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Author Topic: High Speed (Amateur) Data in the 21st Century: What's happening?  (Read 6526 times)

Posts: 0

« on: October 12, 2012, 07:19:15 PM »

After having been on an extended absence from the Packet Radio Scene for 10-15 years (life happens when you're making other plans)....I was hoping to hear from experienced persons about the availability of amateur equipment for high speed data. Have we simply accepted the emergence of relatively cheap commercial (i.e 3G/4G/LTE cellular) data access? Keeping in mind that in emergencies and disasters, that service availability may be severely impacted... Obviously packet radio is still largely confined to 1200/9600bps in most areas; but what real world high speed options exist these days?


ICOM DSTAR ID-1 Transceiver @ 1.2Ghz (128kbps), but it costs ~ $1000 and that's the radio only, not counting the antenna and quality feedline which would be required.

Kantronics still markets their KPC-9612+ TNC which has a hi-speed port supposedly capable for up to 38.4kbps (cost ~$400) and I am not fully aware of what unique data radio requirements need to be's slower than the DSTAR option above and what would the cost be with the radio?

Are WA4DSY data modems (56k) still available? Similar to the Kantronics discussion above (slower than DSTAR, what is the full cost with data radio?).

What other high-speed packet options have I over-looked?

Or is the best option (price/availability) to tap into off-the-shelf 2.4GHZ/5.8GHZ 802.11a/b/g/n computer networking equipment and build a dedicated "amateur" network. Sure the equipment is capable of robust speeds, the individual components are relatively inexpensive, but we also must price in the need for antennas and quality feedline, etc.

Any thoughts?

Tino, VE6SZR
Calgary, Alberta


Posts: 0

« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 08:37:56 PM »

I may have managed to answer some of my own questions.....

I found the following webpage which has some price comparisons of various data options....albeit might be a little outdated.

Tino, VE6SZR
Calgary, Alberta

Posts: 884

« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2012, 01:08:15 PM »

I lurk on this mailing list. Not high speed data per say, but some good info:

Keep an eye out for this radio sometime this fall/winter:

There are a lot of reasons why Digital HS data isn't on the radar for most amateurs. One big reason is, other than voice and video, what do you do with it? Digital voice is OK, but is it all that much better than analog FM? Is there some big advantage to replacing repeater networks' analog links with digital repeaters and digital RF links? Most repeater ops are trying to get rid of RF linking, instead opting for Internet connections, due to the reliability and ease of setup. There's quite a few people who laugh at the DXers because of all the work that goes into a good HF station while they sit on the couch with an HT on the local IRLP node. While I disagree with them, I do see their point -if all they want to do is talk around the world why bother with all the other stuff (but of course that's not the point of DX now, is it).

Another issue is hardware. Not just the expense of Dstar and related tech, but other than connecting a PC or laptop to a dedicated modem there's really nothing out there. In the commercial world it took touchscreens like the iPhone and Android to get people to start using data for something other than simple texting. In the amateur world we don't even have T9 text input! I'm very excited that there's a growing community of ham app developers out there because if/when a manufacturer figures out how to strap an Android UI on an HT they'll be apps ready to go. If some such device got popular we'd see the networks get built out, much like when Kenwood put out the TM-D700 and D7 it made it easy for people to get into APRS. This led to software and other hardware to where we are now, with a mostly robust network.

Posts: 25

« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 03:28:24 AM »

In Europe, hamnet is happening:


Posts: 3161


« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 05:39:55 AM »

What you are aiming towards is a complex, infrastructure dependent system - wait, are we not describing the commercial systems that exist today? 

What makes Amateur Radio so unique is our ability to create ad-hoc systems.  Depending on frequencies that are line-of-sight and require many, substantial, antenna support structures makes us just as vulnerable in a disaster scenario.  Packet radio and other HF based systems can be established in a short time, albeit with limited capabilities. 

While many would like to sell the powers-that-be on the concept that we can make it as if nothing has happened, i.e. use your E-Mail just like you always did, we just don't have the bandwidth and infrastructure to make that happen.  If we can't deliver, it could surely come back to bite us on the a$$!

Posts: 1


« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 06:21:53 PM »

NBEMS alpha team are currently testing high speed alpha modes, most of which are multi carrier PSKR modes. I would think that in the next few months will be making a standard release of NBEMS / FLDIGI with the new modes. The software is free and requires no TNC. All DSP is done with the standard computer sound card and the software also works on not only Windows, but Mac and Linux as well. NBEMS is designed primarily for manned ops but most of the modes and protocols are capable of a one to many (actually unlimited rx stations) and the messaging protocols provide the ability for receiving stations to confirm 100% copy through the use of checksum calculations codes embedded in the message transmission.
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