Tag Archives: Amateur Radio

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

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – April 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,

KA6LMS Special Event – Going QRT with a bang! … most certainly lived up to the name. Last Man Standing is a television sitcom starring Tim Allen. Tim plays Mike Baxter, a married father of three daughters and grandfather to a grandson. His character is an executive for a chain of sporting goods stores called “Outdoor Man.” John Amodeo – AA6JA is the producer of the show. As John tells the story, when the character of Mike Baxter was being developed, an aspect to this character was the ability to live “off the grid” in addition to fishing, hunting, and camping. John, being a licensed ham radio operator, proposed the idea of using ham radio to fill part of the character profile, and it was ultimately included in parts of the show.

This led to the factitious callsign for Mike, KA0XTT. The XTT was a throwback to one Tim’s former shows “Home Improvement” being formally (or ex) Tim Taylor, XTT. A small number of episodes included ham radio plots. Though shots of radio gear, QSL cards, and ARRL books are seen in the background of Mike’s office in nearly every episode. Ham gear seen in his office was fully functional according to Amodeo. Also seen on occasion was a setup in his basement and it was the focus of one episode.

Featuring ham radio on the show lead to interest and resulted in a number of cast and crew members becoming licensed hams, including Tim Allen and Jet Jurgensmeyer – who was the second cast member to play Boyd on the show. I heard recently that Tim plans to use ham radio as backup communications in case of emergency between properties he owns. I can’t imagine Tim getting on the air and not causing a pile-up! With all those licensed operators, a club was formed by the cast and crew called the Last Man Standing ARC, KA6LMS.

The show was originally carried on ABC stating October of 2011. Then unceremoniously canceled after six seasons despite being one of the highest rated shows on the network. ABC said it didn’t want to pick up the production costs but many believe it was canceled because – well, Mike Baxter was right leaning politically, the media’s least favorite candidate just became president. You put 2 and 2 together. The show returned in 2018 on Fox, where it ran for three more seasons and is scheduled to end its nine-season run on May 20, 2021. Unfortunately, in the transition, many cast members signed onto other projects and a good number of cast members were replaced or given recurring roles.

There were many criticisms by hams about the show including the lack of ham radio themed episodes. Episodes that featured ham radio came with complaints: ‘they were illegally transmitting and not identifying correctly.’ I love it that hams think ham radio appeals to everyone and that the world revolves around ham radio. When you talk TV shows it’s all about ratings – how many people are watching your show? To have a couple million viewers per episode is not going to cut it. There are not even a million licensed hams in the United States. The producers need to appeal to wider audiences of about 7 million viewers, otherwise there wouldn’t be any show at all. I’m thankful for the publicity we did receive. Want to make a prime-time TV show on a major network about ham radio? Do it. Let me know how that works out for you.

Over the years, AA6JA made many appearances on podcasts promoting the show, letting the ham radio community know the show loves ham radio and the ham community let him know we loved the show. For the many years of support, John wanted to do something special for hams as the show is winding down its final season. His idea became one of the biggest special events that many have ever seen and certainly the biggest where I had been involved.

The Last Man Standing Special Event started March 24, 2021 and ran through March 30th. This coincided with the taping of the final episode which also concluded on the 30th. All call districts were represented, KA6LMS/0 through KA6LMS/9. There was KA6LMS/On-Stage, KA6LMS/VE3, KA6LMS/VE7, and bonus stations of K6L, K6M, K6S, W6L, W6M, W6S (suffixes spelling out L-M-S) were all run by celebrity ham radio operators, contesters, and podcasters. This event covered HF, HF digital, VHF/UHF, VoIP digital, moonbounce, packet, and satellite. It was an all mode, all band special event. Final stats from the KA6LMS special event site:

LMS is in space! Over 134 Moon Bounce (with pile ups) and over 100 Satellite contacts including 7 packet QSOs through the ISS!

LMS had over 88,056 QSOs! 50 States, 139 Countries, 1,864 Counties, 1,187 Grids, 9,840 Grids(6)

The AmateurLogic.TV podcast has been using my Digital VoIP Multimode Interlink System (DVMIS) for their Tuesday evening net. They asked early in the planning if they could use my system for a multimode QSO party as part of the Last Man Standing special event. Of course! At first, I didn’t think much of it because I had been a part of D-STAR/DMR/Echolink special event stations in the past. For the number of contacts made, I would have only considered those events to be moderately successful. No one anticipated what happened the night of March 27th.

