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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?

Greg Smith (N8PPZ) on August 7, 2003
View comments about this article!

Why can't our equipment have Ethernet ports?

I currently have a Yaesu FT-847. I have it interfaced to a PC and I do rig control with a software application. Most radios these days have interface ability, using a serial port, but most you need complicated level converters to either build or buy.

I say it's time for standardization, and putting a 10/100 or at minimum 10 baseT Ethernet port in would be a great plus. Allow the radio to be able to be assigned an IP address. That way rig control software can become standardized as well. Other devices such as rotor controllers, autotuners, amplifiers, you name it could also have an Ethernet port and be networkable.

Since TCP/IP is a standard for communications a wide range of our equipment could become easily networkable. Imagine your shack as a LAN, with your radio, rotor, computer, and possible future devices inner-connected.

This would also open up the possibility of future functionality. Like being able to send radio data out the Ethernet port for signal processing on a PC at the digital level, after all Bits is Bits.

There are many things TCP/IP integration can open up like multiple radios networked together via the Internet to form a single repeater system. (Much the same as we do with echolink), or even multiple contesters at different locations networking their radios, logging and rig control.

These are just a few possibilities I can think of, but standardization is the key, and TCP/IP and Ethernet connectivity is the way to go.

Greg, N8PPZ

Member Comments:
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Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K3AN on July 24, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
In a few years 10/100 Ethernet will be obsolete, just like everything else in the computer realm becomes obsolete. Do you really want to have to buy a new radio every few years, like you now have to buy a new computer every few years?
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by OBSERVER9 on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
yes, 10/100 Ethernet will become just another dinosaur, but so is RS232 and it is still around.

USB is too slow and too limited, RS232 is too slow and too limited also, Firewire has the same limits. Ethernet can be extended for MILES, cross country, across open space, it all depends on the hardware.

As I look around, I see that Cat6 (gigabyte [yeah right] ethernet) has been with us for at least 4 years, but it is still not standardized. If they started installing 100baseT ports in transceivers today, given the track record of other network services, it will still be viable in 10, 15 or 20 years.

What is the life expectancy of a modern ham radio anyway? They introduce a new group every year.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K1CJS on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
There's really no reason to buy a new radio every few years just to upgrade a connection port. One of the major manufacturers had a replaceable module that contains the interface, you just have to replace that module if you want to upgrade.

However, if your complete setup serves you well, why change anything? You won't even have to buy every new interface module that comes out.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AD7DB on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Sure, put on an Ethernet port. This way we can use our radios over the BPL system once it's up and running! :) (I'M KIDDING!)
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by OBSERVER9 on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
PPZ said:
There are many things TCP/IP integration can open up like multiple radios networked together via the Internet to form a single repeater system. (Much the same as we do with echolink), or even multiple contesters at different locations networking their radios, logging and rig control.


Greg, you can do that now. Windows 2000 Pro on each workstation, radio attached to workstation, eac workstation networked (Win2K Server), set up a VPN (L2 tunnel for security)... run all the radios inthe club station from home - as well as your home station at the same time!!

hee hee, how about an automated contest station? run FD as 60F, NO ONE will beat your scores.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by WB8WOR on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Bear in mind that Ethernet is not deterministic.

You'd have to put enough smarts in each device to do any real-time control by itself, sending it high level commands like "turn the roter to 35 degrees."

You could add the functionality with a little microcontroller, and create your own standard. Get the micro to translate the ethernet commands to the control signals needed for each piece of equipment.

Most of the interfaces to control the radios are published, and the ones that arent I don't buy.

Tom
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by G3VGR on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I guess it would be neat to have at least a webserver in the rig, so one could use a web browser to setup all the menus etc and an app running so control & status could be sent over IP. Not sure if amps, autotuners, rotators and suchlike would have, or in some cases, need ip stacks & control apps running. If this was the way to go, then some standards would certainly help. Currently, interfacing of ham hardware to PCs seems quite primitive really
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by NK5A on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
If GOD had meant ham radios to use Ethernet and TCP/IP,
they would have all come with built-in NICs a long time ago.

73

Keith
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K6TLA on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The Icom DStar 1.2 ghz radios do already. The radio comes out of the box with full duplex data capability at 128k via a built in ethernet port. Much can be done at 128k but when data rates increase to 10mbps and more things will get really interesting. Hams will be able to do all the things they can do on home networks now with broadband type access to the Internet etc. at previously net inaccessable locations.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KD6NXI on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
USB 2.0 is faster than firewire,, which is why it's used for dv editing now. USB ain't slow :)
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N5CTI on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hey, great idea! Let's take it one step further and put 802.11a devices in each piece of equipment. You're already operating on Amateur frequencies there, right?

Note for the humor-impaired: I'm kidding!

73,

Boyd / N5CTI
 
Ethernet? Heck, I'm still waiting for RS232!  
by LNXAUTHOR on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
- yep, Ethernet would be nice, and the chipsets are small and inexpensive...

- but most of the radios are still using 8- or 16-bit CPUs, and half of 'em don't even have a usable serial port!

- that's what makes those cables so 'special'...

- that said, i have computers that are smaller than my FT-817... now if YaKenCom would only make radios with a VGA port i would have to use a reading glass to read the LCD!
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AG4DG on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
While we're at it, we might as well give our ham radios a regular telephone line connection so we can order a pizza without having to turn away from the radio.

Why do ham radios need an Ethernet connection anyway? Isn't that what computers are for? If you want to mix the hobbies, that's what PSK-31, RTTY, packet, G-TOR, AMTOR, etc. are for.

 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KE4MOB on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Good question. Other good questions are "Why aren't all the clocks in my house set to the exact same time?" and "Why aren't most modern appliances voice operated?"

The answer to both questions is "in the grand scheme of things...it's really not necessary".

Maybe in the future it might be economically feasible...but not right now.

We haven't even seen a radio with touch-screen controls (yet).
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by G3SEA on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

No joke ! AD7DB :)

IF the BPL system IS implemented with it's S9+40 db
of noise then we probably will all be using EchoLink over those very same power lines :)
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N2XE on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
How about an Ethernet interface for a Vibroplex bug? That way you can send code from your PC and satisfy all those intrepid hams that "just can't get CW' but want to play with hardware that real hams use.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KC2IXE on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I like the idea.

While we're at it, can we make the software interface XML

Heck, for that matter - can the various folks who write the existing rig control software, contesting software, etc use XML?

The big advantages:
1)Human readable
2)Good tools
3)Easy to "transform" from one format to another

better yet if the rig mfgs and software folks can agree on an XML schema for each type - lets say, rig setting and Contest logging as a start
 
Radios with bolt-on computer?  
by AA6E on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This was discussed under a "future radio" article a couple of weeks back.

I agree that Ethernet (10/100/1000) is a much better technology than RS-232 for many of us, and it's not going away any time soon. (Think about the installed base.)

USB 2.0 (which is downwards compatible to v. 1 at a slower speed) is essentially as fast, and a little cheaper to integrate with a PC. It does not offer wide-area networking potential, however. Still, you could plug in your digital camera for SSTV, or your printer for logging and QSL labels!

--

The upshot of these discussions for me is that we (and the vendors) don't have a good grip yet on how to integrate radio and computer systems. We've seen PCI plug-in receivers and tightly integrated (headless) transceivers, but these don't work for me. I really want a box that looks like a transceiver, with physical knobs, meters, displays, etc. But I should also be able to operate all the radio features (even sending and receiving digital audio) from a computer. With appropriate security (non-trivial!), I should be able to do it from 1,000 miles away. The computer should be able to interact with the front-panel interface, too.

How would you build this radio? I'd make it pretty much like current designs, but I'd add a dedicated PC off to the side in the same box. The default software (Linux, of course!) would have standard canned functions: Ether/serial/whathaveyou interface management for conventional external control by your external PC. You could load your own software apps to run under the Linux kernel -- or even load a Microsoft OS if you need it. The interface to the radio and front panel would be a straightforward and easy to program for.

A bolt-on dedicated PC might add less than $1K to the price, and it would offer a lot more value to me than (say) the dual-everything IC-7800. This is a (much needed) growth opportunity for the vendors.

I'm in the market for a new HF xcvr in a few months. I'd hate to buy a box with great RF performance but a brain dead digital side. Unfortunately, that's all there are to choose from...

73, Martin, AA6E
 
RE: Radios with bolt-on computer?  
by N0FPE on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Why must EVERYTHING be connected to the internet? I for one have no interest in some hacker gettting control of my radios while I am at work. The Internet has its uses but not everything on the face of the earth needs to be connected.

IMHO

Dan
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KC5CQW on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with AA6E. If you can couple a rig with a Linux interface... Powerfull! I dont see that it would be too hard to build an outboard "box" interface. Put the networking chipset in with the needed I/O and audio jacks. (Rigblaster on steroids)hint hint...
This way the old cronies that dont want internet connectivity don't have to buy a rig with more then they need.
I love the idea of internet radio, this way I can QSO from work (EMS with some downtime out in the counties).

73, Damon KC5CQW
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K3NG on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
If the manufacturers do ever put Ethernet on a rig, they'll probably have non-standard connectors and voltages like they did with RS-232 so you have buy a $150 converter box. Oh yeah, the IP stack will be an extra $30. :-)

But seriously, considering that some of the Microchip line of PICs have USB capabilites, it wouldn't be a stretch to have a USB interface on your own homebrew QRP rigs...

Goody
K3NG
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K2WH on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Oh gee, I can control my rig with a mouse!!!! Duh, I've been turning those damn knobs all this time when I could just click on a simulated knob on my computer. Duh, maybe I can get a robotic arm to click the mouse. Wow.

Our equipment shouldn't have Ethernet because it is not amateur radio. All tubes, all the time.

