• KC1RGS Intro

    From Lon J Seidman@1:396/45 to All on Sat Oct 22 18:30:04 2022
    Hello everyone!

    Back in the late 80's and early 90's I always would browse through the amateur radio echo but never had enough in the budget for radio gear in addition to my computing gear as a kid. But now I do :).

    A few months ago I passed my technician test and have enjoyed exploring a new area of technology (for me) along with the portions of the spectrum I'm permitted to use. I'm hoping to move up to a General license this winter.

    I picked up a Yaesu 991a for my base station with an Anytone 878 UVIIPlus & 7 watt Baofeng for HTs. Have had success so far with the ISS both phone and packet and looking to do a lot more with packet this winter.

    Hoping to meet some of you here and on the air!

    73, KC1RGS

    -+- QuikEdit 2.41R+

    --- Maximus/2 3.01
    * Origin: Sursum Corda! BBS-Huntsville,AL-bbs.sursum-corda.com (1:396/45)
  • From Daryl Stout@1:2320/33 to Lon J Seidman on Sun Oct 23 11:33:00 2022
    Lon,

    Hello everyone!

    First, welcome to the hobby. Second, sorry for such a long message...but
    two things ham radio operators love to do are talk (as noted by this reply); and eat (as referenced by my QWK Mail Tagline (hi hi)).

    Back in the late 80's and early 90's I always would browse through the amateur radio echo but never had enough in the budget for radio gear in addition to my computing gear as a kid. But now I do :).

    Most hams are frugal cheapskates (hi hi). But, for those like myself who
    are on a fixed income, and have medical issues (I'm a heart patient), I
    have to avoid RF gear, and operate "internet only".

    Now, while the ham radio "purists" shudder at that thought, many long
    time hams have encountered situations, through no fault of their own,
    where they have to go into an assisted living center, medical facility,
    etc., where RF gear is forbidden, due to the interference it could cause
    with medical devices. Loneliness in these places (i.e. no family comes
    to visit due to Covid-19 restrictions, or having no one really to talk
    to) can cause a person to "lose the will to live".

    Operating via a laptop computer, a headset mic, and a personal Wi-Fi
    device (such as the Verizon Mi-Fi, but that bill can be expensive),
    allows one to operate several ham radio internet applications, such as:

    1) Outpost to a "packet via telnet" BBS (the BBS likely also offers RF
    access).

    2) Echolink (a computer and smartphone app are available).

    3) D-Rats.

    4) D-Star, DMR, and Fusion via the BlueDV program from PA7LIM, and a
    DV Megastick from Gigaparts. The DV MegaStick 30 is around $160, and
    I've noted the least expensive D-Star HT can be over $400...the Icom
    ID-52 is around $700.

    5) Winlink via the RMS Express program. It's shareware, but worth the registration cost.

    These are what I use, in running on average, 5 nets per week...and it
    means that "my license isn't just a sheet of paper". It's hard enough
    to find net control operators for nets, although you'll find plenty of
    "net hoppers" (what I refer to as "Hi, Bye, and QSY" stations)...who
    try to see how many nets they can check into in a day or evening, as if
    there's some prize, bonus, award, certificate, etc. for doing such (there isn't).

    I got so burned out on the "mad rush" on many nets that I'm only on
    the air for the nets I run, and for rare sked requests. I have health
    and other issues that demand more time than my hobbies...including the
    BBS, ham radio, and square dancing (I work behind the scenes in my state
    square dance organization).

    A few months ago I passed my technician test and have enjoyed exploring
    a new area of technology (for me) along with the portions of the
    spectrum I'm permitted to use. I'm hoping to move up to a General
    license this winter.

    When I first got licensed in 1991, I got in under the No-Code Technician license. Being a 2 time lightning strike survivor (I carry no electrical charge, and can be handled safely (hi hi)), I have nervous system damage,
    and have great difficulty copying CW. I did try a 5 WPM CW test before the
    FCC dropped that requirement...had I filled in the blanks, I might have
    passed it, but that's a moot point now.

    The funniest experience I heard with Morse Code (CW) was where 4 OM's
    were sitting around a restaurant table in Annapolis, Maryland...telling
    each other dirty jokes in CW. This drop dead, gorgeous, curvaceous YL
    walked up to them, and sternly admonished "You boys need to watch your language. I teach CW at the Naval Academy across the street!!", and
    walked out. They were as red as tomatoes!! (hi hi).

    I got in the hobby with the local Skywarn Severe weather operations...
    but after 28 years doing that, I got burned out, and nearly quit the hobby
    in 2019. I changed the emphasis to trains/railroads, as my late uncle, the only other ham radio operator in my family (now a silent key) was the
    youngest engineer hired on by the Penn Central Railroad.

    The alternate callsign phonetics for me, WX4QZ, are "Whistled Crossings
    For Quiet Zones". Some railroads use W for the "whistle post" to warn the engineer that a highway grade crossing is just ahead...and some use X for "crossing". The term QZ stands for "quiet zone", where the locomotive horn isn't sounded, unless a train is meeting another one on a parallel track,
    or if someone tries to beat the train across the crossing, or for people
    on the track...either trespassers (very dangerous, and illegal), or for maintenance of way (MOW) workers.

    Three months after my wife died in late April, 2007...2 months after
    the FCC dropped the CW requirement, I signed up with HamTestOnline;
    for grins to try and upgrade. I studied 2 hours a day for 2 weeks, and
    went from Technician to General in 14 days, and General to Extra 13
    days later. It was the best money I ever spent in ham radio. They offer
    a money back guarantee if you fail the exam (hamradiolicenseexam.com).

    My late wife was studying for her license at the time of her death;
    but she, like a lot of new hams, had "mic fright". With the digital
    modes (packet, CW, APRS, PSK31, etc.), your computer does all the work
    for you, and you don't have to say a word on the air. This is especially helpful if you have temporarily lost your voice, or are just "shy".

    I then became a Volunteer Examiner with ARRL/VEC, and have done 214
    sessions in the last 15 years. Only a husband and wife VE team in
    Arkansas have more sessions than I do. I am the VE Team Liaison for
    the University Of Arkansas At Little Rock Ham Radio Club, and we do
    4 sessions a year (March, May, July, and October). It has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done in amateur radio.

    I have to remind prospective candidates to study the current pool, as
    they change every 4 years. More than once, I've run into candidates, who
    were studying an outdated pool, and that was the reason they failed
    the exam. I tell folks that there's no disgrace in failing...the guy
    or girl who graduates dead last in medical school, is still A DOCTOR.
    But, I might not want them doing a prostate check or a pelvic exam
    (hi hi).

    As for the General, it has a lot of the stuff that the Technician
    exam has, but it's in more detail. As a side note, the current General
    Class Question Pool and exams CHANGE on July 1, 2023...so it'd be in
    your best interest to upgrade before the pool changes. As for how much
    will change, we won't know that until the National Council Of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) releases the proposed new pool in early
    2023. The Amateur Extra Pool will change again on July 1, 2024...then,
    there'll be a break in 2025...then the Technician Class Question Pool
    (which just changed this past July) will change again on July 1, 2026.

    There are also only 5 reasons to upgrade from General to Amateur
    Extra:

    1) Full amateur radio privileges, although you have to stay at least 3 kilohertz away from the band edges on HF, to avoid going "out of band".
    There is 500 kilohertz of spectrum for the General class licensees, and
    250 kilohertz of spectrul for the Advanced Class licensees, that are
    "off limits"...you'd have to be Amateur Extra to get them.

    2) Access to a 1x2 or 2x1 callsign (i.e. N5EL or AF5M (both those hams
    are silent keys)), if you're lucky enough to get one.

    3) Going overseas, with CEPT privileges, it's the same as an Extra
    Class license.

    4) As a Volunteer Examiner, you can give and grade ALL the exams
    (Technician, General, and Amateur Extra). General Class VE's can
    only give the Technician exam, while Advanced Class VE's can give
    the Technician and General exam, but not the Amateur Extra exam.

    5) Snob appeal (hi hi).

    While I'm an Extra Class licensee (I had to be, to become a VE Team
    Leader), when I'm on the air, I operate in the Technician bands
    exclusively, as I enjoy them. But, if you're happy with your license
    class, whatever it is, you are under no obligation to upgrade. Plus,
    for those hams operating HF, the majority of them hold the General
    Class license...as you have more than enough with those privileges.

    I also tell examinees that "if you never let your license expire or
    lapse, you NEVER have to take the exam again". In recent years, the
    FCC made it where if you previously held a General, Advanced, or an
    Amateur Extra Class license, which had lapsed (expired more than 2
    years), you could get back into the hobby by passing the Technician
    exam (Morse Code is no longer required, but one can learn and use it).

    With proof of their lapsed license, they'll then get a Certificate Of Successful Completion Of Examination (CSCE) for either a General Class
    license (former Advanced Class licenses are downgraded to General,
    since the FCC quit issuing Novice and Advanced licenses on April 15,
    2000; but holders of these can renew them at the appropriate time),
    or an Extra Class license. They'll get a new callsign, but if their
    old one is still available under the Vanity Callsign system, they
    have to pay $35 to the FCC for it (an application for a new or renewed
    amateur radio license requires that fee, which is a bargain compared
    to other countries), but there's no charge for a license upgrade,
    aside from the exam fee, if the exam team charges one.

    I picked up a Yaesu 991a for my base station with an Anytone 878
    UVIIPlus & 7 watt Baofeng for HTs. Have had success so far with the ISS both phone and packet and looking to do a lot more with packet this winter.

    The NS2B BBS in Penfield, New York, is where I do my packet stuff. They
    also have a weekly "net" on Monday at 8pm Eastern Time...I'm the scribe,
    and alternate Net Control with Bob, NS2B, who's the Sysop.

    Hoping to meet some of you here and on the air!

    If you go to my bio on QRZ, and click on the hyperlink, you'll find
    Excel Spreadsheets of over 200 D-Star, Echolink, and D-Rats Nets, in
    the 4 US time zones (Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific), plus PDF
    files related to ham radio...including The PCL Net, noted above.

    Lastly, here's a brief list of the nets I do each week, all times US
    Eastern -- I have a backup in case I can't make it (weather, etc.):

    Sunday Afternoon: Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) Digital Net, 5pm, QuadNet Array (https://openquad.net) via D-Star, DMR, WIRES-X, and Fusion.

    Monday Evening, I have 2 nets:

    1) The PCL Packet Net, 8pm, NS2B BBS. The net doesn't meet during the weeks
    of the US holidays of Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

    2) HotSpot, Raspberry Pi, SBC (single board computer), and ZumSpot
    Net, 10pm, QuadNet Array (https://openquad.net) via D-Star, DMR, WIRES-X,
    and Fusion.

    Tuesday Evening: Arklatex D-Star Net, 8:30pm, Reflector 48 B (backup
    reflector 73 B).

    Friday Morning: QCWA CQ100 Net, 11am, 14.347 (VoIP only, no RF) - more
    info at https://www.qsonet.com

    Friday Evening: Trains And Railroads Net, 8pm, QuadNet Array (https://openquad.net) via D-Star, DMR, WIRES-X, and Fusion.

    Third Saturday Afternoon: Food Net, 4pm, QuadNet Array (https://openquad.net) via D-Star, DMR, WIRES-X, and Fusion. (meets monthly only, due to scheduling issues).

    As for the QCWA, the only requirements for membership is that one was
    first licensed as an amateur radio operator anytime in 1997 or earlier
    (that becomes 1998 or earlier, as of Jan. 1, 2023), and one is also
    currently licensed. The license term doesn't have to be continuous, and membership in QCWA is NOT required for any of our nets.

    Except for the QCWA CQ100 Net and The PCL Net noted above, I use the Netlogger program, available at https://www.netlogger.org -- one can
    follow along where I am during the net with the program, and enter messages
    to me during the net via the Almost Instant Messenger (AIM) Chat Window.

    73,

    Daryl, WX4QZ

    ... H.A.M. Radio Operator: H)ave A)nother M)eal.
    === MultiMail/Win v0.52
    --- SBBSecho 3.15-Win32
    * Origin: The Thunderbolt BBS - Little Rock, Arkansas (1:2320/33)
  • From Joe Phigan@1:305/3 to Lon J Seidman on Tue Oct 25 18:31:10 2022
    Glad to see a new person in the hobby!

    What software (and hardware setup) have you been using for packet? What was your experience sending packet to the ISS? Do they have a BBS or something?

    --- Mystic BBS v1.12 A46 2020/03/02 (Windows/32)
    * Origin: 8-Bit Boyz BBS! -=[ bbs.8bitboyz.com port:6502 ]=- (1:305/3)
  • From debian@1:154/154 to Lon J Seidman on Sun Oct 23 16:41:47 2022
    Welcome to the hobby! I have been licensed since 2015 (Tech as well, but studying for General as I speak - taking a break ;) ). I too have a 991A and the thing has been a solid trooper thus far! I think you will be quite happy with that radio. My first was a Baofent UV-5R that was given to me as a gift by another ham after passing my tech license.

    For me, I use VHF for local nets and emcomms and HF is for the fun stuff! I just recently stumbled across some 300 baud packet activity on 14.102MHz and found >20 active BBSes transmitting their station beacon. My license does not permit me to transmit on the 30 and 25 meter bands, so this gave me the kick in the butt I needed to start studying again!

    Presently, I am tuned in to 14.074 and listening to 10 - 15 stations transmitting FT8.

    I have amassed several radios at this point - I still my my UV-5R, I also have a Yaesu FT-3D, FT-2900R, and recently a Yaesu FT-991A. I still find it amazing that the FT-991A works on Windows 98 via USB. I don't think Windows 95 had USB audio drivers, so that is out of the question. If you have a TNC and an appropriate cable, then this thing will work all the way back to DOS. I did use my Commodore 64 for some of the local packet BBSes, but the C64 didn't work with CP437 graphics - none of G8MNYs messages would display properly. I have several computers with various amateur radio software that I have been using with the 991A. Just the other day, I resurrected my RPi 4 and am using the 991A with it now.

    A few months back, I got a
    National NC-57 which is a communications receiver from about 1946. Will receive broadcast AM all the way up to 6 meters. Needs the usual recapping and realignment, will be a project for winter!

    73, and look forward to ragchewing in the future!
    KG7UJH

    How ya gonna do it? PS/2 it!

    --- Mystic BBS v1.12 A48 2022/07/15 (Linux/64)
    * Origin: SPOT BBS / k9zw (1:154/154)
  • From Joe Phigan@1:305/3 to debian on Thu Nov 3 21:07:02 2022
    Can you tell us about the programs you use on each those platforms?

    All of the platforms!

    --- Mystic BBS v1.12 A46 2020/03/02 (Windows/32)
    * Origin: 8-Bit Boyz BBS! -=[ bbs.8bitboyz.com port:6502 ]=- (1:305/3)
  • From Lon J Seidman@1:396/45 to Daryl Stout on Sat Nov 26 20:27:00 2022
    Hi Daryl!

    Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I will definitely look you up on QRZ!

    HamTestOnline is great - that's how I passed my tech exam. I like how it helps you build confidence and presents the test as you can expect it on exam day. I was making progress on the General portion but things got a bit busy here with the kids back in school, etc. I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old so as you can imagine things are a bit crazy !

    I'm going to start setting aside some evening time after the kids fall asleep to push through the studying. I'm very interested in exploring digital modes on the HF bands. I've also had a few great phone QSO's on the 10 meter band including a few occaisions where I hit South America!

    -+- QuikEdit 2.41R+

    --- Maximus/2 3.01
    * Origin: Sursum Corda! BBS-Huntsville,AL-bbs.sursum-corda.com (1:396/45)
  • From Lon J Seidman@1:396/45 to Joe Phigan on Sat Nov 26 20:33:52 2022
    What software (and hardware setup) have you been using
    for packet? What was
    your experience sending packet to the ISS? Do they
    have a BBS or something?

    So for local packet work I was using Outpost which was the easiest path to take - it sets up a pretty basic terminal / tnc that works in conjunction with direwolf via AGWPE if I remember correctly. Where I live packet is really tough as the closest BBS is just on the edge of what I can reach with my current configuration.

    For the ISS I started playing around with UISS which helps manage the very tight constraints of a pass. But I've also been able to decode packets on just my HT's build in APRS functionality. I also managed to use an Android app called APRS droid along with a cheap Yaesu HT! Even managed to reach the station with the rubber duck!

    -+- QuikEdit 2.41R+

    --- Maximus/2 3.01
    * Origin: Sursum Corda! BBS-Huntsville,AL-bbs.sursum-corda.com (1:396/45)
  • From Lon J Seidman@1:396/45 to Debian on Sat Nov 26 20:39:04 2022
    Thanks for the warm welcome! There's a really neat HF mode called VarAC that you might want to check out. You can communicate via real-time chat but there's also a functionality for leaving and relaying messages to other stations. Even small file transfers within reason!

    -+- QuikEdit 2.41R+

    --- Maximus/2 3.01
    * Origin: Sursum Corda! BBS-Huntsville,AL-bbs.sursum-corda.com (1:396/45)
  • From Daryl Stout@1:2320/33 to Lon J Seidman on Sun Nov 27 02:05:00 2022
    Lon,

    Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I will definitely look you up on QRZ!

    There is a hyperlink there for links to several files, including:

    1) Excel Spreadsheets in the 4 main US Time Zones (Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific) of selected D-Star, D-Rats, and Echolink Nets (over 200 nets in
    a month).

    2) PDF files related to ham radio, including my ham radio bio, and selected
    ham radio humor.

    HamTestOnline is great - that's how I passed my tech exam. I like how
    it helps you build confidence and presents the test as you can expect
    it on exam day. I was making progress on the General portion but things got a bit busy here with the kids back in school, etc. I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old so as you can imagine things are a bit crazy !

    Life does get in the way of our hobbies...although at times, I wondered if
    it actually was "Do You, Ham...take Radio...to be your lawfully wedded spouse??" (hi hi). The beauty of HamTestOnline is that they offer a money
    back guarantee if you fail the exam -- normally, once you buy a study guide, it's YOURS...no refunds. As a Volunteer Examiner (VE) Team Leader, I highly recommend it to everyone coming for a license exam.

    I'm going to start setting aside some evening time after the kids fall asleep to push through the studying. I'm very interested in exploring digital modes on the HF bands. I've also had a few great phone QSO's on the 10 meter band including a few occaisions where I hit South America!

    With winter, the HF bands tend to open up more...but as fast as they open
    up, they can close up tighter than "a frog's butt underwater" (hi hi). Due to medical issues, I have to operate "internet only", but even with doing so, I
    am on the air daily...mostly for nets, but at times, for sked requests. This means that my license "isn't just a sheet of paper".

    Daryl, WX4QZ

    ... Ham Radio QRP: When you care the most to send the very least.
    === MultiMail/Win v0.52
    --- SBBSecho 3.15-Win32
    * Origin: The Thunderbolt BBS - Little Rock, Arkansas (1:2320/33)
  • From Daryl Stout@1:2320/33 to Lon J Seidman on Sun Nov 27 02:15:00 2022
    Lon,

    So for local packet work I was using Outpost which was the easiest path to take - it sets up a pretty basic terminal / tnc that works in conjunction with direwolf via AGWPE if I remember correctly. Where I
    live packet is really tough as the closest BBS is just on the edge of what I can reach with my current configuration.

    I logon to the NS2B BBS in Penfield, New York. It offers both RF and Telnet access...plus it hosts "The PCL Net" every Monday at 7pm Central, 8pm Eastern Time. During the weeks of Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's...it does not meet on those Mondays.

    Years ago, on the now former N0KFQ BBS in Branson, Missouri (the Sysop and his wife have both passed away), where The PCL Net originated, was what I
    call "The E.D. Net".

    Both of those files are at the hyperlink off of my QRZ bio...look for the file names "The PCL Net" and "The E.D. Net", respectively.

    For the ISS I started playing around with UISS which helps manage the very tight constraints of a pass. But I've also been able to decode packets on just my HT's build in APRS functionality. I also managed to use an Android app called APRS droid along with a cheap Yaesu HT! Even managed to reach the station with the rubber duck!

    At one time, I had that app on my smartphone, but since I mainly stay at
    home (being homebound due to dry corneas, which would blur my vision without warning, where it became too dangerous to drive anymore), I saw no need for it. With the D-Rats application, I use the GPS-A script to note my location for aprs.fi -- but you may have to search for my callsign separately.

    Daryl, WX4QZ

    ... Ham Radio D-Star, Echolink, D-Rats Net Spreadsheets: wx4qz.net/elk.htm
    === MultiMail/Win v0.52
    --- SBBSecho 3.15-Win32
    * Origin: The Thunderbolt BBS - Little Rock, Arkansas (1:2320/33)