Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Scott Gamble, who shares the following science fiction short film called “Voskhod” by DUST.
After repairing his HAM radio using parts found in the forest, a recluse radio operator receives a distress call from a stranded Soviet cosmonaut in orbit.
I thoroughly enjoyed this short film. We radio enthusiasts will certainly notice some inaccuracies on the radio side of things–feel free to comment on those–but I suggest you exercise a willing suspension of disbelief and truly enjoy this piece!
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader and author, DM Barrett (N4ECW), who recently shared the following press release which features his latest book:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EQUINOX Blends Science Fiction And Amateur Radio
1 May 2019 (Tampa, Florida)
A new science fiction narrative, EQUINOX, has taken amateur and shortwave radio into the cultural mainstream in its version of a limited alien invasion story line.
“It’s been quite a while since the world depended on amateur and shortwave radio as lifelines. In EQUINOX, both are critical for the success of The Resistance.” – DM Barrett, EQUINOX author
DM Barrett, callsign N4ECW, lives and breathes amateur radio. He is well known in the ham radio community having developed and manufactured several different specialized radio antennas through his former company, Transworld Antennas. He holds two earned doctorates with majors in law, economics, and religion.
The EQUINOX story line begins on a warm, slightly breezy day on Florida’s east coast as the vernal equinox marked the beginning of spring. Suddenly, there was a thunderous crash, a blinding light, and a vortex swirling in the blue Atlantic. The invading alien army arrived. The world surrendered. The Resistance made a stand.
When the science fiction novel was recently released as a Kindle Unlimited eBook, it moved steadily into Amazon’s top ten science fiction eBooks in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Australia. After only a few days, the paperback version of EQUINOX was ranked in Amazon’s top third for science fiction paperbacks.
Here’s a similar story that circulated on the Internet around 1990 (pre WEB!). I worked in packet switching at that time and was very impressed with Bob’s achievement (even with a CRAY to work with) .
I reached out to Bob McGwier (N4HY), who is a Facebook friend, and he has kindly given us permission to share his message again here and with a few new comments:
Decoding HF packets in Star Trek IV
Originally posted on December 4, 1989 by Bob McGwier (N4HY)
Several months ago, Harold Price, NK6K, challenged me to demodulate what he thought might be HF packets in Star Trek IV.
During the scenes where Scotty is valiantly trying to beam both Chekov and Uhura back from the U.S.S. Enterprise, where they have been stealing Nuclear vessel high speed photons, Scotty is having a hard time hearing them.
Listen to the audio clip by clicking here or using the embedded player below (target sound is at 5 seconds):
One of the sources of interference is what appeared to Harold to be HF packet. Always being one to rise to a challenge, I took on the job of doing some fancy Digital Signal Processing footwork. Almost from the first I was certain that it must be an HF packet since my very first demodulator attempt clearly revealed flags before the start of a frame and end of frame was also clear. I knew it was HDLC of some variety.
Several things impeded the effort, including Scotty’s voice on top of the packets, some SSB from 20 meters was also nearly on top of the signal. All of this had to be filtered out. I spent an hour of time on the Cray-2 at work and used the fanciest FSK demodulator I could write and I finally had noisy baseband signal plotted on paper in front of me. I did my best to get an integral number of samples per baud as the signal was very noisy, and though the bits could be made out by eye, I could tell that it was going to take another hour of Cray-2 time to get the clock recovered and to make good bit decisions. In a couple of places, HDLC showed me what were clearly bit errors, and these could be done by eye as well.
After the filtering, and building a demodulator for the badly mis-tuned signal (almost 900 Hz below), I took the bits to Phil Karn, KA9Q and he decoded the NRZI data and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was indeed an HF amateur radio packet. It was WA8ZCN-0 sending an RR for NR-3 to N6AEZ on 20 meters. I got Bill Harrigill, WA8ZCN on the phone and he agrees that it was probably him.
Thanks Harold for the challenge and Phil for the help.
P.S. A Cray-2 is about 50% faster than the fastest Pentium-Pro computer available today.
Again, keep in mind that the message above dates from 1989! This past week, Bob added the following comment when I contacted him:
The Cray Supercomputer on which the work was done was being operated on behalf of the National Security Agency by my research institute.
I received permission to “to test optimal algorithms for software decoding of FSK transmissions” and this was my test case!!!!
That is why Phil Karn was decoding the AX.25 bits by hand. I did not have permission to develop link layer protocol code, though I tried.
A few years later when half the bad guys in the world seemed to be using AX.25 and cheap ham gear I said “See, I told you so several years ago and you didn’t listen”.
I used that transmission in so many different ways I no longer remember them all.
That’s fantastic, Bob, and so great to know the back story on your decoding process! Thank you again for sharing this with us!
Star Trek fans can find the scene Bob references starting around time mark 1:12 in the film.
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