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NASA Seeks Ham Operators' Help To Test NanoSail-D

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the testing-testing-one-two-three dept.

Communications 146

SEWilco writes "Despite our older headline, NanoSail-D was not 'Lost in space.' It was stuck in its canister. The solar sail nano-satellite finally ejected on Wednesday. The three-day countdown to sail deployment began then, so we'll have to see what happens next." And clm1970 adds "In another conventional use for an arguably unconventional hobby given the technology of 2011, NASA is requesting the help of Amateur Radio or 'ham operators' to help listen to a beacon signal of the nano-satellite. Many say the hobby is dying, but for every 'death knell,' it seems another application brings it back to life to prove its usefulness."

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Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (3, Interesting)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946542)

Usenet.

Which, by the way, *still* isn't dead, thank-you-very-much smb and tomt.

The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

Re:Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946662)

The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

Nah, I see plenty of tards from Google groups. It hasn't ended.

Re:Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946906)

The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

You've never been to 4chan, I take it?

Re:Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (4, Insightful)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947070)

4chan is really more of an eternal April 1st.

Re:Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947038)

Which NGs are you in? From where I sit, it is still September.

Re:Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34947772)

Who says it's dead? Been a Ham for 30 years, it's yielded me:
A GREAT career in Satellite Communications
Meeting a bunch of wonderful people
Created me an outlet to help explore technology and further education.

Perhaps more people should consider investigating a great hobby,,,

Re:Ham Radio is dying about as fast as (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948020)

> The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

Seriously? Um, HOW?

And I won't accept "AOL went bankrupt" as an answer.

If usenet is, somehow, incomprehensibly "back", I'll have to go dig out a copy of nn6.4, get myself a feed, and fire up my old uncancel bots!

Usenet? Nobody goes there any more, too crowded (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949578)

Ok, it's mostly crowded with spam and pr0n\\\\binaries, and ISPs have mostly stopped providing news service as a standard feature of an account, and I haven't had a decent NNTP reader in a decade or more, but yeah, Usenet's still around. I stopped being able to read all of it (printed on paper, 4-up double-sided) some time in the 80s, stopped being able to read more than a couple of newsgroups later in the 90s, but Google Groups still provides access if I need to look for things, and the last time I checked Google still had DejaNews articles with spotty coverage of stuff I'd written almost three decades ago.

Ost in space! (3, Funny)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946576)

>> was not 'ost in space'.

However, the 'L' from the original submission was.

Re:Ost in space! (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946660)

In space, nobody can hear your Original SoundTrack.

Re:Ost in space! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34946824)

Does that make you The Mad Inquist?

Re:Ost in space! (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947050)

Dammit! I was going to say that. And I don't have mod points now either.

Re:Ost in space! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34946784)

Don't be so hard on people, it's not like there's a way to automatically check spelling or anything and catch typos as well. Maybe in 15 years...

Re:Ost in space! (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946924)

Oh noes! What the "L?"

Radio Hams are fat! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34946588)

That's why they are called Hams!

I'm surprised... (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946726)

I'm surprised that it survived that long without power. It must be a very simple payload (i.e. no batteries, just solar cells and a transmitter)

Ham operators are VERY important (2, Informative)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946728)

When shit hits the fan, ham radio is there to keep basic communications open.
It is possible to connect ham radio to a phone line and get someone in the disaster area
connected to a phone line to a president or similar, regardless of how bad the infrastructure is hit,
It will work. All these guys with ham gear are crucial, more than we can imagine.
For the billions we waste on crap we never use, like flying humvee prototypes, we could afford to
subsidize these guys a bit. Even a $500 homeland security rebate would keep (in the us) ham
radio alive and kicking for years.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (0)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946770)

That's so true. Like if you have a terrorist who knows the location of a biological weapon but won't tell unless he gets immunity, then you can patch him right through to the president and attorney general.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (3, Interesting)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946776)

I hate to reply my own topic but the link didn't post for some reason.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqaKzIkyBug [youtube.com] ham radio from Haiti earthquake
after the disaster.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (3, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946788)

The infrastructure is getting more and more robust though in terms of (unintentional) redundancy. Phone lines, wireless, fiber optic, cable, satellite; not to mention military and emergency services own communications systems.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (2)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946964)

all that infrastructure will become useless during a power failure, thats when HF/VHF/UHF radio all running on battery packs come in handy. (and solar & wind powered battery chargers is a good idea too) and even an old fashioned dynamo hand crank wont hurt either.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (3, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947260)

all that infrastructure will become useless during a power failure, thats when HF/VHF/UHF radio all running on battery packs come in handy.

Bingo.

For example, my county and our neighbor are busy designing a trunked 700MHz system to cover all the government users within the two counties. This system will require more than a dozen repeater sites to get anything close to the coverage they need, PLUS a handful of old VHF systems to fill in a few of the important empty spots. All of this is linked through a network connection to a city 40 miles away in another county.

Cut through the fiber running next to the interstate -- POOF, all repeaters revert to standalone mode. No links. You wanna talk from the hinterlands back to the city? Good luck. Ditto if someone just accidentally pulls the plug on the controller in that distant city. (They probably do have someone who vacuums the rugs on a regular basis...)

In an earthquake, the towers fall over, or the antennas fall down. Those are on mountain tops. How fast do you think the commercial radio service people will get to all of them? OTOH, if the road is open I can drive to the top of the local mountain and repair whatever is up there myself. Or half a dozen people in this county can do it. Legally.

