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iPhone Interface For Ham Radio Mates Old With New

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the wait-a-second-for-it-to-get-back-from-space dept.

Communications 51

jjp9999 writes "By using the same technology found in older modems, Thomas Tumino, vice president of the Hall of Science Amateur Radio Club, has invented an iPhone interface for ham radios. He told The Epoch Times, 'Today there are iPhone apps where you can use the systems in the phone — and its sound card, which is being used as a modem ... And then you connect that into your radio with an interface like this, that just isolates the telephone from the radio, and then you can do all sorts of things.'"

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51 comments

spy gadgets in hyderabad (-1)

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Localized Information Networks (2)

Cogent91 (2203516) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863523)

This is one huge step for locally based information networks finally becoming accessible. We've grown used to the world wide web, but what are the implications of sharing a net that only covers a small local or regional area?

Re:Localized Information Networks (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863675)

"We've grown used to the world wide web, but what are the implications of sharing a net that only covers a small local or regional area?"

If you can get an "honest" implementation that sidesteps all the very real privacy issues, Location Based Services really are useful. Dating apps, restaurant reviews, traffic and police-hotspot info, disaster updates, and all the rest are types of info that mean mostly nothing to anyone outside a certain distance radius. The problem the "ordinary citizens" are wrestling with is the Big Money angling their agendas into all that, meaning the cizitens are stuck with rock-hard place choices.

Couldn't have picked a worse article (1, Informative)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863605)

If you want real info, with pics and video, just Google, iphone ham radio interface.

Re:Couldn't have picked a worse article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41863787)

And then Google, how to, use punctuation,.

Re:Couldn't have picked a worse article (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864063)

Warning... The pics are a little scary....

Despite being a huge Apple fan, things like this really piss me off. It is such a wasted opportunity that there is no small-scale developer interface with the serial communications systems of the iPhone. Why the hell use the iPhone as an analog modem via the headphone jack to create a serial interface for something else, when you should be able to do it directly from the dock...

Re:Couldn't have picked a worse article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41864147)

The whole thing is trivial with an Android phone.
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10748

Re:Couldn't have picked a worse article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41864545)

The Apple shill GP just got owned.

Re:Couldn't have picked a worse article (4, Informative)

NF6X (725054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864281)

In this application, the serial interface on the dock connector would not be sufficient. It's common to use a PC to implement ham radio modems via the PC's sound card. The radios rarely have built-in modems, and there are a lot of different digital modem protocols used on the ham bands for data, images, etc. New protocols pop up fairly often, and these days it's unusual to use dedicated modem hardware for this application instead of implementing the modem in software. Interface to the radio is via its analog microphone input and speaker output, or often via a line-level analog interface connector provided for connecting external modems.

Many radios have a serial port for controlling radio functions like tuning, and the dock serial interface would be useful for that. The actual data path would still need to go through analog I/O such as the headphone jack or line-level signals on the dock connector.

I would still be happy to see the sort of interface you describe for other applications, but this is complicated by Apple keeping the full dock connector interface specification under wraps, and only releasing it under NDA to companies that Apple deems worthy. Thus, companies like Belkin can crank out mountains of low-quality crap for the iPhone, yet an entrepreneur is effectively barred from marketing innovative hardware accessories for iPhones.

This is new? (5, Informative)

Ozoner (1406169) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863619)

It's good to see people doing stuff, but this article is a decade or two out of date.

Hams have been hooking computers to radios for a long, long time.

There are hundreds of pages on digital radio and sound card interfacing:
  try
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSK31 [wikipedia.org]
http://hfradio.org.uk/html/digital_modes.html [hfradio.org.uk]
http://www.tapr.org/packetradio.html [tapr.org]
http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Technical_Reference/Sound_Card_Radio_Interfacing/ [dxzone.com]

Re:This is new? (3, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863693)

yah, i remember stories from a decade or two ago about hooking Ham radios up to an iphone. Can't find any articles, 'tho.

Re:This is new? (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863715)

He didn't say decade old iPhone stories, he said computer - and using an iPhone as a computer terminal isn't really revolutionary. Many hams used the HP pocket dos computers [tigertronics.com] at least 15 years ago.

Re:This is new? (1)

Ozoner (1406169) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863789)

And the iPhone is different just how?

There are well documented hacks and interfaces for the iPhone USB, Audio and Serial ports.

Pretty much like any other computer.

Re:This is new? (1)

stox (131684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864811)

Hams were playing with Microcomputers before Bill Gates got involved. Some of the first articles on microcomputing appeared in 73 magazine in the early 1970's. Byte was effectively a spinoff of 73 in 1975. Hams were also hooking up their rigs to phones prior to that with Phone Patches.

Re:This is new? (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | about a year and a half ago | (#41880771)

I am a ham (KB3YUA) and I agree we have been hooking radios to modems via sound cards, but the box that converts iPhone commands to radio signals is different. iPhone does not support radio to much that's another reason for the hype.

Old? (0)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863661)

iPhone Interface For Ham Radio Mates Old With New

Who says Ham Radio is old? It started in 1909 [upenn.edu], six years after the electrical outlet was patented [google.com], which the iPhone already utilized. The iPhone is just catching up with latter-day interfaces.

Re:Old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41863729)

> Who says Ham Radio is old?

You never attended a Ham Radio meeting, isn't it ?!?

Re:Old? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864997)

Amateur radio is as old as radio - the early experimenters (Marconi, Hertz, etc) were amateur experimenters. Commercial radio only came years later.

In any case, how many slashdotters do you think were alive before radio existed? For this crowd, the iPhone 3 is "old" and the original iPhone is "ancient".

Sodium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41863739)

sodium cloud? Huh?

Bad Reporting (3, Informative)

Ganty (1223066) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863807)

The quality of reporting in this article really sucks. The printed circuit boards on top of the tins are not 'telegraph keys', they're the transmitters and the white box is the iPhone interface. Quite where the 'sodium clouds' come in I have no idea because in thirty years of ham radio operation I've never seen one, heard of one or used one to make a contact with a fellow ham.

Ganty

Re:Bad Reporting (2)

ve3id (601924) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863887)

The quality of reporting in this article really sucks. The printed circuit boards on top of the tins are not 'telegraph keys', they're the transmitters and the white box is the iPhone interface. Quite where the 'sodium clouds' come in I have no idea because in thirty years of ham radio operation I've never seen one, heard of one or used one to make a contact with a fellow ham.

Ganty

I agree about the bad reporting. I am left with more questions than answers from this article. Is it the RF side that is interfaced? Are the apps on the iPhone communicating with an OSI level 1 and 2 interface that is the ham radio, or is the ham radio being controlled, as in CIV, through the iPhone with communications going through the air. Or are they just using the iPhone as a microphone and speaker for the ham radio? It is nice to see a "good bit of publicity for us operators" *, but this article literally has no useful information. That's my opinion and I am unanimous in that! 73 de ve3id * Hancock, Tony: "The Radio Ham", BBC 1964

Re:Bad Reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41864319)

It doesn't seem as bad an article to me. Several times at the start it says clearly that it's a way to use iPhones over ham radio (not a way to use ham radios via iPhones, e.g. CI-V). It also says it's the same as the use ham radio operators make of PC sound cards. IOW, it's a software modem for the iPhone.
--
David Mair, AD7GH

Re:Bad Reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41864047)

Just pray that AO27 doesn't stop rotating the earth, or we'll be in trouble.

Re:Bad Reporting (1)

caseih (160668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41866601)

I tried to point out that this article is confusing and says very little, but got modded down. Thanks for speaking clearly what I was thinking. Definitely breathy and superficial reporting that seems to be the norm these days. And I still don't know what the white box is all about or why it is novel. I think the guy has implemented some software (not hardware) that encodes packets as audio, and that is passed to a conventional radio. What the box does that a simple pass-through audio cable wouldn't do I don't know.

Re:Bad Reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41869709)

You have to have a way of switching the radio between transmit and receive (TNC) as well as generating or monitoring audio from the transceiver. Most of the software packet modem's I know of use toggling of a COM port control line as the control but you often need an external box with a 12V relay connected to the radio control line rather than just poking that with the COM port's 12V.

