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Old 10-04-2019, 09:06   #61
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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The section pertaining to weather is not talking about broadcasting, but retransmitting. If you can't 'download' or listen to it from a transmitting station, what is the point?

Where does it say amateur radio should not be used when there is a reasonable alternative? By that logic, amateurs should pick up the phone instead of the radio.
See prohibited transmissions described in paragraph 97.113 sub paragraph 5.

“(5) Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services.”

Weather gribs via radio are readily available to licensed HF ship stations and, as you point out, by other radio means.

Yes, amateurs should pick up the phone for regular communications. The FCC allows chit-chat under the concept that this helps to keep the operators proficient and their equipment in good working order. In the “old days”, before cell phones were ubiquitous, mobiles hitting repeaters was permitted for coordinating activities with your ham licensed family members because no other alternative then existed. That usage persists but really isn’t compatible with the letter of the law nowadays.

These are the arguments being made by the commenters in favor of the NPRM. That just because something is free does not make it compliant with the part 97 rules. Amateur radio is not to be used solely to avoid the cost of a mobile phone.

As I have said there are valid points on both sides of the debate. My opinion has moved to neutral since I can see both points of view. But if hams want this NPRM defeated they need to stick to making arguments that comport with part 97. While nothing has been said to me specifically, I feel confident the FCC is not interested in expanding the mandate of amateur radio. They do not want it to become the 11 meter band of the 1970’s. And they definitely have a lawful interest in being able to decipher any and all messages.

The argument that some station operators keep the messages in a database isn’t enough in my view but maybe the FCC will agree. I doubt it though. And do you really want a government rule that mandates keeping a database with recordings of any and all messages via amateur radio? I doubt it.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:07   #62
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

This is an interesting topic, and beyond the scope of the OP. Section 97.113 sub 5:

(5)*Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services.

Under this definition, many, if not all of the various daily nets are prohibited traffic. I listen to the same land based guys each morning picking the same frequency at the same time and having a discussion about all kinds of topics beyond ham radio. In today's communication world, a video conference call of up to 50 individuals is possible, for free. So under this rule, these nets should be shut down. However, these guys are using their radios and are proficient. So, are they therefore compliant because they are maintaining proficiency? I use Winlink a few times a month to get weather. Is that regular communications, or am I maintaining proficiency?
We
As to the idea of the government mandating encrypted communications be decoded and stored, unencrypted for a period of time is fine with me. It's happening already, on a voluntary basis. Further, I agree with the idea that amateur communication be open, and compliant with Part 97.

No simple answers, but a useful discussion. I want to see Ham radio be relevant in a world where there are so many alternate methods of communications. The steady decline of cruisers using ham radio is clear. HAM radio is hard compared to satellite. Most new cruisers I meet look at the cost and complexity of SSB/HAM and reject it immediately for satellite. Perhaps it is inevitable. But look at what happened when the Morse Code requirement was removed, HAM licenses surged. Digital modes are important and can do things voice cannot. Let us figure a way to remain compliant and move forward.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:26   #63
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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No simple answers, but a useful discussion. I want to see Ham radio be relevant in a world where there are so many alternate methods of communications. The steady decline of cruisers using ham radio is clear. HAM radio is hard compared to satellite. Most new cruisers I meet look at the cost and complexity of SSB/HAM and reject it immediately for satellite. Perhaps it is inevitable. But look at what happened when the Morse Code requirement was removed, HAM licenses surged. Digital modes are important and can do things voice cannot. Let us figure a way to remain compliant and move forward.

It seems that you're still asking for ham radio to not be ham radio... Clearly, mariners want a dependable long-distance link for regular communications use, including privacy. This of course then allows all manner of value-added services that companies can charge for - enhanced privacy, secure ship to phone, enhanced data services like weather and routing, vessel tracking, custom stock tickers.... All great things.... just not what the ham radio bands were intended for.


