Amateur Radio Freedom and Privacy

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?




They shouldn’t.



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.


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.


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…



Amateur Radio

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.

Amateur Radio Technology Ubuntu

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

Should see something like this list:

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


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:


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


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 or…-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 – (

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

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-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
No match for
No match for libqt3-mt
No match for libjpeg62 libsigc++-1.2-5c2
No match for
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…

–> 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: libqt3-mt
No match for libjpeg62 libqt3-mt
No match for 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: 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:

Try again qtel in my terminal:

FAIL! same error: 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…


wget -c

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


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!



Amateur Radio Freedom and Privacy

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.


Freedom and Privacy Technology Ubuntu

If you Care about Freedom, Ramp up your Ham

I think it’s interesting how most people who claim to care about freedom don’t have a ham radio (amateur radio) license, especially you folks in open source.

You reject and rebel against the Monopolists in Redmond and the Fruit Devices from Cupertino recognizing that they are dictating how you will and will not use the thing you are spending all your money on.

You recognize that it’s freaky and weird to give all the power of your privacy and information over to a company.

You think it’s insane that someone would participate in something where not paying a license fee could jeopardize a business or the functionality of someone’s day-to-day.

You relish and brag about your freedom – and rightfully so.

You are a warrior in the battle against the Man and the eyes of Big Brother.

Have I puffed you up enough?  Very well, then. Get ready to be brought low.

If you don’t have a ham radio license don’t come around calling yourself a man.  You are a pansy-boy, sissy-girl.  And if you’re already a girl, you’re a flaky fan-girl – a Barbie Doll at best.

Real men have hams.

Real women have call signs.

Real men speak to real women with their ham radios.

The service on your cell phone (except for a 911 call) is merely leased to you by likely one of a few mobile service monopolists.  If they had their way, they would also charge you for that 911 call.  Until the Ubuntu Phone was announced a couple of days ago, even the operating system on that smart phone that you pack with you is owned by someone else – and the data on it – don’t kid yourself.

So don’t tell me you love freedom that much.

“Oh, but I use a dumb phone,” you say.

Nice try.  Let’s see how well your dumb phone works during an earthquake or if you don’t pay your bill.  But really, nice try.

A ham radio requires a little studying, but once you get it, you’ve got yourself a ‘free cell phone forever’ – if you can find someone to talk to.  And that, in essence, is the root of the problem.

The only people who seem to have a ham radio are wearing Depends, on serious medication or are serious geeks – and I mean serious.  That’s why I always went alone.  I didn’t want anyone to find out that I hung out with these people and liked what they liked.

But lately I’ve been thinking about it.  It’s almost like the whole system we live in is Anti-Ham.  The test isn’t that hard… so why aren’t more people doing it?  In Canada you get free custom license plates for your car with your call sign! Isn’t that reason enough?  Nope.  Still no one does it. You can make a free call to your family if they have licenses – unlimited airtime – for free. Not good enough.  You can connect to the internet with it and speak to ham radios all around the world: you could speak to your ham-buddy climbing a mountain in South Korea from  just like he’s around the corner – for free.  Still not good enough.

It’s almost as if the entire system is Anti-Ham and we shouldn’t be surprised.

Ham radio gives power to the people – like Ubuntu, unions or voting.  To put it in perspective, you can take away my cell phone and I can still remain connected to the world – while mobile.  That’s a power I’m assuming the mobile service providers don’t want you to know or think about.  I’m assuming they are not rushing around trying to help promote ham radio.

My parents have a cabin where only one cellular network works.  Instead of taking my advice and getting licensed and throw a killer ham radio in their car and cabin (maybe $500-$750 capital investment?) they will likely spend well over $2400 over the next five years to get suited up with a monthly mobile plan on that network.

Hams own their own network!

Enough about this already.  You get the point.  Get licensed and track me down on the ham waves.

My call sign is VE7CAK (that’s Charlie Alpha Kilo” to you)

“Be a man.  Do da light fing.” – R. Peters