Why? Here? Now?
This web page is something that I've hoped to find. My absolutely favorite reading in all of Amateur Radio was the late and very lamented Packet Radio Magazine, and Bdale Garbee's Bits In The Basement column in TAPR's Packet Status Register Newsletter. PSR lives on, very ably edited by Stan Horzepa WA1LOU, a prolific author on many Packet Radio topics. But, there's a serious dearth of "Advanced" Digital Amateur Radio writing, especially on the web, probably because much of the advancement in Amateur Packet Radio predates the web, and a lot of knowlege didn't get ported to the web. So... at some point... one is faced with "If it's to be, it's up to ME!"
"Advanced" First... a bit about what I mean about "Advanced" Digital Amateur Radio. I find it easiest to explain with a comparison. Connecting to a Packet Bulletin Board System (PBBS) via a Simplex or Digipeater Link @ 1200 baud doesn't meet my (admittedly subjective) definition of "Advanced". Connecting to a UNIX/Linux system using TCP/IP via a full duplex bit regenerative repeater at 9600 baud or faster is "Advanced", in my opinion. Or, a more personal explanation is that the "Advanced" activities are sufficiently interesting and non-mundane that they continue to stimulate my personal interest in Amateur Radio.
Not So Advanced... That said... (warning - severe contradiction ahead...) I believe (it's been amply demonstrated to me) that there is tremendous value in "non-Advanced" or "trailing edge" Digital Amateur Radio systems - good old, boring, 1200 baud AFSK AX.25 connectivity beats no digital connectivity at all. Similarly, PBBS' have their use in the right situations (and general purpose message exchange isn't one of those right situations. Digipeaters have their place too; they're wonderfully simple, easy to construct and maintain, and if built and used with full understanding of their (numerous) limitations, they're a real boon to communications. So... despite the "Advanced" in the title (I had to call it something techy), expect to see coverage of plain old "boring" 1200 baud, AX.25, PBBS', Net/ROM (and its derivatives), digipeaters, etc.
Relevence of Amateur Radio What's "wrong" with Amateur Radio these days, in a nutshell, is that it's largely perceived as being irrelevant in this century. We have cell phones and Nextel, the Internet, and easy person-to-person International communications. At best, many (most?) Amateur Radio activities are, at best, trailing edge, if even relevant. At worst, many of Amateur Radio's activities are seen as irrelevant in this century. For the purposes of this introduction, I'll refrain from offering any examples, but "relevency" is a theme we'll touch upon regularly.
News and Reference The "news" portion will be this weblog. I think that weblogs are the most amazing and important tools we ordinary people have for conveying information to each other. This is especially important in Amateur Radio where so much information is "institutional knowledge" and we simply do not have a good channel for documenting the "Advanced" aspects of Digital Amateur Radio. When there is enough knowledge amassed here, perhaps a book is in order.
The "reference" portion will be a "static" web page (non-news, primarily reference information) that may well be a Wiki; easily editable from a web browser, like this weblog.
Truth be told... there's far more going on in Advanced Digital Amateur Radio than most people realize; amazing software developments, interesting new hardware, and so much progress it's amazing at times. Possibly I see more of it because of what I do for a living (edit a newsletter on Broadband Wireless Internet Access). There's just very few places where we can read about... well... Advanced Digital Amateur Radio.
Administriva Ads - expect to see Google AdSense ads. I hope that Google's spiders will correctly parse that the primary content of this weblog is Amateur Radio and serve up ads relevant to same. But if not... oh well. Eventually we may feature "direct" advertising.
A content note: Although I'm a board member of TAPR, this weblog is entirely my own content and perspective. Believe me... it does not represent the opinions of TAPR.
That said, please write and let me know what you think - for Amateur Radio communications, my callsign at tapr_org will get a message to me.