AllStar Link connection graph during the event. Blue is my system, white are public nodes, pink are private nodes.

As the start of the QSO Party drew closer, more, and more, and more, and more stations were connecting to reflectors that are part of my system. I was able to count 300 stations connected into my system and wouldn’t be too farfetched to believe it was more like 500 total stations were connected! Taking into account where I could not determine number of connected stations (Brandmeister, TGIF) and other Echolink Conferences that linked into mine. Internet traffic send and received was close to 20 GB.

The event was WAY more popular than anticipated. The ALTV guys thought the QSO party would run 3-4 hours. It ran for just under 8.5 hours! and still had stations wanting to check in. The whole event was streamed live on YouTube. I don’t know how long the video will remain up but as of this writing it was still available.

Traffic usage on two servers in my cluster. Shown are servers hosting AllStar and reflectors. Last Man Standing labeled “LMS SE” and AmateurLogic Net for comparison “ALTV Net”
Traffic usage on two servers in my cluster. Shown are servers hosting AllStar and reflectors. Last Man Standing labeled “LMS SE” and AmateurLogic Net for comparison “ALTV Net”

We learned some things:

1) Stations really need to listen and follow instruction. If you’ve worked any contest, DX, or special event, this is nothing new. When the net controller says ‘we’re going to pass it over to the net controller to begin,’ that is not the time for everyone to start throwing out their callsign where the net controller couldn’t break in for nearly 5 minutes.

2) Stations, mostly Echolink, need to eliminate courtesy tones, squelch tails, hang times, and the like from going out over the network. That caused problems where stations just ping-ponged back and forth. One transmitted their courtesy tone, then another with its hang time, etc. to over 500 Internet connected links. Set the repeater to use TX PL only when a signal is active on the repeater input and link radio to use RX PL COS to transmit audio.

3) AllStar gave me fits. The program segfaulted on me a couple times early on. For those not in computers/programming segfaults are very bad and often result in crashing the program or system. Haven’t gotten any advice how to troubleshot, but I have a couple things to try.

4) Wires-X stations got frustrated because they thought the link “wasn’t working” or had “one-way audio.” Being the proprietary closed-source implementation that Wires-X is, not being able to link that system using free and open source packages results in additional buffering that happens on the network, to the tune of 3 seconds. When a Wires-X transmission originates from that network, it is 3 seconds before the transmission is heard on the rest of the system. IF someone, within that 3 seconds, keys on any other mode – the Wires-X transmission is completely bumped from the system. Do I need to refer back to the ping-ponging mentioned above? In addition to being a popular event, it was almost guaranteed someone else keyed up before a Wires-X station could break in. If my system is used for a QSO party that large in the future, I would recommend not using Wires-X as a result and having those stations find alternative means.

Aside from those issues, my system handled the load without breaking much of a sweat. Wow, what an accomplishment! That’s going to be one I remember and talk about for a long time. It was a long day for me too as I had an early upgrade at work and by the time I went to bed, had been up for 24 hours. Closer to the end of the LMS event, the Amateur Television Network (ATN) linked into my system and transmitted around the world via ATN and on YouTube, all while working stations.

Thanks to the Amateur Logic.TV guys for their QSO party. Thanks to John Amodeo – AA6JA, everyone that put this event together and used their stations to make this event possible. Of course, thanks to everyone that participated making this event 88 thousand contacts successful! Certificates are now available for download on the special event website: http://gsbarc.org/lms/. John hopes to keep the Last Man Standing ARC and KA6LMS call on the air by doing other special events in the future.

Last but certainly not least this month, I would like to thank the Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS) for having me at their meeting March 8th. They asked me to give a presentation on ham radio voice over IP (VoIP) and my interlink system. It was great to get out and travel to a meeting in person, though those who wanted could attend virtually. If you would like to have a VoIP presentation and demonstration of my interlink system, contact me at my email found at the beginning of this article. Already there have been new things added since the presentation.

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

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – March 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,

Not quite one year after the OpenSPOT 2 was released, the OpenSPOT 3 made an appearance on the SharkRF website. I suspected the OS2 was not selling very well. A quick look at the Brandmeister Dashboard shows 7.4% are using the OS1 and 2.5% are using the OS2. These are number of hotspots connected to the Brandmeister network on the evening of March 24th and does not include other networks.

