If goTenna can encrypt, why can’t hams?

I’ve written here before about encryption and whether or not amateur radio operators should be allowed to use encryption. I’d like to throw another log on the fire.

I just read an article in RadioWorld that describes the goTenna, a device that uses Bluetooth and the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) to allow users with smartphones to text one another even if there’s no WiFi or cellphone link. The goTenna device communicates with the smartphone via Bluetooth and then transmits in the MURS band (151 – 154 MHz).

The goTenna manufacturers claim a range of  a half mile to three and a half miles. That’s probably reasonable. In the city, you’ll get a half mile or so range, while out where it’s more open, you’ll get more range.

Among the “key features” are the following:

  • Automatic message retry & delivery confirmation
  • Individual & group messaging
  • ”Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range
  • End-to-end encryption (RSA-1024) & self-destructing messages

I have often thought that handhelds should include some kind of text-messaging feature. I suppose you can send text messages using D-STAR, but it seems like an awful expense to do that. It seems that adding this functionality to something like a BaoFeng would make it very appealing.

Also note that this device encrypts the messages. If goTenna can encrypt, why shouldn’t hams be allowed to do so? I’m really not convinced by the arguments put forth by those who are anti-encryption on my previous blog post. I think that someone—someone more knowledgeable about the topic than me—should petition the FCC to allow encryption in certain situations.

From my Twitter feed: new EchoLink for Mac, SDR

dusty_s's avatardusty_s @dusty_s
EchoHam (formerly EchoMac) update in Mac App Store” <- glad to see an update! feedly.com/e/G5x1odQW

 

dangerousproto's avatarDangerous Prototypes @dangerousproto
OHM2013: Hacking the radio spectrum with GNURadio goo.gl/krngx7

 

VA3BCO's avatarBrian (VA3BCO) @VA3BCO
Are we Getting Closer to a Touchscreen SDR HT? >#hamr #hamradio wp.me/p4GMgg-28

Operating notes: FAT, ragchews, newbies on 2m

FAT. I’ve added yet another station to my collection of QSOs with stations whose callsigns spell words. WA4FAT, who subscribes to my tip-of-the-week mailing list, volunteered to work me and did so on 40m this last week. Now, I’m waiting for the card.

Two nice ragchews. Last night, I had a couple of nice ragchews. The first was with Bill, WB4DB0. I’ve worked him several times, and it’s always been a nice conversation. Last night, I mentioned that I was going to a Civil War re-enactment on Monday, and as it turns out, he used to be a big Civil War buff.

Later on, I worked Steve, KF7YRL in Lame Deer, MT. On his QRZ.Com page, he says, “You may think you’re boring, but I don’t. I want to hear about your family, your career, your military service, your ham-life, your other hobbies, what it’s like where you live, or crazy stuff you’ve lived through. Give me something that helps me remember you.” Now that’s the attitude you should bring to a QSO. Talk about real stuff. Make it memorable.

During the course of our QSO, I mentioned that I’d written some study guides. This morning, I receive an e-mail from him. He says, “Great to meet you.  Got curious about your study guides, so I looked in my folder of ham stuff on my computer, and sure enough, the ones my bro had sent me a couple of years ago were yours.  High five on that effort.  Very nice guides.” It’s nice to make connections like that.

Newbies on 2m. Possibly the silliest situation we have in amateur radio is that nearly all newcomers buy 2m handhelds only to find that they can’t hit that many repeaters, there aren’t that many guys on 2m anymore, and the old farts that are on 2m won’t talk to them, anyway.

We should all try to do something about this. If you have a 2m radio in the shack, turn it on while you’re down there. If you here a guy give his call sign, return the call, even if you don’t recognize the callsign. You could be missing an interesting conversation, and you’re certainly missing a chance to improve amateur radio in your area.

Last night, I did just that. Shortly after turning on the rig, I heard “KD8YQZ listening.” I was putzing around with something and thought about not calling him back, but then decided that whatever it was I was doing, was certainly not important enough to not talk to this guy.

As it turned out, Tom had just passed the test at Dayton last Saturday, and his callsign appeared in the FCC database on Tuesday. How cool is that?

