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Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ariss.org)
255 points by indescions_2018 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

Finally, the moment I've been waiting for, amateur radio on the top of hackernews. :)

It's also worth mentioning we've got a lot of amateur radio satellites in orbit[0], and more coming, including a geosynchronous satellite launching sometime in March (Es'hail 2)[1].

Some are very easy to get into with just an HT (or two for full-duplex).[2]

[0] http://www.amsat.org/status/

[1] https://amsat-uk.org/tag/eshail-2/

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJrA62t141s

If you find AMSAT interesting, you'll probably also enjoy the high altitude ballooning (HAB) projects. This guy [0] built an 11-gram transponder payload and floated it up on what was, essentially, a mylar party balloon. It circled the globe at least once and came ashore over the northwestern U.S. near Tacoma, WA and I was lucky enough to pick it up on a handheld radio while standing in my backyard [1].

[0] https://amsat-uk.org/2014/07/31/434-mhz-balloon-b-64-complet...

[1] https://imgur.com/a/2qEC0

Hey Chris, Dave KI6YMZ here :) We did a SOTA peak many years ago in CO together!

You should check out HIRF-6 as well. Similar payload, and has been airborne since September of 2016!



Hey Dave! That was a fun trip. For those that are wondering what we're talking about, Dave and I once carried a bunch of amateur radio equipment up a Colorado peak in the middle of a brutally cold snowstorm. Video: https://youtu.be/g850RIQp6rA

Thanks for the HIRF-6 link. That's unbelievable! Hope you are doing well.

EDIT: woah. M0XER did 8 circumnavigations. That's unbelievable. I wonder if that is a record for a man-made, atmospheric object.

I always wondered... This thing is in Class A airspace? I'm sure an accident would be rare, but do airports issue NOTAMs for these?

Yes a NOTAM is required for launch

Not required, but FAA requests that you file one. NOTAM is required for payloads exceeding a weight limit.

There was supposed to be a geosynchronous satellite over North America too (https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/geosynchronous/na-gso-sat/) but I haven’t heard anything about it recently.

Geosynchronous is interesting because you just need to point a fixed dish at it and it always works, whereas the LEO satellites only occasionally pass overhead and you need the antenna to track it (either by hand or with a tracker)

Speaking of geosynchronous satellites, every site or app that I've seen for helping aim a dish works by telling you for your location the altitude and azimuth of the satellite.

This is kind of annoying when trying to figure out something like where on your property you have all of line of sight to the satellite, a place you can mount the dish, and a good way to run the cable from the disk to wherever you receiver will be.

It's especially annoying when you have a lot of potential obstacles blocking line of sight, and so you need to have a pretty good idea of the satellite location to tell if you do have sight. If magnetic north is a little off in your area then using a compass to find azimuth could be uncertain enough to give you the wrong answer.

Unless I'm missing something there is a much better way we could do this. You could tell the app or website your location, and a time in the evening that you can check for line of site. The app/site could then give you a star chart for that time at your location, marking on the star chart where the satellite is.

You could then note that stars near the satellite on the chart, and note how to find the satellite starting from them (e.g,., "go 2/3 from this star to that star, turn counterclockwise 90 degrees, and go half way to this star...and you are staring right at the satellite").

Then you could go outside, find those same stars, and locate the satellite using them. No stupid fumbling around trying to measure altitude and azimuth. It's just go out, and find a place where you can see your reference stars, and with a glance you can tell if you have line of site on the satellite.

Even better, you should be able to give the app/site a range of times you are available, and let it suggest particularly good times to try to find the satellite. It can look for available times where the satellite is very close to a prominent, easy to find star (or planet...no need to limit this to stars), or when it is in a particularly easy to find spot in a prominent constellation.

There's apps like GoSatWatch[1] which uses your phone's accelerometer/gyroscope to show you where satellites are.

