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Amateur Radio: More than a hobby!

      • Speaker’s Name: Miroslav S SKORIC, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
      • Email: skoric@uns.ac.rs      Web: http://tldp.org/HOWTO/FBB.html           
      • IEEE Membership/Grade: IEEE Communications Society, IEEE Computer Society: Since 2003 / Student Member and GSM


  • Amateur Radio in Education - Tutorial

  • Motivation: According to the instructor’s two-decade experience in the amateur radio, the significant percentage of school kids (and youngsters in general) – being involved in that traditional and useful technical hobby – continues with their education in areas of telecommunications, computing, mathematics, electronics and other engineering disciplines. That means the early stage of practicing the amateur radioactivities is a high motivating factor for many young students. On the other side, after the initial investments in the amateur radio communicating equipment, described in the tutorial – there are almost no other costs – either before, during and after establishing exciting amateur radio communications because there are no fixed and cell telephony infrastructure included, nor the commercial Internet service providers. That significantly improves the ROI and offers many opportunities for education institutions in poor countries and remote communities elsewhere. Having in mind that the radio amateurs live all around the world – that is for sure their equipment and knowledge we can and should use on behalf local and global communications. After all, some of the radio amateur enthusiasts participate to scientific and professional events, contribute technical papers, tutorial and seminar proposals, as well as magazine or journal articles – and all of them improve the state of technical culture. One important role that the radio amateurs often perform is to re-establish communications after natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes etc).
  • Objective: What will tutorial participants learn?

  • What is amateur radio, who are the radio amateurs, how to find and join them;

  • What is needed to establish a simplest computer communication between two users;

  • How to solve the problem of natural or artificial obstacles between two or more users;

  • What are the advantages of communication via the amateur radio satellites;

  • How to exchange e-mail without an ISP connection or even without a telephone line;

  • How to build or purchase the proper modem, radio, antenna and computer;

  • How to fight against potential amateur radio 'pirates' (hackers);

  • What regulatory changes are needed to establish more amateur computer networks;

  • What topics and questions belong to the new suggested ADL license’s curricula;

  • How to make the local AMUNET and how to link it to a neighboring one;

  • Scope: This tutorial is a survey of several topics: Scientific and social roles of the amateur radio in a community; Description of basic two-way computer-related radio links, as well as more complex communications over ‘digipeaters’ (digital repeaters, relay stations); Using of the amateur radio satellites; Connectivity to the TCP/IP world i.e. the Internet; Hardware choices (modems, radios, antennas, computers) and software (servers, clients, repeaters); Regulatory questions, consequences and solutions (new proposal of ADL license); Influence of the amateur radio to the national and international regulatory system; AMUNETs – the Amateur Radio University Networks, funding the further projects and development.
  • Abstract: This enthusiastic, volunteer and non-for-profit project covers the opportunities of implementing amateur radio digital telecommunications in educational and home environment. The intention is to motivate communication researchers & practitioners, teachers and students to develop amateur radio infrastructure in their homes, offices, schoolyards and university campuses and interconnect with other communicators, schools and remote educational institutions all around the globe – using 'free' amateur radio frequencies. Amateur radio digital communications are also a cost-effective option for educators in rural areas and developing countries that experience a lack of cell/fixed telephony and Internet connections. The tutorial gives many practical suggestions related to hardware and software solutions for using at work or home.
  • Instructor's Biography: The instructor has two decades of experience in amateur radio (licensed amateur since 1989). Since the early nineties, the instructor voluntarily participated in administering amateur radio servers in local radio clubs and societies. He has been maintaining various types of computerized amateur radio bulletin board systems (MS DOS, Windows and Linux platforms) with VHF/HF radio frequencies and Internet inputs/outputs. He performed tutorials in a local high-school amateur radio club, and published magazine/journal articles (listed in his amateur radio webpage http://tldp.org/HOWTO/FBB.html). In October 2009, the instructor published the book chapter in an international book related to human performance and instructional technology. The instructor recognized that having fun with computing and establishing amateur radio communications motivates elementary-school pupils and high-school students to continue education in engineering and computing areas and increase their interest to pursue a career in technology. To promote this point of view, the instructor has been spending his personal savings to participate in domestic and international events (conferences, symposia and other meetings) since the beginning of this decade. That volunteer work helps to the people who are not familiar with computer communications to get a 'technology bug' and join the world of amateur radio communications. The instructor's intention is to establish an alternative computer communication grid between academic institutions. He called that system AMUNET, Amateur Radio University Network and proposed it as the best way to coordinate official and 'amateur' research. To motivate students and teachers to join this project, the instructor has published his conference reports in IEEE Region 8 News, IEEE Potentials, Proceedings of ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference 2003, 2007 (USA), WSEAS Transactions on Communications (Greece), AMSAT-DL Journal (Germany), several domestic publications etc.
  • History of the tutorial presentation: Tutorials of the same or similar type were performed during the following conferences: INFOTECH 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 (Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia); JISA Congress 2004, 2005 (Herceg Novi, Montenegro), IEEE-EESTEC Technical Conference 2004 (Rende-Cosenza, Italy), WSEAS CSCC 2006 (Athens, Greece); IEEE EUROCON 2007 (Warsaw, Poland); WSEAS CSCC 2008 (Heraklion, Greece); IARIA ICWMC 2008 (Athens, Greece), IEEE Telfor 2008 (Belgrade, Serbia); IAENG IMECS 2009 (Hong Kong, China) and WSEAS EE 2009 (Rodos, Greece). The parts of the tutorial (basic principles, hardware, software, security and privacy, regulatory issues etc) were presented as technical papers, round-table sessions and plenary lectures during the following conferences: INFOTECH 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008; JISA Congress 2002, 2003; INFOFEST 2002, 2003 (Budva, Montenegro); Telfor 2002, 2003 (Belgrade, Serbia); IEEE ICALT-TEDC 2004 (Joensuu, Finland); PSU-UNS ICEE 2005 (Novi Sad, Serbia); WSEAS CSCC 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 (Greece).