The Digital Communications Conference was held on September 20-22 in SeaTac, Washington, between Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. The attendance count for the conference was 168 people. This was an increase of 30% from the previous year. It seemed that the conference was well rounded in technical content. When you talked to people after the conference, they commented that HF, DSP, Spread Spectrum, or APRS were the main areas of interest. The nice thing about this year's conference was that all of these and more were focused on at different times of the conference.
The conference was co-hosted by the Puget Sound Amateur Radio TCP/IP Group and Boeing Employees Amateur Radio Society (BEARS). If it were not for the effort of Tina and Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, of the Puget Sound Amateur Radio TCP/IP group many aspects of the conference would not have been possible. Tine and Steve put in a lot of work on the local issues before and during the conference. Both amateur radio groups contributed towards the very well provisioned hospitality suite.
See pictures from the conference.
Proceedings are available.
Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, Banquet Presenation.
FridayThe conference began on Friday with the opening of the hospitality suite, even though the TAPR Board and ARRL Future Systems Committee had already had meetings that day. Attendees visiting the hospitality/registration area had a good selection of munches and drinks, plus lots of space to set up equipment and sit around and discuss projects and plans. Friday afternoon Keith Sproul, WU2Z, held an APRS workshop. 65 people attended the workshop and heard the latest on what Keith and his brother Mark, had been working on. After the workshop, people moved back over to the hospitality area.
SaturdaySaturday morning the conference got an early start at a little past 8:00am when Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, Rod Stafford, KB6ZV (President ARRL), Greg Jones, WD5IVD (President TAPR), and Keith Justice, KF7TP welcomed the conference attendees and kicked off the conference.
As a first ever, the conference audio from the main session was made available via RealAudio over the Internet -- LIVE!. There were a few glitches throughout the day, but overall the comments received were positive. One of the first problems was that the local phone company (US West) had a switch problem that was not corrected until after 9am. The problem had been reported the night before! Once that was corrected, we had an error on the TAPR server that was corrected just after 10:30am. After these two small problems, the feed was pretty much continuous until the encoding computer locked up a little past 4pm, when someone came by and decided they wanted to check their e-mail. The live broadcast had over 200 people connect to listen to the conference throughout the day.
This was the second year that the DCC held an introductory topic session strand. These sessions ran in parallel with the main paper sessions in the adjacent room. The purpose of these sessions was to try to have a more indepth look at specific topics of interest. Based on comments received as of this writing, the Introductory session strand will be present again next conference.
The first introduction session strand had Greg Jones, WD5IVD, presenting a 45 minute talk on basic digital communications from an operations standpoint. Greg touched on HF, VHF modes as well as explanations of many of the topics that would be seen during the conference. The talk was very generic and tried to touch on a lot of basic topics. Johan Forrer, KC7WW, then presented an introductory talk on HF digital communications. Johan discussed in detail what was involved and how people operated the HF digital modes. He touched on basic and more advanced aspects of the F digital communications modes.
Greg Jones, WD5IVD Introduction to HF Digital Communications
Johan Forrer, KC7WW
The second Introductory Topic session saw presentations by Steve Bible, N7HPR, on Spread Spectrum Communications and Keith Sproul, WU2Z. Steve covered the basics and more advanced concepts of Amateur Radio based Spread Spectrum Communications. There was a lot of interest in this topic, as indicated by the the number of people who couldn't find a chair to sit! The presentation touched on the upcoming directions of Spread Spectrum communications in Amateur Radio. All very exciting. Keith Sproul, WU2Z, presented a 45 minutes condensed version of his normal APRS talk. He hit on all the major aspects of APRS and got to demo the system and his software one more time during the conference. If there had been a prize for most papers given and most equipment moved, Keith would have won it!
The Introductory topic sessions were recorded, but due to local Part 15 device interference (from the several Metricom radios operating in and around the conference) a lot of the audio was lost due to noise hits, one of the problems you sometime run into with Part 15 wireless audio mics. We didn't realize this was a problem until we got back and started encoding. Opps. Something for TAPR to fix next conference with better wireless mic devices.
Welcome to the DCC
Steve Stroh, N8GJN, Rod Stafford, KB6ZV, Greg Jones, WD5IVD, and Keith Justice, KF7TP
Session 1a, 8:30am - 10:00am
The first paper was "Baseband Group Delay Equalization of IF Filters for Data Communications" by Tom McDermott, N5EG. Tom talked about ways to figure IF filters in receivers. He examined some amplitude, phase, and delay properties of first-order, second-order, and all-pass filters. In addition, he showed several examples of Chebychev and Butterworth IF filers. A very good talk if you are interested about how to make modems work over radios. Much of the talk was based on information being published in Tom's book "Wireless Digital Communications: Design and Theory" being published by TAPR.
Baseband Group Delay Equalization of IF Filters
Tom McDermott, N5EG Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, followed Tom and presented a paper entitled "Amateur Radio Digital Voice Communications". However, Paul didn't talk about his paper. He focused his presentation on spectrum policy and current issues that are impacting amateur radio. A very interesting discussion touching on such things as current FCC policy and issues regarding the upcoming WRC. His paper in the proceedings outlined that amateurs need to apply the same energies and talents that made SSB, ATV, packet, and small satellites possible to now make digital voice a reality in the amateur bands. Nothing is keeping amateurs from implementing digital voice communications.
