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Blog

December 2, 2019: The current plan for Christmas night and New Year’s night is for the net to proceed as usual.
November 27, 2019: There’s a big sale on Fusion gear right now, just as we expected there would be for the holidays. If you want it cheap, this is a good time!
November 25, 2019: The K1KC 444.55 repeater has joined the Yard Dogs network fully now. For a while it was a standalone repeater, but now it is on the network. There is still antenna and duplexer work to be accomplished though.
November 20, 2019: Yaesu had some planned outages that jacked some folks up recently. No advance warning was given. Of course, there is no perfect way of giving advance warning. Just expect that once in a blue moon, the system will not be at 100%. ‘Nuff said.
November 13, 2019: We are thinking about getting some special Yellow River Digital Group callsign badges, mainly for demos and such.
November 2, 2019: Hamfest went well with plenty of folks coming by and wanting to talk about WiRES-X and System Fusion. We handed out flyers that let folks know about the website and the email reflector. Thanks to NX1Q for setting up a PDN connected to the room while we were at the hamfest. That was pretty cool.
October 30, 2019: Hamfest this Saturday. Contact us on 145.5625 in DN mode. We should have a node set up at the hamfest.
October 27, 2019: The Yaesu FT-3DR appeared for sale under $400 for the first time yesterday.
October 18, 2019: Check out the 2-day sale concurrent with Pacificon 2019 on Fusion radios. Repeater included!
October 9, 2019: There’s a bit of a price drop on Fusion radios at the moment. You can get $20 off the latest price on the FT-3 and $5-10 off most of the other Fusion radios. Check it out!
October 3, 2019: Plans are for the Yard Dogs to gather at the Stone Mountain hamfest and set up a small informational booth outside in the boneyard. We should have a PDN active while we are there. The PDN frequency will be announced. If you have something to sell, you might want to bring it and set up on our tables. Bring your own chairs and coolers. We do need at least one more station to park in the boneyard.
September 27, 2019: A very short price reduction on Yaesu HT’s, mobiles, base HF radios and on the DR-2X. It lasts through tomorrow. Get your DR-2X through John Kruk. Get the rest through HRO only.
September 23, 2019: Note changes and updates to the Yard Dogs repeater/node list. Please forward any corrections or omissions to webmaster.
September 18, 2019: Next Wednesday will bring the 1st anniversary of the Yellow River Digital Group’s weekly net. Yes, we have conducted this net every week for one year now and we hope it has been useful to someone.
September 11, 2019: What an excellent net! Lots of folks checked in for the first time and we welcome them all. The numbers climbed a bit and raised our averages ever so slightly.
September 10, 2019: The first anniversary of the Yard Dogs net is fast approaching. Net number 53 (one year from our start) will occur on September 25th, 2019. We hope you will join us.
     The plan is to dispense with the usual format and have a good time, so expect things to be a little different that night.
August 28, 2019: Happy Birthday WC4FM! He’s 29 years young…again! Don’t forget the get-together Friday. Check the ‘Meetings’ page for times, addresses, phone numbers and coordinates. Bring an acoustic musical instrument if you play one. See you there.
August 21, 2019: How can I get a really good repeater antenna?
     You may think it impossible, but it’s not. True, it IS difficult, just not impossible. We talked about that tonight.
     By the way, several of us enjoyed some nice BBQ today at a mini-meeting. Hope to see you at the next one.
August 7, 2019: Nope, no difference!
     I’m speaking about how an FT-3 sounds coming across a Fusion network…just like any other Fusion radio: Mighty Fine! We got a good dose a few days ago. Got yours yet?
August 4, 2019: They’re here!
     Yes, the FT-3 is now in the hands of some users and on the air. I’ve not talked to anyone with one but I’m sure they won’t sound any different…just maybe more fun to use!
August 1, 2019: Anticipation
     We are all sitting on pins and needles awaiting the first FT-3’s to be shipped. A couple of accessories for them are now in stores so we feel like they will ship soon. Too bad I won’t be getting one!
July 27, 2019: Time For An Update!
     Yaesu has announced an update to its WiRES-X PC software from V. 1.510 to V 1.530. All HRI-based nodes as well as all PDN’s should update their software as soon as possible.
     In other news: Manuals for the FT-3D are now available (officially I might add) online on the Yaesu website. 
July 25, 2019: Worldwide PDN Usage?
     Maybe if a plan to put up satellites that regular cellphones can transceive through goes into effect! Anyway, that was the subject of this week’s net.
July 19, 2019: Unofficial Yaesu FT-3DR Manual
     Check out our email reflector for an unofficial look at the FT-3DR Operating Manual. Supposedly this is from an FCC website, but this is not confirmed either. Do not make any assumptions concerning this document and use it for entertainment purposes only.

