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Author Topic: Sometimes it still surprises me  (Read 2174 times)

Quietguy

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Sometimes it still surprises me
« on: June 01, 2013, 10:40:05 PM »
Several years ago we didn't have suitable backup email in case our DSL service went down, which it could do with a good storm here in more or less rural southwest Washington state.  At that time cellular service available at our property was limited to voice only.  A good friend introduced me to the magic of email over HF radio and the Winlink system.  That was before Winmor, RMSExpress and other sound card solutions were available, so I bought a Kantronics KAM+ to start out.  It worked extremely well and I had backup email plus I was able to trade peer-to-peer messages with friends.  It was great, but it was slow with only Pactor 1.  Then, many of the Winlink 2000 stations stopped accepting P1 connections because of the slow throughput.  I gulped, choked a little, and bought an SCS modem so I could do Pactor 3 and play with the big kids.  It was fun... one day I went to my shack and had a direct, peer-to-peer, no commercial infrastructure needed jpeg photo of my friend's new sailboat.  How cool was that?  He asked me to post it to a forum where we hung out, but my radio computer didn't/doesn't have internet access, so I used WL2K to forward it to my normal email account and posted it from my main computer.

I'm embarrassed to admit I have let my simple wire antenna deteriorate markedly in the last few years.  All that is left of it is the 135 feet 80m part of a 80/40/20 fan dipole The other day I started checking to see how much capability I still have and after doing some testing I left the station sitting on a 20m WL2K frequency.  Later I saw where my station had monitored a WL2K station in Florida - and that startled me.  So today I thought I would give him a try... I was hearing faint Pactor sounds in the noise and figured there wasn't much chance of connecting, but what the heck.  I was amazed when our stations linked almost immediately when I initiated the connection.  His signal was very strong and we had an excellent connection that would have supported pretty decent throughput.  This was about 1830 PDT (2130 EDT or 0130Z) on 20m.

I mention this for a couple of reasons... one is that I didn't think I had much chance of making that connection given today's conditions, but it turned out to be a slam dunk.  It didn't cost anything to try, so why not give it a shot?  Sometimes a quiet band does not mean it is dead.  Another reason is just to plug email over radio as another useful tool in the communications toolbox.  If my SCS modem were to die today I would have lower cost options for replacing it - RMSExpress/Winmor are viable methods now that were not available when I got stated.

Now I need to get a replacement antenna in the air.

Wally

WA4STO

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Re: Sometimes it still surprises me
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 02:25:33 PM »
Yah, the term "amazing" comes to my mind multiple times a week, when considering the capabilities that the various error-corrected modes can now accomplish.

And, as for Pactor 1, which is what I use as my primary mode any more, it continues to startle me on a daily basis.

Last month, well actually the month before -- April -- I had a traffic count of 1582 messages, which were sent via the NTS(D) network on Pactor 1.  The various hubs and nodes have Pactor 1 thru 3 (4 isn't legal in this country, yet) so they have the benefit of much higher speeds, still error-corrected.

Of possible interest is the fact that we have a free equipment bank.  I obtained my Pactor TNC (an old but still gorgeous PK-232 MBX which was upfitted to Pactor I by the equipment bank manager).

The one imperative to availing yourself of the free equipment bank is that you need to agree to 'participate' in the NTS(D) network, which basically means that you'll check your designated hub for traffic which you would then agree to forward along to the next point in the traffic 'chain'.  Talk about SHTF preparedness!

For any of you who might be interested in what the NTS(D) network(s) do, we practice, practice, practice.  Each day, every day.  Of the 825 messages I handled this past month, most of them looked something like this:

NR 4958 R WA4STO 14 WILBER NE JUN 2
DL4FN
BT
RAYMOND A PODESTA KC1AAB
712 N CENTRAL ST
WINCHENDON MA 01475
978 297 9791
BT
WA4STO

which is one example of a message containing a new licensee's information, which I sent to DL4FN in Germany.  I average about 30 a day to him and, in turn, he responds to each one by sending something akin to the following to the new licensees:

NR 856 R DL4FN 14 ERBACH ODW MAY 24
JAMES R SMITH KD0VPC
21727 OLDGATE RD
ELKHORN NE 68022
402 346 8658
BT
CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW HAM
RADIO LICENSE AND ALL THE
BEST WISHES FROM GERMANY
BT
PETER DL4FN
OP NOTE REPLY VIA NTS TO DL4FN C/O WA4STO IN WILBER NE

To me, this is a fabulous way for me to more readily grasp where my comm prepping strategies need work.  Or not. 

73

Luck, WA4STO
http://www.qrz.com/db/wa4sto

Radio Preppers

Re: Sometimes it still surprises me
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 02:25:33 PM »