Wednesday, September 2, 2020

HamShack Hotline

Hamshack Hotline is a private VoIP telephone voice network for Amateur Radio. This could be a very valuable tool for emergency communications to take some of the load off of radio networks. Setup was extremely easy all that was needed was a supported device which at this time are only Cisco VoIP phones. I purchased my Cisco SPA504G from eBay for $35 free shipping. Please make sure the phone you order is UNLOCKED!!! This is very important.

Setup was super simple i followed the instructions and started a support ticket with my phones MAC address, connected my phone to my network via Ethernet and noted it's local IPv4 address. Once i received the response from i plugged the IP address into the URL in the instructions and BAM!! the phone reset and my callsign and number showed up on the phones display!

I know some hams have a thermonuclear meltdown when talk of using the internet for emergency communications comes up! My opinion on the matter is having as many forms of communications as possible is key in an emergency. The likelihood of the the internet being down everywhere is very low now days and this system could help reduce the load on radio networks in time of emergency. Amateur radio and the internet will become more and more intertwined as time goes on just as freezers and light bulbs become connected to the internet.

As ARES EC for Crawford County, KS i plan on getting these phones for all of my AECs and as many members as we can. The one BIG thing that is missing from Hamshack Hotline in my opinion is mobile access to the system. Mobile access could be mobile SIP app or even a bridge number you can call a public number and enter a PIN to access the system. A similar system Government Emergency Telecommunication System (GETS) does just that. You have a GETS card with a PIN number that you can call it will give your phone priority over others for emergency communications. People with GETS access could even use GETS to call a bridge number for access to HamshackHotline in an emergency!

Amateur Radio operators have access to so much microwave spectrum! A microwave IP system could easily be connected to the internet via multiple redundant paths many miles apart. These IP networks could not only HamshackHotline but many other IP services that could continue to work in the event of an emergency. With future Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite internet access services like SpaceX StarLink that have extremely low latency one could have highly survivable IP connections anywhere!

The ultimate selling factor for me for Hamshack Hotline the fun / cool factor of having this cool IP phone on your desk in the hamshack! It's cost less then taking the family out to dinner in the $20-40 range! Operating the Hamshack Hotline network requires money so please support them if you want to use this system just a few dollars per year per user is all that's needed! 

EDIT: 9-9-2020

Other ARES members received phones and got them setup so far the system just works. I went through and setup voicemail and in the message i put my Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) number so people could call me if they need me outside of the shack. 

I used a 12v to 5v DC-DC converter to power my phone off of my 12v solar backup system. All of my networking equipment is ran off of battery backup and i have fiber to the home. My fiber provider is 100% underground and mostly passive all the active equipment is in hardened buildings. This is not guarantee that the network will work during large power outages but it's better then nothing. I also have the capability of feeding my network from cellular LTE as a backup.

If you want give me a call sometime my HH# is 5576 
73 de Tyler KB0PQP

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