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Archives: President's Corner:

Greg Jones, WD5IVD

PSR President Columns from 1993-1999.

A decade of change in amateur radio and TAPR

My involvement in TAPR dates back to 1985, when like so many others I purchased my TNC-2 kit.

With my TNC-2 on the air, I became very active in the Texas Packet Radio Society and TexNet. During a trip to the TAPR annual meeting to talk about what we were doing in Texas, Andy Freeborn, N0CCZ, got me to volunteer. It started as simply as that. Volunteering works that way.

The following articles represent the President's Columns I wrote from 1993 to 1999. During that time, amateur radio and TAPR saw a number of changes that were chronicled each quarter. I hope you enjoy reading over the history of TAPR during the 1990s reflected in these columns.

Cheers - Greg Jones, WD5IVD

Permission is granted to reproduce any materials appearing herein for non-commercial amateur publications provided credit is given to both the author and TAPR along with TAPR phone number 972-671-TAPR (8277) and TAPR web page http://www.tapr.org. Otherwise reproduction of materials from the TAPR PSR, mechanical, electronic, or photocopy, is prohibited unless written permission is obtained from TAPR.

January 1999

A few things to look for in 1999 include the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference to be held in Phoenix, AZ, September 24-26th. The Phoenix conference looks to be as strong as this last year in Chicago, so I hope everyone that couldn't attend the 1998 conference can make it this year. Don't forget that the Dayton HamVention will be on May 14, 15, and 16. We expect another strong speaking schedule on Friday and we should have some concept of the banquet speaker for our dinner by the next PSR.

We had several new items arrive at the office since the last PSR. The DSP56002EVM Radio Interface kit, CompactFlash Card Adapter Kit, and Spread Spectrum Update Publication are now available. The PIC-E evaluation is beginning with a fifty unit participation. Work continues on several other projects as well. More in the PSR on these various projects.

The big news this quarter is the revision of the TAPR.ORG site. Four major areas for updating had been on our list for sometime. When visiting www.tapr.org or >ftp.tapr.org here are some of the changes you will encounter. First, the ftp directory structure has been flattened a level or two to make getting to those files you are looking for easier. Second, the web pages have had a total overhaul. The new design allows visitors once in a section to access all the major areas of that section without backing out of a page all the time. As part of the web page revision, a new on-line order system was developed and coded. We are planning on implementing a secure web server sometime later this year to help further with our e-commerce ability. Third, we have implemented an entirely new mail archive index and search engine. The previous utility we had used was falling far short of its requirements. The new system provides very quick access to the information databases we have on TAPR.ORG. Fourth, we replaced listproc with Lyris as our listserver. The new list package reduces the amount of daily maintenance the previous system required to zero. The old system required daily watching and was klunky. Lyris is fast, seems to be very reliable, and is easy to manage. We hope that everyone enjoys these changes to the TAPR.ORG system.

To finish this quarter, let me point out that this is election time. We have four people running for the three slots available on the TAPR Board of Directors. Each member has strong credentials, so please take a moment and look over the election information and send in your vote. The TAPR Board of Directors is responsible for setting directions and goals of the organization, so this is your opportunity to have a say. We will again be accepting ballots printed in this PSR as well as doing an on-line balloting system. Please vote!

Until next quarter and lots more fun!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

October 1998

What a great Digital Communications Conference this year! Many thanks to PRUG and CAPRA for hosting the conference with us and the ARRL. A recap of the conference is included further into the PSR. Next years conference will be held back in Arizona. Dan Meredith, N7MRP, and Keith Justice, KF7TP, are working with us as local hosts to nail a location and date.

There sure is a lot to write about in this issue, but just not enough time to get it all down on paper, so I'll hit the highlights. Project wise, things are cooking. The TAPR SS Radio project has made some great strides since the last PSR. The operating system and TCP/IP stack are now operational and ported onto the fully operational digital board. This is a huge milestone in the project. The team is focusing on the Qualcomm and Harris chips remaining on the digital board which provide interfaces to the RF board. After this, the RF board will be focused on. A full report of the project appears later. We still need donations for the development. We have received donations from the following people John Coonly, Andrew Skattebo, KA0SNL, and Gene Pentecost, W4IMT. I would like to thank these individuals for their donations. The level of funding is going to be a critical factor as the beta testing plans are made.

The Linux Flash project that John Koster, W9DDD, has been working on is about to rollout. We hope this will be another project like the TAC-2, where we reach a new potential member outside of amateur radio to get them into what we do. Fifty kits will be available without the flash-card before Christmas. Keep an eye on the TAPR web page. Additional information on the project will appear later in this PSR.

The PIC-E development team is nearing the end of their evaluation kit (EVM PIC-E) with around fifty people to participate. John Hansen, W2FS, has written up some information concerning the project for the PSR. There was a lot of excitement at the DCC on PIC development and this kit is going to be able to help many of you who want to play without having to invest in development platforms.

We have worked a deal with a group concerning a surplus of TALNet radios/routers to be used under the SS STA. The deal will be for $550 per radio/router, plus shipping/handling. These are 160Kbps DSS TCP/IP based systems on 2.4G. Contact the office if you want a pair of radios or one to go with an existing pair.

At the AMSAT meeting this past October, Bill Tynan, W3XO, formally announced his retirement as President of AMSAT-NA. Bill and I started our tenures around the same period and the several times we worked closely on TAPR/AMSAT related projects were successful. While we didn't necessarily see eye-to-eye on Spread Spectrum technology implementation in the ham bands, he was always a dedicated leader of AMSAT who put a lot of time and effort into the job. You did a great job while at AMSAT, Bill!

I'll finish this quarter's column with an article that Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, and I wrote earlier this year and which was just printed in the DCC proceedings. I think you will see several themes that have been discussed in previous PSR issues, but it never hurts to cover these issues from time to time.

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

A New Vision for the Amateur Radio Service

Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP
Greg Jones, WD5IVD
Reprinted from 17th ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference, p. 38

Vision Statement Concerning the Future of Amateur Radio

Amateur radio as a hobby has reached an important turning point. Many can point to various examples of why things are changing; however, some of these examples are real and some are only periodic in nature, but the trend of activity and interest now as compared to five or even ten years ago is changing. The real issue which we must face is 'does the amateur radio service (ARS) base its future on the precepts created and tested over the last twenty years or do we look at new and novel ways of growing, sustaining, and protecting the hobby that we love?'

As active members in the ARRL, since first licensed, active members at various internal levels of the League, and very active in the area of amateur radio technology advancement that TAPR represents, we would like to take a few moments of your time to share some important thoughts on the matter.

The Commercial Future of Amateur Radio and how the ARS can benefit from the change

Amateur radio has prospered over the last twenty years as commercial manufactures were able to grow radio sales in the US, with the amateur radio community as a secondary market to their already existing commercial markets. This resulted in a tremendous growth and usage of VHF/UHF and to some extent, HF, over the last several decades.

We now find many amateur radio vendors and manufactures reducing their presence or even leaving the amateur radio market for other markets or to refocus on their older commercial markets as new communication systems threaten to take market share away. Some stores that have been in existence for sometime have even begun closing their doors. This is to be expected with the sales of amateur radio equipment dropping off. Keep in mind that some say this is sunspot related, but can sunspot activity also explain the drop in the VHF/UHF market as well? Amateur radio is in the midst of a paradigm shift from the vast majority of communicators currently on the bands to a more balanced population representing technical, experimental, and hobbyist who just like to communicate with radios.

As vendors continue to leave the amateur radio market, it is up to organizations like ARRL, TAPR, and AMSAT (the three major non-profit amateur radio organizations in existence today) to grow our technology internally, instead of waiting for external forces to discover amateur radio as a market. If we wait for external market forces to come into play, we will find that these companies will probably rather seek out commercial markets where there is more profit potential, then the hobbyists market which uses our radio spectrum for recreation, learning, and public service.

TAPR has begun working in this direction, by working with the remaining manufacturers and looking elsewhere to non-traditional funding sources like the National Science Foundation (NSF). We see grants and other such efforts as just a beginning in which to grow more money and more research that will hopefully benefit all of amateur radio in the long term. However, the amateur radio rules are going to need to be more proactive to allow for these types of new technology-oriented ventures to take hold and grow. Amateur radio must have rules that allow experimentation with new modes, without the need to get an STA or waiver each and every time someone wants to do something new. If we don't see this necessary flexibility in the future we will find that most potential amateur radio projects will end up operating under Part 5, Part 15, or any of a number of other services. Or worse yet, amateur radio operators will just ignore the current rules and build and operate equipment to provide the kinds of services that they desire.

While amateur radio has a great history with a rich tradition of introducing new ideas and technology, that process seems to have slowed as more communicators joined the hobby. It became more important to make sure these communicators and people who simply enjoy the hobby aspect of the service had no problems operating and the introduction of new systems and experimentation slowed as a result. It is true that while we have seen a lot of work in new digital and RF areas niche interest, none of this research has been widely adopted or been beneficial to the larger majority of the members of the service.

As an example, an organization like the ARRL is in a position to greatly influence the realization of expanded growth of amateur radio by supporting the efforts of small, innovative companies making contributions to the hobby and not large manufacturers whose primary business and marketing interests are in other areas than amateur radio. It is in the best interest of amateur radio service (ARS) to grow this cottage industry, because these groups could well become the next Collins, Drake, and other amateur radio-founded companies in the future. What we see today is that various members of the service are starting companies, but these new organizations are focused on other services, because the current FCC rules and the 'climate' of the hobby don't really allow for the easy introduction of new types of technology. These same companies are the ones that are now asking for more spectrum from the FCC for their products and services -- and where do they look ? They look to amateur radio spectrum because they understand full well just how under utilized that spectrum really is.

What is to keep the ARRL or TAPR from creating its own "Co-Op" approach like REI or many other such organizations? Together both organizations have the membership base to easily support such an effort and the potential impact on the purchasing power from the total membership could lead to an environment where product development decisions were being made based on the needs of amateur radio operators in the US, instead of those requirement being secondary to existing market needs and requirements as viewed by technology manufacturing companies located in other countries.

Experimental and Technological development are keys to the future

It has been a concern of ours and TAPR's for some time that there is a tendency to resist change when something new or novel appears on the amateur radio scene. TAPR, AMRAD, AMSAT, and other organizations represent the spirit of change and development within the ARS. Amateur radio can either choose to support various efforts within the community for the most advancement of new technology or wait for external commercial forces to quickly take advantage and look for additional spectrum, most likely being the current ARS allocations. Not many amateur radio groups or individuals can sustain the effort required to make change happen under the current restraints to the introduction of new technologies. The expense of development, manufacturing, marketing, and to some extent the rules themselves affect the introduction of new technologies to the service. Most new operating interests within the hobby have been a result of the usage of other external technologies (i.e. Personal Computers, Internet, etc.), not of something grown from within the hobby itself.

It is important that ARRL,TAPR and AMSAT watch out for the interests of its diverse membership, but at the same time it must be working on providing support for various efforts elsewhere in the community that are emphasizing new technology and change. The ARRL doesn't have to lead, but it must be fully supportive of change and be willing to facilitate it as much as it can. While an open support policy might threaten some, it is imperative that ARS grow from within and it is equally important that the organizations take a leading role in helping to encourage the growth of new operational modes and techniques.

Amateur Radio should develop it own spectrum sharing partners

With regard to spectrum, we believe that the ARS can either continue to defend the spectrum we have, or look for those services whom we want to share our bands. We have to locate others that can help fully utilize our valuable spectrum, but not take away from the mission and operating flexibility of the ARS. This could be the form for instance of the creation of a low-power educational wireless service which could be overlaid on some part of the existing ARS spectrum or some other similar approach. The League successfully used this tactic several years ago when it joined with Apple Computer in lobbying the FCC to designate the 2390-2400 MHz band as a shared band with only the ARS and U-PCS as the incumbents.

The ARS should think about what services would be the most 'tolerable' on our bands. We can't say no to everyone forever, because that will likely result in our losing even more spectrum over time. By finding and locating or creating friendly sharing partners we 1) protect our spectrum on our own terms, 2) create a commercial need for equipment, if done correctly amateurs can leverage these devices into operational 'ham ready' units, and 3) bring users from the shared spectrum services into the ARS where applicable. This is one reason we have suggested the educational communication service concept. It would get members of the ARS into schools helping install wireless networks that might have rules like Part 15, but this direct contact with schools could easily lead to students getting interested in amateur radio because of the close working relationship formed when the local/regional ARS organization helps get the school wireless connections to the Internet.

TAPR Response to ARRL New Repeater Concept

TAPR has been working on a new 'high concept' repeater system that makes use of spread spectrum technology, in particular, frequency hopping to act as a stepping stone to a new generation of devices that can provide new levels of function and operational flexibility to the amateur radio community.

TAPR on its own as been working in this direction for the last two years. Its first steps in this direction was the submission to the NSF of a proposal for what has come to be called the 'Internet Access Radio' (IAR) in the Fall of 1996. The first member in a family of such radios is currently under development and information on it can be found on the TAPR website at: taprfhss.

TAPR believes that todayís communications technology is moving toward all digital transmitters and receivers. These advances in technology, combined with the swift evolution of cell based transmission and switching protocols is opening up a new set of possibilities for unique new services utilizing intelligent networks which will contain smart transmitter, receivers and switches. Todayís Internet is perhaps the best example of the a self regulating structure which embodies these new technological approaches to communications in the networking domain. However to date, many of these innovations have not made it over to the wireless networking arena. What TAPR feels that the radio networks of the future will involve a mixture of links and switches of different ownership, which terminate at the end-user via relatively short distance links. What will then be required is an built-in, distributed, self-governing set of protocols to cause the networks behavior to make an more efficient use of a limited, common shared resource, radio spectrum. Creating such a self-regulating structure for the optimal sharing of spectrum will require much effort. One of the major problems which stands in the way of these new approaches today is the current FCC regulatory environment and the manner in which spectrum is managed and allocated under its rules.

One of the major hurdles that a wireless entrepreneur faces who wishes to develop innovative new communications products which involves radio is access to the requisite amount of spectrum. This process makes the involvement of the wireless entrepreneur with the government mandatory, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage when compared to entrepreneurs in the computer sector where government involvement is minimal. As a result, innovation has occurred at a much slower pace since the use technologies such as spread spectrum require the use of more spectrum and not less in order for their advantages to become apparent when it is used for high-speed data transmission.

Historically, the current regulatory approach to radio has been based upon the technology that was in use at the time that the Communications Act of 1934 was framed, basically what we would call today, dumb transmitters speaking to dumb receivers. The technology of that time required reserved bandwidths to be set aside for each licensed service so that spectrum would be available when needed. Given this regulatory approach, many new applications cannot be accommodated since there is no available unallocated spectrum to ëparkí new services. However, given the new set of tools available to the entrepreneur with the advent of digital technology, what once were dumb transmitters and receivers can now be smart devices which are capable of exercising greater judgment in the effective use and sharing of spectrum. The more flexible the tools that we incorporate in these devices, then the greater number of uses that can be accommodated in a fixed, shared spectrum.

While the IAR proof-of-concept (POC) radio is under development, TAPR intends to make the case to the FCC that the current rules should be changed to reflect that use and advantages that smart spread spectrum packet radio devices can realize. TAPRís position is that a major improvement in spectrum use is feasible in the concepts to be employed in the IAR POC radio are put into widespread use. However, given the radical nature of some of the approaches in this project, it is appropriate to first, confirm the technical theories that we are putting forth and then to define the operational parameters for the implementation of these theories once they are confirmed. Then we will be able to approach the Commission with proposals that have a sound basis in fact and which should hopefully then be acted upon in a favorable fashion.

While development of the IAR POC is underway, TAPR has several projects underway that utilize existing Part 15 spread spectrum radios that are being adapted to meet amateur radio operational requirements and which will be used for general packet radio and Internet access over wide-areas. One project uses OEM modules from Lucent Technologies and the other uses a radio provided by a member of TAPR's sister organization in Japan, the Packet Radio User's Group (PRUG).

Much of what we have in mind can be accomplished today with existing Part 15 radios. One of the author's of this article has such a system currently up and operational in the San Franciso Bay Area. The system uses two mountain top sites and can currently cover all of the South Bay Area, providing voice and data services to users at ranges up to 20 miles. Here are the characteristics of the system:

    • Operates on 2.4 GHz.
    • Radios use FHSS half duplex. Output power is 1W. EIRP is within FCC limits of 4 W EIRP.
    • TCP/IP protocols are used.
    • Accepted Internet protocols are used to handle voice and data traffic.
    • System can be accessed by any device that uses the TCP/IP protocols and a similar dataradio.
Here are some of the things that this POC radio system can accomplish:

  • Can handle several separate voice conversations, bulletins, and data streams simultaneously? Yes, using standard Internet protocols. Uses the H.32x standards. At the core of the H.323 standard is a method for managing network latency, or the time it takes to send and acknowledge a packet. High-latency networks such as the Internet, where data packets must jump through many routers and subnets, have a tendency to wreak havoc on audio and video synchronization. To address this shortcoming, H.323's Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) time-stamps and sequences packets and reduces delays. H.323 also specifies the coding and decoding of video and audio signals, optimizing data for lower bit rates and low-bandwidth connections. H.323-compliant products are now quite common on the market with Microsoft's NetMeeting being a good example. More information on H.323 can be found at: .

  • Supports duplex (just like a telephone) and conferencing (just like a teleconference)?
    Yes, again using standard Internet protocols, even though the acutal radio link is half duplex.

  • Lets you know who else is monitoring and lets you contact them without interrupting anyone else?

  • Is resistant to deliberate interference, and allows the control operator to "lock out" stations that are not following the rules?
    Yes. We have full control to lock out users as required by a number of different methods.

  • Can share its operating frequencies with several similar repeaters nearby, with little degradation in the performance of any of them?
    Yes. We are able to add new mountain top sites without the need for coordination.

  • Lets you use one radio to access all of these functions, and others such as PacketCluster and APRS, simultaneously?

  • Puts the amateur allocations above 1 GHz to more intensive use?
    Yes. In this case, 2.4 GHz is used.


We believe that amateur radio has been at a crossroads for the last several years and continues to wait for the "light to change" to indicate what the future will really hold in store for the service. The ARRL, TAPR, AMSAT, and other technology-oriented groups must take the initiative and forge ahead into the future on our own. We need to be proactive to change and challenges, and not take a position of "wait and see" for attitudes to change. There will be those members in all of our organizations that will hate what the future will bring, but past history and experience shows us that adopting a position of limited or no change only means that the change and growth will occur elsewhere. Change does not mean the total abandonment of the past traditions that we believe have made the amateur radio service what it is today. We can either bring about increased growth in our ranks or see that growth occur on the Internet and other areas that many of our members will perceive as much more fun and enjoyable ways to spend their time. Not following the course of change might be the wise political approach to adopt for now -- but is it unlikely to be the most productive one.

The issues and actions the we have raised are just some thoughts about where amateur radio is today and where it might be going These are just first steps towards a new future and many more will be required to effect any real change. Long range planning is certainly important, but with the increased pace of change in society and the technology sector, amateur radio needs to take a fresh look at where it has been and just where it would like to go.

June 1998

It has been a pretty busy spring as most of you read in the last issue. Laura, a good friend of mine, was injured during a University of Texas, Austin rock climbing outing to Heucos Tank near El Paso, Texas in March. Helping her recover from her emergency neurosurgery has taken up a lot of my time. Added to this, our office manager and my mother, Dorothy Jones, KA5DWR, had surgery about 10 days after Dayton for a blockage of the lower intestine. The office is typically overflowing after our return from Dayton and now add to this Dorothy's being out of the office for four weeks means we have a big pile of stuff to handle. Then in June, I had my wisdom teeth out and to make things even worse I had a dry socket occur. The pain pills were a nice thing though :-) So, my TAPR time was nearly nonexistent for several months, which put several of my projects on hold.

Luckily, Laura is doing much better. Dorothy is on her way to a full recovery. My teeth don't hurt anymore. Which means I can get back to TAPR fun, at least after I return from my ice climbing/glacier course in August! A BIG thanks to everyone who sent e-mail, cards, and flowers to Dorothy while she was in the hospital. They added greatly in keeping her spirits high during the time she was hospitalized and later recovering at home. She sends her best and hopes to talk to many of younow that she is back in the office.

Don't forget that the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference will be held in Chicago, IL, on September 25-27. Proceedings deadline for papers is August 15th! Deadline for booking your hotel room if you are flying in or staying overnight is September 1st! This is a full month before the conference, so don't put off getting your hotel room now while room rates are at the conference price. We normally have the word out on the DCC a little before Dayton, so with the late start in spreading the word, please make sure that everyone you see knows about the conference.