K2WH
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KB2SSA on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
mmmmm I guess nobody pays attention out there anymore...

CHeck out the Icom IC-7800 that just came out. Has an ethernet 10/100 jack right on the back ready to plug in, also has compactflash slots, fiber optic audio, you name it has it.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N2WEC on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This would just provide an access to my radio by unautherized persons. NOT everything needs to be tied to a blasted computer. The computer is a tool not something needed to do many of the things you got into radio for. Rotor control is one thing but do you need a computer to tell you what to do with "your" rig? It is bad enough that radio is has been invaded by the computer likes of EchoLink and ILink. All this computer junk has made us lazy and ignorant operators. Have fun with radio and leave the computer ports to the computers.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by OBSERVER9 on August 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
LUDDITES are alive and well on this board! I am surprised that some of you guys actually have COMPUTERS!

N2WEC... no it would not, not if you know what you are doing.

USBv2.0 is nice, but it is still SLOW -- AND -- the maximum cable lenght is measured in feet, not METERS. You cannot route USB, there are no repeaters for USB.


 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N9DG on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
There really is no good technical reason why our radios can't already have Ethernet built in. Economically it wouldn't be very expensive at all either. So why not? As one poster has already pointed out the radio manufacturers haven't got a clue about where this technology is now today or even where it is headed to when it comes to the potential of PC's and networking for our radios. Combined with that is a broad lack of technical understanding amongst the ham community in general when it comes to the integratoin of computers (and networking) with radio. As evidence here are some common myths/beliefs that continue to persist:

1. Ethernet automatically implies connecting to the Internet, - well only if I WANT to, I don't HAVE to. I want the Ethernet network to be exclusively inside my shack for tying my radios together with each other, various control panels, and to my host PC(s). Once this can be done the analog mic and audio connections can all be eliminated between radios. Just have one mic input to feed any (or all) of my radios that are on the network. Also no more sound card interfaces, all radios can feed their digital mic/audio to the PC doing the digital mode encoding/decoding.

2. Ethernet (and PC technology) mean I CAN’T use buttons and knobs, - not true again. But with PC/Ethernet technology I won't have to ONLY use buttons and knobs if I don't want to. I can instead have large screen based graphics displays that would make the Icom/Ten Tec spectrum sweep displays look like toys. You know things like PSK31 style waterfalls, - wouldn't it be nice to see ALL of the activity up and down the band in near real-time, - and to then be able to just click on the spikes of interest. Much like you would point to an object you see on the horizon with you finger. After all you don't turn a “knob” in order to focus on any objects you see now do you? So why remain fixated on doing that to tune our radios? And when you really think about the tuning knob really is a rather clunky way to maneuver around the radio spectrum. But for the environments or operating styles where a knob truly is desirable, - just plug in the Ethernet based remote control panel and ‘away you go’ with a retro style radio. And since it would be on the network you could use that one control panel to control a virtually unlimited number of additional radios. These radios can either be on your desk, downstairs, in the garage, or even miles away. Bottom line is that Ethernet and PC's in general are the enabling technology for doing all of this.

3. Ethernet can just be "added" to the existing basic radio designs of today, - false again. To attempt to do so is to assure failure and poor networking performance. In order to implement this correctly you will need to scrap most of the basic “microprocessor” control design approach/layout like are used in today's radios. Those wimpy embedded microprocessors simply won't cut it. Why not start with the ubiquitous ATX PC motherboard as the "brains" and backbone of the PC/Ethernet based radio? By doing so most of the Ethernet support hardware design work is already done (most new MB's come with Ethernet built in already). So it would then be relatively easy to implement Ethernet technologies to support radio. For an idea of some existing "building blocks" that may actually be able to achieve this design concept today check out the SDR1000 at:

http://www.flex-radio.com/

If the SDR1000 were implemented on a PCI card (instead of using parrallel port interface) then the radio that you would end up with could be easily made Ethernet ready using much of the standard OS (Linux/Windows/????) provided TCP/IP networking.

4. RS232 and analog audio connections to a PC sound card are the best way to implement digital modes. You’re joking right? Why make all of those extra distortion adding conversions going from RF back to audio to then just re-digitize it later so that the PC can then process it? Why not just leave it in the digital realm after it is digitized initially in the early IF stage and then feed that to the CPU?

5. Using PC and Ethernet means my radio interface will consist of a "picture" of a traditional radio with its cute “virtual" knobs and all. For someone to design such a user interface they deserve to fail, I wholeheartedly agree with the Luddites and detractors on that point. I want my user interface to be genuinely more useable (see item 2) than a knob/button based radio could ever possibly be. The point is to do things that couldn’t be done before without networking or computers, - not to just emulate in software existing ideas. If this is done correctly you shouldn’t even be aware that there is a computer and/or Ethernet network making your radio do this magic, - you don’t consciously think about what each and every individual transistor is doing in your existing radio do you?

I for one am getting really tired of the endless stream of basic box radios where the manufacturers try to wow me with silly things like selectable display background colors (yawn) or bazillion buttons and convoluted menus. And while Ethernet alone won't give me the all things I'd like to see in my radio today it is a major component of it.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by WB2IFS on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Very cool idea. All a manufacturer would have to do is add one of these Digi Connect ME puppies (http://www.digi.com/products/device%20servers/digiconnectme.jsp )I saw in this week's Electronic Design (http://www.elecdesign.com)...
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by CWTITAN on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This is just another example of what is wrong with Ham radio. Too many dumb nuts trying to make ham radio a computer mode. CW TODAY CW TOMORROW, CW FOREVER
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KA5S on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Seems reasonable, doesn't it? But you'll find not a few Amateurs for whom Ethernet is a swear-word, 10baseT especially, which can be a problem at HF. Then there're the so-called "wireless" carrier-current Ethernet systems. Urgh.

I suspect each of us would be pleased to see some standardized data interconnect for radios; we're lucky Japanense manufacturers use a standard *power connector*. But be careful what you ask for. You might get it.

Cheery thought!

Cortland
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by VE3WMB on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This is not a bad idea.

I am already controlling my Pegasus and running PSK31
remotely within my house using IEEE 802.11.b, but I
still have to dedicate a PC to control the rig and use
another for accessing it remotely.

I believe that there are a few products on the market
that provide an RS232 to ethernet interface, specifically to allow RS232 devices to have a network presence, although I
am not sure of the cost of these devices.

This sounds like this could make a near add-on accessory ... of course it would mean that existing CAT software wouldn't work as these programs all assume that your RIG is directly connected via RS232.

It is clear that RS232 is on its way out. Just try to find a new Laptop computer these days with an RS-232 port ... good
luck.

I also thought that the imbedded web-server idea that someone else mentioned was interesting as well. I have seen a product which is a web server on a chip ... with ethernet.

Michael VE3WMB
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by WB6UYG on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Wow ! When I read the article I said, "Finally some one is making sense". Ethernet is the defacto networking standard. What a great way to integrate control of one's station. The posibilities for remote control are endless.

What disturbed me, however, were the number of commentators that were saying, "we've never done it that way before" or "it wont last". For a service that is supposed to promote cutting edge technological advancement, we are missing something. If we used that argument, we would be still using spark gaps because those new "807's" are just a fad!

Wake up and smell the coffee guys, you are thinking like Dinosaurs!

WB6UYG
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by VE3WMB on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Just a followup to my original comments.

Check out www.siteplayer.com

With a bit of development this would make a dandy
ethernet adaptor/rig controller.

Serial to ethernet, plus a built in webserver, code is
stored in flash and can be easily upgraded.

Michael VE3WMB
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N3IJW on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I dunno about you guys, but I have enough stress in my life managing servers at work without waiting for some script kiddie to exploit a buffer overflow in IcomOS™ 1.0 and using my transceiver as their personal pirate radio station.

ps: this was humor, at least a bad attempt at it.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N2RD on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
How about the new, yet to be released, ICOM 7800 that was on display in Dayton. If I remember correctly, it had a RJ45 port for TP on the back, it also had USB ports, a VGA port and a smart card reader built in. Apparently, the smart card allows for different users to store their settings on the card. $10,000 estimated price.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KF6JZC on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Having worked in the Factory Automation field, I can tell you that as old as RS232 is, it is quite adaquate for the purpose of controlling radios. Ethernet was developed to handle the increasingly larger and larger amounts of data at required faster rates. I have not seen a Ham radio that sends a large amount of data. In controlling semiconductor equipment, for example, 9600 baud serial communications worked very well for many years. It was only until these types of equipment started sending large amounts of data that the ethernet protocol became the desired communications protocol.

Of course you can certainly use ethernet to control a radio, but it is like using a howitzer to kill a fly.

Ethernet is a standard that is true, but so is RS232 and USB. The reason (in my humble opinion) that ham radios have RS232 ports and not ethernet ports is because the serial hardware is cheaper and simpler and the code to run a serial port is simpler than for an ethernet port. When a manufacturer is trying to cram as many features into a product as they can and keep it as inexpensive as possible, which do you think they will choose to design in?

Maybe some day ethernet will be an integral part of a ham radio. I suspect that it probably won't happen until it is economically viable. In the mean time, you can use ethernet to control radios if you want to get a jump on the technology. Pick up any recent issue of "Circuit Cellar" magazine. In this magazine are many ads for circuit boards that contain ethernet capability that can be used to create all kinds of computer controlled products. You could build your own Ethernet-to-RS232 convertor.

BTW - I am not affiliated with "Circuit Cellar" magazine. I am only a subscriber.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KD6NXI on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Use a hub
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by W5HTW on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Let's see ...

1. Ham radio from the office. Aren't you supposed to be working? Or does the boss pay you to work ham radio? Or are you the boss, and if so, do you permit your employees to play ham radio on company time? No wonder it takes ten employees to do the work of one today. Ham radio is a hobby, not a career.

