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RE: Going Digital... Ham Radio?

> Well, probably because the average price of a high speed TNC 
> is something
> the average ham can't afford, let alone the quality of radio 
> needed to use
> it.  Even at 9600 baud, we are still way behind the speed curve in
> comparison to terrestrial wire-line based speeds.

Which is one of my points.

> Ham radio is about communication.  WHO CARES if it is 
> digital, analog or
> both.  It really makes no difference.  Analog is still alive 
> and well in the
> commercial/consumer arena.  Did you make a phone call today?  
> Well, unless
> your home or company uses a digital PBX, ISDN or DSL line you 
> used an ANALOG
> system.  And an analog system based on old, old, old 
> standards.  Shame on
> the phone company for using such outdated technology.  Why, 
> they aren't on
> the cuttting edge of things.  How can normal telephone 
> service survive if it
> doesn't go digital?
> These are the same shames that are forced on ham radio 
> operators.  So if
> analog won't work for us, how will it ever work for the phone 
> companies?

Where did we say that analog was dead?  Sure, it isn't.  One only has to
listen to the bands to see that.  My point was to raise the question of
whether we were doing as much with digital technology as we could, and
whether there were any opportunities to attract younger computer oriented
people to the hobby by doing so.  Doesn't mean we have to kill off analog.
On the contrary, I see analog and digital coexisting for many years.  Your
example of the phone network is pretty apt - a system with analog endpoints,
but which is internally digital these days.  maybe one day, we'll have
linked repeater networks with a similar makeup...  Who knows?

As for the cost factor, I'm sure we'll find ways to make things work on the
cheap. :-)

> High speed digital modulation techniques require very linear 
> transmitters
> (in most cases).  A 50 watt mobile with a class A amplifier 
> just so that you
> can use the latest whiz-bang digital modulation isn't practical!

Again, I can't disagree.  But where did I suggest we all go fully digital?

> Modern digital communications is tremendously more than AX.25 packets.

No argument there

> If people want to explore digital technology then that's 
> fine.  More power
> to you.  Develop the latest and greatest modulation scheme.  
> Go after it,
> experiment, innovate.  If that's what you want to do, fine.

I feel there's a place for experimentation.  Afterall, that's what we're
licenced to do...

> Digital communications hasn't caught on with ham radio 
> because it isn't
> needed.  The technology we have in place now works fine for 
> the majority of
> folks.  They don't need anything else to communicate with 
> people world wide.

I, personally feel this is a potential problem.  Sure, the current
technology works fine.  It certainly works for me, and I get a lot of
enjoyment out my current operations.  But I am always wondering if there's a
better way, something to try, a new idea.  The problem with the status quo
is if everyone gets too comfortable, then there will be no incentive to
advance the art of the hobby.  

> Ham radio is fun.  It's a hobby.  We have a hard enough time 
> teach appliance
> operators in our hobby how to solder wires and build 
> antennas.  It would be
> even more difficult to get them to develop digital stuff.

True, but then again, experimentation isn't everyone's cup of tea.  Some
people prefer to just communicate.  That's their business.  I would like to
do a mix of both - communicate and experiment, and that's my preference.
Still others are rarely heard on the bands, but spend all of their ham time
designing, constructing and testing.  These hams don't want to communicate,
just experiment.  There's room for all of us in this hobby. :-)

> Again, digital has its place, but it never will be the end 
> all and be all of
> ham radio.  I am interested in it.  I am active on APRS for 
> one thing.  It's
> great.  It has a good purpose.  I am interested in PanSAT if 
> it ever gets
> turned over to us.  I think have a spread spectrum satellite 
> would be very
> interesting and I would probably buy or build the equipment to use it.

Yes, Pansat will be interesting if it ever sees the light of day.

> Let's not just think in the box of "purely analog" nor in the 
> box of "purely
> digital", but let's use whatever communication mode is best 
> suited to the

On the contrary, I feel there is a lot more to be gained by using analog and
digital technologies together.  It makes sense to combine the relative
strengths of both technologies, and also makes it easier for more hams to
sample the benefits.

> purpose we want to use.  After all, newer is not necessarily 
> better.  Gun
> powder has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years 
> (the most
> technologically advanced space craft in the world uses 
> rockets based on
> ancient solid powder technology - and so does the Ariane V 
> that will launch
> P3D!); the light bulb is over 100 years old; penecillin is 
> old, yet it still
> is used to treat diseases.  Just because technology is old 
> doesn't make it
> bad and just cause it's new doesn't make it good.

Quite true.
> OK, back to satellites.

Yes, we have drifted a bit off topic. :-)  
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