Amateur Radio Digital Voice Communications
Paul Rinaldo, W4RI Keith Sproul, WU2Z, presented "A 9600 Baud modem for the LPT port", submitted by Wolf-Henning Rech, DF9IC, and Don Rotolo, N2IRZ. The talk outlined a simple modem for 9600 Baud FSK which can be connected to a LPT port that has been designed by Wolf-Henning Rech, DF9I. It is powered from the port and does not need any alignment. Several drivers for DOS and Linux are available because of its compatibility to the BayCom PAR96 modem (and its PacComm clones). The design was originally published in the proceedings of the 12th Internationally Packet Radio Conference Darmstadt, 1996.
A 9600 Baud Modem for the LPT port
Keith Sproul, WU2Z for Wolf-Henning Rech, N1EOW Craig McCartney, WA8DRZ, then presented "Constructing a Worldwide HF Data Network". Craig discussed the design and implementation of a HF Digital system that his company had developed for the maritime communications environment. Craig touched on some of the history and then explained the practical guidelines for making such a system work reliably. The system uses Automatic Channel Sounding, Clover, and they have adopted several different ways for interconnecting their worldwide sites together (dedicated dial up, Internet, and others). They should have 15 stations operational by the end of 1996.
Constructing a Worldwide HF Data Network
Craig McCartney, WA8DRZ
James Wagner, PhD, KA7EHK, presented a paper entitled "Packet and Internet". James' paper looked at the recent debate issues concerning the question of BBS mail forwarding by methods other than the ham RF network. Whichever side proves to be "right", (and it is possible that both may be right), the answers to this debate will have an impact on all packet users. James discussed these issues and looked at both sides of the issue. He voiced the concern about some of the deterioration of long-haul RF networking due to the ease of access and use of Internet and other wireline based systems.
Strategies for Improving Wide-Area Networks
James Wagner, KA7EHK Tim Bagget, AA5DF, presented a paper regarding the use of Motorola's DSP with regard to HF applications. This talk did not appear in the proceedings. Tim, a recent graduate from New Mexico State, is now working in Austin for Motorola in the DSP group. Tim focused on the DSP used within the Kenwood TS870. The TS870 uses two 56002 DSP and are in-line with the IF of the radio. The radio has 237 selectable IF filters! Tim discussed the implementation and some of the methods of implementation and also discussed the overall family of Motorola DSP processor line. The 56300 core was discussed in detail. The EVM56002 was discussed and Tim touched on the TAPR group purchase and possible future direction with EVM products for amateur applications.
DSP in HF Communication Systems
DSP in HF Communications Systems
Tim Bagget, AA5DF James Wagner, PhD, KA7EHK, presented his second paper entitled "Strategies for Improving Wide-Area Networks". James' paper covered the topic that wide-area single-frequency networks still cover large areas of this country. While, this might be the low-end solution to networking, it doesn't seem to be going away. A number of strategies have been developed for improving such networks, but these strategies are very slow to be adopted. He discussed some of the reasons for the continued existence of these networks and the strategies and their likelihood of success. How can we use education to try to get changes made in different areas to help support better and faster communications. It was interesting to note some of the comments during the question period that indicated a number of new digital networks seem to be generating systems very similar to what was done in the mid-80's and thus we seem to have lost the link between those efforts 10 years ago and new operators today.
Packet and Internet
James Wagner, KA7EHK
The conference then broke for Lunch. Lunch was a sandwich buffet. Near the end of Lunch, Rod Stafford, KB6ZV (President ARRL) and Gerald Knezek, KB5EWV (DCC Student Awards Co-Chair) presented the first annual Student Paper Awards. Rod and Gerald presented checks and plaques to Michelle Toon, KC5CGH, and Marc Normandeau. Michelle received the award for 'best educational or community-oriented application paper by a student' for the paper 'Circus of the Stars'. Marc received the award for 'best technical/theory-oriented paper by a student' for the paper 'Object-Oriented Modeling of a Satellite Tracking Software'. This year's awards were made possible by a donation by the ARRL Foundation, Inc. It was very exciting to see the culmination a year's worth of work. The principle individuals responsible for the Student Awards starting were Gerald Knezek, KB5EWV, Robert Diersing, N5AHD, and Greg Jones, WD5IVD. They had wanted to do something like this for the last several years and found it possible now that the TAPR and ARRL conference have been joined. This made for a good opportunity and first round of results were very positive. Gerald and Robert will continue as co-chairs for the 1997 awards to be given at next years DCC. Full details on the 1997 Student Paper Awards are already available on the TAPR web site, under the DCC link.
Session 3a, 1:30pm - 3:00pm
"Object-Oriented Modeling of a Satellite Tracking Software" was presented by Marc Normandeau and his professor M. Barbeau, VE2BPM. This paper won the category of Best Technical/theory-oriented Student paper. Marc's paper presents a case study of an object-oriented development of a satellite tracking software. It is designed following the Real-Time Object-Oriented Modeling (ROOM) methodology. The design resulting from the application of ROOM is implemented in C++ on the QNX platform. The QNX kernel is about 15K and is really fast! ROOM yields a modular architecture which is clear, reusable, and maintainable. Use of QNX leads to a highly performant and reliable system. Excellent presentation!
