Ham Radio 2.0

WARNING: What follows is a partly-baked idea, so read accordingly. :) Dan

I’m a Web developer by profession, and in the Web world, there’s lots of talk is about Web 2.0. What they mean by “Web 2.0″ is the new ways in which we are using the Web. This includes things like video streaming and social networking. In many ways, these applications are revolutionary and have changed the way we use the Web.

I think ham radio might be ripe for a similar revolution. We’re already seeing some of this:

  • IRLP and EchoLink are linking repeater systems, and thereby, hams all around the world.
  • High-Speed Multimedia (HSMM). This mode/project uses those wireless networking channels that fall within various ham bands to provide long-range wireless networking. This is possible because amateurs can use much more power and much better antennas than the unlicensed users of wireless networking.
  • Ham use of Web 2.0 websites. Many hams are blogging, using Twitter (I’m @kb6nu there), and publishing videos on YouTube. In addition to that, there are sites, such as 73s.org that are social networking sites for hams.

This is all well and good, but to use another buzzword, we’re not at the “tipping point” yet. This is to say there are pockets of ham radio operators using some of these technologies, but they’re not in widespread use yet. Integrating all of this somehow would make it all more useful, interesting, and fun.

I’m not sure how to get there from here. (I did warn that this is a partly-baked idea.) If we could do it, though, it all would be very cool.


  1. Hi,

    I think the internet and its future are unlimited and I see echolink and irlp as fun things to play with but I see the social networking sites {twitter, facebook, myspace, zanga, 73s etc.) as mostly a waste of time. At the risk of sounding like a nasty old bast.a.r. d. I have to say I agree with the statement that “if it doesn’t involve RF then it isn’t radio”. Echolink and IRLP can be used with out radios. Qso.net needs no radio. People can chat and socialize without radio. Streaming video (youtube) can be seen without a radio. Radio can be used with these things but none of them require a radio. So where does that leave RADIO?

    Jim K8ELR

  2. I’m also seeing these new tools on the Internet and asking, like Dan, what can we do with Radio that is new? What texting like people do on cell phones? (that’s radio, by the way). Why is there nothing similar in the Ham Radio world? Why am I stuck with this HT which has 15 year old interface technology and not something like the Itouch? (hmmm, if I pry off the cover and hook up an interface cable……)

    We’re behind the curve here, when we used to be ahead of it.

    I often hear people above a certain age saying “Twitter” or “Texting” or social network sites are a waste of time. Well, so is Television – and so is radio. That’s why it’s a called “entertainment”. My children love to communicate that way – what do they know that we don’t? I text my daughter with my cell phone, but what happens when that goes down in a disaster – or I don’t want to pay the fees or be tied to whether a certain cell phone company deins to give us coverage in an outlying area? Why not Ham Radio? After all, Cell phones are radios – why can’t we do such things?

    Or probably more importantly, why are we unwilling to do these things?

    Mark, N6MIN

  3. Mark Morgan says:

    gee with the reaction I see most most hams I do sugest you aquire a set of (virtual) Lead lined asbestos coated gloves to handle the email

  4. Here’s my half-baked comment to go with the half-baked thought:
    There is something about how we Radio Amateurs partition everything into
    A) Part of radio communication under FCC Part 97
    B) Not part of radio communication under FCC Part 97

    (Non-US hams, insert your local amateur radio regulations instead of FCC Part 97)

    This immediately turns the discussion into “that IS ham radio” or “that is NOT ham radio”.
    If we took the position of being interested in all forms of geeky, electronic communication, the conversation would be inherently different.

    73, Bob K0NR

  5. Exactly! That’s why I proposed a long time ago that we change what we call ourselves.

  6. (This is really half baked.. just thinking …..)
    Seems like Im not the only one that is thinking this.

    I can remember when Packet was making it’s entry into the mainstream, and there were questions of ” Why would you want to use a computer on Ham Radio? It’s not a radio!!

    Well now.. twenty years later, we have ILRP, Echolink, EMcomm, and who knows what else is being designed at this time.

    I think that the tipping point was missed years ago. We, within the AR service, had at our beckoning, the ability to transmit messages over long distances, and we missed the boat.

    When you look at what we have now…. the ability to connect to another person via text, IM, e-mail, various social networking sites, all of this could have been accomplished 20 years ago, if we would have taken the time and looked at what we had available to us, and taken the technology forward.

    I read the one posting above about looking at his HT with the 15 yr old interface. I agree… If we would have been pushing technology, instead of watching it go by, our interfaces.. our hobby would be completely different now.

    Just think of having your HT and having the ability to send a text message with a full QWERTY keyboard, and have it fit in your pocket still??? We could have been there.

    Chuck N3WZR

  7. Eva Matson says:

    I am thinking that HAM radio will always be viable in times of distaster and these times, for example 9-11, HAM operations were crutial. Cell phones, and regular land lines were down then. Certainly today’s technology with the internet do not call for radio, even echolink needs no radio, but don’t despair: the radio is essential and operators should always keep and improve their gear…use it away…use it every day, because when disasater happens, we’ll be the ones who know what’s going on.

    With that said….

    What is a good radio for a couple of beginners who would just like to chat with each other and with others in our area? Radios that don’t cost all that much would be appreciated!

    Eva Matson KC2TTB

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