The Digital Communications Conference looks to be a great event. CAPRA is the local host and PRUG (Packet Radio Users Group of Japan) is the international host! Steve Roberts, N4RVE, of Nomadic Research Labs, will be the banquet speaker on Saturday. Also, we have just received word that Dale Hatfield, W0IFO, recently appointed as the Bureau Chief of the OET (Office of Engineering Technology at the FCC) will be attending and speaking Saturday morning. See details later in the PSR for what else is happening this year at the conference.

As an update to the Digital Communications Conference, the ARRL and TAPR have renewed the MOU between the organizations for co-hosting the conference for another three years. As of right now, the 1999 conference will be held in either Phoenix or Tucson, AZ. If you want to help with the conference, please contact Dan Meredith, N7MRP (dmeredith@phx-az.com). The location for the year 2000 will hopefully be in the southeastern part of the US. There has been some interest shown in Florida, maybe Georgia. If your group is interested in hosting the conference in the future, just visit the DCC web page (http://www.tapr.org/dcc) and check out the page on hosting.

I had several e-mails and phone calls over the past three months from people concerned with the recent changes in the Field Day rules as they pertain to digital communications. The impression is that some changes need to be attempted to better reflect how digital communications are actually done. I'll be working with some people to see if we can at least have a dialog about the issue. Hopefully, we can see some changes that better reflect how digital communications are done today with APRS and some of the other modes.

As usual, Bob Hansen, N2GDE, PSR Editor, is always looking for articles or technical information to publish in the PSR. From reading all the e-mail in the last several months, people are doing things; so please take a few minutes to write it up and send it to Bob for publication in the PSR.

Until next quarter!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

January 1998

What a great past year! We had our ups and downs during the year, but overall, it was a very productive year. 1998 looks to be a strong year as well. Several projects should be rolling out this year, including the DGPS Reference Station, John Ackermann's Wireless TCP/IP book, the METCON-II kit, and, with luck, at least one SS radio offering. I'll let the whole of the PSR speak for what is happening, so no need for me to duplicate that information here.

I would like to thank everyone who volunteers time to make TAPR work. I can't even begin to list everyone, but let's hit on a few areas that are very important to how TAPR acts as an organization. People like Larry Keeran, K9ORP, who maintains the APRS SIG file area, you can't imagine the weekly work Larry does in answering questions and making sure all those new files get moved someplace on the system. Greg Eubank, KL7EV, who maintains the TAPR software lib. Chuck Martin, KD6NUJ, who weekly records and encodes the Newsline audio for the TAPR web page for so many others to listen to. We had over 50,000 accesses to the audio pages Chuck make possible. Lee Ziegenhals, N5LYT, who provides space and makes the TAPR.ORG system possible with its terrific access to the Internet and dedicated expertise when things are not running so smooth. To all the volunteers who answer technical and information questions like Ron Parsons, W5RKN and Keith Justice, KF7TP, to name just a few. Without the volunteers that Dorothy draws upon to help answer questions or help members debug kit problems, we wouldn't be very successful in what we do. The volunteers that help 'elmer' others past their problems are the best! To all the SIG chairs who maintain the life blood of communications on various discussions and organization sub-groups that make up TAPR. When we started the various list in 1991, I never thought that they would turn into such an important communications tool to and between our members. To all those that help with project design and development that keep coming back year after year to provide technical challenges for the rest of us to learn from and gain experience by building and getting these things operational -- you know who you are. Finally to all the members that renew each year to support what TAPR is about. Between the efforts of those actively involved personally and to those who just read the PSR each quarter, TAPR is as strong as the membership as a whole. I only see very positive things from the current membership base.

With all the great praise out of the way :-),I now want to ask everyone to help with a fund raiser for the 900MHz FHSS radio project budget. We have money allocated, but we will need more than we have available in the R&D funds to support what is needed. The project is progressing very nicely with the CPU now operational and the RF sections being tested and brought up to speed. A project report is available in this issue and photos and audio are on the web project page. Any money we can raise will allow us to continue to fund the other projects scheduled for this year as well as fully support the radio project. When this issue came up last month, someone thought this was a lot of money for the next 12-18 months. Many don't realize that the original TNC-2 effort cost TAPR a little over $100,000 to fully pull off. I hope that this project doesn't require that much cash in the long run, but it easily could if we have to do initial production of the units ourselves, much like the TNC-2 in 1984, to make the unit a reality for the amateur radio community at a price we all want to see.

A few things to look for in 1998 include the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference to be held in Chicago, in September, with CAPRA as the local hosts. The Chicago conference looks to be as strong as this last year in Baltimore, so I hope everyone that couldn't attend the 1997 conference can make it this year. Don't forget that the Dayton HamVention will be on May 15, 16, and 17. We expect another strong speaking schedule on Friday afternoon and we should have some concept of the banquet speaker for our dinner by the next PSR.

To finish, let me point out that this is election time of year. We have four people running for the three slots available on the TAPR Board of Directors. Each member has strong credentials, so please take a moment and look over the election information and send in your vote. The TAPR Board of Directors is responsible for setting directions and goals of the organization, so this is your opportunity to have a say. We will again be accepting ballots printed in this PSR as well as doing an on-line balloting system. Please vote!

Until next quarter and lots more fun!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

October 1997

Lots of things to report in this issue of the PSR. The big news is that you'll be reading the first information released regarding the TAPR 900Mhz SS radio project in this issue. For those who attended the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference, you got the chance to hear the project team present their paper and show the first run of boards where shown at the meeting. The progress made so far is exciting and I look forward to continued progress towards the eventual goals of the project. Just keep in mind that this project could be at least a year or more away from completion and there is a lot to do during the project life cycle.

The National Science Foundation Grant we reported on earlier in the year was not accepted or declined. As it stands, we are rewriting it and the sending it back in again. I'll report more on this as it proceeds in the coming months.

By the time this goes out, the DCC will have been completed. This years DCC was terrific!!! The audio for all the sessions is now on the TAPR server. I got the audio recording correct this time. As it stands...most of the Dayton audio will not be able to be made available. I'll be putting some of it up as I have time. Check out the DCC writeup and photos later in the PSR. The only major error made this year was the date of the conference, but as reported earlier this year -- the organization apologizes to all those members of TAPR that practice the Jewish faith and were not able to attend due to other obligations on the weekend of the DCC. Three groups are submitting proposals to host next year's conference on September 25-27, 1998. If you see a major conflict with the date, please let me know as soon as possible! I'll write more about next year's conference as we select a site.

The TAPR SS STA has been quiet this summer -- although I know many of us have been experimenting on our own while we had time. There was another STA report generated on November 1st on activity and anyone interested in getting involved just has to check out the TAPR SS web page. We should be getting the STA renewed again November 8th.

Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, and I attended the SW Division ARRL conference held in Riverside, CA. I'll write more about it further on and include a few photos of those we saw at the conference. Thanks to Bill Gregory, who helped out with the shipping of boxes back and forth. We got to see a lot of TAPR members and I think we found at least one or two new people to work on on-going projects. Always good news!

I continue to read from time to time quotes like "the current state of affairs [packet radio] would indicate that the future is somewhat bleak, as there do not appear to be any new frontiers to conquer, and no influx of active members to revitalize the club." (NEDA, 1997). The future is as bleak as we want to make it. I see the future of amateur radio, digital communications, and packet radio overall to be very exciting and this isn't tied into the sun spot cycle. Networked AX.25 2meter 1200 baud activity might be on the decline, but just look at AMSAT, APRS, and other types of packet radio operations. As some BBS Sysops and TAPR members asked me at the TAPR membership meeting held at the DCC, what happened to the 'P' in TAPR -- meaning packet radio. I told them nothing -- just that there has been a lot of focus on digital communications projects, not necessarily AX.25 in nature. The issue becomes, after 10 years of trying to get people to do 9600baud AX.25 or faster communications or do something more then just operate BBS systems, new projects just came to an end. The only new AX.25 system being proposed has been the 'broadcast' protocol software that John Hansen, WA0PTV, has been working on. Full details on that can be found on his web page. If you want to have lots of traffic with no congestion, check this out as the solution. As I remind people, TAPR only can work on things that people bring to the party. Rarely does TAPR just go off and do something. It might seem that way, but most of the time some person or group approaches TAPR with a concept.

I see plenty of new frontiers to approach and conquer. The limitations or possibilities for an individual, group, or club's approach to the future can either be a positive or negative one. I can guarantee that by taking a 'no growth, no future' position will only result in the club's membership becoming smaller and smaller. I have seen it in many volunteer groups in the past. It takes a positive, future-looking vision to sustain and grow the life blood of an organization -- its members. Look into the possibilities that exist today for research and development, new deployment of systems, or any other number of opportunities.

As to the possibilities of high-speed Spread Spectrum radios as a potential TAPR late night, soft drink induced "pipe-dream"....just read further on in the PSR and make up your own mind. We set a course and we intend to pursue that course, no matter how long it takes to accomplish. If you want to take an active role on the TAPR Board who sets the organization's course and direction, then read the section regarding nominations in this issue.

With the continued support of all our members, now and new members in the future, the possibilities of what TAPR can accomplish for the amateur radio service in the future could be significant!

Should APRS form a National Group ?

The discussion has begun again about trying to form some type of National APRS group to represent all APRS operators. I have posted a few things on the APRS SIG, but let me cover them in this forum as well.

This issue is always an important one to think about -- but sometimes having to many clubs or groups can be a distraction. Unlike APRS, TAPR started as an organization to sponsor the building of TNCs. It was easy to grow an organization from those beginnings. APRS on the other hand really fits better into a lose coalition of groups and individuals. That is one reason the TAPR APRS SIG has been so successful. Donít forget that APRS@TAPR.ORG is a special interest group/committee within TAPR. No one club did APRS, but it is the extension of a concept started years ago by a few that many are involved in. No one club headed the growth -- probably no one club will ever be master of it -- even a national one. It is well beyond that point. The authors work together already to ensure standards in the software.

Communications on issues and development are key. If anything, we should be working on ways to get some type of monthly bulletin put together based on what happens on the APRS SIG and put out on packet and into print -- so that clubs can retrieve and print it. This would allow discussions to reach many more and take advantage of the existing autonomous workings of local/regional groups. This approach also makes them stronger by making them a provider of information to their members, instead of taking away from that information role by creating some type of national group.

Until next Quarter.

Greg Jones, WD5IVD

NEDA, 1997. Technical Session Minutes from 6/7/97. NEDA Report v4.2 page 4.

APRS Frequency Change
Greg Jones, WD5IVD

If you are an active APRS user then by now you have heard and hopefully have read the information concerning the potential APRS frequency change. There will be more in depth information presented later in the PSR, but let me put my spin on the issue.

The issue of APRS and other packet users on the 145.79 frequency and Amateur Radio Man Spaced usage has been an issue for more than just the last few weeks. With the introduction of the ISS (International Space Station) several years ago and as amateurs within AMSAT and other groups worked on getting an amateur radio station on board the issue became more important. While the closeness in frequency between MIR/SAREX/ISS and APRS operations has been a bother to each other -- no proposals over the last four years was really acceptable to even put forth beyond simple discussion. Recently, things have changed. With the release of a satellite sub-band in the US that wasnít usable in other parts of the world, the option of relocating APRS and other amateur digital operations on 145.79 to an area that should not have anyone else operating within it is now more than possible -- allowing a single frequency for all away from lots of potential interference issues.

Many ask, why doesnít MIR/SAREX/ISS move ? Why should all of us (APRS) move ? This is easy to answer, but sometime hard to grasp. Just think about how hard it was to find a frequency in your local area to do something recently for APRS ? Some found it to be a problem and others didnít. The issue of something that orbits around the earth in about 90mins compounds the problem enormously. Most of the problems for MIR/SAREX/ISS is that other parts of the world have much smaller segments in which they can operate. Region 1 and 3 have exactly half the 2 meter space we have in Region 2. Thus, the current frequency selection that we find man spaced missions using is really the only one they can use. (see Figure 1)

Figure 1: Region 1,2,3 band usage on 2 meter. Note the size of each.

A few weeks before the deadline for papers for the ARRL/TAPR DCC, Frank Bauer, VP of Man Space Operations at AMSAT, approached me with a paper concerning the issue. I immediately put Frank in touch with Steve Dimse, K4HG, to discuss the issue for its inclusion into the Friday APRS Symposium (first National APRS meeting now that we look back at it). During that time Steve and Frank discussed and began to get closure on certain issues and the current proposal. This is what was presented at the DCC and is available in full from TAPR APRS Freq Change web pages (http://www.tapr.org/tapr/html/aprsqsy.html). After three years of looking at different concepts, this proposal works. While it is not prefect for everyone, APRS and satellite person alike -- it solves the problem and has big pluses for everyone involved. Frank's paper on the web site outlines the pluses and minuses of the proposal and Iíll let that article speak on this issue. If you want a paper copy, contact the office.

What has to be weighed into this potential relocation is the benefit to the ARS (Amateur Radio Service) as a whole. The FCC is convinced that no group in the US can agree on anything like this -- sure would be nice to disprove them on this for once. Also, anything we can do as a small pocket of activity within the entire amateur radio hobby that benefits the high-profile man space related activity -- __HELPS US ALL__. Having a few hams/astronauts on the ISS operating ham radio will do more in the next 10 years to keep our frequencies in place then any new technology that we invent, deploy, or use. What we can all do to promote, experiment, or whatever pales to what the amateur radio Man Space programs can accomplish in the next 10 years. We have to take the long view on this issue, not that it will cost us all a little money now to do this. We have to think about having ARS around in 50 years so that future generations can enjoy it.

As Steve Dimse has pointed out, the issue could be about a lot of things -- but it comes down to that of moving from the current frequency to the new one. We have to leave our axes at home and not in other peoples heads as we debate on this topic.

I know that many of you out there in APRS land have emotionally bought into the current frequency selection via either fights over getting the frequency coordinated (when all it needed to be done was have it recognized), spending money and time building systems, or lots of other issues involved when building and growing something. I have done my share of building repeaters, digital networks, and lots of other things --- it comes down to the fact that frequency moves are a fact of life in a hobby that is RF based. Nothing should be or can be permanent. Frequency reuse and change has to be the issue. What is best in this situation is to at look at the move more on the international scope and its potential for big payoffs in the future.

The current proposal, while many are still asking lots of questions, is the best I have seen in three years now. Frank Bauer and Steve Dimse have done an excellent job in merging all the necessary issues into something that now has a chance to happen.

Like any good proposal that is evenly balanced. We all win something and we all lose a little along the way. While from the single view point of APRS it seems one sided -- it isn't. It is very balanced for everyone involved. If there was another way to do this -- then I think we would have already presented it to someone. I have read thus far many new ways to correct the problem since the initial presentation at the DCC, but they all suffer from the same problems that we saw in the past.

Take the time to read in detail the papers that Steve has pointed to as reference materials. Take the time to understand issues outside our IARU region with regards to frequency allocations. The issue is an international one for the ISS and a regional one for us. The proposal leverages off that fact and makes it possible for everyone to benefit.

As Steve Dimse, K4HG posted, "I think this is a great opportunity for APRS to gain visibility and respectability, not to mention a true nationwide channel which we can share with Canada. It also has the potential to make us look very selfish if we don't compromise. Please think about this seriously, and if you don't like it, try to come up with constructive alternatives."

July 1997

What is a 'smart' radio and is our spectrum really utilized or just occupied with current 20+ year old technology ?

Although the concept of 'smart' radios is not something new, one of the best articles I have read in some time was recently published in the June Forbes ASAP by George Gilder, which is available on-line [Gilder, 1997]. This last year, Dave Sumner, Exec Vice President of the ARRL, wrote about these concepts after attending the Spectrum En Banc hearings held by the FCC in which Paul Baran (grandfather of the Internet) spoke [Sumner, 1996]. The basic concept is the maximum reuse of spectrum by building radios that can determine where and how to operate. "Baran's written testimony described the need to move away from the communications model of 'dumb transmitters talking to dumb receivers' and toward networking with 'smart' equipment having greater tolerance for impurity (ie, interference), maximum reuse of the spectrum through shorter range transmitters, and incentives to maximize shared use of spectrum and to minimize spectrum 'warehousing.' [Sumner, 1996]." These concepts have been a major focus for some time with those working within TAPR on the Spread Spectrum technology issues. The stormy news to some is that these modern-day 'smart radios' will be built on Spread Spectrum technology. We now find ourselves in a rules making process at the FCC that could seriously jeopardize the Amateur Radio Service's (ARS) place in history for the creation of such devices over the next five years, all because the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding changes to the Spread Spectrum rules may not go far enough in some areas or may actually be worse than those written in 1985 in other areas. (SS Rule Changes).

As Gilder states "... frequency shortage is caused by thinking solely in terms of dumb transmitters and dumb receivers. With today's smart electronics, even occupied frequencies could potentially be used." [Gilder, 1997]. The approach some would take today, while TAPR is focused on working towards future spread spectrum radios, falls under the concept of less than intelligent transmitters and receivers. These less than intelligent radios are going to be less expensive to implement and easier to comprehend under the current paradigm of digital systems, but where do we find the 10-20Mhz of spectrum that doesn't interfere with anyone else, so that we can operate these more traditional high-speed radios using methods developed in the last 20 years ? Probably on bands that will be very difficult to implement them on, that also cost more to produce, and don't offer much distance for communications in either a metropolitan or local area.

With regard to the issue of 'is our spectrum being occupied or utilized...' "The chief reason for the apparent shortage of spectrum, he concluded [Baran], is regulation of it. Echoing his earlier critique of wireline communications, he declared that "the present regulatory mentality tends to think in terms of a centralized control structure, altogether too reminiscent of the old Soviet economy. As we know today, that particular form of centralized system ... ultimately broke down. Emphasis with that structure was on limiting distribution rather than on maximizing the creation of goods and services. Some say that this old highly centralized model of economic control remains alive and well today‹not in Moscow, but within our own radio regulatory agencies." [Gilder, 1997].

"The heart of the problem is the concept of spectrum as public property -- as scarce real estate or a precious natural resource. Spectrum is nothing of the kind. It has been created by a series of brilliant technical innovations, beginning with Marconi and continuing in a steady stream of high technology oscillators and digital signal processors: from magnetrons and kystrons to varactor multipliers and surface acoustical wave devices, from gallium arsenide and indium phosphide heterojunctions to voltage-controlled oscillators and Gunn or IMPATT diodes. Spectrum is chiefly a product of inventors and entrepreneurs. Americans will rue the day when foreign governments and international organizations begin auctioning and taxing, marshaling and mandating the use of these mostly American technologies. [Gilder, 1997]"

"The real estate model applies chiefly to broadcasters and others using analog modulation schemes in which all interference shows up in the signal. A television signal requires some 50 decibels of signal to noise power, or 100,000-to-1. By contrast, error-corrected digital signals can offer virtually perfect communications at a signal-to-noise ratio well below 10 decibels, or 10,000 times less. Moreover, new digital systems can divide and subdivide the spectrum space into cells and differentiate calls by spread-spectrum codes or even isolate particular connections in space by space-division-multiple-access-devices that function as "virtual wires" allocating all of the spectrum to each call. [Gilder, 1997]."

Paul Baran and George Gilder have been writing about these above issues for some time now and this subject is of particular relevance if we read the comments and reply comments to the latest comments and reply comments regarding FCC Docket 97-12 the amendment of ARS rules to provide for greater use of spread spectrum communication technologies (SS Rule Changes). Many of the comments discuss the need for less regulatory mandates to allow experimentation to drive what technology is being developed within the ARS. Others don't share these views, as you would expect within such a diverse hobby as amateur radio. Some of the comments are easily definable as the protection of existing 'spectrum warehousing,' by the fact that other amateurs don't want any new mode operating in 'their' part of the spectrum that could possibly interfer with what they do as part of the hobby, even when all of amateur radio is shared among all users. However, much of the perception of Spread Spectrum technology is driven by the yeoman service done by AMRAD in the early 1980's, which led to the current part 97 rules on spread spectrum and also the ARRL Spread Spectrum Source book. However, many of these beliefs on how Spread Spectrum behaves among other users of the spectrum is based on 1970's technology or on analogies that deal with military radars or other systems that are not relevant to digital communication systems. The 'smart' radios that Gilder talks about and amateur radio must be implementing is based on 1990's technology, not technology 20 years ago.

