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Re: Going DIGITAL!



Gee, Bob,

I think you should consider yourself lucky that the traffic you heard passed
was in voice and not CW.  After all it wasn't too long ago that many ops
didn't think it was 'formal' traffic unless it was CW.   And you know what?
The same arguments you made were being made about voice.

DIGITAL HT's???  I've yet to see a digital ham radio.  No I take that back,
I did see an article in QST on someone experimenting with spread spectrum.
All the ham radios I am familar with are analog.  I KNOW what you were
trying to say, jus pointing out that we're no where near the current state
of the art.

A "720K" floppy?   what's that?   My PCs only reads those Gb microdisks.
Oh, I've got one of those hugh old floppy drives that reads the old 2.8MB 5
1/4" discs (Just kidding here, I've been working with floppys since they
were 8" and only held 128KB.)  But seriously I haven't seen a 720K drive
capable PC in some time.  I did see an IBM Jr in the Smithsonian though.
Didn't it use 720K floppies?

Just like voice isn't everybody's cup of tea, packet isn't mine.  (at the
moment).   What about newer things like PSKI31?   There's better stuff than
this older packet technology you're talking about.

Tounge in check,  long live 15m RTTY,  Alf  -  W4ADS


----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Bruninga" <bruninga@nadn.navy.mil>
To: "TAPR APRS Special Interest Group" <aprssig@tapr.org>
Cc: <amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2000 11:09 PM
Subject: [amsat-bb] Going DIGITAL!