2. Why do we even need radios? Can't we just sit here and do ethernet with our computers? No need to design a new radio. Maybe we can call the mouse a "CW filter" and we'll feel like we're playing radio.

3. Why do we even need computers? If we went back to radio, this would all be moot, none of us would be on this forum, and we'd be on the air, enjoying our hobby of radio, not figuring out how to turn it into a computer hobby.

4. Will this ethernet stuff work with my Johnson Viking II? It doesn't have a USB port, but it does have a CW port.

That's my take, humorous, yes, or perhaps facetious, on this whole thing. Radio is a hobby. If I want to combine radio with my other hobby of golf, I'll hitch an HT to my putter. But I think I enjoy the hobbies separately, thank you, and see no need to even carry an HT onto the golf course - I CAN stand to be "off the air" for an hour or two now and then. If I can't, I have that cell phone. (Maybe I'll strap an HT to the back of it, too, so I can talk to the wife and order a pizza at the same time.)

73
One Contented Dinosaur

Ed
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by W5HTW on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Make that "One contented RADIO dinosaur"

ed
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KB3DVS on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
N8PPZ asked:
> Why can't our equipment have Ethernet ports?

The same reason they don't uave USB ports. :)

> I say it's time for standardization, and putting a 10/100 or
> at minimum 10 baseT Ethernet port in would be a great plus.

Etherent hardware is more expensive than USB hardware. This is why USB pen drives that require no drivers and no software setup are dirt cheap. The market for USB is so huge that chip maufacturing has driven the price way way down. Ethernet reqires a computer with ethernet (not all have it) and software stanrdards to be developed (don't hold yer breath.)

> Allow the radio to be able to be assigned an IP address. That way rig
> control software can become standardized as well. Other devices such
> as rotor controllers, autotuners, amplifiers, you name it could also
> have an Ethernet port and be networkable.

I don't know if you've ever worked in a corporate environment with a computer on every desk, a printer and a server... they require onsite IT people to manage and help keep things running. I'm not a networking Guru and I don't want to have to pay bring an IT person to manage my network... of ham radio gear.

> This would also open up the possibility of future functionality.
> Like being able to send radio data out the Ethernet port for
> signal processing on a PC at the digital level, after all Bits is Bits.

For many things Ethernet offers no advantage over simpler, and cheaper USB.

OBSERVER9 thinks:

> USB is too slow and too limited, RS232 is too slow and too limited
> also, Firewire has the same limits. Ethernet can be extended for
> MILES, cross country, across open space, it all depends on the hardware.

Why would you want to extend direct control of your radio for miles?
How would you be control OP then? How much would that cost?
The radio manufacturers are in this biz to make money. An inexpensive way to add accessories to tie the radio in with new computers is not what Ethernet is- not even 10-base T, let alone incorporating gigabit like you mention.

> What is the life expectancy of a modern ham radio anyway?

Given by what I see- as long as someone wants it to be.

G3VGR says:
> it would be neat to have at least a webserver in the rig, so one
> could use a web browser to setup all the menus etc and an
> app running so control & status could be sent over IP.

I think this is a good idea. It doesn't really require ethernet (USB or Firewire could do it) but using HTML standards would make it easier to understand and set all those parameters. But making it accessable on a network meand anyone who can hack it can mess with your radio.

AA6E mused:
> This was discussed under a "future radio" article a couple of weeks back.

Yea, it's an echo. I think USB is better because it would also power accessories to the radio and not require a computer. Ethernet is useless unless there's at least one computer (maybe more) in _addition_ to the radio.

> USB ... you could plug in your digital camera for SSTV,
> or your printer for logging and QSL labels!

And power them from the radio too. No more wall warts.

> I really want a box that looks like a transceiver, with physical knobs, meters,
> displays, etc. But I should also be able to operate all the radio features (even
> sending and receiving digital audio) from a computer. With appropriate
> security (non-trivial!), I should be able to do it from 1,000 miles away.

> How would you build this radio?

I still don't understand why people keep wanting to operate rigs 1000 miles away. Are there anoug hams that travel the country or the world often enough to make such R&D, implimentation and increased price on sale ... "cost effective." Plus it can already be done without ethernet in the radio.

OBSERVER9 replied:
> USBv2.0 is nice, but it is still SLOW -- AND --
> the maximum cable lenght is measured in feet, not METERS.
> You cannot route USB, there are no repeaters for USB.

Ethernet is more EXPENSIVE and with any manufacturing part, you can expect the cost to increase, on average, 10 fold by the time it reaches the consumer.
Plus, as someone with experience later explains, USB 1.0 is plenty fast.

For instance... if a HiFi SSB person wanted to accessorize their radio, they could add:
> M-Audio Transit is an external USB audio interface that can
> handle 24-bit/96kHz audio and offers 1/8" stereo analog &
> optical digital input, 1/8" stereo line/headphone output,
> and TOSlink optical digital output that allows AC3 and
> DTS pass-through. The USB bus-powered device measures
> 2.2" x 3.6" x 0.9" and weighs 1.6 ounces. Cost: just $99.
all this on USB!

Why do you need to "route" your radio?

N9DG expoused:
> I for one am getting really tired of the endless stream of basic box
> radios where the manufacturers try to wow me with silly things like
> selectable display background colors (yawn) or bazillion buttons and
> convoluted menus.

Definitely. When I saw the Icom with the hard to read little color screen (for me) and the rows of buttons along the bottom AND the side, I knew it was too much. Maybe if I could just hook up a VGA screen and use a mouse... but then that'd be what I was getting at before- the radio IS the computer already. We just need to be able to accessorize it.

CWTITAN lamented:
> This is just another example of what is wrong with Ham radio.
> Too many dumb nuts trying to make ham radio a computer mode.

Actually, the thread I started a couple weeks ago (which led to this one) was because I wanted to plug my little USB fan and USB light into my radio for field day. Then I could ditch the AC, see at night and keep cool.

N3IJWattempted humor with:
> I have enough stress in my life managing servers at work without
> waiting for some script kiddie to exploit a buffer overflow in
> IcomOS 1.0 and using my transceiver as their personal pirate radio station.

You know, that's not much of a stretch to believe. With the amount of computer security alerts we see in the news, anything with an IP is constantly probed and tested by hackers on the net.

KF6JZC wisely noted:
> [I] worked in the Factory Automation field
> ... I have not seen a Ham radio that sends a large amount of data.
> Of course you can certainly use ethernet to control a radio,
> but it is like using a howitzer to kill a fly.
> Ethernet is a standard that is true, but so is RS232 and USB.

Nuff said.

Anthony
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by OBSERVER9 on August 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
KB3DVS..

TONY!!!

You cannot route USB.. period. You can route ethernet. Now, just why would you want to route control of your radio??

Well, how about controlling a remote base?

You are extremely limited on the distance from the controled device using USB or Firewire... now, just way would this matter? How about connecting your PSK31 station to your home network - you do have a network in the house, right? You cannot network USB, you can network ethernet.

You DO NOT NEED TCP/IP, you can use NetBUIE, AppleTalk, what ever...

You will need fast connections too, when your household appliances are assigned an IP address (and they will be, it is already happening in the commerical market), your home network will be bogged down with traffic to control lights, refridgeration, telephony, internet, no need to make it slower with other options.


 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KC8VWM on August 9, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

Ethernet 10baseT or CW

Vote now !
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AE6IP on August 9, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Reality Check Time:

When we first added IP/TCP to the Un*x kernel 20 years ago, we literally *doubled* the number of lines of source code -- and back in those days IP/TCP was a tiny subset of what it is now.

The cheapest decent computer system I have at home cost about the same as my HF transceiver, both recent, and both bought new -- ie, expect the cost of a HF+pc system to be double the cost of the equivalent HF only system.

radios, like video devices, are best served by having their processing power specialized. I'd much rather see rig designers working on how to do better DSP in the rig then on how to bolt it into a PC.

People here are mixing up at least three distinct requirement that it's not clear are appropriately met by using a network interface:

1) Radio Control -- the bandwidth required for this is well within the reach of a decent RS-232 design, and these days, the connectors are more expensive than the cost of the device driver and UART.

2) DSP of analog signals -- there's no benefit in predigitizing the signals, and lots of difficulty if the digitization technique doesn't match the expectations of the DSP. Not only that, but analog connectors are really cheap, and good digitizing hardware is expensive.

3) Using the radio for digital modes -- again, the bandwidth requirements are tiny, and well within the scope of a good UART. I'd much rather have a digital/uart bit bashing interface than the unneeded overhead of ip/tcp

The problem with using ethernet is that it costs more because it does more and in reality you don't need what it does to control the radio and it's not very good for moving analog signals around, cuz it needs expensive D2A to do a good job with.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by W8SGZ on August 9, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Personally, and for what it's worth, I've always found the best rig control is a system called "thumb and forefinger". With these two handy little tools, the operator can turn knobs, push buttons, flip switches, key mics and pound code keys.
And they are compatible with every radio ever made.
What versatility!
The TFF system is utterly reliable. No special, hard-to-find connectors, no cables to short out or accidentally cut through, easily transfered from one rig to another with no conversion needed. And barring industrial accidents or leprosy, almost impossible to lose.

In my (not so)humble opinion, I'm of the school that says let radios be radios and computers be computers. To me, computerized rig control is the ultimate in American Couch Potato Sloth.

Don't get me wrong. I've been a computer geek since the days of (are you ready?) the TRS-80 Model I (.7 MHz processor, 4 Kb RAM, cassette player for storage - a real hot system). My house is wired for ethernet, and one of the computers is in the shack doing logging (and trying to do PSK31). But I really think there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. Where is the fun in letting the machines do all the work?
Next, we'll be hooking up digital recorders and voice synthesisers, and we won't have to be in the shack at all! (Yeah, there's the "control operator" regulation, but show Michael Powell enough cash and he'll erase that).

I seem to have gotten off on so many tangents, I've forgotten what the question was. That's OK, though. Just the thought of inflaming more "us vs. them" wars is enough to get me through the day.

73,
Jeff

(P.S. For those who don't have lives, I should point out that the above is heavily dosed with sarcasm and satire)
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KG4OOA on August 9, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Why don't HAMS modify their rigs of they want it. Why does it have to be the manufacturers?
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N9DG on August 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Reality check II...

N5CTI:
"Hey, great idea! Let's take it one step further and put 802.11a devices in each piece of equipment. You're already operating on Amateur frequencies there, right?"

Actually this would be a perfectly reasonable way to apply this technology for those who want to 'remote' their HF stations on a 'line of site' mountaintop. It would really be just a matter of using some existing (and minimally modified) ‘off the shelf’ wireless 802.11a networking hardware (running in the 2.4 GHz ham band) to pull it off.


CWTITAN:
"Too many dumb nuts trying to make ham radio a computer mode."

Huh??? What has this got to do with turning ham radio into 'computer mode'??? Much of the actual signal modulation used will remain the tried and true analog signal types ... including CW. For what its worth the 'dumb nuts' are those who refuse to learn or try any thing new and remain stuck on some single mode or technology.

N3IJW:
"I dunno about you guys, but I have enough stress in my life managing servers at work without waiting for some script kiddie to exploit a buffer overflow in IcomOS™ 1.0 and using my transceiver as their personal pirate radio station."

I know that this was posted in jest, - but I get the sense that many of the Ethernet detractors truly believe this is a big threat. I too work around networks all day, with a little bit of ‘up front’ planning and management they are not that hard to setup and maintain or make secure. And for the majority of Ethernet based radio users they will be operating in an exclusive and physically isolated network so TCP/IP security really won’t be an issue for most users.

KF6JZC:
"Having worked in the Factory Automation field, I can tell you that as old as RS232 is, it is quite adequate for the purpose of controlling radios. ... Of course you can certainly use ethernet to control a radio, but it is like using a howitzer to kill a fly."

I agree about CONTROLLING radios, but that is such a tiny part of what Ethernet can add to or make possible for our radios. The real payoff is for remoting our entire stations, whether it is on some far away mountaintop or a few hundred feet, such as for a UHF/Microwave station mounted on the tower. A SINGLE run of 'off the shelf' fiber optic network cable would be FAR less expensive and easier to build than half a dozen runs of 7/8 or 1-5/8 inch hardline up a 100ft tower 50 ft from the shack (even with $1-2/ft surplus hardline). By remoting most of the microwave station on top of the tower it will perform much better and with Ethernet providing both the control and audio/mic signal I/O it becomes economically feasible thing to actually attempt.

KB3DVS:
"Etherent hardware is more expensive than USB hardware. ... I don't know if you've ever worked in a corporate environment with a computer on every desk, a printer and a server... they require onsite IT people to manage and help keep things running. I'm not a networking Guru and I don't want to have to pay bring an IT person to manage my network... of ham radio gear"

I don't believe this is true, when you can buy 100Mb Ethernet cards for $9 at your favorite mass computer retailer the cost differences are negligible. So why lock into such a limited technology as USB when Ethernet is a much wider applied, accepted and stable standard? USB is primarily confined to consumer electronics, I see little of it used in the professional video/broadcast marketplace that I work in, and there is a good reason for that, - it simply isn’t as capable. Additionally why would you need a 'corporate IT' person to manage your little radio network (Ethernet)? With a little bit of studying most anyone can learn how to build a basic network, once its built there isn't much to do to keep it going, unless you like to tinker with it, but then that's OK too isn't it?

KB3DVS:
"Why would you want to extend direct control of your radio for miles?" How would you be control OP then? How much would that cost? The radio manufacturers are in this biz to make money. An inexpensive way to add accessories to tie the radio in with new computers is not what Ethernet is- not even 10-base T, let alone incorporating gigabit like you mention."

Why not? Especially for those who can't put up decent towers etc. at their home QTH. And where does this myth come from that Ethernet networking is expensive? Consider that a USB cable 5-10ft long cost about $15-30, a 50 ft 'pre-made' Ethernet cable $10-20. If however you buy a spool of cat V cable and some RJ45's you can make your own Ethernet cables for one tenth or less than the cost of pre-made cables (I do this all the time). And the crimping tools for making Cat V Ethernet cable are readily available, are they for USB? - Nope. Also the cost differences today between 10Mb and 100Mb are insignificant, in fact it would likely cost you MORE to make a 10Mb only vs. 100Mb network. Additionally the extra cost for Gb Ethernet is not that significant for someone contemplating remoting their station over hundreds of feet or miles. But to try and do the same thing with USB you would still need to use expensive converters to 'convert' (yuck!!!) the USB to Ethernet and back again anyhow, so why not just start with Ethernet to begin with?

AE6IP:
"The cheapest decent computer system I have at home cost about the same as my HF transceiver, both recent, and both bought new -- ie, expect the cost of a HF+pc system to be double the cost of the equivalent HF only system."

Well let’s think about this for a minute. I can now buy/build a new fully Ethernet capable PC with 2GHz CPU/256MB RAM or better performance for about $500. For sake of argument the required RF/analog components for such a radio as I propose would about equal a Ten Tec Pegasus, - they cost $900. So by adding the 2 together we are looking at something around $1500-2000 for a FULLY Ethernet capable PC based radio (remember that the generic PC can provide ALL of the networking overhead). This is very competitive with the upper midrange radio prices of today, such a radio however would be incredibly flexible and be so much more powerful in its capability. At this point it would then mainly be a question of software, not trivial to be sure but definitely doable.

AE6IP:
"DSP of analog signals -- there's no benefit in predigitizing the signals, and lots of difficulty if the digitization technique doesn't match the expectations of the DSP. Not only that, but analog connectors are really cheap, and good digitizing hardware is expensive."

This statement simply doesn't make sense, - think about what the typical DSP IF radio does now. They ALL digitize A to D's the signal somewhere in their IF chain, then they do their DSP magic and then finally D to A it back to analog audio. So where's the logic in taking that analog audio signal and digitizing it once again with a sound card? Why not just feed that original (already existing) digital data stream from the IF A to D stage directly to the PC handling the digital mode modulation/demodulation? The raw data rates are well within the capability of 100Mb Ethernet. Considering that the DSP IF radios today use something on the order of 96KHz/24bit sampling. This is a raw data rate of only about 2.3 Mb/S. Realistically though when using Ethernet and TCP/IP there will be some additioanl overhead. But even if that overhead is a 5 to 1 ratio (~15Mb/s total) there will still be plenty of bandwidth leftover when using 100Mb Ethernet.

AE6IP:
"The problem with using ethernet is that it costs more because it does more and in reality you don't need what it does to control the radio and it's not very good for moving analog signals around ..."

Yes it does do more, - and that is precisely why it is so attractive, we as hams really need to think beyond just 'controlling' our radios with computers. There is now a whole new range of radio user interface possibilities out there because the computing power to do it is dirt-cheap. These 'interfaces' can allow us to have a much better visual ‘picture’ of what is happening on the bands at any given moment, a digital readout saying ‘14.270.000’ doesn’t really tell us all that much about what is happening on the rest of 20 Meters. A 350KHz wide waterfall/spectrum display on the other hand would. There is also a whole new inexpensive way to move the various mic and audio signals around our shacks, and we gain the flexibility of finally able to EASILY interconnect (with a single wire) our radios with each other, whether they are separated by feet or miles. So to only think in terms of only 'controlling' our radios then we (as hams) have collectively missed the whole point.

KG4OOA:
"Why don't HAMS modify their rigs of they want it. Why does it have to be the manufacturers?"

Or better yet start playing today with the existing SDR1000 from Flex Radio, it really is a viable building block for achieving some of this now. Disclaimer: I have no personal connection to Flex Radio, - I just greatly admire what they are doing.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AE6IP on August 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
> A SINGLE run of 'off the shelf' fiber optic network
> cable would be FAR less expensive and easier to
> build than half a dozen runs of 7/8 or 1-5/8 inch
> hardline up a 100ft tower 50 ft from the shack (even
> with $1-2/ft surplus hardline). By remoting most of \
> the microwave station on top of the tower it will
> perform much better and with Ethernet providing both
> the control and audio/mic signal I/O it becomes
> economically feasible thing to actually attempt.

OK. You've completely lost me here. are you wanting ethernet, or are you wanting fiber? rather different technologies, at rather different price points. (Read: fiber is more expensive.)

>> AE6IP:
>> "The cheapest decent computer system I have at home
>> cost about the same as my HF transceiver, both
>> recent, and both bought new -- ie, expect the cost
>> of a HF+pc system to be double the cost of the
>> equivalent HF only system."

> Well let’s think about this for a minute. I can now
> buy/build a new fully Ethernet capable PC with 2GHz
> CPU/256MB RAM or better performance for about $500.

Not with a monitor. $700 is more reasonable.

> For sake of argument the required RF/analog
> components for such a radio as I propose would about
> equal a Ten Tec Pegasus, - they cost $900.

Why not compare it to a $700 ICOM 706mkiiG?

> So by adding the 2 together we are looking at
> something around $1500-2000 for a FULLY Ethernet
> capable PC based radio (remember that the generic PC
> can provide ALL of the networking overhead).

IOW, nearly doubling the price for the single additional feature of ethernet control.

> This is very competitive with the upper midrange
> radio prices of today, such a radio however would
> be incredibly flexible and be so much more powerful
> in its capability.

except that all that 'incredible flexibility' comes down to: different way to plug radio into computer. and it's about 100 times more expensive then the cheap level converter + audio cables that work so well today, even using your numbers.

