QRZ.COM
ad: Retevis-1
ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: L-MFJ
ad: abrind-2
ad: Left-3
ad: Left-2
Latest Awards
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued

Short Takes #9: Great New Software and NEW Ham Publications Venue

By Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

Fluidity - A Solution for Repeater Owners

Repeaters are the lifeblood of the VHF/UHF ham operator. They're essential to the different organizations working to ensure safety and community assistance during difficult times. As we all know from starting out with an HT in our hands, they are also used by thousands of technician class hams who count on repeaters and repeater networks to get their signals out there. Everyone uses them, and many (like me) just assume it's a part of some infrastructure that works without a lot of trouble.

But, as repeater "owners" have told me for this article, running a repeater system isn't as easy as it sounds. My initial impression (before investigating this further) was that all this required was the installation of a repeater receiver/transmitter with computer, and an antenna array. I figured that now and again you'd have a drive up a mountain road, or perhaps make a visit to the roof of a downtown highrise building, to check out your gear and ensure that all is operating as it should. But I never considered all the things that really need to be taken into account daily. 

I had no idea that there would be troubles like malicious attacks or purposeful blocking of repeater signals, gear that frequently breaks down, power outages and utility instability and so on. These issues always seemed to me to be taken care of somehow, and I never thanked our club repeater guys for their hard work. I'm making a point to do so now, but I am also going to tell them about new software that has been released that will make their jobs a lot easier. And, it's free. This is one of those articles I hope you'll forward on to the guy you know who runs a repeater. Give him or her the opportunity to get a copy of Fluidity installed on that repeater network.

In issue #10 of Trials and Errors ("Logging the Future of Interactive Nets"), I interviewed Sean Lynch (KK6BEB) who is an entrepreneur and ham from Southern California. Sean's logging program, competing with Netlogger, has made great inroads since then, and he's now off on another mission. His goal this time was to put together a dashboard that brings all the important details together in one place for the repeater owner. Fluidity, Sean's new software, will be a huge hit with anyone who is concerned about all the data that needs to be monitored across a repeater network. 

Sean (see photo at left) has had great experience for this project. In his 30's, he built Ticketmaster's systems engineering team which ultimately put together the 2nd largest e-commerce infrastructure by peak transactional volume. That system was comprised of about 6,000 linux servers, which was really large at the time. After Ticketmaster, Sean was the Founder and CEO of a Cloud Computing company that was acquired by Cisco Systems. Since then, he's been putting out good stuff like Ham.Live or Fluidity for purely philanthropic reasons. His mission is to make the radio hobby more robust with increased reach, and Fluidity does just that.

Mike Lee (K6MJU) is a team member at DARN.org, the Disaster Amateur Radio Network in Southern Califonia, which was started by Dick McKay (K6VGP) way back in 1959. It's expanded since then to over 20 different mountain top sites around California, with 35 repeaters and connections to other repeater systems outside California.  

"I mentioned to Sean that we had all of these different aspects of our repeater locations that needed monitoring, and sometimes it would become a nightmare to chase a problem down and pin it to a single location so that we could fix it. He started working with the controller manufacturers and found a way to take all the serial port information and bring it into a dashboard that we can monitor," Mike told me. "The cool thing about this is that I can just look at my device whereever I am, and see what's wrong and at which location. A recent situation we had with noise . . . that would have taken a lot of effort to track down the equipment that had an issue, but with Fluidity I could easily take that piece of gear out of the network." (See DARN's repeater network in operation on Fluidity, at this link.)

As I mentioned, the software is 100% free on Github. If you'd like to read a more technical bulletin about the capabilities of Fluidity, please see this link

Co-Author Opportunities

Readership of "Trials and Errors -- Ham Life with an Amateur" has grown dramatically since I began writing this column in 2022. I'm so pleased when I get emails from other hams who tell me they enjoyed something I wrote. I also like completely opposite opinions stated in the forums attached to each piece. Sometimes, they feel like arguments, but that's OK. It's not a bad idea to stimulate discussion; hams have a lot of dissenting opinions. I'm sure that Fred Lloyd, who founded QRZ thirty years ago, would agree that he and Jaime Jeffries (CEO, QRZ.com) both love to get eyes on QRZ pages, whether they agree or not with what was written.

