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(Ars Technica)   The $6 billion radio mess   (arstechnica.com) divider line 56
    More: Fail, digital signals, radio spectrum, Internet radio, technological progress, jet fighters, White Sands Test Facility  
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7327 clicks; posted to Geek » on 21 Jun 2012 at 10:58 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-21 09:29:59 AM  
www.wearysloth.com

You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?
 
2012-06-21 10:03:08 AM  
49chevy.blogs.com

Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2012-06-21 10:03:41 AM  

scottydoesntknow: [www.wearysloth.com image 320x240]

You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?


Nah, that's small change. Not worth bothering with.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-06-21 10:38:11 AM  
But the program meant to fix the mess, called the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), instead became a massive 15-year software and hardware development mess of its own,

Much like the Joint Strike Fighter.
 
2012-06-21 10:42:50 AM  
But don't you DARE suggest we cut the defense budget or we'll be overrun in no time

/and while we're at it, let's cut food stamps
//f*ckers
 
2012-06-21 11:01:53 AM  
I see the problem right there, they are using Internet Explorer.
 
2012-06-21 11:05:30 AM  
...and I'm sure every penny of that 6 billion was spent on actually developing the radio. 100%.
 
2012-06-21 11:05:31 AM  
of course the six billion they spend would be ours

//fark the dod
//cut the budget in half and watch them budget like the rest of america
 
2012-06-21 11:08:21 AM  
SDR's are everywhere and work well. the problem is the frequency hopping schema they tried to develop to move live comms from HF to VHF to UHF to maintain the best use of the spectrum at any given point. basically if you are driving down the road talking to a fixed point (CHQ) as the distances increased the frequency of the live comms would change to follow the best propagation and density of comms.

a noble attempt, but given the massive development of digital systems that need more spectrum with wide bandwidths, managing that packet load becomes a massive headache for a mobile system.
 
2012-06-21 11:09:12 AM  
i47.tinypic.com
 
2012-06-21 11:11:55 AM  
What did they do, buy a few top-of-the-line HF rigs from Yaesu or Icom?
 
2012-06-21 11:12:48 AM  
Yep, as I suspected, it was about JTRS.
 
2012-06-21 11:17:01 AM  
DoD doesn't use the waterfall model.

DoD uses the Integrated Defense Acqusition, Technology, and Logistics Life-Cycle Management System.

/See also DoDD 5000.02
// DoDD 5000.02 superceeded DoDD 5000.2
/// Gov't logic.
//// +1 on the OV-1 in the article.. but that's DoDAF, not 5000.02
 
2012-06-21 11:23:46 AM  

asciibaron: SDR's are everywhere and work well. the problem is the frequency hopping schema they tried to develop to move live comms from HF to VHF to UHF to maintain the best use of the spectrum at any given point. basically if you are driving down the road talking to a fixed point (CHQ) as the distances increased the frequency of the live comms would change to follow the best propagation and density of comms.

a noble attempt, but given the massive development of digital systems that need more spectrum with wide bandwidths, managing that packet load becomes a massive headache for a mobile system.


Not only that, but as the article points out there are physics problems as well: An antenna that works well at HF isn't going to work as well at VHF or UHF, and vice-versa. An antenna optimized for VHF or UHF use is going to be absolutely horrid at HF. In attempting to make a very wideband system, they introduced problems that wouldn't have been an issue with single-band radios.
 
2012-06-21 11:24:32 AM  
i bet that comes out to about $189,500.00 a job. Thanks alot Fartbama!
 
2012-06-21 11:30:10 AM  

dittybopper: asciibaron: SDR's are everywhere and work well. the problem is the frequency hopping schema they tried to develop to move live comms from HF to VHF to UHF to maintain the best use of the spectrum at any given point. basically if you are driving down the road talking to a fixed point (CHQ) as the distances increased the frequency of the live comms would change to follow the best propagation and density of comms.

a noble attempt, but given the massive development of digital systems that need more spectrum with wide bandwidths, managing that packet load becomes a massive headache for a mobile system.

Not only that, but as the article points out there are physics problems as well: An antenna that works well at HF isn't going to work as well at VHF or UHF, and vice-versa. An antenna optimized for VHF or UHF use is going to be absolutely horrid at HF. In attempting to make a very wideband system, they introduced problems that wouldn't have been an issue with single-band radios.


Meh, they should have used a 43-foot vertical with a decent ground plane.
 
2012-06-21 11:30:25 AM  
yes ditty, the antenna system is a huge PITA for the mobile systems. driving a porcupine isn't going to work.
 