So again, it seems to me like the solution isn't to shoe-horn proprietary data compression/encryption into the ham bands, but to request a new band allocation (if the current marine SSB isn't sufficient). A new dedicated band would lead to mass production of suitable receivers and systems, less onerous licence requirements (eg similar to marine VHF) and restrictions, the support of value-added services if the market wants them. There would likely be greater uptake of a long-distance system that wasn't as hard or expensive as a ham rig to set up and use.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:47   #64
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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I have come to the view that getting GRIB files using HAM radio isn’t really kosher. That’s not what HAM radio is for IMO.
Your position on this seems bizarre to me. Do you remember the days of the phone patch? The determination that it's ok to order a pizza over ham radio (but not to sell a pizza)? Amateur contests where the only exchange is merely the callsigns and "59" signal report? There are so many types of ham activity -- many of them pretty frivolous. How can you say it's wrong to get GRIBs over the air? How is this materially different?

And the premise for the proposed rulemaking seems deeply confused and inaccurate. So much so that I suspect the confusion is deliberate, and there are ulterior motives for it.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:48   #65
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

I'm confused. If Winlink is OK for land based Hams, why can't ship based Hams use Winlink. Cruisers who use Winlink use the same digital modes as land based. Or is the argument that Winlink should not exist on the Ham bands?
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:55   #66
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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Your position on this seems bizarre to me. Do you remember the days of the phone patch? The determination that it's ok to order a pizza over ham radio (but not to sell a pizza)? Amateur contests where the only exchange is merely the callsigns and "59" signal report? There are so many types of ham activity -- many of them pretty frivolous. How can you say it's wrong to get GRIBs over the air? How is this materially different?



And the premise for the proposed rulemaking seems deeply confused and inaccurate. So much so that I suspect the confusion is deliberate, and there are ulterior motives for it.

Getting gribs over the air is not wrong. There is another non-amateur licensed service that allows getting grib files over hf radio. So why not use that? Only answer I can come up with is it isn’t “free”. And someone else lamented the lesser amount of shore stations maintained by SailMail. But maybe there would be more SM stations if hams weren’t using the free competitor.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:56   #67
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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So again, it seems to me like the solution isn't to shoe-horn proprietary data compression/encryption into the ham bands
So is your issue solely with PACTOR? Say PACTOR was open-source, or we shifted over to the existing open-source options such as WINMOR or the newer modes, or JS8 (my new favorite for extremely low-bandwidth communications, but definitely not usable for GRIBs.) Would the current usage then be OK?

Because if we strictly follow the not to be used for "Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services", then most of the time we should be using cellphones / internet / satellite / Sailmail on the marine bands.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:05   #68
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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I'm confused. If Winlink is OK for land based Hams, why can't ship based Hams use Winlink. Cruisers who use Winlink use the same digital modes as land based. Or is the argument that Winlink should not exist on the Ham bands?

The NPRM is saying that if hams use a digital RTTY technology the FCC and the general public must have free access to the source code to demodulate the signal so they can read the text messages. The FCC is not proposing to outlaw Winlink or any other digital system. If Winlink were to go away it would be a decision taken by Winlink people not the FCC.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:06   #69
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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Getting gribs over the air is not wrong. There is another non-amateur licensed service that allows getting grib files over hf radio. So why not use that? Only answer I can come up with is it isn’t “free”. And someone else lamented the lesser amount of shore stations maintained by SailMail. But maybe there would be more SM stations if hams weren’t using the free competitor.
For what it's worth, when I get GRIBs over the air, it's usually using my Sailmail account. I occasionally use Winlink (PACTOR, or occasionally WINMOR), just to make sure I haven't lost the recipe, but I've found Sailmail to be much more reliable. And I usually use Iridium email, but do use SSB/Ham from time to time.

