Dave Hunt’s Bits
So 80-BUS is on the move again, and has caught me by totally by surprise
as I’ve nothing ready to print. Do I hear cries of shame!!! [Ed. – No.]
They say that behind every great man is a woman calling the shots, and in
the case of our editor, this seems to be the case. Now he’s too modest and/or
shy to make any comment, but if I say that shortly before the Christmas issue
was due to be put to bed, a rather nice young lady entered his life ....
suffice to say that the demands on his spare time (usually devoted to
magazine preparation) was devoted, or, should I say, diverted elsewhere. Now,
this being the case, if you assume that the reappearance of the mag. is
indicative of a departure in his life, you would be wrong, perhaps he’s
feeling guilty having left his readership magazine-less for so long, or
something; whatever, it has created a great spurt of energy, and not only is
this issue in the last stages of preparation as I write, but the next issue as
The radio bits first...
Firstly AMTOR, I am now in possession of a number of reports on the
development of the commercial system upon which AMTOR is based and also the
various specifications which comprise the working details of AMTOR. My
grateful thanks to those readers (several anonymous) who sent me the details.
I confess that I’m somewhat intrigued by the two copies addressed directly to
my home, as at the time my address hadn’t been published anywhere (now QTHR in
the 1984 callbook). Sadly, I’m not sure that I will be able to make use of the
information (although all information is ultimately useful at sometime). As
you may have guessed I have been investigating ‘PACKET RADIO’, or at least the
bastardized form that the UK amateur radio regulations allow.
Literally a couple of days ago I was presented with the PACKET RADIO
program by G8WJL and G6GIX, for the BBC computer. I swiped a BEEB and had a
go; it certainly works well. I particularly liked the fact that no additional
hardware was required, just a lead which plugs from the BEEB tape I/O socket
into the mic, ptt and extension speaker sockets of the rig.
Despite the ease of setting up, I feel the program suffers from a number
of minor deficiencies, niggles really. If the program is active, then it will
read any packet information that it sees, so if there are two or three QSO’s
going on on the same frequency (don’t forget the idea of packet is to allow
just this), then the program writes the packets to the screen. This is fine if
you are ‘earwigging’ and just want to know who’s around. The problem is that
if you start a QSO with a station, then (as far as I can see) this reporting
of other QSO’s continues, making it difficult to see who is talking to who.
Worse, because of this reporting, it suggests that multiway QSO’s are
possible, fine until you try it. As a data anti-collision protocol is used
with random timing between packets, there is no knowing which station is going
to send first, so unless ‘to’ –> ‘from’ callsigns are included in each packet
text then multiway QSO’s becomes extremely confusing. A simple software toggle
to turn the ‘blurb’ off once contact is established would be a very good
A further off-shoot of the “blurb” reporting is the ability to “sort of’
send a CQ, something which packet does not normally allow. If you program the
originating callsign as your own and the destination callsign as CQCQ rather