Keeping Ham Radio Relevant Hack Chat

EmComms alone won't cut it anymore

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Josh Nass (KI6NAZ) will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at noon Pacific Time.

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It may not seem like it, but amateur radio is fighting a two-front war for its continued existence. On the spectrum side, hams face the constant threat that the precious scraps of spectrum that are still allocated to their use will be reclaimed, to be sold off to the highest bidder as new communication technologies are developed. On the demographic side, amateur radio is aging, with fewer and fewer young people interested in doing the work needed to get licensed, and fewer still having the means to get on the air.

Amateur radio has a long, rich history, but gone are the days when hams can claim their hobby is sacrosanct because it provides communications in an emergency. Resting on that particular laurel will not win the hobby new adherents or help it hold onto its spectrum allocations, so Josh Nass is helping change the conversation. Josh is an engineer and radio amateur from Southern California who runs Ham Radio Crash Course, a YouTube channel dedicated to getting people up to speed on ham radio. Josh's weekly livestreams and his video reviews of ham radio products and projects show a different side of the World's Greatest Hobby, one that's more active (through events like "Summits on the Air") and focuses on digital modes that are perhaps more interesting and accessible to new hams.

Join us on the Hack Chat as we discuss how to make ham radio matter in today's world of pervasive technology. We'll talk about the challenges facing amateur radio, the fun that's still to be had on the air even when the bands are dead like they are now (spoiler alert: they're not really), and what we can all do to keep ham radio relevant.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 4

    Lutetium02/05/2020 at 21:06 0 comments

    RichardCollins12:56 PM
    Andy C, and others, Thanks. I am using networks for imaging the interior of the earth, the atmosphere and ocean currents, the electron density. So yes you can use electromagnetic and gravitational fields to find your lost golf ball - one day.

    KI6NAZ Josh12:56 PM
    @W4KRL I will be on a show showing off some of the newer things ham radio can do, well beyond sitting at home having a rag-chew (informal chit-chat)

    Dean12:56 PM
    Josh and all, I think that where we get the most traction with attracting interest and retaining interest is with anything that is activity based: SOTA, T-hunts, race comm, building antennas, projects, etc. HF keeps me interested in amateur radio, especially contesting. I operate the California QSO Party yearly and have gone on several county expeditions... a sort of SOTA on steroids. Over 40 groups went out on county expeditions last year. BTW Josh, thanks for participating last year. You're in the results.

    eric.j.brewer12:56 PM
    @W4KRL - I'm not young. I resemble that "beginner rig" remark well. ;) I do come from a different network world, but I remember dialup (I actually miss it) and being in disaster volunteering now - I see how important legacy slow data exchange will be neccessary.

    ziggurat2912:57 PM
    @KI6NAZ Josh then you know more than I (which is nothing), but it certainly seemed weird, and if there were conflicts, shouldn't that have already been known /beforehand/? but thanks for your insight.

    Dean12:57 PM
    How can we learn more about the people who do SOTA and invite them to join other groups for county expeditions?

    KI6NAZ Josh12:57 PM
    @Dean Yeah! That was a lot of fun!

    KI6NAZ Josh12:58 PM
    @ziggurat29 yes, in the end it was his responsibility to cut ties and he might now have.

    Matt Quince12:58 PM
    It was a great time

    eric.j.brewer12:58 PM
    So in a way I fell in love with HAM because I wanted to re-live the old FIDO net data days. I do miss the sound of that 300 baud handshake. ;)

    Dan Twedt12:58 PM
    This was my new favorite ham meeting!

    KI6NAZ Josh12:58 PM
    @Dean Hop on the SOTA reflector and post there.

    W4KRL12:58 PM
    @Andy C It turns ME off to attend a ham club! First, everyone is 110 years old and the main topic of discussion is health-related. And I hate to bring this up but I get really turned off by teh political discussions. I think it should not be part of the meeting topic but I guess it is hard for people to compartmentalise.

    Dean12:58 PM

    ziggurat2912:58 PM
    Thanks to the hosts and the presenters for the convo and forum!

    eric.j.brewer12:59 PM

    KI6NAZ Josh12:59 PM
    Its been fun! Feel free to email me or comment on YouTube.