2012-06-21 11:34:59 AM  
 
2012-06-21 11:36:07 AM  

asciibaron: yes ditty, the antenna system is a huge PITA for the mobile systems. driving a porcupine isn't going to work.


Hamsticks, Outbackers... Screwdrivers???
 
2012-06-21 11:39:03 AM  

Smoky Dragon Dish:
Hamsticks, Outbackers... Screwdrivers???


in a combat zone with people who fix everything with a sledge hammer? what screwdriver is going to go from 2MHz to 1296MHz???
 
2012-06-21 11:41:17 AM  

asciibaron: Meh, they should have used a 43-foot vertical with a decent ground plane.

nice QST reference.

the DoD should just talk to this guy

709 ANT.MAN


I made my own with a Yaesu FC-40, a 50-foot tree, and a groundplate from DX Engineering.

I was calling CQ once around 14.06875 on PSK31 25w. ZL station comes back to me, RST 569. They work well enough. I could tune very band except for 40m, but I think I needed some tuned radials for 40.
 
2012-06-21 11:45:51 AM  

asciibaron: Smoky Dragon Dish:
Hamsticks, Outbackers... Screwdrivers???

in a combat zone with people who fix everything with a sledge hammer? what screwdriver is going to go from 2MHz to 1296MHz???


I thought Pvt Snuffy used a rock to fix things?
 
2012-06-21 11:51:30 AM  

Smoky Dragon Dish: I could tune very band except for 40m, but I think I needed some tuned radials for 40.


you sound like 709 ANT.MAN. how did it work on 2m or 70cm?
 
2012-06-21 11:53:32 AM  

asciibaron: yes ditty, the antenna system is a huge PITA for the mobile systems. driving a porcupine isn't going to work.


Actually, yes it does. My car looks like one: I have the standard broadcast receiver antenna, a 2 meter 1/4 wave, a 6 meter 1/4 wave, and a 10 meter base loaded whip. I used to have a fifth antenna for just general HF shortwave broadcast reception, but the magmount broke.

Driving a porcupine works fairly well, and it's a snap to find your car in the parking lot.
 
2012-06-21 11:57:22 AM  

asciibaron: Smoky Dragon Dish:
Hamsticks, Outbackers... Screwdrivers???

in a combat zone with people who fix everything with a sledge hammer? what screwdriver is going to go from 2MHz to 1296MHz???


Nah, what they need is a whip and one of them there MAXX-COM automagic antenna resistors!
 
2012-06-21 12:24:57 PM  
I used to work for Harris actually. Can't say much, other than that the software for TESTING these radios is insanely complicated, and I don't even want to think about the stuff actually running them.
 
2012-06-21 12:53:01 PM  
I was working on that program when I got laid off. When I interviewed for it, first question I had was "how stable is this?". Turns out it was stable for six months.

And yeah, thanks for laying me off it 2009, the worst job market of my career. And with a new baby daughter to support as well.

/turned out OK
//I like my 40% higher wage, TYVM
 
2012-06-21 01:00:11 PM  

asciibaron: Smoky Dragon Dish: I could tune very band except for 40m, but I think I needed some tuned radials for 40.

you sound like 709 ANT.MAN. how did it work on 2m or 70cm?


Apparently, tongue-in-cheek comments don't work so well on the interweb.... ;-) I was lampooning a little bit of how a conversation might go at the PMs responsible for JTRS.

Seriously, I do use a ~43-foot vertical, but that's because you need to use a non-resonnant length of wire for best use of the FC-40 that I have. I never considered putting that on 2m/440. That vertical of mone... I don't consider a miracle or anything. I have to have a stealthy antenna. The tree is 50 feet high, so I can't use a length >50.

I do use hamsticks on 20m, 17m, 15m, and 10m with my 857. Had good luck with those, but would never consider one for 75/80 or 160.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-06-21 01:02:21 PM  
dittybopper

Do people drive extra nice around you because anything with so many antennas must be a cop car?
 
2012-06-21 01:05:27 PM  

ZAZ: dittybopper

Do people drive extra nice around you because anything with so many antennas must be a cop car?


No, because cops don't generally drive a Hyundai Accent.
 
2012-06-21 01:09:11 PM  

Smoky Dragon Dish: Seriously, I do use a ~43-foot vertical, but that's because you need to use a non-resonnant length of wire for best use of the FC-40 that I have. I never considered putting that on 2m/440. That vertical of mone... I don't consider a miracle or anything. I have to have a stealthy antenna. The tree is 50 feet high, so I can't use a length >50.


