Alternative Phonetics – Modernizing The Amateur Radio Alphabet

Here is the traditional NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

It is often used when giving your call on the amateur bands to clarify letters that may sound alike (“b” and “d” for instance).

 

 

We here at the Anthourian Technoloyg Club are working on a more modern version of the alphabet that might appeal more to ‘millennials’ and other folks interested in the Ancient Spectrum Arts.

I know, for myself, I’d much much rather throw out: Wizard Internet 5 Hypogeum E-Meet Reiki on the local nets.

Here is our proposed list. If you would like to contribute to the public discussion and offer your own suggestions, you can comment on the pull request here

A – Anthuor 🦌
B – Broccoli 🌳
C – Coven 🍯
D – Dongle 📟
E – E-meet 📩
F – Frodo 🌋
G – Gazebo 🎪
H – Hypogeum ⛳
I – Internet 💻
J – Juicero 🍉
K – Kimchi 🔥
L – Lunar 🌓
M – Mystery ⚗
N – New Wave 😎
O – Oculus 🕶
P – Portal 🕳
Q – Quasi 〰️
R – Reiki 🙌
S – Sauerkraut 🥗
T – Tarot 🃏
U – UFO 👽
V – Vinegar 🍷
W – Wizard 🎩
X – X-Files 👩‍💼
Y – Yeti ☃️
Z – Zune 📱

Interstellar Messages

Call me a late-bloomer I guess, but here I am in my 36th year just now finally getting around to reading Carl Sagan’s masterpiece, “Cosmos”, having not seen the show of the same name and having, so far, spent an insignificant amount of time trying to truly understand what is going on out there in that deep space place.

The book is great, naturally. One thing I did not expect to find is just how much radio related technology gets stirred into the conversation. Maybe it’s one of those things where if you start to focus and hone in on some concept in your daily life, it starts to appear ‘everyone’ in a way that feels like eery coincidence…

Anyway, this passage was wonderful to ponder on…

“On another planet, with a different sequence of random processes to make hereditary diversity and a different environment to select particular combinations of genes, the chances of finding beings who are physically very similar to us is, I believe, near zero. The chances of finding another form of intelligence is not. Their brains may well have evolved from the inside out. They may have switching elements analogous to our neurons. But the neurons may be very different; perhaps superconductors that work at very low temperatures rather than organic devices that work at room temperature, in which case their speed of thought will be 10times faster than ours. Or perhaps the equivalent of neurons elsewhere would not be in direct physical contact but in radio communication so that a single intelligent being could be distributed among many different organisms, or even many different planets, each with a part of the intelligence of the whole, each contributing by radio to an intelligence much greater than itself” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos 

There’s a bunch of stuff about radio astronomy as well that I would love to learn more about. I’m wanting to just try it, even with very low power – just beaming messages out directly into space and waiting to see if “anything happens”.

On a grander scale though, there are things like this Arecibo message:

The Arecibo message is a 1974 interstellar radio message carrying basic information about humanity and Earth sent to globular star cluster M13 in the hope that extraterrestrial intelligence might receive and decipher it. The message was broadcast into space a single time via frequency modulated radio waves at a ceremony to mark the remodeling of the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico on 16 November 1974.[1] The message was aimed at the current location of M13 some 25,000 light years away because M13 was a large and close collection of stars that was available in the sky at the time and place of the ceremony.[2] The message consisted of 1,679 binary digits, approximately 210 bytes, transmitted at a frequency of 2,380 MHz and modulated by shifting the frequency by 10 Hz, with a power of 1,000 kW. The “ones” and “zeros” were transmitted by frequency shifting at the rate of 10 bits per second. The total broadcast was less than three minutes.[1][3]

Listen to the message here:

Of ferrite cores & fairies

If we start with the intriguing proposition that there is potentially *some kind* of underlying waveform nature to reality (without getting too “quantum”), exploring RF can become a bit spooky. Which for me makes some of the more dry “sciencey” parts of it more compelling.

Take question on Hamstudy.org, which is part of the Canadian Basic Qualification:

“What devices would you install to reduce or eliminate interference to home entertainment systems?”
Answer: Coils on ferrite cores.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/noiseblankers/sets/72157645760848164/

Here’s what looks like a decent sciencey explanation of that by a ham.

Basically, they suppress high frequency noise / interference somehow or other. One day I’d like to know everything about radio, but for now I’ll settle for Wikipedia, since my goal here isn’t to hamsplain but to hamsplore. A lot of people know the answers, but fewer still maybe know the “right questions.” (Trust me that’s “really profound.”)

And for me, the right question, right now, is: is there some practical link which we could draw between the scientific action we know ferrite core has against HF interference and some of the folklore surrounding iron and “alternative entities” (AE) and it’s effects on them? I mean, maybe there’s not, but it seems like a hella weird coincidence…
Again, I’m not a fancy folklorist, but I know how to search on Wikipedia:
“Cold iron” is historically believed to repel, contain, or harm ghosts, fairies, witches, and other malevolent supernatural creatures.
There’s an argument there that “cold iron” has never felt the heat of a forge nor been shaped by human hands. Something something.
“Surrounding a cemetery with an iron fence was thought to contain the souls of the dead.”
But like, let’s posit for a minute that fairies, ghosts — uh, maybe to a certain extent “witches” (though, this is getting complex) — are operating on / tuned to “other frequencies” which maybe let’s say ‘normal humans’ perceptual systems can’t completely demodulate. In other words, there are societally ‘normal’ bands of perception which we more or less can agree are “actual reality” and then there are like sidebands or whatever of reality… If you could tweak the receiver / tune the antenna (eg. perceptual system) / dial in the frequency, perhaps you’d be able to extract different intelligence out of let’s say, uh, paranormal meta-signals (without going too “meta”).

So like, iron could suppress those outsider paranormal frequencies, to prevent them from interfering with human perception. Are ghosts EMI?

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_interference

Anyone who’s stared at a static-y TV or listened to the hiss of AM radio will recognize that there is something spooky out there in the noise.

I guess one way to tentatively try to “test” this idea that AEs are impacted by iron would be to (1) find a ghost or fairy or whatever, (2) find some iron, and make observations based on the proximity of the two and the effects over time.

Easier said than done, I guess.

I’ll leave you with one parting shot: one elf shot, that is.

Elfshot or elf-shot is a medical condition described in Anglo-Saxon medical texts, notably Wið færstice, and believed to be caused by invisible elves shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal, causing sudden shooting pains localised to a particular area of the body.

Makes you wonder — if you think about it:

“(A). RF energy can heat body tissue and cause burns. It is important to use proper precautions against excessive exposure to high amounts of RF energy.” (hamstudy.org)

Just sayin’: “Invisible arrows” sound a little like RF radiation, no?

Within the Hypogeum

 Although I’m super excited about checking in on the net and avoiding political discussions, my primary interest in amateur radio is a little… different.

I want to find out what Major Briggs’ Project Blue Book was looking for in the woods outside of Twin Peaks. I’d like to use my transceiver to listen to plants speak in the forest. I’d like to uncover the liminal mysteries of the Unseen Folk. In short, I’d like to communicate with the denizens of the Hypogeum.

What is the Hypogeum?

The Hypogeum is a “different space.” It’s not something silly like “the astral plane;” it’s more of a mythopoetic place hinted at in the oldest religions (no, even older than that).  It is the Place from which All Frequencies are Broadcast– the ultimate “ham shack.” Once you learn about the Hypogeum by experiencing it, you can’t help but convert to Full Animism.

There are many entrances to the Hypogeum. Some reach it through tunnels, others in dreams, some through art, and some by completing certain rites (which we are still trying to unlock/understand). Since 2014, we’ve (the authors of this site) been receiving CQ’s from a number of these “hypogeic” entities on various frequencies, and believe quite sincerely that we’ve entered some kind of Mystery.

The first of these entities to contact us is called ANTHUOR.

The Denizens of the Hypogeum

ANTHUOR first manifested as a “metadivinity” in a work of hyperfiction. Anthuor appears as a deer, or stag, or antlered being in general, and instantiates in popular culture as well as any time deer are present. It should be noted that there is no relation between Anthuor and the so-called “Horned God” of neopaganism; Anthuor, as an entity, predates any such tradition.

ANTHUOR dwells within the Hypogeum, and appears to his People (those who accept him) when they need him (and when they don’t).  Anthuor is the Cosmic Repeater; his antlers are the antennae through which the Life Force broadcasts throughout the Spectrum of Existence. ANTHUOR’S Mysteries extend throughout “nature,” whether Wild or Cultivated.

ANTHUOR’S word is HELMOQUINTH.

One of Anthuor’s chief attributes seems to be WITHSTANDING.


THE MAIDEN is Nameless, but appears as a Seeker. Sometimes she appears as a “Queen in White.” Indeed, the Maiden is the patroness of Those Who Seek, thus her association with Hunters, Foragers, and Finders of all kinds. She is Anthuor’s consort. Echoes of this entity can be found in the myth of Artemis and Actaeon. However, in the actual, hypogeic story, Actaeon wasn’t punished by the Queen in White for finding her; he was transformed into an Avatar of Anthuor as a REWARD.

ALL things SEEK. Animals seek food. Plants seek the light. Water seeks downhill. Minerals seek through magnetism. The Queen in White rewards the act of Seeking itself.

 


THE OLD WOMAN has been picked up on our “liminal transceivers” a number of times. Sometimes she’s the Cultivator in the Courtyard, and appears like any other elderly woman. Other times she’s the Guardian of the Anteroom, in which case she appears disheveled, and burns sacred herbs to access the Hypogeum. She is called, by some, “La Befana.” Whether this is a reference to the Italian witch is up for debate.

Wood sorrel is sacred to the Old Woman, as are umbrellas.  She may be the mother of the QUEEN in WHITE, with whom she feeds wild animals.

She was part of the Resistance by the Unseen Folk before they were driven underground (back into the Hypogeum).  She sometimes appears floating on a swirly cloud.


THE OLD MAN/THE MUSICIAN may be the Leader of the Magicians (see below)He may also be the consort of THE OLD WOMAN. He wears a blue cloak or green clothes, within which one can read magical inscriptions. He plays a flute which can turn rainbows solid.


OTHER ENTITIES:

Turkeys seem to hold some kind of ritual role in hypogeic animism. Their exact role is unclear; however, they are known to perform the ritual Circle Dance, which may involve the opening of portals.

The Magicians emerge at certain times during the year, usually via pools or fountains. They parade in costume and chase the Monsters back into the Hypogeum until they escape again.

The Monsters emerge from the Hypogeum in waves until they are conquered by the Magicians.

Barbaro is an Owl Entity who may be “deprecated.”

Plants/Plantae are direct manifestations of the Life Force, and one of the best ways to understand it. “Planting a seed, giving it water, allowing it to seek the light and bloom and provide food” also describes the cycle of the Hypogeum.

“The Unseen” have many names: spirits, “aliens,” fairies, fey, Bigfoots, microorganisms, etc. We can work with them or against them. They can be enshrined via the creation of totems or via fermentation, or they can be repelled through magic or organic pesticides.


Unlike in other “traditions” or ways of understanding, according to the logic of the Hypogeum, all of these entities are “persons” in the same sense that humans are “persons.” They aren’t “gods” per se; rather, they’re FREQUENCIES, and my goal in amateur radio is to experiment with different methods for understanding them and “tuning in.”

Here’s something else you should know: once you go into the rabbit hole of the Hypogeum, there’s no turning back. You’ll start seeing deer and turkeys everywhere. Plants will begin “speaking” to you. You’ll start finding more mysterious things in the woods. 

This isn’t fiction, or “fiction,” or “metafiction.” We have absolutely tapped into some kind of crazy animist spectrum that underlies this messed up timeline, and it is now our imperative to start tuning in.