In a couple of years "safe haven" rules kick in. That means that all of those repeaters the two counties put up will have strict, reduced power limits and thus limited coverage. My repeaters have no such limits, and the main one on the mountain top is not even close to full power right now. I can fix one repeater and have coverage over the entire county -- unlike even the existing LMR VHF system in use.

What the OP is probably missing is that ham radio is picking up a lot of the "emergency services own communications systems" business, and a lot of government agencies are betting the retirement fund on hams being there.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947408)

Sorry, meant to say "safe harbor". Same rule, different name. And that repeater I run on top of the mountain? Covers both counties plus some, at current power levels.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34948058)

Is this Ham Radio you are talking about on the mountain top or some other tech? Its not clear what the alternative you speak of is.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948894)

I don't know where you're from, but I do a bit of work related to the Ohio MARCS system. It is a state-wide network of stuff currently residing in the 800MHz band, and will eventually expand into the recently-vacated 700MHz spectrum. It seems like the system you speak of has similar goals, and is very similar in terms of infrastructure.

In your part of the world, it sounds like it's a bit more mountainous, but this part of Ohio is about as flat as a pancake: Around here, we generally get by with one tower site per county, but mobile units (with a paltry 3dBi Maxrad antenna) can often get decent signal from several counties at once. When a site drops (and it has happened), things don't grind to a halt -- they just get a little more complicated.

Your area, if it is indeed very mountainous or prone to geological snafu might have additional needs for redundancy -- and perhaps those needs aren't being met. (It's not as if failure-resistant network topology is rocket surgery these days...*shrug*)

But let me just say this: Nobody ever vacuums the floors. Ever. And the power distribution for the MARCS system itself is arranged in such a way that it would be very difficult to plug a vacuum cleaner into it, anyway: A lay person would find an easier outlet to use, and there's many available in convenient spots which are completely suited to running impromptu motor loads as they are on circuits which do not supply power for critical gear and are not backed by a UPS.

The only folks who are allowed in the shelters that support this system are of the technical sort. It's like the equipment/IT rooms at any other place: The techs try to clean up their own messes and whatever else they find, but dedicated cleaning staff is nonexistant or unauthorized. There's usually a broom and a dustpan nearby, in case tracked-in dirt or installation detritus gets to be a problem, and a rug by the door to try to keep the vinyl floor dry for general safety, but that's it. There's seldom any people, and if the HVAC is working properly there isn't any outside air circulation: The usual stuff that needs cleaning in an occupied space just isn't a problem.

Hell, to even get into the shelters takes a special electronic Medeco key and a phone call, lest the alarms trigger and the state troopers show up to see what the fuss is. I had to sign my soul away in order to be issued such a key -- nobody can just wander in, no matter how well-intentioned their motivation for vacuuming may be.

(And critical power is supplied by a good UPS plus a generator fueled by either natural gas or diesel, and, and, and.)

Battery-operated gear is cool and all, and I'm not trying to knock amateur radio operators, but geez: Public safety infrastructure in the US has come a long way from a crufty old Motorola Micor repeater plugged into an outlet somewhere.

FWIW.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (3, Insightful)

DarthBart (640519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947262)

And it also works when every cell site and PSTN trunk is tied up because Bob is calling Alice to make sure that they're okay after the hurricane/explosion/terrorist act/peanut butter sandwich incident.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947480)

Cell phones will still work, businesses generally have emergency backup power, as do hospitals, firehouses, police departments, and the military. Even a majority of adult Americans have access to a gas-powered generator in the form of their cars.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947708)

Cell phones will still work

If you can get a free line because everyone is calling everybody else. And if the tower's UPS system works. And if the backhaul is still up. And if the techs are around. And. And. And. Cell phones tend to be the least robust communications device in the event of a major, prolonged problem.

businesses generally have emergency backup power, as do hospitals, firehouses, police departments,

Which might keep the lights on at Acme, Inc, but doesn't help comm links a whole lot. Hospitals and firehouses likewise.

and the military.

| Not everyone has a military base anywhere near by.

Even a majority of adult Americans have access to a gas-powered generator in the form of their cars.

So they can power their iPods? What are they going to do with 12 V coming out of the cigarette lighter? Run their freezer?

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947892)

So we're to rely on electric-powered ham radios instead, across a finite number of channels? Ham radios can provide a useful service, but the messianic complex some of their proponents adopt is obnoxious.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948150)

So we're to rely on electric-powered ham radios instead, across a finite number of channels? Ham radios can provide a useful service, but the messianic complex some of their proponents adopt is obnoxious.

Firstly, amateur radio does not use "Channels". It is not a channelized service.
The bottom line is that amateur radio is still the only worldwide communications method that does not require any infrastructure whatsoever. This is an inherently useful thing in the event of infrastructure failure.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949236)

Some might say your kind of idiocy is equally or even more obnoxious. Sorry.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949628)

Apparently not as obnoxious as your ignorance.

Hams will work very low power so that they can communicate effectively when resources are scarce. Sure, it's electric. What isn't? However, being effective with low power means you can communicate without much stress on remaining electrical sources.

Finite number of channels? Aren't all radio bands finite? Communicate with Morse and you would be able to talk with very, very low bandwidth requirements.

Just because you can't pass the multiple choice no-code technician test is no reason to think we are the messiah.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

dfreed (40276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948004)

Um. No your cell phone will not work.

I was *on* my cell phone when a minor 4.X earthquake hit the Los Angeles area a couple years back. It worked fine while I was on it.

Less than two minutes later as everyone called everyone else to ask "Did you feel that?" The entire system was down. Not just for me, but for the 200+ nerds we had standing around in the parking lot (our building hosted a bunch of ISP's). People tried voice calls, and they tried getting on the internet via the phones... no dice.