You should consider trying a wire J-pole on 20 meters. I built one, and it works great, and it's about 50 feet in length. Best part: When you feed it directly at the bottom, the SWR is actually only about 2:1, which means you can just use a tuner and not fark around with an elevated feedpoint, and you won't lose that much in a reasonable length of coax. If you play around with the lengths of the radiating and matching sections, you can get it even lower.
 
2012-06-21 01:20:36 PM  

ZAZ: But the program meant to fix the mess, called the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), instead became a massive 15-year software and hardware development mess of its own,

Much like the Joint Strike Fighter.


It worked with the M1/Chieftan/Merkava tank.
 
2012-06-21 01:28:56 PM  

dittybopper: Smoky Dragon Dish: Seriously, I do use a ~43-foot vertical, but that's because you need to use a non-resonnant length of wire for best use of the FC-40 that I have. I never considered putting that on 2m/440. That vertical of mone... I don't consider a miracle or anything. I have to have a stealthy antenna. The tree is 50 feet high, so I can't use a length >50.

You should consider trying a wire J-pole on 20 meters. I built one, and it works great, and it's about 50 feet in length. Best part: When you feed it directly at the bottom, the SWR is actually only about 2:1, which means you can just use a tuner and not fark around with an elevated feedpoint, and you won't lose that much in a reasonable length of coax. If you play around with the lengths of the radiating and matching sections, you can get it even lower.


I've thought about doing something like that. I have several trees I can use that are all about the same length.

I also have a AlphaDelta DX-EE dipole up about 35 feet as an inverted vee. The vertical that I use is a little better for getting my signal out, I think, because my skip distance is a little larger. As least according to what I'm seeing on pskreporter.

FWIW, my feedpoint on the vertical is basically on the ground. I have about 40 radials down, not buried, but the thatch has covered the wires, so you cant see them.

I also want to put a 6m or 2m loop on the old tv antenna mast on the roof to do some weak signal work.

Sadly, XYL thinks antennas are ugly... one reason to be stealthy. Another is that my neighborhood had an 11-meter operator running dirty and illegally 8 hours a day about 10 years ago. The neighbors are a little skeptical of me.
 
2012-06-21 01:29:46 PM  
Wow a $6 billion waste on radio and Clear Channel wasent involved. I am shocked!
 
2012-06-21 01:31:09 PM  

groppet: Wow a $6 billion waste on radio and Clear Channel wasent involved. I am shocked!


When I first saw the article posted, two things popped into my head at the same time: 1) Clear Channel and 2) JTRS.
 
2012-06-21 01:33:48 PM  

Smoky Dragon Dish: FWIW, my feedpoint on the vertical is basically on the ground. I have about 40 radials down, not buried, but the thatch has covered the wires, so you cant see them.


That's why I went with a J-pole: No radials!
 
2012-06-21 01:39:05 PM  
/csb

I spent a little while working on the Common Controller project: a single device that one soldier could use to control any of the militiary's unmanned vehicles*. The program had a slew of problems in all areas, but the most difficult to overcome? Radios. Every device the CC was supposed to operate with had a different radio than the next, which was a pain to plan for and design around. Hell, one of the radios required an antenna that would have been mounted to a soldiers helmet, sticking upwards like a "come shoot me" flag.

So, reading about this radio program reminds me of the program I worked on, and makes me laugh.

*not to include weaponized drones.
 
2012-06-21 02:41:52 PM  

asciibaron: SDR's are everywhere and work well.


SDR kicks ass in some ways. It can be inefficient - SDRs tend to run hot, the more flexible they are the more power they tend to use, as you load on more and more DSP capability to deal with the worst case processing you've got to cover, thus the attempt to reload FPGAs on the fly. When you get down to doing that, it's an indication that something's badly amiss in your design approach. I know it's done a lot. But morphing the hardware on the run is generally a bad sign. Worse, if you try to cover the spectrum from DC to light, as Dittybopper pointed out, you'll find you can't.

SDR isn't the issue here, though, it's JTRS. JTRS is a great example of multi-service mission creep from an initially crazy definition given 15 years to run wild. And they weren't really ready to do it 15 years ago, either. You can get a LOT more processing power now for the milliWatt, either in dedicated DSP or FPGA. Not that you could fix JTRS.

Plus, you've got a huge spin up time. 10 minutes? Holy cow. If you can't use the thing in the dark during a rainstorm while running for your life within 10 seconds of turning it on, you need to reconsider the design.
 