I actually mounted an iPhone holder[2] on my Arrow II UHF/VHF satellite antenna[3] for this purpose (though I haven't really had a chance to use it much)

1. http://www.gosoftworks.com/GoSatWatch/GoSatWatch.html

2. https://www.studioneat.com/products/glif

3. http://arrowantennas.com/arrowii/146-437.html

Hey!! No kidding! One of my goals for this year is to finally get my call sign. I've been on the verge the past two years, but things with work kept coming up. This year however, this year it's gonna happen.

I was the exact same way! What worked for me was just picking an open exam day and committing. I used the Ham Test Prep (no affiliation) Android app, studied for two days, took the test the third day, aced it.

Just pick the next available exam, cram for a couple nights, and get it over with. The Technician exam is much much easier than you think. If you take my advice, fail the test, and prove me wrong, I'll pay the exam fee :P

There are plenty of really good apps on the android app store at least. They'll just feed you the questions and correct your answers. Took about 1 wk of semi serious use to pass technician and another week to get general and extra together (though I work in a related field, YMMV)

Skip the apps, just go to hamstudy.org and then add it to your homescreen instead of as a tab.

A great story, indeed. I'm scheduled to take my Technician Class exam in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to being able to use my license with stuff like this.

Can't wait to try a sat QSO this year. 73, KG7SYA

Thanks for the links

I’ll toss in that reddit has one of the better ham radio communities without the nonsense old man drama of other sites..


73, N3LGA

Agreed. Not a fan of most reddit communities (hivemind) but this one is far better than the cesspool found on other ham radio sites. It's what ham radio should be about, helping others in a fun hobby.

Though not as entertaining as 7.200 MHz. KD4HSO

What's on 7.2? I rarely listen to HF.

A couple of lids, trying there hardest to get fined by the FCC by trolling hams. I have an SDR here:

Wow. I just used your SDR (totally cool). What I am hearing right now is simply horrific (LSB brings it in loud and clear). If these guys have tickets, the FCC needs to pull them.

They do, at least one of them does. It's a daily occurrence. As long as it stays at 7.200 MHz, I suppose it's just entertainment. FCC enforcement (as long as you don't interface with emergency comms) is pretty much non-existent.

Phenomenal SDR. How do you get such wide bandwidth on a single antenna?

Just an active loop antenna.

/r/rtlsdr is good too

If you want to use a communication system that will work if the Cell towers, local internet, and the phone system are offline get an Amateur Radio Licence.

If you want to talk to some random person in Australia using a system which routes your radio through the internet get an Amateur radio Licence.

If you want to help out in a disaster then get an Amateur radio licence.

You can talk to someone in Australia without routing through the internet. Through HF radio (3MHz-30MHz), you can bounce radio signals off of the Earth's ionosphere and talk all around the world.

There are lots of interesting hobbyist/hacker/maker projects as well, like the sdr chips, HF kits like uBitX, and FaradayRF. One of my coworkers has his license to track model rockets with a small transmitter that sends GPS telemetry. Lots of cool stuff!

I (Amateur Extra) ordered a BitX40 and about a month later they announced the uBitX... so I've ordered one of those, and not only going to hack the firmware and do some upgrades but also learn about 3D printing to make a case :)

Also literally anything that Travis Goodspeed has done. He's basically the lord and savior of amateur radio.

In the second point, did you mean "not through the internet"?

No, the endpoints are communicated through radio but they are linked using a system similar to VOIP.

Then why don't you just use the internet in the first place, and skip the license and expensive equipment?

Ya I agree (as a ham). No point in using internet linked repeaters as a reason to get into ham radio. If you have a ham radio, sure, play around with it, but it is kinda pointless. It doesn't exactly teach you how to communicate when the internet doesn't work. -K0COW

Just because they're connected to the internet doesn't immediately invalidate their use. We've got the PNW DMR network up here[1] that gives you tons of coverage where cellphones don't[2] all through a linked repeater system.

We had an emergency a while back where someone got stranded up on the mountain due to a flat tire and they were diabetic so it was an urgent situation. In that case just hitting one repeater they were able to raise anyone in WA state that was listening vs just the local repeater.