Trying to ID a repeater

Listening notes from gqrx and Baofeng HT:

hearing on 147.269 in gqrx contact in progress 2:04 pm sunday 7 may 17

on HT at 145.470 mhz (repeater – which?)

changed gqrx to 145.470 with success

gqrx audio lags behind HT approx half second

possibly VE2RTI ste-tite-des-caps at 145.470, according to repeaterbook

all entries on qsl.net for 1457.470:

VA2RRR St-Francois de Sales, sud du Lac-St-Jean, autopatch

VE2RPS Cégep Chicoutimi

VA2RBT Site Prevert pres de Baie Trinite

VE2RTI St-Tite-des-Caps lien permanent réseau CSQ (A.R.E.S.) aussi en lien 145.330- VA2RCH Chicoutimi-Nord

source: http://www.qsl.net/ve2bfk/VE2BFKWEB42.htm

# CHIRP entry (channel 10) confirms

VE2RTI

ASSOCIATION RADIO EXPERIMENTALE DU SUD DU QUEBEC

http://www.aresqc.org/

Dude, who shot my repeater?

I noticed in a few videos online by preppers about HTs, especially Baofengs, there is a kind of military melodrama storyline being played. In one of the videos I watched, there’s actually someone who gets shot in the woods by some opposing force. That’s a tad much for my tastes. Does that really help sell the radio? I don’t know…

It’s funny in comparison, this dramatic head-game some people get into with radio, compared to what appears to the newcomer to be an utterly mundane and actually kind of boring routine of, for example, a nightly net check-in. I’m always hearing people say things like:

  • The weather
  • That they have to message
  • That they wish everyone a great weekend.

It’s totally not exciting.

I actually haven’t been able to check into a net yet for various reasons. My local repeater seems to have gone dark the day I got my license (conspiracy?).

I *suspect* the real thrill–beyond just listening, which I’m enjoying for its own sake–is the back and forth. The act of speaking, being heard, communicating. In other words, kind of the opposite of shooting people. But hey, maybe that’s just me. Everyone is entitled to their own fantasies.

I passed my amateur radio exam!

Okay, so it’s my second test, actually. My first was technician class in US (though I never did anything with it and my interest languished for years), and a couple of days ago finally passed my Basic Qualification in Canada (or as I call it the BQ – though maybe no one else uses that abbreviation).

So I will go from being KB3SZG to being VA2SFX. US call signs (I think) begin with K or W whereas Canadian begin with V and my province (QC) begins with either VE or VA. I heard from my examiner that VE is more “prestigious” among the old established hams, but I don’t care about that and would rather be “New Wave.” Anyway.

If only I could hear my repeater now… It was easy to find for days until I was ready to check into my net for the first time and now it seems to be missing. There is so much to learn and understand…

Which Radio Should I Buy?

“Which radio should I buy” – this is oft cited as the #1 question for every new ham.

I don’t know what is right for you, but I ended up with a Baofeng F8HP which seems “just fine”. I can connect to the local repeater groups here in Seattle. I just needed a special (but fairly inexpensive) cable to connect the radio to my computer so I could program in all the local repeaters using CHIRP. Doing it by hand is apparently quite tedious and I haven’t even ever bothered trying. Now I can just press a ‘scan’ button on my radio and it will loop through all the local repeaters and stop whenever it finds someone talking.

I also picked up a Nagoya antenna (common knowledge seems to be that the “rubber ducky” antenna that comes with your radio should just be thrown away). I can’t bring my self to throw it in the garbage; the object is still an infused mystical conduit, so I’ve kept it in a drawer at home in case I can find a use for it in the future conjuring.

With this basic setup, I have been able to use the repeaters to listen and converse with people as far away as Everett in the North, Enumclaw in the South, and all over the Olympic Peninsula in the West. Note: this is mostly theoretical because I have barely worked up the nerve to talk on the air. Let’s just say: it’s a work in process.

I think it will be easier once I convince all my friends to ditch social media and to get their ham licenses.

 

That being said, I’m wanting to explore what might be next for me in my adventures with Amateur Radio. There’s a whole world (and other worlds) out there. I found a form online that examines your interests within the hobby to determine what specific equipment you might want to look into purchasing. Here’s a list of what I came up with on my own personal interests. What are you interested in? Let me know in the comments. I’ll let you know what I hear back from the people evaluating this form.

