Monday, May 17, 2004

Notes from the Pittsbugh Area Scanner Net of May 16th 2004 

Notes from the Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net of May 16, 2004

Another good net last night gang! We had twenty-seven check ins counting the net control station. Here is a brief synopsis of what was discussed.

Lots of goodies at the Dayton Hamvention.

Rich, K3RWN, made it to Dayton and got to speak with the author of the ARC780 software from Butel. They had a booth and were talking with users and taking suggestion for improvements on their already excellent program for controlling the Uniden BC-780/785/796 series of scanners. It is unsure at this stage what improvements will be made to the original ARC780 program but it is still listed as an active supported product on their web page. http://www.butel.nl/ If you own a BC-78nXLT scanner this software is a must have. Check them out.

The other item that they had for display at Dayton was a control interface that allows you to use your Palm Pilot PDA at a “control head” for your BC-780 series scanner. The long awaited option to let you detach the BC-780XLT front panel was also on display. Rich got a first hand look at it and was somewhat disappointed in that there is an interface box involved that when attached to the removed front panel brings the physical length back to only about four inches short of the depth of the scanner itself. With a price tag of almost $400 dollars Rich said that you would REALLY need that extra few inches taken off the chassis to go for this setup.

In other news from Dayton Ricardo, K3DPP, tells me that he stopped by the Scanner Master booth and brought home quantity of information for me. He is going to drop it off at work on Tuesday and I will bring it to the next meeting.

Also Nelson, N3PN, found a number of nice cases for carrying your hand held scanner at Dayton. He brought home two types from the Western Case Company that fit the popular PRO-9x series of scanners from Radio Shack. He found a nice soft case that covers the entire radio and a hard leather case that has openings so that you can access the keyboard without removing the radio from the case. If you want additional information you can reach them at 1-800-310-3023 in California.

Radio Free Bob, WC3O, informs me that he took a ton of pictures at Dayton and they will be posted on the Skyview Radio Society web page soon. http://www.skyviewradio.net Make sure you check them out. Guess next year I will have to consider making the trip to the “worlds biggest ham fest”.

Westmoreland County APCO 25 System Heard

We have a report that the Westmoreland County APCO 25 digital trunked system has been heard being tested by system technicians. It is definitely not operational yet but if you have a digital scanner that will decode a 9600-baud data stream there have been communications taking place on the assigned frequencies.

Meeting This Week

There will be another round table, actually there are oblong, meeting of the scanner net at Kings Restaurant. We plan to gather on Wednesday evening at 07:30 PM for drinks, dinner, desert or whatever else we find goes well with a good discussion of scanners. Feel free to stop by and meet the gang in person whether you routinely check into the net or if you are just one of our Sunday night listeners. All are welcome.

Where do we go from here?

One of the topics at Wednesday nights meeting will be “Where do we go from here?” with our marry band of scanner listeners. The Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net has been in existence now since December of 2002. The net has had good response from both the amateur radio and the scanner community. I have been really surprised at the response that I have had in email from scanner listeners who monitor the net each week and who have stopped to say hello at ham fests and other local events. It would seem that the next logical move would be to form a Pittsburgh Area Scanner Club and that is one of the things that I would like to talk about Wednesday night. I raised this question on the net Sunday night and ask those that were checked in or listening to think about. If you have an opinion on the subject feel free to stop by and add your two cents to the pot. If you can’t make it and you have something you would like to say to the group about it drop me a note in email and I will pass along your thoughts at the meeting.

The Resurgence in Packet Radio

There seems to be a renewed interest in the amateur radio community in packet radio. Like so many others I was just getting involved with packet radio when a dramatic increase in speed of telephone modes took place and suddenly dial up bulletin boards became very attractive. What followed was the explosion of interest in the Internet driven to a great extent by the development of the World Wide Web. Packet radio stayed stagnant at 1200 baud half duplex using the traditional Bell 202 modem tones in dedicated TNC controllers. Packet radio fell into a very narrow niche where it was effective such as the DX clusters that would alert monitoring stations of rare foreign stations that could be worked on the HF frequencies. There were those that believed in the packet radio network and stuck with it and I think they are now being rewarded for their efforts.

One such group of dedicated hams is the South Western Pennsylvania Packet Group. They have built and maintain an extensive packet radio network that serves the amateur radio and emergency communications communities. If you would like to see just how much time and effort they have invested in this take a look at their web page. http://www.swppg.zelie.com/index2.html I think there are some unique opportunities here for the scanner group and that will be another topic of discussion at this weeks meeting. Also they have an upcoming meeting on Saturday May 29th that I plan to attend. As with the scanner group all are welcome so you don’t have to be licensed to meet with the group. Just an active interest in communications is all that is required. Listen in on next weeks net for additional details on packet radio and the upcoming meeting. I see some exciting possibilities for packet radio and scanner users.

More Latter

I had promised to send some links around for web locations that would provide information on J-pole antennas. I will get to them perhaps tomorrow evening. It is getting late and I want to get this out to the mailing list and post it on the web log before I retire for the evening. I am working my way through the Bible in a plan that our Sunday school offered, which has covered almost two years now. This is my first time to read the Bible from cover to cover and I am starting in 1st Corthians this week. It has been a great experience. Hope to see all who can make it Wednesday evening at Kings.

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