Ham radio is a different thing to different people so just because you don't see value in it doesn't mean that others don't find it interesting and a reason to get into the hobby.

As a younger ham it's super frustrating to see this attitude whenever anything internet and/or packet related comes up that people dump on because it's not the thing that they enjoy.

[1] http://trbo.org/pnw/index.html

[2] http://trbo.org/pnw/images/heatmaps/WA-Combined.jpg

There’s a balance. One valid reason to not want ham radio systems to be too reliant on the Internet is disaster situations where the Internet might not be available. In that situation it would be better if the repeater network was entirely RF based.

Sure, if your local ARES group doesn't want to use internet repeaters that's totally fine and probably the right call for them(although I'd argue that you can hamWAN any of the internet linked repeaters as well).

The thing that really grinds my gears is the complete dismissal of anything digital/internet connected as not being worth your time in ham radio. It's actively driving away people who would help drive the state of the art of radio forward(97.1b,c,d).

I agree.

HamWAN looks really cool (I wish we had something like it in the SF Bay Area).

I'd argue that repeaters linked over something like HamWAN are "RF based", they just happen to use internet protocols, and that's great IMHO.

Hold your horses. The thread is a response to a comment suggesting the ability to speak to someone in Australia over the internet as reason to get into HAM. Nobody is "invalidating" anything.

Yes, but the comment was specifically that any internet connected repeater was useless as an entry into the hobby.

There's an attitude throughout the certain parts that if it's not fm/cw/ssb then it's not "real" ham radio. As far as I'm concerned anything involving part 97 equipment that would get you fined by the FCC without a license qualifies.

I know a ton of smart, accomplished people who would love to spend more time in the hobby on the digital side, but when they run into this attitude it just ends up driving them away and hurts the hobby as a whole.

True, but you are not going to be able to use 2m/70cm/1.25 to talk to people over vast distances.

While EchoLink doesn't have the same visceral feel that a radio has in your hands, it can be interesting. By connecting those repeaters to EchoLink I can directly broadcast on them. Which is pretty fun.

The other day when it was snowing like hell in Chicago I had a nice chat with a mobile ham using a 2m repeater on the big island of Hawaii.

I think I can understand part of the reason why - it's kind of a gatekeeping device. You're guaranteed to meet someone who at least has one interest similar to yours, and someone who's gone through the trouble of getting a license and a radio. It's not like going to ChatRoulette and clicking around until you get tired of seeing genitals.

For (practically) any given interest, there's a way to find someone else with the same interest somewhere else that you can ask to Skype with.

Sure, but that's not as fun as the, uh, "organic" connection you can make over radio.

He's wrong. You don't need to use the internet to talk to someone from Australia. Using HF radio you can talk all over the world just using the Earth's ionosphere.

Or V/U/SHF - there's this big, passive repeater in the sky known as the Moon.

(Earth-Moon-Earth communication, or moonbounce, is basically to aim your antennas at the Moon and blast as much RF as you can muster at it, in the hopes that someone will pick up your echoes as the arrive back at Earth 2.5 seconds later.)

Anyone having the Moon over their horizon at the same time as Australia does should have a fair shot at working an Aussie at 144MHz and above.

I thought it was a nice example of new stuff in Amateur radio. In retrospect I should have mentioned the new digital modes.

Amateur Radio Licensing at http://www.arrl.org/getting-licensed for those interested. You'll need it if you want to attempt to contact the ISS.

I haven't made contact with ISS, or many contacts at yet, but getting a Technicians license and getting on the airwaves really pretty straightforward.

I studied for maybe 2-3 weeks (a chapter a day) and paid $15 to take the test back in October, 2 weeks later I was in the FCC database and made my first check-in on the Alaska Morning NET[0] via a local repeater on a $60 triband handheld[1].

Now I'm looking to develop these skills and put them to use with my local emergency response teams in Portland, OR.