As we go further into 2023, I would like to offer co-authorship possibilities to amateur radio operators who have a special area of expertise in one area or another. Perhaps you are an antenna guru, and you'd like to talk about the Hexbeam and how you've used yours, or provide tips to other operators who might be considering putting up a Hexbeam. Maybe you've just built a great little add-on to your ICOM IC-7300 for one purpose or another, or perhaps you are a history buff and want to tell a radio story about the old days of radio innovation. Have you got a great idea for an article? Would you like to see it read by tens of thousands of other hams? We'll have room for both short articles (300-500 words, generally a review of a piece of gear or an announcement of something of interest to the entire ham world) in the Short Takes section, and then longer (1000-1500 words) in the more editorial-focused Trials and Errors main section. Each of these two sections publishes every other week, so there's new content weekly. 

Please write me and propose your idea. You'll do the initial draft, and as a journalist by trade and copy editor by experience, I will add my own comments to the piece and find others to interview or provide examples, assist in the writing and take a small by-line as your co-author. You'll find that this is a 1+1=3 approach, one that I've used successfully in other venues. Chances are very high that your article will go on to see worldwide readership. Presently, "Trials and Errors" is being translated into German and into Afrikaans for distribution across parts of Europe and Africa. More locations are coming! We would love to have hams from other world locations be featured here on Trials and Errors.

Writing for a ham audience is not something that you will do to become rich. But I will share with you a part of whatever revenue we earn from our column (which approximates the same disgustingly low rate you'd get from a QST or CQ publication -- sarcasm intended). But there are some distinct advantages for this venue, as those monthly journals require time and patience. The readership here has already greatly exceeded their magazine numbers, as QRZ.com has over 800,000 users. You'd have a partner (me) to work with instead of someone just out of journalism school asking you for rewrite after rewrite. You'll get the first author slot and your article will be reviewed by an Editorial Advisory Board of three well-known and highly respected hams in your field of expertise. If we get a "go" on the technical merits of the article, it will be immediately in front of other hams. There will be no months of delay and you'll be hitting a large target audience!

Reach out to me at my QRZ email address with your proposal and I won't waste your time. I'll give you a "go ahead" to start writing only after we agree on the idea. Then it's up to you . . . your material is submitted to me, I'll add my own revisions (which you'll approve) and then I will submit our article to the Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) who will require a week or two for a final review. Please feel free to write me for a copy of the Writer's Guidelines PDF we've written up for QRZ.com  This request is worth considering only if your article has not been published elsewhere.

73 for now, Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

PS - In the next issue of Short Takes,, we have three new antennas for review and I'm conducting those tests right now. Two of them are exceptionally well-made POTA antennas from Tim (N9SAB) who has now sold thousands of these with a 100% track record on eBay. The third is an OCF dipole that handles 5000 watts of SSB and which competes with the Buckmaster (another popular antenna already reviewed in these pages). It's from Palomar Engineers, and based on my first pass, I'd say you're going to want to read this review.

 

Have a comment? See what others are saying now in our Forum discussion!

CLICK HERE and JUMP INTO THE CONVERSATION

 


Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

Dave Jensen, W7DGJ, was first licensed in 1966. Originally WN7VDY (and later WA7VDY), Dave operated on 40 and 80 meter CW with a shack that consisted primarily of Heathkit equipment. Dave loved radio so much he went off to college to study broadcasting and came out with a BS in Communications from Ohio University (Athens, OH). He worked his way through a number of audio electronics companies after graduation, including the professional microphone business for Audio-Technica.  He was later licensed as W7DGJ out of Scottsdale, Arizona, where he ran an executive recruitment practice (CareerTrax Inc.) for several decades. Jensen has published articles in magazines dealing with science and engineering. His column “Tooling Up” ran for 20 years in the website of the leading science journal, SCIENCE, and his column called “Managing Your Career” continues to be a popular read each month for the Pharmaceutical and Household Products industries in two journals published by Rodman Publishing.


Articles Written by Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

This page was last updated May 5, 2023 17:28