[nos-bbs] Local Emergency communications but able to do e-mail if necessary

KV9U mrfarm at mwt.net
Tue Feb 13 11:24:05 EST 2007

Good points, Bill,

We figure that Airmail 2000 could help somewhat as it is seems like the 
closest thing to what we need. But only runs Pactor on HF so that makes 
it almost useless for us. I had thought that the developer was going to 
allow the AGWPE to operate through a sound card, but I don't think it 
can do that at this time.

Version 3 seems very nice in terms of the interface. For HF, the PSKmail 
program seems to be a better fit for what we might do, if they would 
consider a cross platform program for MS OS users. No expensive modem to 
buy, interfaces with the internet, anyone can set up the interface 
without getting permission from some central authority, and it includes 
keyboard to keyboard messaging too. Eventually, I expect that different 
protocols could be added to enhance the adaptability for speed and yet 
you have the option to use its current weak signal ability.

The hobby part of this, which is the majority here, may go for the 
complications and nuances, but most hams just are not into computers at 
that level. I tend to be the techie type up to a point but even I have 
my limits of tolerance for complicated systems that just won't work when 
you desperately need them to work. The point here is that none of us in 
my area are going to set up any digital networking except for one 
purpose and that is emergency use. There is simply no other interest 
other than APRS and yes, a few using a VHF digital DX cluster:)

Pactor 3 is the benchmark for high speed, although very wide bandwidth 
data (on HF at least), but it just is not an option for 99.9834% of us 
(based on actual SWAG).  I won't buy into the technology since it just 
doesn't have critical mass. Even the SHARES program for agency 
interoperability uses Pactor 1 for the digital part of their network at 
this time.

Eventually there will be someone who has the skills and who also has the 
interest in emergency networking, but we just don't have that person at 
this time. I have asked the developers of some of our keyboard modes if 
they would be willing to do this and they say they really don't have an 
interest since they are primarily interested only in keyboard to 
keyboard casual use of ham radio linking for fun applications and not 
for any serious use. Blunt perhaps, but at least honest.

We know how incrediby well a sound card mode can work with good signals 
and with a robust ARQ, solid busy channel detect, etc.,  since it has 
been invented, but the owners will not release it to the amateur 
community. It may be that this is mostly coming from developers of MS 
Windows software. The Linux folks (although I admit fewer in number than 
MS OS amateur radio programmers) do seem to share and get enjoyment out 
of building on each others work rather than viewing it as proprietary.

Contrary to the other commenters, I do believe that a practical 
emergency network is doable. It may be that almost no one is interested 
in doing it because they don't see the need for it.  Over the years, 
almost no one asks the questions that I ask, at least not openly on 
amateur radio groups. Some of us amateur radio emergency communications 
proponents do talk about it privately though. But all we can do is ask 
since we just do not have the skills to do it ourselves.

While I admit that most of what we do as radio amateur emergency 
communicators is tactical voice, and digital may be such a small part of 
it that it just is not on the radar screen, one only has to look back 15 
to 20 years where digital could, and did, play a much larger role in our 
area due to our packet switches that used to be available over long 
distances. I personally used it during a major FEMA disaster drill. I 
can still remember their reaction when they declared all landline 
communication inoperative and we delivered a message 150 miles away in a 
few minutes.  I don't see these nodes ever returning except for one ham 
who have suggested a 9k6 node in a nearby city (60 miles), but I still 
look for a decentralized ad hoc system.

I used to think HF was only  for the longer distances. But I keep 
thinking about using HF for short range as this would simplify system 
design and you would have very good signals with modest power. That way 
local tactical voice could stay on VHF and not interfere with digital. 
With the newer multiband/multimode compact and relatively affordable 
rigs we now have, you could run a given mode on HF or move up to higher 
frequencies if you needed to because of band openings/activity.

I wonder if the sea change coming Feb 23, 2007, where all hams will be 
able to operate at least some digital on HF, and many more hams will 
have full digital privileges on all bands, there might be a move toward 
having HF at home and portable too (considering the CCR issues for many).


Rick, KV9U

Bill Vodall WA7NWP wrote:

> Airmail2000 does much of that already.
> Take "easy" out of the requirements and *NOS does much of that already...
> In many ways, Airmail can be thought of as a version of *NOS with a
> Windows interface.  They share a great deal of the same functionality.
> Completely remove "easy" from the picture and a Linux (or Windows) box
> with SCS TNC could also do it using older messaging protocols.
> It's all here - it just takes the time and organization to put it to 
> work.
> 73
> Bill - WA7NWP
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