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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Horrible Language, Topics & Overall Behavior On HF

The observations of one Dan Hensley, KC9NCF.  Sad to see there's still truth to this. :(


I've only been on the HF bands since September or maybe August and what I have heard so far has forced me to either keep the radio turned off when my kids are home or I am forced to put earphones in almost all the time.

I hear conversations about females genitalia and what pepole in the conversation like to do with it, I hear sick, decrepit conversations about what one station likes about old grannies and what he was going to try to do to his old lady neighbor, groups of individuals who talk about black people and anyone who isn't white, I hear conversations about booze & guns and why they are God's great answer to life and furthermore, what these guys would do with their guns if it were legal (read: racist, violent, abusive, murderous acts described in detail)
This is heard throughout the amateur bands and not only on 75 or 80 as some assume. What is the problem with our community? I can tune into any Hf freq, especially starting about 3pm Chicago time and this filth is everywhere! It lasts most nights until 4AM. This is what HF has to offer?

I have made some great contacts and met some great people, but they are proving to be few and far between. Just this past week, i have heard stations tell other stations that the frequency was in use and have asked them to turn their antenna away from their state's direction because they want the freq quiet. One Illinois station told a station calling CQ from England to go away because his signal was making it into Illinois and Illinois stations don't want to hear anyone on the band because ham radio is only for listening and nothing else. (Chicago suburban station)

I left the FM bands to get away from this type of scummy behavior and now have to encounter it on just about any frequency I tune into. Nets are being QRM'ed all the time, and I sure as heck can't get on 3.892.00 to have a decent QSO with family because the AM'ers from 3.800.00 are having a jamming party on the LSB.

I see a huge resemblance to 11 meters and my wife is now begging me to permanently disconnect all the radios because she fears what the youngest child in the house may accidentally overhear and then repeat. At this point, I just leave the headphones in to keep that possibility down.

Is this an example of drunk operators or just operators who are truly hateful and know quite well what they are doing? The SSTV operators aren't any better with their porn broadcasts. What is wrong with amateur radio ops that they can't behave like decent human beings? I'm truly disgusted.


Sad to say Dan, you should be.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The 10 VOIP Commandments

....From the IMPECCABLE mind of Paul Van Der Weegen, VK2EX comes this lil public service announcement about talking on VoIP systems which I found on the EchoProducer Yahoo! Group

1. Thou Shall Leave 3 to 4 Seconds between all overs.

2. Thou Shall not Connect to more than one Conference Server at a time

3. Thou Shall restrict local repeater Id's from entering the IP

4. Thou Shall Keep all overs to a maximum of 4 Minuets

5. Thou Shall Not Force other Links or Repeaters into a Multi

6. Thou Shall Listen on a Clear Frequency before attempting a
Connection to a remote station.

7. Thou Shall Listen for at least 10 Seconds before transmitting
after connecting to a remote station.

8. Thou Shall always announce ones Call Sign before sending DTMF
Commands to a System

9. Thou Shall inhibit DTMF tones from being transmitted though the IP

10. All Commandments are final and no correspondence will be entered

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting Booted Off

I seem to have a problem, only the source isn't on my end.

It seems as though some people on a certain conference server (Which we'll keep nameless) which is bridged into several other places (Including a repeater I hang out on daily which will also be kept unidentified.  More on that later) either don't have their sysop settings configured correctly or don't realize what happens to other people when they log off.

I'm talking about those who DO NOT MUTE THEIR DTMF COMMANDS.  You may not realize this, but if you DO NOT have your DTMF commands muted, THEY CAN TRAVEL OVER THE ECHOLINK SYSTEM.  This can lead to a variety of things INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO DISCONNECTING OTHER USERS WITH A MATCHING CODE.

I've had this happen SEVERAL times on me.  At first, I thought it was just the sysop "cleaning house" as it were.  But the more I thought about it (Coupled with the fact that he never said anything upon reconnection) has led me to believe that some people are UNINTENTIONALLY disconnecting me because they don't have their settings configured correctly.

One person, I will credit is Steve Seacrest, W8WFO who, during tonight's EchoLinksters Net gave the following tips to alleviate this embarrassing situation (See the screen capture below)


Using the screen capture above as a guide, here's what he suggested & indicated MUST be done to alleviate what can be an embarrassing situation...

* When The Dialog Box Opens Up, Select The DTMF Tab
* Make Sure That The Box Next To AUTO MUTE is CHECKED (If it isn't, check it)
* Make Sure That The Box Next To DISABLE DURING PTT For Good Measure (If it isn't, check it)
* Click OK To Return To The Main Interface.

Now far be it for me to be some sort of "system cop" as it were, but you'd be amazed at the number of Hams whom I've encountered in the short time I've been a sysop who haven't even thought of these things.  I'm sure the disconnects ARE NOT intentional (And some are even caused by improperly configured repeater links - Some of those CLUB repeater links which the users have NO control of the technical aspects of).  But some people don't realize what they are doing to the network if they don't have things configured correctly.