Object-Oriented Modeling of a Satellite Teacking Software
Marc Normandeau, (Student Paper Award) Michelle Toon, KC5CGH , then presented the paper entitled "Circus of the Stars". This paper won the category of Best Educational or Community-Oriented Application Student paper. Michelle described a unique collaboration between diverse groups in the Waco, Texas, area. The project uses amateur radio to tie school sites in the Central Texas area together during a mentoring session based on night-time astronomical observation. Michelle discussed the issues of amateur radio in education and the project of involving schools with amateur radio during this summer project. Michelle told a great story of the trials and tribulation from the first introduction of the concepts of amateur radio in education from classes held by Gerald Knezek, KB5EWV, at the Univ of North Texas to her current efforts and projects in implementing various approaches. One of the best presentations during the conference.
Circus of the Stars
Michelle Toon, KC5CGH (Student Paper Award) Keith Sproul, WU2Z , then presented a paper by him and Mark Sproul, KB2ICI, entitled "WinAPRS: Windows Automatic Position Reporting System. A Windows version of APRS". WinAPRS is a Windows version of the popular APRS, Automatic Position Reporting System. WinAPRS is fully compatible with APRS, the DOS version, and the MacAPRS, the Macintosh version. Due to the larger amounts of memory available in the Windows operating system, WinAPRS, just like MacAPRS has many additional features not available in the DOS version. Keith discussed in detail some of the issues of supporting different OS software and how they have been able to do it easily.
WinAPRS: Windows Automatic Position Reporting System
Keith Sproul, WU2Z
Session 4, 3:30pm - 5:00pm
"javAPRS: Implementation of the APRS Protocols in Java", presented by Steve Dimse, KO4HD. Steve's paper described an implementation of the Automatic Position Reporting Systems (APRS) protocols in the computer language known as Java. javAPRS extends the usefulness of APRS to the Internet and allows animation of APRS tracking data live over Java equipped systems. Steve used javAPRS during his trip from Florida to Washington to allow all those on APRS SIG and others to watch his progress. Very exciting stuff. There is a link to his Web page from the TAPR SIG web page.
javAPRS: Implementation of the APRS Protocols in Java
Steve Dimse, KO4HD Keith Sproul, WU2Z , presented his last paper of the day entitled "Automatic Radio Direction Finding Using MacAPRS and WinAPRS". Basically, Keith described how radio direction finding had been around for almost as long as radio itself and with the assistance of new Doppler-based RDF systems with computer interfaces you could combine these elements under APRS. APRS now has the ability to display the RDF information on maps, giving the user a graphical way to view the RDF patterns. Using various CD-ROM databases and the like, tracking down potential jammers should be easy. Keith showed several examples to explain the concept and discussed some practical real stories. Keith felt that with all of the available technology, we should be able to develop a system that zeros in on a location and automatically shows us the possible transmitters in the area much simpler than many system have done in the past.
Automatic Radio Direction Finding Using MacAPRS and WinAPRS
Keith Sproul, WU2Z The last paper of the conference was presented by Phil Karn, KA9Q. Phil's presentation is not in the proceedings. Phil presented current information regarding his experimentation of coding and modulations on a PC. Some very exciting potentials Phil is seeing in this work. Everyone will need to listen to Phil's talk on the Internet to get all the details.
Progress of Coding Experiments
Phil Karn, KA9Q
Dinner was held at 6pm. After dinner several Plaques were awarded. A plaque was given to Keith Justice, KF7TP, which read "TAPR Proudly Recognizes Keith Justice, KF7TP for outstanding service from 1993 to 1996 as a board member and Vice President from 1994 to 1995 of the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio Corporation." Another plaque was given to John Ackermann, AG9V, which read "TAPR Proudly Recognizes John Ackerman, AG9V, for outstanding service to TAPR as founder of the TAPR NETWORK Special Interest Group in 1994 and dedicated volunteer." Then several awards were given to the local hosts of the conference. "ARRL and TAPR are pleased to recognize, Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, and Tina Stroh for their invaluable and dedicated service as local coordinators for the 1996 ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference". "ARRL and TAPR are pleased to recognize Puget Sound Amateur Radio TCP/IP Group for their participation as local co-hosts for the 1996 ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference". "ARRL and TAPR are pleased to recognize Boeing Employees Amateur Radio Society for their participation as local co-hosts for the 1996 ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference". One plaque of special note was given to Lori Wienberg , which read "ARRL and TAPR are pleased to recognize Lori Wienberg in appreciation for invaluable and dedicated service and support to the Digital Communication Conferences." Lori has been doing the conference proceedings from the very beginning. Everyone who has ever read or gotten a DCC proceedings owes a big thanks to Lori. Thanks Lori!
After the plaques were presented, Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, gave his banquet talk. The talk was a real winner! Lyle talked about the future of Amateur radio and gave some analogies that hit the mark one after the other. Everyone went away after the banquet thinking about where amateur radio is today and where it might be going.
Saturday Banquet Presentation
Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, was the Saturday evening Banquet Speaker.
Lyle gave an exceptional talk regarding the future of amateur radio.
Both the transcript and audio can be read and listened to.