> At this point it would then mainly be a question of
> software, not trivial to be sure but definitely
> doable.

"I don't see what's so difficult about the panama canal", TR might have said, "it's merely digging a trench."

>> AE6IP:
>> "DSP of analog signals -- there's no benefit in
>> predigitizing the signals, and lots of difficulty
>> if the digitization technique doesn't match the
>> expectations of the DSP. Not only that, but analog
>> connectors are really cheap, and good digitizing
>> hardware is expensive."

>> This statement simply doesn't make sense, - think
>> about what the typical DSP IF radio does now. They
>> ALL digitize A to D's the signal somewhere in their
>> IF chain, then they do their DSP magic and then
>> finally D to A it back to analog audio. So where's
>> the logic in taking that analog audio signal and
>> digitizing it once again with a sound card? Why not
>> just feed that original (already existing) digital
>> data stream from the IF A to D stage directly to
>> the PC handling the digital mode
>> modulation/demodulation?

That makes even less sense. Are you trying to process the audio signal as audio, or are you talking about trying to process the audio signal to extract digital mode from it?

> The raw data rates are well within the capability of
> 100Mb Ethernet. Considering that the DSP IF radios
> today use something on the order of 96KHz/24bit
> sampling. This is a raw data rate of only about 2.3
> Mb/S. Realistically though when using Ethernet and
> TCP/IP there will be some additioanl overhead.
> But even if that overhead is a 5 to 1 ratio (~15Mb/s
> total) there will still be plenty of bandwidth
> leftover when using 100Mb Ethernet.

The problem you're going to face here isn't cable bandwidth, it's going to be PC packet processing overhead. If you're going to double the price of the radio, then you're better off doing digital mode decoding *in* the radio, and if you want to send digital audio, sending it over a digital audio link.

>> AE6IP:
>> "The problem with using ethernet is that it costs
>> more because it does more and in reality you don't
>> need what it does to control the radio and it's not
>> very good for moving analog signals around ..."

> Yes it does do more, - and that is precisely why it
> is so attractive, we as hams really need to think
> beyond just 'controlling' our radios with computers.

I've listed three ways in which data moves between the radio and the computer. Which additional data movement is there?

> There is now a whole new range of radio user
> interface possibilities out there because the
> computing power to do it is dirt-cheap.

I don't think that doubling the cost of the radio to add an ethernet interface qualifies as 'dirt cheap'.

> These 'interfaces' can allow us to have a much
> better visual ‘picture’ of what is happening on the
> bands at any given moment, a digital readout
> saying ‘14.270.000’ doesn’t really tell us all that
> much about what is happening on the rest of 20
> Meters. A 350KHz wide waterfall/spectrum display on
> the other hand would.

Now you're tackling a much bigger problem: getting the radio vendors to agree on a data format, or writing converters for all the radios.

> There is also a whole new inexpensive way to move
> the various mic and audio signals around our shacks,

You're back to needing those A/D and D/A converters. If my shack gets big enough that I want to route audio signals, I'll use audio switches.

> and we gain the flexibility of finally able to
> EASILY interconnect (with a single wire) our radios
> with each other, whether they are separated by feet
> or miles.

miles? You planning on using the hinternet for this?

> So to only think in terms of
> only 'controlling' our radios then we (as hams) have
> collectively missed the whole point.

well, i did mention three uses for moving data...
 
Because most people don't want or need it !  
by HFHAM2 on August 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Why?

Because most radio amateurs do not want to connect their radios to a computer by any means.

If you want to do it then *you* figure it out. I certainly don't want to pay extra for more useless features on a *radio*; there are enough of them already.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N9DG on August 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
AE6IP:
"OK. You've completely lost me here. are you wanting ethernet, or are you wanting fiber? rather different technologies, at rather different price points. (Read: fiber is more expensive.)"

No they are not different technologies they are actually complimentary. I'm thinking Ethernet over fiber for applications like tower mounted remote gear or any other "wired" remote operations over long distances, by doing so you gain a high level of lightening protection and eliminate RF coming back down the cable from the tower. Keep in mind that "Ethernet" is a standard that only defines the networking protocol layers, it does not specify any single physical media type, so you can use twisted pair (100BaseT), or Ethernet over fiber, over coax (100Base5), or an RF/Microwave link. All of these different media types are covered under the 802.xx specifications for Ethernet. Additionally these are all existing standards, which are already widely used. However our Ethernet based radios won't care one bit what the interconnecting media actually is in between them as long as it supports the required data rate. As for cost you can buy a 150 foot run of duplex fiber optic cable with SC terminations for ~$125, that is competitive with LMR400 coax. So if you want to have 5 or 6 radios all listening across several different bands simultaneously (a very common scenario in VHF contesting) you could use that single Ethernet fiber connection to the top of the tower to support all those radio's control, audio, and mic I/O needs. The only other choice for remoting microwave transverters today is to run separate 144MHz RX/TX IF lines and a whole bunch of control lines (like I now have to do). And for the lower bands (50-432MHz) to get good performance you'd be spending big bux on several hardline coax runs (I'm already doing this too). Ethernet based radios mounted on the tower would be a far simpler and less expensive way to go.


AE6IP:
"Why not compare it to a $700 ICOM 706mkiiG?"

That would really be an apples and oranges comparison, the 706 and its competitors are primarily mobile radios, as such there is not a reason to want waterfall spectrum displays, or extensive computer interfacing with them. All of the radios like IC-706's, FT-8x7's, TS-2000's etc. are great for allowing you operate on many different bands, but they only let you operate one band at a time (perhaps with a sub RX). But to listen on, or monitor all of the bands simultaneously you'd need several of them, - a very expensive proposition indeed. On the other hand having modest cost radios which are essentially just RF I/O boxes that can be networked together you could then have a single control point (most likely a PC). With this arrangement a single microphone/CW key and user interface/display could control all of them. The only way to accommodate this properly is with Ethernet because some of these RF I/O box "radios" are in the shack and others will be up on the tower. So I wouldn't even begin to attempt to design a station like this with an inherently distance limited technology like USB.


AE6IP:
"IOW, nearly doubling the price for the single additional feature of ethernet control."

The economics really come into being when you are building a multi-radio station. If your only requirements are a single nice self-contained radio then the 706 and its contemporaries are just fine. But as soon as you want to interconnect them with anything else at all they quickly become hopelessly limited. Also there are many simple CW only radios available today that meet their users needs very well, so if you don't want a radio Ethernet then don't buy it, but don't tell me that Ethernet shouldn't be pursued at all and isn't worthwhile because you don't want to use it. Also the key is to not think of Ethernet as a singular "feature" like a 32-color display is, but instead as an "enabling" technology that leaves it up to the user to fully define its end use. The 32 background display colors are what they are, you simply pick one, and that's it.


AE6IP:
"except that all that 'incredible flexibility' comes down to: different way to plug radio into computer. and it's about 100 times more expensive then the cheap level converter + audio cables that work so well today, even using your numbers."

No way is it 100x more expensive. Again if you have 6 different radios that all need to connect to a computer sound card you are looking at 6 X $50-150 interfaces or a some kind of switch box ($300-400?). Or you could have the "RF I/O radios" with built-in Ethernet all connected to a single 100Mb switch ($100-200) with a few short Cat V cables (can be made for the same or less $ than analog audio/mic cables). The main PC could have the one microphone connected to it and feed that digitized mic signal to whichever one of the 6 radios you are using to TX at any given moment. Or for the one radio shack the control panel/mic/speaker can be remoted to the other side of the house with a single cross-over 100baseT cable. There could be these cables made for several other rooms of the house if you wanted to.


AE6IP:
" N9DG -
>> This statement simply doesn't make sense, - think
>> about what the typical DSP IF radio does now. They
>> ALL digitize A to D's the signal somewhere in their
>> IF chain, then they do their DSP magic and then
>> finally D to A it back to analog audio. So where's
>> the logic in taking that analog audio signal and
>> digitizing it once again with a sound card? Why not
>> just feed that original (already existing) digital
>> data stream from the IF A to D stage directly to
>> the PC handling the digital mode
>> modulation/demodulation?

AE6IP - That makes even less sense. Are you trying to process the audio signal as audio, or are you talking about trying to process the audio signal to extract digital mode from it? "

All that I'm trying to say is that there is no reason to take a digital mode's RF signal all the way down to audio at all, simply process the raw data stream that the radios IF A to D has already digitized.


AE6IP:
"The problem you're going to face here isn't cable bandwidth, it's going to be PC packet processing overhead. If you're going to double the price of the radio, then you're better off doing digital mode decoding *in* the radio, and if you want to send digital audio, sending it over a digital audio link."

I don't understand where the notion comes from that there is such a heavy packet-processing overhead with Ethernet. The brute force hardware to handle all of that is here today and is dirt-cheap. As for processing the digital modes "in the radio" vs. a host PC, it is really here nor there proposition, why not just support the option to do either as you see fit?


AE6IP:
"I've listed three ways in which data moves between the radio and the computer. Which additional data movement is there?"

All that high bandwidth data to support the full ham band wide waterfall spectrum displays that I'm so hell bent on having. It is not a trivial amount of data to be moving around.


AE6IP:
"don't think that doubling the cost of the radio to add an ethernet interface qualifies as 'dirt cheap'."

If in the end all that you want is a radio that still does the same old thing you're right. It's like someone in 1920 saying: "vacuum tubes are way more complicated and expensive than the cat-wisker and galena crystal I now have are, so why would anyone else want to use vacuum tubes either". Again however it is matter of designing radios to do things that haven't been done before. A truly useful presentation of an entire band's current conditions is an example of such a thing. My contention is that in the $1500-2000 base station radio price market space Ethernet with PC technology would blow the doors off of everything that is out there today.


