Amateur Digital Modes, My new toy!

After being mostly inactive (other than the ALERT club meetings) for the last 5+ years, I started getting interested in Digital after seeing folks talking about DVAP for D-STAR. During my research I found there was also a mode called DMR that allowed private calls and group calls based on commercial systems. I also learned there was a D-STAR and DMR repeaters about 4-5 miles from me easily accessible via an HT. Part of the reason for my inactivity was there were no analog repeaters in my city. Also, during my research I found out about Raspberry Pi hot-spots, a new advancement in the hobby that made things feel new again and I was totally hooked.

November 10th, 2018 I was on the air with my Radiodddity GD-77.  I started getting on the repeater and having a great time. Later, I added an Openspot and a ID-51 to my gear. The last piece was a Nano-Spot that had wireless built in and I could take my hotspot mobile.

I verbalized my thoughts and showed off my Nano-Spot mobile setup in this video:


Where I hangout:

ID: 3101393 (DMR Private Call)
Alabama Talk Group: 3101 (DMR-MARC Network or Brandmeister)
ALERT-K4NWS: 31013 (Brandmeister Network)
Alabama Link: 31010 (Brandmeister Network)
Central Alabama: 31015 (Brandmeister Network)

Direct via (UR/To): KV4S
Gateway: KV4S B
Alabama Reflector: REF058 B

Amateur Radio Anniversary

This June marks my 13th year as an Amateur Radio Operator and 10th as Extra class.
I became an Amateur Radio operator in 1999, upgraded to Extra class in 2002.

While I’m not quite as active on air, I still find this one of the most interesting hobbies out there. I’m most involved with the Skywarn aspects and an active member of the ALERT club who works with the National Weather Service to help relay storm reports from the Amateur community.

Birmingham's Local News stations interviewing for Field Day 2009

@N4HUB Tune into NBC13’s Midday Show today. Paul Nash, W4JY, will be interviewed after 11:00am about BARC’s Field Day this weekend in Trussville.

@N4HUB Tune in to CBS 42’s Wake Up Alabama show Friday morning from 6 to 6:45am. Jeff Drew, N4JDU, and I will be talking about Field Day. 73, Hub

Saddened by the passing of Charles Spanos, N4DKE

The Amateur Radio community and beyond was saddened Monday morning when we learned of the passing of Charles Spanos, N4DKE.

“It is my sad duty to report that Charles Spanos, N4DKE passed away at 5:30 AM this morning. There are no details at this moment.

Bill, KW4J”

I feel I only new Charles a short time… I moved to Birmingham in 2001 and spoke with him several times over the years on the 146.980 repeater. Some of my commutes and drives after work we would utter the phrase “You load sixteen tons” a familiar song that goes like this:

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;
I owe my soul to the company store…

Somehow even though the words are depressing when he said it it would brighten the day.

At Shelby County Amateur Radio club meetings when we all did introductions (we gave our name and call sign) he would only say “Ya’ll know who I am”. That was his catch phrase!

Thanks to “Just” John Miller for the following pictures:

Goodbye Charles, we truly lost a great engineer and electronics/antenna genius. You will be missed.

Funeral arrangements as follows:

There will be a viewing of the body at 6:00 pm Wednesday June 17th at the Greek Orthodox Church on 19th Street South with a service following at 7:00 pm.
Flowers can be sent to the church. Donations made be made to ARRL under his name and call sign.

This is in addition to the 11am funeral on Thursday morning June 18.

The link to the church is…

My 10 year Amateur Radio Anniversary

January 21st 2009 marked my 10 years in Amateur Radio!

I wanted to post this then but it’s been very busy.

I can’t believe it’s flown by already.  My interest in Amateur Radio started years before.  I had got a police scanner for Christmas one year. Before I had a list of stuff to program i hit search just to see what i could hear.  The first thing it picked up was the 145.350 KX4I repeater in Tuscaloosa, of coarse at the time i had not clue what it was.  I just hear people chit chatting on there.  Over the next few months i continued to listen and learned quite a bit from the hams that talked on that repeater.

I found other repeaters to listen to over time time and had a great time.  I also found out I had a relative who was a Ham and I got up with him to find out more about the hobby. Leland Hartley WR4O, came to visit and he showed me his 2 meter radio. He had a custom mic on it that was a an old style Telephone handle that had a PTT on the hand grip.  I was fascinated.