TAPR HF SIG
At 8:30pm, TAPR's HF SIG met. Johan Forrer, KC7WW, began the TAPR HF SIG meeting with an introduction to SIG activities and a list of current goals for the SIG. Tom McDermott, N5EG, then presented an overview of the physical effects of HF ionospheric propagation, what their effects are on an HF signal, how you simulate these effects for a modem, and concluded with information on CCIR-520. This was a very good technical presentation and really hit a lot of the most important aspects of trying to build an HF simulator. Building an HF simulator has been a goal of the SIG over the last year. Johan then showed the HF simulator that had been developed based on the theory in Tom's presentation. The simulator was running on a TAPR/AMSAT DSP-93. Having a common simulator that the group can agree on has been deemed necessary in order to test and compare results for future HF digital communications designs. Johan discussed the development steps that had been done for the simulator. Johan then presented a talk on his current development of Quator. Quator is Johan's research in developing a new robust HF digital modem. The presented materials looked very promising and everyone looks forward to seeing further development. The final discussion focused on the future of HF SIG.
Overview of HF Simulator Theory
- Tom McDermott, N5EG
HF Simulator Development Update
- Johan Forrer, KC7WW What went into the HF Simulator
- Johan Forrer, KC7WW Quadtor Development Update
- Johan Forrer, KC7WW HF SIG Update
- Johan Forrer, KC7WW
- Johan Forrer, KC7WW What went into the HF Simulator
Sunday Technical SeminarThe first workshop on Sunday was by Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP. Dewayne's workshop focused on the aspects of using Part 15 wireless devices and their potential usage in Amateur Radio. Dewayne provided a laundry list of devices on the market currently and the audience took a lot of notes and asked a lot of questions about the different units. Dewayne outlined the planned introduction of two SS radios by TAPR (one at 115Kbps and another 256Kbps) in coming months as part of the ongoing Spread Spectrum rules changes in Washington. This workshop allowed those in attendance to grasp the reality and ease of implementation of truly high-speed amateur radios in the near future.
The second workshop on Sunday saw Barry McLarnon, VE3JF, provide an overview of what 56K is all about, including a survey of available hardware, networking design, and some hints 'n kinks based on 56K experience in the Ottawa area. Dennis Rosenauer, VE7BPE, followed with an entertaining and informative slide show on the 56K system which has been set up in the Vancouver area. Gwyn Reedy, W1BEL, contributed an update on current and future 56K - related products from PacComm. An array of 56K hardware was displayed and demonstrated, including two complete 56K stations based on PCs running Linux, provided by Dennis. The Linux boxes were networked to other PCs via SLIP and ethernet. Also on display were the new WA4DSY 56K modem, a Gracilis PackeTwin interface card, and the SPIRIT-2 PAD unit, all from PacComm, and an Ottawa PI2 card and Microwave Modules transverter from VE3JF. Everyone attending seemed to really enjoy the presentations and the ability to ask questions about the equipment at the end of the workshop.
Conference PhotosStudent Awards and Banquet
Rod Stafford, KB6ZV (Pres ARRL), Michelle Toon, KC5CGH, Marc Normandeau, and Gerald Knezek, KB5EWV (DCC Student Awards Co-Chair). Rod and Gerald present Michelle and Marc with their award plaques and checks for the first annual Student Paper Awards. Michelle received the award for 'best educational or community-oriented application paper by a student' for the paper 'Circus of the Stars'. Marc received the award for 'best technical/theory-oriented paper by a student' for the paper 'Object-Oriented Modeling of a Satellite Tracking Software'. Full details on the 1997 Student Paper Awards are available.
Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, was the Saturday evening Banquet Speaker. Lyle gave an exceptional talk regarding the future of amateur radio. Both the transcript and audio from the talk are available.
A photo of the banquet crowd listening to Lyle's talk.
Hallway and Hospitality Areas
You never knew who might be lurking in the areas outside the meeting areas.
John Ackermann, AG9V (TAPR VP) and Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP (TAPR Regulatory Chair), having a discussion on ??? Could it be Spread Spectrum guys ?
Dorothy Jones, KA5DWR (TAPR Office Manager) and Tina Stroh sitting at the registration desk in the hospitality room. Tina was the prime reason the hospitality room refreshments were so good and plentiful! They are also showing off the new TAPR mugs :-)
Bdale Garbee, N3EUA, Glenn Elmore, N6GN , and Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD supposedly working on some RF software that Glenn had written. Although several commented on the fact that the PC kept making Duke-Nuke'm sounds when Glenn moved the cursor keys!
Jon Bloom, KE3Z and Mike Cheponis, K3MC take a break outside the meeting rooms. Mike was wearing his Bill Gates "You will be assimilated" shirt. Very cute Mike!
Bob Hansen, N2GDE (PSR Editor) shows his skill at balancing a TAPR mug while posing for this picture.
Bdale Garbee, N3EUA , and Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD
Bob Stricklin, N5BRG and Tim Bagget, AA5DF
"The Usual Suspects". Doug Lockhart, VE7APU, Phil Karn, KA9Q, Frank Perkins, WB5IPM, Tom McDermott, N5EG, and Jon Bloom, KE3Z.
Steve Bible, N7HPR, Bob Stricklin, N5BRG, John Koster, W9DDD, and John Ackermann, AG9V.
Craig McCartney, WA8DRZ and Paul Rinaldo, W4RI
Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, and Heather Johnson, N7DZU. Great to see you two at the DCC!
Main Paper Sessions, Introduction Sessions, and SIG meetings
Johan Forrer, KC7WW (TAPR HF SIG Chair), Tim Bagget, AA5DF, Phil Karn, KA9Q, and Tom McDermott, N5EG after the HF SIG meeting.