The only reason we can't share our amateur radio spectrum and must have band-plans is because we choose to use older analog modulation schemes in which all interference shows up in the signal. With a 'smart radio,' even if we use segments of the bands that amateur satellites, weak-signal, EME, and voice repeaters operate on, these radios can avoid certain narrow spectrum when it senses potential interference possibilities. We must view spectrum utilization as a local issue for these types of new radios, not as a national regulatory policy. Let's take a few examples. There are maybe several hundred EME operators spread throughout the US. How many hours of the day, week, or year does one of these EME enthusiasts actually operate their system ? If the EME station keys up to transmit at the moon, doesn't the local 'smart' radio hear that signal, knows what the sub-band is used for, and then avoids that segment for say 12 hours ? Take amateur satellite operations, how often is a satellite on a particular sub-band or frequency available for operation during any one day ? Again, these satellites operate on frequencies of sub-bands. When a 'smart' radio sees operations by a station could it not just keep monitoring that freq and wait for some period of time to start to use it again ? This approach works very well for voice repeater band segments in which many hours of the day voice pairs go unused, but during a few hours of the day have high-peak traffic use. These above examples are based on the fact 1) we have an amateur radio operator doing this mode in the 10-30 mile radius of a 'smart' radio and 2) that these new radios are going interfere. However, the purpose of using spread spectrum technology is to build radios that can use much lower power to accomplish their operations and at the same time not be apparent to other users on the spectrum far away. Thus, if you don't have any local EME, satellite operations, or whatever, you don't have to worry about point one and will be able to use all the spectrum you have available to you instead of following a band plan that doesn't necessarily apply to your area. Although, if you live in a metropolitan area, then much of the intelligence of the radio gets used more often. Also, if these radios really are as transparent as we hope they will be to other users in the spectrum, possibly only a small segment of the amateur radio population, say weak-signal operators, need to be worried about in regards to point number two.

With the types of 'smart' radios that TAPR intends to design, amateur radio could once again be on the leading edge of technology. However, if the FCC listens to those against new technology innovations or issues regarding protection of other operating modes --- and the FCC issues a final Report and Order that doesn't truly allow experimentation and implementation of advanced Spread Spectrum communication devices, then we could be so seriously hobbled as to be unable to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of the ongoing telecommunications revolution. This, because a small group within our hobby are afraid of new technology innovations that might or could cause a certain amount of dislocation within what they perceive to be their operating interest.

Amateur radio as a whole has a decision to make -- do we advance and participate in the wireless communications revolution underway and be a key player in it, or do we sit on the sidelines waiting for our spectrum to be taken away so that we can at least operate the way we have for the last 20 years for another 5-10 years ? If we don't become active participants with rules that allow for that participation, then other commercial services will produce the necessary technology and we will find ourselves losing our spectrum in the coming WRC conferences. These are the same frequencies that provide communications in times of emergency, proving grounds for new technology, and recreation to many that participate in our hobby, but could eventually go to other services that show better utilization and outcomes.

Another potential downfall is that there is a group of decision makers that feel that any new technology should be forced to the higher bands, because they believe "amateur radio needs to have things operating up there". This is the "use it or lose it" concept. One reason that many amateurs are not on these 'higher' bands is the cost, difficulty in making such systems work because of a lack and cost of test equipment, and the usefulness of some of these higher-bands in the 'mobile' environment. It makes sense to build these smart radios in places on our bands that offer the greatest potential for frequency reuse and utilization and also on under utilized higher-bands where we can make systems go faster because of more spectrum width. We will build 1.54Mbps and faster radios starting on 1.2Ghz and up; however, saying we shouldn't develop slower data and voice systems on 2 meters or 70cm because people already operate there is impossible to comprehend. These are the bands that need the technology described above the most. Bands where people can no longer get coordinated (ie, warehoused) spectrum to build traditional systems on or bands that are really underutilized based on the number of people using them throughout the day, but heavily occupied because of band planning that limits where people have agreed to operate.

Do we want to see amateur radio go the way of the 'Soviet economy' as Gilder points out or do we want to keep amateur radio in the spotlight of technical innovation and leadership ? I know what my answer is...do you know what yours is ?

To finish this segment, let me quote David Sumner, Exec Vice President of the ARRL, again. "First, the rules of the game are changing. As incumbent users of the spectrum, we must realize that the yardstick by which our use is measured is getting longer. Second, digital technology gives us powerful new tools to enhance our own service -- tools that we have barely begun to think about using [Sumner, 1996]." "To let the telecommunications revolution start without us would be as short-sighted as failing to convert from spark to CW, or from AM to SSB. [Sumner, 1996]."

If what David Sumner wrote about the future is correct, then the comments and reply comments filed by the ARRL and others concerning the changes in rules for Spread Spectrum don't reflect this perceived future at all. They reflect an attitude of accepting what the FCC has proposed for the new rules without question or of keeping the status quo of spectrum protection and operating modes and not encouraging experimentation and implementation of new modes to keep the hobby alive and growing into the next century.

What is a long range vision and how does the TAPR membership participate now ?

Four years ago now, several of us started looking seriously into Spread Spectrum communications techniques as a possible solution to the several critical factors that faced both the aspects of digital communicators and the hobby in general. No need for me to cover these here, since I have covered them in past columns (presidents_corner.html). I have stated in those columns that the TAPR long range plan in this area is going to take time. I have received messages on e-mail and USENET that state 'now that TAPR has said it is doing something -- why hasn't TAPR completed it yet ?' Well, the answer is 'it takes time to implement new technology, especially technology that now integrates RF into the design' and 'technology that requires rules changes to make it practical to make available'. The current rule making has been happening over two years now. I think the vast majority of TAPR members understand this, but many non-TAPR members don't see this and expect it to be happening now.

If we look back on the current long range vision statement from TAPR, we can see the roots of these thoughts as far back as 1988, when Pete Eaton proposed the TAPR packetRadio project. Pete had the correct vision and if the project had been successfully completed, no telling how much that project would have changed the face of current amateur radio digital communications. To date, the packetRadio was the only project that TAPR had attempted that involved the integration of digital and RF elements into the design. All the other successful TAPR projects to date have just focused on the digital side of things. With Spread Spectrum digital communication systems, the integration of RF and digital elements is crucial to the success of both making it work and making it available at a price amateur radio enthusiasts will perceive as useful and plunk down their cash to purchase.

To this end, at the TAPR Board of Directors meeting held in Dayton in May, the board voted to fund the initial stages of a 900Mhz 256Kbps FHSS (Frequency Hopper) design. This is one of two designs that TAPR should be undertaking in the next year. The second design, which we believe will target either 2.4GHz or 1.2GHz and operate at speeds up to 1.544Mbps (T1), is on hold awaiting for the NSF (National Science Foundation) grant to support the development project to be started. Both radios fall into a category of being intelligent. This is something that many of us have been discussing informally for the last two years and is a key part of the NSF grant proposal. The 900Mhz radio design group has asked that their identity be kept quiet so as to give them time to devote their energy to design and development. This group has past experience in the necessary areas and I think we will see something eventually. We must give them time and space to complete their work. With luck, we will all be able to read about the initial design at the upcoming Digital Communications Conference.

There are several ways TAPR members can participate in these long range plans now. First is to begin learning and educating yourself about what Spread Spectrum is and how it works today. There is a lot of information on the TAPR web page (http://www.tapr.org/ss) and at your local library. TAPR supports an e-mail list for Spread Spectrum communications. Get on that list and start asking questions. There are many on there who will help Elmer those interested in the mode. If you don't think Spread Spectrum is the answer, then research that as well. Learning and education is a lot of what technology change is about.

Second, I might be lecturing the congregation that already knows what TAPR is doing, but it is impossible for the TAPR board and a few of the movers to handle all the questions and discussions that happen on packet radio BBS traffic, USENET, and at local meetings. It will up to the TAPR membership to communicate what TAPR is about and defend if necessary when incorrect and defamatory statements are made by others. It is up to the TAPR membership to educate those that don't understand or believe that new communications technologies are based on 1970's technology. Try to help disseminate the truth as you see it, and help stamp out the rumors and conjecture.

Another aspect to your involvement is to contact your ARRL Division Director and let him/her know what you think about Spread Spectrum and what TAPR is actively pursuing. You might ask why is it important to communicate with the ARRL ? The last membership survey we did showed that over 80% of TAPR members supported the ARRL as members and we must acknowledge that the ARRL has a large voice in the future of what happens at the FCC, as well as several other important aspects of the hobby. Your director's representation at the ARRL board meetings can only be as good as the information supplied by their constituents. This is 'you', if you are in that 80% of TAPR members who are also members of the league! If you think Spread Spectrum is an important future mode in amateur radio, you need to drop an e-mail, write a letter, or call your director up that represents you and let them know what you think. Those that oppose the further use of spread spectrum in the hobby have already been doing this, so we better be joining into the process or the current FCC rules process will conclude and we might find that we have rules that really kill the current spark of interest that has begun to kindle and might one day become a bright flame in the hobby with regard to spread spectrum communications on the ham bands.

Other Organizational Issues

Don't forget that the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference will be held in Baltimore, MD, on October 10-12. Proceedings deadline for papers is August 20th! Deadline for booking your hotel room if you are flying in or staying overnight is September 9th! This is a full month before the conference, so don't put off getting your hotel room now while room rates are at the conference price.

TAPR will have a booth at the ARRL National convention to be held in Jacksonville, FL, on August 2-3, 1997. Be sure to drop in and say hello to Steve Bible, N7HPR, and me; we will be working the booth. I don't think we will be presenting during the conference, but I am sure we will have plenty to discuss if you come by the booth. Check http://users.southeast.net/~jrmoore/hamfest.htm for more details on the convention. If anyone wants, we can try to arrange a dinner on Friday. Send e-mail to Steve Bible (N7HPR) and we can see who might be interested in doing some type of organized thing on Friday.

At the TAPR Board meeting at Dayton, we also passed the Affiliated Groups motion. There is a full writeup later in the PSR about how local and regional groups can become affiliated with TAPR.

I want to take a second to congratulate Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, for his excellent work and effort as secretary of the organization, since he took over this position shortly after last year's board meeting at Sea-Tac, Washington.

Bob Hansen, N2GDE, PSR Editor is always looking for technical papers to publish in the PSR. From reading all the e-mail in the last several months, people are doing things; so please take a few minutes to write it up and send it to Bob for publication in the PSR.

Until next quarter!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

May 1997

What will Amateur Radio Networks look like in the future? or will amateur radio digital networks look any different in two years then they did 10 years ago ?

The past ?

Let us look back at how we began in the early 1980's with this thing called packet radio. We (amateur radio) began by building units capable of talking to each other in a local environment. It was a thrill to be able to talk to someone across town or within the county. Not until later in the process did we have any kind of long-distance networking. Networks like NetRom, ROSE, KaNodes, TexNet, etc came on the scene to provide linking to get us from point A to point B over RF over several miles or hundreds of miles. These systems did not appear until after 1984, over 5 years after the first TNCs were available. This entire trend of networking was driven by the interest within the community to build such networks and the growth of the user base who owned TNCs. As we had more people owning a common data communications interface, we had just enough critical mass to make networks happen and to keep them going and growing. Some of these networks have been operating over 10 years, which is a real accomplishment considering the volunteer nature of a few people behind the process for each network. Much of this interest and growth was because it was a new and exciting technology for amateur radio operators to be involved in.

Interest and excitement -- that is what this is all about!

As technology has remained the same (for the most part), have we not seen a general lowering of interest within the packet using community as a whole ? There are exceptions to the interest and excitement indicators -- look at APRS or continued experimental development. Resources (money/equipment) are still hung at speeds that were available in 1985, while personal interest has moved in favor of a much different type of access which is focused on speed, bandwidth, and information access and availability. Let's face it -- technology has passed us by if we say 1200 baud AFSK or 9600 baud FSK communications are the best we can do as amateur radio hobbyist. It is time to make the jump to a new technology base.

I have recently been accused of being a 'moron' or the 'evil end of amateur radio as a whole' for stressing the importance of taking a step forward with new technology, but taking a step backwards at the same time because of the need to focus on local access issues.

This is where we need to move back to now. The emphasis has to be back on creating new technology to serve the general community for local access. The reason long distance networks were created was to connect these dispersed local areas together, but this process took time -- years in fact -- and new technology was created to make it happen. However, this new technology was a result of the user interface as it was designed. There is the problem. No new user interface was really ever brought forward past the TNC-2 that was so widely adopted. There are several reasons for this, but I believe the main one was price. TAPR did too good a job on the TNC-2. The cost was so low after the first 4 years, that most amateurs just didn't want to pay any more money to do better. There was also no incentive for doing it, since if you made the technology jump, there was typically no one else to talk to and getting a group to do something together was difficult, if not impossible.

We are now looking at developing new communication systems with physical limitation different from the past era of technology that will act as a current nodal point in communications. The systems that are being developed are a jump ahead in access and usage. Why hamper them with the requirements to work with systems that were based on 1970's technology? We shouldn't.

We have to start from the beginning. Build new local access infrastructures and then begin to explore ways of intercommunications based on the tradition of amateur radio ingenuity and availability. We cannot expect much of the technology currently installed to support the speeds of access for enabling long distance communications that these new technology implementations represent. The only thing that does remain viable in many of the networks today are the sites, the sites, and the sites. Sites are one of the most valuable resources we have today and they get used with any new technology that comes along.

For the many who 'rant and rave' concerning what I am saying in this column (the possible abandonment of long distance 1200 and 9600 baud systems), they have missed a major point -- these systems have already collapsed in many parts of the US. While some are still functioning, this is because of a few dedicated volunteers maintaining them. However, without a new technology influx to stir activity once again and keep the interest of current and future participants -- total collapse and stagnation is very apparent in the future of our aspect of the hobby and possibly the hobby as a whole.

We seem to have basic choices to make. Do we remain the same, using and supporting current technology with limited people to do this or use our talent and resources to push forward into the future and develop new systems and operating benefits. There is some overlap in both, but trying to do both will limit our resources for accomplishing our goals and later implementing them in any wide scale solution that really move the hobby forward.

Now on to little lighter subjects.

The last issue of the PSR had the election ballot for Board of Directors. First, I would like to thank all those who took the time to ballot by mail or over the Internet. The web based ballot system received over 90 percent of the ballots cast. From the response we received, I will ask the board to keep this system in place for next year. If you have comments on the balloting process, please let me know so we can look at ways to improve it in the future. Now to the election results.

The results of the election are as follows:

  • Greg Jones, WD5IVD, 89.10%
  • Mel Whitten, K0PFX, 71.08%
  • John Koster, W9DDD, 68.67%
  • Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, 66.26%

I would like to welcome back to the board John Koster, W9DDD and Mel Whitten, K0PFX. This was a very close election, with one write-in vote for Ron Parsons, W5RKN. Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, will be continuing in his secretary position. Steve has brought a lot of new energy as an officer to TAPR. Thanks to all the members who voted.

Dayton 1997

Dayton Hamvention will be here before we know it. This year looks really good in the way of presenters for the TAPR Digital Forum on Friday, items being introduced and available at the booth, and the PacketBASH banquet on Friday night, which really looks better than last ever.

There are plans to transmit audio live from the TAPR Digital Forum on Friday on TAPR.ORG. There will be a special link on the home page as of Dayton to allow you to get this audio page. In addition, we will be providing audio on Saturday for another forum event with Len Winkler; keep an eye out for that one as well. If you don't get to listen to either of these events from Hamvention live, they will be on the site afterwards. It is also our hope to show off a Spread Spectrum connection between the TAPR Digital Forum and the TAPR booth on Friday to allow presenters to use the Internet or present their overheads off the server in the booth or even from their home sites! If this works out okay, there are some additional plans to use the same radios to provide Cu-SeeMe video from the TAPR booth and from the surrounding Hamvention areas onto the Internet using Spread Spectrum communications. That should really be a good show of how Spread Spectrum works even in the RF environment of the Dayton Hamvention -- or maybe that it doesn't work there :-) We will just have to wait and see as the event unfolds. Be sure to drop by any of the events and say hello!

If you haven't been to Dayton before, you should think about coming this year. The dates for this year are May 16th - 18th. Check out the web page http://www.tapr.org/tapr/html/dayton.html for any last minute changes in the schedule. The schedule of events will appear later in the PSR, but things do sometime change at the last minute.


The date has been set for the 1997 ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference. It will be held on October 10-12, 1997 in Baltimore, Maryland, just a few miles from the BWI airport. I flew up the first of March and met with the AMRAD folks to select the final hotel and sign the contracts. The airport seems to have decent prices to various parts of the US and the hotel has excellent service. The full details on the conference appears later in the PSR and there are going to be some great seminars and symposiums this year to attend, along with the conference. In addition, there will be a TAPR membership meeting during the conference. That was something that was brought up last year and it has been added.

Spread Spectrum Issues

Lots is happening on the Spread Spectrum front. While many members were disappointed by the collapse of the Freewave deal (including me), we are continuing along the road of system development and rules change. The FCC released Docket 97-12 on March 3rd, 1997. Check http://www.tapr.org/ss for the text of the docket. First comment date is May 5th, 1997. The TAPR Regulatory Affairs Committee, chaired by Dewayne Hendicks, WA8DZP, is working on the TAPR comment to the rule making. TAPR will continue to attempt to make as much of the information in regards to the Spread Spectrum rule making available on the Internet as possible, so everyone can follow what is being written. Concerning system development, there are two groups working on proposals for TAPR to review in the next few months. Both groups have asked for their identity to be kept confidential for the time being so they can focus on their work. Either design could be something that TAPR could take and develop in the coming 12-18 months into very interesting outcomes.

Until next quarter and lots more fun!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

January 1997

What an interesting year 1996 has been and it looks like 1997 is going to be as or more interesting! TAPR got lots of it goals met for 1996. That of 1) moving Spread Spectrum issues forward, 2) getting the joint ARRL and TAPR DCC off the ground, 3) increasing membership activity, 4) and lots of other neat projects and concepts. I hope we can keep up with the pace of what is happening.

The big news the last November was that the FCC granted TAPR's request for a Spread Spectrum STA. This was really great news and we already have a number of folks operating under the STA (http://www.tapr.org/ss/tapr_sta.html). If you want to participate in the STA, just use the on-line application or request one from the office.

The sad news I have to report is that FreeWave Technologies, Inc. of Boulder, CO (www.freewave.com), after deciding to sell us their DGR-115 radios at board level for $250 each, decided to cancel the agreement several days after it was announced on the TAPR web page and to the membership via the Internet list. The units were first mentioned in the last PSR. We discussed the issue with FreeWave for three weeks, but were forced to finally give up once it was apparent that no solution was possible. This is too bad, since I felt that it was an excellent opportunity for both FreeWave and TAPR. TAPR got a radio in the hands of the membership and FreeWave got high quality technical feedback for future implementation. I know there was a lot of interest in this radio and I hope that all those who showed excitement will not let this change affect their thinking and plans about doing new technology.

It is becoming obvious that Part 15 manufacturers are seeing amateur radio operations in our bands using their Spread Spectrum technology as a threat and I don't believe that getting equipment from these sources in any recognized group purchase is going to be possible or at least very difficult. The Part 15 coalition, which Proxim, Metricom, and others are involved with have stated that they plan to fight the rules changes as set forth under RM-8737. They want Part 97 operations on bands where they are selling equipment to be limited to the same technical requirements they currently have to operate under. Less power, almost no antennas, etc. While the engineers and others that we have been discussing group purchases with are enthusiastic about the possibility of getting equipment to us, by the time the decision reaches higher levels, resistance begins to build. In addition, now that the FreeWave purchase has fallen through, is it a good thing for amateur radio that we work on purchases like this ? Some at the FCC already see amateur radio as an obsolete entity. This could be one reason for the suggested Part 5 rule changes. They see amateur radio not providing the necessary technology development, so the answer is to change the Part 5 rules so more commercial entities can test their RF devices. Would we be walking into a pit if we go out and get Part 15 equipment operational on our bands. The easy answer on the part of the FCC would be to collapse Part 97 into Part 15. If all we do is make part 15 equipment operational, why allow part 97 operations. I think it is even more important now to stress the experimental and developmental nature of our hobby and to press the point on several fronts. While getting Part 15 equipment operational was a solution to several short term issues, I don't believe (now) that it would have been a good direction in say two years. Would have getting the FreeWave radios into the amateur market via TAPR set a trend that we could not recover from ? I don't know, but it might be fortunate that FreeWave decided that they didn't want to sell us radios without additional stipulations. Something serious to think about. TAPR can now focus on getting amateur technology into the amateur hobby and to that extent, several projects have been started and will be pushed to get completed.