Maybe low usage is a result of the six-month lag since stopping production of the blue box OpenSPOT 1 and when the OpenSPOT 2 arrived on the market. Maybe it was making the announcement to discontinue the OS1 right after Dayton (two years ago) upsetting customers who just spent money at the show on a now obsolete device. By obsolete, I mean can’t purchase the device new (no longer in production) and there’s been maybe a single firmware update since it was discontinued. I get it, they’re a small company out of Estonia but their business and design decisions upset customers.

Not to mention vendors. The blue box could be obtained from many ham retailers. They too probably felt burned after the OpenSPOT 1 to the point where I don’t see any retailers carrying the 2 or 3. Purchasing from a retailer meant users could forego the international transaction fees and shipping, or they were just included in the price.

OpenSPOT 1

I love the OpenSPOT 1 and think it’s a solid device. It beat all other offerings at the time and one of the first devices to offer cross mode support (DMR <-> YSF). At the time, Pi-STAR wasn’t a thing. The DV4Mini was one of the first multimode offerings but it stank-on-ice (it became usable recently with an MMDVM application). The DVMega and other devices around the same time were solid hardware but getting a working image (software) was a challenge. The problem with the OpenSPOT 1, it was wired Ethernet, didn’t offer a Wi-Fi option, and required USB power. A wireless bridge such as the TP-Link N300 made it Wi-Fi capable, via a wireless bridge, allowing the device to be paired with a cell phone hot spot or other Wi-Fi link. I was able to make a similar setup work on my Linux laptop acting as a NAT (network access translation – same as home Internet connections). Had a script to setup the DHCP server on wired Ethernet (where the OpenSPOT 1 would be connected) and iptables rules allowing communication from the wired Ethernet to the wireless interface (where the cell phone or hotel Wi-Fi would be connected). USB power could be a portable USB battery pack or plugged into the laptop USB. These setups worked but most found it not great for portability and keeping track of multiple devices.

I skipped the OpenSPOT 2. Shortly after release came reports of both Wi-Fi and radio range issues. To improve on design, SharkRF internalized the 440 MHz antenna as well as adding Wi-Fi capability, also removed the wired Ethernet. Apparently, the device had to be very close to Wi-Fi access points and the digital radio couldn’t be very far away either. It would work great in small areas like a car but it wasn’t winning bonus points for range. Coming out with another successor in less than a year was likely an acknowledgment of these problems.

OpenSPOT 3 (sharkrf.com)

Picked up the OpenSPOT 3 on a Christmas special from SharkRF and had a few months to use it. The OpenSPOT 3 is probably the most advanced digital hotspot available for ham radio, and also the most expensive. Cost came to €243 EUR including shipping, $288 US. For what it is, it’s a great device. Comparing it to a device with an external antenna, you’ll be disappointed.

It comes with a built-in Lithium-ion battery, built in radio and Wi-Fi antenna, USB-C for fast charging (though battery life seemed short under heavy usage), it has the same solid web interface as the OS1 with some nicely added tweaks including the ability to play audio from the web interface. Overall, it is fast. The web interface doesn’t lag and time to connect from power off is under 10 seconds. In comparison, my Pi-STAR on a Raspberry Pi Zero-W takes a couple minutes to boot and nearly 50 seconds to save and change any settings. Setup was easy with any web browser, including mobile. It offers the ability to work all current digital modes: DMR, D-STAR, NXDN, P25, and YSF. Also offers POCSAG and APRS-IS forwarding.

For the ham-on-the-go, this is the best option for a digital hotspot. The OS3 features a built-in hardware AMBE chip for transcoding, including D-STAR to other network types. This is the first and only hotspot with D-STAR cross-mode functionality built in and was the most requested feature that I saw on the forums. That means a D-STAR radio can work on DMR, C4FM (YSF), and NXDN networks. Likewise, a DMR radio can access D-STAR, C4FM, and NXDN networks. This is the perfect option for a traveling ham that wants access to digital while on the road but doesn’t want to bring all the radios. Table below notes which radios will be able to work which networks.

