Where are the Ham Radio Hackers?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
On the Ten-Tec Omni VII Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ten-Tec-Omni-VII/), one ham wrote:
"If I was 17 years-old I would be hacking I-phones and other items like George Hotz, the 17 year-old from New Jersey who was able to unlock the Apple I-phone so that it could be used on other cell service networks.
"When I was his age, I was hacking dial telephones. Then one day the phone company showed up at my house. My parents were not impressed with my technical abilities.
"This morning there is a story that George has just hacked the 'un-hackable' Sony 3 Play Station. He says the hack was 95% software and 5% hardware.
"A quick check of the modifications site run by that guy over in Denmark, shows that there are NO MODS for the O7... interesting. I just wonder how many strange and wonderful things can be done with those 36 buttons/switches on the front panel. Can the O7 be made even better?"
In my reply, I asked, "Why stop at pressing some buttons on the front panel? Why doesn't someone really hack the Omni VII and develop a completely new software package for it?" Rigs like the Omni VII and the Elecraft K3 would seem to be perfect candidates for this kind of hacking.
Sure, there is an order of magnitude difference between a $300 iPod and a $3,000 radio, but we're big boys, aren't we? Besides, aside from overdriving the finals, what real damage can you do to the radio? It seems to me that even if you manage to screw up the software in the rig, you can get back to square one by simply re-loading the manufacturer's software.
Ham radio operators have a long history of modifying their radios. Page through any stack of QSTs or CQ Magazines from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and you'll find many articles describing modifications to the popular radios of the day. About the only thing hams do to their rigs today is to clip a diode to allow it to operate out-of-band.
What does it say about the technical capabilities of today's hams that we haven't yet done with our gear what some 17-year-old kid has done with the iPhone and the PlayStation? Why don't we have any third-party software for Omni VII or the K3? I think if a manufacturer actually encouraged third-party software development, they'd quickly gain a following and make their brand even stronger, don't you?
Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, blogs about ham radio at www.kb6nu.com, teaches the infamous One-Day Tech Class, and operates a lot of 40m CW. E-mail him your comments and questions at email@example.com.
IARU Region 2 Requests Frequencies Be Kept Clear
fter Massive Earthquake Strikes Haiti
Please read this entire message in its entirety. There may be occasion when Hams in the Caribbean need assistance with traffic. 73 AE5FE
SB SPCL @ ARL $ARLX002 ARLX002 IARU Region 2 Requests Frequencies Be Kept Clear After Massive Earthquake Strikes Haiti
ZCZC AX02 QST de W1AW Special Bulletin 2 ARLX002 From ARRL Headquarters Newington CT January 13, 2010
To all radio amateurs
On Tuesday, January 12 at 4:53 PM Haiti time (2153 UTC), a magnitude
7.0 earthquake hit 10 miles (15 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince, the island nation's capital. Communications in and out of Haiti have been disrupted. No word has been received as of yet from any of Haitian Amateur Radio operators. The ARRL encourages US amateurs to be aware of the emergency operations on the following frequencies:
7.045 and 3.720 MHz (IARU Region 2 nets), 14.265, 7.265 and 3.977 MHz (SATERN nets), and 14.300 MHz (Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net). The International Radio Emergency Support Coalition
(IRESC) is also active on EchoLink node 278173.
IARU Region 2 Area C Emergency Coordinator, Arnie Coro, CO2KK, is coordinating a multi-national response by hams. There are organized nets on 7.045 and 3.720 MHz; amateurs are asked to monitor the frequencies, but to also keep them clear of non-essential traffic. Amateur Radio operators should also be aware that emergency traffic pertaining to the Haitian earthquake is expected on the SATERN frequencies of 14.265 MHz, 7.265 MHz and 3977 MHz, according to SATERN's leader, Major Pat McPherson. The Salvation Army is accepting health and welfare traffic requests on its Web site.
"As late as 9:45 PM local time (0245 UTC), we have not been able to contact any amateur or emergency services stations in Haiti," Coro said in an e-mail. "Amateurs from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela are monitoring the 40 meter band frequency. We are still keeping watch on 7.045 MHz, hoping that someone in Haiti may have access to a transceiver and at least a car battery to run it," but so far. no HH stations have checked in.
Tuesday's quake was felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and in Eastern Cuba, but no major damage was reported in either place.
The January 13 edition of The Daily DX reported that the Rev John Henault, HH6JH, made contact late Wednesday morning with the Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net (IATN) on 14.300 MHz; this is the IARU Global Center of Activity frequency for emergency communications. He said that he was safe, but had no power and no phone service. He was operating on battery power and hoping to get a generator running later in the day. The edition also noted that Pierre Petry, HH2/HB9AMO -- who was in Cap Haitien (about 140 km north of Port-au-Prince) is "okay"; Petry is in Haiti working for the United Nations World Food Program. Later today, he will be traveling to the capital.
The UN's 9000 peacekeepers in Haiti -- many of whom are from Brazil
-- were distracted from aid efforts by their own tragedy: Many spent the night hunting for survivors in the ruins of their headquarters. "It would appear that everyone who was in the building, including my friend Hedi Annabi, the United Nations' Secretary General's special envoy, and everyone with him and around him, are dead," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday, speaking on French radio. UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy would not confirm that Annabi was dead, but said he was among more than 100 people missing in the rubble of its headquarters. He said only about 10 people had been pulled out, many of them badly injured. Fewer than five bodies had been pulled from the rubble, he said.
The United Nations said the capital's main airport was "fully operational" and that relief flights would begin on Wednesday, January 13.
The situation in Haiti is still chaotic. More information will be posted as soon as possible. Information is being validated and shared between many amateur groups and news sources as it unfolds. NNNN /EX