SDR (4, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41863873)

I went to a Maker Faire a few months back and started talking to some HAM radio operators. They told me that far from a dead activity, they have actually gone digital, incorporating the Internet to connect to transceivers for when they aren't able to have an antenna in thir back yard. One other technology mentioned was SDR, otherwise known as software defined radio. SDR means that the necessary hardware is simpler, with the majority of the signal processing now in software. There is an SDR app for the iPhone, but you need a piece of hardware that plugs ino the antenna and also plugs into the headphone jack of the phone. I haven't looked at Android, but I imagine you could use some form of GnuRadio.

Re:SDR (2)

stevew (4845) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864451)

Let me be a little more specific for you - ghpsdr3-alex is what you are looking for. This is really two apps. The first is the processing software that hooks up to very simple hardware the implements the Software Defined Radio, all the signal processing, etc. Then there This is usually run on a PC. This software is capable of registering itself so it can be found through the internet. Then there is a graphical piece of software with clients for PC, Android and Iphone that let you see the Pan Adapter display of a chunk of spectrum and play back the audio for whatever you've tuned in. This is the control head for the processing software (Think client-server).

Re:SDR (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864759)

Let me be a little more specific for you - ghpsdr3-alex is what you are looking for. This is really two apps. The first is the processing software that hooks up to very simple hardware the implements the Software Defined Radio, all the signal processing, etc. Then there This is usually run on a PC. This software is capable of registering itself so it can be found through the internet. Then there is a graphical piece of software with clients for PC, Android and Iphone that let you see the Pan Adapter display of a chunk of spectrum and play back the audio for whatever you've tuned in. This is the control head for the processing software (Think client-server).

Cool. If I could find the right guys, one project I have mind is something akin to a RaspberryPi coupled with SDR hardware. That way you get all the work done in the device and then stream the resultant signal to the main computer. This too could be networkable.

Re:SDR (1)

stevew (4845) | about a year and a half ago | (#41867389)

It has already been done, but the RP doesn't have enough horse power by itself, it takes two! Look up ghpsdr & John Melton (the original author) He has some blog entries about getting this going.

Re:SDR (2)

Dan East (318230) | about a year and a half ago | (#41865065)

He's not using an iPhone as an SDR. He's created yet another audio interface between a computing device (PC soundcard, iPhone, Android, whatever) and a typical radio. I go into more detail several comments down from here. This lets TNC / APRS software on the iPhone (already available in the app store by multiple developers) communicate digitally over radio using audio transmission modes (usually FM). The smartphone acts as a software modem and controller (aka a TNC).

Re:SDR (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#41865189)

He's not using an iPhone as an SDR

But you can [digitalconfections.com]

Re:SDR (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41867097)

He's not using an iPhone as an SDR

But you can [digitalconfections.com]

Do you know a good place to get the necessary hardware? I don't feel like having to cobble it together myself.

Re:SDR (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871429)

There's all kinds of hardware. And all kinds of software. I wrote this (SdrDx) [flickr.com], for instance, starting from a really basic program called CuteSDR; primarily, it uses the RSPACE SDR-IQ for HF and below, and the FunCube dongle for 50 mhz and above. There's a new one, just beginning to ship, the funcube dongle pro plus, that does 150 khz to above a ghz. Haven't used it yet, but it sounds good. Google around, you'll find all kinds of stuff.

And here it is on Android one year earlier: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41863927)

http://blog.red-bean.com/sussman/?p=604

Oh noes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41863957)

Ham Radio meets iPhone

when bores collide.

Wow Yuk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41863995)

From the headline, I just has a picture in my head of somebody with an iPhone porking a Ham. I'm too scared to RTFA as I am looking forward to some nookie with my wife this morning.

There are a swack of good open tools already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41864267)

Linux [ubuntu.com] already has a huge software following in the ham radio/geek world. As does some commercial Windows and Mac software. The ability to digitise a ham signal with audio is nothing new it is just slower than molasses and not really practical for communication of anything of size at all. The high audio frequency spectrum is awash with interference over short wave and the only place you can modulate the sound adequately to do accurate digital is in the lower more stable frequencies. As a consequence the data speed is slow. High bandwidth data requires accurate signal at extremely high frequencies that do not skip or get blasted during the day by ionic interference.
The only advantage is shortwave skip and this is problematic as hell as the nature of the skip does not mean that you necessarily will be able to receive or communicate with all places on the globe all the time. But this is the selling attraction to real Hams ..you sometimes never know who you might wind up talking to!
DAH DIT DAH DIT DAH DAH DIT DAH

Re:There are a swack of good open tools already (1)

stevew (4845) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864459)

Yep - the Computer Interface to our Radios is wired into the guts of Linux. The ham radio digital protocol AX25 has been supported by Linux since the early days, almost as long as Linux has had a TCP/IP stack! Why you might ask?? Well - Alan Cox is a ham!

Worst article I've read in some time (0)

caseih (160668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864463)

The author apparently thinks he writes for Wired magazine. He can write sentence after sentence without saying anything. What a waste of an article. I still have no idea what this person did or why it is special. He says is that it's a white box that connects to an iPhone and and a Ham radio, and it takes him almost an entire article of babbling to say that. The inventor made it without plans and seems pretty jazzed that it's connected to an iPhone. Good for him. Perhaps it has something to do with calling satellites. And Cubans.

The Reporter (3, Informative)

JoshJPhilipp (2720639) | about a year and a half ago | (#41864639)

I was the guy who wrote this article. I have to say, I've had a few stories posted to Slashdot and it's always useful for feedback :) Just to clarify a few points though, in the picture, those little tin cans, Tumino actually did say they were telegraph keys. He had them on display next to an old antique one to show they're not hard to build. I guess the article was a bit babbly. It was written under a new column I started, basically just about people doing cool things with technology. I thought the ham radio guys were pretty cool, and I know that during the Arab Spring, when people were having their Internet shut down by governments, part of the care package released by Anonymous Operations taught people how to access the Internet over radio. So I thought this had some added relevance, since radio still does have some interesting uses when it comes to digital freedom, and you can do some pretty cool stuff with it. Also, sodium clouds do exist. They're pretty cool, actually: http://deep-red.sr.unh.edu/model/io/cloudescr.html [unh.edu]

Re:The Reporter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41868795)

We appreciate the link describing sodium clouds on one of Jupiter's moons, but for the benefit of us mere Earthlings, could you keep your references relevant to our planet? :)

Unless he's actually bouncing radio waves off of Io. IANAS.

iPhone as modem / TNC (2)

Dan East (318230) | about a year and a half ago | (#41865009)

Amateurs have been doing this for a long, long time now (IE over a decade). This is not a SDR (software defined radio), but using a computer's audio card to encode and decode packet / APRS audio, which is essentially your old school modem. To be concise, the computer (or smartphone) acts as the TNC (Terminal Node Controller), which is connected to a radio via an interface that takes audio to and from the computer to the radio, with some method of telling the radio when to transmit (typically via an audio level threshold, but there are interfaces that allow the computer to explicitly control when the radio transmits). I own an AEA PK-232 Pakratt, which is a discrete, stand-alone TNC that goes between a computer and radio. Originally the computer was just the terminal, which connected to the TNC via a serial port. Now you can simply have the computer directly process / generate the audio using a sound card without requiring an actual TNC peripheral.

The "inventor" even states that there are multiple apps for iPhone available to do this - you just need a way to hook the audio up to a radio. Basically he created yet another custom hardware audio interface, and the writer of this story got all excited about it because it was news to him.

Look online, and you'll find dozens of designs for this exact thing. Here's a list of at least a dozen kits and pre-assembled interfaces for standard PC sound cards. Most of these should work with any smartphone with the proper 4 conductor 1/8" audio jack that cell phones use for both earphone and mic combined (whereas computer sound cards have those as two separate 1/8" connectors).
http://www.soundcardpacket.org/1cablekit.htm [soundcardpacket.org]

That site is dedicated to the entire "computer as a TNC" concept, which is simply what is being down now with smartphones as well.

*yawn* (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41868231)

Dont these people know that Hams have been doing packet radio for decades? This was long before cell phones even existed in the first place and most people didnt know a computer from a hole in the wall.

Acting like this is some sort of revolutionary concept is an insult to all the hard work that was done before.

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