As for my end, I'm using the default settings for uplink, downlink, etc. plus a few station shortcuts of some my favorite & not-so-favorite repeaters, links and conference servers (The shortcuts are on my website at the page below).  I don't wanna have to change the downlink code as this will make it harder for travelers & other locals using the system to bring it down if they don't know the downlink code and have never visited my website.  In addition, I'd like to keep it as standardized as possible.  BUT I WILL CHANGE THE DOWNLINK CODE IF I AM FORCED TO as I just put up with the idea of getting disconnected from repeaters, links & servers because someone out there is running an improperly configured node.

Now IRLP users really aren't the problem (Even when they are on EchoIRLP servers) as each node as its own unique downlink code.  I dunno - Maybe this is something TPTB running the EchoLink system might need to address systemwide?

Anyhow, this little "rant" if you will IS NOT intended nor "targeted" at any one individual as there are MANY links and repeaters out there with this problem.  I just figured I'd make mention of it since it does seem to be a problem which needs addressing.

My apologies in advance if anyone feels put off, offended, etc.  All I'm trying to do is shed some light on a problem I'm noticing on a (Growing) portion the system.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

All the best.  Cheers & 73 for now folks. :)

Till we meet next time....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hard Times & Ham Radio

 The following post is taken from excerpts from a USENET newsgroup post by Jim Miccolis, N2EY to the newsgroup

The reason I'm posting this is because there is SO MUCH truth in what he says and the correlation between the economic problems of today & the era of The Great Depression.

I've been following the various political debates this election year, and the whole $700 billion bailout mess. How it happened, how to fix it, who is to blame, etc. From all that, it seems to me that we're looking at some pretty lean economic times ahead. But this isn't really a post about politics or economics. It's about their effect on ham radio, specifically, growth in our numbers. Looking back of the history of US ham radio, it seems to me that the worst economic times were the best for US ham radio growth.

Consider that: In the 1920s, the number of licensed US hams grew very slowly, if at all, despite the new technologies of tubes and short waves. By 1929 there were only about 18,000 licensed US amateurs, not much more than in 1920. The Roaring '20s radio boom was in broadcasting, whose development has many parallels to that of the internet in the '90s and '00s. Then in 1929 came two major changes for US hams. First were the "1929 regulations" that greatly narrowed the US ham bands and required much cleaner signals than before.

A lot of existing transmitters had to be extensively modified if not completely rebuilt to meet the new rules, and hams on bands like 40 and 20 were crowded into much less spectrum than before. (In those days the ham bands were far fewer than today, and simply getting a transmitter to work well on one band was a challenge). For example, 40 was reduced in width from 1000 kHz to 300, 20 was reduced from 2000 kHz to 400. Later in 1929 the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Hard times lasted all through the 1930s.

There was also the Dust Bowl that displaced large numbers of Americans from their farms. (May we never see such hard times again!) Yet from 1929 to 1937 the number of licensed US hams almost tripled. In percentage terms it was the time of the greatest growth US amateur radio has ever seen. As prosperity began to return in the late 1930s, the growth slowed down. WW2 shut down US amateur radio for the first half of the 1940s.

When the war ended, there was rapid growth despite all the disruption of the war, plus rising prices and shortages in the postwar economy as wage and price controls were removed. Of course a big part of that growth was from people who had put off becoming hams during the war, and later from the restructuring of 1951 that created the Novice license. But in the five years from VJ Day to the beginning of 1951, the number of US hams almost doubled, passing 100,000 in the process.

The 1960s were good economic times, yet through that decade US amateur radio growth was almost nil, similar to the 1920s. The radio boom in the 1960s was in cb, not amateur radio. Then in 1968 the new "incentive licensing" regulations came into effect, and in the 1970s problems of inflation, high interest rates, unemployment, energy crises and lack of economic growth hit the US economy very hard. Just look at gasoline prices - less than a quarter a gallon for cheap gas in 1969, a dollar and a half ten years later. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that things really stabilized. Yet all through the 1970s and into the 1980s the number of US hams grew steadily, from about 270,000 in 1969 to about twice that number in the mid-1980s.

Since the early 1990s until today, we've had (at best) slow growth in the number of US hams, and (at worst) a decline, even though the price of a ham rig in inflation-adjusted dollars has decreased greatly and the licenses are far easier to earn. The boom in these years has been in "wireless" (an old term reused!) rather than amateur radio. The only exception to the pattern of hard times = ham radio growth I can find is the 1950s, which were economic good times (at least the later 1950s). In that decade the growth of the late 1940s continued steadily, so that by the early 1960s there were about 250,000 licensed US hams.

