[aprssig] "Superdigi" experiment at MB7UBN

Chris Moulding chrism at crosscountrywireless.net
Sun Mar 15 15:57:16 EDT 2009


I think that you have made a good point there.

If I expected to be paid for the time spent developing the TNC firmware 
it would cost a fortune if charged at normal commercial rates.

Part of the fun has been receiving ideas, advice and comment from other 
radio amateurs around the world. One strength of amateur radio is that 
we are willing to spend time tinkering with equipment to make small 
improvements or innovations. It's why I became a radio amateur! Big 
companies can't afford to do that.

I had to smile at Jason's comment about modern networking principles. 
I'm currently working on a short contract as a transmission network 
engineer for a 3G mobile network!


Chris, G4HYG

Chris Moulding
Cross Country Wireless (2009) Ltd
7 Thirlmere Grove, Bolton, Lancs, BL4 0QB, UK
Tel/fax: +44(0)1204 410626
Mobile:  +44(0)7752 391908
Website: http://www.crosscountrywireless.net
Registered company number 6780346 

Scott Miller wrote:
>> Let's not get radical, gone (unfortunately) are the days of amateur radio
>> being the 'innovator'.
> It's true that amateur radio isn't likely to be driving any cutting-edge 
> technology, or at least not any that the commercial world is interested 
> in, but I think there are still interesting areas for innovation.
> APRS trackers are a good example.  Years ago a TNC was a fairly complex 
> system with a bunch of different ICs, but today you can squeeze all of 
> that into a single, sub-$2 microcontroller and get reliable data 
> communications from obsolete voice-grade radios.  There's no incentive 
> in the commercial world to work on that sort of low-cost system; the 
> low-volume AVL stuff doesn't justify it, and the high-volume consumer 
> cell phones and things need to be much more feature-rich to compete.
> There's a company near me that develops satellite-based AVL systems.  I 
> visited their office for an open house, and (after availing myself of 
> the free beer and appetizers) hung out with their engineers and 
> programmers for a bit in the hardware lab.  The system they've developed 
> is considerably LESS sophisticated, software-wise, than something like 
> my Tracker2.  Yet the manufacturing cost is many times higher; it was 
> easier for them just to throw lots of computing power at the problem 
> than to squeeze more performance out of lower-cost hardware.  And their 
> equipment isn't even doing low-level comm stuff - it's just speaking 
> RS-232 to an off-the-shelf satellite modem.
> That's a perfectly valid approach for their situation.  They make their 
> money on monthly service charges, though the CEO was clear that they 
> didn't take a loss on the hardware.  But it's also the reason I sell a 
> lot of trackers to places like India and Kenya and I'm pretty sure they 
> don't.
> My point is that hams still have a lot of opportunities to develop 
> innovative applications and techniques, even if we're not driving the 
> basic technology so much.  And a lot of the world can still benefit from 
> that.
> To put it another way, just because all of the big companies are 
> focusing on building bigger and better backhoes doesn't mean there's not 
> a place for better, cheaper shovels.  And doing what you do because you 
> love doing it and want to do something useful means you can fill niches 
> that someone who has to answer to shareholders and demonstrate a 
> reasonable potential for profit can't.
> Scott
> N1VG
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