ethanschoonover, (edited ) avatar

Since putting up what amounts to a clothesline on my roof a month ago, I've managed to transmit and make contact with 37 states (and multiple countries) using 10 watts.

This is the power equivalent of putting an LED lightbulb on my roof, flicking it on and off, and having the east coast see it and reply.

Never ceases to feel amazing to me. #hamradio

(want to learn ham radio? join us on - a free, progressive, ham radio collective meeting on discord)

singe, avatar

@ethanschoonover “what amount to a clothesline” brilliant. I did a write up a few years ago when I was equally excited about my clothesline’s capabilities

ethanschoonover, avatar

@singe nice writeup!

jamesmarshall, avatar

@ethanschoonover very interesting. Do you know of any resource for using ham radio to transmit data in order to circumvent state-level Internet censorship? I know little about ham radio, but just read some. I see it has maybe 500kb/sec of bandwidth. I also just saw handheld ham radio transceivers for sale... wondering how well those work, since I thought the antennae had to be long...?

I know of satellites that broadcast data into censored countries, but I haven't yet heard of ham radio doing this.

ethanschoonover, avatar

@jamesmarshall it's actually governed by international treaty, so if there is no operating agreement you can't transmit to a station in that country. Additionally ham radio can't broadcast. Legally it's only station to station communications. There are still shortwave stations like voice of america and the BBC that operate in similar frequency ranges for global broadcast in restricted countries, however. But not ham radio.

michaelcoyote, avatar

@ethanschoonover progressive ham radio collective you say?

Gladso, avatar

@ethanschoonover I presume A1?

ethanschoonover, avatar

@Gladso if you mean the ARRL club, I'm not A-1. I think I have a ways to go before I get there :)

Gladso, avatar

@ethanschoonover I should have said CW.

ethanschoonover, avatar

@Gladso not cw. FT8 digital mode.

Gladso, avatar

@ethanschoonover I didn't know that existed.
That is how out of touch I am.
So, basically FSK I reckon.
Maybe I should get back into ham radio.
I never got any good at Morse code.

ErickaSimone, avatar

@ethanschoonover are we bringing back ham radio for the 99 AND the 2000s?

ethanschoonover, avatar

@ErickaSimone trying! :)

ErickaSimone, avatar

@ethanschoonover succeeding. When things calm down I might wanna get into this. Always heard about it as a kid but then the internet happened. lol.

ethanschoonover, avatar

@ErickaSimone It's one of my primary volunteer activities here in Seattle. I'm just starting to do more distance work now. Definitely keen to grow the hobby. My personal secret goal is to get more folks in who aren't just electronics nerds (love our EEs of course) but also more liberal arts folks like myself.

ErickaSimone, avatar

@ethanschoonover omg that sounds like MEEEE (but I kinda secretly love electronics)

ethanschoonover, avatar

@ErickaSimone I do too! I consider myself a consummate tinkerer in all things.

Methylcobalamin, avatar


I grew up watching broadcast TV.

The most magical thing was my father putting up newer and better antennas.

I can remember holding the wire to the antenna indoors to get scratch broadcasts from other cities.

We live about 1-2 hours outside of New York and about 4 hours away from Philadelphia. The real game changer was when my father installed a rotating antenna.

var, avatar

@ethanschoonover "want to learn ham radio? join us"

Does the government require a fee and/or license to use a ham radio? I wanted to-do this at some point, but was scared off by policies. 📻

ethanschoonover, avatar

@var varies country to country. there is an FCC fee now (new) of $35 for your license and there is a fee for the exam ($15). If you buy a book to study from, another $30 or so. A cheap radio can from from $20 to $75. But most/all of those are one time costs and the license term is 10 years. Additionally if you are in touch with local hams you can often find gear for even cheaper (and often get study books for free).


@ethanschoonover I'm near Lexington SC. I'm not a ham operator. I do have a QRP Pixie that I built. I could connect that to a Raspberry Pi and have it belt out some Morse messages just to see if anybody receives them.

ethanschoonover, avatar

@britishtechguru time to get that ham license! I'm still trying for SC :)


@ethanschoonover LOL. I'll be a pirate

ethanschoonover, avatar

@britishtechguru not sure if you're kidding, but for sure don't transmit unlicensed in license requiring spectrum.

kkarhan, avatar

@ethanschoonover Wattage isn't everything - Frequency and Spectrum are more important...

stevenray, avatar

@ethanschoonover I know zilch about ham radio but this is really neat. Thanks for sharing!


@ethanschoonover What app is that?

ethanschoonover, avatar

@marxy Ham Toolbox (I use this and SDR-Control a lot):


@ethanschoonover Thankyou. I use SDR-Control too but hadn’t seen Ham toolbox. (I’m the author of WSPR Watch for iOS that draws similar maps).

ethanschoonover, avatar

@marxy Going to check out WSPR Watch now!

nilsskirnir, avatar

@ethanschoonover When I was a kid I built an AM radio and used an extra long wire (stretched from my bedroom to a tree out back). I lived in Philadelphia and could pick up stations from the Rockies, Texas, western Canada, etc.

ben, avatar

@ethanschoonover What are you using (HackRF)?

ethanschoonover, avatar

@ben Icom IC-705. I have a hackrf one also, but I don't use it for transmit much (mostly because my Icom is my go to).


@ethanschoonover Is packet radio still a thing? It'd be neat to combine that with #retrocomputing somehow.

smoku, avatar
ethanschoonover, (edited ) avatar

@smoku @mos_8502 I've never done any lora. There's plenty of old school packet radio still happening. And definitely retro computing stuff with it. E.g. a friend of mine just set up this kaypro with a packet radio modem a couple days ago:

Probably more traditional packet stuff to come since the signal rate limit was just lifted by the FCC.


@smoku @ethanschoonover What's the typical range on that?

smoku, avatar
f4grx, avatar

@smoku @mos_8502 @ethanschoonover and the max datarate is absolute shit. Unusable for anything beyond temperature reporting every minute. Moreover the lora chirp modulation is a proprierary scheme.

ethanschoonover, avatar

@f4grx @smoku @mos_8502 yeah i haven't had much interest in lora stuff for that reason. same reason I dislike vara (proprietary) though in that case I sometimes have no option if the winlink node I'm trying to hit is vara only.

f4grx, avatar

@mos_8502 @ethanschoonover this is wspr, not Packet. Packet is dead. Hamnet (wifi based) is a short distance remnant.

ethanschoonover, avatar

@f4grx @mos_8502 This isn't WSPR it's FT8 at 10W (so full QSO, not just prop report). Packet radio def not as popular as it once was but packet radio modems are still definitely in use and in production. From a hobbyist perspective they are fascinating to work with. C.f.

stevelord, avatar

@mos_8502 @ethanschoonover it is and I've done it on my amiga but its not as lively as it has been historically.


@stevelord @ethanschoonover What I'm imagining for #retrocomputing is something like #FujiNet that works via Packet Radio or a similar service.

jaredj, avatar

@mos_8502 @stevelord @ethanschoonover i don't know much about amateur radio in general nor packet radio in specific, but one thing at the intersection of radio and retrocomputing that i've heard of but haven't seen in this thread is

ethanschoonover, avatar

@jaredj @mos_8502 @stevelord yeah there are a lot of fun projects in the QRP (low power) space like this. If it looks appealing you should definitely consider a ham radio license. It's very fun to do this kind of project building.

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