AE6IP:
"Now you're tackling a much bigger problem: getting the radio vendors to agree on a data format, or writing converters for all the radios."

Forget the existing radios, they are hopelessly obsolete anyhow, so don't waste time writing "converters" for them a futile endeavor at best. As for standards, yes it would be nice to have brand X be able to exchange its digital data streams and control formats with brand Y but it would not be essential. Whoever captures and dominates this market space first will win.


AE6IP:
"You're back to needing those A/D and D/A converters. If my shack gets big enough that I want to route audio signals, I'll use audio switches."

No, no, no. You would only have one A to D for each mic, that signal will then be available to any of the radios on the network. On the RX audio side of things a similar situation, each RF I/O box radio would make its IF digital data steam available on the network, - or its fully recovered audio (in a digital data steam) if you have the radio itself filter/demodulate the signal fully (like existing DSP IF radios do).


AE6IP:
"miles? You planning on using the hinternet for this?"

Again Ethernet doesn't automatically imply Internet; - they are not synonymous with each other. Ethernet is just a networking protocol plain and simple. It is simply a matter of configuration if it is only used to cross my desktop or if it is used to span miles over the Internet. I personally do not have a need or reason to do so (use over the Internet), but why not have that capability built in for those who do? Ethernet is the already defined and proper technology to provide for both; USB and Firewire are not.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AE6IP on August 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
> No [ethernet and fiber] are not different
> technologies they are actually complimentary. I'm
> thinking Ethernet over fiber [...]

Ethernet is a trademark of Xerox that applies to 10mbit/sec CS/CDMA coax, as standardized in IEEE 802.3. The term is also used to cover other speed CS/CDMA, such as 802.3u (100mbit/sec) and 802.3z (1000mbit/sec) Fiber optics, on the other hands are point to point, and not CS/CDMA.

The difference is sufficiently significant that the IEEE decided not to attempt to make a 'fast ethernet' 802.3 standard that covers both, but rather moved the fiber standard to 802.12 (100vg-AnyLan)

> Ethernet based radios mounted on the tower would be
> a far simpler and less expensive way to go.

We've come a long way from a discussion of interfaces for rigs that sit in shacks to discussing remote towers "miles away."

>> AE6IP:
>> "Why not compare it to a $700 ICOM 706mkiiG?"

> That would really be an apples and oranges
> comparison, the 706 and its competitors are
> primarily mobile radios, as such there is not a
> reason to want waterfall spectrum displays, or
> extensive computer interfacing with them.

hmm.. interesting that you would say that there is 'not' a reason for doing exactly what I do with my 706, which is to interface it to my computer and watch waterfall spectrum so I can find psk traffic.

> The economics really come into being when you are
> building a multi-radio station. If your only
> requirements are a single nice self-contained radio
> then the 706 and its contemporaries are just fine.
> But as soon as you want to interconnect them with
> anything else at all they quickly become hopelessly
> limited.

The 706 fits nicely into my multiradio multicomputer setup nicely. I think you're being unreasonably dismissive of very usable systems.

> [...] don't tell me that Ethernet shouldn't be
> pursued at all and isn't worthwhile because you
> don't want to use it.

Actually, I said it wasn't worthwhile because there are cheaper ways to accomplish anything you've suggested doing with it.

>> AE6IP:
>> "except that all that 'incredible flexibility'
>> comes down to: different way to plug radio into
>> computer. and it's about 100 times more expensive
>> then the cheap level converter + audio cables that
>> work so well today, even using your numbers."

> No way is it 100x more expensive. Again if you have
> 6 different radios that all need to connect to a
> computer sound card you are looking at 6 X $50-150
> interfaces or a some kind of switch box ($300-400?).

There goes those goalposts moving up field, again.
We started this with you talking about "a single Yaesu FT-847" and that's the sort of user I've been talking about. Now you've moved on to a much different set of requirement.

Sure, if I'm willing to spend $30,000 for 6 high end radios and amps, the bucks for etherenet interfaces is a small portion of the cost. But most of us don't spend that kind of money, and don't need that kind of control.

> AE6IP - That makes even less sense. Are you trying
> to process the audio signal as audio,

yes.

> All that I'm trying to say is that there is no
> reason to take a digital mode's RF signal all the
> way down to audio at all, simply process the raw
> data stream that the radios IF A to D has already
> digitized.

so now all you need to do is get the the various vendors to standardize on their IF digital stream formats. good luck.


> I don't understand where the notion comes from that
> there is such a heavy packet-processing overhead
> with Ethernet.

It comes from 30 years of experience as an OS designer.

> All that high bandwidth data to support the full ham
> band wide waterfall spectrum displays that I'm so
> hell bent on having. It is not a trivial amount of
> data to be moving around.

and yet, my pcr1000 does it nicely on a 9600 baud rs/232 line.


>> AE6IP:
>> "don't think that doubling the cost of the radio to
>> add an ethernet interface qualifies as 'dirt
>> cheap'."

> If in the end all that you want is a radio that
> still does the same old thing you're right.

I've already said that I'd rather spend the money on making the radio a better radio than on making it into a pc periphreal.

> It's like someone in 1920 saying: "vacuum tubes are
> way more complicated and expensive than the cat-
> wisker and galena crystal I now have are, so why
> would anyone else want to use vacuum tubes either".

Actually, no. it's like someone in 1920 saying "If you're going to make my radio more expensive, spend the money on tubes for a good class A amp, rather than putting an audio amp on it so I can drive speakers in the other room."

> Again however it is matter of designing radios to do
> things that haven't been done before.

In that case, isn't it about time to bring spread spectrum to ham?

AE6IP:
>> "Now you're tackling a much bigger problem: getting
>> the radio vendors to agree on a data format, or
>> writing converters for all the radios."

> Forget the existing radios, they are hopelessly
> obsolete anyhow, so don't waste time
> writing "converters" for them a futile endeavor at
> best.

who said anything about existing radios? I was pointing out a problem even for new radios.

> AE6IP:
>> "You're back to needing those A/D and D/A
>> converters. If my shack gets big enough that I want
>> to route audio signals, I'll use audio switches."

> No, no, no. You would only have one A to D for each
> mic, that signal will then be available to any of
> the radios on the network.

and for each PC i want to process audio on, and for each recorder, and for each speaker, and . . .

> On the RX audio side of things a similar situation,
> each RF I/O box radio would make its IF digital data
> steam available on the network, - or its fully
> recovered audio (in a digital data steam) if you
> have the radio itself filter/demodulate the signal
> fully (like existing DSP IF radios do).

for digital audio, i'd want existing standard digital audio formats. PCM over a coax is just fine, thanks.

and as pointed out, you're not going to get the vendors to produce equivalent streams at IF.

>AE6IP:
>> "miles? You planning on using the hinternet for
>> this?"

> Again Ethernet doesn't automatically imply
> Internet; - they are not synonymous with each other.

Who said ethernet implied internet? How else are you going to move the signal miles? Get your local community to let you bury miles of cable?

> Ethernet is just a networking protocol plain and
> simple.

Um, no. Etherenet is the *media* for a physical layer in the network (IE coax,cat 5 cable) plus link layer protocol that uses that media.

 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by WA2AVO on August 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
10 Base T 1/2 duplex is the way to go here.
Inexpensive, very standardized.
And the surplus equip. will be available for decades to come.
Sure there are new standards in networking, but telecom and interconnectivity will rely on 10bT for a good long time. USB and firewire are destined to be PC standards like bus (remember VESA ?) standards.
They will come and go like skirt lengths.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KF6JZC on August 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Wow have we all gone off on tangents in this post. I have to put two more cents into this one.

1. Ethernet control of a radio is overkill technology for a single radio. It would also be more expensive. The subject of how simple and cheap it is by comparing to networking computers is not really valid when you consider the fact that that NIC card you plug into your computer has a price that has been amortized over thousands of NIC cards sold, and the OS on most Windows based computers (and probably others as well) auto configure themselves to run over a TCP/IP network. That is why they are so cheap. Amortizing the cost for ham radio would not be at the same rate, so it would be a noticable increase in cost, plus you would have to have an OS in the radio that would configure the system for you. Imagin most ham operators that have not manually configured a computer to run TCP/IP over ethernet trying to manually configure their radio.

2. Ethernet control of many radios and / or equipment in the shack may be a good idea and can be done right now if the ham is willing to do a little designing (heaven for bid) on his own. This would not even require any modifications to his/her radio as long as it has an RS232 or USB port. As I mentioned in my last post, you can buy pc boards that are stand alone (where you do have to do some programming - you mean I have to do more designing?) that have both ethernet and RS232 (or USB) on them.

IMHO, I don't believe most hams would need ethernet on their radios (I know I don't). Therefore I don't think most hams would want to pay the addional price to have this feature. For those that do want or need it, and their radio already has a serial port, you can, with the use of some inexpensive hardware put their radios on a network now. It just depends on how much you are willing to have to design yourself.

The point is, do we really want to have all of the features on a radio that all hams would like? I think this would make them very expensive. Why not do what hams have done for years and design equipment or modify your radio to provide the kind of features you would like. Isn't this one of the interesting things about ham radio that brings people into this hobby?
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KC8VWM on August 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

If this message area was a repeater, it would have timed out long time ago!

Some of those posts qualify as a thesis.

KC8VWM
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K2WH on August 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hey, when my rig with Ethernet or whatever computer system it has in it bombs, dies etc, who do I call to fix my amateur rig? Icom, Yeasu, Dell? Microsoft? Or do I call Lucky Star computers down the block?

This is simply idiotic.

K2WH
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KB7WSD on August 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
My response to the nay-sayers regarding an ethernet interface is that it's already being done. I'm looking at my West Marine catalog where Furuno has introduced the NavNet interface. Each component (the radar, chart plotter, depth sounder, fish finder, GPS, etc.) are all interfaced using a standard ethernet hub.

No radios you say? True, but the point is that Furuno saw that people wanted to be able to plug these things together instead of trying to figure out the NEMA interface and guess at why the various parts ween't talking to each other (I've been ther many a time).

Replacing an rs232 interface with ethernet is actually an easy exercise, though you won't catch me doing it to my still in warranty rigs. I have an old kenwood that may need to go under the knife and get a web server installed to act as the interface. Lots of work but the more I think about it, the more fun it seems.

73
KB7WSD
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KA0PWW on August 14, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Ahhhh! There is nothing like the smell of ether in the
morning! Makes my eyes red just thinking about it!:)
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KC0LBZ on August 16, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
AE6IP:
"All that high bandwidth data to support the full ham band wide waterfall spectrum displays that I'm so hell bent on having. It is not a trivial amount of data to be moving around."

A waterfall display requires a simple FFT. If the receiver already has a digital IF, it likely has the necessary hardware to do that. Or a $10 DSP chip can be added to do the FFT.

The bandwidth required to transmit a 128-bin, 256-bit resolution waterfall is only 1K bits. You need 100MB ethernet (~16MB throughput) for that?

On the other hand...

I would like to be able to use my radios from (a) where the radios are set up, (b) the living room, (c) the deck outside, or (d) my office downstairs without having to move radios and cables or have duplicate radios.

On the gripping hand...

Let's see...put a half-dozen radios up on the tower ($??), with a single, headless Linux "industrial" single-board computer ($500?) with Zope or Apache webserver ($0). Controlling software in Python ($time only). Oh, and put all that in a NEMA-3 box to protect those expensive radios and the computer ($1200?), with some kind of thermal control system ($500? for hardware, software on the same Linux box) because the inside a sealed NEMA box is going to get hot, and neither the radios nor the SBC are designed for high-temperature operation. Wire the tower for AC power ($250, including inspection). Remote-switch the power and all other cabling for lightning conditions ($150?, including control cabling--because when you turn off the power, you can't count on the SBC to run things any more--hmmm, what does that do to the thermal control?). Upgrade tower to meet electrical code ($??). Run CAT5 from the tower to the house ($50), with lightning protection at both ends ($100?).

(Tongue only partially in cheek.)

- Sam
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KC0LBZ on August 16, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"The bandwidth required to transmit a 128-bin, 256-bit resolution waterfall is only 1K bits. You need 100MB ethernet (~16MB throughput) for that?"

Oops, that should have been 256-LEVEL, not 256-bit.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by WA2AVO on August 16, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I've changed my mind from my previous post.
I think that all new equipment should be *required* to have on-board 802.11g capability (54g). This would stimulate the economy, create an entire sub-category of radio control of radio, and help bring more Hams into the reality of the 21st century. Except the industry may change the standard(?) twice a year for the rest of my life.

Regarding the tower, have you considered platform mounting a gas-powered generator midway up and using a servo-controlled pump and starter with a wireless network to keep it fueled and running on-demand ? <kidding> Seriously, I wouldn't put UTP CAT5 in that type of RF field. I'll guess that you were joking on that point as well.

I still maintain that 10 or 100 baseT is ubiquitous and will remain the most economical way to maintain connectivity to gear in the shack.
Imagine the difficulty in finding parts for a Collins 75A3 today. The most common tubes are the easiest to replace. I am using a similar reasoning for connectivity. 10/100BT will be around for another 30 years. The mass-production of transceiver chips makes it cheap. The bandwidth would allow digital audio and video, switching, monitoring, data, and have some room to spare.
And did I mention that 10/100BT is dirt cheap ?

<Flogged this pony to death, I'll put it on the shelf.>
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AE6IP on August 16, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
KC0LBZ writes:

>> AE6IP:
>> "All that high bandwidth data to support the full
>> ham band wide waterfall spectrum displays that I'm
>> so hell bent on having. It is not a trivial amount
>> of data to be moving around."

Actually that wasn't me. I'm the one who pointed out that a full waterfall is easy to do with RS232 on my pcr1000.

> The bandwidth required to transmit a 128-bin, [8]-
> bit resolution waterfall is only 1K bits. You need
> 100MB ethernet (~16MB throughput) for that?

not me, i do it with a 56kb/s rs-232 line.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N2VJX on August 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
It would be nice to have some sort of ethernet interface. But 10/100 is too stationary.

It would be better if Yaesu or Kenwood would join the 802.11b band wangon and create built in Wi-Fi access. This way you can roam around any HotSpot or access your wireless network.

You also mentioned accessing your rig over the internet. That would real nice if they had some kind of Java interface where we can program it for the web. But of course you need to take security measures to prevent an unlicenced ham access to your rig. Adding a firewall would be nice, this way you can restrict who can have access by IP address. You can also have some kind of log on by using the fcc's database, like callsign, FRN and password. hmmm, my brain is thinking again. lol.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N9DG on August 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

KF6JZC:
"1. Ethernet control of a radio is overkill technology for a single radio. It would also be more expensive. The subject of how simple and cheap it is by comparing to networking computers is not really valid when you consider the fact that that NIC card you plug into your computer has a price that has been amortized over thousands of NIC cards sold, ..."

This is true only if we seek to do nothing new with our radios; the key to all of this is to start thinking beyond simply ‘controlling’ our radio from a computer. As for the amortization costs of the technology, - why reinvent the wheel? Approach the basic radio design differently, especially for the fixed station applications. In this case much of the existing PC Ethernet hardware could be used 'as is'.


KB7WSD:
"My response to the nay-sayers regarding an ethernet interface is that it's already being done. I'm looking at my West Marine catalog where Furuno has introduced the NavNet interface."

Looks like we hams have "missed the boat" (pun intended) once again for being innovative.


KC0LBZ:
"I would like to be able to use my radios from (a) where the radios are set up, (b) the living room, (c) the deck outside, or (d) my office downstairs without having to move radios and cables or have duplicate radios."

Bingo, this is but one 'ready to roll' feature that we could have if an enabling technology like Ethernet is built into our radios. The methods and choices to achieve this level of operating position flexibility today aren't very convenient at all.


WA2AVO:
“Seriously, I wouldn't put UTP CAT5 in that type of RF field.”

I wouldn’t either, - that is why I would use fiber cable for such an application. You can run Ethernet over fiber at 100Mb after all. The key is that Ethernet allows for this kind of end user flexibility.


WA2AVO:
"I still maintain that 10 or 100 baseT is ubiquitous and will remain the most economical way to maintain connectivity to gear in the shack.
Imagine the difficulty in finding parts for a Collins 75A3 today. The most common tubes are the easiest to replace. I am using a similar reasoning for connectivity. 10/100BT will be around for another 30 years."

Bingo again, I'll bet Ethernet will be around long after USB and Firewire have long been retired. And just like those old tubes you can squirrel away the Ethernet networking spares and PC's to keep that 2004 vintage radio going for years to come.


N2VJX:
"It would be better if Yaesu or Kenwood would join the 802.11b band wangon and create built in Wi-Fi access. This way you can roam around any HotSpot or access your wireless network."

For as much of a proponent for Ethernet in our radios as I am I don't think this would be a good idea (or perhaps more accurately "necessary"), the 802.11 spec is still evolving. If the anti-Ethernet argument centers on the perceived notion that few will actually use it then having 802.11 built-in is even less. However consider that once we have the ubiquitous 100BaseT connection provided on our radios it will then be more or less a plug and play endeavor to add 802.11 capability. That is quite different than today's radios where there is no 'plug and play' way to provide any level of Ethernet functionality of any kind.

This Ethernet vs. no Ethernet debate reminds me of the argument back in the mid-70’s about digital vs. analog frequency readouts, but yet today how many hams do you suppose would accept having only a analog frequency dial on their ‘state of the art’ radio?
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N9DG on August 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

AE6Ip:
"hmm.. interesting that you would say that there is 'not' a reason for doing exactly what I do with my 706, which is to interface it to my computer and watch waterfall spectrum so I can find psk traffic."

A spectrum display that is some 2.5 kHz wide? What value is that for anything except PSK31, or looking at someone's SSB signal envelope? Can you make your PC+706 display the ENTIRE 80M band on a waterfall display, while using the same near real-time updating interval that you now have with PSK31? These are the reasons I didn’t use the 706 (or its competitors as a starting point) for my pro Ethernet position.


AE6IP:
"... The difference is sufficiently significant that the IEEE decided not to attempt to make a 'fast ethernet' 802.3 standard that covers both, but rather moved the fiber standard to 802.12 (100vg-AnyLan)"

Now we are getting down to a matter of hair splitting semantics, in the QA lab where I work we have all sorts of Ethernet traffic moving around on 1Gb/s fiber optic backbones. Bottom line is that the Ethernet traffic that goes in one end comes out the other as we need it to and expect it to. In the end that is all we would need for interconnecting our radios over Ethernet as well.


AE6IP:
"The 706 fits nicely into my multiradio multicomputer setup nicely. I think you're being unreasonably dismissive of very usable systems."

