An ARES alert system using listservs

ARES LogoLast night I was having a conversation with Marty KB3MXM, ARRL Maryland-DC (MDC) Section Manager, regarding notification of ARES® members in times of need, quickly.  This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the topic and not much has changed.  Taking another look at the subject has given me the opportunity to look at some additional resources.

Various options are available today (each with their own pros and cons):

  • Phone trees
    • PRO: Simple, easy to establish
    • CON: Assumes telephony lines are up and not congested.  Also, calling the 500+ members in the MDC ARES team could take a while.
    • Pretty much every ARES organization has such a device as a means of communicating with their members.  It’s cheap, simple, and easy to deploy although it could be time consuming to actually use.
  • Short Message Service (SMS) notification systems
    • PRO: Fast delivery of short messages to cellular phones.
    • CON: Assumes cellular circuits are available, solution can be costly, and may require Internet access to implement a notification.
    • Calvert County AUXCOMM currently uses ez texting to send SMS messages to all members.  At the time the account was established we were able to get a free account with ~100 SMS messages per month.  This type of account is no longer advertised.
    • See also, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
  • Email Listservs
    • PRO: Simple to setup, can send messages to phones via SMS email addresses, regular email addresses, and Winlink addresses.  Email is fairly ubiquitous.
    • CON: Assumes Internet connectivity to the server, from the server to the client email servers, and then to the clients themselves.
    • Similarly to the phone tree, I suspect most ARES groups have one of these already setup and ready to go.
  • Transmitting messages across the radio
    • PRO: All radio with a potential for higher availability.
    • CON: Requires users to be monitoring  a particular frequency all the time.
    • The best case I’ve seen for this is in Connecticut ARESTheir DMR network has an alert talkgroup that is silent but for alerts.  Because the system is all UHF the radios are small enough to be carried most places which increases the possibility that a user will have it monitoring the talkgroup for such a call-up.
    • Paging is also an option which could be successful.

There are likely additional means of communicating an alert message to ARES members and I’m sure they’ve been deployed with success somewhere (and if you know of any please leave a comment!).

The problem with most of these solutions is they require commercial infrastructure that may already be hampered by the emergency that the ARES members are needed for.  Obviously a hybrid approach is always going to be better.   With that in mind, lets discuss using a listserv to transmit alert and informational messages to members.

Listserv

Gnu_mailman_logo2010A listserv is just a system that retransmits email messages received to the list’s subscribers.  The listserv may also store a copy of the message for subscribers or the public to review at a later date.  One popular implementation of a listserv server is GNU Mailman.  One could use existing solutions like Yahoo! Groups or Google Groups but these solutions scrape their data for advertisement purposes and can lead to spam and other activities that only degrade for the overall experience.  There is also no guaranteed availability with these solutions so it’s likely not a good fit for emergency communications.  By now one can tell I’m advocating for managing your own infrastructure.  There’s nothing like controlling your own information and making sure it stays secure.

Specific to the MDC section, multiple layers of listservs might be appropriate to allow an easy transmission to all or parts of the group.  Individuals are added to their county(ies), district lists only address the county lists below them, and the MDC list only addresses the district lists:

  • Maryland-DC – MDC-ARES-All@
    • Eastern District MDC-ARES-East@
      • Caroline – MDC-ARES-CARO@
      • Denton
      • Dorchester
      • Kent
      • Ocean City
      • Queen Anne’s
      • Somerset
      • Talbot
      • Wicomico
      • Worchester
    • Central District
      • Anne Arundel
      • Baltimore City
      • Baltimore County
      • Calvert
      • Cecil
      • Charles
      • DC
      • Harford
      • Howard
      • Montgomery
      • Prince Georges
      • Saint Marys
    • Western District
      • Allegany
      • Carroll
      • Frederick
      • Garrett
      • Washington

Administration and sending permissions would also be limited to specific addresses at a particular level.  An EC would be able to send a message to their specific county, and perhaps their district, but not to the entire section.  List membership would be managed at the local level by the EC or their designated alternate (AECs?).  One change, one place, would be all that is needed to maintain the entire chain.

The latest version of Mailman supports a forum-type of interface in addition to email delivery so one could input a message via a website if email wasn’t available.

