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Radio => Digital Modes => Topic started by: WA4STO on February 11, 2012, 03:52:37 PM

Title: Why would Prepared Hams want to do digital modes?
Post by: WA4STO on February 11, 2012, 03:52:37 PM

Now, there's a question for ya.  Why WOULD they, anyway?

Data, data, it's all about the data.  8)

Well, actually, it's also very much about the accuracy of the data.

For example, let's assume that WA4STO and N1FCH are both members of a large compound of preppers. 'STO has developed a database of food, ammunition, and fuel supplies that are presently in stock, but located in various buildings within the compound.

'FCH realizes this, but she's not sure if the supply of diesel fuel has been exhausted.

If she only knows how to use a microphone, she'd be relegated to trying to make contact with somebody within (our outside of the compound) who might know the answer.  But then she might also have to suffer a misunderstanding of how many gallons were actually left.  That's the unfortunate nature of amateur radio voice communications.

We can do better.  Much better.  And we do. 

In addition to the database itself, 'STO (clever lad that he is...) has also implemented an amateur radio solution to the notion of querying the database without being concerned about the "people factor". 

Now, 'FCH can type in a query and get a real-time answer without worry about errors, or even the availability of someone who knows what's going on.  All on frequencies which can be utilized by the beginners in amateur radio.

This can be scaled much higher than just local (within the compound) data.  For that, I'll give you an example from 1991.  I was working for the ARRL in Connecticut at the time, and was contacted by a radioman on board the USS John F. Kennedy.  He had just gone onboard, realized that there was surely a way to get rid of the thousands of telegrams that he had on the hook, destined for friends and loved ones back home.  He also knew that he had an amateur radio modem there, but no documentation and no notes from his predecessor. 

I filled him in on the details and provided him with information on the networks that had been set up for him to utilize, as well as how to contact folks back in the States who could accept his messages for delivery and/or relay.

I'd like to think that this was a source of many a smile from faces separated by thousands of miles.

73 de "Luck", WA4STO
QTH = Wilber, Nebraska
Title: Re: Why would Prepared Hams want to do digital modes?
Post by: DSB on February 11, 2012, 04:05:53 PM
Another story comes from Kuwait City. Operation Desert Storm. A Kuwaiti HAM operator, smuggled out tons of information on the Iraqi army of occupation, what was going on, troop movements, etc anything of military value. Right under the nose of Iraqi security because he used digital (on battery power) to transmit the info to a HAM here located in the midwest, who in turn, relayed it to military intelligence in D.C. Because it was a data stream and not Morse Code, the Iraqis suspected nothing out of the ordinary. Just some noise.

He operated that station from his back room (or basement, I cant remember) through their entire occupation, until Kuwaiti troops rolled in from the Saudi border. A data stream is just another layer of OPSEC. No goof ball can just pick up a radio, turn it on and listen in. You must have the software and a computer interface to "read" it. That's why my next goal is to get up and running on Data.
Title: Re: Why would Prepared Hams want to do digital modes?
Post by: WA4STO on February 11, 2012, 04:33:50 PM
This is almost too funny for words.  Throughout my typing of my initial message, I was thinking about Abbduhl in Kuwait city.

And then when I saw your posting, it reminded me that I have a .doc file that speaks of the amateur radio heroism that Abbduhl was involved with during that time.

The file also speaks of Scott Ward, who was the radioman onboard the JFK that I mentioned in my posting.

The movie itself  (last voice from Kuwait) is downright emotional.  We had it for loan at ARRL HQ and it was seldom available, no matter how many copies we had.

Here's a link to the document.  Enjoy! (
Title: Re: Why would Prepared Hams want to do digital modes?
Post by: DSB on February 11, 2012, 04:47:47 PM
Thanks for posting the movie. I couldnt remember the name so I could reference it for the forum members. I'm going to watch it again tonite.