Phil Karn, KA9Q, presents a paper on Coding and Modulation Experiments on a PC.
Steve Dimse, KO4HD. Steve about to present his paper on JavaAPRS (left) and a picture of Steve in his van, which he drove all the way from Florida (right). Lucky he had APRS right in the van :-)
Tom McDermott, N5EG, presents a paper on Baseband Group Delay Equalization of IF filters for Data Communications.
, does an introductory presentation on High-Speed Digital Communications.
Steve Bible, N7HPR, does an introductory presentation on Spread Spectrum.
Frank Perkins, WB5IPM, doing a introductory session on Digital Satellite Operations.
Keith Sproul, WU2Z, doing one of his four talks during the weekend. It seems like Keith was always moving equipment someplace.
Barry McLarnon, VE5JF, talking about some of the 56K equipment on the table after the 56K workshop.
Dennis Rosenauer, VE7BPE, shows off some other 56K equipment after the workshop.
A close up of a 56K radio system.
Barry McLarnon, VE3JF, presenting during the 56K workshop.
Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, talking during the PCS wireless workshop.
Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, Banquet Presentation
Well, as you can probably tell, this is the first time I've ever done one of these, so I want to thank everybody for the opportunity to do this. I want to thank Greg Jones, WD5IVD, for inviting me. What I understand the ground rules on this are that: if this goes over OK, Greg gets the credit for his wisdom; if it doesn't, it's my fault. And besides that, I know you're really here for the prize drawing so I'll try and keep this short.
My personal involvement with TAPR, heavy involvement that is, on the board and as an officer and so forth, ended about three or four years ago. I left at that time feeling it was really time for some new blood with a new organization, new directions of leadership. Four years ago when I left, I was very, very proud of TAPR and what it had accomplished. And today I can honestly say that I'm just as proud of what it's still doing and I want to thank Greg for doing an excellent job. (Applause)
We have a number of students with us this year. I understand with the first ever student awards that some of these students may not be terrifically familiar with Amateur Radio. So, I'm going to touch on a few things that may seem a little bit basic; for them it's new, for the rest of us it's a refresher.
One of the points I want to make is that we must keep in mind that Amateur Radio is a Service that we have under the FCC. We often talk about this wonderful hobby that we have, but hobbies are like tying fishing flies. This is a Service, it's licensed by the government, under government regulations.
And one of the things that strikes me about this is that the public has entrusted us with billions of dollars' worth of spectrum. Some of it's exclusive, some of it we share with other services. But, we're finding out more and more these days that the public is expecting its money's worth. And remember that the public that's granting us this privilege is the same public that brings lawsuits about our big antennas in our backyards.
So the Amateur Radio Service was formed in the Communications Act of 1934. There was a basis and purpose for it and there are four (if memory serves me correctly) basic pillars or precepts upon which our Service is formed. One of them would be public service, emergency communications, things of that nature. Another is to provide a trained reservoir of technicians and operators in times of national emergency. A third is to advance the radio art, and the fourth is for international goodwill.
And the thought struck me the other day when I was wondering about what should I talk about to this group of people. I was wondering, "This is 1996, not 1934. Would the FCC establish the Amateur Service today, in today's climate?" If we weren't trying to preserve what we had, but trying to carve out something new, would they take spectrum from someone else and give it to us? And if they would do it today, would they do it ten years from now or fifteen years from now? I got to thinking about that a little bit. And in 1934, public service communications radios were fairly rare and Amateur Radio could step in and do quite a lot. In 1996 we still provide public service but I think the public is a little bit less dependent upon us now than they were in 1934. What about the year 2010?
In terms of providing technicians and operators, certainly in 1934 it was a wise choice. In 1940, 1941-42 we went to war and a lot of the same equipment that was in our ham shacks wound up on the front lines and the same people operating that same equipment. In 1992 with Desert Storm, I'm not sure how many hams were invaluable in Desert Storm. I'm not sure what would happen in 2010 if, God forbid, we had to fight another war.
In terms of international goodwill, in 1934, we've all seen the Indiana Jones flicks- everybody climbs on a Pan Am clipper, all eight passengers, and they fly for days to get across the Pacific ocean stopping for fuel at every passing boat. Today, travel is inexpensive; it costs pennies instead of dollars now. Everybody travels; it's ubiquitous. Last week at this time I was on my way to Brazil on business. I left on Saturday, I was in Brazil Sunday and Monday and part of Tuesday and I was back at my desk Wednesday afternoon before I came here Wednesday evening. Travel- it happens. We get international goodwill now by face-to-face meetings rather than necessarily by Amateur Radio.
And what about advancing the radio art? Certainly in 1934 we contributed a lot. In 1996, I think we're still contributing, but it's somewhat less. But I wonder about what might happen in 2010.
To touch some of these points again...
In terms of public service, I remember when my brother was stationed at government expense in a beautiful tropical paradise near the Cambodian border. And he was able to call home from time to time through something called MARS- the Military Affiliate Radio System, which was basically Ham Radio. And he called home and we got to talk to him for sixty seconds or one hundred and twenty seconds and then it was the next GI's turn. But in Desert Storm the phone company just put phone booths out in the desert and people just direct dialed home. MARS wasn't terribly relevant then.
Nowadays when a disaster hits, another hurricane hits the East Coast, a twister hits the Midwest, the infrastructure gets damaged. When that happens, the hams step in and they provide emergency communications. How long do they provide that for? Months? Years? No, until the technicians fix the commercial infrastructure, then the commercial services take over again. Why? Because they're more efficient.
So, what's going to happen in a couple of years when Iridium will be here, the little LEO satellites get launched, and now you can grab your cell phone and you can directly link with the satellite, and the infrastructure doesn't get damaged when a hurricane occurs. How meaningful are we going to be at that time? If you're driving down the road and you see an accident, you grab your two meter radio, you bring up the phone patch, but four other people have already driven by with their 900 MHz handhelds and they've already reported the accident by direct dialing 911. So I think that if we look today and towards the future that one of those pillars that has held Amateur Radio up, that of Public Service, is going to be providing diminishing returns to the public in terms of these billions of dollars of spectrum that they're authorizing us to use.
What about trained operators and technicians? This afternoon we were down there looking at this really neat Kenwood, what is it? A TS-870 radio with dual digital signal processors. How many people here can fix it? How many people here think Kenwood can fix them?
How many people have an HF radio with Automatic Link Establishment protocol built in that they use in Amateur communications? Not too many. What I'm trying to point out is that there's a divergence between what we use and what the government or the military might use. How many of you have set up a satellite ground station? How relevant is our experience to a real-time graphics display in an Abrams tank or a Bradley fighting vehicle that's rolling over a battlefield with all the enemy and all the good guy positions all illuminated on there for their fire control systems?
In Desert Storm there was some thin route communications used on the front lines that were based in some degree on Amateur-developed technology in TNCs and so forth. We did make a contribution to Desert Storm, but it was in technology more than it was in people.
In terms of international goodwill, I think I already touched on the fact that travel nowadays is cheap and Americans go everywhere all the time. I 'm not sure how much international goodwill is promoted when you turn on twenty meters on any weekend you want to pick and hear "CQ Contest" or "Hello Contest".
If you were the public-- if you were the administrator-- would you be willing to give up a billion dollars of public spectrum for what you hear on the HF bands in terms of international goodwill? I'm not saying what we're doing is bad, I'm simply wondering, within the perspective of the billions of dollars that we're now faced with, what will we do?
So, to me, the pillar that's left, the strong one, is advancing the radio art. I think that's what we have to build our case upon. I don't think that we can build a strong case upon other things in the future, although we can to some degree today. Clearly, that's what the DCC is all about, that's what TAPR, AMSAT, AMRAD, the ARRL is heavily involved in this, that's what we do, that's what we re involved with- trying to advance the radio art. But to do the radio art, you need radio, right? You need spectrum. OK? So we can't waste the spectrum.
Now, a fellow at work a few weeks ago handed me a book that I read-- I must have been terribly bored. The name of the book was "God Wants You To Be Rich" by Paul Pilzer. What does that have to do with radio spectrum? Well, this fellow that wrote this book had a strange view of economics. He didn't believe that economics was "handing out scarce resources," he felt there were abundant resources. And he made three points that kind of stuck with me.
One of them was, he gave an example of a ketchup factory in the Midwest. And this ketchup factory used to employ, I don't know, a gazillion people, now I'm sure they employ half a gazillion. But they didn't just make ketchup, they made the glass bottles, they made the labels, they printed them, they screwed the caps on them, they owned a fleet of trucks to distribute the ketchup around and they started being eaten alive by their competition during the 1980's. They shifted things a little bit and found a company that made plastic ketchup bottles cheaper than they could make glass ones. So they started buying plastic bottles. They found another company to make labels cheaper than they could make labels, and they found that they could contract with a trucking company cheaper than they could truck it themselves. In the end they wound up making more profit, selling more product, at a cheaper price, with a leaner organization because it became more efficient.
How is this related to what we're talking about?
Well, a lot of times I hear a real hue and cry when we talk about Amateur Networking, and "we've got a local area net over here in Tucson," or maybe "they've got their local area net in San Diego and this is Amateur Radio and we've got to tie these together by radio- we've GOT to use radio!" Well, people just sort of make sure nobody's looking and connect it up to the Internet, and BOOM- they create a wormhole and we get messages across. Well, what's going on here? Well, we're being more efficient- we're subcontracting out those services that can be more efficiently provided by others and focusing on the things that we can do well. I think there's some relevance there. We could raise up our hands and say "that's not Amateur Radio," but maybe it doesn't have to be Amateur Radio to CONTRIBUTE to Amateur Radio.
Another point this fellow made was that nowadays we're creating wealth from absolutely nothing. Well, you say "What are you talking about, Lyle?" Well, there's a couple of things.
In the 1800's, there was a kind of a crisis that occurred because they realized that the Yankee Clipper Ships were going out there and taking out the whales faster than the whales could make more whales. And this was a problem because everybody lit their house (back in those days) with whale-oil lamps. And how were they going to have light for their children or grandchildren if we killed all the whales? So they decided that maybe we should cut back on the hunting a little bit, or this or that.
But, a couple of things happened in the meantime. There was this guy named Edison, and he got some bamboo filament, and this and that, and he made an electric light bulb. "Hmmm, this might have some applicability to saving the whales?" Another fellow went walking around, he was in Pennsylvania somewhere I guess, and noticed there was this perfectly good farmland that "Gosh, it's ruined! There's this slimy black stuff that's kind of oozing out of the ground here". Well, there's petroleum! Now, we don't want our houses lit with whale oil lamps. But tremendous wealth has been created with electric light bulbs, and with petroleum. Well, now we're running out of petroleum- but maybe technology will find another answer to this.
Twenty years ago there wasn't any viable PC industry in this country, but today the PC industry is roughly on par with the automotive industry in terms of its contribution to our economy. We're talking about an industry that did not exist twenty years ago!
And what is the PC industry, this tremendous wealth, what is this based on? Sand. Silicon- the most common element there is on our planet- silicon. But that's what a huge fraction of our economy is now based on, something that we walked out on and just shook it out of our shoes and walked down the beach and didn't worry about it much.
Well, what do we need? We need spectrum. How are we going to get that spectrum? Maybe we're going to get it by applying technology in ways that we haven't applied it before to create, in effect, more spectrum.
Another point this fellow made in his book was the accelerating pace of change. He pointed out that in the 1930's there were tens of millions of people that were involved in agriculture in this country. And each farmer could feed his family and two or three others. Now, in the 1990's, we have just a few million farmers, but each farmer can feed his family and about a hundred others. Farmers are far more efficient.
Well, that's great for those that are still farmers, but what about those tens of millions that aren't farmers anymore- what did they do? Well, over a period of a few decades, as this revolution was occurring they moved to the cities. And what did they do? Well, some of them went to factories in the automotive industry and built carburetors. And others went to the recording industry and built vinyl LP s.
And then what happened in the 1980's? We went from employing a million or so people making carburetors in this country to nobody making carburetors. Why? Because we're using electronic fuel injection. And what about the people making vinyl LPs? In 1983 they had a job. In 1985 they didn't. Why? Because of the Compact Disc.
We're going through changes where, in the past, it took a generation or so for a major change to occur; to where my children are going to probably face two or three major changes in their career growth during their normal working lifetime. Something we've never had to deal with because of the incredibly accelerating rate of the advancement of technology.
In the 1950's and 1960's when I went to school, nobody ever heard of the PC, we didn't care much about sand, what was good for GM was good for the nation. We had slide rules, log tables, and ham radio. My kids went to school in the 1980's and 1990's and what did they use in school? Graphing calculators, and they hook up to the World Wide Web. They take their tests electronically at home, they do their homework electronically and e-mail it in to their teacher. What's going to happen with my grandkids? I don't know either.
In the 1970's, or up to the 1970's the US economy was based on manufacturing. Today, our economy is based on information and services. As Greg pointed out in his latest PSR editorial, it's a paradigm shift- looking at things completely differently. It's like "Dead Poet's Society" where everybody stands on the desk and looks around. It's a different perspective on life. We worry about the loss of manufacturing. Well, gosh! Japan made six billion dollar's worth of VCRs last year. Yeah, but Hollywood made SIXTY billion worth of movies for those six billion dollar's worth of VCRs.
Well, let's shift gears a little bit and gaze at the digital Amateur station of ten years ago. It's now 1986- most of us can still remember back that far. You had an 8088 or 80286. 1986- OK, maybe you had a Mac as well. You had a megabyte of DRAM, you had a forty megabyte hard drive, you had an EGA monitor (how many remember EGA monitors?). You had a Z80 TNC with a 1200 baud modem plugged into the audio jacks of your two meter radio, and you had a 1200, or if you were rich, a 2400 bit per second connection to The Source, or maybe CompuServe.
Let's look at that same digital Amateur station today. It's now 1996. You've got a high speed 486 or Pentium, it's got at least eight megabytes of RAM, you've got a one gigabyte hard drive and a SuperVGA monitor. You've got a 28.8 kilobit modem that cost $99 connected up to your $20 per month Internet connection. And you've got a Z80 TNC running at 1200 bits per second connected to your two meter radio. (Laughter)
What's wrong with this picture?
Advancing the radio art is how we're going to retain what we have. Lets look at something else. Pretend it's 1944 now (I think most of us will have to pretend). If you ran into QRM on the frequency, well, what would you do? You'd QSY, change frequency, you'd QRZ, be sure the frequency was clear, and then you'd call CQ. What do we call that? Frequency Division Multiplexing. We got a problem, we change frequency. In 1954, you know, 10 years later, Single Sideband was starting to come on past the Dan Norgaards and so forth and was up to the Wes Schuns and the Central Electronics guys. And you had Single Sideband, you cut your spectrum in half so you could put twice as many people in the same amount of spectrum. It was still FDM, right? In 1996, we're using what? Single Sideband. Same as we were using in 1954. It's nearly fifty years later. We're still using the SAME techniques.
In the 1970's, FM repeaters suddenly took over the landscape in Ham Radio when it went from basically zero in 1970 to five thousand today (and I imagine that eight years ago it was four thousand, nine hundred and fifty). What happens today in 1996? You go to Ralph, your local frequency coordinator, and say "Ralph, I need a frequency for my repeater" and Ralph just kind of says, "What else is new?" Right? There aren't any.
So Ralph, your local frequency coordinator, he's empowered as a kind of a God now. He can hand out these frequencies-- these frequencies that are worth millions and millions of dollars. Ralph controls them now. And Joe Ham, who's a repeater owner, carefully warehouses that spectrum. He doesn't use it much but he wants to be sure nobody can use it either, so he has his frequency coordination thing. Meanwhile he goes to another channel that Ralph gave him so he can run his remote base on the mountaintop so he can call CQ DX. And that's cool, that's good.
But somebody else went up to a local mountaintop with a spectrum analyzer one day and they scanned two meters. And they noticed that "I can't get a repeater allocation. Yet, if I scan this band and make a graph over twenty-four hours, I'll find that this band is maybe being used five percent." Maybe in our area it's being used twenty percent, but I doubt it.
There's something wrong here. So we're very busy organizing things so we can warehouse spectrum with closed repeaters that other people can't use. There's something wrong here I think. Does this sound like a good idea to you? That we promote this, we organize ourselves around this, and we defend this?
Now if you were a public policy maker, how would you feel about this? How would you react to the creation of this kind of a Service? Neither would I.
Well, now we've got this what we call the Little LEO controversy-- the low earth orbiting guys. And they sat up there with their spectrum analyzer and noticed the same thing. So, now they've gone to the policy makers, and amongst the candidate bands (and we've all read the QST editorials) there's two meters and seventy centimeters on the table for consideration. Not to be taken, but to be shared. And we're treating this, and I suppose properly, as a call to battle-- we have to battle those little LEO guys. "We can't possibly let them share our spectrum- this is our sacred stuff." Joe's gotta have his warehouse because Ralph gave it to him-- right?
I don't look at this so much as a call to arms-- I think it's a wakeup call.
I think that if we look at ourselves objectively, we have to say that we're grossly inefficient and that we're wasteful. We've been given a precious public resource and we're not utilizing it properly. Now the Little LEO guy can put his Spread Spectrum satellite on top of two meters and claim that he's not going to interfere with us, and he'll accept whatever we can dish at him because he knows how to handle it. Well, it's hard to argue that we're not going to share this underutilized resource with you because Ralph said it belonged to Joe... And I believe that this coexistence has been demonstrated to some extent with the STAs that were mentioned earlier in the Spread Spectrum talks today.
Well, it seems to me we have a choice here. We can either share our frequencies with the Little LEO guys, or we can share it with ourselves. If we don't share it with ourselves, we're going to have to share it with somebody else that might not be of our own choosing. So, it seems to me that we need to push really, really hard. And TAPR is doing this, and the League is doing this, we need to push really hard to get the Spread Spectrum rules relaxed.
My feeling of how Part 97 should read is easy-- "Here's your band limits. Have a nice day." I think we could fit the whole of Part 97 on this side of this three by five card in large type. So that even a bifocal guy like me could read it without glasses.
Well, let's go back to the little Z80 TNC that I talked about.
If you look in your Proceedings that you received today, and I think everyone here got one, you'll notice on page 145, and again on page 177, there are articles in there for an L band and an S band digital transceiver. Runs at 1.2 Megabits per second. It's pretty slick. These were designed by Matjaz Vidmar. Now Matjaz is a sort of down-the-totem-pole level professor. Whatever an entry-level professor in Slovenia (I don't speak Slovenian, I'm not sure if anybody here does ) is called. He did this at the University of Slovenia. Can anybody locate Slovenia quickly on a globe? (There are a few that can. Alright, that's good. Most people, if you said Slovenia, they wouldn t know where it is.) Now, this is not a wealthy guy with a cadre of highly-paid highly technical people under him, and the economic powerhouse with highly technological infrastructure of Slovenia that dominates Europe today. This is a guy that's working in his house, making circuit boards, drawing pictures, using X-acto knives. But in a smaller European country, he is sharing with us this development that he has of a 1.2 Megabit radio. I remember, several years ago, we tried to make a 9600 bit per second radio, and we just sort of never did that.
So, granted, Matjaz is a very bright guy. But there are a lot of other bright people around here. What I'd like to see is TAPR, just as we revolutionized things with 1200 baud many, many, MANY years ago, or helped contribute to that, I'd like to see us revolutionize things at a Megabit. And I think we can do it-- the plans are right there, they're right in the book-- that can cost a couple of hundred dollars to build. I held it in my hand last October when I was in Germany. I met with Matjaz as we were working on the Phase IIID project. Incidentally, that design that he has there is the basis of the 153.6 kilobit PSK modem that's going to be riding onboard RUDAK in Phase IIID, that's going to have Phil's convolutional encoder on it.
So, I think the stuff isn't magic, certainly. I think that, in my opinion, the only surviving basis that we're going to have over the next years for retaining our spectrum is technological advancement. I think we need to keep pressing on. I think we need to be very aggressive. I think with the rate of change and pace of change we need to be less conservative and more assertive. I think we need to expand our participation, speaking from a TAPR viewpoint, in the FCC and ARRL processes, and I know that TAPR is doing that. I think we have to press HARD for Spread Spectrum. We need to develop radios, we need to put them in people's hands just like we did with the Beta Test in 1982 with TNCs. I'd love to see a Beta Test in 1997 of Spread Spectrum radios to get out there into the Amateur community. I'd like to see us pushing the bit rates faster and faster.
Above all, I want to see us have a lot of fun. Because this is an Amateur Service- we're not allowed to make money at it so we might was well have a good time.
Thank you very much. (Applause)