Duplication of these layers may be desired to support non-alert messages (routine, informational) that would likely be larger than what could be handled by SMS.  Additional lists could be used for specific section-level nets (e.g. MEPN, MDD) or local nets (BTN) to alert members to an other-than-regular call-up.  Likewise, it might be beneficial to also setup a layer including management (SEC, DECs, ECs, and AECs) when notification of all members isn’t warranted (planning).

What about SMS?

SMS can actually be handled by a listserv fairly easily.  Every SMS account actually has an email address attached to it (as listed in the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide, Version 1.5):

  • Alaska Communications
    • SMS: number@txt.acsalaska.net
    • MMS: 11-digit-number@mms.ak.net
  • Alltel
    • SMS: number@sms.alltelwireless.com
    • MMS: number@mms.alltelwireless.com
  • AT&T
    • SMS: number@txt.att.net
    • MMS: number@mms.att.net
  • Bell Canada
    • SMS & MMS: number@txt.bell.ca
  • Boost Mobile
    • SMS: number@sms.myboostmobile.com
    • MMS: number@myboostmobile.com
  • C Spire Wireless
    • SMS & MMS: number@cspire.com
  • Cricket Wireless
    • SMS: number@sms.mycricket.com
    • MMS: number@mms.mycricket.com
  • General Communications Inc. (GCI)
    • SMS: number@mobile.gci.net
    • MMS: number@mms.gci.net
  • Iridium
    • SMS: number@msg.iridium.com
  • Metro PCS
    • SMS & MMS: number@mymetropcs.com or number@metropcs.sms.us
  • Qwest
    • SMS & MMS: number@qwestmp.com
  • SouthernLinc Wireless
    • SMS: number@page.southernlinc.com
    • MMS: number@mms.southernlinc.com
  • Sprint
    • SMS & MMS: number@messaging.sprintpcs.com
  • T-Mobile
    • SMS & MMS: 11-digit-number@tmomail.net
  • Telus Communications
    • SMS & MMS: number@msg.telus.com
  • TracFone
    • SMS & MMS: number@mmst5.tracfone.com
  • U.S. Cellular
    • SMS: number@email.uscc.net
    • MMS: number@mms.uscc.net
  • Verizon
    • SMS: number@vtext.com
    • MMS: number@vzwpix.com
  • Virgin Mobile
    • SMS: number@vmobl.com
    • MMS: number@vmpix.com

ARES members would need to provide their cellular phone number and carrier so they could be added to the list.

But what about using the radio?

Winlink

Members that utilize the Winlink system can also add their Winlink e-mail addresses to the listserv as well.  This will allow the member to be notified by RF (when a pull is done from the Winlink server) as well as email and SMS push message.

Call frequencies and primary repeater

Members that, as a matter of routine, monitor their local ARES repeater or a specific frequency that is used for emergencies can also be alerted in such a manner.  It’s important to not count out the simple approach of being able to simply do a call-up on the local repeater as a means of notifying members of an emergency.

Assumptions

It is assumed that a total Internet failure has not occurred.  A system like this is dependent upon Internet connectivity not only between the user’s email client and user’s email SMTP server but also to the subscribers’ SMTP servers and subscribers’ clients.  It assumed that notifications sent would occur before the communications emergency actually started or that at least some of the members would receive the message and word could be passed using an additional method (e.g phone tree, repeater call-up) to notify those not yet participating.

There is also an assumption that users have a cellular phone, email address, or Winlink account and that these communications mechanisms are checked regularly.

Conclusion

While there are several ways of notifying ARES members of a communications emergency this shows one way of doing so utilizing a mechanism that is, from the user’s point of view, very simple.  We shouldn’t let “this isn’t a perfect solution” hold us back from “better than we have now” and “yet another tool”.  Utilizing a series of listservs could potentially deliver an alert message to all users within a few seconds and this is definitely better than what we have today.

Posted in Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), American Radio Relay League (ARRL) | Tagged | Leave a comment

The oddest thing happened today… Analysis of an APRS replay “attack”

The other day a fellow amateur radio operator, WJ3K, caught me on the Annapolis repeater and asked me whether I was seeing odd things happening on the APRS network.  Specifically, whether or not I was seeing station tracks getting bounced around as if an old packet had been injected into the network out of sync with the rest.  As soon as he said it I knew exactly what he was talking about.  Not only had I seen such things in recent days but I remember the Mic-E packet expansion “attack” from over a decade ago (sorry, can’t find the discussion that was held on the APRSSIG mailing list).

