The Digital Ham Hack Chat

Hams were digital before digital was cool

Wednesday, July 13, 2022 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Rosy Schechter and John Hays will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, July 13 at noon Pacific.

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For most of its existence, amateur radio has been the quintessence of the analog arts. From the very earliest days of radio, hobbyists have been piecing together circuits to ply the radio spectrum, using whatever bits of RF wizardry they managed to pick up -- or invent -- along the way. From the architecture of the radios to the nature of the conversations they had over the airwaves, ham radio was very much an analog experience.

But if hams are anything, they're resourceful, and they've got a long history of leveraging whatever the current state of the art happens to be. And so when electrical engineering began to dive into the digital world, so too did the hams. Radioteletype, facsimile, and other text-and-data modes lead to things like packet radio, which in turn gave us powerful tools like APRS, FT8, and PACTOR, upon which the current rich infrastructure of location reporting, weak signal digital contacts and beacons, and email service independent of an Internet connection have been built. There's even a complete TCP/IP network using amateur radio as the physical layer, which even predates the widespread public Internet by many years.

Amateur radio always has been at the forefront of digital communications, but it takes work to keep hams in their leadership position in the field. To help with that, Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) was established. ARDC is a non-profit dedicated to supporting amateur radio and digital communication science and technology, chiefly through their programs of grants that are available to fund the development of technically innovative open and non-profit projects in amateur radio.

For this Hack Chat, ARDC Executive Director Rosy Schechter (KJ7RYV) and Staff Lead John Hays (K7VE) will be joining us to discuss the world of digital communications on the ham bands. Here's your chance to share your experiences with digital modes, find out about what's new in digital comms, and find out how to participate in the ARDC grant program and possibly fund the next big thing for the digital ham.

Featured images:

Chrumps, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ptolusque, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

    Dan Maloney07/13/2022 at 20:08 0 comments

    John Hays12:40 PM

    @Kaushlesh Chandel - we are seeing a lot of projects that really get excitement from kids. High altitude balloons, ISS contacts, fox hunting, kit building, ... it just takes motivated mentors/elmers who will work with them and make it fun/interesting.

    Kaushlesh Chandel12:41 PM
    I've looked into the Bluetooth tnc ( couldn't buy any yet ) I am not suggesting one device or another... just thinking of how can it be easy and fun ( turn on, and it works ) for a Gen Z

    Jan Weber12:42 PM
    AATiS is a great concept, should be copied all over the world. That’s a German non-profit organization bringing ham radio to the schools by offering teaching material and low-priced kits with a ham radio and STEM orientation

    John Hays12:42 PM
    @Jan Weber -- Do you have contacts at AATiS?

    K2LCT12:44 PM
    LoRa APRS seems strong in EU but I have not seen much of it in the USA!

    Jan Weber12:44 PM
    @John Hays : No. but have a look here:

    John Hays12:44 PM
    @Jan Weber - Thanks

    Mark J Hughes12:44 PM
    KE6WOB -- Sorry I'm late!

    Steve Stroh N8GNJ12:45 PM
    @fid There is this, which is essentially a portable radio's internals controlled by Arduino and serial port ATDT commands -

    KC1AWV12:45 PM
    @K2LCT - I actually worked a lot of LoRa APRS last year using an STA call I applied for. The ability is there, but the power limits are pretty restricting. You'll need high andtennas and a clear freq. bandwidth of at least 125 kHz to be effective.

    John Hays12:45 PM
    BTW - this project has been very successful and the leader would be happy to share experiences

    Dan Maloney12:46 PM
    No worries @Mark J Hughes. And welcome!

    John Hays12:46 PM
    Sorry (wrong paste). This one

    Dan Maloney12:46 PM
    And FYI all -- I'll post a transcript after the chat in case you want to refer back to any of these links

    John Hays12:47 PM

    fetch87212:47 PM
    If anyone has any questions on M17 please head to our website and link to our discord

    KC1AWV12:47 PM
    Hi @John Hays :)

    Mark J Hughes12:47 PM
    How do we get in touch with you outside of hackaday?

    Mark J Hughes12:48 PM
    I have a project that I'd like to see accomplished -- but no time for it myself. Perhaps you know some people who can help?

    John Hays12:48 PM
    @Steve Miller and I have a german ham that wants to build FIDOnet on top of LORAwan but needs developers (he is primarily a tech writer).

    fid12:48 PM
    Thanks @Dan Maloney . A transcript would be great.

    Rosy Schechter12:50 PM
    @Mark J Hughes, and our website is

    KJ7CLT12:50 PM
    That uv3a board looks like a fun prototyping to build with GnuRadio.

    Mark J Hughes12:50 PM

    Rosy Schechter12:50 PM

    John Hays12:50 PM
    I have a hard stop at the top of the hour. If there are any specifics for me. You can also reach out for grants at or me personally at

    KC1AWV12:50 PM
    @John Hays LoRaWAN, or LoRa the modulation? I'm going to be honest here, I'm against using closed protocols (LoRa is owned by Semtech, and was only exposed through reverse engineering) - but something like FIDO on LoRa is possible. I mean, we're only talking the PHY layer with LoRa. I'd suggest taking a look at Reticulum Network Stack, I've been in contact with Mark Qvist off and on about it and is very, very interesting.

    Kaushlesh Chandel12:51 PM
    I am a long-time programmer... I did a lot of work on Arduino's, Raspberry pi's Lora, BT, Zigbee, SDR's, et al. Ill be happy to work on interesting projects.

    William Stearns12:53 PM
    @Steve Miller I believe that's all under the non-profit now as a standard.

    Mark J Hughes12:54 PM
    @Kaushlesh Chandel Please email me

    John Hays12:54 PM
    @Steve Miller - we are all about open...

    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney07/13/2022 at 20:08 1 comment

    Rosy Schechter joined  the room.12:00 PM

    Rosy Schechter12:00 PM

    Dan Maloney12:00 PM
    Hi folks, welcome to the Hack Chat! I'm Dan (N7DPM), and I'll be modding today along with Dusan as we welcome Rosy Schechter and John Hays from ARDC to talk about digital modes for ham radio, and what the ARDC is all about.

    SD joined  the room.12:00 PM

    Dan Maloney12:00 PM
    Hi Rosy, welcome aboard!

    Rosy Schechter12:01 PM
    Hey thanks @Dan Maloney :)

    John Hays12:01 PM
    Hello All -- I am K7VE and the Outreach Manager for ARDC.

    Dan Maloney12:01 PM
    Rosy is KJ7RYV and John is K7VE, BTW

    Dan Maloney12:01 PM
    Hi John, welcome to the Hack Chat!

    Rosy Schechter12:01 PM
    Yep! I'm the Executive Director of ARDC

    KJ7CLT joined  the room.12:02 PM

    hspil joined  the room.12:02 PM

    Dusan Petrovic12:02 PM
    Welcome everyone!

    Dan Maloney12:03 PM
    So can we start off with maybe a little about yourselves, and how your ham radio journey got you to ARDC? And maybe a bit about ARDC too?

    Cristian Dinu joined  the room.12:03 PM

    C. Niggel joined  the room.12:03 PM

    Rosy Schechter12:03 PM
    Sure! @John Hays do you want to go first?

    Rosy Schechter12:03 PM
    Well, I can start about ARDC

    Kaushlesh Chandel joined  the room.12:04 PM

    John Hays12:04 PM
    I had an interest in ham radio from a very early age, my cousins had stations. I was licensed in 1973 and progressed through all 5 license classes to Extra.

    Kaushlesh Chandel12:06 PM
    Hi! This is KD9VFU. glad to be here on chat. I got my ham license very recently. I haven't even made my first contact. Maybe I am just radio shy :)

    John Hays12:06 PM
    I was an early adopter of digital amateur radio. I first got on packet radio in the late 1970s and became involved with AMPRnet shortly after it was created. AMPRnet was assigned a Class A IPv4 network (16 million addresses 44.x.x.x) and I became an address coordinator in multiple states as I moved around with work.

    Rosy Schechter12:07 PM
    ARDC's story started in 1981 when Hank Magnuski, KA6M, requested a block of IP addresses for use by licensed amateur radio operators worldwide. Magnuski had the foresight to see that internet-style networking would be the future and wanted the emerging amateur radio packet network to be able to participate. In answer to that request, Magnuski was assigned the class A 44/8 netblock of 16.7 million IP addresses.

    A group of volunteers informally administered this block of addresses, which was called AMPRNet, then later 44Net. ARDC was founded in October 2011 by the volunteers at the time, notably Brian Kantor, as a California nonprofit. The organization formally took over ownership and management of the address space.

    In mid-2019, ARDC sold the block of addresses, which includes about four million contiguous addresses. With the proceeds, ARDC established the endowment that we use to fund our grants program. In 2020, ARDC went from being a public charity to a private foundation.

    John Hays12:07 PM
    @Kaushlesh Chandel - Just do it! We have all been there.

    Rosy Schechter12:07 PM
    @Kaushlesh Chandel totally get it. I've been radio shy too. Have only made contacts with a friend helping.

    Dan Maloney12:08 PM
    That was thinking amazingly far ahead for 1981!

    Zdenek Hladik joined  the room.12:08 PM

    n1ivy joined  the room.12:08 PM

    John Hays12:08 PM
    I joined ARDC as a volunteer, and joined staff in August of 2020 after a long career in the computer industry.

    Rosy Schechter12:09 PM
    My journey into amateur radio actually started with ARDC. My background is in nonprofit management / design / curriculum development. When Brian Kantor died suddenly in late 2019, a board member that I had worked with before reached out to see if I could help. I've been with ARDC since July 2020.

    Jan Weber joined  the room.12:10 PM

    Rosy Schechter12:10 PM
    @Dan Maloney it really was.

    Rosy Schechter12:10 PM
    Hank is still on our Grants Advisory Committee :)

    steve.stroh+hackchat joined  the room.12:10 PM

    ... Read more »

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John Hays wrote 09/21/2022 at 16:00 point

As a follow up, you can see what some of our grantees are up to by watching

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