Shortly after we started talking Todd, KD8WPX, broke in and we started a round-robin QSO. These were two younger guys, and not only were they interested in amateur radio, but also in the local “maker” groups. I was able to point them in the right direction on both counts.

It was also an “Elmer” moment. I taught the about the courtesy tone and about round-robin QSOs. I hope that it was as positive an experience for both of those guys as it was for me.

What I want you to take away from this is that you should turn the radio on when you’re in your shack or out in the garage, and monitor the repeaters. Not only that, return the call when you hear someone come on. If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about how there’s no 2m activity anymore or how ham radio is getting to be just a bunch of old guys.

Amateur radio in the news: TV on the Space Station, neighbors clash over tower

Ham video premiers on space station. Astronauts on the International Space Station can now talk with people on Earth with video using simple transmitters. ‘Ham TV’ has been set up in ESA’s Columbus laboratory and already used for talking with ground control.

Ham video premiers on space station

Ham TV equipment. Credit: Kayser Italia

Area amateur radio club hosts annual event. Ham radio operators are, in some ways, silent community servants. That’s because most folks don’t realize the variety of services ham radio operators provide.

The Postie’s role in radio. Most people know something about Amateur Radio even if it is only the slightly misleading impression created in the Radio Ham sketch by Tony Hancock. Despite radio amateurs employing various techniques or modes to contact each other including bouncing signals off the moon, using repeaters linked to the other side of the world via the internet, Morse code etc , the one most people think of, telephony or plain speech. A mode that most lay people would not think of is Teleprinter known to Ham’s as RTTY. If you are old enough you may remember the Saturday afternoon sports results coming into the studio on a ribbon of paper from “the Teleprinter” where text was sent over the telephone lines as a series of changing tones and read live in the studio from a rattling clanking noisy machine that translated these warbling audio tones into text.

Residents, homeowner clash over hobby radio tower in backyard. A battle is brewing in Sheridan Homelands between an amateur hobby radio operator and some of his neighbours over plans to install an antenna and tower on his property.

 

Operating Notes: MI QP, a coward on 2m, Nerd Nite

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. A week ago yesterday, I spoke to a bunch of nerds at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. I shared the limelight with two other nerds, a bonsai (which I learned is pronounced “bone-sigh”) nerd and the organizer of the Ann Arbor Mini-Maker Faire, a gathering of local nerds. The cool thing about Nerd Night is that it’s held in a bar, and it’s a lot of fun. My talk was well-received, gauging by the number of questions.

MI QSO Party. The Michigan QSO Party was held on Saturday, April 19. This year, I made 176 CW QSOs, and racked up 75 multipliers, for a total score of 26,400 points. Not a bad showing.

 2m coward. Wednesday, as I was walking downtown to a business meeting, I was talking to a friend on the local repeater about taking a video of my Tech classes. This guy had been in one of my Tech classes, and at one point, had suggested video recording them.  Since I’m going to be teaching another class a week from tomorrow, I asked if he could come down and do it, or failing that, if he had any video equipment that I could borrow.

As it turns out, he could neither record the class, nor did he have any equipment I could borrow, but our chat got me to thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to do it now anyway. The Tech question pool will be changing at the end of June, and some of what I’d cover would be obsolete in a hurry.

The talk then turned to who I might get to do the recording in September at the next class. I know one guy who does the video for all the local tech groups in town, and was thinking that perhaps I could get him to do it. I’d probably have to pay him something to do it, however. My friend then suggested that I could burn some DVDs and sell them to defray the cost of the recording and maybe even make a few bucks.

When we signed, a guy got on and said in a rather nasty tone of voice that amateur radio can’t be used for personal gain. He didn’t identify himself, and I didn’t recognize his voice. I came back and said that the rule is that you can’t be paid to operate an amateur radio station, and that my friend and I weren’t making any money by just talking about it.

Not only that, I noted that it’s against the rules to not identify your station and challenged him to do so. Of course, the coward didn’t ID. I’m still miffed by this incident.

From my Twitter feed: digital TV, vintage computers, 10 GHz

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
DATV-Express digital-ATV project flip.it/GUG5j #hamradio

 

Apple1computer's avatarDavid Larsen KK4WW @Apple1computer
RT @computerhobby: #Vintage #Computers Peek inside the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum warehouse ow.ly/vAczx #Floyd_VA

I used to work for Jon Titus, one of the founders and owners of the company that published the Bugbooks. Jon’s a ham, too. His call is KZ1G.