SMS worked for about 10 minutes then got backed up.

So my coworkers and I went to lunch since *nothing* had been damage, *no one* had been hurt, and it was all just a big face.

Summary: a very minor, non dangerous, no damage event occurred, and the entire cell phone system across the LA basin went AWOL for several hours.

Ask the nice folks who lived through Katrina how well the cell phone system worked.

If you are depending on you cell phone to save you in an emergency, I would suggest you also pack a some chapstick, because you can kiss your ass good bye.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

Strider- (39683) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949494)

Company I work for builds portable satcoms sytems. I can pull up in my VW Jetta, pull the cases holding the terminal out of my trunk, and get you 4mbps of connectivity inside of 10 minutes, from anywhere. As a bonus, if I was powering it off of the inverter, I'd get about 72 hours of run-time.

I'm an amateur radio operator myself, but to claim it's useful for Emcom in the modern era is laughable. It's a great hobby, lots of really fascinating experimentation now that we're getting computer litterate amateurs out there. (WSPR, WJST, Olivia, other digital modes come to mind).

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950188)

Company I work for builds portable satcoms sytems. I can pull up in my VW Jetta, pull the cases holding the terminal out of my trunk, and get you 4mbps of connectivity inside of 10 minutes, from anywhere. As a bonus, if I was powering it off of the inverter, I'd get about 72 hours of run-time.

I'm an amateur radio operator myself, but to claim it's useful for Emcom in the modern era is laughable. It's a great hobby, lots of really fascinating experimentation now that we're getting computer litterate amateurs out there. (WSPR, WJST, Olivia, other digital modes come to mind

That's great and all, but overlooks one important fact; there are not nearly enough satcomm units and they don't have nearly the penetration amongst the general population that amateur radio does. If amateur radio is so outdated and useless, then why does it still play such prominent life-saving roles in disasters like Katrina and the recent Haiti earthquake? What if the disaster somehow affects the satellites and/or ground stations?

As I recall, it was nearly a week after Katrina before any useful satcomm links could be set up in the disaster area, and even then amateur radio operators continued to provide many ongoing emergency communication services where possible to avoid swamping the emergency satcomm systems set up by FEMA and others as well as filling in local gaps in emergency communications.

Another thing is that one good EMP burst will fry a majority of communications (and everything else) based around solid-state devices that hasn't been hardened. Even though a majority of amateur radio equipment currently in use is solid-state, there are surprisingly-large numbers of hams that keep vintage vacuum-tube radio equipment around and functioning for nostalgia and tinkering. Much of this old equipment would be unaffected or suffer only minor damage, especially since a large portion would likely not be connected to power or antennas normally.

When the fecal matter really hits the rotary circulation device and all other communications are down, hams will be the one lifeline to the outside world and help, as well as provide local communications for immediate coordination of local emergency personnel and resources.

Strat

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949844)

Totally agree. We don't need those old farts called ham radio operators to take care of emergency. More investments into comm infrastructures make much more sense, and will also help improving economy.

Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur radio (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946846)

The whole problem is that the ARRL and to a lesser extent the RSGB are pushing the whole emcomm thing above all else - so you end up with idiots in high-vis jackets getting in the way of the emergency services as they wave their obsolete ex-PMR radios around trying to look important. These twats haven't got a clue how any of their radios work, or how to build an aerial, or what's actually inside an ATU. They just buy shiny boxes from suppliers and sit and talk into them. There's no self-training, there's no experimenting, there's no development - and woe betide anyone who happens to want to use the same 1MHz chunk of band as them, when they fire up one of their "exercises".

Be part of the chemo that is curing amateur radio. Friends don't let friends do emcomm. Get involved with projects like this satellite, and any time you see someone with a high-vis jacket who isn't digging a hole in the road slap them about the head with a Tait Orca reprogrammed for Raynet frequencies.

73s de MM0YEQ

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947388)

The whole problem is that the ARRL and to a lesser extent the RSGB are pushing the whole emcomm thing above all else - so you end up with idiots in high-vis jackets getting in the way of the emergency services as they wave their obsolete ex-PMR radios around trying to look important.

Ahhh, PMR. I didn't know that hams in Great Britain commonly modify what we would call FRS radios over here in the states. (Interesting fact: PMR446 radios operate in the US ham bands. You can't use them here unless you are a ham. Their narrowband and odd frequency splits make them difficult to use with standard ham gear, but the LPD frequencies are really cool and only 10mW!).

If this is a problem in GB, then it is the fault of the government agency for not demanding proper training before making it a resource. Ok, if this is a problem anywhere, ditto.

As for knowing what's in an "ATU", I'm stumped. I'm looking up that acronym and trying to find some British and ham relevant result. "AUTODIN Transfer Unit"? No, AUTODIN is a US military thing, but is communications related. Audio Tape Unit? Oh, wait, Antenna Tuning Unit. That must be it. Sorry, we don't use ATUs for most of our VHF work. We don't need to know what is in one to be a valuable resource for the emergency services people we support. They don't care.

... slap them about the head with a Tait Orca reprogrammed for Raynet frequencies.

Oh my God, you people still use Taits over there? I've seen those. They really suck. You know the old saying, don't you? "He who has a Taits is lost." I understand now why your hams modify PMR radios; they don't have a good supply of surplus real radio equipment (like Moto, Kenwood, BK) to play with.

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947830)

If this is a problem in GB, then it is the fault of the government agency for not demanding proper training before making it a resource. Ok, if this is a problem anywhere, ditto.

Well, not really. The FCC's main job is to make sure that the bands are actually used to some extent and to ensure that the amateur band users don't mess up anybody else. So they're not necessarily concerned that your typical new ham doesn't know resistor color codes (or morse code for that matter), just that they have enough brains to plug a system in and not operate out of band or transmit something inappropriate.

MMOYEQ's comment does resonate to a degree and it's a bit scary to see just how basic the intro electronics articles are in CQ (the ARRL's magazine) - but they're having to deal with a bunch of competing interests. The frequencies do need to get used - lots of business owners would love to gobble up Amateur spectrum. Not everybody wants to talk to a bunch of middle aged guys about their antennas (mine's bigger). Emcomm is at least useful and social. So I see it as the most visible aspect of Amateur radio today, but not necessarily the most important. In these bizarre days I think you can do worse than to associate with a bunch of mildly introverted overweight guys creating a defined social structure which potentially involves physical activity and has the side effect that it can help other people. A few of them just might venture into soldering something more complex than a power lead. 73 KL1SA

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948038)

Well, not really. The FCC's main job

Who said anything about the FCC? When I said "government agency" I was referring to the emergency services agencies that are allowing those yellow-vested know-nothings into their EOCs and field operations without any training on ICS or whatever it was MM0YEQ was complaining about. It's THEM who decide who gets in the door, and if they let any yahoo with a ham license in they are the ones at fault, not the hams or the FCC.

MMOYEQ's comment does resonate to a degree and it's a bit scary to see just how basic the intro electronics articles are in CQ (the ARRL's magazine)

'CQ' is not ARRL's magazine. You're thinking of QST. Yes, there are some basic articles there because not everyone knows everything when they start out and ARRL isn't there to serve just the Amateur Extra Class licensees. Even some of the Extras can use the basic articles there, since some kinds of circuits have been developed since some Extras got licensed. We're still not talking about the problem MM0YEQ complained about. You really don't need to know the resistor color code to be a useful radio operator in an EOC. Or how to use an ATU, whatever that is. (We have one on the roof now. An auto-tuner. Nobody needs to know how to use it or what's in it, because all they have to do is transmit and it tunes. I know what's in it because I'm an Amateur Extra Class and we know everything. And I opened it up to look. And it's my job to know what's in it and how it works because I'm one of the main technical resources in our county for the emergency manager.)

In these bizarre days I think you can do worse than to associate with a bunch of mildly introverted overweight guys creating a defined social structure which potentially involves physical activity and has the side effect that it can help other people. A few of them just might venture into soldering something more complex than a power lead. 73 KL1SA

10-4 good buddy.

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948124)

Who said anything about the FCC? When I said "government agency" I was referring to the emergency services agencies that are allowing those yellow-vested know-nothings into their EOCs and field operations without any training on ICS or whatever it was MM0YEQ was complaining about.

Sorry. Wrong government agency. Too many of the damned things anyway. I've not encountered those issues out here in the hinterlands but I can well imagine something along those lines going on in the real world. Must be fun.

'CQ' is not ARRL's magazine. You're thinking of QST.

Ah yes. Brain fart.

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949554)

As for knowing what's in an "ATU", I'm stumped. I'm looking up that acronym and trying to find some British and ham relevant result.

"Antenna Tuning Unit". It's the same on your side of the pond, but not a VHF thing, more for HF ;-)

As for the Taits, I've found them to be pretty good. Disclaimer - I work for a Motorola dealer but operate two very large MPT1327 networks, which are all Tait radios, repeaters and SCUs. The Motorola stuff can't touch it. I think the best example is comparing the power draw of a a GM340 and a Tait TM8200 running at 25W - the Tait will be pulling about 3A for the Motorola's 10A...

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (2)

Achra (846023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948226)

Parts of this are very insightful.. As a new ham (and a real one, I should add... My first HF rig was a Swan 500 that was broken when it was given to me... It does 400w on 40m now, enough to blow the doors off those riceboxes).. I've really noticed that there are two camps in ham radio. The "hams" and the "operators". There seem to be a great many "operators" that want to know nothing about experimenting, aren't interested in opening their radio up to tinker with it (It's so expensive, I don't want to break it!).. If everything doesn't come out of the cardboard box working exactly as expected, they review it as 'crap' and return it. Real hams know that nothing works right to begin with, and sets about to making it work for _him_. I have a friend who is very solidly an operator, and is often 'bored' with ham radio. I think that emcomm is something that operators do to keep from being bored, so that they have 'something interesting' to do with those shiny ricebox 2m/440 radios & HT's. As a later poster stated, at least they are using the frequencies, so more power to them.

Re:Emcomm is the cancer that is killing amateur ra (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34948534)

Hear, Hear. I've done ham radio since 1988 and have become quite a bit less active as of late. This after doing all the club, RACES, and Skywarn stuff. The EMCOMM stuff seems to attract the kind of people who drive around in ex-police cruisers and generally get in the way when things get sticky. I know - I've seen it and can tell stories (and true ones!)

Ham radio is only good in the very initial stages of a disaster, before relief starts arriving. That is when basic technology shines. It's been my experience that once relief arrives, ham radio cannot sustain any kind of infrastructure that can support the massive communications requirements of federal, state/provincial, county, and local governments - let alone NGOs such as the Red Cross. I know this, I spent a healthy amount of my time trying to establish a statewide packet radio network. Very few people had enough knowledge to appreciate the need for such a thing, and fewer still knew much about the technology in which they professed an interest.