Radio/transceiver Networks
Hardware cross mode support
DMR D-STAR, C4FM, NXDN
D-STAR DMR, C4FM, NXDN
C4FM DMR, D-STAR, NXDN
NXDN DMR, C4FM, D-STAR
Software cross mode support
C4FM P25
P25 C4FM

I don’t know how bad the antenna issues were on the OS2 but I can’t imagine them being much worse than with the 3. I have always run hotspots on the lowest power setting because the lowest gave more range than I ever needed, however they all used external antennas. Depending on interference from nearby computers, I had some trouble with the device falling out of radio and Wi-Fi range. On average it would cover the footprint of the house. I bumped the power up to 20% and still have reliability issues of it hearing me or me to hearing it from out in the shack – with an external antenna. I’m a little disappointed by that. Another issue, P25 sounds better on the Pi-STAR for some reason – even after doing a calibration on the OpenSPOT.

Someone wanting a feature packed device for traveling, this is currently the best option. If you want range, stick with a hotspot that has an external antenna.

KA6LMS QSL card

By the time the Section Journal goes to press, most of the event will be completed – but there’s still time! The Last Man Standing special event is well underway. It commemorates the last week of taping for the TV show Last Man Standing which is ending its 9-season run. The special event will cease operation 3/30/21 at 23:59 UTC, so you still have some time. This event is everywhere: SSB, CW, FT8, D-STAR, DMR, YSF, NXDN, P25, Hamshack Hotline, Echolink, Satellite, EME, AllStar, ATV and probably a few more I’ve forgotten. Everyone including Technicians can get on board. There are promo videos and an information site with details about call signs, log sheets, how to send QSL cards, and the certificate. Look for KA6LMS/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0 as well as K6L, K6M, K6S, W6L, W6M, and W6S bonus stations. My multi-link system will be part of the event that happened on the 27th. I should have stats and info on how that activation played out next month. After the 30th, Last Man Standing will be QRT.

Lastly, something I didn’t know existed. RFC 1149 defines an experimental standard to encapsulate IP traffic using avian carriers (IPoAC). That’s right, IP packets via carrier pidgins! It is really useful in Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs). Devices in your home are connected to a Local Area Network (LAN). These LANs would be connected to larger regional networks called MANs. “Avian carriers can provide high delay, low throughput, and low altitude service.” They also have collision avoidance systems increasing reliability. Unlike packet radio, these communications are not limited to line-of-sight. Format is very easy to understand and follow:

The IP datagram is printed, on a small scroll of paper, in hexadecimal, with each octet separated by whitestuff and blackstuff. The scroll of paper is wrapped around one leg of the avian carrier. A band of duct tape is used to secure the datagram’s edges. The bandwidth is limited to the leg length. The MTU is variable, and paradoxically, generally increases with increased carrier age. A typical MTU is 256 milligrams. Some datagram padding may be needed.

Upon receipt, the duct tape is removed and the paper copy of the datagram is optically scanned into a electronically transmittable form.

Wonder if I have to install a landing pad or birdhouse to have these messages delivered?

 

April fools! Emile – KE5QKR was talking about this after taping one of the Amateur Logic shows and I had to look it up. It really does exist but once I saw the April 1, 1990 date – I knew it was an April Fools’ prank. There’s your early April Fools’ joke for later this week!That’s about it for this month.Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ham radio VoIP and K8JTK Hub DVMIS Presentations

Presentation on Ham radio VoIP (Voice over IP) modes and the K8JTK Hub Digital VoIP Multimode Interlink System which integrates many Ham radio modes, both analog and digital.

Framework

The framework I chose to use for the presentation slides is called reveal.js. It is an HTML framework meaning it will run in any HTML 5 capable browser. Looks a little better than a PowerPoint presentation.

Navigation

Useful navigation keys in the presentation. In addition to navigating with the keys below, you can swipe (tables/smartphones) or use the navigation arrows on screen in the lower right.

Toggle full screen: press [F11].

Advance to the next slide: press [n] or [SPACEBAR].

Go back to the previous slide: press [p] or press and hold the [SHIFT] key while pressing the [SPACEBAR].

Display presentation overview: [ESC] then use the arrow keys or mouse to select a slide. [ESC] again will exit overview mode.

Links

Clickable links are colored in brown text.

Presentations

Three variations are available: presentation version is viewable in a browser. Printable version for printing or saving in a different format (Chrome, Chromium, and variants compatible only). Finally a PDF version.

They may take some time to load because I left original images untouched and some were a couple MB in file size.

Slides

The presentation is around 60 minutes in length.