The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node (BEECN)[2] program is specifically about aiding in emergency service coordination in the event of the a major earthquake in our area, and the Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NETs, our local CERT) also utilizing ham radio for emergency service coordination in the event of a communication breakdown.

I definitely encourage anyone with interest in these subjects to get a license.

Hope to eventually make contact with some HNers, till then - 73, KI7QXO

[0] http://arcticserver.com/alaskamorningnetmain1/

[1] https://www.amazon.com/BTECH-UV-5X3-Watt-Tri-Band-Radio/dp/B...

[2] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/59630

It's not so easy in some other countries unfortunately. Here in the UK, it'd cost me the equivalent of about $80 and require an effectively mandatory in-person training course that's rather inconvenient too, just for the most basic license. More advanced licenses are even more expensive and annoying to get.

Wow, now that I did not realize... do you know the reasoning behind making it so difficult?

Hard to say. At one time you could turn up and sit a City & Guilds exam, of course to become a bonafide amateur you had to pass the Morse test, but they've relaxed that now. I went from UK Foundation licence to Full licence in about a year, not difficult from a technical point of view as I was working on 500kW broadcast transmitters at the time. The questions about the arcane rules and regulations were probably the hardest. UK amateur radio is quite set in its ways, the average age of UK amateurs is probably around 60. Some of it probably stems from elitism and from some of the UK history of radio piracy.



My father wanted a license and found it incredibly difficult to get in contact with the nearby group, only to find out (when he eventually managed to get in contact) that they wouldn't be holding any exams for some significant period of time

Just seems like a clusterfuck to get the damn thing, the foundation exam is dead simple. I'm totally unsurprised by the dwindling popularity of amateur radio here. Even if the difficulty isn't the driving factor, I'm sure it deters lots of people who otherwise would be interested.

https://hamstudy.org/ Is a fantastic resource for this as well. Along with the various flashcard apps on mobile.

For those that go this route, I found that getting to about 40% mastery for any given test bank is good enough to pass with a safe margin. That is, being able to answer 40% of the questions right every time the same one is presented. Basically you'll find that the Tech is really just "do you know the regulations", the general is "do you know the bands" + basic radio architecture and the extra is "do you know antennas" + some niche/DSP stuff

Legally that is. Nothing but the law and the fact that most people are honest prevents it. Anyone may purchase a 20 dollar 2m/440 radio and press the PTT :)

This reminds me of Dinah in 'Seveneves' by Neal Stephenson, communicating with her father from the ISS.

Yes, this is similar. Source: Am Dinan.

I got a technician's license last year. But since hand held Ham radios are so cheap these days, it's a great idea to buy one and learn how to use the national simplex frequencies and your local repeaters. In the case of a real emergency, the FCC allows you to use a Ham radio without a license.

The BaoFeng UV-82 is a great starting point for less than $30.

> In the case of a real emergency, the FCC allows you to use a Ham radio without a license.

That's like saying, "In the case of a real emergency, the police allow you to smash in a store window." It's technically true, but it shows a lack of wisdom to offer a statement like that to people who don't know what they're doing, such people who buy a radio and don't have the knowledge required to obtain the relevant FCC license.

In the case of a real emergency, the last thing I want is the ham bands filled with unlicensed operators attempting to use their radios.

:-) Is it wrong to assume that people who read HN might have some common sense to understand what I mean?

In the case of a real emergency, the FCC allows you to use a Ham radio without a license.

Those radios don’t work like they do on TV and in movies. You don’t just pick up the microphone, start talking, and miraculously raise someone. You need to know how to use the myriad of settings. If you don’t know how to use it, you’re just going to waste time and battery. If you do know how to use it, you’re just a little study time away from getting a license, so you might as well get a license. Because you’ll need a license to use the radio to practice. I’ve got a General license, and if I didn’t regularly use my radios, I’d be befuddled in a real emergency. Baofeng’s are cheap, but they are about the most user-unfriendly radios out there, and you’ll need to practice using them.

Summary: get a license.

I would agree that the US tech exam is easier than manually programming those radios by far. Chirp makes them easier. But I'd say maybe getting the tech license is just about as easy as messing with Chirp.

> In the case of a real emergency, the FCC allows you to use a Ham radio without a license.

While that's close there's an important distinction that it's only in the case where you have no other viable options for communications and life or property is in danger[1].

However if you don't have a license you can't practice so it's really better to spend the tiny effort to get licensed :).

[1] https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=336ab7469b6...

What's the policy of listening on these devices without participating (no license)?

For the most part you can listen to anything. There are exceptions for things like cell phones, but since analog cell phones are dead you are unlikely to stumble on something you can't listen to.

Be careful though, some cheap radios make it easy to accidentally transmit. A tiny burst of static when you turn it on is a transmission for which you need a license - and some radios are almost that easy to transmit.

Best is to get a license, then when your cheap radio sends a message at least you are legal to do that. Or get an expensive radio that doesn't have those quirks.

Totally fine, listen away!

Anybody interested in this might want to check out EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) communication: point an antenna at the moon, bounce a signal off of it, and coordinate with someone back on Earth to receive it.

More details here: http://www.moonbouncers.org/

I used to work in the room right below the ARISS base station at NASA Goddard. It’s an incredibly cool project and I’m so glad to see it getting some attention!

While ARISS usually schedules contacts between astronauts and people on the ground, perhaps the coolest part is that the astronauts can actually talk to anyone, any time, via the ham radio equipment on ISS. If this is something that interests you, you should give it a try! I’d be curious to know how responsive they are.

Challenge: they have WiFi on the ISS. Pick up the signal from earth and tell me what SSIDs they use.

From time to time I have heard people talking to the space station as it passes overhead on my 2 meter handheld.

Sometimes the radio on the space station is connected to an APRS repeater which will repeat packets. With a very modest home station (a 2 meter radio marketed for use in a car and an omnidirectional antenna) I have communicated with stations 1000 miles away.

To really have a talk w/ people on the space station you really do want a better station, at the very least a directional Yagi with a rotator.

> A key development is the Multi-Voltage Power Supply (MVPS), which interfaces with multiple electric outlet connection types on ISS

So here we have the supposed pinnacle of human achievement and international cooperation, and they can't even agree on a common electrical plug and voltage?

Excuse me while I go and cry in my beer..

It's often referred to as "two space stations flying in close proximity". One Russian, one American. 28VDC on the Russian side, 124VDC on the American.

Rumour has it that there's bolts with imperial thread on one end and metric on the other holding them together in the middle..

It's a matter of perspective. You could say that building an interoperable power supply was a pragmatic solution to multiple independent engineering teams building modules. This approach allows individual teams to use power systems they are familiar with so they can focus on actually building the ISS.

I know little about it but the MVPS sounds like one of the ISS' many accomplishments.

You probably have multiple plug types in your house. Single phase, two phase, maybe three phase, groundless, etc. They might have similar requirements.

My university's amateur radio club had a large collection of QSL cards to go through. Really cool how widespread its use was; but it also shows how far reaching an ubiquitous the internet has become. Most of these were from pre-1970 and came from all over the world.

I got my technician's level license by using the 'Ham Radio Study' android app which does a good job reinforcing the concepts taught in the ARRL manual. The test banks for each level are all publicly posted and have a rotation of about 3 years for each level.

Edit: Meant to type QSL, not QST.

I still get an envelope with QSL cards from all over the world every few months. It's still fun to see the pictures and to appreciate the tangible "foreignness" of the cards.

*QSL cards

You might want to check out the most recent ARISS contact as recorded by the SatNOGS Network of satellite ground stations.


I have been trying to years to raise someone at the ISS on ham radio without success. Even on the EchoLink. Anyone have tips for what I might be missing here?

Are you talking about using the repeater on the ISS, or contacting one of the astronauts on the ISS?

Contacting one of the astronauts is fairly difficult, as they have no particular scheduled time where they listen it. It just happens to be luck-of-the-draw.

