Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
AMPRNet: Amateur Packet Radio Network (wikipedia.org)
25 points by ch on Nov 19, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 14 comments

Hams are the last to go offline and the first to come back on wherever a natural disaster strikes. They are due to their de-centralized nature incredibly resistant and often function as the first points of contact to provide information on the scope of the damage. Many hams are well prepared for this and have their own backup power, just in case. It's a pity that this 'hobby' (though if you'd walk into some ham shacks that word seems very inadequate) is slowly dying out. Most hams are well past their middle age, and the younger ones tend to work exclusively with bought equipment. Maybe the new 'maker' trend will usher in a new age in which it is considered cool to know how to size an LR circuit and how to wield a soldering iron.

I was first licensed as a ham originally back in 2009 at 22 years old. As a "young ham" the vast majority of elmers (the old folks) generally looked at me with disdain because they all seemed to think that I didn't "earn" my qualification and am somehow not worthy of being part of the hobby, despite being in a physics PhD program at the time.

In other words, at least in my anecdotal case, it was difficult to break in to ham radio as a youngster because the old folks were actively trying to push me out, and yet these are the same people who claim the hobby is dying. Luckily I stuck with it and got more respect among the older folks after getting my Extra and learning CW (even though it's no longer a requirement).

I never got 'in', but a local ham taught me a ton of electronics. Sadly, his memory is fading and he doesn't even remember the times we spent building an 80m band receiver and a bunch of other devices. Peter, PA0PJE, thank you :)

There have been a few very friendly elmers, don't get me wrong. On Field Day a couple years ago I saw on the ARRL's website that there was a gathering for a club I didn't belong to about two hours away, at the club president's home, so I decided to stop by.

The home owner invited me, a stranger, inside and basically left me alone in a room with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment and said "Have fun!" I stayed for hours. I would join his club if it were closer to me.

In general, however, unless you're complaining about how Obama is ruining the country or how your arthritis is acting up, it's hard to fit in with most hams.

There are still quite a few folks who spending their time playing with the hobby who aren't fully grey yet ;)

/r/amateurradio is a good place for some of the newer generation hams to hang their hat.

AMPR is interesting, HSMM is basically taking the ham radio spectrum in normal Wifi ranges and using it.. 2.4 and 5.8ghz spectrum also has ham allocations, so your old Linksys or some of the newer Ubiquity devices can be used under your ham license as well at high speed for backhaul connections (All unencrypted, but.. )

I've been on a bit of a kick to try and understand how we could re-build the Internet and computing based on what could be pulled from the scrap heap, which lead me to cross paths with AMPRNet. Nifty idea, though with its limited bit rates, information dissemination would only be for those with long attention spans :)

Information density increases as bandwidth decreases. When all else fails there is morse, and you can be damn sure nobody is going to send any markup using morse, just the cold hard data.

There's also the restriction of no encryption or commercial traffic. Still pretty nifty though.

The 'no encryption' rule is there to make sure amateur radio can not be (easily) used for nefarious purposes. Of course two people with Yagi's, very low power transmitters and a couple of very low bandwidth modems could still use the amateur bands (or any other frequency, really) to exchange information without anybody being the wiser. If they manage to be on the hoof while transmitting and are on the air for a very short time only then they could probably keep such a scheme alive for a really long time before being detected.

Not true, there has been significant efforts towards Codec 2, the libre digital voice codec/software/hardware/stuff around it.

Perhaps in a post-apocalyptic world this will be all that is left of the Internet. Though in a post-apocalyptic world there would be no one there to license the radio spectrum, and so why limit ourselves to HAM radio bands? -- Plus this all overlooks the need for power generation and storage in such a world :)

My brother lives in Alaska, and he just built a home this past summer. No Internet, no phone. Just electricity. He has to fill a 1500 gallon water tank in the town because he's up too high to drill a well, there's no running water.

He's not too confident in his heater, and being away from home when it's -20C for more than a few hours can do serious damage if the heaters not running. Most people would just use the Internet, but he can't. So what do you do?

We scripted around APRS raw packets [1] and APRSDroid [2]. He bought some 1WIRE temperature sensors that are plugged into his OpenWRT WAP. The values are served up by apache, and a $10 smartphone from craigslist reads the values and pipes them [3] through APRSDroid. This then goes via the headphone jack to his radio and it gets digipeated a couple times before it hits the 'net.

Now he can watch his home temperature while he's at work and not get worried. How cool is that?

[1] http://blog.aprs.fi/2010/03/decoded-and-hex-raw-packets-defa...

[2] http://aprsdroid.org/

[3] https://github.com/sielickin/local2aprs

What does he do if the electricity goes out?

The broadcasts stop, so at least he knows and can go check on things.

There's no reason he couldn't hook this up to an APU or something though.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact