We are trying to gauge interest in adding discussion forums to the Amateur Radio Kentuckiana website and we want your input!
These discussion forum would provide a place for hams in the Kentuckiana area of Greater Louisville, Southern Indiana, throughout the region, and beyond to chat online, ask and answer questions, share news, learn about the amateur radio service both as a hobby and as a practical tool, as well as buying, selling, and trading radio equipment.
The forum would also provide a place to ask for help on equipment repair, where to find gear or parts, arrange for on-the-air meetups just to chat or to perform equipment checks, arrange ride-shares to hamfests, and more.
Please vote in the poll and leave any comments below about whether you would be interested in the addition of discussion forums.
FEMA will be trying out their next-generation alerting capabilities today when they issue an internet-based test message through the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) based IPAWS system. CAP Messages delivered through IPAWS are used to drive numerous alert systems, including supplementing over-the-air Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA – formerly Commercial Mobile Alerting System or CMAS), overhead highway signs, and more.
This test message will not go out over NOAA’s Weather Radio system but will be delivered electronically to CAP-enabled equipment, including many cell phones (depending on settings).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct a test of the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS) this afternoon for Kentucky around 2:30 PM EDT, 1:30 PM CDT. This test WILL NOT involve NOAA Weather Radio, but you may get the message on your cell phone via the Wireless Emergency Alert System (EAS). The text of the message will be very similar to that used with the EAS Required Monthly Test messages.
The Wall Street Journal ran a story today (Republicans Lay Plans to Fight FCC’s Net-Neutrality Rules), but they hid it behind their pay wall. If you’ve got a subscription, you can read the article above. If not, that’s OK… Android Authority also ran a story covering the GOP fight of Net Neutrality at Republicans will try to defund the FCC if net neutrality moves forward.
Net Neutrality advocates want the FCC to classify broadband providers as a utility which would allow the FCC to actually have authority over rules/regulations already in place. At the moment, the FCC’s power is minimal at best. But according to Republicans, net neutrality is a “step too far” and “regulatory overreach by the FCC” and that such rules could hurt future progress with cyber-security and wireless spectrum.
Android Authority went on to quote WSJ:
In the House, a Republican staffer for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC, said lawmakers won’t know what steps they will take until they see the agency’s final plan. But all options are on the table, he said, including legislation to block reclassification and cutting the agency’s budget.
The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show is this week, and what could be more consumer electronic-y than some fresh new ham radio gear?
As in past years, I will be attending a couple days of the show for work and will keep an eye out for new amateur radio gear. Unfortunately, previous attempts to be on the lookout for ham tech have been eminently disappointing. I have found some manufacturers of cheap Chinese HTs and aftermarket batteries, but the Big 3 have been either absent or focusing on other market segments.
Maybe this year will be better with fewer e-cigs and bedazzled cell phone cases and more ham stuff. If not, it’s only a short wait until the big Amateur Radio shindig at the NAB – where we’ll have the chance to win more goodies and rub elbows with the likes of Bob Heil and his tried-and-true “there, that sounds much better” shtick to open the event.
If you know of a CES exhibitor in the ham realm that we should check out, be sure to share it below in the comments.
By now, most hams have probably heard about the cheap SDR dongles that everyone is getting. Meant for DVB-T use in other parts of the world, radio amateurs have figured out that these powerful, affordable devices are great for listening to local traffic across a sizable chunk of the RF spectrum.
All you have to do is just plug it into your computer’s USB port, fire up the software of your choice and you’re on your way to listening to local amateur, commercial, and aircraft traffic, tracking aircraft positions, and more. If you’re a radio head, it’s (almost) the most fun you can have in front of your PC screen – but who wants to be stuck at their desk or mess with their laptop just to listen to a little radio?
If you like to go mobile with your tech, you’re living in a golden age. The market is flooded with cheap, no-name Android tablets that may or may not work as well as their brand name counterparts. Microsoft and other manufacturers have been cranking out Windows tablets, but the Windows RT versions are neutered and can’t run much useful ham software while the Windows 8.1 “Pro” models still have sky-high prices. iPads… Well, some of the older models are coming down in price, but there just isn’t much there for radio amateurs. Enter the new generation of affordable tablets.
