Open Source Ham – Is that like free range chicken?

If you have not stopped by the #linuxjournal IRC channel yet, I would encourage you to do so. You never know who you will meet or what sort of new ideas will germinate.

For example: the other day, while having !coffee and a danish, I was chatting with our fearless Editor-in-Geek, Carlie, and she was commenting that someone had left the radio on. No, not that radio, the Amateur Radio. This got my attention as I was not aware Carlie had her ticket (she does not - I am working on her - browbeating is the term my XYL uses, but I digress). As many of you know, I too am an Amateur Radio operator - a ham. [I should note that personally, I don't like the does not mean anything, but it is what most folks know us as so...]. And we started chatting.

The history of Open Source software, especially Linux and Amateur Radio, is well integrated. There are as many hackers in the Amateur Radio hobby as there are in Open Source. In fact you could call Amateur Radio the original Open Source project. A number of modern developments in Information Technology, from the radio (d'uh) to the network card can trace their way back to some home brew radio operators working in their basement. The Linux kernel has long supported the AX.25 protocol (a bastard version of X.25 used in early packet transfers via radio) and several popular programs have Open Source analogs. One of the most recent developments in Amateur Radio, the D-Star digital protocol, is a fully Open Source project and is the first in recent memory where a corporation has developed a radio system utilizing the Open Source model.

As Carlie and I were talking, we wondered if there were enough interest in the communities for articles in the Linux Journal about the projects being done in Amateur Radio. Now before you get all spun up, we are not talking about killing off the Paranoid Penguin or converting the wine cellar into a ham shack, but as Dave Phillips has tapped the world of Linux and musicians and music engineers with the occasional article, we think there is interest in the readership for the occasional Amateur article.

Now is your chance. What sort of cool project are you using in your ham shack? Based on an email I sent to the ARRL PIO reflector, there are a lot of projects out there that we could highlight, everything from making it easier for Section Managers to update their web sites to unique ways to inject messages to the radio network via web interfaces to simple radio control software and logging software.

So are you an Open Source Ham? Because, When all else fails…


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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speaking of IRC...

mtk's picture

you pointed people at #linuxjournal but isn't there also a linux-specific amateur radio room? /mark

Amateur Radio

W4BSD's picture

I got my Tech ticket in the spring and just passed General this weekend. I would LOVE to see a ham/linux article!! Bring it on!! I second the Packet radio idea!


A friend who lives on Marthas

Hannah's picture

is All A Capella, on WERS/88.9 in Boston. Listen here. Or on the Public Radio Tuner. Or on WERS own iPhone app. Or iTunes (its in the list called Public). They just started tweeting too: @allacappella889. The performances are just freaking astonishing. Youd think they were playing instruments. And harmonies tight enough to make

sweet would love a linux ham article

loren's picture

I have been using linux since debian first started and a ham since I was 12

I have been melding the two passions for several years giving talks and how to's

would love to see something on LJ and perhaps contribute myself if you feel I am worth contributing to

73's from VO1 land
Loren VO1PWF

How about some How to's?

cymerej's picture

I'm a long time Linux junkie that just got my Technician Class License 6 months ago. I'd love some articles that could help me get started with a fun project. Here are some suggestions of articles I would certainly appreciate:
-Packet radio, data transmission, and networking over the amateur airwaves
-Automatic Packet Reporting System
-Setting up a Linux based IRLP node

Linux and Amateur Radio

n6rob's picture

Thanks for raising the point of Amateur Radio (I too resist the Ham-thing but have learned to accept it). I would enjoy articles in this field very much. I use Linux in the ham shack and I have had my problems that I could use help with (like serial ports in WINE... ugh!). I have also had many successes. There are also many good blogs and podcasts out there on this topic. The recent article about FPGAs and learning to develop on them was very interesting to me. While such products exist for radio applications (USRP, QSR1, etc.), I would really like to have the skills necessary to design and build my own. Of course there is HPSDR and a couple of development sites related to this effort, much/most of it is open source. In summary, there are many things to cover in this topic that might interest amateur radio operators and others as well.

Linux ham

KB0TIJ's picture

Give us more. I think a great many hams would be interested in good articles.

Linux HAM Programs

Mike K4HN's picture

I'd love to see this. I am using GNOME Predict, which is a HAM satellite tracking program. I am sure there are tons of other HAM programs I'd be interested in.

Ham it up

Metalx1000's picture

I have not done any ham radio stuff myself, but I know a few people who are involved. It is something I am very interested in and I hope you do start touching on the subject in the Linux Jounral.

Amateur Radio in the Linux Journal

Jeff - KA1DBE's picture

I think this would be a great idea. QST has had some articles in the past but they only skim the surface. I maintain a 100% linux hamshack and would welcome an in depth occasional article. Thanks for a great magazine!