Ham radio does have its purposes, but they are truly limited due to a lack of central planning (which can also be a strength) and by the dumbing-down that the hobby went through in the early 1990s. Yeah, I said it.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947016)

Yes, ham radio operators are important but using the "emergency communications" example has been overused and oversold. This constant promotion of how emcomm will save the day is giving the impression when disaster strikes, all will be saved by ham radio. Ham radio is just one of many tools to help mitigate effects of a disaster.

I think the argument should be is using basic communications gear with batteries or small generator. DHS spends billions on highly sophisticated equipment, but when disaster strikes, a basic radio where you just turn on, listen, and talk if need to (without having to establish a link, log in, read and sign the EULAs, download required updates, etc). And you don't need to spend billions, just need to draw in citizens willing to help their fellow citizens when disaster strikes. But also needed are plans and protocols established before the disaster strikes. I heard someone said during the San Bruno, CA, gas pipeline explosion Red Cross was looking for some amateur radio operators to help with the disaster, but couldn't find any. Nobody knew who to call.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (2, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947136)

I heard someone said during the San Bruno, CA, gas pipeline explosion Red Cross was looking for some amateur radio operators to help with the disaster, but couldn't find any.

Red Cross shot themselves in the foot metaphoriclly speaking a few years ago with their ham friends by pushing through a criminal background check for all volunteers, including radio ops. A LOT of ham ops don't want to have anything to do with background checks, and those that do get sucked up by the governmental agencies that do ES.

I think they've withdrawn this requirement, but even so the bad karma they generated will stay with them for a long time. I haven't kept up with the situation since the local chapter got reorganized into a multi-county group that doesn't have any offices in our county anymore. They used to be a served agency for our ARES group, but when they left the area we stopped helping them.

And you don't need to spend billions, just need to draw in citizens willing to help their fellow citizens when disaster strikes.

"Fellow citizens", without training, might be able to figure out how to deal with an FRS radio, but God please don't plonk them down on a real radio where people need to know what they are doing. It will be bad enough all the untrained hams coming out of the woodwork when the balloon goes up, people who have no clue about radio will be useless -- for radio work.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947394)

but God please don't plonk them down on a real radio where people need to know what they are doing.

Ugh, yes I should have added that some training is needed (before the disaster strikes!) and DSW registered (disaster service worker which does not mean a background check). Untrained volunteers can be a problem when they get in the way and/or hurt themselves and add to the casualty count.

Re:Ham operators are VERY important (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947054)

The way homeland security operates, I really doubt they like the idea of somebody other than themselves having access to another communications/data method. Especially when they have so little control over its contents.

Id love to help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34946752)

But there is no way I can possibly pick up a signal like that over all the RFI from local BT issued power-line networking adapters.

Thanks for the inaction ofcom....

I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (5, Informative)

Gazoogleheimer (1466831) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946764)

As an amateur radio operator (biased, I know, and not just my plate voltage)....I know it's usually regarded as an 'old' hobby that is 'dying'. The humor in this, of course, is that it's a gadget-obsessed hobby with increasingly high-tech equipment and significant quantities of programming and research regarding digital transmission modes and DSP, not to mention software-defined radio and other sorts of things. It's a geeky hobby, yes, but this is Slashdot. "arguably unconventional hobby given the technology of 2011" seems both uninformed and, admittedly, a bit silly regarding where it's being said.

One name (just for starters) (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946850)

Irv Hoff.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Woldscum (1267136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946860)

Dip the grid and peak the plate. Ha! Tubes rule.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (2)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948582)

Tubes may rule, but they won't last long run like that.

You peak the GRID, and dip the PLATE.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947008)

I'm sure it's fun, but the requirement to get a license (and to take an exam to get one, meaning studying a lot of things) and the price of the equipment can put people off. Unlike, say, computers, where you can get a PC for cheap (not a very powerful one, but still) and can learn on your own by trying.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Gazoogleheimer (1466831) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947270)

The equipment cost is on-par with most computers Slashdotters probably use, and the cost of the exam is trivial ($14). The exams aren't particularly difficult, either, and most people teach themselves. Not trying to be snide, but I would like to point out that it's not really all that difficult to get into.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947484)

The difference is a computer does more than one thing and can even make you money... that's illegal on Ham Radio.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947504)

The equipment cost is on-par with most computers Slashdotters probably use, and the cost of the exam is trivial ($14)

A simple handheld VHF radio costs about $100 new. If you go to the Dayton Hamvention the test is free. Anyone who operates under the Laurel VE system (http://larcmd.org/vec) doesn't charge, and they have tests in a number of places. If you test at Dayton on Friday (and pass) you will be in the FCC computer by Saturday and have a callsign and operating privileges. (I VEd for them one year and I was impressed by their operation.)

Unfortunately, the latest set of tech questions is much more technical than the old set. Last year you didn't need to know what a capacitor or resistor were; this year you need to know them and recognize schematic symbols and what they do. There's even a question about how a capacitor works. I don't know if the VEC was deliberately trying to make getting the first license harder, or just got carried away trying to pack all the basics into one test...

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948094)

Capacitors and resistors are not difficult. What is diffucult (for me) is memorizing stuff, for example, "Which CEPT document has the requirements for the license? CEPT recommendation T/R 61-01; CEPT recommendation T/R 61-02, CEPT recommendation T/R 61-03" Now, this would be very easy to forget, and if I needed the document, I would just look at all 3 of them and see which one is relevant. These are the hard parts.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950362)

$14 for the exam? Wow, I'm going for an Australian standard licence on Jan 29th and it's $210 for the exams ($70 each for theory, regulations and practical). Even the foundation licence is $70, or $35 if you're under 18. Next you'll probably tell me that a Yaesu FT-857D costs $1000...