July15, 2019: Beginner’s Corner

     After some time of hem-hawing around and get started, but never finished, a beginner’s page is now on the site. The idea is that this can be a useful reference for beginners mainly. Persons new to C4FM, System Fusion and WiRES-X have many questions. Hopefully a good number of those questions will be answered here.

     We have done our best to present factual information that is descriptive, but not too profound. Sometimes that task is difficult in a technical venture, but we have tried. We have included what we think is necessary for you to get a good basic understanding of these subjects.

July 11, 2019: Upcoming get-together

     Don’t forget the late August Yard Dogs get-together on Friday August 30th, 2019, time and location TBA. Suggestions are accepted!

July 7, 2019: Updates to Updates!

     Software and firmware updates that is. Our software and firmware update page has been revamped and includes more information that it did previously. 

June 27, 2019: New frequency for the Stockbridge GA node

     Please take note that the Stockbridge node is now using 145.5625 as its operating frequency. The Yard Dogs net had a great turnout tonight and I’d like to thank everyone who participated.

     We had an unanticipated test of our abilities tonight as Net Control was temporarily off the air and one of our assistants had to take over. Thanks NX1Q!

     Tonight we covered the second part of DG-ID codes and also of subcodes. We understand a little more than we did last week!

June 26, 2019: WiRES-X Error Codes

     Many ops have been asking for a master list of error codes to assist them in troubleshooting difficulties with their WiRES-X systems. No such list has been forthcoming that I know of, so therefore I will provide a forum for folks to submit what they have found. Perhaps this will be of use to other ops.

     No guaranties are made concerning this information. Use at your own risk. This information is NOT official…it is supplied by users FOR users.

June 25, 2019: New frequency for the Between, GA. node

     As of June 25, 2019, the new frequency for the WC4FM node will be 145.5625. 

June 23, 2019: New Yard Dogs Server

     Last night I took the old Windows 7 server down and decommissioned it for good. It would have to say it ‘served’ (no pun intended) us well for the time it was in place. However, support for most Windows 7 users is ending in January and the time was approaching that it was necessary to move on.  

The newer, faster and hopefully more reliable Windows 10 server has been online for the last 10 hours or so and seems to be functioning fine. All nodes that were connected prior to system shutdown received notification that shutdown was imminent. Of course, you have to re-connect manually if your settings do not provide for a ‘return-to-room’ automatically. I do send out messages that indicate when the server is back online, but if you did not  automatically re-connect, you will not receive that message.

     I regret having to shut the system down at all but it is absolutely necessary to do so at times. There are updates that usually require a restart which causes WiRES-X to go down for a while. If you got disconnected overnight, for instance, check your WIRES-X chatbox for a message about any planned outages. 

June 19, 2019: DG-ID

Tonight we covered the DG-ID function but excluded how it affects repeaters. We also did not yet include the subcode function. These will be covered later.

June 12, 2019: Group Monitor

     Does this refer to Big Brother monitoring us as a group? I hope not…he’d be extremely bored in short order. Rather, this means the Group Monitor function of our radios.  

     It seemed to many of us that the GM mode might be best suited to fixed operators and Emcomm situations, however I am sure there are good mobile uses as well. For me, being within repeater range almost always, I found little local use for it. Your mileage may vary. 

June 5, 2019: We had a slight delay….

     and an interesting start to tonight’s net. Turns out that one piece of my equipment was interfering with the whole net. Eventually we got that cleared up. There’s nothing like looking in the mirror and seeing a monkey!

June 1, 2019: Note that the WC4FM node has changed frequencies from 147.585 to 147.565 as of late May, 2019.