    Matt Quince12:59 PM
    @Dan Twedt join the HRCC discord. There are a lot of people like this there

    Dan Maloney12:59 PM
    Super interesting discussion everyone, but our hour is up and Josh probably has to get back to the real world. I really want to thank him for spending his lunch hour with us, and to everyone for the great discussion. Feel free to stay on the channel and keep the conversation going.

    Dan Twedt12:59 PM
    Would love to keep this discussion going. Thanks to all.

    Doug12:59 PM
    Anyone have any luck with in recruiting storm spotters/ storm chaser to amateur radio? Storm spotter training season. is upon us. N0LKK

    Matt Quince12:59 PM


    Join the Ham Radio Crash Course Discord Server!

    Check out the Ham Radio Crash Course community on Discord - hang out with 5,116 other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.

    Read this on Discord

    KI6NAZ Josh1:00 PM
    Thanks all! Keep spreading the love of radio!

    Andy C1:00 PM
    I had an idea for a QSO party.. perhaps next year, people in the two states who have teams in the superbowl could contest to talk make contacts. Then the score of the game could be a multipier. What do you think?

    Dan Maloney1:00 PM
    And don't forget next week we'll turn out antennas to the skies with DIY Radio Telescopes:

    Dan Maloney1:00 PM

    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 3

    Lutetium02/05/2020 at 21:05 0 comments

    ziggurat2912:34 PM
    @Dan Maloney well, you can't encrypt the transport of data, and that makes folks jittery. but I understand that runs against the openness of ham. In truth, we /can/ do a little encryption...

    we are allowed to use encryption for the purpose of authentication.

    salec12:34 PM
    Can we have a predictably spread spectrum?

    William Stearns12:34 PM
    I think you mean PACTOR

    Sterling Mann12:34 PM
    if we had more ARRL clout and younger hams who can make a case to them and thus the FCC, we could make that change for the better, but until them we can only use encryption on Part 15 ISM bands, or very carefully walk around the "obscuring the message" wording of the regulations

    KI6NAZ Josh12:34 PM
    Sure, PACTOR as used for Winlink among other modes.

    Makdaam12:35 PM
    You can't "obscure the message" according to US rules, you can still use encryption for authentication purposes.

    ziggurat2912:35 PM
    so we can make some sort of ham-radio-enabled-garage-door-opener that the commands are visible, but that the authentication to issue3 the commands use encryption to prevent unauthorized use. so we at least have that level of encryption.

    Martin Mortensen12:35 PM
    The problem I see with allowing encryption is I could see the drug traffickers jumping on the bandwagon and making a bad name for HAM they way they have done for bitcoin.

    KI6NAZ Josh12:35 PM
    Interesting idea @ziggurat29

    Dan Twedt12:36 PM
    Esperanto used to be an official language of ham. That's almost encryption lol.

    J.B. Langston12:36 PM
    My personal experience: an RTL-SDR got me interested a few years ago. I got my technician and general, bought a radio, did some 20m, FT8 especially, but then lost interest and sold my radio. Just seemed like not that much was going on. The technical aspects of it are definitely more interesting to me than making connections, but once the thrill of getting an FT8 contact from another continent wears off it's pretty boring. Add to that, I don't like heights or have a lot of space so big HF antennas are out for me.

    RichardCollins12:36 PM
    I work with people building sensitive gravity transmitters and receivers for testing speed of gravity. If you switch to gravity signals, you would not need much encryption. It is at the same level that spark transmitters were a hundred or more years ago. But improving quickly.

    Andy C12:37 PM
    what's RTL-SRD?

    Dan Twedt12:37 PM
    gravity mode...genius wow!

    Matt Quince12:37 PM
    @J.B. Langston satellites can be really fun.

    KI6NAZ Josh12:37 PM
    Try JS8CALL if you have the hang of FT8 and routing contacts through other stations. Also, I still find AX25 packet to be an a great time.

    ziggurat2912:37 PM
    However, I wqould rather that there be some licensing rules changed that you are permitted to (and I'm making it up rigbh now) that you are permitted to use a certain bandwidth on a band for a certain duty cycle to transmit arbitrary encrypted data.