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947546)

It's fun if all you want to talk about is what rig you're running and the weather in your location. Shit, on 2 meter, with a max range of about sixty miles, talking about the weather was even moot. The only guy I ever heard shaking things up by getting into deep stuff, the late Dave McDaniel, KC7DIU (before his call was changed later), was bitched at and slapped by the FCC when too many Geritol fogies got offended by free speech.

God I miss Dave.

73s

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

DarthBart (640519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947302)

It's not just the outsiders saying the hobby is dying. Go to any ham club and you can find the group (usually aged 60+) who think all this new fangled internet shit is killing the hobby and how echolink isn't really "ham radio". Then you'll find the other group who embrace change and want to put up echolink/IRLP/packet/D-Star nodes.

Then you have the smaller group that hates anything above 28Mhz and you're not cool unless you have antennas that have to be stretched between trees.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947586)

It's not just the outsiders saying the hobby is dying. Go to any ham club and you can find the group (usually aged 60+) who think all this new fangled internet shit is killing the hobby and how echolink isn't really "ham radio".

Sorry, I'm not 60+ but I also think Echolink isn't ham radio. Sitting at a computer and talking through someone else's ham radio isn't radio, it's VOIP. IRLP at least is supposed to be limited to linking of repeaters, which requires some radio use by all participants to start with. But you can set up an IRLP node that isn't connected to the radio and still join in...

Packet radio is ham radio, but the parts where Winlink 2000 connects to the internet leave the realm of ham radio far behind. Explain to me how it is "ham radio" when I can participate in Winlink 2000 without touching or using a radio in any way, shape or form.

Then you have the smaller group that hates anything above 28Mhz and you're not cool unless you have antennas that have to be stretched between trees.

And it has to be CW or it isn't real. It's hard to understand the hatred these CW-only freaks have for the no-code techs when CW was never the only mode allowed and most people didn't use it after they passed the test.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948444)

"It's hard to understand the hatred these CW-only freaks have for the no-code techs"

CW was there as a least-common-denominator. It uses absolutely the simplest equipment, consumes the least bandwidth, and has just about the best performance in the face of noise. So, if a real SHTF happens, CW can work when nothing else can (spark gap transmitters, crystal receivers).

For many, though, the problem with no-code is that it removed a hurdle to HF. 2M, is, sorry to say, not all that different than CB, minus language plus callsigns. HF was diff...wait, never mind. Some of 80M proves that wrong.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947588)

Same wavelength as me, minus the humorous hyperbole. Well put.

Echolink is the shiznit. As are vanity callsigns. Best I ever heard was KB1TCH.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

jerel (112066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947744)

For a variety of reasons, Hams are generally speaking not "joiners", and the old-timers that form the core of most Amateur Radio Clubs have been a tight-knit community of amateur engineers and friends for decades, supporting and sharing the tech knowledge, but there are WAY more Hams out there who do not even belong to a club. Many clubs struggle to get newly-licensed hams to join them! However, the number of new licenses issued by the FCC has been increasing every year for many years. Here is a quote from the ARRL web site: "In 2009, a total of 30,144 new licenses were granted, an increase of almost 7.5 percent from 2008. In 2005, 16,368 new hams joined Amateur Radio’s ranks -- just five years later, that number had increased by almost 14,000, a whopping 84 percent!" So, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of Amateur Radio's death has been greatly exaggerated! (From an article linked here. [arrl.org] )

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948484)

" In 2005, 16,368 new hams joined Amateur Radio’s ranks -- just five years later, that number had increased by almost 14,000, a whopping 84 percent!"

Gosh, do you think the elimination of the Morse code requirement for any license other than Tech (which happened in 2006) might of had something to do with that?

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (4, Interesting)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947416)

It wouldn't be a dying hobby if people stuck with it. It seems all I met, aside from guys my own age, were the kind of seasoned veteran ham (more like outdated men using outdated technology to solve outdated problems whilst nursing among them the collective delusion that they're somehow elite) who answer you like this:

Q: "I'm looking to get into radio and I want a good dual-band handheld. What would you recommend?"
A: "HTs won't get you far. You should get a Heathkit tube-driven HF screamer you have to crank-start and take an oscilloscope to and resurrect every week. Ah, memories..."

Q: "I want to put an antenna on my roof. A good 2M omni. What would you recommend?"
A: "Can't talk to Burkina Faso on 2M. What you need is a 100ft Rohn tower in your yard and a few hundred feet of eyesore wire strung between the tower in your yard and the towers you install in two neighbors' yards. Ah, memories..."

Q: "I want a solid VHF/UHF mobile rig for my offroad truck. What would you recommend?"
A: "Military all the way... like back in the war. (flashback omitted) Get yourself a Chevy Pedovan *young Ham is heard choking, a guffaw of laughter and a gasp of shock having become lodged in his windpipe*, twenty foot vertical whip, screaming tube amp, four more alternators to power it. Ah, memories..."
Q: "Why not just a good IC-706MkII and one of those active antenna tuners and maybe a deep cycle battery like the only other 20-something guy in the club?"
A: "Damn kids don't listen! It's kids like you who got the morse code requirement taken away! It was a punkass kid filter, dammit! Is nothing sacred?!" he shrieked, swollen catheter bag swaying rhythmically--perfectly acceptable as he blends right in.