I still didn’t get my license right away. I don’t really remember any specific reason that made me start wanting my license after so many years of listening.

It wasn’t until I had completed a year of college.  I had just finished a fall semester of 1998 and was going to have a few weeks off when I started studying for the Technician (entry level) class. At the time there were 6 license classes.  A month later after talking with some other Radio operators I was ready to take the test.  One Friday night the Tuscaloosa Amateur Radio club was giving a test session so I drove up to some church just before the Northport bridge on HWY 69.  I got to meet some of the Hams that I heard on my scanner over the past few years.  The test was easy because i was really prepared!  I think I only missed one or two questions.  Over the next week I checked to see if my license had been granted.  I don’t remember exactly when but it finally showed up and my callsign was KG4BQK.  I ended up getting a mobile radio the Yaesu FT-2500M which I’m still using but for APRS now. I had a lot of fun programming in the repeaters i used to listen to and getting to finally join in on what everyone was talking about.  One of my favorite things to do was check into the AICN link net.  At this time the AICN was a link system that covered the entire state of Alabama. The system is no longer around at least in that form.

When I graduated college in 2001 and was on  a 5 month job search, I took the opportunity to upgrade.  The license classes had changed so now there were only 3 licence classes. I got my General and Extra almost back to back.  Studying for 5 WPM morse code was a difficult thing for me. I was very opposed to having to know such an archaic means of communication just to get a higher license class.  What funny is once i got into it i really enjoyed morse code. I easily passed the code portion and the question pools weren’t that difficult either.  I got a yaesu FT-100D for HF communications.  At a ham fest I got a paddle and I used CW a few times on the air.  I ended up applying for my current callsign KV4S because I wanted a short callsign to reflect all my hard work!

The rest is history! The next couple years i got interested in SKYWARN and now I’m active with the ALERT group in Birmingham. They assist the National Weather Service in getting storm reports from spotters in the field.

Russell Thomas, KV4S

Social Websites for Amateur Radio

In the recent months I’ve noticed an Amateur Radio explosion on the Internet. It’s not the same as we’ve seen before with the QRZ forums or or even Echolink. Those are great services and are still around today, but new sites like,, are on the forefront of this new interactivity. is a free “social networking” and “micro-blogging” service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Some even call it “micro-messaging” which is more the way I think of it.

Based on “Following” principle, you follow people you know or find interesting and then people follow you.


1. keep up with friends

2. news aggregation/discovery

3. blog integration

4. Conversations; with the use of @ followed by user name.

How you interact:

1. Web

2. Desktop

3. Mobile (Web/Clients)

4. SMS

Web Explained:

Web is where it began, use the web to create your account customize your profile page. Use it to keep up with your friends.

Desktop Explained:

Desktop clients bring you Twitter as a program you install on your pc.

Twitter clients, there are more twitter clients out there than you can shake a stick at. I personally think TweetDeck is the best out there. Has follower grouping,  easily see your replies and direct messages in separate columns, TwitScoop so you can see common words all users are talking about (great way to see breaking news), and even a custom twitter search column.

Mobile Explained:

Similar to the Desktop if you have a smartphone you can get on twitter’s mobile website or install Twitter clients. Some of the better mobile clients have a nice feature that I don’t see on desktop apps and that is that you start with your last update and move through the timeline instead of having to find your last update and going from there.

SMS Explained:

From your twitter profile you can configure twitter to interact with your cell phone via SMS.  I usually enable this for very important people I follow! Using 40404 you can post updates to twitter via sms. created by a fellow Ham Chris Matthieu, N7ICE.

Hams can create an account, customize a profile.

1. You can post status updates (short like twitter).

2. Blog post

3. QSO log entries

4. QSL’ing

5. Post video’s

6. Built in forum created by fellow Ham Chris Matthieu, N7ICE.

Chris host a short Web program about various topics on Amateur Radio. Sometimes he gets demo radios from manufactures that he un-boxes and shows on this site.

That’s it (at least all I can ramble on about).

I hope to demo some of this at the next ALERT meeting hope to see you there!

Russell Thomas, KV4S


Posted via email from kv4s’s posterous

Thanks to Twitter I have 2 more sites to add to the list:

Both sites appear to give you blogs, classifieds, photo’s, events, and polls ect.
Since I just heard about them. I don’t have many details. As I work with the site I’ll post more details.