 

arrl's avatar

ARRL @arrl
ARRL Asks FCC to Dismiss “Fatally Flawed” Petition for Rule Making Affecting 10 GHz: The ARRL has told the FCC… tinyurl.com/n3948yc

From my Twitter feed: Save the Easter bunny, loop antenna, your own satellite

 

o0ToTOm0o's avatarE22ICQ @o0ToTOm0o
Rescue the Easter Bunny – Ham Radio Fox Hunting for Beginners. youtu.be/tQ8gNHAFXXY fb.me/20HNd9HQh

 

kritikal's avatarAndrew Herron, W8FI@kritikal
Frank’s N4SPP Ham Radio home-built SM0VPO 80 40 20 meters compact spiral loop antenna nonstopsystems.com/radio/frank_ra… via @Delicious

 

UlisK3LU's avatarUlis K3LU @UlisK3LU
Send your own satellite into space for $1000 – smh.com.au/world/science/… via @smh

From my Twitter feed: weather radio, drones, DMR

TAUTIC's avatarJayson Tautic @TAUTIC
Really cool project! “@chasxmd: Project: Si4707 Weather Radio wp.me/p3oePO-7Q

 

XE2K's avatarJ.Héctor García XE2K @XE2K
After so many Drones in the news, Why not an 160m Vertical wire array supported by Drones ? can be the future?

 

VA3XPR's avatarVA3XPR Repeater @VA3XPR
Teach your local radio club all about Digital Mobile Radio at their next mtg. #hamr #hamradio ow.ly/tkdCb pic.twitter.com/v2cDxOoYdz

From my Twitter feed: bypass caps, VHF propagation, SMD rework

dangerousproto's avatarDangerous Prototypes @dangerousproto
app note: properties and application of bypass capacitors goo.gl/YFpqLx

georgesmartuk's avatarGeorge Smart @georgesmartuk
Not sure if everyone has seen @ng0e‘s fantastic VHF Propagation Map from #APRS data. How genius! aprs.mountainlake.k12.mn.us #hamr #hamradio #vhf

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
app note: Rework method for surface mount MLCCs – Things you might need to know about doing SMT rework on Multi La… ow.ly/2C95Qu

Operating Notes: triple play, 2m loop, W5LJT (SK)

Here are some random recollections of recent QSOs:

Triple play!
At WA2HOM Saturday, I decided to forego the CQWW CW contest and make some phone contacts. After listening to some guys on 20m, I switched to 15m and found that it was open. Tuning around, I heard Alvaro, EA2BY working some guy on the East Coast. Now, I don’t have “BY” in my collection of QSL cards from stations whose callsigns spell words, so I hung around until he was finished with the East Cost QSO and got him in the log on the first call. He was running only 20 W, but had a four-element, 15m quad, so he had a pretty good signal.

After that QSO, I tuned around a bit more, then decided to call CQ. I called CQ three or four times before IW1ARK came back to me. That made two!

Just before I left the museum, I decided to tune around on 20m phone. That’s where I worked Bob, W0ROB, to complete the triple play. Bob and I had a great conversation about amateur radio stations in museums. He used to go to Arizona for the winter and has operated W7ASC, the station at the Arizona Science Center.

2m loop
About a week ago, I was blabbing with a couple of guys from one of my Tech classes on the W8UM repeater (145.23-, 100 Hz tone, W8UM-R on EchoLink) when Ron, NB8Q, broke in. Ron was using a 2m loop antenna that he just built. What made the remarkable is that it was inside his mobile home!  I told him that he should make a reflector, but he said that he didn’t have enough space for it in his mobile home.

W5LJT (SK)
This evening, I got some bad news. Bill, W5LJT, is now an SK.

i always enjoyed talking to Bill. He liked to talk about the Detroit Red Wings. Despite living in the Houston area, he was a long-time hockey fan, going back to his days as a student at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN. He told me that sometimes he would take a train from South Bend to Detroit to catch a Red Wings game at the Olympia Stadium.

My log says that I had 27 QSOs with Bill over the past ten years. I’m sorry that I won’t be having another one.