Since before the days of the commercial internet, amateur radio operators have had their own Class A block of IPv4 addresses. Net 44 or AMPRNet is a non-routeable amateur radio experimentation network and access is only available to licensed radio amateurs around the world.
While hams have been experimenting with Net 44 since the early days of packet radio, interconnecting RF and wired networks via AX.25, I’m a relative newcomer. A couple members of the 020 Team are up and running on the AMPRNet and looking at potential use cases.
My driving use case is the to get around the limitation of one ircddbgateway behind a single network address translation (NAT). This limitation prevented me from running an ircddbgateway to service my Pi-Star hotspots and to use Icom Terminal Mode on my IC-9700 at the same time. What is the limitation? UDP port 40000, used by the ircddb protocol, must be forwarded to the destination system. As the Highlander said, “There can be only one.”
By establishing a Net 44 subnet behind my firewall and assigning a Net 44 address to the Icom, I get around the single IP NAT limitation. There’s a bit more to this, but a Net 44 gateway can be run on a spare Raspberry Pi or your internet gateway router (or any Linux based host). This article is not, however, meant to be an implementation guide but more of a starting point for thought.
It is also an announcement that XLX020 is now available on the AMPRNet for use by those with Icom Terminal Mode radios. Our gateway address on the AMPRNet is 188.8.131.52 and you can connect to any module using a To Call of /XLX020m (replace m with your module of choice). If you’re on Net 44, feel free to connect.
If you’ve been thinking about something useful to do with your amateur radio POCSAG pager, think situational awareness. This has been a strange year not only for dealing with an extreme virus but with extreme weather.
You can subscribe your ham pager to rubric 1081 to receive county specfic weather alers in almost real time. I currently provide feeds to DAPNET for 38 US counties. If your county is not on the list, it can be added upon request.
You can find out more about this service and DAPNET via the DAPNET Wiki.
If you don’t already have a DAPNET paging transmitter in your area you can use your Pi-Star MMDVM-based hotspot. The capability is built-in. If you need a compatible amateur radio pager, they can be found on eBay.
If one were to take the story at face value, over the new year holiday, the Board of Directors of AllStarLink sabotaged their own network by instituting a new server infrastructure to replace one that had existed for some time.
According to a statement issued today by Stacy (KG7QIN), “The groundwork was laid for what was to become PTTLink on 29 December 2020 after the unannounced and uncoordinated actions taken by the AllStarLink Board of Directors. At approximately 5:00 pm Pacific (0100 UTC, 30 December), the admin committee became aware of multiple catastrophic system outages. Attempts to login to systems to remediate were presented with new IP addresses and messages that the host keys were unknown. Further investigation revealed that the DNS zone record was updated at the registrar for allstarlink.org moving it from the long time home of caustic-sea.allstarlink.org to Cloudflare. In addition, an investigation into the IP addresses being presented revealed that they belonged to Google. (For more information on the AllStarLink admin committee visit: https://wiki.allstarlink.org/wiki/Admin_Committee). Since the admin team was not previously granted access to the DNS control panel, it was unknown at this time if this was the board, or a bad actor.”
The histrionics have been going on back and forth on the app_rpt mailing list for a few days, but this much is clear. There are now two app_rpt based networks to choose from, AllStarLink and PTTLink.
Who is right, who is wrong? From my read, the Board of Directors wanted to regain control over what they viewed as their network. Seems reasonable. From my read, they also acted in typical corporate fashion to quash any kind of dissent over their actions. In other words, not so reasonable.
But what do I know? Just like the Brandmeister vs. TGIF wars that have since calmed down, here’s hoping that these two networks will one day smoke the peace pipe, learn to get along, and interconnect. In the meantime, you can following the bouncing ball as each side lobs it at the other.
Thanks to Kenny (K2ZZ) for adding TG31340 to his Hoboken (448.275 CC3) and Elizabeth (449.925 CC3) repeaters. This definitely fills in some holes in our mobile coverage for the DMR ops. You’ll find us on Timeslot 2.
From my home location in Aberdeen (Northern Monmouth County), I have HT coverage from indoors on the 2nd floor. So give it a try and be sure to send your thanks to K2ZZ if you run into him on the air. This is a nice addition to our network capabilities.
In an effort to prevent hijacking of DMR IDs by unauthorized users, the USA Brandmeister team is rolling out Hotspot Security as a requirement. This will begin on November 30, 2020…but don’t wait. It will take a few minutes of reading and effort on your part to get it setup, but the entire DMR community benefits by restricting the network to authorized users only.
Hotspot Security establishes as password that all of your hotspots will use to logon to the Brandmeister DMR Master Server. This is different from the password that you use to logon to Brandmeister Self Care.
They’ve put together an excellent explanation of how to setup this up on the OpenSpot, Pi-Star and BlueDV platforms.
Some AllStarLink sysops have expressed the desire to build an AllStarLink system on a modern Debian operating system. I took the time to document a working build process for the 020 Digital Multiprotocol Network and then Scott <KB2EAR> volunteered to create a shell script to automate the process. We are happy to share our work with the amateur radio community.
Please note that this process currently works only on the x86 architecture. It fails on a Raspberry Pi OS Buster system.
Hopefully this effort will fulfill a need for others in the AllStarLink community.
A comprehensive introduction to DMR is available to hams at no cost, thanks to the efforts of John Burningham <W2XAB>. His “Amateur Radio Guide to Digital Mobile Radio” won the 2016 Technical Achievement Award at Dayton Hamvention and the second edition was published in 2019. Even if you think you know how DMR works, this guide is full of useful information.
If your view of DMR is limited to the perspective of Pi-Star and Brandmeister or TGIF, this free book tells the rest of the story in its 27 pages. It is an easy read and will enhance your DMR knowledge.
I recently spoke with a fellow who was trying to use his hotspot on a frequency around 438 MHz. He wasn’t having much luck and with good reason. The MMDVM firmware blocks usage on all frequencies between 435 and 438 MHz. The block was implemented because 435-438 MHz is a suband used by the amateur satellite service and some amateurs noticed an increase of terrestrial interference with satellite communications.
Another ham that I spoke to is using a hotspot frequency that is also the input of several coordinated repeaters in my area. This is also not a good idea as it can also create interference, especially when operating a hotspot while mobile.
Here is my list of recommended simplex hotspot frequencies that is not likely to cause interference to other operators, repeaters, or satellites:
Most hams seem to set the admit criteria on their radios to Always for use with simplex hotspots. I strongly recommend that you use Channel Free instead to reduce the possibility of doubling.