On another topic -- I have not mentioned the following yet in the PSR, because it was still very tenuous and considered to be in the wait and see stage for several months. Now that it looks like we might get funded, let me outline what has happened. This last August I flew to Freemont, CA and spent several days at Dewayne Hendricks' home. During that period we wrote and submitted a grant to the National Science Foundation (NSF) concerning a proposal for TAPR to design and build a Spread Spectrum radio to meet some of their educational networking needs, which so happens to be just like what we need on the amateur radio bands. Anyway, the NSF grant has been progressing through channels for the last several months and we should be hearing about the outcome before Dayton. If the grant is accepted and funded, which I think we have a very good chance of now, we will have some money to invest in research and development of a TAPR Spread Spectrum radio design or designs that could be a significant contribution to the amateur radio hobby. I'll write a lot more when we know the final status of the proposal and how it will positively affect TAPR.

Dayton '97 is scheduled for May 17-19th. John Ackermann, AG9V, has informed us that we will be able to use the NCR facility again this year for the Friday evening happening. If you didn't make it last year, you really should think about attending this year.

You will find in this issue of the PSR a ballot of this year's board of directors election. We have four excellent candidates running for the three positions available. Please take the time to vote, either by mailing in your ballot or via the electronic means we are making available for the first time. This is your opportunity to select who sits on the board and determines the future of TAPR.

Until next quarter and lots more fun!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

October 1996

No long, lengthy diatribe from the president this quarter. With the first joint ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference just wrapped up and me just a little behind with my PhD work, I'll fall back to the traditional organizational update and the presentation of the TAPR Position Statement on Spread Spectrum Technology Development.

The Position Statement is a major step forward on stating where TAPR plans to go now and in the future in regards to Spread Spectrum. The committee was formed at the Dayton BoD meeting this past May and has worked on and off on the statement throughout the summer waiting for review and adoption at the Seattle BoD meeting. The reason for this statement is that things are moving fast and are about to pay off in both equipment to use now and in the future for high-speed digital communications.

We should be announcing several major happenings next quarter, one of which should be the availability of SS 115Kbps radios. The real question becomes do we operate these 115Kbps SS data radios under part 15 or under Part 97 or under a potential TAPR STA. We currently have a STA pending with the FCC, which we hope to have dislodged and operational by the next PSR. Our attorneys are involved with getting the STA operational so we can bring this radio project on-line under amateur rules for operational testing and development. If not, then we can always operate them under Part 15. I guess it just baffles me that certain amateur elements would rather have us go off and operate under Part 15 or some other aspect of the FCC rules, instead of trying to help advance the radio art and operational skills under Part 97. Sometime I just want to give up and spend money on things that don't seem like sink holes; however, we will continue to shovel money into the belt way and will continue to budget money now and in the future for legal action on the matter. It was obvious last year that intelligence, knowledge, effort, money and lots and lots of time were going to be required to have any real advancement in the SS rules for either data or voice operations. The future looks bright, but the toll could be a step one for everyone that wants to participate in this mode.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading the statement. Please feel free to write me or anyone on the board about it and let us know what you think.

As to the 1996 DCC, it was great! One of the best I think, although I'll defer to those few that have made almost all of them. Anyway, I think we set a very good trend for the future of the joint conference. Long time attendees to the conference were more than tickled pink to have Rod Stafford, KB6ZV, President of the ARRL attend the conference. We believe this was the first time that the President of the ARRL was in attendance. Thanks for attending Rod, we hope that we didn't overwhelm you with all of our enthusiasm in the area. Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, gave one heck of a banquet talk. Lyle summed up in about 20 minutes what several of us takes two or three hours to state. With luck, a transcription of the talk will be printed in this issue. The student papers were excellent! Thanks to co-chair Gerald Knezek, KB5EWV, co-chair Robert Diersing, N5AHD, and Frank Bauer, KA3HDO for making the first year possible. If you know a student, keep the travel award in mind for next year. Thanks to all those who presented in the Introductory Track. Especially Frank Perkins, WB5IPM, who with about 5 minutes notice filled the hole in the track that I had forgotten to fill after the initial presenter was not able to attend. Great job Frank! I would like to thank Keith Justice, KF7TP, for the work he did organizing the paper session. Also, a big thanks goes to Maty Wienberg at ARRL HQ for her work on the proceeding, which reliable sources inform me that she has done since the first one! Also, the biggest thanks to Steve and Tina Storh. Without there help locally as the co-hosts this conference would not have happened in the style that it did. Steve spent many long nights during the conference making sure that workshop materials were copied and making runs to the RadioShack for stuff and Tina ran the hospitality area nearly single handed and seemed to be able to feed an army if we had had one there :-)

TAPR activities at Dayton 1997 are already in the first stages. If you have suggestions for programs during the Friday forum or a possible banquet speaker -- let us hear. Suggestions is what makes the Dayton event very positive.

TAPR began to process the latest GPS-20 order the end of September. Units should have been out the door by the first of October, since we had to wait on the power connector parts. As soon as we have sold the 20 or so units remaining, we will start yet another collection of 100 units to ship. If you want a GPS-20 for the future TAC kit, time to get those orders in when you can. As soon as we get another 80 or so, we will place another order of 100.

While I write this, we are taking the last of the EVM56002 orders. What a ride! Looks like we will sale all 200 units in just little over a months time. Thanks to all those who purchased a unit. With this under out belt and continued communications with the DSP folks of Motorola in Austin, we should be doing other things in the future in this area. Keep an eye on the PSR and the TAPR-BB announcement list. Discussion is currently happening about doing a radio interface board for the upcoming Motorola EVM56303 board. This is one hot processor board. Something to look forward to next year sometime.

Talking about DSP, we still need another nine (9) orders on the PC-DSP software package. I'll make sure we have a reprint again in this issue. We have to have 21 purchases to make the group buy. This is an excellent set of programs for DSP development.

As of October, TAPR has a new Secretary for the organization. Steve Stroh, N8GNJ, will be taking over for Gary Hauge, N4CHV. Gary had expressed the desire at the Spring board meeting that if anyone else wanted to be Secretary, he was open to allowing them. Gary has done a terrific job since 1993 as Secretary. Thanks Gary. Steve, brings a lot positive energy to the board. In addition to his Secretary position, Steve will be working on a proposal on how regional organization can be affiliated with TAPR. There has also been interest in looking at building better communications on an international level. Steve will be working on both of these issues. Welcome aboard Steve.

Until next quarter, when I should have a little more time to write something in depth :-)

Cheers - Greg

TAPR's Position Statement on Spread Spectrum
Technology Development

TAPR was founded in 1982 as a membership supported non-profit amateur radio research and development organization with specific interests in the areas of packet and digital communications. In the tradition of TAPR, the Board of Directors at their Fall 1995 meeting voted that the organization would begin to actively pursue the research and development of amateur radio spread spectrum digital communications. At the Spring 1996 board of directors meeting, the following statement of purpose was passed:
"TAPR believes that the technical facts support our conviction that conventional and spread spectrum systems can coexist without detriment to conventional systems on all frequencies from MF to EHF. To this end, TAPR will begin to research spread spectrum systems that will develop technology for future deployment."
As stated above, the TAPR board feels strongly about TAPR's focus on spread spectrum technology and especially how it relates to the potential coexistence on frequencies that will have increased number of users occupying them. The amateur radio bands, like other spectrum will become more heavily utilized in the future. It is in the interest of amateur radio to develop systems that are interference-resistant while not interfering with other primary or secondary users on those frequencies.

TAPR understands the concerns many have with the new technology, and believes that efforts in both education and research is necessary in order to allay the fears about interference and to demonstrate the benefits of the technology.

TAPR believes that todays' communications technology is moving toward all digital transmitters and receivers. These advances in technology, combined with the swift evolution of cell based transmission and switching protocols, are opening up a new set of possibilities for unique new services utilizing intelligent networks. These will contain smart transmitters, receivers, and switches. Today's Internet is perhaps the best example of a self-regulating structure that embodies these new technological approaches to communications in the networking domain. However, to date, many of these innovations have not moved into the wireless networking arena. TAPR will work on moving these innovations into the amateur radio community.

TAPR feels that the VHF/UHF/SHF radio networks of the future will involve a mixture of links and switches of different ownership, which terminate at the end-user via relatively short-distance links. What will then be required is a built-in, distributed, self-governing set of protocols to cause the network's behavior to make more efficient use of a limited, common shared resource, the radio spectrum. Creating such a self-regulating structure for the optimal sharing of spectrum will require much effort.

One of the major problems which stands in the way of these new approaches today is the current FCC regulatory environment and the manner in which spectrum is managed and allocated under its rules.

Historically, the current regulatory approach to radio has been based upon the technology that was in use at the time that the Communications Act of 1934 was framed, basically what we would call today, 'dumb' transmitters speaking to 'dumb' receivers. The technology of that time required reserved bandwidths to be set aside for each licensed service so that spectrum would be available when needed. Given this regulatory approach, many new applications cannot be accommodated since there is no available unallocated spectrum to 'park' new services. However, given the new set of tools available to the entrepreneur with the advent of digital technology, what once were 'dumb' transmitters and receivers can now be smart devices which are capable of exercising greater judgment in the effective use and sharing of spectrum. The more flexible the tools that we incorporate in these devices, the greater the number of uses that can be accommodated in a fixed, shared spectrum.

Therefore, TAPR will focus its spread spectrum effort in the following areas:

  • TAPR will work to promote rules and technologies to make the most efficent use of the spectrum through power control, forward error correction, and other means to minimize interference among spread spectrum users and existing communications systems.

  • TAPR will work on issues and efforts with other national organizations to change the regulatory environment and rules in order to promote the experimentation, development, and later deployment of spread spectrum technology.

  • TAPR will work to develop information on the topic to help educate members and the amateur community as a whole about spread spectrum technology, and to disseminate this information via printed publications, the World Wide Web, presentations at conferences and meetings, and other means.

  • TAPR will work to foster experimentation, development, and design of spread spectrum systems, and to facilitate the exchange of information between the researchers and other interested parties.

  • TAPR will work to develop a national intra-network to foster the deployment of future high-speed spread spectrum systems into regional and local communities, including the development of suitable protocols and guidelines for deployment of these systems.

  • TAPR will work with commercial companies who manufacture spread spectrum devices which operate in spectrum shared by the amateur radio service (ARS), in order to make them more aware of the nature of ARS operations on those bands with the goal to work towards the deployment of devices which will minimize interference between all spectrum sharing partners.

  • TAPR will work with commercial companies who manufacture spread spectrum devices in order to identify equipments that can be either used or modified for use for Part 97 operation.

Adopted by the TAPR Board on September 20th, 1996 at Seatac, Washington Board Meeting.

Spread Spectrum Statement Committee:

  • Greg Jones, WD5IVD
  • Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP
  • Barry McLarnon, VE3JF
  • Steve Bible, N7HPR

TPRS August 1996

Amateur Radio Networks: Are Amateurs Willing to Pay the Price ?

I always hate to be taken out of context, so here is the full article as published in the Q-Report attached below. Now what Charles, N5PVL, doesn't think about is 'why I wrote it'. Who was the target audience. This is important when writing anything.

TPRS (Texas Packet Radio Society) at the time I was writing this was suffering a down turn in membership and network stagnation. The purpose was to get people thinking about the future and hopefully get them active in at least doing something. I might not be right, but at least in Charles' case my goal was fully realized. Just look at the energy he has expended over the issue. I just wish it was a little bit more constructive in nature though -- like being a part of the solution -- building, maintaining, or helping the current TPRS TexNet cause. There are to few people in the TPRS regional group that do a lot of work and another pair of active hands could be the difference in keeping links up and working between Texas and Oklahoma. Charles has never really wanted to be a part os the solution, onlt a part of the problem.

I hope the article posted below gets others to think about where we have been and the possible future. Future theory says that you can not predict the future. All you can do is prepare your mind with different concepts of reality, so that as things change you can adapt to the situation.

Also, all of my writing as President of TAPR can be found at: http://www.tapr.org/tapr/html/presidents_corner.html or on the top level of http://www.tapr.org If you want to see what I have been writing in TAPR then check out this page. I think you will find that I am not as anti-amateur radio or pro-telephone as many would seem to say.

Also, please note I use the term 'wireline' not 'telephone'. There is a big difference. Much of the existing TexNet network, which Charles uses to forward many of his BBS messages to others sysops transits across some of these commerical wireline pairs that TPRS (TexNet) has been able to use over the years to tie areas of Texas together that we would never be able to build RF connections into. When building networks, the concept is communications and sometimes in order to provide the service to fellow hobbiest you have to take advantage of what presents itself to make it happen. Just ask Harry Ridenour, N0CCW, first TexNet network manager.

I hope you take a second and read my thoughts below. Keep in mind that they are a several years old, but I still feel that amateur packet radio digital communication users have to make a decision 'are they willing to invest in the future of the mode ?'

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

Reprinted from TPRS Q-Report, August, 1996.

Amateur Radio Networks: Are Amateurs Willing to Pay the Price ?
Greg Jones, WD5IVD

What is a 'good' amateur radio network ? Is it our current 1200 baud or 9600 baud systems ? Are amateurs willing to pay the price in money, time, and manpower to make our current networks into 'better' networks ?

In 1982, it was the ability to use a local digipeater to be able to connect to the local BBS and even to chat with someone locally at 1200 baud. In 1985, it was the ability to use 9600 baud networks to be able to connect to the same type of BBS or a friend located any where across the state. In 1990, it was the ability to have access to new types of services (i.e. NWS, Radar, DX Cluster, etc). However, during the entire 10+ years, the user access speeds never increased -- even when plug-n-play equipment was available.

Why ? The equipment and technology have been here. Are 'hams' just too cheap to do it ? Why should any amateur radio operator be surprised that numerous 'hams' are leaving amateur radio for the Internet. It does many of the things that they find fun in amateur radio and access is a lot better. There are no local disputes, no club politics; it works all the time. There is no one telling them they can't get access to Houston, because there is no RF path, etc. It just works. But how can hams spend $240+ a year for Internet dial-up modem access and not spend the same amount for amateur networks that could easily have better access than they get from their dial-up Internet providers ?

Amateurs in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, as well as the rest of the US, will shortly be faced with a decision. Either spend the money, time, and energy to upgrade existing amateur networking or watch it crumble. The most valuable things in any of our networks is not the equipment or networking technology, but the site locations and the few people who maintain them. In the TexNet network, we have very valuable sites that could easily be used to build a new TexNet network on-top of the existing one. As for the networkers who work the sites, we have to design a system that does not require one of them driving 5 hours to fix a node. Eventually, we will burn them out with the current network we support. The technology is here now -- and we better do something with it, or we can forget the 10+ years of work and effort that has been put into the existing networks.

In years past, we had many discussions and meetings on where TexNet should be going. The problem always came down to 1) cost of higher-speed radios and 2) how to make a new network backwards compatible with the older system. The radio problem, with the help of TAPR and others, is about to fix itself. The second item really comes down now to jumping to a new network all together. We leave the existing TexNet network in place and build a new one on top of it using new technology. In this manner, the older users are still supported, but a newer, faster network can be put in place.

What do I mean by 'newer and faster' ? TexNet-2 should support the goal of providing high-speed local loop access, with enough RF and wire networking to tie nodes and regions together to support these higher user speeds. No user should be more than 2 or 3 hops from a high-speed link (RF or wire) to the next regional area or a system information server. We have to eliminate the need to transit the entire state to get one bit of information. Speed is everything, unfortunately, for the survival of our existing networks. Amateurs are leaving our current systems because they perceive Internet as a better service, even if we consider that our phone modems operate at around 1200 baud. If we do not go at least as fast as 38.4Kbps on the user access ports, why do anything ? We might as well leave amateur radio and go to the Internet or Part 15 devices for communications. The answer is easy -- nothing is stopping us from implementing high-speed RF within Part 97, that can't be found at twice the price in the commercial communications area.

Some might say that I have just made a pact with the 'Dark Side of the Force' by saying we should use wirelines and the Internet to connect regions in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma and the U.S. at high-speed. My answer is no, we don't turn off the existing TexNet backbone, but use it for what it is good for, that of providing long-haul RF paths when our primary high-speed routes die. Many might say that the commercial wirelines are unreliable; however, the commercial world is learning every time there is a disaster that takes their equipment off-line. Soon, many commercial systems will not be affected by earthquakes and other such natural disasters. But when they are, we will need RF systems like the TexNet backbone which exists today to provide information flow. However, if we lose membership within TPRS because the existing network does not support what members want to do -- then the RF network goes away completely. Better to do new approaches and methods now and be able to keep things operational both with new and old systems, than to have no systems at all in place. Basically, the types of information flow amateurs want to do today, can't be supported with the existing TexNet network. This does not mean that the usefulness of TexNet has gone away. If anything, by invigorating the digital community again with new networking, we can continue to support the slower speed TexNet for emergencies when e-mail and bulletins are the only things that need to be passed some distance away.

Nothing is stopping us from putting up a backbone that operates at 2 Mbps or user access systems that operate at 64,000bps (twice as fast a any 28.8Kbps dial up modem). Using Spread Spectrum technology that is currently employed under Part 15, which can be used under part 97 (soon), and new technology that TAPR and others are working on, the tools to be able to implement a new network that provides 'faster' access to amateurs is here.

The only thing stopping us is ourselves. Do amateurs in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas want a network that they can access from home at 64K+ speeds in order to access the Internet, do digital video, or whatever you can think of doing at that speed ? If you do -- it is time to spend the money and time to make it happen. However, if you want ISDN speed access from home over amateur radio, it is going to cost more than 1200 baud 2-meter packet TNCs. Maybe a cost of more than $500+ per home unit. Will you spend that ? Many have been spending that much to do 9600 plug-n-play. Many have been spending around a $1000 to do DSY 56K technology. A $500 price point is cheap, considering that an ISDN to Ethernet box (Ascend Pipeline 25) costs $1000 for ISDN access at home, it costs you several hundred dollars to have installed and probably about $80 a month for the central office connection and Internet access fees. $500 - $1000 for a user access radio is half the cost of installing ISDN at your home for the first year. I would think hams would find that a huge savings !

In addition, will you support your local network node for the $1000 - $2000 it will cost to put up a node that can service your new radio ? Without the infrastructure to support your radio, you can't get access at the speeds you want.

Now, I keep saying 'we' above. This is a 'we' not 'me'. While several of the typical amateur operators you find running about doing things can help install new nodes and work system problems, without 'you' putting forth the energy and effort to at least state that you want to see change, then nothing will happen. 'You' have to take an interest, contact the local movers-and-shakers and say you want to see better networking. You then have to have someone in your area become the led on the technology. Find out information about what is happening and see how to get involved in what will happen next. Finally, you have to be willing to write a check to your local club or group to purchase the necessary equipment for the network node and then purchase equipment yourself.

Are you willing to pay the price for 'better' amateur networks that can perform much better than what you are probably paying for monthly ?

If so, it is time to start making a difference.

July 1996

To my surprise, many of you read my President's column last issue more than once and made verbal comments about it at Dayton and more recently during the HamCom convention in Arlington, Texas. I am glad that the time I spent writing my thoughts on the Spread Spectrum issue made many of you think about where digital communications and amateur radio as a hobby are heading and one type of technology we might have in the future. In this PSR issue, I'll hit on another area which has seen a lot of debate in the past several months -- that of the Internet and its impact upon amateur radio.

The question I hear can be boiled down to: "Is Internet Good or Bad for amateur radio ?" My answer is yes and no. This might sound like I am sitting on the fence on the issue -- but I am not. Like anything, the Internet can either be seen as a threat or as an opportunity. Depends on your perspective.

I'll start with a quote "Times - they are a changing." Easy to use and affordable telecommunication is here to stay. Better face it. Amateur radio is never going to compete with the Internet and all the future forms of communications that allow people to communicate on both wire-based and wireless systems. The number of people getting involved with these new forms of telecommunication systems indicates that it has a draw that amateur radio never has or will have.

Are amateurs moving permanently away from amateur radio to the Internet ? Yes. There have been other areas in the past that have drawn amateurs away -- it is just that the Internet is very noticeable. Price versus performance is one issue. Services versus time invested is another. People making this switch are finding these new services interesting/exciting -- probably for the same reasons they got involved with amateur radio. How many of us have changed hobbies or even aspects of the hobby within amateur radio at one time or another ? While we might lose 'hams' permanently, I bet some will rediscover the hobby again later.

