Technology Price Comparisons

Typical 1200/9600 bps Ham setup Typical 2.4 GHz wireless ethernet setup
Paccomm Tiny 2 TNC $160 Symphony NIC/Linksys AP (1 Mbps-54 Mbps) $150
MFJ data radio $120 100ft LMR-400 $65
100ft RG-8/9913 $55 24dB Parabolic $70
Decent Antenna  $60







Typical Icom ID-1 D-star setup

ID-1 - Icom 1.2 GHz Band Digital Transceiver (128 Kbps) $970
100ft LMR-400 $65
Comet GP-21 1.2GHZ 1/2W x 21 collinear  $150



900 MHz Ubiquiti XR9 setup 3.5 GHz Ubiquiti XR3-3.5 setup
Ubiquiti XR9 mini PCI card (1-54 Mbps) $150 Ubiquiti XR3-3.5 mini PCI card (1-54 Mbps) $190
Mini PCI Router Board (optional) $70 Mini PCI Router Board (optional) $70
100ft LMR-400 $65 100ft LMR-400 $65
14 dBd M2 Yagi $70

25 dBi Parabolic Grid Antenna


Nominal Setup TOTAL: 


Nominal Setup TOTAL: 


Optional 3 watt Hyperlink bi-directional amp



>From: W3QA
Date: Fri, Jul 27, 2012 
Subject: [wl2kemcomm] Re: RMS Packet/Relay, BBQ, AGW etc. Guidance, Reference, How to
To: wl2kemcomm at

Okay, I'll throw in a wrench that hopefully will get hams thinking.

How appropriate is 1200 or 9600 baud VHF/UHF packet radio for emergency communications when other, more modern, more capable, cheaper hardware is available? Yes, it operates on the ham bands.

Packet radio is only justified today because everybody already plays with it. And, unfortunately, that is all most hams can come to the table with--unless they learn a few new things.

Hams constantly complain about the high cost of hardware, software, especially if it is "baked into" a solution by whoever crafts the hardware/software solution. But worse, they cling to their old knowledge and old hardware from twenty or thirty years ago. For the last ten years mass produced WiFi solutions have been available, and quite cheap and capable ones made for commercial WiSP (wireless service providers) have become better and better. It is easier to use, more reliable, and cheaper than packet radio, by many, many times over.

For around $200 (not talking used prices) I can equip myself with a rugged 1-watt radio and powerful gain antenna to connect to my laptop (see Ubiquiti Bullet gear at, many other solutions, too). This "go kit", when used in a local area that has built an infrastructure of HSMM rather than old-time packet radio will be capable of connections that outperform by a factor of up to 1000 or more times. And my entire setup costs less than a new, cheap TNC.

On the infrastructure side, we recently set up our (second generation) HSMM network across Chester County, PA using Ubiquiti 5.8 GHz radios and antennas using three or four prime tower sites and other locations, in cooperation with the Chester County Department of Emergency services. We did it for one quarter of the budget UHF/VHF packet radios, antennas and TNCs would have cost. Though we still have a packet radio RMS and other packet capability in the network, it gets used by users in other counties and a few who have not yet heard the "word".

WL2K, along with any other technology supported by TCP/IP networking, fits right into this transport layer, all at once. And now, video, VOIP, and more is possible. Just what the customer wants to hear. It enhances the customer's trust in their support of amateur radio when they know we don't just show up with HTs in our hands to every callout.

As far as emcomm was concerned, we adopted this soft guideline to Chester County ARES/RACES members while I was EC there:

"Buy no new packet hardware; only play with your old stuff. Invest all new dollars in high-performance HSMM hardware, and build the system our customer wants and needs."

So why in 2012 would anyone try to engineer a new packet radio infrastructure for a local area's emcomm? It is a terrible investment, will not serve modern customer needs, and in 2012 brings no trust from savvy emcomm customers. In fact it will do your modern customer a disservice to hobble his abilities with such technology. Think about it.

As a hobby, like my boat anchors, packet radio is fun. But it is not suited for a modern EmComm mission! Really!

Lor W3QA

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