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.

The Revenge of Radio: Why Radio Still Matters

When throwing trash away one week, I noticed a cast-away turntable and stereo in the trash room, heaped atop broken office chairs, unwanted furniture, and someone’s torn bathroom door. I had an innate urge to make this trash my treasure, with zero consideration of whether or not it’s broken, or if it was accidentally thrown away (lol) or for the very fact that I own zero vinyl records. Why the heck would I need a turntable?!

Why did I take this?

So it’s been sitting on that table for about 2 months now, and I haven’t done a thing with it. Until today, when I took a photo of it.

I wouldn’t have taken this photo and written this blog post if it wasn’t for listening to the Art of Manliness podcast titled “#289: The Revenge of Analog.” It was an interview with David Sax, author of the book The Revenge of Analog.

David writes about how people in the age where it’s weird if you don’t own a smartphone, really fast data and wifi is cheap and available, and everyone thinks that books, writing notes, listening to music on physical media, and face-to-face contact will disappear.

It hasn’t. In fact vinyl records is becoming a billion dollar industry. Moleskine and Field Notes notebooks and fountain pen companies are realizing a huge boom after the idea of bullet journaling took off. People scoff at hipsters writing on typewriters, but actually it’s really catching on. Everyone’s scratching their heads, wondering why Surface tablets, kindles, Spotify, Evernote and Siri hasn’t completely taken over the archaic, menial tasks of writing, reading, and listening to music.

It’s actually surprising why they haven’t – the digital life is complicated. To take a note with Microsoft Onenote, you have to

  1. Have Onenote installed (that takes money)
  2. Open Onenote
  3. Learn how OneNote saves notes, where they’re stored, what tabs and pages are, where the drawing tools are….etc
  4. Take a note.

To take a note on paper, you have to…

  1. Get paper
  2. Get pen
  3. Write note

It’s simpler. Plus, writing improves your memory retention on whatever you write about. With books and music it’s a little different though. Media could not be easier to consume nowadays. Ask Alexa to play Come on Eileen, and she will. Read any book on your screen, anywhere. No fumbling with a CD and it skipping, no scratching of records, and most of all, no junk cluttering every bit of your living space.

Actually those inconveniences and annoyances are making a comeback. People naturally steer towards real books, records, and notes – they’re a real object. You can give a book to someone as a gift, and that reminds the giftee about the gifter…an Amazon giftcard doesn’t have the same affect. It’s also a physical “billboard” of the personality of it’s owner; a bookshelf full of electrical engineering texts, along with a bunch of books on Van Gogh, or a box of records containing everything from Elvis to The Chipmunks Christmas Special….these things tell you about a person that have been leaving peoples’ homes. Plus, it’s really awkward to ask someone on the bus “what are you reading?” when they’re on their phone; if they’re reading a physical book, it’s much easier to start a conversation and share a common interest without having to probe.

So it’s not because of nostalgia and hipsterdom…it’s because of necessity. I now realize why I got the turntable from the trash room. Because vinyl brings the fun back in music that Spotify took away.

What’s this got to do with ham radio?

It’s got everything to do with ham radio. Nearly every person has a cell phone; and that cell phone came from a long history of advancements in radio technology.

What I really heard when listening to the podcast was that the same group of people buying vinyl might be interested in de-technologizing their cell phone too.

For example, right now there are eleven chat apps on my iPhone. iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Groupme, Telegram, IRCCloud, Zello, Skype, Whatsapp, Slack, Hangouts, and Snapchat. Yesterday I deleted Signal and Allo since I never used them, but overall I’m really annoyed at keeping up with all of these, but I have to to maintain contact with everyone close to me.

This lead me to a random thought – I have 2 good friends who have their ham radio license in my building…what if we all just had ham radio’s on in each of our apartments? Sure, it’s more annoying to deal with a radio – frequencies, antennas, battery, power, CTCSS, interference, etc. – but it’s the most fundamental and efficient method of talking to each other at a distance.

Does this mean CB radio will start to creep back in lieu of Google Maps and Waze? Will ham radio experience a boon of licensee’s who are in the hobby just to practice practical communications? Will FRS/GMRS/MURS also become more popular?  I really think so, and it’s something our leadership (ARRL) needs to look at and address in the next few years.

I for one think vinyl is pretty awesome. Radio too.

 

Youth in Ham Radio Presentation at SLSRC Winterfest

UPDATED:

The livestream broke halfway through but I recovered the audio of the end and set it to the slide show. Enjoy!

Slides: Amateur Radio’s Next Generation by N0SSC.pdf

Audio only Enhanced Podcast version (hosted by The Phasing Line Podcast): http://phasinglinepodcast.com/phasing-line-bonus-amateur-radios-next-generation-by-n0ssc/

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