Another possible reason for this change could be how amateur radio has been marketed over the last ten to twenty years. What do you remember as items that amateur radio was marketed as good for and why people should get their ticket ? Are not many of those items better done someplace else, especially with the low cost of the Internet and other services (phone, paging, fax, Internet, etc). Many of these items were pressed forward by the commercial manufacturers -- in order to expand the amateur commercial market. We are now seeing a percentage of people finding out that what they really wanted all along was commercially available communications, which is now very affordable and only getting cheaper and faster. Is yet another possible reason for losing 'hams' to the Internet is that they now have to communicate a great deal more using the Internet or similar networks in the workplace -- that by electronically communicating all day long, people want to escape even more communications (amateur radio) when they return home ?

Amateur radio is not going to compete with this commercial trend in information technology. Therefore, the digital aspect of amateur radio as a hobby must move to new niches in this changing time or the numbers of people attending hamfests and actively participating will continue to drop. Why do I say 'continue ?' Several events I have attended this year have had lower numbers of hams attending than in previous years, which were lower than the year before. Coincidence or something else ? As I talk to regional digital groups, the resounding response is that their membership numbers are headed down and the prospects don't look good unless something changes (i.e., new and exciting projects).

Why ? 1200 baud and even 9600 baud operations are not perceived as being fast enough anymore. Most amateur operating methods have outgrown what was easily delivered in 1982. 28.8Kbps or 14.4Kbps, although they operate at near 1200 baud, are perceived as being more fun, easier to use, and delivering more of what many would term 'cool' services. While Internet connectivity has reduced membership in many regional digital groups, has it not also given an understanding of the value of what a truly useful network costs ? Amateur radio can and should take advantage of this new understanding. However, to do this within amateur radio requires an increase in performance of our current network technology to something that we currently don't have readily available. Like many of us have been saying for years -- radios are the key.

Based on this perceived value of commercial services vs the amateur radio hobby, we could easily find ourselves -- if not already -- in a shrinking market. Meaning, the numbers of hams participating in amateur radio could decline in the future. I read a report last year outlying these same facts. At the time I was skeptical, but I am beginning to see what was forecast in those figures.

That is the down side of things. While the down side can be pretty depressing, I see the Internet providing valuable services to amateur radio as well. Many of us have been on 'what is now called the Internet' since the late 70's, early 80's. Electronic-mail, listservs, and news groups are nothing new. It is interesting to note that many of the amateurs that I know who were on the pre-Internet are still very active in amateur radio now, while still using the Internet. Maybe this proves that as the Internet experience becomes less new and exciting to amateur operators who have switched, we will indeed see licensed 'hams' returning. Another benefit is that the Internet is yet another way for amateurs to stay in contact with what they like to do -- amateur radio. Internet has provided a way to communicate and work on group projects that once required meeting in person several times a year at conferences and ham gatherings. Now the in-person meetings at shows and conferences can be used in even better ways.

Many amateurs will accuse me of making a pact with the 'dark side of the force', when I suggest that as amateurs we should be using and expanding the use of the Internet for linking regional digital networks, in order to tie these dispersed regions together. Many did this in the past and found that by having additional connectivity to other regions, it drew more people to what they were doing -- before speed became the main issue. We should be using wire based communications when appropriate -- when RF is just not going to happen due to money and other constraints. There is no doubt that amateur radio could design and build the much discussed 'national digital network,' but is that the correct question ? The question might be better asked, do we want to ? This is not saying that we should do away with backbones -- NO -- backbones and other types of RF networking should continue for all the reasons amateurs do things with the hobby -- it is either fun, someone is learning something, or amateur radio operators are providing a public service. However, at some point, the initial newness of learning or doing something new wears off (months or even years after the project starts) -- then what ? Having reliable and useful RF long-haul connectivity is something where areas that require such communications in time of emergency must work hard to develop and maintain. It is easy to depend on having the wire connection there all the time, but what if it does go out. It is also easy to say that we will use nothing but radios for networking and then not be able to support or provide connections to distant locations. There has to be some middle ground between wire and wireless communications as part of our hobby. We must all keep reminding ourselves during the debate of wire vs wireless networking, that we are all members of the same 'hobby'.

Another area that amateurs seem to be missing is that these 'non-hams' operating on the Internet are a new market to go after to get their tickets. Just like amateur radio worked with 11 meter operators in the past to get their tickets, why not begin to look at ways to make amateur radio the next exciting avenue for these new communicators using the Internet ? I am sure some well-paid marketing firm could think of a snappy way :-) Tie this into some of the future projects regarding higher-speed communications and we have some interesting ties with a new segment from which to recruit 'hams'. If we don't work on getting people interested in operating under Part 97 -- then Part 15 will be where people will operate. Is this something we want to happen, because we were not willing to give some on how we perceive the world ? Don't forget that Part 15 networking devices are secondary on our bands. With the growth in sales of Part 15 devices, it could be foreseeable that they could be made primary -- due to the number of devices being used on those bands ? Probably not -- but what if it does ?

Amateur radio operators in the 20's and 30's were experimenters. In the 40's, 50's, and 60's, we evolved into less experimenters and more technicians of the hobby. Since the 70's, amateur radio evolved again into what many would call a largely consumer/communicator group. Look at the recent announcement by Kenwood regarding distribution of their products. There are other indications as well. Does it surprise us that we might be moving away from the consumer era of amateur radio into a new era ? It is up to us -- active amateur radio operators -- to set that direction. A few might lead with a vision, but the entire amateur radio population will ultimately decide where we go. Do we become experimenters again or find a happy medium between the experimenters and communicators within the hobby ? I would hope we can find a more balanced point between all the participants in the hobby. One of the strongest things amateur radio has going is its ability to include others. We are a hobby of inclusion at the same time as differences. Those differences which make up the whole make us stronger in the end -- while the vast majority as a whole allows us certain access to frequencies and brings manufacturers to us. As a hobby, we have to be aware of possible trends in amateur radio so that we can include other areas in the future and continue to be strong.

Internet can be seen as a negative or positive. The perspective is one of choice. I believe that the worldwide explosion in communications and information technology offers amateur radio with a unique opportunity. We have to identify ways to take advantage of it as a hobby and move forward -- or in the long term we will be left behind.

Organization issues:

TAPR would like to congratulate Bob Hansen and his wife on the birth of their baby boy, Jeffrey Zane Hansen. Bob had to miss Dayton, because the birth was scheduled during the Dayton time frame. Jeffrey was born the Tuesday following the Dayton Hamvention. Mother and son are doing fine. I talked to Bob the other day and he reports that he will be attending the DCC in Seattle come September. See you there, Bob.

The Spring TAPR Board Meeting was held Thursday night before Dayton with a number of items being accomplished. The secretary's report for both the fall 1995 and spring 1996 meetings will be printed in this issue. The board tried something new this time by posting reports before the meeting to our mail group. This allowed more time to discuss important issues while the board was gathered in person. We plan on making that a normal function now. The board elections were reported in the last PSR. The officer elections were held at the Dayton Board meeting. Last year's officers were reelected to their positions: Greg Jones, President, John Ackermann, Vice President, Jim Neely, Treasurer, and Gary Hague, Secretary. I would like to thank each officer for remaining in their positions, because each does a lot of work that goes unnoticed in the day-to-day operations of the organization. The board, after reviewing the relevant information, voted to increase the dues. Read the section later in the PSR about the issue. Basically, printing costs have tripled in the last three years and add to this the rise in postal rates and we are only left with a choice to raise dues as an option. This is the first time since 1982, which isn't bad and we hope that the current rates will be seen as modest, but will allow TAPR to cover the PSR costs while retaining a small fraction for other membership services.

It has become obvious during the last few months and during the Spread Spectrum STA process that TAPR needed a club callsign. Working with Paul Newland, AD7I, and Bob Nielsen, W6SWE, we have begun the process to acquire a club callsign. TAPR will let the membership know the status of this request in the coming months. By having a club callsign and then requesting additional callsigns for STA's and experimental licenses, as allowed under the current rules, we will be better able to represent TAPR as an organization as we do more active things with rules, experimenting, and radios in the future. We have thoughts about trying to have a station operational at the DCC in September with the club call! More on this next issue.

Don't forget that papers for the ARRL and TAPR DCC are due by July 23rd!

Dayton was the best ever. If you didn't attend, you really should plan on attending next year. Many thanks to John Ackermann, AG9V, for arranging the new site for the Friday PacketBASH and TAPR Banquet. The NCR facility, I believe, will never be topped. Just ask those who attended the dinner. A real treat! I hope we will be able to have our dinner there for some years to come. Also, a lot of members stopped by and helped work the booth. Thanks to all who worked the booth.

Two plaques were awarded at the Dayton Hamvention Friday night banquet. Paul Newland, AD7I, received a plaque for his "outstanding service since 1983 as a designer, tester and dedicated volunteer on this 10th anniversary of the TAPR TNC-II." Sorry we were a year late, Paul. Paul was one of the original designers on the TNC-2 and TAPR owes a lot to Paul for his selfless activity within the organization all these years. A second plaque was awarded to John Ackermann, AG9V, for "outstanding service to TAPR as founder of the TAPR NETWORK Special Interest Group in 1994 and dedicated volunteer." Many don't know this, but Mel Whitten, K0PFX, and I approached John about 15 minutes before the scheduled first meeting of the NETSIG at the Tucson Spring meeting in 1993 and asked him if he would be chair. He said yes he would give it a go and now look -- he is VP ! Thanks for the effort, John. During the Dallas/Ft Worth HamCom convention Jim Neely, WA5LHS, presented Dave Wolf, WO5H, with a plaque for "outstanding service to TAPR as founder of the TAPR BBS Special Interest Group in 1994 and dedicated volunteer." Dave, like John, was asked to take on the job and start one of the first two SIGs within TAPR. A lot of effort went into forming the structure that all the SIGs are now based on. Thanks, Dave and John.

Spread Spectrum -- happenings ?

We have been busy campers in the weeks following Dayton. With luck, we will have several major announcements to make about potential Spread Spectrum projects that TAPR will be involved with in the coming months. If they come about as I see them now - we will have been very successful in our work. If they come out about 50%, we will still have a lot of fun! The TAPR board is also working up a Spread Spectrum policy statement, which should set the stage for the eventual directions the organization will take regarding Spread Spectrum communications. More next issue.

Cheers - Greg Jones, WD5IVD

Jim Neely, WA5LHS, presents a plaque to Dave Wolf, WO5H, during the June HamCom convention, for his effort in forming the TAPR BBS SIG. Dave is currently the President of the Texas Packet Radio Society.

Tom McDermott, N5EG, Kent Britain, WA5VJB, and Frank Perkins, WB5IPM, chatting on Friday afternoon during the exhibitor setup for the HamCom (Arlington, Texas). Tom is author of the new TAPR Wireless Digital Communications: Design and Theory book. Frank has been one of the key software developers on the TAPR/AMSAT DSP-93 project. Kent is active in various amateur microwave activities.

May 1996

I want to spend some time in this issue of my column talking about paradigm shifts. I'll spend some time on organization issues at the end. I have had several members request that I spend more time on higher level issues and concepts in my column, so here we go!

The American Heritage dictionary gives the following definition of paradigm: "An example that serves as pattern or model." Another basic definition of paradigm states that it is representation or distillation of what we 'think' about the world -- but cannot prove (Lincoln and Guba, 1985). Thomas Kuhn (1970) defines a paradigm as a way of breaking down the complexity of the real world. He points out in his book that any field eventually produces anomalies that cannot be fully contained by the prevailing paradigm. This then paves the way for a new paradigm that better explains the anomalies or enables a new phase termed as 'normal' to begin. This change is called a 'paradigm shift.' An example of this might be the change from the geocentric view of the universe to one of a heliocentric view. A classic amateur radio paradigm shift might be that of AM to SSB operations. The problem lies in the fact that the shift from the old to the new paradigm is typically not smooth. The older, established proponents within a field have built their careers around the earlier paradigm, and they normally control the rules by which rules are changed and methods operate. The conflict continues until the emergent paradigm prevails, although usually not until the older paradigm has died, along with the last of the proponents who protected it.

In the past, paradigm shifts took centuries or decades to come fully about. In the last 50 years, paradigm shifts have been decreasing in duration and increasing in occurrence. One example is the paradigm shift from all positivistic research to more naturalistic or mixed method research in the last 10 years. Technology changes have had similar paradigm shifts, such as computers (main frames to personal computers or Macintosh to PCs) and now more recently telecommunications (national networks to home connections on the Internet). The controversy over parts of the recent telecommunications reform act shows some of the rough nature of a paradigm shift, that of the older paradigm trying to slow down the new paradigm by an attempt to control the nature of individual information access. I was attending a recent convention in Austin, where noted Sci-Fi author Bruce Sterling basically pointed out that many of the old paradigm structures are scared, because five years ago it was envisioned that AOL (Sears and IBM) would be the Internet world, nice, neat, packaged and controlled access from home...however, the Internet as it is today, arrived -- not packaged by the Fortune 100.

Amateur radio is currently caught up in these shifts. The old ways of operational practices are under attack from the new and we will see the frustration in many amateurs during the process. Logic does not prevail in many cases, see some of the comments on RM-8737. Personal interest and power bases are a key to trying to regulate new paradigms in order to stunt their growth. The next 10 years are going to be critical to amateur radio as a hobby. Many hams want more rules and regulations at a time when amateur radio requires less in order to adapt to the next paradigm. Traditionally, regulations are placed on areas that somehow need control or to break up a perceived injustice. The downside to regulations is that they become a large protector of the status quo later on. If we allow other amateurs to place more regulations on what we do now in order to create some assumed equality or operating peacefulness, then we will be stuck trying to change those rules again in the future or possibly have them stifle the growth of amateur radio as a hobby. While a good many amateurs today enjoy operating their modes, in ten years the demographics of the hobby will change drastically. We must be thinking about the future of our, the entire, hobby instead of trying to protect small operating niche we do from day to day. If we do not, then amateur radio might not be around in the form we enjoy today.

There are a lot of ways to look at the future of amateur radio in light of paradigm shifts. What will happen in the next 10 years of amateur radio ? Future studies research says you can't predict the future, all that you can do is prepare different alternate realities and be best prepared for thinking about different directions. Thus, when the future does arise you have mentally prepared for it and can adjust your methods to deal with the new 'perceived nature' of the world. It is a good certainty in one reality that unless we can somehow catch the current technology wave, we will be left behind as a hobby that does things. The last major amateur operational advancement was new digital modes (mainly packet radio), which was built on 1970's technology, and the increase in ATV operations which is even an older technology.

We are now faced with the fact that amateur radio needs to shift to a new way of thinking about what it does. A traditional paradigm shift is in the making, or as we can see, the shift is already happening around us. Many of the things I hear amateur radio touted for are in the past. I have read several times about the fact that at recent events where hams use to provide communications by ham radio, commercial trunking radios and other services have replaced hams. When I was a young ham, I participated in providing communications after the Wichita Falls, Texas tornado. Ham radio was used for several days to communicate information outside the area and provide communications in the damage area. Today, I see amateurs providing short term communications here and there when an outage happens, until more modern commercial systems are brought back on-line or supplemented to handle the additional traffic of the emergency. Another few years, and amateur radio will not even be doing this. I see storm spotters carrying their commercial pagers around to receive notification instead of using their radios. I see people with cellular phones making reports of accidents much faster than we can do on a phone patch. What amateur radio 'brings to the party' is a radio equipped volunteer group which can be called on short notice and used until no longer needed that use communications outside the commercial systems. There is a niche for amateur radio in all this, but we must be aware of what is happening around us in order to be prepared for what will happen in the future.

I believe that there will still be an amateur radio in the future. However, this could be the sunset or more likely a very cloudy day. Has anyone noticed that new amateurs don't join clubs or social groups like older hams ? Amateur radio is going to change in the near future as compared to what has happened during the last 20-30 years for a majority of hams. I have heard many express this. The number of hobbyist will at some point decrease. I believe that we will see more experimentation and less operational usage in the future as our numbers start down. We will lose more frequencies. Money talks in Washington and with the FCC and we are just fighting a delaying action to keep our frequencies. See the latest news about the analysis of amateur frequencies and their utilization happening in Washington currently. Another thing that must be kept in mind is the FCC could easily deregulate amateur radio. Based on what is happening in Washington and the recent history of the WTB (Wireless Telecommunications Bureau) deregulating amateur radio could be forecast. What would happen then ? With the ARRL and other lobby groups in place, this will not happen for some time, but it could happen.

Thus, how does TAPR fit into this long term? I believe, and thus far have the support of the Board of Directors, that TAPR must be involved in moving to one possible next stage in amateur radio. This is Spread Spectrum development. Spread Spectrum is a classical paradigm shift technology. It breaks all the traditional 'perceived natural' rules of amateur radio. You use as much bandwidth as you need to communicate, you transmit at the same times others are transmitting, and other issues that go against analogy logic. Logic by analogy is a bad way to perceive technology. Currently with Narrow Band technology, many say the bands are 'fully occupied,' but if we take a spectrum analyzer and do an analysis of the band we see that they are hardly every 'fully utilized.' Several have noted this fact. Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, wrote an article in the 1995 ARRL Digital Communications Conference showing another way to try to utilize more of the narrow band frequencies allocations. Robert Buaas, K6KGS, has built monitoring equipment to prove this fact in the supposedly 'very full' spectrum in his area of California. Spread Spectrum is one method in which we can contribute to enhance amateur radio beyond what we are currently doing now on many of the bands.

I can't begin to explain the more technical issues of Spread Spectrum and I am learning as time permits during my dissertation writing, but when leaders in the amateur community such as Phil Karn, Dewayne Hendricks, Robert Buaas explain things I can easily see a vision of where this technology can take us, amateur radio as a hobby. The major point to make is that this will not happen over night. This is a very long term goal to develop and support. TAPR will work on supporting individuals and groups that want to follow our vision. It would be our hope to eventually do something that supports this, but the future is again impossible to predict.

Spread Spectrum technology will allow amateurs to drastically increase the way we utilize the bands and operate. I hate to talk about visions, especially in this column, because when something is mentioned, people have a natural tendency to think someone in TAPR is working on it and it should already be finished. So -- let me state right up front "This is a pie-in-the-sky stuff." Imagine --- your local club has an Amateur Spread Spectrum box (or several scattered around town). Connected to this box is maybe an RF link to another local repeater, and/or an Internet connection, and/or a phone patch, and/or any number of interconnections. The user, either at home or driving around, has their user radio equipped with a simple selector channel switch. Channel A is the general voice calling frequency. I call Herb, get Herb, and we move to Channel B to talk or maybe Channel C, if B is busy. Let's say Herb and I are going to meet Bill on Channel D, because Channel D is linking several local (metro-area) repeaters via RF links. Then again, let's say we change to Channel E, which is connecting our system to our sister city's repeater several hundred miles away via the Internet. While this is all happening, my computer has been accessing a Web Interface or Eudora at 256Kbps or faster. Then, to make things even better, several such 'organization boxes' can be overlapping and not be interfering. How many clubs would like to have an audio or digital repeater, but can't find a frequency, because the 'band is full,' but 'under utilized' ? Is this one possible reason why many of the traditional protectors of the status quo and recognized power structures are so against Spread Spectrum ? Should amateurs be coordinating operations or managing operations ? Should our hobby be ruled by national regulations or by communications at the local and regional level ?

Does this sound crazy ? Does this sound like I have been drinking too many softdrinks late at night? Is this going to be here soon? Don't hold your breath, but this is something amateur radio could be doing -- absolutely!

Let's think about the above example in technical terms. Simply put, the SS box could be a linear transponder or an SS encoder/decoder of some type. The purpose of the SS box is that of a central link. In addition to providing traditional 'repeater like' operations for small cell-like areas, it is also providing connectivity away from the box. In the example above, the SS box was connected to the Internet (or some other wire line system), had a phone patch, had two or more RF links (in this example one was a repeater link and other was a networking link to the local packet network). The users of the system had SS radios with a selector. As was discussed in Steve Bible's article last issue (PSR #60), all the radios are on the same frequency. The selector just selects a spreading code to be used. Thus the cost and complexity of the user radio is reduced, although the expenses to add SS to the radio does raise the price back up again. How does the voice operations work? In the most simple form, the audio input (i.e. mic) would be translated to a digital signal using any of a variety of methods (check out http://people.qualcomm.com/karn/voicedemo/index.html). By adding FEC (Forward Error Correction) and all sorts of other techniques which are possible, we could have something that could change amateur radio -- do I hear paradigm shift ?