I don't dismiss that it is very usable for the limited things as you have just described, but can you make it do anything more? FWIW I'm approaching this topic with some practical experience with multiple radios being controlled by a single PC. For 6&2M weak signal operation I now have a small herd of Ten Tec Pegasus radios all being driven by a single PC via RS232 (which required a $100+ 4 port RS232 card). With this collection of radios I can listen on one discrete frequency on each band while visually watching 150KHz segments of those same two bands simultaneously with a spectrum sweep display that covers the span every 3-4 seconds. Is it very powerful and useful for finding and getting to signals that pop up on those bands? - You bet, much, much better than twirling VFO knobs continuously (or simple scanning) could ever hope to be, and all of the tuning is done with a simple click of a mouse. Could it be better? - Absolutely. But it cannot be improved upon dramatically without some major rethinking of how to build a ham shack in general and also more specifically the "radios" themselves that go into it. After a lengthy assessment of what I've built here I've come to the conclusion that Ethernet technologies have a lot to offer to ham radio. Serial based coms like either RS232 or USB simply cannot cover all the bases of where I want to go with my overall station configuration. And I doubt that I’m alone in wanting to be able do these kinds of things.


AE6IP:
"Actually, I said it wasn't worthwhile because there are cheaper ways to accomplish anything you've suggested doing with it."

What are these cheaper ways to achieve this? Remember my criteria is to be able to have some remote equipment at the top of the tower as well as other radios that are on my desktop, and to have a single microphone source for all of them. The equipment at the top of the tower (or other remote location) also needs to provide 500KHz of spectrum waterfall with update intervals comparable to PSK31 displays while simultaneously listening to a discrete frequency (in other words function exactly like the ones on the desktop).


AE6IP:
"There goes those goalposts moving up field, again. We started this with you talking about "a single Yaesu FT-847" and that's the sort of user I've been talking about. Now you've moved on to a much different set of requirement."

Yes indeed I have moved on to another set of requirements beyond the original author’s article, simply because it only focused on the desktop radio of today. But why stop there? There are now some exciting possibilities beyond just building singular purpose ‘box’ radios like todays all are. This can be already done at a reasonably economical cost, - but only if the technology available today would be applied. However if we have no goals or needs beyond a single radio sitting on the desktop then Ethernet is indeed overkill. But so many hams get caught up with the idea that a "radio on the desktop" is the only way to build their stations that they don't even begin to try and think about some of the other possibilities. Additionally with networking built into our radio it may actually prove to be a "if you build it they will come" phenomena. However if no one even tries it, much less proposes it, then it will fail for sure. And as hams we cannot continue to repeatedly shun new technologies like this or we are well on our way to extinction.


AE6IP:
"and yet, my pcr1000 does it nicely on a 9600 baud rs/232 line."

Like the 706 can the PCR1000 provide a near real-time waterfall display of a 500KHz (or even 150KHz?) segment of a band and also be able to listen on another discrete frequency while doing this? And if you were to add additional PCR-1000's to approach this level of functionality how expensive will that become? Remember those RS232 ports cost $25 each to add. And in order to not be eaten alive by feedline losses/costs at UHF how would you go about the process of remote mounting/controlling those PCR-1000's? And to then get the audio back to the shack from them? And realistically for ham radio it is both an issue of TX and RX, so a remote mounted RX preamp alone is not the answer.


AE6IP:
"I've already said that I'd rather spend the money on making the radio a better radio than on making it into a pc periphreal."

What exactly does "making the radio a better radio,” mean? Wouldn't making a radio “system” that can be “used from” or to “control” several locations simultaneously while being able to provide more information about the current and past band conditions be a "better radio"?


AE6IP:
"Actually, no. It’s like someone in 1920 saying "If you're going to make my radio more expensive, spend the money on tubes for a good class A amp, rather than putting an audio amp on it so I can drive speakers in the other room.""

But the individual in my hypothetical example is someone who is simply refuses to use tubes (today Ethernet) at all. So whether the tube being used is a class A amp or not is moot, they flat out refuse to even think about using the ‘new fangled’ tube. So that example really is just like the people today who will refuse to even CONSIDER networking for their radios. But they need not worry, simple(er) radios will always be with us, just like you can still build a galena and cat-whisker radio to this day, and they will continue to be able to have the same level of capability as there is with today’s radios (or that galena/cat-whisker model).


AE6IP:
"In that case, isn't it about time to bring spread spectrum to ham?"

Woo hoo, I think we can 100% agree on this point...


AE6IP:
"and for each PC i want to process audio on, and for each recorder, and for each speaker, and . . ."

Yep, and in the case of the PC's their built in sound card will probably do that job quite nicely. Those sound cards can simply drive local speakers. And many new computers already have Ethernet built in today. So where is the "big" added cost for additional mic A to D's? Or RX audio D to A's? But without Ethernet connectivity to the radio how do you handle the mic and audio to/from the gear that is on the desktop as well as up on the tower?


AE6IP:
"Who said ethernet implied internet? How else are you going to move the signal miles? Get your local community to let you bury miles of cable?"

Or those with a house at the foot of a hill they own just run the cable, no big deal, for those who need to use the Internet they can, at least they will have option to. Tell me how you would do that without Ethernet capabilities being built into the radio? And whatever that approach is, how much will it cost?
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N0MTC on November 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
wow such a simple question and has it ever gone off on so many tangents. shall we keep to the point of the question. it is not a matter of 'killing CW' or never touching the radio. it would be great to break away from the rs-232(which by the way has been around now for what at least 25 years and so has Ethernet) and all those proprietary connectors(I still don't understand what is wrong with using a DB-9 connector). think about this, with an Ethernet connection, your pc would be able to connect to the radio using a common (cheap) Ethernet cable. who cares what the speed is. it will always be faster than rs-232. ok the most common mode for Ethernet is TCP/IP (in that letter order by the way). now, most of your computers (IBM, APPLE) use it to connect to the internet. Most operating systems (various flavors of windows, Apple OS, Linux, Unix) use it too. now all the radio manufacturers have to do is install a board that will act like a web server (you are reading this from a web server, ouch that made my head hurt just to think that). Yes they do exist for control systems from Creston (www.crestron.com if you want to check it out). Think about this, all you would have to do on your radio is set it on a IP address, connect to your computer, fire up your web browser, enter the IP address of your radio and up pops the control web page of your radio. very simple. now for those of you who would be worried about some script kiddy breaking in to your radio and pirate broadcasting, think about this. would you really leave your radio on if you are not using it? for those of you who would, the next step is to have a login/password to gain access. again simple. now this would be only for the next generation radios as (cough) older radios can't be used for this kind of technology. oh I almost forgot, who is to say that you can't touch the knobs any more. I find it hard to believe that ICOM, KENWOOD, YEASU would eliminate the knobs (at least not for a few more decades). wait until the face plate is a touch screen. if we can do digital modes (voice, DSP, PSK31) ,that is another question to be asked. the question is about is controlling the radio. keep to the point, brothers.
 
RE: Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by AH7I on January 24, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
It can.

Go on to ebay or internet and find yourself a "terminal server" xyplex and others make them. I've seen 8 port for as little as $100 used. You can run 8 radios that have serial ports off one of these and talk to them all over an ethernet connections.

Perhaps a better question is why ethernet.

*Faster communication than current RS232 or knobs?
There is no need to communicate faster if the radio can only do things 'so fast'. In this case, you can have ethernet with a little free software, some RTFM time, and an old roadside find PeeCee. Want a neater/easier installation? ethernet to RS232 adapters are available for around $200. Add one to each radio.

*The SDR1000 uses parallel for control and analog for the baseband IF to the PeeCee sound card. This is pretty
fast. 2 x 96kHz 24 bit sound card channels is faster than USB2.0 or firewire. It's close to practical limit for 100bT ethernet.

What I'm getting at is. What one wants the radio to do affects the choice for talking to it. Sure. Build in a computer, run 'X', and it's possible to run a whole slew of radios from a PeeCee. Talk to them with fast ethernet or multiple firewire or USB channels. Ethernet (100mbit) wins here by ubiquity.

What if one wants to run all the DSP software on the PeeCee. Maybe with a coprocessor card or four built in for speed. Do we put the A/D in the radio or the PeeCee? If in the PeeCee then all we need is a bit of coax. If in the radio then maybe a high speed optical interface is in order.

It all depends on what you want to do...

-bob
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by K5VYT on May 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
For one, I think this is a great idea. And not only the rig, but why not the rotor control, the linear, everything? Add voice over IP to this and True remote station control would follow. Based on the fact that most big box stores are selling 100 Ethernet cards for $9.95, I would not think the addition to the designs would be very expensive. Then just hub everything together with your web server. Someone later on mentioned that Ethernet is or will soon be obsolete. Yeah, but just because its obsolete doesn't mean you have to immediately run out and replace it. You will find that a LOT of big companies still rely heavily on 10 megabit Ethernet, even though its 20 years old and the state of the art dictates gigabit. (Hey 80% of the computer code at the company I work for is written in Fortran... talk about obsolete! But it does the job.) Personally, I don't think Ethernet is ever going to go away. There might be alternatives, but Ethernet will always be there. Anyway, while giving an IP to your rotor contoller might be many years away, the rig could have one immediately. Several companies make IP to serial interfaces that would replace the serial connection to the radio with an IP connection. They are a little pricy, but they will come down. Wouldn't be surprised to see a construction article in QST one of these days.

Best 73 to all,
Dick K5VYT
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by KF6YAP on July 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Try B&B Electronics
I have there Vlinx ESP901, it is a ethernet to RS232/422/485 serial port converter.
Works Great it gives you a virtual serial port right off your network.
 
Why Can't Our Equipment Have Ethernet?  
by N0XMZ on August 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have often wondered why modern rigs are lacking USB or ethernet connections.

I think this comment sums it up:

"Our equipment shouldn't have Ethernet because it is not amateur radio. All tubes, all the time."

A big percentage of hams still stuck in the 1930's seems to be keeping us from advancing the radio art. Not surprising since most hams are 50+.

Advancements are indeed being made (often with ridicule) but we're no longer on the cutting edge of technology because too many hams are too wrapped up in the PAST (i.e. "tradition"). I have tons of respect for the history or radio and electronics. But you don't see the computer geeks fretting over the demise of floppy hard drives and DOS.
 
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