Friday, November 28, 2008

Amateur radio software for Internet use

I see this search quite a bit.  It's kinda vague, when you think about it, as there's several ways that the Internet and amateur radio intersect.

First, there's methods for using the Internet to control an amateur radio.  The best-known of these is probably Echolink, which allows hams who validate with them to use an application to control other people's radios, or sometimes to link into repeaters.  A number of the various rig control programs can be used over remote desktop control programs; a discussion of various methods people have used to accomplish this is here.  I've also heard of people using Asterisk as a component of a remote rig control solution (as well as as a component of a repeater controller, apparently).

Next, there are applications whose main function is to link distant stations to one another.  The main one of this is IRLP; I've heard rumors of others but haven't seen anything of substance on any of them.  The typical use of IRLP is to extend the range of a voice repeater group beyond that possible via line-of-sight radio links.  APRS-IS servers serve a similar purpose for the APRS data protocol.

The next category would be applications which use the Internet to facilitate activities related to amateur radio, but which do not directly involve going on the air.  Probably the largest group of such applications are those related to QSL logging and the electronic submission of such logs to various QSL bureaus, of which there are so many that I can't begin to count them all, and since I don't use any of them I won't bother naming any. 

The one category you won't find are applications that facilitate accessing the Internet from an amateur radio.  That's because under current regulations there are too many regulatory problems with it, as I've talked about before.