Anyway, I had some time to look at some recent packets and realized that something very odd was happening.  I was seeing packets from my HT (WG3K-7) coming through a digipeater across the Bay when the HT was safely off and sitting next to me.  I turned up the volume on the transceiver hosting APRS and was very surprised to hear two things: 1) packets being received but not being passed to my client and 2) packets received at my client that I hadn’t heard come across the radio!  It would seem that the problem plaguing the local network was my problem!  For some reason, my TNC was caching the packets and then, after several minutes was releasing them to my client who had no choice but to accept them with the thought they were real-time and send them to the APRS-IS.

The culprit seems to be a SCS PTC-IIusb modem in KISS mode.  Still investigating why it’s happening and I’ll update this article when I can.

Posted in 2m, APRS | Leave a comment

VOA Radiogram #155 as received in Maryland

I finally remembered to listen in to this weekend’s VOA Radiogram transmission from the Edward R. Murrow transmitter facility in Greenville, NC.

The signal strength on 5745 kHz was marginal even with strong S9 to +10dB signals.  It seems the bands are quite noisy with a noise floor of ~S7.  As you can see below, the MFSK32 was received much better than the Olivia 64-2k.  None of the images transmitted came out particularly well, either.  Fldigi also failed to automatically change from MFSK to Olivia but did manage to make the change back to MFSK.  I’ll try to receive the last transmission tomorrow afternoon to see if I can copy that better.

Welcome to program 155 of VOA Radiogram from the Voice of
America.

I'm Kim Andrew Elliott in Washington.

Here is the lineup for today's program, all in MFSK32 except
where noted:

 ¸
Gerogr bKa.(now)
 3:01  NASA plans large fire on spacecraft*
 7:26  Rotten tomatoes produce renewable energy*
11:54  Olivia 64-2000: Legislation to counter propaganda
19:48  MFSK32: Over the horizon radar in amateur HF bands*
25:04  Early General Electric shortwave broadcasting*
27:05  Closing announcements

* with image


Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.

And visit voaradiogram.net.

Twitter: @VOARadiogram


<EOT>
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NASA Plans to Light Large Fire in Orbiting Spacecraft 

VOA News
March 16, 2016

In order to see how fire-resistant to make the new lightweight
materials that will be used to build next-generation spacecju!nu
NASA plans to start a large fire in space.

The test "is crucial for the safety of current and future space
missions," said NASA's Gary Ruff in an interview Tuesday with
AFP.

In the experiment, NASA wants to see how big the flames get, how
they spread, and the amount of heat and gas released.

The fire will take place aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus capsule,
which is used to transport cargo to and from the International
Space Station, after it has made a drop-off.

The spacecraft will be launched March 23 from Cape Canaveral,
Florida, then head to the space station. Once it has moved a safe
distance away, NASA will trigger the fire.

Called "Saffire-1," the experiment is designed to give NASA
engineers a better idea about how fire behaves in space and how
much fire resistance to incorporate into new spaceships, as well
as space suits.

"Understanding fire in space has been the focus of many
experiments over the years," said Ruff, who added that while have
small fires have been purposely lit in space, NASA needs to
understand how a major fire would behave.

The fire is expected to burn for 20 minutes, during which data
about temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide will be recorded.
The event will also be filmed.

Once the experiment is over, the capsule will re-enter Earth's
atmosphere and burn up.

http://www.voanews.com/content/nasa-plans-to-light-large-fire-in-space/3240548.html


<EOT>
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Image: Orbital ATK's Cy<SOH>o &argo craft ...


<EOT>

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This is VOA Radiogram from the Voice of America.

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.


Rotten Tomatoes Produce Renewable Energy

Rick Pantaleo,
VOA Science World Blog
March 16th, 2016

About 21-percent of world electricity generation is estimated to
be from non-fossil fuels such as the wind or sun.

But scientists hope to boost that number by looking at new ways
to create it – one of which involves spoiled fruit.

A team of researchers found that damaged or spoiled tomatoes can
be turned into a unique and powerful source of renewable energy
when fed to biological and microbial electrochemical cells.

And the good news is, there seems to be a nearly endless supply
of damaged and rotten tomatoes. Florida alone generates 396,000
tons of tomato waste every year.

The scientists admit that right now the power produced by their
tomato fueled energy cells is quite small.