Q: "Wow! It's amazing how much power solid state amplifiers can crank out for their small size and efficiency. Less prone to earthquake damage than tubes, wouldn't you say?"
A: "Transistor heresy won't survive a nuclear blast! You're one EMP from that newfangled toy being a useless brick! Who'll be laughing then, eh? They called us fools! We will have our vindication!"
Q: "Nuclear? It's been over 60 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Cold War ended forever ago. Why make your gear revolve around something so unlikely?"
A: "Because I don't want all my work to be for nothing and want to finally shriek 'I told you so!' to the cockroaches who survive! *presses mysterious red button, sixy miles away a city is vaporized... and then the hallucination ends as the creepy ham has had yet another heart attack and the paramedics alerted via young Ham's cellphone are saving his life... again*

Traded my radio for a TV and took up video gaming. Women who are close friends synchronize their menstrual cycles. I felt my blood pressure and tin-foil-hat-ness synchronizing with those of my Ham peers after just one meeting.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948380)

The best advice I ever got was "don't listen to us old guys, do whatever the hell works". My interactions with other hams are only over the air, all CW (Morse code) because you can reach anyone through anything and you get people who genuinely want to communicate, not just rave about this antenna or that transceiver.

I got into ham radio about two years ago and have experienced most of what you said. In fact, I stopped going to the local meetings because the people there were a little too "hardcore" in the belief that their radios would someday save the world. At first I had a laugh about how awkward the whole situation was but then I realized that this hobby is all some of these guys have, it's what defines them as a person, and because it's a dying hobby (or at least very niche) sometimes they get a little too excited when a new person shows interest. Not all hams you'll encounter are attention-starved, there are some great people out there, some just aren't very good with face to face interactions.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

sv_libertarian (1317837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948908)

Well said, well said.

I'm lucky. The old timers I know think Echolink is cool, and run solid state rigs, while talking about how cool their old boat anchors were.

Morse code is an art, not a requirement, Tubes are for fun, and having echolink on my Android is cool. So far I haven't ran into any of those cranky old bastards you describe, except online at QRZ.com

I've been a ham since I was 29, and got into it after bugging myself for a few years to do it, especially since the code requirement was dropped. Local 2 meter is fun, and what is way cool is playing with 20m, and calling Alaska, and learning why the Bellingham net control couldn't hear me in Olympia, but Alaska could copy me. And stuff like that.

I finally decided that when I run into some cranky old bastard pining for the days of spark gap transmitters, and enough tubes to heat his house, that I just won't care. I've got my solid state rigs, I've got a tube AM receiver for retro cool, and I got such a killer deal on a couple of tube amps I'm gonna buy 'em.

Screw the intolerant ones. This is a hobby about technology. Keep up with it, or fall behind. Old tech is fun stuff, and I love playing with vintage gear, but I'll be damned if I'm going to be treated like a second class ham because I don't know code beyond my callsign yet, and don't have toobz in my radios. Bah. I earned my license by golly gee whiz.

Re:I know it's usually thought of as old, but... (1)

cavefrog (1015175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948302)

I've been licensed since 1993 and have enjoyed ham radio immensely. I've also enjoyed the growth of the Internet, the shrinking size of cellphones, and the ability to send mail via my computer. These technologies are NOT mutually exclusive, and I'm getting tired of people telling me ham radio is dying because the Internet made it superfluous, or that cellphones were the beginning of the end for this hobby/service.

Of course, if you hear something repeated enough times it starts to sound like the truth, so I decided to try and google some information. This is what I found:

http://kb6nu.com/ham-census/ [kb6nu.com]
http://www.ah0a.org/FCC/Licenses.html [ah0a.org]

I doesn't look to me like ham radio is dying at all. In fact it looks like it's growing - not as fast as the general US population, but it's not what I'd call dying, not by a long shot.

73 de KG8KS

just for posterity (4, Informative)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946842)

Q: whats the frequency kenneth?

A: The NanoSail-D beacon signal can be found at 437.270 MHz.

Re:just for posterity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34947042)

Right, what mode?

CW obviously :P

Re:just for posterity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34947164)

Actually, the mode seems to be 1200 bps AFSK, but I can't find a definitive source for that.

Re:just for posterity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34947198)

...and FM, of course.

Here's the linky: http://www.dk3wn.info/p/?p=19755 [dk3wn.info]

Re:just for posterity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34947406)

Chances are it has a CW identifier going on repeat on that center frequency, and somewhere around it will be an AFSK telemetry stream. I doubt it has any fun things like a repeater or transponder, as that isn't the point of this particular satellite.

Sure it was lost. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946934)

Nobody knew it was in the container. So it WAS lost.

(Although I suppose you could argue that it was really just hiding.)

Re:Sure it was lost. (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947140)

Or in a Safe Place, as my family likes to say.

Beacons have been received (5, Informative)

Jon_Hanson (779123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34946970)

According to this: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats/nanosaild.html [nasa.gov] the beacons they asked amateur radio operators to listen for have been received and the satellite appears to be operating normally.

Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34946998)

Several of the satellites from that launch (STP-S26, a Minotaur out of Kodiak) use amateur radio communications, including the University of Texas nanosat, FASTRAC, which I worked on. It isn't terribly uncommon. Lots of ISS crews have amateur radio operators and they have an amateur rig up there for them.

Dear Nasa and/or CNN (1)

mattdm (1931) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947020)

"Blades on a ceiling fan" do not open. So, if the satellite is trying to open "like" that, no wonder there's problems.

HTH. HAND.

hands-on spacecraft interaction! (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947086)

If there is one thing that is so cool is to pickup transmissions directly from an orbital spacecraft. There are more satellites like this, i.e. OOREOS, but for me I have yet to setup a worthwhile antenna (a j-pole rig in a window barely works, I've been too lazy to get something better). Someone with basic equipment can get hands-on experience of gathering information on frequencies, orbital predictions, getting it all together for that brief pass, recording and decoding the transmissions. All done without having to pay someone for online access, royalties, and licensing fees.

