WARS “Digital” Seminar
The WARS seminar, Oct. 18, 2014, was very successful with a room full of enthusiasts coming out to hear all about digital radio history, modes and how to use them in this day and age where cell phones seem to have taken the place of radio.
Tim WB9NJS, explained just what is digital, as well as the common digital modes. How does one work with digital modes when their transceiver doesn’t speak digital? CW is the original digital mode and the timing that constitutes a dit, rather than a dah.
Radio Teletype or RTTY was one of the first digital modes authorized for amateur use following WWII and Tim gave a wonderful history of how that evolved from using an elect o-mechanical teleprinter as a terminal to now using a personal computer as a terminal, and it’s sound card in place of a modem. Tim’s RTTY station from 1978 was heavy, bulky and very noisy and today is replaced with a laptop.
What’s needed to get started? Well, acoustically coupled you would need just a computer with a sound card, a digital communication program and a transceiver. Optionally an interface can be placed between the computer and transceiver.
Joyce KJ6ZVS, demonstrated fldigi and flmsg, the programs primarily used on Digi-Net Tuesday evenings on the county wide repeater system, using acoustical coupling. Noting that there is a learning curve and sometimes patience as well as persistence is what makes the practice successful.
George K7WWA, gave a presentation on packet radio, the history, what it was used for and where it is today. Hook up an ordinary PC, a Kantronics radio modem, and your radio then you can send and receive e-mail, transfer files and monitor remote operations. George demonstrated APRS by tracking Nick KI6RIT, as he was returning from his latest trip and then showing that there was a historical record available as he tracked a trip he had made earlier this year.
Tim and Joyce finished the afternoon with a demonstration of SSTV, showing how with a computer and a software program, pictures can be sent. Using Slow Scan and taking a snap shop of an emergency/disaster scene could then be sent to an EOC showing exactly what is happening in real time. Len WA6KLK, commented that Kenwood had a radio equipped with a camera before cell phones.
The seminar was attended by a CERTS team as a communication activity, this helps keep them certified. They were excited about the possibilities of digital communications and could see the advantages of precise and accurate messaging. Several asked about classes to become licensed in amateur radio, and about taking the necessary test(s).
Interestingly enough, 40 percent of those attending were ladies showing that the hobby is not primarily just interesting to guys. We had attendees that made the trip from areas including Gualala, Laytonville, Ukiah, Lake County, as well as the extended Willits area.
A thank you goes to Jim W6JRC, for returning from Pacificon with commemorative centennial coins that were donated to the raffle, and the new HRO catalogs.