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Ham Networking - The Network Amateur.

Recent discussions on the Melb Wireless list about the future of the network and which IP protocol (IPv4 or IPv6) to use made me realise some of us are here to experiment, while others are here to get "on the air" and then utilise or provide network services. I'm more of the experimenter in this case. :-)

This is not unlike the situation on the airwaves, namely Ham Radio, where there's a number of experimenters and a number of "users" or "service providers" (the people that setup repeaters and packet BBSs - and IRLP nodes for that matter!).

Ham Radio and Ham Networking actually have a lot in common - they both involve technology (radio vs computers). They are also both used for communication and data transfer, and a unique social scene (seems melbwireless 'callsigns' are allocated from a database too - I'm NodeBCJ :)) is emerging with monthly meetings. One aspect of Ham Networking, specifically wireless networking even shares one of the amateur radio bands - 2.4 GHz.

Still, there are differences. Ham Radio has been around a while and has a long history of tradition. Ham Networking is relatively new, though APANA could be considered an early ham networking 'club' of around 10 years standing; and doesn't have the 'baggage' of 'the old ways', it's a new and exciting hobby. Also, unlike amateur radio, you don't need a licence to run your private network, not even for wireless. This makes it somewhat easier to get into. That may change one day, given the increasing number of security risks caused by inexperienced admins... (hope not!).

Still, mixing Ham Radio and Ham Networking has a lot to offer both sides. Already, MelbWireless people are finding the need to learn about microwave RF techniques and propagation, and basic electronics. And that networking skill, along with the coders are what Ham Radio needs for its next generation of development. Emerging fields where programmers can get their teeth into radio include Internet Linking (development of better techniques and codecs), Digital Signal Processing, Software Defined Radios, and of course, high speed networking, IPv6 and all that jazz...

So will it be the amateur networkers that push the introduction of things like IPv6? We do have the advantage that whatever we do is not subject to commercial constraints. If we break our network, so what? We just have to fix it, that's all. If a company breaks their network, it's big bucks down the drain. So I guess companies aren't going to want to dive into IPv6 too soon. :-)

So how would one define Ham Networking? Let's go back to the radio analogy... From the ACA re amateur radio licences...
and may participate in the amateur-satellite service.

Well, paraphrasing that, one could define "Ham Networking" as

After all this mumbo jumbo, what use is it? Perhaps a sense of identity? Or a realisation that many human endeavours come from similar ideals? The desire to learn, share and interact without monetary ties?

One thing is for certain, Ham Radio and Ham Networking overlap to a surprisingly large extent. In fact, in the area of high speed packet radio, they may blend together completely one day.

Now how will I sign off?

73 de VK3JED
NodeBCJ -> * FIN

Version 7 (current) modified Tue, 03 Jul 2007 23:12:01 +1000 by flabdablet
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