With this technology, we are able to bring both digital and analog (voice) users together. No longer is the digital mode a second citizen on the band, but is able to provide capability that was not possible 5 years ago. I didn't even mention the capability for this technology for ATV users, EME operators, satellite stations and even weak signal enthusiast ? While Spread Spectrum might appear to be threat to the way many operate -- think about the possible new operations potential of this mode.

This is the reason why TAPR will be working on RM-8737 and other technical issues in the coming years. I can not stress the importance of the involvement of the digital community in the rules process. There were just a few comments to RM-8737 from the digital community in favor of the change. The opposition to changes in the rules are getting organized and we need to do the same. While TAPR can move the process forward working with the ARRL and others, it will eventually come down to who submits comments to the FCC. If amateur comments in favor of change are in the majority, the FCC will change the rules. If they are not -- then we will be very limited to what the future will hold with expanding this mode. If you want to get involved with the process, keep an eye on both the Spread Spectrum Special Interest Group and the Spread Spectrum Web Page.

I have been thinking about a lot of the items mentioned above for some time. Writing it all down has been a catharsis and I hope that it allows others to think about the future of amateur radio as a whole.

Now to more mudane affairs of the organization:

The last issue of the PSR had the election ballot for Board of Directions. I would like to welcome back to the board Bob Hansen, N2GDE, and Gary Hauge, N4CHV. Joining the board as a new member is Steve Bible, N7HPR. Steve brings a lot of new energy and I look forward to working with him in the future. He is taking on a lead roll in the Spread Spectrum area and is working on bringing together materials for the TAPR Spread Spectrum Issues Book. Thanks to all the members who voted. Also, I would like personally thank Keith Justice, KF7TP, for serving on the TAPR Board since 1993 and Vice President during 94-95. While Keith might be stepping down from the board he is remaining active on the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference coordinating committee. Keith's never failing upbeat attitude was always a comfort when I was feeling down about TAPR happenings. Thanks Keith.

I have received a few comments regarding the membership questionaire that appeared in the last issue. If you have a thought about what the responses were saying, please drop me a note.

If our publishing house can get it done in time, we should have Tom McDermott's, N5EG, book entitled Wireless Digital Communications: Design and Theory available at Dayton. In addition, the 9600 baud radio mods book is progressing again. We received the text from one of the two primary authors and should be getting the other text shortly. Our second author had a hard disk crash and is having to reenter several of the newer entries, since they were not backed up.

Not to overly focus on the spread spectrum issues, but if you haven't read yet, the process for changing the rules governing Amateur Spread Spectrum (RM-8737) is under way. I would like to thank those on the TAPR RM-8737 committee who have been working with Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, chair of the TAPR FCC Regulatory Committee, on RM-8737. TAPR filed comments and reply comments and we are going to continue to take an active part in the rules process. The group has also spent time in developing a web page as part of the Amateur Spread Spectrum page that attempts to document all the comments and reply comments. Check http://www.tapr.org/ss to read all the latest information on the rules process. We believe this is the first time that an amateur rule making has been made fully available for anyone to read. We hope to keep this page up to date, so you can see what others are saying about the issue of Spread Spectrum. I actually had one e-mail from an individual who filed comments state, 'You can't make my comments available like this...'. I replied that they are open records :-) Anyway, the Spread Spectrum issue continues and this process looks like we will be writing about the issue this time next year as well. Ever forward. Spread spectrum holds one of the few keys of really breaking past our current limitations. The TAPR FCC Regulatory Committee will also be bringing up the issue concerning message forwarding comments made last year. TAPR published Phil Karn's, KA9Q, petition for reconsideration last year, which left the door open to take another look at the issue and find better focus for the digital community. If you would like to donate money towards the TAPR FCC Regulatory Committee legal expenses, please contact Dorothy at the office. While we use our legal firm to a minimum in Washington, it does take money to play the game within the beltway with the other groups in order to get the rules changed in such a manner as to really allow amateurs to utilize spread spectrum as a useful operational mode.

Last but not least. TAPR is doing a lot of work getting ready for both Dayton and the 15th Annual ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conferences. Of special importance is the 1st ever student paper awards for the DCC. Please take a gander at the information and check the web site or call Dorothy at the office for more details. We are awarding two $500 travel awards for papers in two areas. This is a first within amateur radio I believe and I think it could really help bring new amateurs into the digital conference to join in the experience. Pass the word. Also, the deadline for the normal DCC papers are July 23rd. Seattle is shaping up for 1996!

Cheers - Greg Jones, WD5IVD

Kuhn, T.S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions (2nd ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lincoln, Yvonna and Guba, Egon. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. SAGE Publications. London, England.

January 1996

TAPR in 1995: A Brief Review
1995 was a busy year for the organization. The TAPR/AMSAT DSP-93 was kicked out the door and became a successful kit as a result of the efforts by the DSP-93 development group. The TAPR first ever fund raiser, for RUDAK-U contributions, wrapped up and we made most of the target goal of $6000 to help support the construction of RUDAK-U. I know Lyle and the RUDAK-U development group have been busy getting the payload designed and ready to fly. Thanks to everyone who contributed. The changes made at Dayton in 1995 were well received, with TAPR now hosting the Digital Communications Forum, as well as working with the Miami Valley FM Association to host the Packet BASH Friday evening. It should be even better in 1996, since the dinner facility selected will hold lots more people and provide meeting rooms as well. The PSR! What can I say? I think we should all give a big round of thanks to Bob Hansen, N2GDE, for this last year's effort. The size and quality of the issues grew and I think we can expect the same type of quality in the publication in the future. The TAPR FCC regulatory committee, headed up by Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, worked through the summer and into the fall on the Spread Spectrum regulatory issues. The filing with the FCC should be filed as of this printing. The Special Interest Groups had their ups and downs this past year and I think everyone learned as we went. Overall the mail archives from the SIGs show a very positive direction and I look forward to seeing more developments from the HF SIG on the Channel Simulator and HF digital modes, the newly created Spread Spectrum SIG on various SS technical issues and design developments, and the TNC SIG which is working on enhancing TNC functionality. TAPR published its first two books and lined up a book distributor to increase circulation, while at the end of the year three new books were begun while several other prospective books were suggested by TAPR members. Projects had movement, the TNC-95 alpha boards, as well as the TUC-52 alpha boards, are working and the DAS kit was submitted by Paul Newland, AD7I, and is about ready to ship. The ARRL and TAPR have joined conferences to forge the newly named ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference, as well as signed an agreement for TAPR to distribute all past proceedings of the Digital Communications Conference. We had our problems as well in 1995. The volunteer effort required to procure, kit, and ship kits always provides interesting fun. After much work at the end 1995, I think TAPR has successfully transferred over 10 years of kitting activity in Tucson to Florida. Board member and organization secretary Gary Hauge, N4CHV, and Heather Johnson, N7DZU provided much of the work required to complete this job. Many Thanks! Membership growth was short of the targeted 3000 -- something to work on in 1996.

That was just a snap shot of some of the more important points during 1995, but many more were not discussed. I am really happy about the things the organization was doing in 1995 and I think the membership can take pride in the accomplishment and direction during 1995.

With 1995 completed, what does 1996 look like? The TAPR FCC Regulatory Committee will continue to work with individuals on the issues regarding the rules changes for Spread Spectrum. While the ARRL filing was positive, it was far short of what had been discussed in meetings in 1995. The TAPR filing will request additional flexibility in the rules to allow Spread Spectrum to become an equal amateur mode. These changes are assuredly necessary in order to see true growth within the amateur bands of spread spectrum technology. More about these in this issue and future ones from the TAPR FCC Regulatory Committee.

Our Internet node, TAPR.ORG has seen increasing activity as more and more amateurs and TAPR members get connected to the Internet. TAPR will work on several improvements for this year which will include making the mail archives searchable, improving the RealAudio system, and looking at ways to add more content. We are looking at means to provide a faster conduit into the system to allow even more access than we currently can support. If you know someone using TAPR.ORG who is not a member, please be sure to remind them that membership makes the system viable. We have been extremely fortunate to have Lee Ziegenhals, N5LYT, volunteering as much time as he has with the system and the DataRace Company for allowing us to house our site at their location.

Later in the PSR, you will find the outcome of the membership questionnaire sent out the end of last year. There are some interesting responses and trends uncovered from the data. We will be discussing some of the outcomes in more detail at the board level.

In this issue you will also find the ballot for the 1996 Board elections. We only had three TAPR members run for the three open positions. Thus, we will only be making the ballot available in the PSR this year. Please take a moment and read the bios of the members running and then place your vote.

As 1996 progresses, look for TAPR at the following events: Dayton, ARRL Southwest Division Convention in Mesa, AZ, ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference in Seattle, WA. Also, if you have your TAPR badge, be sure to wear it, so others will know you are a TAPR member at conventions and meetings.

1996 TAPR Annual Meeting ?
As was reported in the last issue of the PSR, there will not be a TAPR Annual Meeting held in the Spring. TAPR and ARRL are joining the TAPR Annual Meeting and ARRL Digital Communications Conference into the the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference for the next three years. This is to be tried as a test for the 1996, 1997, and 1998 conferences. In 1998, both organizations will review the joint conference agreement and determine if it should continue. What does this mean for TAPR and ARRL members, as well as amateurs with an interest in digital communications ? Basically, we will all have one event a year to attend instead of two -- which should help everyone's budget, increase attendance, and raise the number of papers being submitted. See below for the announcement regarding the 1996 ARRL and TAPR DCC.

1996 ARRL and TAPR DCC
TAPR and ARRL are proud to announce the dates and location for the first joint ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference. 1996 marks the 15th anniversary of both conferences and it is fitting that they are joining into one conference for the next three years. The Digital Communications Conference will be held September 20-22, 1996 in Seattle, Washington near the SeaTak Airport. More details will follow over the next few months. The deadline for paper submissions will be near the end of July, so start thinking about those papers and presentations NOW!. One of the goals of having one single yearly national event was to increase the number of submitted papers -- so I hope that happens!

I really look forward to this next year and am excited about the many projects and tasks that TAPR has on its plate. As always -- TAPR is only possible via the effort of those that get active and do things. Support can take many forms and I would like to personally thank all those who join each year to those that spend countless hours working on TAPR projects. Being President of TAPR would not be as much fun without all of you!

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

October 1995

The organization has been very busy since the last PSR was published. Let me try to hit on some of these things and then spend some more time talking about an amateur mode I think we should all be very interested in as digital operators.

Please find in the center of the PSR a 'Membership Questionnaire'. Some members have received this questionnaire with their renewal notices. If you have not already received the questionnaire, please take a moment to review it, fill it out, and send the questionnaire back to the office. You can mail it back, fax it back, or better yet, check out http://www.tapr.org/question to do your questionnaire via the questionnaire Web page. You'll have to enter it directly. The questionnaire asks several questions from one done several years ago, so that we can track answers to see how the membership has changed. We look forward to seeing your responses.

The 1995, 14th annual ARRL Digital Communications Conference, held in Arlington, Texas, and co-hosted by TAPR and the Texas Packet Radio Society went very well. I think everyone there was happy with the final outcome. Attendance, while good, can only be something to be improved upon in the future. There is no reason why the DCC shouldn't attract 200-300+ participants. There will be a full writeup on the conference further in the PSR, so I will not spend much time on the subject here. As with any national gathering, the technical discussions and sharing of energy on projects were the big winners. These types of events only serve to fuel everyone for another period until the next gathering. I look forward to seeing everyone next year.

The big news regarding the Digital Communications Conference for the next three years is the recent joint conference agreement signed between TAPR and the ARRL. As of September, 1995, the TAPR annual meeting and the ARRL Digital Communications Conference will be merged into one annual meeting. This is to be tried as a test for the 1996, 1997, and 1998 conferences. In 1998, both organizations will review the joint conference agreement and determine if it should continue. TAPR has been working on this proposal for over a year now and we are all very happy that the conclusion was positive. What does this mean for TAPR and ARRL members as well as amateurs with an interest in digital communications ? Basically, we will all have one event a year to attend instead of two -- which should help everyone's budget, increase attendance, and raise the number of papers being submitted. Anyway, there is a lot more to all this and you should read further in the PSR about the full details and what to expect next.

TAPR attended the ARRL SW Division conference held upon the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. The conference was very nice and we got to meet many TAPR members who came by to say hello. This part of the US holds a large percentage of TAPR members (at least 25%), and we plan to continue attending for the foreseeable future. Many of the ARRL leadership were present and we got an opportunity to talk briefly to many of them. In addition, there were several in-depth discussions with smaller technical groups regarding the upcoming spread spectrum issues and technical projects that might result. It was a most enjoyable event. Next year's convention will be in Mesa, AZ.

TAPR will be present in force as usual during the AMSAT conference the first of October. There are strong ties between the organizations and we are happy to see that P3D and RUDAK-U are beginning to come together and gain closure as the launch date approaches. Listed later in the PSR is the list of continued donations towards the RUDAK-U project since we printed the list last Spring. I would like to thank everyone who has donated. If you haven't made a donation towards the project, we are still accepting.

On the same weekend as the AMSAT meeting in Orlando, the first ever Repeater Coordinator's Meeting is being held in St. Louis, MO. From the agenda, the results could be significant. ARRL President Rod Stafford, KB6ZV, and Ralph A. Haller, Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, of the Federal Communications Commission are both attending. This level of involvement from the ARRL and FCC only adds importance to any possible outcome. Some of the items being discussed include: 1) Response to FCC's request that it be provided a single point of contact with the coordination community, through which the FCC would recognize and support local and regional coordinators, 2) Determination whether coordinators would support repeater licensing, subject to the applicant's acceptance of coordination recommendations and with provisions for trial or temporary operation, 3) Procedures for bringing coordination issues that cannot otherwise be resolved to the FCC for action; rules changes required to improve coordination process, 4) How to develop standards for service by coordinators, dispute resolution, how appeals of local coordinators' decisions should be handled and orderly succession of coordinators/coordination bodies, and 5) The extent to which coordinators should coordinate emitters other than repeaters, whether coordinators should attempt to resolve interference between repeaters and other kinds of amateur stations and how the introduction of new technologies should be recognized and encouraged by the coordination community. While digital issues will not be high on the agenda, as a group, we had better watch closely what happens at this event. Item five could present an interesting outcome for the digital community, depending on how people feel. Luckily, we will have at least one TAPR Board Member and several other TAPR members present to help bring the word back to the digital community regarding the event. We hope to at least be able to come away from the meeting with a list of digital representatives, so that discussion within the digital community can continue after the meeting.

We are still working on getting to 3,000 members by the end of the year. As of right now, it looks like we might be short of that number. We will continue to work the membership area and hope TAPR members are helping to spread the word and recruit new members. The long term membership goal within TAPR is to reach 5,000 members. Why 5,000, you might ask? Financially, 5,000 members can support the next step in the organization, that of again opening a real office. Without a steady stream of money from membership, we will continue to have to rely on volunteers manning the office. Dorothy, at the office, easily puts in 40 hours a week. TAPR has been extremely fortunate to have Heather and now Dorothy to handle the office. Can TAPR find someone else as dedicated to run the TAPR office after these two ? I am not so sure. The importance of the organization's growing to support a real office is something that needs to be done in order to provide stability in the long term. Anyway -- keep spreading the word!

Now for a note on the future -- and that note is Amateur Spread Spectrum. This issue of the PSR will have two articles concerning Amateur Spread Spectrum. One article is by Steve Bible, N7HPR, recently graduated from the Naval Post Graduate School (Congratulations, Steve!), regarding Spread Spectrum issues. This is a reprint from QEX and I would like thank Jon Bloom, KE3Z, editor of QEX for allowing TAPR to reprint this article. The second article is from Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, chairman of the TAPR Regulatory Committee. The Regulatory Committee has been working on issues regarding Spread Spectrum for several months now and TAPR will be shortly (if not already by this printing) submitting a NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) in conjunction with the ARRL to the FCC regarding rule changes for amateur spread spectrum operations.

Why the sudden interest in Spread Spectrum you might ask ? Actually, amateur spread spectrum falls into a line of logic that TAPR has been chasing for three or four years now. In 1992, the board of directors stated that a primary long-term goal should be the development of higher-speed access for users. At the last two annual meetings we had late night skull sessions discussing how to get users to higher speeds using conventional narrow band systems. When all discussions were done -- two things were obvious with traditional thinking and technology. First, that those with technical ability had been doing faster speeds since the early 80's and second that typical amateur operators were not willing to pay above $500 to gain marginal increases in speed. At the 1995 annual meeting in St. Louis, MO, it was becoming obvious that the amateur community had to take advantage of the research and development money being spent on new wireless technologies. When you combine the newer RF devices being manufactured for part 15 devices and PCS applications, along with the continuing increases in computing power -- a simple answer appears: "We must exploit amateur spread spectrum technology in order to break out of the 1200 baud user mold!"

We have been getting input from the various developers for some time about all this, but we have held off until we had a track set for TAPR. I now see amateur spread spectrum as something the organization needs to grab hold of and become a moving force within the amateur community. Amateur spread spectrum, to me, has a lot of the same characteristics that packet had for us in the early 80's. It could bring the pizazz missing for many of us in regards to digital operations back in the picture.

This is something long-term TAPR will continue to work towards. TAPR can only try to act as a focal point. If a project happens -- it happens. If a group of amateurs want to work with TAPR on developing new technology, then it comes together. TAPR can drive some issues, but when it comes to technical advancements, the most successful TAPR projects have been those that have come to TAPR to be done. One project we are actively gaining closure on currently is that of providing the user radios for PANSAT, which is a DSS satellite. We have been having meetings with the Naval Post-Graduate School for some months now and I hope in a future PSR we can outline the results of what the PANSAT user radio within a TAPR project will look like.

If you want to keep up with the amateur spread spectrum issues, take a look at http://www.tapr.org/ss. TAPR is now maintaining the amateur spread spectrum page and with the help of Dewayne and Steve, we should have all the latest info on this web page.

Until next quarter.

Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

July 1995

If you haven't made your plans to attend the 14th annual Digital Communications Conference in September in Arlington, Texas -- get that calendar out right now and make a note, call the airlines, and make those hotel reservations! If you are an author, be sure to get that paper written and submitted by July 21st! This year's DCC looks like it is going to be an excellent one and the convenience of flying in and out of D/FW airport makes it easy for anyone to attend. The DCC this year is hosted by TAPR, Texas Packet Radio Society, and the ARRL. So, as the TPRS has announced, come on down and enjoy some Texas hospitality. Full details are printed at the back of the PSR and you can find information at http://www.tapr.org/tapr/html/dccconf.html or ftp.tapr.org

If you have Web access, you should check out the work that Howie, N2WX, and myself have been doing over the last few weeks. http://www.tapr.org/tapr will get you there. Lots of good information. The DCC/CNC abstracts have been added as well as information and pictures of TAPR history and items. Thanks goes to Heather Johnson, N7DZU, for the loan of her TAPR scrapbook. The TAPR.ORG site has been residing on another system for the past year and will be moving to its own computer in July. The system has been getting good access. I have written up an anaylsis of system usage since January for this issue. We have offered space on the TAPR web server to the various digital manufacturers and wait to hear back for further committments. Initial contacts were positive, so we hope to be able to provide this space to help support information dispersal.

219 is a reality. The question is -- what and how can we get equipment operational on it? TAPR would like to request articles and information on how groups or individuals are planning or implementing 219 systems. How we get equipment operational will determine the future of 219. Without equipment (either modified or built), the band will be hard to populate. In addition, there are issues regarding frequency allocations and usage, so this is another area of interest for articles and comments.

The 1995 new membership drive has been progressing. Our goal is to recruit another 1000 new members this year. As of the first of June we have 500+, so this puts us ahead of schedule. If you need TAPR materials for a club meeting or conference, let Dorothy at the office know. I would like to personally thank Gwyn Reedy, W1BEL, for his support in inserting TAPR information into various PacComm product orders. When look long term at membership

We are sending out a membership survey over the next few months. When you get it, take a few minutes to answer it and then send it back to the office. It has some similar points to the one that was done in 1986, so we hope to do a little tracking based on that one to see how the membership opinons have changed.

On the projects list:
We are continuing to talk with the ARRL on possible ties between TAPR and the ARRL DCC. The two workshops held at the TAPR Annual meeting in March were video taped and someone has volunteered to do a little editing on the tapes to splice in the overheads and improve the audio qulaity. Another volunteer is working on treatments for a new TAPR video. The premise being there will be short 5 minutes or less segments on different subjects for club usage. Looks interesting. Tom McDermott, N5EG, has about completed work regarding his book on "RF Modem Design (no official title yet)." From the proofs and the comments from the readers, this looks like it is going to be an excellent future TAPR publication. The 9600 baud land mobile modifications book is still being worked on. One of the authors of that book has had a delay due to work. Part of it should be tested with real equipment by an outside tester later this summer to ensure accuracy.