As far as using the repeater, I think most of the radios are stowed. http://www.ariss.org/current-status-of-iss-stations.html

I've never heard of the EchoLink connection to the ISS... Do you have details on that?

This site is a really good resource:


Amateur radio needs more love here. Upgraded to my Extra license last night!

Congrats, OM! (or YL as the case may be ;->)

Amateur satellite radio is extremely fun. There has never been a better time to get into it, with cheap $20 handheld radios and a dual band antenna system with a bit of gain, you can get in with regularity on any of the new Fox1 transponders.

Hope to hear you guys on the air! DE W9NLS

"A key development is the Multi-Voltage Power Supply (MVPS), which interfaces with multiple electric outlet connection types on ISS and provides a multitude of power output capabilities for our current and future ARISS operations and amateur radio experimentation. It will also allow our Ham Video system to have a dedicated power outlet, eliminating the outlet sharing we have now, which shuts down Ham Video at times."

Looks like quite a feat to qualify a spacecraft power supply!

Question for hams: since USB Power Delivery can supply 20V at 5A, might USB serve as a standardized power source for radio amplifiers? How "clean" is the power?

>since USB Power Delivery can supply 20V at 5A, might USB serve as a standardized power source for radio amplifiers?

Probably not. A typical amateur transceiver draws about 300W on transmit, which massively exceeds the 100W limit of USB Power Delivery. A linear amplifier running at the American legal limit will draw as much as 3.5kW.

The de-facto standard for mobile equipment is 13.8v DC +/- 10%, which allows for operation on standard lead-acid batteries.

>Looks like quite a feat to qualify a spacecraft power supply!

It's actually a hell of a feat to get any kind of electronics certified for outer space use.

The atmosphere we have blocks a HUGE portion of ionizing radiation, including x-rays and gamma rays. Those forms of energy will play merry hell with any kind of sensitive electronics, so they have to be suitably ruggedized -- far more so than even most military specs which mostly call for shock, impact, and exposure to elements. Since they can be supplying power to sensitive electronics, where half a volt can be the difference between containing and letting out the magic smoke, that sort of regulation is absolutely key.

Even for things that use 5v USB explicitly I try not to use USB power. Instead I use a linear regulator to drop down the voltage to it instead of the noisy/efficient switching power supplies in USB power units.

>How "clean" is the power?

I would be more concerned about the RF power going back into the USB hub.

Reminded me of "Before Mars" from National Geographic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPuTlZYDbh4

I just want to remind everyone that it only costs $10-$15 to get a license. You can generally take multiple tests in one day, so you could get a technician's and general in one day. Not too much use to get an extra.

The tests are pretty easy and I'd expect most people on this site can get the technician without studying. Test questions are from a pool and you can do practice tests here[1]

[1] http://aa9pw.com/radio/

And you only have to do those tests once. You can renew every 10 years in perpetuity.

I got mine at a HAM fest I went to with my dad 12 years ago. I hadn't studied. It's fairly basic things about radio and legal things like 'can you use amateur radio for business?' (no).

- KD8ECA :)

Seriously? On my technician practice exams, I aced the physics stuff ("What's the wavelength of a 7.255MHz signal?" "Let's see, the speed of light divided by 7,255,000 is...") but the FCC regs part was an utter black box. "What's the maximum permitted power on a 20m frequency?" A lot of that was sheer memorization.


The technician part I was really mostly physics, so it was trivial. I see that on most practice exams (you do need to memorize some of the FCC stuff). When you go for general, that's where I felt that you needed more the memorization. (I tried to do a tech and general test in a single sitting. Missed the general by a point and never bothered going back for it)


I actually recorded a contact between NASA astronaut Joe Acaba (KE5DAR) and students from Lithuania today as the ISS passed over Germany.


73, LB1IH

Why can't you hear the Lithuanians?

I can't recommend amateur radio enough to fellow HN readers.

There are so many things to do -- my favorite is HF CW.