> DIGITAL!   All the world is going digital..!
>
> What about HAM radio??????
>
> Please, this is not meant to undervalue the great and dedicated
> contributions of all those HAM volunteers that work so hard at
> public service, but tonight it just struck me ...
>
> With the upcoming public debut of the movie FREQUENCY and our
> opportunity to display our hobby to millions, in the back of my
> mind are thoughts about what would make the most impressive display
> of amateur radio...  In that context I was driving home late,
> and for the entire 30 minute commute, our local repeater was involved
> in an EOC exercise.  The NET control was reading and spelling
> what seemed like most of the words in a backlog of text messages.  In
> that 30 minutes he passed about the same amount of traffic as
> my THD7 HT could do in 5 seconds with packet.
>
> I found myself wondering why, in the year 2000, our HAM radio
> response to the loss of the public telephone service in an
> emergency, is to revert back to 1800's use of voice for reading
> messages over a radio that is 100% fully capable of sending the
> message 100 to 1000 times faster and ERROR FREE!
>
> What happened to packet?  Every PC, every palm device, every digital
> device does (or at least SHOULD) have a plain ascii text capability.
> Our FIRST attempt at re-establishing message communications
> should not be to drop back to voice, but should be hook up what we
> have to try to establish plain ASCII DIGITAL links.
>
> Instead of having these volunteers every 3rd Tuesday of every
> month practice reading and spelling messages, wouldnt that time
> be better spent teaching everyone how to plug a TNC into a serial
> port and how to run HYPERTERM (or PROCOMM)?
>
> With the Kenwood radios now coming with built in TNC's, the ONLY thing
> I need to re-establish DIGITAL communications from my WALKIE TALKIE
> is to remember to carry a serial port cable!  In fact, starting
> tomorrow, I am going to make sure that a serial port cable is included
> in my car glove box, so that anytime, anywhere, I can establish
> serial data comms using ANY available PC, laptop, or gizmo with a
> serial port.
>
> Yes, PACKET died.  BUT due to APRS we now have TNC's in HT's and in MOBLIE
> RADIOS.  Why could not PACKET come alive again and in fact THRIVE,
> as a COME-AS-YOU-ARE digital means to communicate messages IN EMERGENCEIS.
>
> YES packet is alive and well in many areas.  But in MANY areas it is
> not.  I am only talking about those places.  I got the impression that
> "packet never really worked" in many statewide networks.  I think they
> tried to make it into a superwhammerdyne TCPIP networks that was
> just gaining momemntum when the internet killed packet radio.
> The result was that it only worked when the right gurus were
> on each end and spent the whole drill just configuring things...  When
> asked how they use it,  Besides shrugs, you got the impression, it
> didnt work, or no one new how to use it, or the network was never
> finished, or.....
>
> So whats my point?  I donno.  But why cannot every HAM hook up a TNC
> to a PC and use it to TALK to someone else?  I think its because we
> made it too hard.  We put a variety of "PACKET SOFTWARE" between the
> user and the TNC, such that no one then can operate his TNC without
> using his favorite software...  This makes everyone equally crippled
> when he needs to use someone elses TNC and software.
>
> Why dont we forget all this software, and make sure that EVERY ham
> is trained to operate his TNC with any dumb termianl software and
> let that be the fundamental basis for emergecny communications of
> message traffic when the phones go out.  (NO HTML, no Attachments:-)
>
> There is SO MUCH we can do with a radio and a digital link.  Why do
> we totally ignore it in all of our emergency response drills.  Yes,
> we still need voice training.  But we should not drop back to voice
> for passing written message traffic until ALL ELSE FAILS.
>
> Again, I am NOT knocking the voice stuff.  But I think we are
> overlooking an intermediate step in emergency preparedness.  At the
> marathon this weekend the net control op  looked at APRS and
> made the comment "I have a TNC and HT and complete portable packet
> station, but there is no more use for it..."...  as he was sitting
> there pulling his hair out because he could not communicate with
> one of the checkpoints.  He was AMAZED when our 1W tracker drove
> through with perfect copy because we had directed a DRIVER with a D700 in
> his car to go park on a hill nearby and be a DIGI...  THus, the D700
> instantly provided the link into the valley for error free data, yet
> there is no simple way he could do that on voice... and so quickly.
> What he realized was that his old tandy 100 and HT packet COULD have
> used that same digi to KEYBOARD to that checkpoint and he would have
> had perfect comms.
>
> BOTTOM LINE.  WE NOW HAVE DIGITAL HT's, we have MOBILE DIGIPEATERS,
> WE HAVE GPS, we have APRS and we have digital satellites....   and we
> have PC's EVERYWHERE.
> HOW can we motivate HAMdom to use them effectively and to train to
> use them just like they spend so much  time training for voice?
> There is no excuse for every ham not having the where-with-all to
> hook up a TNC to the serial port of a PC and being able to establsih
> a digital link with it...
>
> Rather than a 5, 13 or 20 WPM code exam, maybe the HAM TESTS should
> require every operator to demonstrate this ability?
>
> Just like we standardize on the NTS or ARRL Radiogram format for passing
> message traffic, we need to assure that all operators can do a minimum
> digital comm link.  AX.25 PACKET was becoming that standard up to about
> 1994.  But the problem was that with digital there is an infinite
> number of bells and whilstles you can add to any software and soon we
> cannot see the forest for the trees.   APRS is just as guilty.
>
> I think the ARRL/TAPR should form a committee to come up with the
> fundamental basics that ALL hams should learn so that anytime, anywhere,
> they can use a radio to establish a digital link with ANY PC nearby.  Not
> just their own.  Here might be a check list:
>
> 1) A DB-9 serial port cable for your TNC
> 2) A TNC to radio cable for your Radio
> 3) A 720K floppy with PROCOMM or other simple dumb terminal program on it.
>
> Or, just the audio cables and a disk with SOUND-CARD "TNC" software.
> Or your BAYCOM and a disk.   Whatever...
>
> The software should RUN from the floppy.  Every operator should then know
> how to:
>
> 1) Establish a connection (or send UI packets)
> 2) Edit a plain ascii text message or file
> 3) QSO via Keyboard or send a file
> 4) Set up his digipeater path
>
> SOme will say this diatribe is archaic and that we should be working
> on 56 KB data links and superdooper software and networks and all that
> stuff.  Thats fine.  But NOT for come-as-you-are emergenceis when the
> phones go out or special events.  Some of the amateur EOC Packet
> systems I have seen are so complex that they are just as vulnerable
> to outages as the phone system they are trying to replace.
>
> Yes, this idea is half-baked.  And I am NOT pushing APRS here.  But
> amateur radio has had digital technology for 22 years and we are
> LOOSING it.  Instead of thinking of packet dying, think about what
> you can do with digital when it is built into your radio in your
> pocket and in your car?   We DID NOT HAVE THIS when packet died in
> 1994...  We have it now...  And you have to be on a desert Island
> not to have a PC nearby...
>
> EVERYTHING IS GOING DIGITAL!....   What about ham radio???
>
> de WB4APR, Bob
>
>
>
>
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