However, I don't think there's anything wrong with exclusively using ham radio for GRIBs, email, or any other type of legal communications. Perhaps I would choose to use Winlink for my GRIBs because I want to help expand the modes and methods and infrastructure of the ham radio network. That's one way to help build a resilient and open worldwide communications system.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:28   #70
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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The NPRM is saying that if hams use a digital RTTY technology the FCC and the general public must have free access to the source code to demodulate the signal so they can read the text messages. The FCC is not proposing to outlaw Winlink or any other digital system. If Winlink were to go away it would be a decision taken by Winlink people not the FCC.
And that is where I disagree with the NPRM. If the goal is to be able to read and demodulate text messages, there are many other ways than making source available. With Winlink, storing the demodulate messages allows them to be read. Alternately, a reader only software, made available free by the creator, would also work. Further, having source code does not necessary mean you can decode a message. Additional work would be needed by someone to figure out how to decode a message. Who will do this? Will they do it correctly? So, having source code doesn't mean you decode a message. Anyone with software background knows this.

On the other hand, if you want to get the fruits of someone else's work, requiring source disclosure under the pretense of being able to read messages is a great way to do it.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:30   #71
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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I'm confused. If Winlink is OK for land based Hams, why can't ship based Hams use Winlink. Cruisers who use Winlink use the same digital modes as land based. Or is the argument that Winlink should not exist on the Ham bands?

It is nothing to do with land or ship based. This is a cruising forum focused on open water cruising.

The FCC just wants the on-air transmissions of hams to be readable by anyone. That is already a requirement of the part 97 rules. The NPRM is simply specifying that the software necessary to decode a digital message be open source and that will satisfy the existing rule. That’s a lot less draconian than it could be.

If some private company does not wish to permit their transmission signal to be decoded with open source software that is up to them.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:48   #72
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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Getting gribs over the air is not wrong. There is another non-amateur licensed service that allows getting grib files over hf radio. So why not use that? Only answer I can come up with is it isn’t “free”. And someone else lamented the lesser amount of shore stations maintained by SailMail. But maybe there would be more SM stations if hams weren’t using the free competitor.
So, why not other use other non-amateur licensed services? Simple, I want to use Ham. I like using Ham. Land based amateurs have lots of different communications options. Why do they use Ham? Because they want to. Getting weather information is clearly spelled out in the rules as allowable. If guys can hold morning nets everyday, same time, same frequency under the guise of proficiency, I can get a weather update a few times a month under the same rules.
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:23   #73
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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So, why not other use other non-amateur licensed services? Simple, I want to use Ham.
I understand your desire. However, just doing whatever we want is inconsistent with self-policing.
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Old 10-04-2019, 13:00   #74
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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I understand your desire. However, just doing whatever we want is inconsistent with self-policing.
But doing what we want as long as it is legal is entirely consistent.

When ham radio began, we didn't have the internet, or satellite comms, or cellphones. Should the legality all the previously-acceptable ham activities be reconsidered in the light of newer available technology? This seems to be what you are suggesting.

I think that when we cut through all the obfuscaction, the critical question is if PACTOR a legal mode for ham radio. The protocol for early versions has been published and is available, but I don't think that the latest versions are freely available.

It is certainly possible to monitor PACTOR by purchasing a modem, and so the government isn't exactly stopped from monitoring this mode. Neither is anybody else who is willing to spend some money. Should it truly be a requirement that the protocol be public? And even if it's public, it might be complicated enough to prevent most amateurs from implementing a decoder -- must a decoder be freely available, too? How easy do we have to make it for some random ham to monitor?

As for using WINMOR or JS8 or other open-source protocols for getting weather and other communications over the ham bands, I can't believe that there is a problem with the current activities. And I hope that future modes will be legal, even if the "decoder ring" isn't pre-built for free download. As long as the coding / protocol are freely available that should be good enough.
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Old 10-04-2019, 13:03   #75
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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I understand your desire. However, just doing whatever we want is inconsistent with self-policing.
I use Ham within the rules, which is completely consistent with self policing. I am hardly doing 'whatever I want'. I am not following your rules. Fortunately, it is Part 97 that matters.
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