What is so interesting about amateur radio, besides talking to other people? Could you expand a little bit on this? This is an honest question, as I used to be a licensed user of CB radios but the bad mood of truck drivers and mIRC (internet) led me to leave it eventually.

It's applied physics. A study of oscillators, mixers, filters, amplifiers, distributed elements, propagation and algorithms and how to optimize all of these in multiple dimensions. It's community. You can meet interesting people and prepare for and serve during emergencies or experiments. It's travel. You can travel to or contact people in exotic places and have your accomplishments recognized. It's technology. You can create new devices and techniques that perform in ways no one has tried before, or collect and operate vintage machines or the bleeding edge of contemporary gear. It's competition. There are no end of contests across the electromagnetic spectrum using many different protocols and modulation. It's continuity. The ranks of amateur radio are filled with those who earned their living or served their respective nations using similar or sometimes exactly the same skills and equipment.

There was a congressional hearing recently where an ARRL representative was asked why amateur systems function when everything else is down. The answer is simple and compelling; the amateur is the owner, technician and operator of his own station with a deep understanding of every part and what is needed to make it work and how to adapt it. Hard headed self sufficiency. Commercial and broadcast systems die when the backups run out of fuel or the Powers That Be take them away. First responders can't quickly fix or replace their systems when something or someone breaks them. Give amateurs a few watts of power -- by any means available -- and they'll cross oceans or talk to people in space using equipment they can carry at a dead run. It's the last thing that still works when all the other gears strip.

And you are entirely welcome to take part in whatever aspect of it you wish. All you need is a license.

> It's applied physics. A study of oscillators, mixers, filters, amplifiers, distributed elements, propagation and algorithms and how to optimize all of these in multiple dimensions.


I imagine everyone gets something different out of it. I have my technicians but have never made contact and barely listen. I use it as an excuse to learn electronics. There is a lot of material written for the HAM audience that is great for learning about electronics.

Building radios! Doesn't matter if it's very simple, or very complex, you get enormous satisfaction when it works and you can actually communicate with someone.

Doing experiments outside of a personal lab in a legal way.

It really is a hobby so rich & vast it can take a whole lifetime to explore. So much fun. 73, de K7FOS

Any recommendations for a fairly inexpensive HF CW rig? Happy to build it myself

I think it's a choice between one of the newer kits and just buying something from eBay that will get you on the air. Any transceiver manufactured in the past 20-30 years will be just fine, and might result in more on the air fun (at least initially) than a low power kit.

uBitx (http://www.hfsignals.com/index.php/ubitx/) is I think $110 for a kit of the guts. People seem to be really enjoying building them.

QRP Labs has a bunch of cool projects (https://qrp-labs.com/qcx.html). CW is something I haven't learned yet, but is pretty attractive for what it can do, how far it can reach on low power.

Thanks! It definitely seems popular on the subreddit. Totally agree, CW seems attractive given the possible range, and also being able to clock up contacts while avoiding awkward political chitchat I often hear.

My grandpa was really into amateur radio, he still gets postcards from NASA when he pinged the ISS unannounced.


FT8 is a popular low power digital modeling these days for HF. I highly recommend reading the specification!

> I highly recommend reading the specification

I agree. It's amazing how well it works. I've played with FT8 and WSPR and communicated with Australia using 500mw (from the midwest USA).

My Rpi1 WSPR transmitter was heard once in New Zealand on 30M and it is just the Pi, a filter, a tuner, and a long wire over the roof. Here in central Ohio I routinely get Thunder Bay receiving me with the setup which is wild.

Still saving up for an elecraft rig.

I'm about a third of the way building my K2. Really hard to justify the expense of the kit but is the mother of all kits to build and the end result will provide a lot of satisfaction. I've just started testing the first of the boards and was surprised when it just worked (i.e., turned on and no smoke was visible).

Got a KX3 a while back and I can confirm that it does live up to the hype. I may be getting their 100W amp down the line with the current state of the band conditions though.

I'm pulling my Baofeng out of storage.

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