May 29, 2019: Yard Dogs going strong.

     Using our radios to stay in touch is fun, but it’s also great to actually get together and shake hands, and that’s just what we did last Saturday. WC4FM arranged for us all to meet at a local buffet, then retire to a nice park for a leisurely afternoon. It sure made radio better!

     Our net count is up to #36 with an average of 15 connected nodes and 12 stations actually checking in. Average net length is 55 minutes. We are enjoying System Fusion and WiRES-X and the company of each other. Thank you to all who make it happen!

May 01, 2019: WiFi 6, 7, 8, 9, 10……

     The new WiFi nomenclature was discussed tonight. We had a great turnout and I certainly enjoyed talking to everyone.

April 24, 2019: Return Loss

     Yes, that was tonight’s subject. It is very closely related to VSWR, reflection coefficient and certain S-parameters. 

April 17, 2019: Interactive net?

     Well yeah, that’s what we attempted tonight. Basically we asked everyone to tell us about their digital experiences. It was fun and informative.

April 14, 2019:  COMPUTERS UPDATED

     Last night we updated the Yard Dogs main computer with around 300MB of updates. Since the computer would need to be restarted anyway, it was a good time to pull it out of the rack an install the new shelves. This was done.                           Windows 7 will lose (free) updates next year so we are working towards moving to a newer system. I will keep posting about those efforts.

April 8, 2019: Frequency change for Between, GA. node=

     Please note that the Between, Ga, (WC4FM) node has mode up 5kHz to 147.585MHz.

April 6, 2019: SOME CONTROLS ARE NECESSARY=

     Since the Yard Dogs concept has grown, it has become necessary to institute some controls to the system. Specifically, it is counter-productive to the system to attempt to manipulate the Yard Dogs node. That is, please do not connect to the node and change it to any other node or room. You may reach the Yard Dogs system via the 2m 146.61- repeater, via any of the RF nodes listed on our website or via WiRES-X room 40383. The Yard Dogs room is a 24/7 meeting place for an increasing number of users and should remain in place. Our 2m repeater users will lose their access to the Yard Dogs room if you make any changes.

     Secondly, please do not bridge any other systems (such as YSF or FCS reflectors) the the Yard Dogs room. All connections should be made directly to room 40383 in WIRES-X. Bridging can cause problems for both ends. Thank you for your understanding. 

April 3, 2019: WC4FM will be net control tonight.

April 2, 2019: Node Frequency Change

     Please note the change of the Between, Georgia (WC4FM) node frequency from 147.555 to 147.58.  Thank you. 

March 30, 2019: Please Don’t Talk To The Lifeguard

     And please do not attempt to change rooms or nodes on the Yard Dogs system. The Yard Dogs has become a hub and supports a room 24 hours a day where people can connect. Any attempt to change that will disconnect the repeater and/or the room.

     If you need help understanding how WIRES-X works, please ask someone instead of making changes to this node. There are other places where node/room changes are welcome.

     Thank you.

March 6, 2019: Excellent Turnout.

     The Yard Dogs C4FM/ WiRES-X/ System Fusion net is doing just fine but we do accept volunteers! Contact K1KC if you can help out a little bit. TNX

February 27, 2019: Adding to the numbers…

     I suppose the big news of the last couple of weeks is really the number of people coming online with their Portable Digital Nodes and the number of newcomers to WiRES-X and System Fusion. It’s truly astounding and it makes me happy. No, I do not own a piece of Yaesu, it’s just my hobby, but now I’ll have more folks to talk to and the future of these systems is that much brighter.

     Take time to welcome the newcomers and give them technical assistance if you will. The purpose of The Yard Dogs, this website, our forum page and our weekly net is to do just that: help out where we can. Spread the word about yrdg.org and yellowriverdigitalgroup@groups.io. 73 de K1KC

February 21, 2019: PDN’s in the field.

     This Saturday, Feb. 23rd, we will be enjoying a few ‘PDN’s in the field’. That is, some of us are going to be on the road for 1-2 hours and we will be operating PDN’s the whole time. Of course, this should allow us to stay in touch the whole time without having to rely on repeaters. This is a neat proposition, but likely we will have the capability of talking on repeaters at the same time. Most likely we will be operating FT-2’s as the PDN radios and whatever else we have as the regular radios. We’ll see how it goes.

February 12, 2019: What’s next for System Fusion and WiRES-X ?

To be honest, I cannot tell you what Yaesu is planning although ‘connectivity’ seems to be the buzzword there. That suits me fine! What I want to know is: How can I get on WiRES-X from ANYWHERE ? Let’s examine the status quo first:

As of now, you can get onto WiRES-X three ways. First, if you can reach a node or repeater via RF, you are in. Secondly, if you have access to WiFi, you are in. Thirdly, if you have cellular access, you are in. I suppose satellite access is possible but I’ve not seen a demonstration of that yet.

     Now, imagine you are in the boonies and need or want to get on W-X. In just about every case you are going to look for the highest spot you can get to and go from there. Your WiFi, your cell signal and your VHF+ signal are all going to need that high spot (remember, we are in the boonies).

     What about HF? To begin with, your digital C4FM signal will be restricted to 10M or above. The only current radio with that capability is the FT-991 series. At the receiving end, you’ll need another FT-991, but they are not node radios. True, they can be connected to an HRI-200 and function, but not the way we would like. To me, it would then appear that without a repeater, node, WiFi signal or cell signal, you would be forced to try for a satellite Internet connection that could be ported to your PDN computer (or computer/HRI-200 combo). Too bad I don’t have a satphone.

November 4, 2018: Stone Mountain Hamfest

Several folks from the Yard Dogs system met up with folks we had been hearing on the system, but whom we had never met. We all met for lunch after leaving the hamfest. Then, following that, we came together for a programming and familiarization session. Some folks were already familiar with C4FM/System Fusion, but some had just gotten their first C4FM radio, so we did some programming and made some notes. This helps make radio fun for everybody.

October 31, 2018: A Digital Reality (and it ain’t pretty!)

I finally understand the digital world. It is simply a series of switches. Each switch represents a decision. You could call it yes/no, left/right, up/down, on/off or whatever you like, but is nothing more than a decision, or perhaps, a routing. Your signal or your programming go whichever way you have routed it. These days much of what we do in the radio world is software defined, or at least software controlled. My C4FM and WiRES-X setup is a perfect example.

I listen to the technical discussions and make an attempt to learn as much as I can, especially since I am hosting a technical net myself. It only makes sense for me to be informed. Well, what a fool I am! The situation is fast becoming unmanageable by mere humans. What I mean is: the eventual outcome is hardly predictable anymore. During these technical nets people ask: Why did such-and-such occur? Even the really smart folks are having a tough time answering these questions now. Why? Because, as switches are added, the outcome possibilities becomes exponentially higher. Humans can be pretty sharp but you can count cards into only so many decks.

And what do I mean by ‘outcomes’? Well, maybe an example is the best way to demonstrate this. Suppose you are operating a digital handheld radio and you are transceiving to and from your digital node. That digital node is connected to the Internet where it connects with other digital nodes and other digital radios. Your digital node is likely connected to a computer and some sort of modem. Each device in that stream not only has hundreds of choices to be made, but each device likely has several layers of operation. Ever seen a digital audio mixing board? You have to know what LAYER you are in at any given moment. You know…it’s like playing three-dimensional chess.

The people who come up with this stuff are brilliant, but things happen that they don’t expect, and furthermore, that they cannot predict. That is because of the number of switches, and thus, the number of possible outcomes, are mind-boggling. We are nearing a point where a new paradigm might be necessary. For the most part, things work like we expect them to, but not always. I have determined that it will not be possible for me to know anywhere close to the amount I want to know, even about my one little corner of the digital radio world.

In an effort to understand the small network we are running, we have been conducting experiments to figure a few things out that simply are not in any manual. Just when we think we have an answer, we don’t. And WHY is everything not in the manual? For the exact reason I gave above: We have reached a stage where all the outcomes and all the possibilities are not documentable. Besides, even if it were possible, it would be outside the realm of what the creators set out to do to start with! Add to that fact the fact that the users have now become the beta testers. Sure, there may be official beta testers, but if you buy one of their radios, you are now a beta tester whether you like it or not. I used to think this was a sorry way to run a business, but I am beginning to think they don’t have any choice! It does scare me to think where this all leads to. We are in for some very interesting changes in the near future.

If you believe that games that pay money (think slot machines, lotto, etc.) are not rigged, then consider this analogy: You are playing Pachinko. The ball drops. Each pin on the way down is a switch. The ball can go left or right. That’s a decision or a route and it leads to an outcome. In Pachinko it’s where the ball ends up at the bottom of the board. In radio, maybe it’s where your signal ends up at and in what form. Decisions, decisions! Increase the number of pins and the number of places the ball could go increases exponentially. On average, maybe the ball ends up in a certain area. That’s like saying, on average, your radio works like you think it should. But what if the ball ends up elsewhere? Why? What changed? What was the variable that caused it? Is it even possible to say? The same is beginning to apply to our digital radio world. Each new feature, each new software change, each new firmware update and each new radio increases the number of pins in the Pachinko machine and thus exponentially increases the potential number of outcomes.

I don’t mean for this all to sound so cryptic, but we mess with this every day and we are wondering why so-and-so heard me, but so-and-so did not, even though I was trying to reach him. On top of that, my GUI said I WAS connected to so-and-so, but that’s not who I got connected to! I want to be able to answer these questions but I’d have to ask SO many questions, piece together all the variables and hash out an answer. Well, that simply is not possible any more. There are too many switches!

Yes, I am grateful that for the most part, the system works as well as it does. I have a great time with it, but I am not fooling myself that I will be able to answer each question that comes along. I don’t think anybody could.

August 15, 2018: Adopt an ARDOP

Well, just give it a try first. It stands for : Amateur Radio Digital Open Protocol and is expected to eventually replace Winmor. You can download it now and use it as I did earlier. Hey, just trying to keep up with the times! Type ardop into your search engine and go to those pages that are from winlink.org.

January 26, 2018: Bonus:

Sending regular email via Winlink VHF packet was successful too. Now I will attempt to do so from an APRS-equipped radio.

January 24, 2018: Nothing Succeeds Like Failing A Bunch Of Times First:

Yeah, gotta hand it to failure: It really makes you appreciate success. What I am saying is that I tried Winlink VHF Packet several times before I got it to work. That’s the good news. The bad new is that I do not know why it worked. What did I do differently? Nothing. Perhaps propagation was a little better. Perhaps the digital gods looked favorably upon my feeble effort for entertainment value. I don’t know, but I sure was glad it did work.

Anyway, the goal here is to reduce reliance on wireline services and increase reliance on RF methods. That goal was achieved.

January 20, 2018: Your Gracious Hosts

Hi Folks. Won’t you take a few seconds of your time to thank your gracious hosts? That is, won’t you send an email, key a microphone or make a phone call to tell your local repeater operators, digipeater owners, iGate owners, packet node ops, Winlink gateway ops, software developers and so forth, ‘thank you’? Would you bring a cool drink, make a sandwich or even provide moral support for your local tower climber? Would you tell the owner of the tower or building your club antenna is located on that you appreciate their kindness?

Most of these folks ask for nothing in return, but a kind word goes a long way. Would you send a dollar or two to someone who developed some software you make use of regularly? A small donation is not just money. It represents your thanks for the hard work someone has gone to, then made available to the amateur community for free.

I am no great benefactor, but I’ve done my part of providing free services, and I donate to others as well. I make use of their offerings and I want them to know that I DO appreciate it. I can tell you positively that a pat on the back goes a long, long way.

January 20, 2018: The Dream Gets Dreamier

In previous blog posts I have laid out my ideas for the future of amateur communications. Now I want more. I want a radio in my car which I can use to plot my position and report it, show me a map of anyone else’s position, allow me to interface with the Internet, allow me to contact any other VHF+ FM radio that wishes to log onto such a system and more. I want these radios to be really useful. I want them to do what the cellular system does.

Well then you ask: Why not simply use the cellular system instead? My answer is multi-fold: I want to be one of the builders and operators of that system. I want to add features that would be useful to myself and others. I don’t want to pay somebody else to use their system. I want my system to work when theirs won’t.

I don’t at all mind combining the cellular system or the Internet when all is well, but I do want our system to stay up when theirs goes down. We all have this idea that we will be the great communicators in a disaster. Yeah, me too, but I really don’t want to see that happen just to glorify myself. I’ll be happy just to know I could have helped if I had been needed. That’s good enough.

Recently I mentioned to someone the dream that I had about a database which could build ad hoc bridges between operating systems and would allow us to selcall anyone who wishes to be called. He thought we might be about 5 years from reaching that goal. I sure hope he is right. We need connectivity, not fracturing. Some awesome folks with wonderful hearts and lots of talent having been doing these things in some fashion already, but I’m dreaming big. I want all hams to be included if they so desire. There isn’t a reason in the world I shouldn’t be able to pick up the mic in my car, punch in your ESN, or callsign, and reach you if you are reachable, no matter where you are. That goal is attainable and we are SO close, yet so far. I might not be talented enough to pull it off, but I can dream it, I can help to finance it in my own small way, and I can help host such a system. Now I need some of you ‘smart fellers’ out there to put it on paper.

December 8, 2017  I Have Another Dream

And no, it’s not the dream about the beautiful maiden falling in love with the crabby old man again. That’s a good dream but it doesn’t belong on this website! No, this is another radio dream. As Gary Numan said: “I dream of wires”.

The dream goes like this: What if the next generation of amateur radios was built with WiFi connectivity? If they were, imagine what we could then do. My initial use for such connectivity would be to pull up a repeater database, such as <www.repeaterbook.com>. Since the radio already has GPS, I could use the location services feature to download repeaters in my current area. If a WiFi hotspot were not nearby, I could certainly use my cellphone to fill that bill.

Now you may be asking, if I have a cellphone handy that could access the Internet, why do I need it in the radio? Here’s where the need becomes obvious. With the database wirelessly available to my radio, perhaps I could then, with the click of a button, download those nearby repeaters into my radio’s memories.

The thought here is mainly for mobile radios but it could apply to stationary radios as well. If you are traveling and want to stay in touch with your amateur radio, what better method could there be? Well, the only better method is the subject of another dream and that involves an amateur cellular system. You would automatically get handed from one machine to another as you travel. Since I do not foresee that happening, I am back to the WiFi-enabled ham radio.

Imagine that you are on a long distance trip, or even just a trip beyond the reach of the repeaters you already have programmed into your radio. You could use a handy method of entering new repeaters along the way. Given the necessary steps to program today’s radios, there is no safe way for you to drive and program. Even stopping and programming is not very desirable since the process might need to be repeated every 20-30 minutes.

Forgoing the idea of ‘handoffs’ and automatic programming, I’m focusing on something that could really happen today. You pull over, bring up your repeater database on radio/hotspot, and click ‘accept’ or ‘enter’ or something like that. Perhaps you have already set aside Channels AAA-CCC for this purpose. They get overwritten each time you load a new batch. Maybe alphanumeric tags with city names gets added. This would not be hard to do. This is also a task that a passenger could likely do while you continue to drive, eliminating the need for stopping. A license would not be required to program the radio.

The end result? A near-seamless list of available repeaters along your route, programmed into memory so you can actually use them. Some commercial radios I have seen have several lines of information available on their screens. So could yours. It might should the frequency, offset and tone, the city, the callsign and perhaps a note to the traveling amateur….YOU! Heck, what if the repeaters were WiFi-enabled and could store and forward SMS texts? You can send SMS messages via APRS already. How about a little synergy between repeaters and digipeaters? There’s getting to be a lot of digital repeaters out there. Even I have a couple.

The fact is: You can actually carry on worldwide conversations over digital repeaters now, but you have to be in range. My dream of ‘updating’ memories makes it a little easier to know when you are in range. We need to do better.

I Have A Dream:

As I mentioned, technology never rests. Recently I learned of ‘Pi-Star’, a digital voice medium that runs on a Raspberry Pi (imagine that!). Developed in England, it connects to Brandmeister of DMR+ networks. This is awesome that so much thought is going into the development of all these neat techniques and modes, but we are getting so scattered. Fortunately there are those who are bridging the gaps. But like the gaps of the old frontier, there are bridges only where someone finds it useful to build one. Silly me, I am looking for bridges that can be built on an ad hoc basis.

Huh? Ad hoc? Well, what if I need to talk to WXXX4KJIE and I don’t have the same equipment as him? What if I don’t even KNOW what equipment he/she has? How in the world would I contact that station? Would I just have to fugeddaboutit? Wow, given the sophistication of today’s technology, that would seem to be sacrilegious! No, there’s got to be a better way. I am pretty good at coming up with problems, but not so good at coming up with solutions. However, I am always willing to pay the person who DOES come up with the solution, so there!

What solution am I dreaming or? I am dreaming of a digital clearinghouse of callsigns. Just to be clear, this sort of thing does already exist, in some forms, but it surely is not universal. Not sure it ever will be either. But what an awesome network that would be! Imagine for a moment that every amateur who has their radio turned on, and who doesn’t mind that fact being known, gets registered temporarily in this database. If you desire to contact this person, you enter your desired entry method (C4FM, FCS, DMR, analog, etc) and a routing solution is computed for you. Better yet, the routing is completed for you! Yep, if I eat enough chocolate before I go to bed, I dream of stuff like this.

Obviously each station would have to enter at least one initial portal for the routing solutions to be determined, and those could be as dynamic as you wish them to be. Also, a numbering system a la CCS7 would be required for all participants. Maybe in the future radios could carry ESN’s (Electronic Serial Numbers), but this could lead to problems if a radio should change hands and not be updated in the tables. In the beginning, you’d likely have to make a manual input to the system to let it know you were there. Your other information could be pre-registered, such as your portal. However, it seems it would be rather easy for you to send a brief digital message that you are listening. Some of the required info would be contained in that message. In any case, callsigns would still be the main form of identification.

So here we go: I turn on the radio and register myself as being active in the system. I enter a request to contact WXXX4KJIE. The system at first searches for that callsign, then determines what routing would put me in contact with WXXX4KJIE, assuming that station is active at that moment. The receiving station could chose how they wish to be notified of an incoming call request. It could be a ringtone or simply a voice in the speaker saying his/her callsign. It could be data on a screen. It could even be stored and forwarded upon request. Yes, yes, we have some systems like that already in place, but no universal systems and no systems that link disparate digital platforms, especially in real time.

On the nights I eat a LOT of chocolate before bed, the dream expands to cover a ‘ham cellular’ system. In other words, you can do all this while mobile! Okay, if we involve the existing cellular system and the Internet, we can do many of these things. Honestly, I have been quite amazed by the resourceful hams driving down the road, talking to nodes in some distant place with very good quality. The main drawback is the one I first pointed out: Contacting ANY participating ham at will.

Sure, my dreaming was the easy part, but I am not completely worthless. I have done something to further the dream although not much. I have two separate networks here that bridge some very small gaps. One is  part of an Allstar Link Network that bridges three repeaters on three bands. No, they do not bridge platforms. They are all analog but this network makes use of microwave links as well as the Internet (the microwave link is amateur but not owned by me). Being Allstar Link though, you can reach those three analog repeaters (2m, 440 and 900) from darn near anywhere. That’s a start but nothing new and nowhere close to the dream.

The second network is, on my end, RF to Internet. It connects to the WiRES-X servers and to whatever in the world is connected to them. Fine individuals and clubs all over have expanded that program with cross-connections to any and every type of platform imaginable. Thank you guys and gals! I run two WiRES-X rooms and one is active 24/7. I monitor it most of the day. But what if YOU want to talk to ME and you don’t have WiRES-X or can’t reach one of my repeaters or don’t have Allstar Link? Unless you can get a message to me to go to a certain common place, that idea is pretty much shot in the rear end! This shows this need for the clearinghouse.

Now, I am planning on adding Allstar Link to the 24/7 WiRES-X room, but that only builds another tiny bridge. It doesn’t solve the overall problem of: Where is so-and-so and how can I contact them?

The Truth Comes Out:

Alright, I am not going to be the one who solves this problem, but we have to have dreamers, don’t we? No, not illegal immigrant dreamers. Dreamers who dream of wires, just like Gary Numan did. So I have dreamed the dream, and spread it out on this page to be laughed at or taken seriously…whatever. Who is up to the challenge? I’ll pay for my share.

K1KC