For our demo, I’m using a Toshiba Encore Mini (WT7-CT16) – a 7″ touchscreen tablet with USB support that runs Windows 8.1 and has an MSRP of just $100 for the 8GB model that I got. With flash memory chips’ capacity going up and prices going down, 8GB models are getting harder to find, though, so you may have to “settle” for the 16GB model. I gather that the non-signature edition comes with some bloatware, but I’m not sure since I do have the MS signature version. This is a pretty amazing deal, considering that an OEM copy of Windows 8 by itself costs about as much or more. This tablet is perfect for this application (and lots of others!). Since it runs a full version of Windows 8.1 and has a quad core Intel Atom x86 processor with a gig of RAM, it can run “real” Windows software. Since it’s a touch screen, it doesn’t need extra gadgets like a keyboard or mouse to use it, although a stylus may help avoid “fat fingering” the controls.
Next, of course, we need the SDR dongle. We’re using the Nooelec RTL2832 + R820T dongle. The dongle, stubby antenna with cable and useless remote control sells for right around $20. There is nothing Continue reading
A while back, some ingenious radio amateurs figured out that they could pair a $20 USB dongle meant for watching television in other parts of the world with some SDR software and listen to the ham bands (and more).
The “and more” part is what first caught my attention. Much of the area uses digital trunked systems for their emergency communications and something like a TrunkTracker IV, despite being one of the more affordable pieces of equipment in this category, is still a bit out of my reach. As someone who lives close to the site of a HAZMAT train derailment as well as a massive tire fire, and having had police chases that end in stand-offs go racing past my house, the ability to be “in the know” sounds like a good idea. I haven’t got up and running with digital trunking systems yet (watch for a future post?), but I have definitely already got more than my $20 worth of use out of this gadget.
The first thing I did was order a Nooelec RTL2832U & R820TSB dongle. Once it arrived, the package contained the USB dongle (which looks like a fat jump drive), a stubby little antenna with a few feet of coax and a small, mostly useless remote control. I was ready to get started! Continue reading
Many amateur radio transceivers allow users to set up memory channels to store their favorite simplex frequencies or repeater information including frequency (such as repeater name, frequncy, offset, tones and more).
Programming memory channels using the radio’s keypad can often be incredibly cumbersome and time consuming.
Using factory or homebrew programming cables can speed up the process but often introduces other issues (on top of the cost of having to purchase a programming cable for each radio). Topping the list of those issues are usually driver problems that prevent the computer from being able to use the cable. This method also means either having to take your radios to a computer or bringing the computer to your radios.
The project outlined in the document below will describe how to make a portable “universal” ham radio transceiver programmer. The total cost of the project is around $40-50 (much less if you use parts you already have) and will yield a programmer that is approximately the size of a deck of cards, weighs only a few ounces and includes the computer and the cables you need to program your radio. This programmer (perfect for travelers, emergencies and more) will connect to any display with HDMI or RCA video inputs and is powered by a standard USB power outlet, computer port or cell phone charger.
Build one today and keep it with your ham radio gear so you can program your radios on the go!
To build the programmer, you’ll need:
To set up and use the programmer, you’ll need:
Smartphones. We carry them in our pockets, toss them in our tote bags and have them at the ready whenever we want directions to a destination or to snap a picture or to call a friend.
Perhaps we’re often guilty of taking the gadgets’ microprocessing powers for granted. Not so with NASA, which just sent three smartphones into space as low-cost satellites.
When Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on its first test flight Sunday, the privately built booster carried a payload to simulate the cargo craft that will one day dock with the International Space Station.
But Antares also placed into orbit several new mini-satellites built mainly with smartphone components, which the U.S. space agency is calling their PhoneSats.
The three so-called PhoneSats are named ‘Alexander,’ ‘Graham,’ and ‘Bell,’ after the inventor of the telephone.
The PhoneSats are small cubes, each about the size of a beverage mug and weighing a little more than a kilogram. At the core of each is a Google-HTC Nexus One phone, whose zippy little microprocessor — running the Android operating system — serves as the onboard computer.
Operating in Orbit
Jim Cockrell, the PhoneSat Project Manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, described the project in a video broadcast on NASA TV ahead of the Antares launch.
“Someone here asked the question, ‘Can we fly a cell phone as the avionics for a satellite and have something that’s very capable but really, really inexpensive?’ So PhoneSat was launched to try to answer that question,” he said.
NASA says the three PhoneSats are Continue reading