Saturday, September 24, 2005

September meeting of TRAMA 

We had our monthly meeting of the Three Rivers Area Monitoring Association today and despite a relatively low turn out we had very productive and interesting meeting.

There were seven members in attendance and we discussed rumors that Allegheny County might be considering an MA/COM trunked radio system in the next few years. Apparently they have applied for and received new 800 mHz frequencies from the FCC. The big question for scanner listeners will be if the Open Sky protocol will be used in the system. If so then Allegheny County will “go dark” for scanner listeners unless GRE or Uniden come up with a compatible radio which based on the proprietary nature of Open Sky doesn't seem likely.

We also discussed programs for upcoming meetings. I'm really excited about the October meeting which promises to be a good one. We are going to move down the spectrum somewhat and talk about the North American AM and FM broadcast bands. One of our members is a retired broadcast engineer and I plan to have him along with two others who spent a number of years working in the business have a panel discussion at the meeting. They will talk about the history of broadcast radio and give us a taste of what it was like to work in the business in the days before everything was syndicated, satellite fed and cookie cuter programs that sounded the same no matter where in the country you were. Make yourself a note because you are not going to want to miss the October meeting. I will be posting additional details in the coming weeks.

We STILL had a meeting after the meeting in the parking lot! There just doesn't seem to be anyway to avoid that. Not that I mind, every chance to talk about monitoring with other knowledgeable people is always welcome to me. When the meeting after the meeting concluded several of us retired to Kings in Waterworks Plaza for lunch where we ate a hearty meal and continued the conversation on monitoring and also solved several of the worlds more imposing problems while we dined. All in all a very enjoyable morning and afternoon. Thanks guys! Hope to see all of you at next months meeting of the Three Rivers Area Monitoring Association.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

If only it were true! 

While on my way home this evening I was listening to various two meter repeaters. I have a dual band mobile in the van and have the scan function set for “timed” operation. In other words when carriers appears on a frequency the rig stops on that channel for a predetermined period and then moves on even if the carrier is still present.

That way you get a sampling of conversations on every frequency you have programmed into the memory channels. I am usually listening to talk radio on the broadcast band and even on occasion speak with my wife Linda who car pools back and fourth to work with me each day.

So this evening I caught a snip it of conversation on one of the machines which I believe was the 146.730 repeater in Homestead that said the I was now Pod Casting the Thursday night Rail Fan Net. I did not catch who it was making the remark and I could not jump in at that moment to say that while a noble idea it is one that has not yet come to fruition.

If you go back a few entries here on the blog you will see that indeed we have started Pod Casting the Sunday evening Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net and making it available either as an MP3 download or as a true Pod Cast. Actually the first recording was this past week. The idea of doing the same for the Rail Fan Net has been discussed but as of this point that is not being done. If you think a Pod Cast of the Rail Fan Net would be a good idea drop me a note and let me know.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Update on Linux in the ham shack 

With all the information flowing about Katrina I haven't had much chance to comment on any of my Linux activities. I have upgraded the main system in the ham shack to version 9.3 of SuSE and let me tell you, in the word of WW3A, it ROCKS!

Now that Novell has followed the Red Hat/Fedora model with the Open SuSE project you have two choices for a completely free operating system that rivals Microsoft on the desk top and leaves it in the dust if you are thinking about putting a server on your network.

I will take the time to write a more detailed description of my experiences with Linux in the ham shack in the near future. By that time I hope to have at least one packet station set up and working. PSK31 will be the next step after that. More latter as time permits.

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New York City Gets $6M to Connect First Responders in New York, New Jersey 

Thanks to Bob, KB3MOJ, for the pointer to this story on Firehouse.com web site.

A $6 million federal grant will create a radio frequency that connects emergency responders in New York City with each other and with suburban counties in New York and New Jersey.

Follow this link to view the entire article.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

More on This Week In Amateur Radio 

I wrote a recent entry about This Week In Amateur Radio. I have now had a chance to listen to a few of the shows that I downloaded. This a a great service. Well produced and interesting news items and segments on technology. I have been impressed enough to open my check book and make a donation. I would like to see this source of amateur radio information stay around. I also contribute to Amateur Radio News Line which is very worth while. Unlike News Line TWIAR has no provisions to accept contributions on line but if you feel inclined to help them out you can send a check or money order to the following address.

Community Video Associates, Inc.
This Week in Amateur Radio
P.O. Box 30 Sand Lake, NY 12153

Check out there pod casts and if you think they are worth while send them as little as five dollars. If everyone listening did that I'm sure they would have quite a war chest.

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Here is a nifty idea. A frequency blog 

Now here is an interesting concept. A “frequency blog” which is what Michael, KB3HFP, has started. He is currently concentrating on Allegheny County but plans to expand his listings to other counties latter on. Mike says,

“Right now it only covers Allegheny County, but eventually I'll
probably phase in other counties - probably Washington, Westmoreland,Fayette, Armstrong, and Butler. It's still in beta, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know!”

If you find anything of interest in the way of new frequencies please pass them his way and he can keep us all informed.

Here is a link to his blog.

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Amateur Radio plays large roll in relief for Katrina victums 

Amateur Radio Earning Praise, Respect in Hurricane Katrina Relief (Sep 16, 2005) -- UPDATE! Amateur Radio is continuing to earn praise and respect as the Hurricane Katrina relief effort moves forward. Amateur Radio equipment and supplies arriving at the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina relief staging area in Montgomery, Alabama, have been turned around as quickly as possible to accompany volunteers into the field. A team headed by Alabama ARRL Section Manager Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, now has been on duty for some three weeks, overseeing Amateur Radio volunteer intake and registration and trying to satisfy the ever-changing requirements of the Red Cross and other served agencies. Equipment started showing up last weekend.

Follow this link for the complete story.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Something new! Weekly scanner net moves to the realm of Pod Casting. 

Well the Three Rivers Area Monitoring Association's weekly Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net has moved into the world of Pod Casting. Starting with the September 18th Sunday evening net we will record the net each week digitally and you will be able to hear it via the Internet. This is a project that I have been talking about for quite some time now but just recently got serious about doing because of my purchase of an RCA Lyra Juke Box player that allows you to store music and video on an internal hard drive and carry it around with you.

As it turns out Mike, KB3HPC, heard about my project and was kind enough to offer hosting services for the net and also was interested enough that he was willing to set up a audio feed into the sound card of one of his Linux systems for the actual recording of the net. Mike is a genuine computer geek working in the field and also a Linux aficionado so much to my delight getting the scanner net out on the web is being done all with open source tools and software. This is something that I will have additional comments on in future blog entries.

As the hour is late I'm not going to embellish this posting with a lot of link as I try to do with others that I have created. I think that is one of the neat things about blogs is that as you read you can find links to additional information on the topic though I have to admit at times it can be distracting. So here are two important links from this weeks net.

TRAMA Weekly Scanner Net Pod Cast

Ham Radio Bulletin Board System

More on the bulletin board system in a future post also. Drop me an email and let me know what you think of the Pod Cast.

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