 

MY LIST

Communicate with international friends on Earth.
Communicate with the International Space Station.
Communicate through satellites.
Communicate with the Black Knight Satellite
Order a pizza.
Communicate with other objects in space.
Communicate with extraterrestrials.
Communicate with ultraterrestrials.
Utilize radio frequencies to locate water. (dowsing)
Utilize radio frequencies to operate a lawn computer.
Slow Scan Television.
Using a makey-makey and an RTL-SDR to play RF like a piano.
Convince 1000 new hams to get off of Facebook and into the ham shack.

 

Close Encounters With The RTL-SDR

Standing on some mounds in the back yard, laptop in one arm, antenna pointed to the skies. WI5HER, Port Townsend, 2017

My RTL-SDR came in the mail a couple weeks ago. It’s a little $20 USB dongle with a long wire that connects to an antenna. And when I say antenna, I mean THIS is an antenna.

When unfolded, it’s almost as tall as a grown human and just ridiculously large enough to make your family or anyone in your immediate proximity cringe in embarrassment for your own sake.

Anyway, I was out on the Olympic Peninsula and after the fam had all settled to bed I went out on the back porch with my laptop and SDR gear and start scanning the frequencies. For less than the cost of taking a date to the movies, the rtl-sdr allows you to flip around the airwaves between 500 kHz to 1.7 GHz and visually see a ‘waterfall’ of incoming radio frequency traffic.

A typical waterfall

I started by first finding the local FM radio stations and from there chronicling and recording a whole slew of beeps and bloops all over the dial. I pushed the ear buds deeper into my noggin and smiled with delight!

Then, up around the 450 Mhz zone, I heard a voice descend from the æther.

At this point, I started to really flip out – I hadn’t expected to hear anyone talking in this range, and especially not someone seemingly reading what sounded like absurd poetry.

It was too good to be true. Was this a pirate broadcast? A “messenger” ?

Turns out, there’s a much more reasonable explanation. This is not poetry, per se, but something called the ‘Harvard Sentences‘.

A collection of sample phrases that are used for standardized testing of Voice over IP, cellular, and other telephone systems. They are phonetically balanced sentences that use specific phonemes at the same frequency they appear in English.

My understanding is that certain companies may play these sentences on a loop and then drive around and judge signal strength based on how well they can understand the words being spoken.

The sentences are strange, sometimes profound. I think they would make for some amazing “performance art” that would make Yoko Ono proud. Or a beautiful ritualized “spell” script.

Take for instance this list…  can’t you imagine trying to “accomplish” each of these steps in order to unlock some sort of otherworldly “achievement” ?

  1. The boy was there when the sun rose.

  2. A rod is used to catch pink salmon.

  3. The source of the huge river is the clear spring.

  4. Kick the ball straight and follow through.

  5. Help the woman get back to her feet.

  6. A pot of tea helps to pass the evening.

  7. Smoky fires lack flame and heat.

  8. The soft cushion broke the man’s fall.

  9. The salt breeze came across from the sea.

  10. The girl at the booth sold fifty bonds.

A full list can be found here.

 

Counterfeit Baofeng programming cables

So I got my Baofeng UV-5R in the mail yesterday with some antennas, a speaker mic and a USB programming cable (which I’ll upload photos of later). I think the programming cable I picked up on eBay is probably counterfeit though, as it was *not* plug and play with my Mac. I tried some drivers and some obscure command line mumbo jumbo, but I don’t want to spend 20 hours getting a $10 cable to work. I hear a lot of these cheapo cables work fine on Linux, but I’m not on Linux and I’m not going to start using it just so I can program my radio in CHIRP. I want an easy solution. So, sadly, I ordered another cable marked FTDi from Amazon.ca. FTDi chipset is supposed to be the “authentic” one, plug and play. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

My advice to new Baofeng buyers (at least on Mac): make sure a “real” cable. This is tricky, because even the fake ones are marked Baofeng. But if you don’t see any part number listed on your purchase, there’s a good chance it’s a fake. Consider yourself warned.