2012-06-21 02:43:39 PM  

dittybopper: Driving a porcupine works fairly well, and it's a snap to find your car in the parking lot.


All you need's a plate that says NSA 024 or the like. A few assorted DOD/base stickers.
 
2012-06-21 02:51:08 PM  
Could someone explain what a six dollar "billion radio" is? Why does it make a mess?
 
2012-06-21 02:57:35 PM  

erewhon: asciibaron: SDR's are everywhere and work well.

SDR kicks ass in some ways. It can be inefficient - SDRs tend to run hot, the more flexible they are the more power they tend to use, as you load on more and more DSP capability to deal with the worst case processing you've got to cover, thus the attempt to reload FPGAs on the fly. When you get down to doing that, it's an indication that something's badly amiss in your design approach. I know it's done a lot. But morphing the hardware on the run is generally a bad sign. Worse, if you try to cover the spectrum from DC to light, as Dittybopper pointed out, you'll find you can't.

SDR isn't the issue here, though, it's JTRS. JTRS is a great example of multi-service mission creep from an initially crazy definition given 15 years to run wild. And they weren't really ready to do it 15 years ago, either. You can get a LOT more processing power now for the milliWatt, either in dedicated DSP or FPGA. Not that you could fix JTRS.

Plus, you've got a huge spin up time. 10 minutes? Holy cow. If you can't use the thing in the dark during a rainstorm while running for your life within 10 seconds of turning it on, you need to reconsider the design.


Well put.

The idea of a common hardware platform to replace most radios isn't necessarily a bad idea, so long as you understand the limitations of what you can reasonably accomplish. Hell, I'd love for something like that, because maybe it would result in some cheap ham radio gear due to economy of scale: If the same basic platform can be an HF radio, or a VHF/UHF dual bander, or a DC to Daylight rig with just the proper software loaded, that's a major plus for ham operators.

I wonder if we can interest Alinco/Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu in the concept, or are we going to have to depend on China to develop something like that?
 
2012-06-21 03:23:27 PM  

dittybopper: erewhon: asciibaron: SDR's are everywhere and work well.

SDR kicks ass in some ways. It can be inefficient - SDRs tend to run hot, the more flexible they are the more power they tend to use, as you load on more and more DSP capability to deal with the worst case processing you've got to cover, thus the attempt to reload FPGAs on the fly. When you get down to doing that, it's an indication that something's badly amiss in your design approach. I know it's done a lot. But morphing the hardware on the run is generally a bad sign. Worse, if you try to cover the spectrum from DC to light, as Dittybopper pointed out, you'll find you can't.

SDR isn't the issue here, though, it's JTRS. JTRS is a great example of multi-service mission creep from an initially crazy definition given 15 years to run wild. And they weren't really ready to do it 15 years ago, either. You can get a LOT more processing power now for the milliWatt, either in dedicated DSP or FPGA. Not that you could fix JTRS.

Plus, you've got a huge spin up time. 10 minutes? Holy cow. If you can't use the thing in the dark during a rainstorm while running for your life within 10 seconds of turning it on, you need to reconsider the design.

Well put.

The idea of a common hardware platform to replace most radios isn't necessarily a bad idea, so long as you understand the limitations of what you can reasonably accomplish. Hell, I'd love for something like that, because maybe it would result in some cheap ham radio gear due to economy of scale: If the same basic platform can be an HF radio, or a VHF/UHF dual bander, or a DC to Daylight rig with just the proper software loaded, that's a major plus for ham operators.

I wonder if we can interest Alinco/Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu in the concept, or are we going to have to depend on China to develop something like that?


Wouxun, wouxoff, Daniel-san.

/Not holding my breath for Japan/USA
 
2012-06-21 03:52:03 PM  

Smoky Dragon Dish: Wouxun, wouxoff, Daniel-san.

/Not holding my breath for Japan/USA


I actually have a Wouxun KG-UV3D that I bought to replace my failing Yaesu VX-7R, which was my daily carry radio. Not bad for the price. I'm waiting to see what their dual-band mobile will cost (if they ever start actually selling it). Based on the specs, if it's priced at anything below $250, I'll snag one in a minute. AM and FM broadcast receive, along with shortwave broadcast receive? Cross-band repeat? The only thing missing is airband receive.
 
2012-06-21 04:23:18 PM  

dittybopper: Smoky Dragon Dish: Wouxun, wouxoff, Daniel-san.

