A Discord for Young Hams

A friend in /r/amateurradio posted a discord inviting young hams in New York Long Island. A few commenters (including myself) asked why not all young hams? So here you go!

https://discord.gg/dBBvubh

Credit to /u/NewHamWhoDis KD2OAH

What is Discord?

Discord is a free voice and text chatting app well suited for gamers. Anyone can set up any server and have your squad voice chatting within minutes. Before, TeamSpeak and Mumble (and Ventrilo….and more) were the standard, but required paying for servers or setting up your own. Discord takes the work out of that.

It’s also become hugely popular with the rest of the internet – YouTube channels, subreddits, and many special interest groups (like ham radio) have started using it as a replacement to IRC and VoIP chat programs which are hard to use for both the users, moderators, and admins, and lack adequate mobile device support.

Rant on Chat Apps

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what chat program to use. Slack, Facebook Messenger, IRC, Skype, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord, Zello, Slack…the list is ever growing, but currently here’s my favorites (because this is a blog after all!)

For groups of collegiate and like-aged (20-somethings) friends casually chatting: GroupMe

  Check out the Collegiate Amateur radio Initative GroupMe here!

For one-to-one chatting: Facebook Messenger, SMS, iMessage.

For IRC-like text and voice chatting about a certain topic: Discord

For linux help or nostalgia: IRC

Although there are a lot of very helpful and active communities on IRC, it’s mobile app support is awful since a cloud instance has to be always-on to receive messages when your device isn’t connected, then to push them to your phone when it’s back on, which costs more money than what’s worth to the casual, intermittent user…i.e. me.

For Working on a Project with a remote team: Slack

Mattermost is a good up-and-coming Open Source alternative to Slack.

For all things international: Whatsapp for 1-1 chats, Telegram for groups

YOTA uses Telegram for mass-group texting. I think they’re up to 500 members now.

For pretending your phone is a walkie talkie for a minute than forgetting about it: Zello

For video chatting: Skype.

I pretty much always organize skype chats via Facebook Messenger. Kinda funny.

For video chatting with cool features and/or using a browser only: Google Hangouts

For everything else: Ham radio. Lol.

$2 Million prize for an Off-The-Grid Disaster Recovery Network: Is Ham Radio Gonna Play?

From https://wirelesschallenge.mozilla.org/:

How can we leverage wireless technology to keep people connected to each other and to vital information sources in the aftermath of a disaster where Internet access is unavailable or compromised?

The Off-the-Grid Internet Challenge seeks solutions that can provide connectivity in one of the most challenging situations: the immediate aftermath of a major disaster. When disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes strike, communications networks are often among the first pieces of critical infrastructure to overload or fail, leaving individuals disconnected from one another and from essential services and communications. With a total of $1M in prize money, the Off-the-Grid Internet Challenge seeks solutions that help individuals wirelessly access each other and information services like maps and messaging following a disaster.

WAKE UP HAM RADIO!
THIS IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE!

Now that you’re sick and tired of ham radio after spending all night on a radio during last weekend’s Field Day, here’s another thing to keep you up at night.

It’s not very often that the people of the internet make a direct call to the nature of our hobby to do something novel to promote and advance how we communicate in disasters.

3 days ago, I found this in /r/darknetplan, a subreddit made for planners and developers of the decentralized internet of the future, where internet is shared through individual nodes (mesh net) and centralized services (like Gmail, or Facebook) became decentralized, where data is stored and shared via peer-to-peer connections rather than through a serverfarm.

It was then sent out via the APRS-SIG email list. This is when I realized ham radio has a pretty significant advantage: we’re already there.

http://www.aredn.org/

Well, that was easy. We’ll take our $2 million now. 🙂

Just kidding; it’s not that easy. Applications are open for the $2 Million WINS Challenges until October, 15 2017. Even though AREDN seemingly has this in the bag, it’s up to you to actually bring it to light.

If there’s no amateur radio presence in this challenge, I think I’m going to quit the hobby. For real. I would do it, but I have a day job and a wedding to plan. Don’t kill the messenger!

With that said, while this competition is proceeding, I strongly suggest (or hope) the media barons of amateur radio (ARRL, AR Newsline, podcast media, etc) to talk about, support, sponsor, if not join forces with Mozilla and their WINS challenge. ARRL is in a very prime spot to get some facetime with one of the next generations of hams – those developing decentralized, off-grid wired and wireless networks.

Also, hi again; it’s been a while. I moved apartments, traveled a bit, and had a lot of ham radio downtime. I’m back though. I’ll probably start back up with the Phasing Line Podcast, if Marty still remembers who I am 😛

From K5ACL’s Blog: Slack Messenger for Radio Clubs

Slack! An excellent way for your Ham Radio Club to keep in touch!

K5ACL has a fantastic idea. Use Slack Messenger for your radio club’s business outside of meetings and nets.

I think a lot of amateur radio conservative types might not gel with the idea of using online chat for ham radio stuff (why not use a radio?!?) but it is the 21st century, and basically everyone has a smartphone on them always – not a radio.

Slack has been a super efficient way to chat and message surrounding a topic, and it can be a very effective and immediate way to get work done.

And it’s free.

Also shoutout to K5ACL’s Blog – really well written and informative stuff there. Follow his blog at https://k5acl.net/

edit: not everyone has a smartphone, but basically everyone does, and if not a phone, a computer will work too.