The Hobby is dying (1)

Ozoner (1406169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947118)

> "..an arguably unconventional hobby given the technology of 2011"

Oh go away you silly person.

At my local newsagent the computer magazines are dwindling fast, while the electronics/radio mags are making a strong comeback.

Computers are just a commodity and excessively boring. Nerds are looking elsewhere.

Suddenly ham radio is cool again. Even morse is retro-cool.

Re:The Hobby is dying (1)

Ozoner (1406169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947208)

BTW, hobbyists who listen to radio (as distinct from Transmitting) are traditionally known as SWL's (Short Wave Listeners).

You don't need a Ham License to listen.

I doubt even Hipster Kitty would pack an HT (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947638)

...and I'm sure the "ironic" KIxTTY calls are all taken anyway.

Don't group Electronics and Radio mags together. Arduinos and hacked Roombas are a shitload more popular than crankstart Heathkits and QRP Altoids boxes.

Re:I doubt even Hipster Kitty would pack an HT (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947938)

Don't group Electronics and Radio mags together. Arduinos and hacked Roombas are a shitload more popular than crankstart Heathkits and QRP Altoids boxes.

Probably and reasonably so. I imagine there is a fair crossover (at least I get both and have eyed the Roomba from time to time). My backseat estimate is that interest in electronics in general (defined as building things that emit magic smoke when annoyed) is about the same as it's always been. It will always be a niche and these days there are literally hundreds of sub niches (robotics, radio, computers, automation, RC planes, etc, etc.). to choose from. With the advent of the Internet, you can geek out in Butfuck, New Jersey and communicate with all of your Asperger friends all over the world.

Not exactly sure where I'm going with this but I don't think we all have to go to bed snuggling with our soldering irons and wondering if anyone will understand us.

Re:The Hobby is dying (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947718)

Computers are just a commodity and excessively boring.

Unless you know how to program them ... /wink

Re:The Hobby is dying (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948386)

Computers are just a commodity and excessively boring.

Unless you know how to program them ... /wink

Then they're double-plus boring? ;)

I just decoded its message (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947272)

Ralphie: [Reading it after decoding Morse Code message] Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!

So NASA (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947328)

Is about to go HAM?

Re:So NASA (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947976)

Is about to go HAM?

No, NASA is about to go cheap. And besides, this harkens back to pre NASA days when the US military asked Hams to track Sputnik [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So NASA (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949902)

Explains all the barrels of pork going into it

Where have I heard this before? (1)

dougman (908) | more than 3 years ago | (#34947942)

"Many say the hobby is dying"

They've been saying the same thing about Apple for years...

Re:Where have I heard this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34948056)

Dying ha! I just sent my friend a text to his mobile radio 2000 miles away,listened and made 1000 plus contacts during a contest on single sideband,and bounced a 2 meter signal off the moon! all the while working CW on 40 meter. If it was dead nobody would be there to answer me. there are over 500,000 hams in the united states. KE7ZGQ Seven Three...

Flight Path? Timeline? Ground Plot? Sky Chart? (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948008)

I can't find any info anywhere about the flight path the object. Anyone find it? They say they want people to look and listen - but yet provide no details??

When they released SuitSat a number of years ago - we had specifics on when and where to look and listen. This time - nothing..

Re:Flight Path? Timeline? Ground Plot? Sky Chart? (3, Informative)

Slyder (30950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948268)

http://nanosaild.engr.scu.edu/dashboard.htm has the current position and flight path.

Pigs in... SPAAACE (1)

ikarys (865465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948194)

While listening to the bacon signal, they could hear a faint crackling. Something was sowering the transmission and hampering their progress. What a porkuliar turn of events.

Provincial hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34948354)

unconventional hobby given the technology of 2011

Just because you can't buy a copy of "Microsoft Stroke" doesn't mean ham radio is obsolete. There is a world of technology that is not governed by Larry Ellison, Google or the panting Ubuntu acolytes.

Death Knell? (1)

Netdoctor (95217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34948948)

Oh. Okay. So this project I'm on to network the county with a self-healing mesh of wireless nodes running 802.11 and OLRP and ipv4 and ipv6 at 54Mbps on amateur radio frequencies is old tech.

I'll go home now. We're old school.

Ham radio has been growing consistently since 2007 (1)

leighklotz (192300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949174)

The number of US amateur radio operators has been growing consistently since 2007. In fact, except for a period of a few years at the start of the web era, it's grown consistently since its inception.

A lot of nerdy people got into ham radio in the early 1990's because they wanted to do packet radio, which came from Aloha Net, the same project in the 1960's that begat packet networks and eventually TCP/IP and friends. When those folks moved over to the wired internet, and let their ham licenses lapse, the ham population declined. But in the past few years it's been growing again, partially due to crossover from DIY/MAKE people interested in everything from bouncing microwave signals off the moon to building their own radios out of a handful of transistors to GPS tracking with Arduino shields and RF transmitters.

Here's a graph:

http://wa5znu.org/2011/01/ham-census/2005-2010-chart.png [wa5znu.org]

Leigh/WA5ZNU

Re:Ham radio has been growing consistently since 2 (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950480)

I just got my ticket last year, wish I hadn't waited so long. There is a lot more to the hobby than I think most people realize, certainly more than enough interesting applications that are using cutting edge technology to keep a person interested and learning for a long, long time.

I would imagine hams will be exploring new ways to do things with the radio spectrum for as long as the radio spectrum continues to exist.

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