But they're quite optimistic that with continued research they'll
be able to greatly increase the electrical output of their energy
cells.

http://blogs.voanews.com/science-world/2016/03/16/bright-spots-of-ceres-rotten-tomatoes-produces-energy-black-hole-flashes-red/


<EOT>

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Image: Overripe tomatoes on a compost heap ...


<EOT>
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<EOT>
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VOA Radiogram now changes to Olivia 64-2000 ...


<EOT>
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irz<SI>i,F mu ºR® llWM t að’Mt nbx efoúz in Olivia 64-2000.

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.


From Rh~Gwd4?l^)rope/Radio Liberty:

U.S. Senators Seek New Center To Counter Russian,0t<RS><(
gz5|{ropaganda' 

By RFE/RL
March 16, 2016

WASHINGTON -- New legislation being introduced in the U.S. Senate
aims to improve Washington's efforts to counter "propaganda and
disinformation" spread by Russia, China, and other countries.

<SYN>}n\<RS>#C<EM>4 BQalled the Countering InformatiU3T;KWszx<GS>*@<GS>d:)C2016,
99jR amid gro<ETB>in;e_YJ
s in Congress and in man{u(lU<CAN>pean
W,@5<GS>s<DC3><FF>Ee to fight foreign disinformation campaigns.

Russia, in p<DC2>tiul3<SO>v_ through the portrayal of its @m-<DC4><ETB>K<DC3>
<EM>SMnUkraine and along the per    r5<SUB>Lm<GS>"9HNn}<DC1>uropean Union and NATO
-- has alarmed lawmakers and policymakers on both sides of the
Atlantic.

The EU 0$n!6f<EM>=<UoA small unit 1{B^[YR<VT>T4[<SUB>uropean Exte<DC2>nalm
5nvE[
 Service to counter narr<DC4>ives<FF>ln9`d by Kremlin-backed
media, such as RT and Sputnik, and govey${X8Edl8a<CAN>ored Internet
activists. NATO has also set up a Strategic Communications Center
ofu#]t_Dye<FF>L based in the Baltic state of Latvia, to counter
Russian p<DC2>#oS5J<SYN><ETB>0E9~j&u<FF><FF>@>zfg<DC4>!p://www.rferl.org/content/us-senators-seek-to-counter-russia-china-propaganda/27617521.html

VOA Radiogram now returns
Before RSID: <<2016-03-20T02:50Z OL 64-2K @ 1422100+1500>>
 to MFSK32 ...

=    d/?w-
[3q<GS><SI>GO<SO>JJh ¬eCÑNqenovCÃy0xt   o Rf:¤ c^ tVe




This is VOA Radiogram in MFSK32.
pQ eav send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.


From ARRL:

Over the Horizon Radars Becoming Routine Visitors on Amateur HF
Bands

03/14/2016

The International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (Europe/Africa)
Monitoring System (IARUMS) reports a spate of over the horizon
(OTH) radar signals on various Amateur Radio HF bands — exclusive
and shared. Many of these signals are being heard outside of the
Region 1 confines.

A 50 kHz wide Russian OTH radar has been heard in the evening on
80 meters, often in the CW part of the band. An "often
long-lasting" Russian OTH signal about 13 kHz wide is beheCv bre00-7100 kHz segment oetn
 t zn
 Zv me digital
traffic (FSK or PSK), and a "Codar-like radar from the Far East"
are being heard in the 7000-7200 kHz segment as well as
non-amateur CW transmissions.

The same OTH radar being heard on 40 meters also is appearing on
20 meters, along with digital traffic in FSK or PSK and on CW and
broadband OTH radar signals from China. Some monitoring reports
are intriguing, such as this one on 14.280 MHz from IARU Region 1
Monitoring System Coordinator Wolf Hadel, DK2OM: "Female voice
with encrypted msgs — figures — "SZRU" = Foreign Intelligence
Service of Ukraine in Rivne — every Wednesday at 1005 UTC."

Broadband OTH radars from China, Australia,D¶ rus, and Turkey
have been monitored in 15 meters. On 10 meters, radars from Iran
with FM CW and different sweep rates have been monitored, as well
as fishery buoys on CW, and taxi operations on voice from Russia.

Voice traffic from fishing operations has been heard on all or
most HF bands, as well as a variety of broadcasters, including
Radio Tajik on 14.295 MHz, Radio Taiwan and Myanmar Radio, both
on 7.200 MHz, and Radio Hargaysa in Somalia on 7.120 MHz.

The February 2016 IARU Region 1 Monitoring System newsletter
offers more details. There is an online archive of past issues. —
Thanks to the IARU Region 1 Monitoring System

http://www.arrl.org/news/over-the-horizon-radars-becoming-routine-visitors-on-amateur-hf-bands


<EOT>
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<EOT>

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This is VOA Radiogram from the Voice of America.

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.


The 14 March 2016 edition of Radio World includes an interesting
article by John F. Schneider aboout the early shortwave
broadcasting operations of General Electric in the United States.

See:

http://www.radioworld.com/article/schenectady-shortwave-transmitters-1941/278353

This image of GE's Schenectady, New York, shortwave operation in
1941 accompanies the article ...


<EOT>
 
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<EOT>
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Please send reÃeoytn´ts to radiogram@voanews.com.

And visit voaradiogram.net.

Twitter: fê½yRadioge tm

Thanks to colleagues at the Ed§,d R. Murjirortwave
transmitting station in North Carolina

I'rm El   rG: Please join us for the next VOA Radiogram.

This is VOA, the Voice of America.
Posted in Shortwave Listening, Voice of America (VOA) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

APRS on RF from your computer network

Enable Server Ports.  Those three words have baffled me for years.  It’s a menu item, under Interface, on Xastir and I’ve been wondering what it does for a while.  I had searched the Internet before without a positive result but last night I hit gold.

Okay, maybe not gold but I did hit the online version of the Xastir man page (who reads the man pages anyway?).  On the man page it clearly calls out how to interact with this switch:

NETWORK PORTS
Enable these ports on this menu: "Interface->Enable Server
Ports"

TCP:2023 Bidirectional TCP port for clients to connect
to. Requires login if client will be transmitting.

UDP:2023 Unidirectional UDP input port for clients to inject
packets. See the documentation for the format.

Hmm, this would make it seem I could share out my RF APRS connection with other APRS clients on my LAN.  Bingo!  A quick modification to iptables and setting up my APRSdroid software to connect to my APRS computer yielded APRS stations coming across the radio showing up directly on my phone!  Nice!  I was using a TCP connection so I am able to transmit and receive on my Android device using the TNC and radio upstairs in my shack.

WG3K>APX204,K3CAL-1,WIDE2-1:}WG3K-5>APDR13,TCPIP,WG3K*:=3841.14N/07632.08W$202/005/A==-00052 CALV ARES EC WL2K-1

Where is this useful?

This would be extremely useful anywhere you have multiple APRS clients but only a single RF connection (and who wants ten different APRS stations at a single location?).  Think EOCs where you have multiple stations setup.  Each station could have their own APRS client where they could monitor the status of other stations, update resources, and send and receive messages.

For sharing situational awareness information this is great as well.  Using a UDP connection, several APRS clients could be connected to Xastir as “read-only”.  Think the big situational awareness screens or information screens for bike races and marathons.

TCPIP Troubles

If there were a downside to this implementation it’s that it doesn’t appear these stations will show up on the Internet.  That TCPIP in the packet stream should tell any I-gate that the packet has already come across the APRS-IS and shouldn’t be passed.  This isn’t a problem if all your stations you want to communicate with are on RF but if some are coming across another TCP/IP network… well, there will likely be problems.  I haven’t tested if this affects incoming packets marked as TCPIP but it’s on my list.

Update: 2016-03-27 @ 1812z

After discussing what I was seeing with some Xastir developers I realized that what I was seeing was expected.  The feature was designed to have a master computer on the APRS network with other clients hanging off that master that were getting everything that the master was seeing but couldn’t actually transmit back out to the network.  I was actually making this happen by adding my phone’s callsign into the nws-stations.txt file that forces the client to transmit those packets, as third-party packets, over the air.

Conclusion

So there you go, Enable Server Ports is a pretty neat feature but one that will require a bit of work to understand the limitations.  Sharing a single RF connection with a bunch of APRS clients could be very useful.  I’ll continue to test out the functionality and see how much of a load I can put on the server.  Updates to this article will be forthcoming…

Posted in APRS, Xastir | Tagged | Leave a comment

Apps for Ham Radio Networks

You’ve built your mesh or 802.11 network to support your activity.  Now what?  Unfortunately, most client software doesn’t support peer-to-peer activities.  You have to have a server acting as the central repository and distribution point for your data.  Sounds complicated…

It can be daunting to make these resources available but it doesn’t have to be.  If you are already running a Linux-based operating system (sorry, Windows users but Microsoft will want you to pay an arm and a leg for what I’m getting ready to suggest and Microsoft software can’t do much of what I’m going to suggest, either) then you’re already most of the way to having your own server.  Most, if not all, of this software is already available in your distribution’s software repository for easy installation.