Until next quarter - Greg, WD5IVD

May 1995

Remarks on the 1995-96 year:

I would like to congratulate and welcome the following people who were elected to serve a three year term on the TAPR board: Barry McLarnon, VE3JF, John Ackermann, AG9V, and Jim Neely, WA5LHS. TAPR is fortunate to have these individuals on the TAPR board for the next three years. Thanks also goes to Robert Diersing, N5AHD, who was not elected, but put his name in the hat and thus generated an excellent selection of qualified people for the TAPR membership to select from. At the TAPR Board meeting the officers stayed the same with the exception of VP. Keith Justice, KF7TP, stepped down from the position and John Ackermann, AG9V was elected as the new VP. The board set a number of goals for 1995-96: 1) continue to watch financial position, 2) increase membership (recruit 1000 new members), 3) continue to develop national perspectives, 4) continue R&D efforts in better digital operations, 5) generate closure on current projects, and 6) begin to develop possible directions and identify resources for future RF projects. These goals are ambitious, but very attainable. As my friend Harry Ridenour, N0CCW, has said on numerous occasions, "Only requires Time, Money, Energy, and Manpower."

A few organizational changes occurred at the annual meeting. Dave Wolf, WO5H, stepped down as Chair of the BBS SIG and Barry Buelow, WA0RJT took over as the new chair. Dave did an excellent job as the first chair of the group and I would like to personally thank him for all the time he spent working on its formation. Barry brings a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and goals to the group. We are all looking forward to see what the future has in store for the BBS SIG. Dewayne Hendricks, WA8DZP, will continue to head the FCC Regulatory committee and Gary Hauge, N4CHV, will be the board liasion. Their goal in the next month will be to set a list of deliverables for the committee. A new committee named PCS was formed to begin to examine the technology coming out of the PCS area and see what might be available for transfer into potential amateur digital projects. Barry McLarnon, VE3JF, will be the liasion to the PCS group.

Project-wise, things are progressing on the several kits under development. Details on those can be found deeper in the PSR. There are no other projects currently in the pipe. A proposal was made to the board concerning a 1200 baud bit-regen kit. After a discussion with the lead participant during the board meeting, the proposl is being reworked for later review.

TAPR was also proud to introduce its first major publications at the annual meeting. TAPR's 'Packet Radio: What? Why? How?" and TAPR's "BBS Sysop Guide". These two publications are a first for TAPR and are the start of a future collection of books and publications. As kits become less economical to do and produce income for TAPR, it is hoped that publications will help. The TAPR Packet Radio book is part of our current new member advertising effort (see our classified in most amateur magazines) and the BBS Sysop Guide has been available as a speical membership offer to BBS sysops that join TAPR as a new member.

We are all looking forward to an another exciting year. To finish this column - if you didn't make the St. Louis meeting, you missed an all time great TAPR meeting. The people and discussions were excellent. Plan to attend next year! As always -- the more the merrier!

Till next quarter.
Cheers - Greg, WD5IVD

January 1995

1994 was a good year in many ways for TAPR. The Board set eight goals for 1994, which were: 1) continue to watch spending closely, 2) continue to work on increasing membership, 3) work on getting Special Interest Groups active, 4) get closure on current projects, 5) finish work on kit revamps in progress, 6) develop more TAPR involvement in national perspectives, 7) develop more TAPR publications, and 8) finalize TAPR's short and long term goals. The first seven goals were achieved with some success. I'll touch on each in a second. The eighth is an ongoing task and we will continue this activity in the future.

The financial statement for November has us in the black and it looks like it will stay that way through December. This will make a second year of positive operations. The Special Interest Groups that were started in March '94 have grown from two groups to six by the end of the same year. On the kit front, the DSP-93 reached closure and began making both TAPR and AMSAT money, the TUC-52 project is nearing prototyping, and the PSK kit, TNC-2 bare board, and DevMeter kit were discontinued. TAPR started to get more involved in national issues and will continue to work more on this area as opportunities appear for our input. In the area of publications, TAPR arranged an agreement with the ARRL concerning past proceedings of the digital conferences and TAPR began to develop a series of books to be published in 1995. The increase in membership was the happiest goal to achieve. The goal that was set by the board was to increase membership beyond 2,000 by the end of 1994. The goal was reached in October and we continue to get new members in daily. Thanks to all those that help with membership and welcome to all the new members! Membership makes this organization operate and allows everyone to benefit from the TAPR effort.

I would like to pay my compliments to outgoing board members Jack Davis, WA4EJR, and Ron Bates, AG7H. Although they will be leaving the board, I do not expect them to become any less active in TAPR. Jack continues to help with parts procurement and TrakBox issues, while Ron has been working with the TUC-52 project group. Thanks for all their effort this last year!

The upcoming year:
TAPR still has a lot more to continue to work on in 1995. The annual meeting looks like it will be a great event and I look forward to seeing everyone in St. Louis in March. The TAPR election sees four excellent candidates running this year and whoever is elected should bring excellent energy to the board for the next three years. Last year we saw over 50% response from the membership. I hope we can get that good a response this year in voting. As for membership, I would like to see TAPR set a new membership goal of 5,000 members by 1997. This would be another doubling of the membership, which I believe can be accomplished. The set of goals I will be proposing to the TAPR board in March will include: 1) continue to be ever watchful on expenses, 2) continue to work on increasing membership, 3) continue to develop TAPR involvement in national perspectives, 4) continue to look at ways of providing more operational capabilities for digital operators, and 5) work on making TAPR a more rounded national organization. One of the keys to TAPR success in the long term future is building good working relationships with the various regional and digital interest groups. This will allow both TAPR and the regional groups involved to become stronger by working together on educational and research issues.

On the don't forget list, we have the annual meeting in March followed by TAPR's packet activity at Dayton. Dayton is going to see a few changes this year (read further in the PSR). Don't forget to send in your ballot for the election when you get it. Your vote counts. Don't forget we still need help in answering questions, so if you think you can help, contact Dorothy at the office. Don't forget when contacting one of our advertisers to mention where you saw their ad. It helps us and them to know that their ads in the PSR are doing them good. Azden joins us this quarter as a new advertiser.

I would like to welcome Keith Sproul, WU2Z, and the APRSSIG he will chair as the latest SIG to be formed in TAPR. This should be an excellent resource for those interested in APRS activities. Read the SIG section for more information on what this is all about. On a last note I would like to congratulate Bob Hansen, N2GDE, for another excellent year of PSR editing and production. Much has happened in Bob's life and many do not recognize the commitment Bob has made in the last eight months to continue to produce the PSR. In addition, the PSR continues to change its look and we all feel that it only gets better. Thanks, Bob.

Until next issues, cheers - Greg Jones, WD5IVD

September 1994

Has much changed since 1985 ?

We are about to find ourselves in the 10th anniversary of the TNC-2 introduction next year. Amazing that it has only been ten years since the TNC-2, but have we come all that far ? In 1985, packet was just gaining its stride to becoming the fastest growing amateur mode ever. Digipeating was the main mode of semi-networking and BBSs were pretty much the main local resource. Talk of 9600 baud operation and debates on various networking strategies had already begun and were continuing.

I think we can agree that Packet Radio consists of two main technical elements: Radios (RF) and Computers (Digital). I'll ignore the time, money, and manpower part of the equation in this discussion, but they do play a key part of what happens. Since 1985, the increase in Digital Technology has mirrored the consumer explosion. We were once paying $1500 for XT computers and now we get something a gazillion times faster for almost half the price. The problem has been that the RF side has not moved as fast. Various packet radio resources can be contributed to the increase in computer power now easily available. Look at the numerous, almost too many, BBSs, DX Clusters, Network Nodes, and all the others local resources. However, our success with computing power is still weighed down by our lack of RF capability.

Those that have been able to go faster than 1200 baud, have been the few that understood how the radios and modems worked individually and together. In addition, they have had the necessary expertise and equipment to make them work correctly. Many times I have read articles on why we need to work on Layer 1 issues, but the critical mass of people required in a local area with the necessary expertise is hard to find and even harder to get working together on a common project. The successful networks and digital groups have been those that have been successful with pulling this critical cross section together to work on radio technology.

Ten years from the introduction of the TNC-2, we find ourselves doing much the same thing, but only a LOT MORE OF IT. Typically, a digital operator is on VHF/UHF operating with an older voice radio with a TNC operating at 1200 baud. This probably represents more than 90% of the digital community. HF communications has not been stuck in the same rut that VHF/UHF operations. A lot has been done in modem and software development to improve the performance of HF digital communications. Some of this can be contributed to the fact that many HF digital operators are willing to pay more for the increased performance, but this is not the entire reason. To get an idea on the type of increase in performance of HF digital operations, just read some of the papers in this year's ARRL Digital Communications Conference.

So, what is going to happen in our future if we cannot get things working better than they are now, while continuing to watch the number of digital operators increase. If we continue to operate as we have been - then we will probably be at deadlock eventually, if not already in many metropolitan areas. This impending overcrowding of the digital channels we use has caused some of the current availability of equipment. Several possible answers are now beginning to appear with the introduction of various manufacturer's radios that allow faster than 1200 baud operations. Although early reports seem to indicate that much still needs to be done on some of these radios to make them work correctly, they are a beginning to providing wider equipment selection. However, many of the amateur radios available don't work well in environments where many local resources are found to be residing (i.e. buildings with lots of RF floating about). The other limiting factor with these radios are cost. It is hard to justify one of these data-ready radios at the current price. For the price, you can go much faster; plus most of us don't need all the bells and whistles present for just a data radio (which is a normal voice radio with additional functionality). The problem with going faster for the dollar with non-off-the-shelf equipment is again the need in having local expertise that can do it.

Cost and flexibility is the key to the radio problem. The unknown factor in the future is the current emphasis in radio technology now occurring with regards to PCS (Personal Communications Devices) and other wireless technologies. Much, much, much money is being spent on wireless communication technology. Just look at the amount of money dropped on less than a Megahertz of spectrum this summer: $600,000. Amateur radio at some point has to able to take advantage of this technology for what we want to do -- that of having a low-cost, flexible, data-only radio. Amateurs have not been successful in inventing radio technology, but we have been successful in the past of taking existing technology and transferring it to our needs.

The other solution to better channel performance is making modems that work on our current voice radios. I have heard many say, "I have a 14.4Kbps modem; why can't we just do this over radios." Whole papers can be written on why this has problems. Basically, telephone and radios are enough different to cause several problems with this concept. Most folks don't understand that to have 14.4Kbps work over the phone requires a rather complex modulation scheme that establishes multiple bits per baud. This works well in the known and stable telephone system, but the radio environment presents many factors which do not allow these current standards to work very well. However, the cost of DSP technology is going to continue to drop and at some point someone will introduce a less than $200 modem that allows approximately 2400baud at N-bit per baud to allow something around 9600bps over our current voice radios. Another answer to the task at hand.

The problem with any new work or project is finding folks capable of transferring the technology into the amateur market. Who can tell the future, but we have to begin serious work on getting operating speeds above 1200 baud to take advantage of the many things that amateurs want to do. As someone pointed out to me the other day, folks don't want to spend money to go faster until there is some reason. For many, 1200 baud still does what they want. 1200 baud AX.25 operations will not go away for a long time. This is based on the number of TNCs that have been sold and are still operational. For many more, the lack of faster speeds in easy-to-use form has definitely slowed packet growth and is, I believe, one reason for the turnover in packet 'movers and shakers' in the last five years.

Development will continue in this area, but what form will it eventually take? Who can tell? We will all just have to wait and see. Someone will develop something that will transform what we are doing now. There are too many amateurs ready to purchase something at the right price for someone or some manufacture not to do something eventually. It is just a matter of time.

July 1994

It's been yet another busy quarter with projects, the FCC notices and rulings coming out, organizational issues, and lots of planning. I will hit briefly on some of the organizational issues and then cover the more troubling things -- regulatory issues. The regulatory issues at work could eventually undermine how we enjoy our hobby. So, let's start with the more pleasant things.

The DSP-93 project is about to wrap up and start into the production phase. As you can see from the announcements, kit sales are beginning shortly. For the price, this unit looks like it will do a lot of things and bring to a close over seven years of various work and effort by both AMSAT and TAPR. This project would not be finishing up if it were not for the great effort put forth by Bob Stricklin, N5BRG. Bob has committed uncounted hours to the project since early 1993. The beta-test group is off doing some hard work and looks like they are working out all the kinks in what future builders will encounter. Without their effort, the eventual kit would be much more difficult to construct and get operational. To avoid congestion at the TAPR office, the ordering will take place over a period of time, as well as take only as many orders for kits that people want to purchase. If you get in late in the order process, the worst that will happen is that you get your kit a little later than those who ordered in front of you. Also - since the office has two phone lines, more people will be able to get in and leave orders on the voice system, without actually having to talk to someone about their order. Don't forget you can Fax your order in as well. I am looking forward to seeing great interest in the DSP-93 and the start of an open architecture design that will allow the DSP-93 to meet untold amateur needs in the future without having to wait months or years for DSP code development from within closed groups. I believe the wait has been worth it.

In the May QEX, Johan Forrer, KC7WW, published an HF digital modem design. We approached Johan about doing his design as a kit, and since his design was turn-key and only needed to be kitted in a cost effective manner, the TAPR board decided to do 100 kits to see if there was as much interest as we think there is for this kit. We hope this becomes a long term kit for TAPR, since it opens up HF digital communications for considerably less than what a multi-mode controller costs. We will also be working with Johan in the future on some of his other digital projects. We hope Johan becomes an active designer within TAPR.

The Special Interest Groups are having varying success. The NETSIG is generating a lot of discussion and with time should produce some interesting monographs. Dave Wolf, Chair of the BBSSIG, is looking for someone to take over the group. Dave is very with work and wants to find someone that will be able to devote more time. I would think that from the 3500+ BBS sysops in the US, a BBS SIG will eventually be very active. Dave needs help right now from someone to oversee the Internet SIG mailing list and start working on discussion to get closure on various issues. Dave can be contacted through the TAPR office, if you don't have his address or phone. The FCC Regulatory Committee has been busy working on several regulatory issues, but there have been a few sidetracks the past month, with various folks' work schedules and commitments having slowed things. We are working on establishing an HF Digital SIG to discuss HF digital matters. More information on that as it develops.

Just to prepare you ahead of time for the next issue of the PSR, Winter #56, since it will contain advertising. This is based on a decision made at the 1994 TAPR Board of Directors meeting. With the help of Maingate Resources we are proceeding to implement the Boards' decision. The main reason for implementing this is to make the PSR a self-sufficient publication, and thus allow TAPR to utilize that portion of the members' yearly dues in other areas. We hope that the various advertisers will bring needed products to the membership. If an advertiser is interested in advertising in the PSR, they should contact Maingate Resources, (940) 295-6222. Also, if you use an advertiser seen in the PSR, be sure to mention that you saw there ad in PSR. Be sure to see this said again next issue (grin).

Now to the more troubling trends in amateur radio. There has been a lot of FCC happenings since the last issue of the PSR. Several are reprinted in this issue. These issues deal with: Allocation of Spectrum Below 5Ghz transferred from Federal Government Use, Authorization of Automatic Control for HF Digital Communications in Amateur Service Proposed, and Commission Amends Rules Concerning Message Forwarding Systems in the Amateur Service. Each of these affects the future of how we operate Digital Communications. Let's hit the most important in terms of long term impact.

In February, the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) posted a notice, entitled Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Report, which was prepared pursuant to Title VI of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. In that Act, Congress mandated that the U.S. Government reallocate to the private sector 200 MHz of spectrum below 5 GHz, 100 MHz of it below 3 GHz. Since Amateur Radio's use of the microwave bands is on a secondary basis to Government applications, mostly military, this proceeding will have a significant impact on our future access to these frequencies. From this, the FCC issued ET Docket No. 94-32, Allocation of Spectrum Below 5Ghz transferred from Federal Government Use. The spectrum identified for reallocation by the Department of Commerce is the 50 Megahertz at the bands 2390-2400 Mhz, 2402-2417 MHz, and 4660-4685 Mhz. Comment date was June 15th with reply comments by June 30th. We haven't seen all the comments and replies as of this writing. The goal of this 'sale' or 'redistribution' of frequencies is to insure spectrum for new services and the enhancement of existing services. Some independent analysis estimates that the FCC will raise several billion dollars in the sale of the first half of these frequencies now and probably double the amount when the rest of the frequencies are auctioned off in the upcoming few years. This is the first of the great rush on frequencies which represent the future of many of our digital and other amateur modes.

There is not much hope to save it, since we are now competing with companies and groups that have several million to drop on small portions of the bands being 'redistributed', that we have taken for granted these last few decades. AMSAT has done well in getting the FCC to acknowledge the importance of satellite sub-bands, but we have a lot of work to do in order to try to insure some future on these higher bands for any of our amateur modes. The scenario which scares me is that we will be unable to be assigned as primary on any of the bands, so that within 5-10 years the commercial operators in larger metropolitan areas will request that all amateurs vacate those portions of the bands, since we will be secondary and thus interfering with their primary allocations. This would be the loss of almost all of our frequencies where some rather unique development is taking place.

I believe that the only long term plan that will save any of the higher bands being 'redistributed' is to ask the FCC for amateur preservers. Think of them as national parks for public recreation. Not just for digital communications but for all modes. We don't really need all of the frequencies that are being 'redistributed', but we sure need more than zero Mhz. This is almost promised in the future when we continue as secondary allocations. We somehow have to be assigned small primary allocations on each of the bands, so that we can continue the development of technology that has already produced: MicroSats, packet radio, and much more. All of these advances in the radio art have been directly transferable to commercial technology and have generated many new markets.

Many have said that amateur radio should fold up and go home, since many of the things that make amateur radio unique can be attained by cellular, PCS, and other such technologies. Amateur radio is currently and has been in a paradigm shift for the last several years. We will either find a new definition of amateur radio and a niche where it will continue to grow and prosper or it will eventually become something else -- which is possibly not having amateur radio at all. A good example of this was the recent agreement between McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., AT&T and the American National Red Cross. I am including the press release in the PSR in case you have not read it. This is the future. More like this to come. Amateur radio will no longer be able to continue to provide services that are better offered by this type of technology. We can no longer try to validate our presence on frequencies based on methods of operations developed in the first half of the century.

Before the 1950s, the amateur community was made up mostly of experimenters. Since then the trend has been away from experimentation towards more operational type activities. Much of this has to do with the enhancement of technology and the opening of amateur radio as a viable commercial market. As the amateur radio market expanded, more folks needed to be reached, so more and more 'consumers' were brought into the amateur hobby. This continued the deterioration of the number of experimenters within the hobby. Now, will a manufacturer make a radio for these higher bands in order to grow a market for amateurs when they can hold off on equipment development for several years and then sell the same equipment to commercial buyers for two or three times what amateurs would buy -- easy answer 'No'. One possibility is that we will lose our higher bands because amateurs no longer experiment with technology in large enough groups to provide the critical mass necessary to create a market. The 2-meter band in the 70's and 80's is a good example of this -- amateurs experimenting and making a market that is now significant. We have no burgeoning systems on 23cm or other like bands, since the technology is rather hard to deal with and very few are doing it. Why do something hard, when you can buy inexpensive equipment ready to go for 2meter or 70cm ? With few radios being available for these higher frequencies, no amateurs are on them to make us viable to keep these now highly sought after and expensive resources. The future is indeed bleak. It might be UHF and above now, but the pressure will be on all of our frequencies eventually. We are using 'BILLIONS' of dollars of spectrum for recreation, and the warships are about to sail over the horizon and blow us from the water.

TAPR will continue to work on the FCC frequency issue in conjunction with others in order to try to secure some amount of primary space we can call our own and not have to worry about investing in infrastructure only later to be asked to remove ourselves, because we are interfering with the primary occupant.

