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Re: Vanishing Hams

At 05:03 AM 7/17/2008, Robert Bruninga wrote:

>Do not overlook how kids use key-pad text-messaging as the
>greatest revolution in communications of all time...  Even some
>old-fud adults are learning how to use it..

I've been a text user for many years on the phone.  It arrived here 
around 10 years ago, though it wasn't readily accessible until around 
2001 when the phone networks started opening up the service for general use.

>Then consider that APRS has had global text-messaging (and
>email) via the keypad of the D7 and D700 radios for over 10
>years now, yet how many old-fuds ever even considered using it
>or introduced this exciting new capability to their kids?

That was like packet, when we were in chat rooms back around 1991, 
long before the Internet was common outside of universities here. 
:)    However, for me, the weakness of APRS is the lack of 
manufacturer support, with only one model of HT and mobile radio 
supporting it, and relatively expensive at that. :( The Kenwood has 
been tempting, but not compelling enough, and you still have to hook 
up an outboard GPS, if you want to use the positioning reporting feature.

If I was to get into APRS, I would need integrated APRS support (the 
Kenwood D7 is a good start), D-STAR/D-PRS capability (so I can do 
both in the one radio), and either internal GPS or a Bluetooth 
interface, so I can use a Bluetooth GPS with the radio (I already 
have 2 Bluetooth capable GPS units), because the thing I need to 
avoid like the plague is interconnecting cables, and by using 
Bluetooth, I can put the GPS in the iPod pouch that many backpacks 
provide these days.

As for text messaging, keypad support for this for when operating 
portable, with optional interface to connect a PC (I have an EeePC, 
which is a nice size), for when one is stationary and wants a full keyboard.

>You can even send text-messages or emails from your HT or Radio
>from anywhere on earth via any of the APRS satellites (ISS,
>GO-32, PCSAT-1, etc)...  We even suggested that everyone should
>learn how to do this and exercise it during
>Satellite-Simulated-Emergency-Tests.  You can even use any old
>TNC and any old radio to do this.  See:

Satellite APRS is certainly something that's quite useful, Over here, 
I can see use for camping trips in remote areas to keep in 
touch.  It's not hard to go beyond useful VHF and phone coverage here 
(just take a 2 hour drive from any of the capital cities, in many 
cases, less, and of course 20 mins from smaller centres).  Once 
there, HF is the mainstay of amateur communications.  Many towns have 
a VHF repeater, but just try raising a local on it!  Satellite APRS 
is certainly an alternative to consider.

>What is hard in ham radio is "change".  We basically have to
>wait for some ops to die in order for some new things to be
>tried and to take hold...

Either that or "shock tactics", where a small, but determined group 
gain a foothold, and bring something new in and seed the initial 
popularity.  That happened with IRLP down here, 7 years ago, and it 
seems to be happening with D-STAR right now.  APRS didn't gain that 
"WOW" factor in the same time, it was always seen as a useful niche 
application.  Perhaps a different marketing strategy might have worked better.

>A good start might be to sponsor an award for old fuds that try
>something new...
>And then show it to a kid... <wink>


>P.S.  Only about 2% of ham radio operators use APRS, and
>probably only 10% of them (0.2% of all hams) have tried this
>global text messaging (or email) feature.  Yet, even 10 years
>ago, and ahead of its time we had it in Ham Radio!

Well, I'm a non user at this stage, reasons being:

Equipment - Other than APRS, the D7 wasn't compelling enough at the 
price.  Yes, I wanted one, but I had recently purchased a T81A around 
that time, and the extra bands were worth more to me at the 
time.  Also, lack of inbuilt GPS or wireless GPS facility (The 
IC-91AD has the same issue)

For home use (I would like to put up a WX station), the shack is in a 
highly temporary state, I can only run HTs and networked applications 
(e.g. VoIP, local I-Gate) that don't require physical presence in the 
shack (Yep, HF is a non starter for me too these days).  Hope to have 
that situation resolved by 2009 :)

Being highly voice oriented, I also have to manage conflicts over 
antenna use (voice usually wins out in the event of a 
conflict).  However, because I have had to support 2 sites for a 
while, when it all comes together, I'm going to have spare antennas 
that I can put data applications on. :)   APRS will play fairly 
nicely at home, due to the extremely low duty cycle.  I also have 
kept a TNC, so have the gear (at least for 1200 bps).  For 2009, I do 
want to expand the data side of my operation, on both HF and VHF/UHF, 
at least in the shack.  Portable is going to be a MUCH bigger 
challenge, because no data mode (other than APRS messaging with a D7 
- but I can't justify a D7) offers the portability of picking up a HT 
and talking, and that's the level of portability I need.

73 de VK3JED

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