    So you are still polite with respect to everyone elses use of the bandwidth, but you are free to do your 'whatever' experiments.

    J.B. Langston12:37 PM
    RTL-SDR is a cheap USB software defined radio. cost like $20. it was meant to be a DVB tuner but got hacked to access a wide swath of spectrum.

    Makdaam12:37 PM
    @Andy C RTL (Realtek) SDR (Software Defined Radio). There's a cheap DVB-T receiver chip from Realtek that's a base of a lot of SDR USB dongles

    KI6NAZ Josh12:37 PM
    @Andy C Its a Software Defined Radio receiver. Cheap off Amazon

    lryindra12:37 PM
    @Andy C

    joeslushy joined  the room.12:38 PM

    Dan Maloney12:38 PM
    @Andy C - SDR == Software Defined Radio. RTL-SDR is a brand of SDRs based on digital TV USB dongles.

    Doug12:38 PM
    Josh the encoding that allow compresion on PBBS networks, sent the call signs of participating stations in the clear, the same could be done with encryption.

    KI6NAZ Josh12:38 PM
    This is true!

    brianmhff66112:38 PM
    Im very new, gifted a Galaxy V radio by KIOOT.. Have not turned it on 1) No License 2)...

    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

    Lutetium02/05/2020 at 21:03 0 comments

    KI6NAZ Josh12:14 PM
    @Martin Mortensen There are many texting type of modes in ham radio, both VHF/UHF like we get access as technicians and HF where we can make longer distances contacts. One that comes to mind is APRS. Which can send multiple types of data.

    Dan Maloney12:15 PM
    @ashok das - Absolutely. CW punches through like nothing else. Requires almost no bandwidth.

    ziggurat2912:15 PM
    The 'trouble' I see in FT8 is that it is not conversational -- it is transactional. Which is fine if your goal is log contacts, but not particularly interesting in you want to engage. Speaking personally, if I just want to see my signal propagation, I have WSPR, and I don't have to worry about whether the other party chooses to engage.

    KI6NAZ Josh12:15 PM
    @Ashok CW “goes further” because it takes up less bandwidth than voice. Further, its not as complex to hear, Dits or Dahs can be picked out of the noise by the human ear easier than the nuances of voice.

    Andy C12:15 PM
    Ham radio used to require some technical interest (engineering, electronics) as you might need to build your own radio or repair it. So it would attract those sorts of folks. But then there's still something innately interesting to me at least about making contacts. There's something about Ham that's different than just calling up a friend to chat. The fact that both parties, by virtue of being "on the air" are saying they are open to making a new contact is what seems to draw me to it. I've been thinking a lot about why I find Ham Radio interesting. It doesn't make a ton on sense to a lot of my friends. So there's something deeper.

    KI6NAZ Josh12:16 PM
    @ziggurat29 Look into JS8CALL, its conversational FT8 basically.

    Dean12:16 PM
    CW Ops is a tremendous organization to learn CW and link up with mentors and a training method.

    ziggurat2912:16 PM
    @KI6NAZ Josh thanks I will

    Scott Cavazos12:16 PM
    I was just getting ready to say that, JS8Call looks like the best of both worlds

    Andy C12:17 PM
    Then there's the experimenting with antennas, and modes to see how far you can get a signal to reach. (back to the science stuff, vs personal relationship stuff).

    eric.j.brewer12:17 PM
    This week I've shared the article and HackChat link to:

    FB: "Team Rubicon Pacific Northwest (WA & OR)"

    FB: "Team Rubicon Amateur Radio Operators"

    FB: "King County C.E.R.T"

    FB: "Pacific Northwest CERT"

    FB: "PSRG Puget Sound Repeater Group"

    FB: "Puget Sound Mike and Key"

    Overall the biggest interest was in creating some joint "outreach" to schools and groups that is ACTIVE? One of the ways to keep such things active and mobile would be your local schools could write off a couple old buses for use as mobile ham training rigs that could visit schools on schedule to get the SCIENCE of radio and electronics back into the education system for early starters?!

