Let’s go with IRLP

Here are three of the radios on my desk. The top one is for D-Star. The bottom right one is for local repeaters… it’s hooked to an antenna in my attic. The bottom left, as you may notice… says IRLP.

Let me tell you about this. I have been using an Allstar node. It had not only Allstar functionality, but also Echolink and IRLP. Turns out, the IRLP folks took exception to that. Apparently the hamvoip Allstar folks offered the feature in their software to connect to the IRLP network… without the approval of the folks who run the IRLP network. So… very recently, all the users who were using the hamvoip Allstar software to access the IRLP network… had their IRLP security keys revoked because they were using an illegitimate method to connect.

Yes, that’s a big deal. That means… all these folks who paid for an IRLP node… just lost their privileges to use IRLP. I was one of those people. When I realized this, I disabled the IRLP feature of my Allstar node… and hooked my official IRLP hardware back up. Then I contacted the IRLP folks and asked them to reinstate my node.

And they did! Great!

Long live IRLP.

New blogging setup

I used to have a “personal website” back in the day. And I played with that quite a lot. But that whole concept seemed to go away at some point. I probably milked it for awhile too long, but I eventually chose to setup a blog to replace my personal web site. The free Google Blogger product seemed like a good choice.

I used that for years, and my wife even made a few of her own blog posts. But we never really took it seriously. I suspect very few people read any of it.

But at some point I sprung for a nice blogging app for macOS. And it worked with Google’s Blogger product. At least until a couple of weeks ago. I had wiped the drive on my Mac and was running into problems reconfiguring this blogging app with the Blogger service. It was just refusing to work.

After the author pretty much gave up trying… he suggested I switch to a better blogging service. I thought that was a fine idea!

It was probably less than 24 hours later… I have a managed WordPress site at my own domain with an actual site security certificate. And it’s pretty dirt cheap.

I migrated my two old Blogger blogs into the new WordPress site. And the blogging app that wouldn’t work with Blogger, works very nicely with WordPress!

Downgrade… leaner and meaner

Hmm, I see it’s been over six months since I blogged about ham radio. I’ve done a lot of things since then. I guess I’ll try to touch on them in order.

First, I did get around to using my HF setup. And it worked perfectly… just like I had envisioned when I bought the gear. The Kenwood TS-590SG hooked to an MP-1 Super Antenna in the front yard. And I tuned the MP-1 with the aid of a Comet CAA-500 antenna analyzer that was hooked up to the antenna with a two-way coax switch. Perfect! And… I really liked the Kenwood radio. Very smooth and intuitive once I got familiar with the basics.

I did become aware of something over the last number of months. I think maybe I’m a little on the OCD side. I swear. Perhaps it’s just an aspect of the hobby. Or maybe it truly is a personality trait. Or both. But I have rearranged my radio setup a whole lot. Like a zillion times in the last year. There are so many various ways to set things up. I have a lot of different combinations of gear that I can put together. And many different ways to do the same basic things.

Not only do I change things around a whole lot… I also have a tendency to keep adding capabilities to my arrangement. Sorta like “scope creep”. I spent a few hundred bucks on an actual TNC so I could do APRS properly. But after playing with it for a couple of months I concluded that it was a waste of time, and I pulled the plug. I also added a cheap DMR radio to my mix. And… I resurrected my Allstar node. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of the things that I have dealt with since I initially sprung for my main set of gear back in March… is the feeling that I was locked in to my initial choices with regards to what I had chosen. The amount of money I would lose by selling any of my gear and buying different gear was a serious deterrent to making that sort of move.

But eventually I really felt that I wanted to try ICOM’s terminal mode that they have on their ID-4100A. I had the ID-5100A. And while it’s a better radio in most ways… I think the ID-4100 is more recent technology and it has this feature that the ID-5100 does not have. The feature in question allows the radio to connect directly to a Raspberry Pi hotspot via a data cable… no RF involved.

So I decided to bite the bullet, take the loss of the buying/selling… and I sold my ID-5100 and bought an ID-4100. The data cable to enable the terminal mode cost about $80. All in all… “downgrading” from the ID-5100 to the ID-4100 actually cost me over $200. Yep… that would be a prime example of why to not do this.

Wait… it gets better! After I pulled the trigger and launched that swap into motion… I figured what the heck. I proceeded to sell 4 more of my radios… and buy 5 more new ones. I pretty much did all this swapping around without knowing what the final cost would be. This was because most of the stuff I sold was done via eBay auctions. So there was no way to know what I would really get out of things until it was all said and done.

The biggest loss was the decision to sell my Kenwood TS-590SG and replace it with an ICOM IC-7300. That move cost me almost $300. Well, it was $300 out of pocket cost. If you factor in the original price of the Kenwood… downgrading from the Kenwood TS-590SG to the ICOM IC-7300 cost me almost $700.

All said and done… all this swapping is what I wanted to do. And so that’s a bonus. It felt rather liberating to finally do it. And while my ideas about what I want to do change frequently… I think that’s just part of the hobby. I will say that now… my gear is much better-suited to the purpose at hand. It is function over form.

In the end the swapping cost me very little out of pocket money. But pretty much every single move I made was a downgrade except for one.

My swaps included…

  • Kenwood TH-D74A out, ICOM ID-31A Plus in
  • Kenwood TS-590SG out, ICOM IC-7300 in
  • Yaesu FT-2DR out, Yaesu FT-3DR in
  • ICOM ID-5100A out, ICOM ID-4100A in
  • Yaesu FTM-400XDR out, 2 Yaesu FTM-3200s in

And I paid money to do this!