Version 1

Presentation version
Printable version
PDF version

This presentation was given at the following meetings:
Portage County Amateur Radio Service on 3/8/2021.

Version 2

Presentation version
Printable version
PDF version

This presentation was given at the following meetings:
West Chester Amateur Radio Association on 5/6/2021.

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – February 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,

I don’t know about anyone else, since most of us have been told to cower-in-place, my productivity has gone through the roof! Must be that 10-foot commute between the work desk and home desk, might get the sun in my eyes on my way over. Finally tacking items on the perpetual “when I have loads of free time” list.

First cleaned out my data hard drive that had become a general dumping ground for downloads, pictures, data files, abandoned projects, and all other forms of miscellaneous files. Kept telling myself ‘I’ll organize this later.’ I figure accumulation started around the time I graduated with my undergrad (2008) and really got involved with ham radio. Go figure. Downloads had grown to 2,900 files at 16 GB and the general dumping ground was around 73,000 files at 314 GB. Much of that got deleted but enough was kept for reference or sentimental reasons.

Synology NAS

After sorting, mutilating, and “organizing,” this led into another task to better utilize my NAS, or Network Attached Storage, functionality more than I currently was. NAS devices are a way to attach storage, like hard drives or SSDs, to the network for sharing data across devices on a local network or, in special cases, users on the Internet. NAS devices can be anything from a Raspberry Pi with USB hard drives attached, an old computer filled with spare hard drives running FreeNAS, to specifically designed devices from companies such as Synology, QNAP, or Asus. Many think “storage” when they think NAS because storage: it’s in the name. Consumer NAS devices offer packages that can be installed to add additional functionality commonly available through always-on devices. Functionality options such as a mail server, web server, git server, database server, docker virtualization, replication (mirroring, backup with another provider), network level authentication, VPN, IP camera DVR, chat, and document collaboration. I’m a loooong time Western Digital user. Their Red line of NAS drives are my choice, though they tried to pull some crap of quietly introducing sub-par drives (don’t use WD Red drives with “EFAX” in the model). Seagate is stepping up their game too with the IronWolf line, which is gaining popularity.

My strategy is to move files I’m not actively using on a regular basis to the NAS. These types of files would be: digital pictures, Office documents, document scans, emails, news articles, previous taxes, internet downloads, audio/video clips, newsletters, ham projects, school work and projects, old programs that aren’t updated but are still useful. Unbeknownst to me when I started, this didn’t leave a whole lot left over on my desktop data drive. Maybe in the future, I’ll move all data to the NAS.

For the remaining data left on my data drive, I still wanted to maintain a backup strategy in case something happened to those files. Anything from my own stupidity (accidental deletion, encrypted by a malware strain) to hardware failure. Previously, I used a cloud provider for remote backup but they decided to exit the consumer market. With their change in business strategy, I was using my own scripts to keep things synced from the desktop to the NAS, whenever I remembered to run them. Not great because if I deleted something with a bunch of recent changes and the last backup I had was a week or two ago, that sucks. This syncing strategy also didn’t have file versioning.

When a file is changed, the backup system preserves a new copy of the file but keeps previous versions in case you wanted to go back in time to an earlier version. Real-world example: a computer becomes infected with a malware strain that encrypts all pictures and documents. A backup solution will still make a backup copy of the newly encrypted file, because it doesn’t know its user or user on the network did something stupid. Saving previous versions means you can recover the unencrypted version without paying Mr. Bad Guy’s ransom.

Syncthing web interface (wikipedia.org)

I tried solutions like rsnapshot but had serious issues getting systemd timers (supposed to replace cron, yeah, we’ll see) to work with persistence and waiting until the NAS was mounted before taking a snapshot. That was abandoned after a few months. I heard about Syncthing on a podcast. It met my requirements and more! It’s quite an amazing piece of free and open-source technology. I could run an instance on my NAS (or any computer), attach devices, those devices send file changes in real time, and the software takes care of preserving previous versions. “More” came in the form of Syncthing being available on every platform I use. Supported are: source code for manual compiling, Linux (many distributions and processor architectures), Windows, macOS, *BSD, and Solaris. There is an Android client allowing me to backup my phone to my NAS. Syncthing is exactly what I needed since I have some Windows machines (like the shack PC).

