By Paul Toth-NB9X
The invention of high-resolution cameras, high capacity storage devices and networked transports that can carry large amounts of data from one place to another has enabled a whole new discussion about PRIVACY. This discussion, in many ways, has manifested itself in the framework of “Do the Good Guys have an inherent right to be safe and secure in their person and their property” versus “Do people who do not respect laws and any semblance of moral character have an overriding right to infringe on the safety and security of others in the guise of privacy”.
Questions about privacy are not new. Think back to the days when the telephone in your parent’s house was connected to a “Party Line”. When y folks moved to a rural area in Wisconsin in the mid-1950s, the only telephone service that was available was on a “party line” they shared with twenty-five other neighbors. An expectation of privacy – only in your dreams. The ole “party line” was Gossip Central!
Ham Radio communications have always been “open” and in the clear. (..more..)
-October 13, 2019
THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
By Paul Toth-NB9X
If you are a Star Trek fan, like I and many other Hams I know are, you will recall one of the last movies the original Star Trek cast was center stage in, The Undiscovered Country. It was all about our inherent fear of the unknown and the reluctance of many beings, Humans, Klingons and many more to venture into territory and relationships we just don’t feel comfortable with.
Amateur Radio has traditionally been all about exploring the “Undiscovered Country” of RF right from its inception. Without those early explorers like Marconi, Bell (yes, Alexander Graham Bell was not solely into wired inventions), Sarnoff and hundreds more, we would not have most of the communications technologies we enjoy today. Amateur Radio has always been a place for discovery, innovation, creating and building the better mousetrap, so to speak. It has also been a place that has been open for a broad range of different interests and applications.
I would like to think that is still the case because, as I see it, there is still a lot of “Undiscovered Country” to be traveled and a lot of innovation to be embraced. That is why I find the ruckus that RM-11831 has created disturbing and potentially existential. (..more..)
-September 20, 2019
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
By Paul Toth-NB9X
Someone asked me the other day if I knew what the median age of the Amateur Radio operators in the U.S. was. I guess he must have thought my name was “Google”, or “Bing” or one of those Internet search engines.
If you take a look around at most Ham Radio clubs or at a Hamfest or two, you rapidly come to the conclusion the median age is probably something North of sixty-five. And if you believe the Internet, the median age of licensed U.S. Amateur Radio operators is eighty (80) years. Well, that makes me feel like a youngster (I think).
That begets asking the question, “Where is the next generation of Ham operators, RF Explorers to carry on our mission?” Maybe the question that could/should be asked is “Where are the next generation and their parents?”. I pose the question in that way because even though I had always had an interest in Ham Radio as a youth, my earlier years were spent in commercial broadcasting. It wasn’t until I was forty-five years old before I got my license. (..more..)
-September 6, 2019
THE INSIDE STORY
By Paul Toth-NB9X
Recently, on one of our Wednesday night TampaBay Area NXDN Nets, we talked about using your portable and mobile Ham Radios indoors. By the way, if you don’t have a NXDN digital radio, you need to get one and join us every Wednesday evening at 8:00 PM on the growing six-repeater TampaBay Area NXDN Network, Talkgroup 1200.
Back to the topic at hand, INDOOR COMMUNICATIONS. Using a radio inside your well-built, hurricane standard home or business can be a challenge. Reliable VHF communications are particularly challenging because of the band’s longer wavelength. But even on UHF, the four or five watts your radio transmits with can push the radio and repeater you are using to their respective limits. The materials your home is constructed with act as a giant RF attenuator. (..more..)
-August 15, 2019
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FCC REPORT AND ORDER CONCERNING IMPORTED RADIOS
The FCC has published a Report and Order that prohibits the importation of any VHF and UHF radio that is not FCC certified (click here to view Report & Order). Further, these radios, which include Bao-feng, cannot be operated on the Amateur Radio bands if they can be operated on Part 90 Land Mobile Radio frequencies and are not FCC certified to do so.
A VERY limited number of “HAM RADIO LIVES HERE” T-Shirts are still available
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NI4CE Operating Code
The NI4CE Repeater System provides all licensed West Central Florida Amateur Radio operators with a “regional” communications resource to advance Amateur Radio commitment to public service and encourage fellowship among all operators.
The NI4CE System serves all or parts of fourteen counties. It is a shared communications resource for the over twenty thousand Amateur Radio licensees who live here and the hundreds of visitors who join us annually. When using the NI4CE System, the West Central Florida Group, Inc. asks you to:
• Keep your transmissions as brief and to the point as possible. Please keep the Total Run Time for each QSO to ten minutes or less. Remember, there are many other operators waiting to use the repeaters.
• Please leave pauses between transmissions, particularly when there is weather in the region that may be severe.
• Please observe FCC Part 97 Rules at all times, particularly the provisions of 97.113.
• Transmit power in Florida is limited to 50 watts in Florida.
• Please turn off special features including WIRES and other “sounders” that may delay your communications. Kerchunking is frowned on.
• Observe the “Golden Rule”. Common sense, courtesy and respect is contagious!
If you have an NXDN Digital Radio, Talkgroup 65000 can be used to connect to the NXDN Worldwide Network.
Here is the information the National Weather Service is most interested in knowing during any SKYWarn ACTIVATION ON on the NI4CE Repeater System:
• Winds of 35 MPH or higher
• Rainfall of two inches or more in an hour
• Hail of any size
• Weather caused damage
• Street closures
During Tropical Weather Events, Barometric Pressure data is also helpful.
Keep reports SHORT AND CONCISE. During bad weather, repeater time is valuable. Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Avoid unnecessary comments and verbiage.
It is requested that you NOT report non-severe weather, such as “It’s cloudy with light rain” or “the rain is letting up here”. The National Weather Service has radar and knows where it’s not raining. Reports such as this tie up valuable repeater time.
When reporting severe weather activity, please provide your Amateur Radio Callsign, your National Weather Service SKYWARN ID (if you have one), the location of your report and an approximate time of the severe weather event (if other than NOW).
Please turn off any “Roger Beeps”, “WIRES” signaling or the use of DTMF tones as they will interfere with your report.
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