Friday, October 22, 2010

Attention Pacific Northwest Hams!

Or wannabe hams: The Federal Way Amateur Radio Club has announced that it
will be holding two amateur licensing classes starting on November 12th, running through to November 14th. Technician & General classes will be held at South King Fire & Rescue's Station 62 in Federal Way. The classes will start a 7pm Friday evening, and again on 8am on Saturday & Sunday mornings. Followed by a testing session on Sunday afternoon. Each class is $50 and includes a ARRL text book and the test at the end of the class. If you are interested in taking either the Technician class or the General Upgrade class or need additional details, please contact the club's training coordinator, Daniel Stevens-KL7WM, for more details.

FWARC has also announced the  Second Annual Northwest D-STAR Workshop:
Annual Northwest D-Star Workshop November 20th

The annual Northwest D-Star workshop, sponsored by the Federal Way Amateur Radio Club and ICOM will be held on November 20th from 9:00 to 5:00 at the City of Federal Way Community Center.  (Map.)

The keynote speaker will be John Davis WB4QDX from Atlanta.

John, worked with Mark Fehlig WA6NGG, the former Director of Engineering for PBS, to purchase and install D-STAR equipment (2 meter, 70 cm and 1.2 GHz) including antennas and lines on all 9 TV towers in the state of Georgia. These systems blanket most of the state of Georgia with D-STAR coverage!

Sessions will be held on the following topics:

* Getting started using D-STAR
* Using advanced features
* Gateways, reflectors & ratflectors
* New developments in third party applications
* Northwest D-STAR repeater update
* Building a D-STAR repeater

The workshop will also feature hands on labs to help you learn how to operate your radio. Registrations will be limited to the first 100 to allow for better interactions with the presenters. For additional information please check and click on the D-Star logo. Photos from last years event are posted at
Rumor has it there may be door prizes, but I don't know.  I do know that at last year's event, ICOM had some "loaner" radios for participants who did not yet have a D-STAR radio, and made them available for purchase at a discount.  (They were demo models, could not be re-sold at full price.)

What's D-STAR?  Developed by the Japanese Amateur Radio League and the Japanese Government, the acronym stands for "Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio"; it allows the transmission of VHF and UHF signals in a digital mode, either digital voice or data.

Yeah, I know, "Whoopee".  Well, the protocol is open source--although the coder chip is not, it's inexpensive--and many add-ons have been written for D-STAR, including D-RATS, about which many in the first responder/emergency response community are very excited.
How can D-STAR help first responders using D-RATS?
D-RATS is a multi-platform integrated tool for communication using D-STAR radios (read more here ). With only a pair of radios (or an entire repeater stack) a variety of data transmission methods are supported, including:
  • Instant-message chat
  • Automatic beacon messages
  • File transfers with error detection
  • Structured forms
  • GPS position reports
So far, only ICOM has fielded any D-STAR radios, although Kenwood has said it will; Yaesu has it's own digital mode, WIRES, which (so far as I can tell) has gotten very interest from amateurs, or the emergency response community.

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