blah blah”.

-This person immediately called me back to tell me that the officer was on a honeymoon.  She apologized and said the officer would address this as soon as he got back.

-As soon as he got back I got a one line email “Your ticket has been thrown out.”

I got the ticket on May 16th.

The ticket was thrown out on July 8th.

Yes, it took a lawyer and nearly two months of follow ups to wipe my ticket.

I hope you will save the time and annoyance by keeping a copy of this in your car and *not* accepting the ticket.  Do *not* accept it.  Fight it politely as hard as you can while you are in your car.  That’s what I say!

I hope this helps my ham bros. out there.

VE7CAK QRT

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The End of Geek

A friend of mine sent out an email to people he knew and respected about how he was invited to speak at a well known event with the word ‘geek’ in the title.  It was apparently an honour.  The reply-all response to the email by a gentleman whom I respect greatly caught me off guard and really got me thinking – something hard to do at 3am before my first coffee.

He sent a link to this article and suggested that one ought not be proud of the word geek nor allow it to be attached to us as people.  I was most intrigued so I did what few do and clicked the link and was most pleasantly surprised. I hope that you will do the same.  Allow me to present you another hyperlink to the article essentially doubling the chances of you reading the article.

I agree with the author.  Here is a list of things that I’m absolutely interested in that might be considered ‘geeky’ by those people who line up for mobile phones with fruit logos on them:

  • ham/amateur radio
  • VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
  • Privacy and Security
  • Programming (even though I can’t even do it)
  • DIY projects like when I recently built an HD antenna for my TV
  • …and there are probably many more….

Don’t call me a geek.  You have no idea how cool these things are because you simply aren’t into them.  I personally don’t understand gamers.  I can’t see dedicating any part of my life to playing video games.  I can more easily relate to board games but even those… yet there are actual cafes dedicated to them!  And I always drive by those places where you can get all those medieval board games and clothes…  I simply don’t share the same interests – yet.  Whose to say that I won’t one day get into board games or gaming?

So don’t call me a geek and stop calling yourself one.

I’m a ham radio enthusiast.

I’m into ham radio.

I’m part of the ham radio community.

 

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