A couple warnings about Syncthing. Getting started will seem overwhelming with options and what they mean. Look at good tutorials and in the forums where there are lot of users willing to help. Even more important: Syncthing IS NOT a backup tool. Wait, you said you are using it as a backup tool! I’m syncing file changes to my NAS. Backup comes in the form of making images of the NAS drive and storing those off-site. Also acceptable is using a cloud backup service to backup the NAS off-site. Both are acceptable uses of Syncthing as a “backup” solution.

Another thing on the “to do when I have tons of free time” was digitize VHS tapes. In December & beginning of January, I was on a mission to digitize my high school and college video tapes as well as family home videos. Close to 100 tapes in total. Those that are not familiar with my broadcast television past, I was involved with WHBS-TV in high school, a local cable access station. Schools from across the county came to visit us because we were doing 7 camera shoots with replay for all football games, 5 camera shoots for basketball, and competing in college level categories for regional Emmy awards. Worked at WBGU-TV in college. Did a ton of cool stuff including weekly productions for Fox Sports Ohio, a program that was distributed internationally, and lots of remote shoots in different parts of the state, to name a few. This was all before over-the-air digital was a thing. I recorded a lot of stuff on VHS tapes over those years and, of course, wanted to preserve them.

Most say “put it on DVD.” Like it or not, we’re being pushed to a streaming society so companies can control when and how you view content. Not only is physical media dead, but you now have to take care of, and store, a bunch of DVDs. There are services allowing you to roll-your-own streaming service, where you to make your own content library. There would be a server on your network containing your music, videos, TV shows, home movies, etc. making it accessible to smart TVs, streaming devices like Roku or Fire Stick, smart phones, tablets, or any modern web browser.

Plex media center (plex.tx)

I used a Hauppauge USB capture device to digitize VHS tapes played from a VCR. VideoReDo to fix errors in the data stream (some players have issues playing video streams with data errors) and cut recordings into smaller files. HandBrake to encode the video and Plex Media Server to make the video available to devices. Plex server runs on, you guessed it, the NAS! I’m glossing over how to use Plex, organize files, and produce files optimal for streaming as there are many support articles and forum posts covering these topics on the Plex or any other similar service’s site.

Reading up on recommended practices to digitize VHS tapes, VCRs with newer Time-Based Correctors (TBC) were recommended. Looking online, those were $400 or more. Since it’s likely these videos will be watched a handful of times, I decided to forgo more expensive VCR options. TBC can correct timing issues, making 1 second = 1 second, not longer due to tape stretching. It aims to correct visual image jitter and “wiggling.” I did see those artifacts and re-recorded if the video was bad enough. The Hauppauge device captures video at about 13 mbps (2 hr is about 13 GB). “Lossless” 25 mpbs capture devices were recommended. Do you remember the quality of a VHS tape? Lossless is not going to lose much VHS quality! All tapes digitized weighed in at about 1 TB of storage. Sounds like a lot. Though, 4 TB drives are under $140.

Watching college videos from 2004 as they were being digitized, I came across one of the shows and said ‘that guy looks familiar.’ It was two shows on school funding in the state of Ohio. Our previous section SGL Nick Pittner – K8NAP was one of the guests. I happen to be working camera in the WBGU studio for that show and Nick was in Columbus coming in via satellite. Emailed Nick some screen grabs. He remembered the show, hosts, other guest, and said they are still fighting the same fight after the better part of two decades later. Sometimes you never know who you’re working with!

On a commute a little longer than 10 feet, I’m planning to be in person at the Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS) meeting coming up March 8th. Meeting topic will be VoIP modes (Voice over IP), both analog and digital, and the DVMIS. Hope to see everyone. There should be a Zoom link posted on their site if you would like to attend virtually.

Mike Baxter, KA0XTT, played by Tim Allen (arrl.org)

Speaking of the DVMIS, the Last Man Standing Amateur Radio Club – KA6LMS is sponsoring a special event starting at 00:00 UTC on March 24, 2021 and end at 23:59 UTC on March 30, 2021. This coincides with the last day of shooting for the show which is concluding its long, successful run. This event is going to be a multi-band, multi-mode, special event celebrating the show for its portrayal of amateur radio. AmateurLogic.TV is planning a net for March 27 from about 7 pm – 1 am eastern and the net will be carried on my system! I’m honored to be part of this event as Last Man Standing is one of my favorite shows. Mark your calendars and check the KA6LMS QRZ page for details!

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK