Ham 802.11 News

The following message that I posted was the first step for myself and others to realize the amateur potentials

Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 01:16:43 -0600
To: "TAPR Networking Special Interest Group" <netsig@l...>
From: Steve Lampereur <kb9mwr@g...>
Subject: [netsig] Confused

Has anyone noticed this?
"FCC Queries Wireless 'Net Provider About Interference To Hams" http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/01/0216/

Basically, Riley Hollingsworth says Darwin Networks' wireless 2.4 GHz nodes from Cisco Inc are causing interference to Amateur TV on 2.4 GHz in the Dallas Texas area. And he says Darwin Networks are required to cease operation of this part 15 device.

They say their devices are operating under Part 18 Industrial, Scientific and Medical rules, which would not obligate the company to resolve amateur complaints. But Hollingsworth said it appears that Darwin is not operating Part 18 ISM devices but Part 15 devices that are not covered by the same sort of exception.

Now this struck me as odd. I guess I just assumed all the wireless ethernet stuff was classified as Part 18 & Part 15. I guess not? What they are running is a Part 15 device on a part 18 ISM band?

Now if what I see is true then there are definite advantages to take a Part 15 wireless NIC and embed a callsign ID in a ping or whatever and call it
ham radio (Part 97). You now have protection from all the other wireless stuff that is classified as Part 15.

Previously I interpreted the current band plan which says 2417-2450 ISM holds primary allocations over us, to not be in out favor for this type of application. I assumed hams would have to be careful not to cause interference to (and we wouldn't be able to claim protection from) all the other wireless activity in the area.

Am I reading the article right? Could we reclassify our wireless stuff as Part 97, and get some sore of protection from all the other stuff out there?

I took to the TAPR Spread Spectrum and Netsig lists and harped about the idea quite a bit.  I later clarified my agenda on the TAPR lists.

As for trying to promote the use of wireless ethernet to hams. I realized for the most part it's a waste of time. Most hams are stubborn, and resist change. Some people seemed to think my goal was to attract new generation of hams, when really all I was shooting for was to try to advance our present technology. I figured if that ever happened new blood will come forth by itself. New modes take years to catch on. (ex: SSB vs. AM) I knew that there were a few out there probably lurking the lists (waiting for the TAPR radio to come out), who will (in the mean time) try adapting Part 15 gear. Those few hams are the audience I sought, not the old moldy guys on HF or the guys on 2 meters who can't put on a PL-259. The way I saw it, the only way manufactures are going to consider creating marketing/selling a device or amplifier that caters to the ham market is if  we first show an interest.  This is the only way to advance, and I was determined to give it my best and keep trying till I was sick of it and probably leave the hobby as there is  nothing left for me.

At some point later I blew TAPR out of the water. And while some people "black listed" me others followed...

To: "TAPR Spread Spectrum Special Interest Group" <ss@l...>
From: Steve Lampereur <kb9mwr@g...>
Subject: [ss] Re: 900 MHz FHSS Radio

The TAPR 900 MHz FHSS radio has been in development for in excess of 5 years. I find it funny that a few years back TAPR was encouraging hams to apply for a STA (special temporary authorization) from the FCC to experiment with Part 15 spread spectrum. Now that the rules have been relaxed, that encouragement seems to have vanished.

Many hams are unhappy about about the Metricom situation. Which is a commercial wireless internet service deployed in major cities on the 900 MHz ham band. Our very own ARRL was hand in hand with them in opposing sensible spread spectrum in amateur radio. FYI, TAPR opposed the ARRL and MetriCom's efforts to hobble spread spectrum experimentation under Part 97.

However it gets more ironic. I don't know if anyone noticed that the TDR-900 (TAPR's 900 MHz radio) as it's called by Dandin group (which is composed of some TAPR board members, WA8DZP, N7HPR) appears to be dual marketed. For ham radio and commercial use. I wonder how that will work assuming a commercial version would still hop 902-928. Won't that be like Merticom all over again? Where we have commercial users also using the band causing the noise floor to rise. I heard some one complain the 900 MHz band was trashed because of Merticom before.

As far as I am concerned they are both really low blows to ham radio.  I will agree there is real commercial need for such a product too. But if I was an organization that is supposed to be supporting ham radio, I wouldn't offer (especially at 1 watt) it to the commercial world.

I'd like to hope it won't be like Merticom all over again but fact is, after you sell it to them you have little control over what they do  with it and how they use it. I'm sure any local ISP could do the same kind of damage that Merticom did to the 900 band. Just maybe not nationwide.

In a subsequent conversation with a TAPR board member I asked about any TAPR work for a reasonably prices bi-directional amplifier so that one could use existing part 15 hardware. He admitted it was another stalled project that really never made it past the talk stage. 

I also wrote a letter when it was time to consider renewing my ARRL membership.  I knew that the ARRL appeared to listen more to closely to commercial band users such as MetriCom when the it came to the revision of amateur spread spectrum rules.  

My Personal Stance - how I view and envision things

The amateur radio service was devised in part due to encourage experimentation, as hams have helped advance the radio art though that. Experimentation always brings a sense of unique pride. Hopefully most of this will always be ďamateur radioĒ, as in my mind that is what it is.

To me, most present unlicensed Wifi is outside of the original scope of Part 15 (certification issues). The commercialization of Part 15 endeavors is also strange. Itís much like those who use other unlicensed services such as FRS to conduct business. They all typically complain of interference. These oddities are probably due to availability of affordable equipment (economic) and bandspace issues.

However, I believe hams should not be greedy in shared bandspace, as bandspace is limited. Iíve seen some bad examples. This defies the amateur code. At the same time, I think there should be an awareness to the shared users, and an understanding of what we are, and that some minimal inference may be unavoidable. An overall attempt to work together and co-exist.

It appears the future of two way radio is digital, and we must also advance in this direction. The digital premise is that it generally allows more use in a more efficient/flexible use of band space. Using off the shelf stuff is a great chance to get you feet wet, and the affordability and availably is there. So I feel hams should not be afraid to utilize and experiment in this shared band space and elsewhere.

Over the years there has been a number of revisions to the ham radio examination requirements. One way to look at this is that it will hopefully entice more of the computer/tech types to the hobby. As things progress increasingly more digital, their expertise may be very beneficial. Societies electronics evolvement had made traditional homebrewing difficult. Components are smaller and harder to work with, things are designed more throw away. However homebrewing should and will continue. It will evolve to a more modular and software level than component level.

It all ties together. Hopefully the reason you entered this hobby was to learn, as that's what its all about. Big or small, software or hardware, concepts, or examples... you can make a contribution.

73- Steve, KB9MWR

Some of the original snippets that got attention:
0301-CQ.pdf          - CQ Digital Wireless - Packet is dead, long live packet!
032302-QRZ.pdf       - QRZ Inexpensive high speed packet radio is here
032802-Slashdot.pdf  - Slashdot Amateur Radio over 802.11 cards
102602-Surfin.pdf    - Surfin' Hamming outside of the box

In addition we've also made mention a couple different O'Reilly books, such as the Building Wireless Community Networks book by Rob Flickenger. As well as mention in the Packet Status Register.

Since then the HSMM Working Group has helped draw some major attention to the concept.

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