Now the other two FCC issues. The HF proposal is good news. I will wait some more and see what kind of comments are made, but my hat is off to both the ARRL and ADRS for their effort in bringing this issue forward. The ruling is a mixture of the best of both worlds. I believe that the sub-band concept was proposed initially by Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD. In effect, the ruling states unlimited automatic operations can occur in one sub-band on each HF band and unlimited semi-automatic operations on any portion of the HF bands that allows data transmission. Two potential problems could be that the defined narrow regions for fully automatic operations are possibly to narrow and the limitation of '500 Hz' for semi-automatic operations reduces future digital modes. The HF STA, which was initially for packet networking on HF, proved that the nature of automatic forwarding worked successfully, but if these regions are so limited as to cause so much congestion from several modes trying to utilize it, then no one will be able to communicate. Thus, everyone will operate semi-automatic. Maybe not a problem? Also, I can see why 500Hz would be chosen, but that does indeed limit future modes that might operate at much higher speeds, but take up more than 500Hz. If someone can operate at 9600bps in 2Khz or 3Khz, would that be better than operating longer within 500Hz ?

The last issue deals with the ruling of Message Forwarding Systems in the Amateur Service. I believe that Phil's petition for reconsideration covers all the points I could make and had hoped TAPR's Regulatory Committee would have filed within the deadline. Why is amateur digital communications continued to be held to higher standards than other amateur modes ? The originator 'only' should be held accountable. That does not mean that with a BBS store-and-forward system, the first forwarding station operator should still not review all incoming messages to help eliminate any problems, but the ruling is specific to one type of technology and does not address more advanced systems. Is this good or bad? Who can tell -- depends on further interpretations. A question I keep asking myself is why is amateur radio, which is licensed, constantly being highly regulated, while Part 15 operations, which are non-licensed, have few regulations? Somehow amateur radio has gotten into this mode of having the FCC continuously regulate what we can do, instead of setting very broad definitions and allowing us to self-regulate ourselves. Self regulation is supposed to be one of our strong points - right ? The ruling at least helps eliminate everyone in the current BBS forwarding system from getting fined, but still leaves one operator, spending lots of time and money to provide a resource to their local ham community to face legal action based on someone else's illegal use. Why is this different from repeater networks or any other amateur mode? These regulations are based on one or two occurrences over long periods of time, while the current digital store-and-forward network itself handles thousands of messages daily without problem or rules violations. Very troubling.

If you have comments on these issues, please let me or the TAPR Regulatory Committee know. We need the membership's input on these issues to ensure that TAPR is going down the correct paths.

Till next quarter and 150+ DSP-93 kits later.

Greg Jones, WD5IVD

May 1994

As a number of you know, Andy Freeborn, N0CCZ, passed on February 4th in Colorado Springs. Andy was a past president and board member of the organization and was responsible for much of the direction of the latter part of the 80's and early 90's. This was a sad loss to many in TAPR, since Andy was directly responsible for the current and past activity of many within TAPR. If it were not for Andy's influence and arm twisting, I would not have gotten as involved in the organization as I am currently. Andy's loss to both amateur radio and TAPR will be felt. Andy asked for donations to be made to either the American Cancer Society or the First Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs.

The 1994 Board Meeting and Annual Membership Meeting went over well the first part of March in Tucson. If you didn't make it this year, you missed one of the best in several years. To spring the word early, next year's annual meeting will be held in St. Louis. (See news on date and location elsewhere in this issue) From past packet forums in St. Louis, we expect about 300 - 400 people to attend next year's annual meeting, a marked increase from the normal 100+ that make Tucson. The current goal is to alternate locations every other year always returning to Tucson to our roots. This should allow more people to participate in the TAPR experience around the US. The more the merrier! For an insight as to what occurred at the annual meeting this year, read Dave's Wolf article on the 1994 annual meeting. Also, we have TAPR 1994 Annual Meeting Proceedings available at the office for those that want a copy of the technical papers presented (54 pages).

I am very happy to say that the response on voting this year for board members was outstanding! From a little more than 1000 ballots mailed, 429 ballots were received (representing 43% of the membership). In the past, 100 to 150 ballots returned was a good response. This was the first year that the organization sent out individual ballots and we learned one or two things. The following people were elected to the board: Ron Bates, AG7H, Greg Jones, WD5IVD, Mel Whitten, K0PFX, Jack Davis, WA4EJR, and John Koster, W9DDD. Both Ron and Jack selected the 1 year term of office. A big welcome to all the new board members. I would also like to thank Bill Beech, NJ7P, and Jack Taylor, N7OO for running this last year. Having this good a selection for the membership to choose for board members was a dream come true. I hope that this level of excitement in TAPR continues and we see as good a ballot selection next year! During the board meeting, the board set the following goals for 1994: increase membership, work on SIG activity, continue to watch spending, gain closure on current projects, and increase activity in national issues. Long range goals will continue to be discussed. The board elected the following officers: Greg Jones, WD5IVD, President, Keith Justice, KF7TP, Vice President, Gary Hauge, N4CHV, Secretary, and Jim Neely, WA5LHS, Treasurer. IÝbelieve that the board will be as active this coming year as this past. Leaving the board was Bob Nielsen, W6SWE, Dan Morrison, KV7B, and Jerry Crawford, K7UPJ.

The other good news from the annual meeting was the response to the formation of two new special interest groups: BBS SIG and NET SIG. BBS SIG is headed up by Dave Wolf, WO5H, and will focus on nationally oriented BBS issues. NET SIG is headed up by John Ackermann, AG9V, and will examine issues related to regional networking in the US. Both of these groups will have active mail lists on the TAPR Internet server, as well as with the help of members in each group redistribute many of the threads on packet radio. The goal of these groups is to generate information, recommendations, and publications that will help build consensus in each area and help bring a larger group of folks in each area to the table for discussion. Both SIGs have writeups in this issue. In person meetings are schedule three times a year: TAPR Annual Meeting, Dayton, and the ARRL DCC (Digital Communication Conference). TAPR also formed a committee on FCC regulatory issues headed up by Dewayne Hendricks. The FCC committee will work towards providing TAPR with the ability to respond and represent our membership regarding various digital issues presented by the FCC. I am very excited by the formation of all three of these groups. Information on how to join the Internet mailers for the BBS and NET SIGs appears later on in the PSR.

Have you seen any of TAPR's ads in CQ, QST, 73, World Radio, or other publications? TAPR started a membership drive in January and since that date we have over 200 new members. This year's goal is to reach 2000 total TAPR members. To do this, we need your help. The advertising alone will not be enough to double our membership in one year. If you have a friend who might be interested, drop a letter or call the office to have a PSR sent to them. Lone your PSR to folks after you get through reading it. Request handouts from the office for your local club meetings or local hamfests. During the 'early days,' TAPR was well known by all who were active in packet radio. Despite over a decade of explosive packet growth, there are many 'converts' to this medium who know virtually nothing of the history of TAPR's contributions, or that TAPR even exists! Just as businesses need customers to buy products to keep their company healthy, TAPR needs a growing membership base to make its continuing contributions to amateur radio digital communications possible. A little work in distributing information goes a long way to get new members. Help TAPR reach its goal of doubling it membership base. I personally want to see 3000 members by the start of 1996, so we have to make our goal this year.

Technical Support for kits is causing some problems. The new voice system might be too successful in handling information and giving TAPR a professional appearance, since many that call the system get the impression that a large technical support staff is just in the next room taking their lunch break. TAPR does not offer anything approaching commercial technical support. We really only have one person, in one back room, running the day-to-day show - Dorothy. If you didn't know, technical support for TAPR kits is handled on a volunteer basis. Each kit has a technical support specialist and all questions are sent to this person. Replies are then mailed or faxed back as soon as possible. Since our volunteers are also holding down jobs, having to meet family commitments, and the other sundry things that daily life presents, it typically takes a week or more for an answer to make it back to the builder. Just be aware of this. If you can find someone locally to help you with your kit, it might be faster to get help there first. We are looking at ways to speed up the feedback loop, but probably will not have anything implemented until the end of the year. I believe technical support is becoming a larger and larger issue as kits become more mature. The reason being, when a kit is first introduced, more individuals with kit building experience have access to the initial kit release. As a kit matures, less experienced kit builders get the units and have more technical issues to overcome. This is a problem, since new members, who have problems with their kits, seem to a year later become ex-members. With any kit in the future we need to examine closely the prior knowledge and experience required to build the unit. We should possibly look at rating the kits in order of difficulty and requirements. At the last Board Meeting, we did recognize the first authorized TAPR repair center. If all else fails to get someone's kit operational, TAPR can provide information concerning the authorized person who independently examines and repairs kits. You have to contact Dorothy about this option and it is provided after someone on the technical support group looks over your problem. Kit building frustration is a major issue we have to overcome.

TAPR projects are busy. The Beta-testing of the DSP-93 units is a little over a month off from beginning. The beta group has been formed and parts and board orders have been placed. We have 23 total people participating in the beta test. The LAPA (Ax.25 v 2.2) standard has been moved from TAPR along to the ARRL for handling. Hopefully we will have news to report that it has been adopted in the near future. The TUC-52 has had a delay in the board layout and we are continuing to work through that delay. Paul has a preliminary design for the personality board, but is waiting until we get the board done on the TUC-52 before proceeding. Hard to say how this delay will impact the PCON project alpha and beta-testing period.

To finish, TAPR wants to start offering regional packet groups space in the PSR to report on regional news. If you want to take advantage of this, contact me of Bob (PSR editor). We believe that the more we can help communicate information between different groups the better job can be done in helping groups avoid and solve problems. One of the things that I think TAPR should be doing as a national organization is providing this conduit between regional groups. I also want to start publishing a list of regional networking contacts so that one region will know who to contact about issues. This list will be established by NETSIG, so if you want to be on the list, be sure to contact John Ackermann, NETSIG chairperson.

Until next Quarter - Greg, WD5IVD

January 1994

Welcome 1994, goodbye 1993. I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday break. The outstanding news for 1993 is that TAPR showed a financial upturn. This was good news, since TAPR has been generally losing money for the last number of years. Several years ago, Andy Freeborn, N0CCZ, showed that TAPR would be in serious financial trouble if it continued to show losses each year. Andy was right and we must continue to have everyone concentrate on working to keep things turned around. This good news can be contributed to Jim Neely's hard work as treasurer and everyone's responsible fiscal control over operations this last year. We still need to continue to work towards several years of successful financial progress in order to get back to solid footing as an organization.

The other positive news from last year is that the goals that were set for 1993 were all met: 1) TAPR showed a financial up-turn, 2) projects that were in limbo are now in a state so as to eventually recover money spent on research, 3) the flow of information dissemination was increased, 4) board communications were moved from CompuServe to Internet, 5) the TAPR information server was brought on-line, 6) membership decline was stabilized, and 7) overall membership activity was increased. A pretty full plate, which I believe the board did a great job accomplishing. This past year required a lot of work from everyone and I believe that 1994 will see a continued increase in TAPR activity and will cause an increase in membership participation. As TAPR continues to grow and become active, it is necessary for tasks to be moved outside the board of directors. One past TAPR trend was the feeling that individuals had to be on the board in order to do anything within TAPR. I want to avoid this at all costs. There are plenty of things for folks to be doing that do not require direct interaction with TAPR's financial resources. The purpose of the Board of Director is to set direction, set policy, and most importantly to control and take responsibility for TAPR's financial resources. It is my hope that TAPR will become successful in areas other than the traditional one of designing and developing new pieces of hardware, which takes considerable financial resources for each new project.

Concerning membership, the numbers for 1993 were down again, but the last three months of the year saw over 100 new members, which helped a lot to offset membership decline. Long time member renewals have been on the decrease for several years now, so it is very important to bring new members into the organization. I believe that preliminary efforts in getting TAPR's name out once again to the amateur community has begun to show positive results. Just the first part of January has seen over 50 new members! We will continue the ads for this coming year and we have a convention/hamvention package available for those that would like to distribute TAPR information at those affairs. Just contact the office.

In order to broaden membership impact and participation, we are instigating Special Interest Groups (see SIG writeup for more information). The intention is to provide groups for discussion in areas of national interest. Different areas of the US have different needs and concerns and there seems to be a lack of national discussion that is widely disseminated. These groups will be formed as needed and anyone, TAPR member or non-member, can participate. We plan on trying to host SIG meetings three times a year: TAPR Annual Meeting, Dayton Hamvention, and at the ARRL National Digital Communications Conference. With these face-to-face meetings and dialog via digital means, there should be some positive results. The first ones that will be getting underway for 1994 are the BBS SIG and Regional Networkers SIG. Both of these we feel are needed in order to bring focus on national issues in both areas. A TCP/IP SIG has been talked about, but we are still looking for someone to chair the group. The first meetings of the SIGs will be held at the TAPR Annual Meeting. The SIGs will be responsible for setting their own agendas and activities within their groups. Methods will need to be developed on how actual "TAPR Recommendations" are adopted from the SIGs.

I have high hopes for this year to continue to build on what we accomplished in 1993. I will be recommending the following goals for 1994 to the board at the annual meeting: 1) continue to watch spending very closely, 2) continue to work on increasing membership, 3) work on getting Special Interest Groups active, 4) get closure on current projects, 5) finish work on kit revamps in progress, 6) develop more TAPR involvement in national perspectives, 7) develop more TAPR publications, and 8) finalize TAPR's short and long term goals.

All of these goals fit into TAPR's vision plan which was started in 1993. That vision sees TAPR moving back into a national perspective and moving towards covering a larger segment of the amateur digital community. In the mid-80's when TAPR got rolling, TAPR grew with it members from those early days, beginning at a lower understanding of this aspect of the hobby to more advanced stages of design and understanding. In the last few years, these original members of TAPR have been decreasing, while TAPR's activities have remained at a rather high state of development and technology understanding. This has not reflected the change in the amateur community -- that of an increasing beginning and intermediate user base. TAPR needs to shift some of it emphasis from high-end development down to more intermediate level projects and publications. The purpose is two-fold: 1) to bring in new members and begin to move them into the high levels of understanding and usage and 2) to be able to have a large group of amateurs who will be able to participate in the future of TAPR. The board gave a lot of thought to how much the organization should shift -- possibly even trying to cover very novice packet users, but in the end the board felt that by shifting too much to the lower levels might possibly dilute what TAPR is about and does -- that the regional groups throughout the US are doing a good job currently in getting these very beginning digital operators active and on the air. The board has decided that TAPR will expand its focus to incorporate more intermediate users. That does not mean that we will not produce beginning materials; this means that we will focus on devoting financial resources on this new range.

I want to finish this president's report with the annual meeting, the Board of Directors meeting, and board elections. As you will read and hear several times in the next few months, the annual meeting is March 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1994 in Tucson, Az. (Take a read on the blurb later on for all the important information) We hope to see you at the meeting this year, but if you don't make it TAPR will be at Dayton as usual and we will be present at the ARRL National Digital Communications Conference. One of the things I hope the board will discuss this year is the possibility of having the annual meeting away from Tucson every other year, thus allowing more participation from folks not able to attend Tucson and allowing TAPR to return to its roots on a regular basis. On the second point, the Board of Directors meet Friday of the annual meeting and if you need to meet and discuss something with the board, please drop a note to the office before the actual board meeting in order for your item to be added to the agenda. It is important to have the agenda organized in order to cover things in a logical manner and cover everything needed in one short day. On the last point, I was very pleased to have such a turnout for this year's board elections. TAPR has had years in the past when there was not enough interest to fill the slots up for election. That was one reason we changed from thirteen and nine directors. The entire slate of board nominations is outstanding. I believe that this one item shows a lot of change in the direction and interest within the organization. When you receive your ballot in the mail, please take a moment to read the biographies of each candidate. Each person holds special talents and gifts which they can bring to the TAPR board and the future direction of the organization. Your vote is important, so take the time, select five candidates for the board, and then mail back your ballot to the office.

Cheers - Greg

P.S. TAPR is doing another 120 TrakBox units for shipping in February.

October 93

I would like to start off this issue by congratulating Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD, on the excellent article in QST concerning the Deviation Meter. Excellent article, Lyle! TAPR also congratulates all the participants in the latest satellite launches. The new data satellites further enhance digital communications and make amateur radio stronger. Way to go!

Speaking about satellites, the TrakBox sales have been brisk since the first of August. The Board of Directors has approved to do another run of 120 kits to meet the continued demand. This will be the LAST run of this kit, since the A/D chip is no longer in production. We hope that with the launches of the new satellites, that additional new folks will be needing Trakboxes for their new stations. Also, buy your PSK kit now - the last few are available and we won't be carrying them after these are sold.

This summer, Heather submitted her resignation as TAPR office manager to the Board of Directors. It was with sadness that the Board of Directors has accepted her resignation, but Heather wanted to move on to new areas of interest. Heather will be helping out during the upcoming office change and we hope that she will continue to be around in some position in the future. See the article on the upcoming office change for more details.

Next year will be an active one for TAPR. You should begin to mark your calendars now to attend the various things we will be doing. The first is the annual meeting in March (5th and 6th) in Tucson, Az. There will be the standard Saturday presentations, but we will be hosting a discussion/policy group Saturday evening to talk about what TAPR should be doing for future projects. It is the aim of the board to develop long-range development goals and then issue RFPs based on these. There will be more on this as we formulate the plan further. Sunday will see a seminar, hopefully of the same quality that Jon Bloom presented last year on DSP (Digital Signal Processing). A question I would like to ask is "Should TAPR move its annual meeting from year to year ?" Maybe have it in Chicago, St Louis, Dallas, or San Diego in 1995? A number of the members have stated that rotating the annual meeting between each coast and the central US would help bring TAPR to more of its members. Please let me know what you think about this.

TAPR will be doing a lot more at Dayton this next year. We will be hosting a regional networking forum one of the evenings at Dayton in order to bring together regional network groups for information sharing. We also hope to hold a BBS discussion/policy meeting one evening. To further distribute TAPR information at the regional level, board members will be attending local conventions throughout the US to put forth the TAPR banner. Dates for these conventions will be publicized as soon as we have them set. We hope to get local TAPR members to help in the efforts. We have lost a lot of momentum in the last few years. As one amateur stated at a recent convention 'I didn't think TAPR was around anymore.' Well, it is, and we better start telling people again what we do and what we are about. If you need TAPR information to distribute at conventions and club meetings, just contact the office. It is also our intention to be more involved with the ARRL Digital Conference in the future. We have already submitted for hosting the conference in 1995.

In another direction to increase TAPR's visibility and help information dissemination, we are beginning to run classifieds in several Amateur Magazines. Keep an eye out for them. They have good offers for new members. Find them and then tell a non-TAPR member where to look.

On the PSR front, we continue to look for folks that want to write about what they are experimenting with, organizing, or doing with packet radio or other digital modes. So we are initiating an incentives system for publications -- for every five articles submitted and accepted for publication by TAPR (published) we will increase your membership 1 year. So publish and you can get your membership/PSR free and help increase the quality of articles for everyone else. What we are looking for are articles on implementations (network, software, radios, hardware) and information explaining how things work (modems, BBS forwarding, etc). The article needs to be at least two pages in length and sent to the editor of the PSR. Have a go at writing - that's what the editor is for, he is responsible for catching all the spelling/grammar mistakes (that your word processor misses). The advantages of getting published is that you get 1) folks knowing what your part of the world is doing and 2) possibly finding someone doing the same thing and wanting to work on your area of interest.

Now jumping to world affairs, earlier this year a fire at a resin plant in Japan struck and crippled the world supply of the needed chip material. Although world production is suppose to return to normal the first of 1994, the result has been that the costs of chips have doubled and tripled and the order time has shifted from a week or so up to 12 weeks now on some parts. This put TAPR in the position of not being able to ship some kits immediately. At the start of the year we began to implement a "just-in-time" philosophy on parts for kits - which then came to haunt us with the above disaster. The good news is that things are almost back to normal as far as parts for kits are concerned and we are continuing to define the process. We hope this has not inconvenienced any members and we can only try to keep ahead of events beyond our control. Kit inventory is now back to normal and we hope for no problems like this in the future.

Let me touch base on current projects. Paul Newland continues his development of PCON (see issue #51), the DSP-93 is progressing (see later in this issue for details of the design), and the LAPA proposed standard (i.e. future AX.25 version 2.1) is being reviewed by a group within TAPR. Bill Beech, NJ7P, Douglas Nielsen, N7LEM, and Jack Taylor, N7OO, have put in many months of work on the standard and we hope to move it along to the ARRL Futures Committee as rapidly as possible. These three projects are keeping just a few folks busy.

That about wraps it up for this quarter. I hope everyone will have a pleasant upcoming holiday period. During the holiday break (from school for me), I will be putting in time at Tucson and then at the new office completing the change in office locations. There is a lot to be done in three weeks. During the time at the old office with Heather and the new one with Dorothy, I will begin to put into words the future direction of TAPR that the board and I have been discussing and what we hope will be a future that leads the organization into as much success as the last ten has seen.

Cheers - Greg

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