    Dan Twedt12:17 PM
    (our U.S. Navy needs to go back to teaching CW and celestial nav to sailors too)

    KI6NAZ Josh12:17 PM
    @Andy C The cool part about radio is that you can do any and all of that. Building rigs or antennas. Or just making contacts. I really like to build antennas and that has given me a lot of joy.

    GusGorman joined  the room.12:17 PM

    Kevin12:18 PM
    Despite all the people who say CW is "dead" it is amazing how often it pops up in non-ham places (e.g. TV programs, movies, commercials).

    KI6NAZ Josh12:19 PM
    @eric.j.brewer I’ve found that for most people showing live demonstration is what makes radio real. If you bring an experiment or something someone can go hands on with, its really becomes sticky to them and builds interest.

    Dan Maloney12:19 PM
    Here's the thing, though - are we going the wrong way by trying to concentrate on "texting you can do on ham radio"? I think so - they've already got a texting platform. Maybe we should concentrate on the non-conversational aspects - just the coolness factor of being able to put together a transmitter from a few parts and make a contact.


    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Lutetium02/05/2020 at 21:03 0 comments

    de∫hipu11:06 AM


    Keeping Ham Radio Relevant Hack Chat

    Josh Nass (KI6NAZ) will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at noon Pacific Time. Time zones got you down? Here's a handy time converter! It may not seem like it, but amateur radio is fighting a two-front war for its continued existence.

    Read this on Hackaday

    Rich V joined  the room.11:07 AM

    shalom11:07 AM
    Oh ok, thanks @de∫hipu

    Makdaam joined  the room.11:12 AM

    ashok das11:13 AM
    Hi all. I am first time here.

    DEVNU11 joined  the room.11:14 AM

    wolfgang_90 joined  the room.11:14 AM

    ashok das11:15 AM
    Can anyone tell me how this hack chat works. I thought it will be like a Skype call. But it is not.

    ziggurat2911:15 AM
    it's like Skype with no video, lol

    ziggurat2911:15 AM
    More like IRC

    DEVNU1111:15 AM
    Any hams in here?

    de∫hipu11:15 AM
    a broken version of irc eating your cpu and ram

    William Stearns11:16 AM

    Kevin11:16 AM
    It is just a text chat done here. If you have questions there is a page where the questions need to be placed. The URL for the page with the questions will be posted when the hack chat begins.

    ziggurat2911:16 AM
    @de∫hipu LOL!!

    Kevin11:16 AM
    @DEVNU11 Yes. VE3 here.

    edwin11:16 AM
    like PSK31 ?

    Bharbour11:17 AM
    'cept faster

    Dan Twedt11:17 AM
    KK6VDR Extra here.

    edwin11:17 AM
    @Bharbour WAY WAY faster

    de∫hipu11:17 AM
    at least it doesn't send the contents of your disk to the mothership, like skype does

    DEVNU1111:17 AM
    I'm Laurel VE from Madison County OH ham club

    ashok das11:18 AM
    Got it. Thanks

    Bharbour11:18 AM
    KE7FEF here in Arizona

    ashok das11:19 AM
    Is the hack chat started @Kevin

    Dan Maloney11:19 AM
    Hi @Dan Twedt and @DEVNU11. And @Bharbour - welcome! I assume you're here for the Hack Chat, which starts in about 40 minutes

    William Stearns11:19 AM
    NE4RD here in Montucky.

    Kevin11:19 AM
    @ashok das Another 40 minutes.

    William Stearns11:19 AM
    Yup, waiting for the clock to spin

    Kevin11:20 AM
    @William Stearns Nice call sign. :)

    Makdaam11:20 AM
    Hello everyone

    Dan Twedt11:22 AM, Ventura County California. Hello to all you hams! (What if an aquaponic buckyball crashed into a solar-thermal concentrator tracking ham yurt/


    ashok das11:25 AM
    Ok waiting.

    eric.j.brewer joined  the room.11:32 AM

    f4hdk joined  the room.11:33 AM

    eric.j.brewer11:33 AM
    WAITING... - Eric J Brewer [KG7STP]


     ..: Community Emergency Volunteer King County Washington 

         Team Rubicon Region X Disaster Team     

    FEMA Citizen Corps Issaquah / Redmond, WA

    Andrew11:35 AM
    VA2ONE Montréal area Ham here waiting for the fun to start :)

    J.B. Langston joined  the room.11:35 AM

    Andrew11:36 AM
    Is he going to be streaming on YouTube at the same time?

    Lazer.Coh3n11:41 AM
    Gosh i wish I had an O-scope

    jxczjj2z33sy joined  the room.11:42 AM

    rasouperman joined  the room.11:43 AM

    Dr. Cockroach11:44 AM
    @Andrew , WA4JAT here in North Carolina :-)

    ziggurat2911:45 AM
    @Andrew unknown; is his stuff usually life-streamed? to wit, this is all text

    @Lazer.Coh3n getcha one! it will change your life. get a 4-chan if you can swing the extra couple bucks

    Dan Maloney11:50 AM
    Hi fellow hams, welcome to the Hack Chat! We'll get started in about 10 minutes. @Andrew no, there's no YouTube stream for this one.

    Sterling Mann11:50 AM
    de N0SSC

    Bharbour11:51 AM
    @Lazer.Coh3n Even a simple scope is a big improvement over no scope, but get the best you can afford and keep it a long time.

    KC2FRH11:52 AM
    Hello alll! Kc2frm here, from forest grove, or.

    Dan Twedt11:52 AM
    Will the chat and earlier comments be archived? I'm new to the chat but didn't see a way to upvote/react to the many amazing observations.

    Dan Maloney11:53 AM
    @Dan Twedt - yes, I pull a transcript after the chat...

    Read more »

View all 4 event logs

Enjoy this event?



Ty wrote 02/05/2020 at 17:56 point

Hi Josh, I appreciate the time you spend making ham radio fun. A few years ago, a friend helped me get into ham radio, but I discovered that the things I enjoyed doing in ham radio wasn't "ham radio enough."  I can't join you for the chat today but will continue to follow you on youtube. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

William Stearns wrote 02/05/2020 at 14:58 point

Should be interesting considering the click-bait worthy description of the chat.

  Are you sure? yes | no

joeslushy wrote 02/05/2020 at 14:11 point

I'm definitely looking forward to this chat. I am really interested in learning more about radio and, in general, Electronics. Ham radio gives me this opportunity. I've been in and out of the hobby twice in my 40-year lifespan. The biggest challenge has been the cost. I would love to be able to experiment but, there is truth to the perception that Ham radio is a "rich person's hobby; I am too cheap to enjoy myself. There is hope though. I believe SDR radios will decrease the costs of entry and will spark new interest. To Josh and the folks at hack a day, good on you for trying to move the hobby forward. More advocacy will be required. This is a step in the right direction.   --Joe N1MID 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sterling Mann wrote 02/05/2020 at 04:02 point

hype de N0SSC.  Ham radio has both come a long way, but has also weirdly stayed the same. It’s like we play on Atari’s as much as our PS4. It’s going to be interesting to see what the chat will bring to the table, hopefully one being some younger people to the hobby. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

agp.cooper wrote 01/30/2020 at 23:55 point

In the early 80s I was licensed (VK6-ZCC) but work, lack of money, marriage and children got in the way. I had a look at re-licensing but now you need to pay to attend a course (i.e. private certification).
I feel that today there is just too much competition for my time. The focus of these courses seems to be "a short contact and move on, on UHF" (i.e. collect contacts), rather than built your own and experimentation. For long term engagement this seems to me to be the wrong formula.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dr. Cockroach wrote 01/30/2020 at 22:53 point

Looking forward to this Chat. As WA4JAT, I prefer home built equipment and keeping everything as simple as possible yet stable. CW may be old school but is what I like to use as well as DSB on the HF bands. Been a Ham since 1974.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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