There are core software being used on the Internet, today, for moving data around.  Using the tools that most people are familiar with help make the overall network successful.  Obviously the first question should be “what are you trying to accomplish?”.  Setting up a camera on the network and sharing that data across the network is easy, mostly because the camera likely already includes its own webserver.  But how can you bring the rest of the tools into play to make your network even more useful?

Email

Email is fairly ubiquitous and everyone seems to know how it works.  There are three protocols you should be familiar with when dealing with email: smtp, pop3, and imap.  These are the services that handle routing and delivery of your mail.

SMTP

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is an Internet standard for routing messages between email servers.  When you send an email, today, your client connects to an SMTP server and sends the message.  The SMTP server, after receiving the message from you, attempts to figure out how to deliver the message to the distant email server.  If the message is being kept locally (i.e. the recipient is on the same server as where you delivered the message) then the message is filed for delivery when the recipient queries the server.

[LOGO]

An often-used SMTP program is postfix.  It requires a little configuration but basically “just works”.  Postfix will handle receipt of mail and delivery to the mailserver where your recipient is without further action from the user.

POP3 and IMAP

Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) and Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) are on the message delivery side of the house.  These are the protocols that allow a user to query the email server for mail.

POP3 basically forces a user to collect their mail and then delete it from the server.  By doing so, once downloaded, the user has the only copy of the message and the server is freed of the responsibility (and storage space) for handling the message.

IMAP, on the other hand, allows the user to download a copy of the message but, until deleted, the message remains on the server.  This allows the user to utilize multiple clients, with sorting into folders, and have that organization synchronized among all the user’s client software.

The Dovecot logoDovecot handles delivery of messages to clients using POP3 and IMAP.  Again, the software requires a bit of configuration but generally just works.

Web Server

Have a website you want to publish on your network?  Want to use a program to share files and other information?  You’ll need a webserver!

Apache Feather Logo.svgApache’s http server, commonly known as httpd, is very easy to setup and use.  Once installed, the server looks for files in your web folder (/var/www/html) and waits for a request from a client.

Want to share files and other information?

OwnCloud

OwnCloud is a suite of client-server software that creates a file hosting service and also allows management and sharing of calendar information, contacts, and more.  Because it’s far more efficient to share files using the http protocol, compared to email, and because files can be managed and synchronized among many computers through shares, using OwnCloud to manage files is far superior than using email.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging (IM) is an efficient and simple way of communicating short messages to other users in real time.  Some protocols allow peer-to-peer communications but usually a server is needed to facilitate the communications.

Jabber, instant messaging software based on Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) protocol, allows users to communicate between each other either person-to-person or in a chatroom where multiple people can participate.

Voice Communications (VoIP)

Using the session initiation protocol (SIP), one can handle VoIP “calls” over the network.  This can be between VoIP phones or between AT conversion boxes linking analog repeaters.  Unless you know exactly what phones are where, and your system isn’t growing, you likely don’t need a server.  But, if you plan on expanding your network and wish to have dynamic routing (phone numbers) then you’ll likely need a centralized server.

File:Asterisk Logo.svgAsterisk is a great private branch exchange (PBX) server allowing telephones to connect with each other.  Connections between the server and the clients are generally done using SIP whereas connections between Asterisk servers use Inter-Asterisk eXchange (IAX).

Connecting LANs

All of this information has been presented absent the network management infrastructure that helps make communications between easier.  Handling data on a single local area network (LAN) doesn’t necessarily require this kind of infrastructure but utilizing tools like DHCP, DNS, and others can be helpful.

Summary Conclusion

As you’ve seen, once you’ve built your network there are a few more challenges to making your network work for you.  This, however, doesn’t need to be an impediment and with just a little work you can make your network truly work for you.  You also don’t need any fancy hardware, either, as these tools can easily work on a laptop connected to the network for easy deployment.

All the suggested software is free and open source software (FOSS) which allows anyone to deploy the software for free (and allows you to make changes to the software if needed).

