Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Notes from the Scanner Net of June 6th 2004 

Notes from the Scanner Net of June 6th, 2004

We had 29 stations check into the net this week.

Breeze Shooters Hamfest

Well last week I spent a good deal of time talking about the upcoming Hamfest in Butler
and this week we spent an equal or greater amount of time talking about what a great
event it turned out to be. The weatherman cooperated and the turn out was fantastic! I
haven't heard a final count yet of the total number that attended but to my observation it
was one of the best attended ham fests that I have been to in quite some time not that I get
to that many now days.

Icom was there in full bloom with lots of neat toys and we appreciate them choosing the
Breeze Shooters Hamfest to attend with their display this year. Remember them if you
decide to purchase a wide band receiver of which they have some of the best in the
market place.

I consulted with my roommate and financial advisor and was told that I should pass on
the new HF transceiver they had on display. I didn't think $12,000 was out of line
considering all of its capabilities but for some reason Linda was just unable to appreciate
the technology involved in this radio. Must be a gender thing?

The Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net was well represented with a table donated to us free of
charge by the Breeze Shooters Club, thank very much N3BPB and the Breeze Shooters,
and I was there most of the day with several items on display. I brought two computer
controlled scanners and my laptop computer along with a few other items to look at and
talk about. I had a really good time and enjoyed meeting and talking with all those who
stopped by to say hello.

As with other ham fests that I have attended I never cease to be amazed at the number of
people who come up to me and tell me that they listen in on the scanner net every week
and find it enjoyable. Some of them are hams, which for one reason or another just can't
check in with us but a surprising number of them are scanner listeners that found the net
through one means or another. I heard several stories from people that stopped at the
table about how they had been scanner listeners and as a result had obtained their ham
tickets. So if you know a person who is an avid scanner listener and enjoys radio as a
hobby please pass along the information about the net to them. The more the merrier.

One of the more interesting conversations I had was with Ron Novak, KB8YHF, who is a
member of the Youngstown Scanner Club. Their club has been active for some time now
and Ron wanted to know if we wanted to swap newsletters. I had to tell him that we are
not really a club yet but we are working in that direction. The Youngstown Scanner Club
holds meetings every other month and Ron is going to email me the date for their next get
together. I think we should have a "Scanner Net Road Trip" at that time and go meet
these guys. I will send email and talk about it on the net once I have the date.

We had a small piece of history at the ham fest also. Duncan, KF6YYT, who is a recent
transplant to Pittsburgh from the left coast and now live just on the other side of the river
from me followed me to the Hamfest. What I didn't know was that he brought along a
table some items to display one of which caught me by surprise. Duncan is the proud
owner of a Bearcat CompuScan CPM2100. Not only had I never seen one of these
before I didn't even know that this model existed! This is a "radio in a box" that has only
a volume and squelch control on the front panel and a serial connector on the back. Now
I'm sure a lot of you who are familiar with the current crop of scanners in the
marketplace are wondering what is so great about that. What makes this radio so special
is that it was introduced to the public in 1984! That's right, over twenty years ago.
Duncan also brought a pristine Apple IIe computer to run it. The user interface was all
text based as Windows, at least as we know it, wasn't even a glimmer in Bill Gates eyes
yet. The radio had 200 channels and covered from 25 to 512 megahertz with the supplied
software. Duncan tells me that if you were willing to write your own software in Apple
BASIC you could open it up and go above 1 gigahertz. I took some digital snapshots and
I will pass them along in an email or post them on my web page as soon as I find one of
those "tuit" devices. Many thanks to Duncan for the display and for the help manning the
scanner net table. I also want to thank Rich, K3RWN, and Ron, KB3DDF, for allowing
me to wander off and spend some time in the flea market during the day.

One of the questions I had from a visitor to the table was why we didn't put the scanner
net on Echo Link? I explained my theory that scanning like politicks tends to be local.
Oh sure there are some subjects that come up on the net that would be of interest to
anyone anywhere but for the most part our discussions on the net tend to be related to
Pittsburgh. What I am considering is finding a way to stream the audio from the 09
repeater to the Internet. That might be added to the list of projects for the Pittsburgh Area
Scanner Club. A lot would depend on finding a volunteer (hint hint) that could help out
in that area. We will talk more about it in the future probably at one of our meetings of
the oblong table.

State Wide 800mHz radio system

The other big topic that drew attention on the net this week was the statewide 800-
megahertz digital trunked radio system. As you know from some of the items that I have
sent to the mailing list this is on the verge of becoming a political football. It looks like
some folks are going to be taking a hard look at the engineering of the system and the
performance of the installation to date. Should get VERY interesting if they are serious
about getting real answers to all of the questions that have been raised. As I said on the
net if you hear any tidbits of information on the new system or see any articles on radio
or television or in the print media please bring them to my attention.

The Pittsburgh Area Scanner Club?

Start thinking "Club". We are going to allow the scanner net to morph into a club. I
would like your input on how that should happen. So far I have been calling it the
"Pittsburgh Area Scanner Club" but even that is not set in stone. If you have a better idea
for a name send it to me. I think we could have a lot of fun with this and get to meet a lot
of new like-minded people. Think about a name, objectives, structure, meeting places,
newsletter, dues, web presence and more. Give it some thought and get back to me.

Well my fingers are getting tired and I have probably put at least half of you to sleep by
now with my prose. Thanks again to all who turned out for the Hamfest and I hope to
hear you next week on the net. Until then I'll be back in the scan mode.

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