View Full Version : Ham Radio & Linux

October 5th, 2009, 03:42 PM
Just attended the national HamFest in Newark, UK. A great big bunch of geeky, technically minded, logic based people who love experimenting with electronics and who make it their life quest to push the boundaries of what's possible... YET.. all software and computer stuff was all windows based (and some cracking signal decoding stuff there was too - stuff the CIA wouldn't even have.) It's such a shame with such a mindset, hardly anybody even knows of the existence of Linux.. where you can see the workings of your own computer, keep old hardware alive for years and have much more control over your hardware down to the binary level. I'm dumbstruck that the Linux community and the Amateur Radio communities aren't talking to each other. I can only imagine what would be possible with such a partnership. Most radio amateurs my age (I'm not one myself) used to use sinclair spectrums and the like to analyse signals and track satellites and were able to write programs out of magazines and this was when things were at their most interesting. Nowadays, you only see program listings (well shell scripts and python) in linux magazines.

What I've found though is that recently, the Ham Radio scene has noticed a huge decrease in interest over the last few years and the hardware manufacturers responded to this by producing more 'plug and play' software that just works and my father (my ham radio connection) commented on the fact that you hardly ever see a soldering iron in a radio shack any more (and I'm not talking about the shop). This is a sad state of affairs. It looks like Amateur radio has gone the same way as Linux in trying to appease the masses.. selling it's soul and making everything shiny. There is also a lot more computer control of hardware than there was in the olden days, but windows seems to be taking the lead.

Just wondering what your views on this were because each community (with such like minds) could learn so much from each other in not only producing a better range of software, but also bringing the experimental aspect back to the forefront and avoiding going down the sealed magical box path.

Steve (Spalding)

Gerald K. Sherman
October 16th, 2009, 02:08 AM
I am a ham radio operator (VE4GKS) & have had a call for over 39 years. I can tell you that as the eyeballs get "aged", especially if they didn't work too well in their younger days, the soldering iron becomes less & less useful. I can only say "thanks" to those manufacturers who try to accommodate this with equipment that can easily be computer controlled. All I had to do with a new ICOM 7200 was to plug in the USB cable from the Linux box to the rig, download FLDIGI, set the CI-V address in the 7200 to 6E, then tell FLDIGI that I was using a 756ProIII & go (the 7200 is a newer rig & not supported by HAMLIB today). There was no need to chase the drivers for the 7200. Try that with the O/S from the north-western USA! Needless to say, I am not one of "Mr. Bill"'s good supporters. I "only" have 4 Linux boxes today, & I do run my ham radio station on them. I do actually have a Morse key - if you can find it under the clutter on the console & can use it if it is plugged in - I haven't sent by hand in about 25 years, & don't know if I ever will again. So much for not using Linux. Incidentally, my ham radio programming days go back to hand assembling code on a Z80 processor system that had exactly 14 kilobytes of RAM & used the S100 bus. How many can remember those days?

October 16th, 2009, 09:19 PM
not me OM;-) I haven't even started to try and program....not since Fortran 77 was flavour of the month and ms only had dos.....Maybe I need a challenge

October 18th, 2009, 06:26 AM
i just played about in the NY QSO Party. nothing really linuxy about it except i was using gwibber to brag about my qso's. i <3 my killer-watt!