Besides the then-new Novice license, the 1950s were a time when there was lots of WW2 surplus radio gear available at bargain prices. It was also the heyday of inexpensive but decent quality kit rigs from Heath, Johnson, Eico and others. The highest sunspot peak in recorded history happened in 1958, and the Cold War caused a lot of interest in civil defense communications by hams. Perhaps the connection is that, in hard economic times, people's recreation shifts away from going out, traveling, and making big purchases, and changes to things they can do hunkered down at home for a little money and a lot of ingenuity.

Certainly most of the ham stations of the 1930s fit that description. While new ham gear and a big station are expensive, a small homebrew or used-equipment station with a simple antenna can provide very good results if used with skill, patience and there are decent conditions. What do others think? Could we be in for another time of growth for US ham radio? The Dow is down, house prices are down, credit is tight and taxes are just about guaranteed to rise. But sunspots are on the way.... 73 de Jim, N2EY

The Importance & Value Of A PREAMP...

Boy did I quickly discover the importance & value of the preamp feature of my ICOM IC-706 MKII-G which I'm using as the link radio for my EchoLink node.

As many of you no doubt heard if you listened to the EchoLink Page I didn't even get 10 BLOCKS to the WSW of my QTH (Where the node is @ 7 floors, 10 ft. (Avg. height) for a total of 75 ft (This INCLUDES approximately 5 additional feet when you add the patio railing which the mag-mount base which holds my Diamond SG-7900 antenna is attached to).

Part of this was also due to my inability to hold my entire radio (My HT is an ICOM IC-T7H, though my hands are quite small) while I was traveling over a rather bumpy bike path in a small neighborhood park.  After I left the park, the RX signal started to weaken (I probably sounded a lot worse on TX).  From there, I just listened as the signal was only gonna get weaker as I moved further and further away from my node & closer & closer to the grocery store where I was headed.

However on the return trip, I got the RX signal within seconds after exiting the store.  From there it only got better as I only got closer & closer to the good ol' HOME SWEET HOME that is my QTH. :)

Well....That about does it for Today's Musing.  Cheers & 73 for now :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dead EchoLink Conference Servers


I know this issue has been brought up before, but I wanna bring it up yet again because it seems as though we STILL have a problem with DEAD conference servers.

By that, I mean conference servers with lots of links and nodes connected to them, but VERY LITTLE IF ANY ACTIVITY AT ALL ON THEM!!!

One example I note is the *COLORADO* conference server.  Lots of nodes, links, and even a few users on there now and again, but LITTLE TO NO ACTIVITY ON THERE.

Now I can already see what your instant reaction is gonna be.  You're gonna say something like "Well why don't you stop griping and DO SOMETHING about it".  Well to that end, I say that you and I know that A BUNCH of these servers were created for the purpose of linking a bunch of so-called "private" repeaters owned by a bunch of Hams who just might all be related to one another, but just live in different parts of the state, country, or even the world.  Hey STRANGER things have happened.

To THIS end, I have to ask these people WHY do they feel they need a full-blown conference server to do what an instance of EchoLink in conferencing mode on a separate IP address with a limited amount of slots WHICH ARE ALL CONSTANTLY TAKEN UP can do?  What's the purpose?  I can see the need to have a bunch of privately-owned repeaters linked together for on-air family get-togethers or whatever goes on, but do you have to keep it open whereas ANYBODY can connect IN THE HOPES of finding somebody to talk to?

I dunno, maybe I'm just brewin' up a storm where there isn't one, but I just have to wonder WHY there are so many conference servers that likely don't get very much activity on them.  I know of some "-R" and "-L" nodes (One of which is MINE - shameless plug I know) that get MORE activity than some of the DEAD conference servers out there (And many of them DO **NOT** have any nets on them!!).

Anyhow....I just had to get on my soapbox and SAY SOMETHING about it.  Feel free to flame away if you want or care to.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

LONG Time NO Post.......

Hello Ham World!!

Boy, I am AMAZED at how Hams have embraced blogging as a way to communicate thoughts, feelings, etc. I must be behind the times or something. MAN - The sheer number of blogs at HamBlogs.Net is just ABSOLUTELY STAGGERING!!! I spent all of last night and the better part of today subscribing to blogs from all over the world over there.

Anyway, this blog will be more about my musings (Not neccessarily my rants as that will be a seperate blog). It will be a mixture of text and video with a little audio thrown in whenever warranted. I also plan to have a seperate "Blog Book" podcast of sorts featuring my favorite contacts on EchoLink, VHF/UHF SSB and (When I get the antenna for it) a little bit of HF.

And now that I have software for digital modes, I plan to share some of my digital mode QSOs too.

Of course, I plan to keep you updated with the very latest news from the KB0OXD Cybershack Newsroom as well.

So that's about it for my first post in what is my new "default" blog. Till next time....Cheers & 73 :)