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38,000 Miles per Watt endorsement

SKCC 1,000 Miles per Watt Award 38000Earlier today I made contact with Bert, F6HKA, at a distance of 3,845 miles.  We first made contact on 15 meters using 5 watts.  The band conditions were so good that I hooked up the K1 and we made contact on 17 meters.  That 17m contact was made with my side running only 100 mW which equates to 38,450 miles per watt.  This is the kind of contact I was hoping to log running milliwatts.  I always enjoy talking to Bert and am happy that he was able to hear my QRPp signal.  As long as the daytime bands keep being quiet perhaps I’ll be able to best my current record.  I’ll keep trying.

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1,000+ MPW award… finally!

SKCC 1,000 Miles per Watt Award 2000 MPWA few months ago I reported that I had achieved the 1,000 miles per watt SKCC award only later to find out that my radio was putting out 7 watts instead of the 0.1 watts I thought it was putting out.  After sending the radio off for repair (there were a few other issues that cropped up) I now have a working radio that has been fully calibrated.  One of my first contacts was with K2PAY in New York.  I was able to work him with my 100mW and put him in the log at a distance of 240 miles and 2402 miles per watt!

I’m happy to have the award with the 2,000 miles per watt endorsement.

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More tropo ducting today

This morning around 9AM I got mixed up with a crowd on 144 MHz.  Since I’m the new guy I ended up with a pileup on my hands!  I picked up KA3QWO, KG4KWW, K1PXE, WB2SIH, K3GNC, WV2H, N2FKF, W1AN, and WB2QEG in very quick succession.  We then ventured up to 23cm (1296 MHz) and I worked W1AN, WB2SIH, K1PXE, and K3GNC (most with armchair copy).  I ended the morning’s tropo opening with a contact with AC2BL on 2m (144 MHz).

Longest distance on 144 MHz: 320.5 mi (515.8 km) – AC2BL
Longest distance on 1296 MHz: 305.6 mi (491.8 km) – W1AN
Loudest signal: W1AN (louder and clearer the higher in frequency we went!)

I’m hoping for another few mornings like this one.  Thanks to all the stations I made contact with; it was fun!

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The difference a few miles will make.

Tonight I worked several station with two in particular being W1AN and WZ1V.  Both of those stations I worked on three bands: 144, 432, and 1296 MHz.  W1AN is a little further away than WZ1V but both are fairly close to each other in Connecticut with WZ1V being a bit further west.

Oddly enough, W1AN was stronger the higher in frequency we went while WZ1V was the opposite.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!

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2015 ARRL August UHF Contest results

VHF and UHF antennasWhew, it’s been interesting last couple of days around here.  On Friday the only antenna I had in the sky was my OCF dipole for HF.  Saturday morning found myself, Bob N3PPH, and Dave W3PQS erecting a pole with antennas for 2m, 70cm, and 23cm.  With the ARRL August UHF contest starting at 2PM (local) we had to scramble.

Okay, so I was a little late getting on the air.  First QSO went in the log at 3:09 PM.  I operated, off and on, until 2:00 PM on Sunday and ended up with 18 QSOs, representing six grids and six states, all within ~500 km.

Best DX

432 MHz – 70cm

Best DX of the weekend was K1GX in FN31 with a door-to-door distance of ~493.9km.

1296 MHz – 23cm

Best 23cm DX of the weekend was K1TEO with his powerhouse station at a distance of ~405.3km.

Easiest Copy

K1TEO was very loud during the entire event.  When I went searching for a place to call CQ (usually around 432.107 MHz) I had to give him clearance as he was constantly in my ear.  WA3QPX was also armchair copyable and we chatted for a bit during the contest.

K3TUF gets the ‘easiest copy’ mention on 1296MHz.  We chatted using SSB on 1296.100 MHz without too many problems.

Score

I pay little attention to the score I generate in these contests as I am more interested in the number of contacts and the distances I can work.  With my small station, and with my off-and-on operation, I managed to rack up 324 points.  Obviously not a winning score but with my antennas stuck pointing at FN (basically pointing at Connecticut) and running 50 watts on 432MHz and 10 watts on 1296MHz I say I did okay.

Grids

  • FM19
  • FM29
  • FN10
  • FN20
  • FN30
  • FN31

States

  • Connecticut
  • Deleware
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
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