/Not holding my breath for Japan/USA

I actually have a Wouxun KG-UV3D that I bought to replace my failing Yaesu VX-7R, which was my daily carry radio. Not bad for the price. I'm waiting to see what their dual-band mobile will cost (if they ever start actually selling it). Based on the specs, if it's priced at anything below $250, I'll snag one in a minute. AM and FM broadcast receive, along with shortwave broadcast receive? Cross-band repeat? The only thing missing is airband receive.


I was thinking about getting one to try some satellite work. I have a VX-6R, but it doesn't do dual receive.

The only drawback that I see is that I've seen the chinese radios marketed as "Hunting Radios"
Link
 
2012-06-21 04:49:03 PM  
$6,000,000,000 or one Buffet back taxes payment.
 
2012-06-21 05:07:02 PM  

jaybeezey: $6,000,000,000 or one Buffet back taxes payment.


Huh?
 
2012-06-21 05:44:26 PM  

Smoky Dragon Dish: DoD doesn't use the waterfall model.

DoD uses the Integrated Defense Acqusition, Technology, and Logistics Life-Cycle Management System.

/See also DoDD 5000.02
// DoDD 5000.02 superceeded DoDD 5000.2
/// Gov't logic.
//// +1 on the OV-1 in the article.. but that's DoDAF, not 5000.02


Maybe the DoD should please stick to the rivers and the lakes that they're used to.

/I got nothing.
 
2012-06-21 05:48:47 PM  
It might have worked better (stood a chance) if they'd gone for band-defining front ends and fixed number crunching back ends/protocol processors with I/Q and clock between them, and a defined IF that gave you the bandwidth you needed for whatever. Or maybe had "this is what I am" I2C links in addition to I/Q and clock, so that the back end/receiver could figure out hey, this is UHF, so I'm going to get IF frequency (x) to work with. Or it's HF, so I have enough ass to just process it without an intermediate conversion.

Yeah, that ties you to the module du jour for the front end frequency band. But at that point it's a friggin' SNAP to implement, at least compared to JTRS-heavy. And you can optimize the antenna, transmitter and band-limit the front-end receiver to get your SINAD up to something manageable instead of trying to farking A-D the entire EM spectrum before you pick through it for your data.

It's not like Joe Snuffy needs to be running around in the field with a GWEN-to-THz capable field radio anyway. There's no point having them pack around LF and EHF parts of this stuff. Leave the super-wideband multi-frontend rig back at base camp. Hell, if you trust your data link security, you could have the relevant traffic automatically converted and relayed by any base level rig in the area to any field rig, if you just HAD to hook someone to an out-of-band asset.
 
2012-06-21 05:56:15 PM  
I read the article, then prayed that dittybopper would show up to explain it to me. Ditts, I wish you could have met my step dad. You two would have gotten platonically married. Navy background, 26 years in submarine communications, could make any electronics device stand on its head and bark... Only three problems, he typed in ALL-CAPS, he couldn't read for shiat, and now he's dead. He was a mean old shiat, who couldn't understand why if he understood something, YOU couldn't, and thought he could POUND knowledge into you, but once you got it, he turned into a kitten.

He taught college courses, but was semi-illiterate. When I was in high school, I used to read his lesson plans into a dictaphone, so he could understand what he was supposed to teach that day. He was so different from me (my knowledge base is a mile wide, but about 1 inch deep), that we couldn't find common ground. But if you gave him a task requiring electronic skills he became Rainman.

Either you or he should have been put in charge of this project. Committees have never solved a goddamned thing.
 
2012-06-21 06:13:39 PM  

Smoky Dragon Dish: dittybopper: Smoky Dragon Dish: Wouxun, wouxoff, Daniel-san.

/Not holding my breath for Japan/USA

I actually have a Wouxun KG-UV3D that I bought to replace my failing Yaesu VX-7R, which was my daily carry radio. Not bad for the price. I'm waiting to see what their dual-band mobile will cost (if they ever start actually selling it). Based on the specs, if it's priced at anything below $250, I'll snag one in a minute. AM and FM broadcast receive, along with shortwave broadcast receive? Cross-band repeat? The only thing missing is airband receive.

I was thinking about getting one to try some satellite work. I have a VX-6R, but it doesn't do dual receive.

The only drawback that I see is that I've seen the chinese radios marketed as "Hunting Radios"
Link


So far I'm happy with my handheld. I do however recommend getting the programming cable for it and entering you freqs that way. Nice thing is that you can open them up. Now I don't have to carry a separate radio to talk to the XYL on FRS when we separate at the mall or whatever. I got good audio reports and I used it all day during a public service event and the battery held up great, even at high power, though I must admit I didn't transmit much.
 
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