Posted on 9 Comments

Don’t be ridiculous about IRN or Zello

I get this all the time:

«IRN, Zello, Teamspeak is fun, but I wanna see what you will do when the cell tower is down!»

This is bullshit! I get 99,99999% of cell signal no matter where I am. I wonder if you can reach a VHF or UHF repeater for 10% of the time of your travelling with a typical 4 Watt handheld with its rubber duck antenna. And if GSM is not available, I could use a global wifi hotspot.
Disclaimer: You may be excommunicated by the hamradio community for using satellite wifi hotspots.

Hamradio is a hobby. We don’t have to be like the ultimate emergency communications service providers. Leave it to the pros. Of course we can help with our HF and VHF/UHF as an additional resource. But on a daily basis, for the sake of talking to other hams, about technology and discussing ham topics, IRN, Echolink, Allstar, and others will do just fine.
Did you know that you need to hold a hamradio license to use IRN too, if you want to use the available hamradio RF Live channels?

«Ok, but Zello, IRN and Echolink is not hamradio!»

Yeah sure, it is written in the holy book of hamradio. “They” tell you that such systems are not hamradio, so stay away from such little systems of the devil! 🙂

This reminds me those hams that are very proud of the results of their station. As if they were the ones who built their Yaesus or Kenwoods, or Icoms and Diamond antennas. Is there any merit on that? Probably, some of them don’t even know how to calculate a dipole or never have soldered a N-Type plug properly. But that is hamradio – using a “typical” hamradio station using “off-the-shelf” gear. If you use an Icom, or a Yaesu, Kenwood, etc, and you talk to another station via radio, that is hamradio. If you use an IRN device, via the 3G or 4G network (wireless! RF, ok?) then it is not hamradio. Why? because “they” say so. And if “they” say so, it’s probably true and unquestionable.

If you want to stick to the old-school speech, that’s fine, but you will need a better excuse. Have fun and keep enjoying your “5 and 9” 10-second QSOs!


Note #1: The author of this article is 42 years old, holding a ham license since he was 16. He tried all the various modes: satellite, HF, Packet, APRS, VHF, UHF, SHF, AM/FM/SSB/CW, SSTV, ATV, EME, Echolink, IRN, and probably all the new future coming modes. – Probably, he does not have a clue about hamradio!

Note #2: This article might contain some irony. Ok. Lot’s of irony.

9 thoughts on “Don’t be ridiculous about IRN or Zello

  1. Where do these radios ship from? I am in the edge of buying one, but have yet to find a way to do the live ham radio through IRN. Help needed in this area ASAP. Also, I am a military veteran. . Any additional discounts? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi. These radios ship from Hong Kong by DHL. Look for the RF channels on the IRN list.

  2. I agree. I love my conventional FM, DMR and Fusion V/UHF comms, but as ham’s we should be well versed in ALL communication technologies. We should also be practiced with what to utilize when those commercial systems do fail. It’s all radio to me, and I have fun with it all. I have no issue with using internet or wifi linking.

    1. It’s only “radio” until you hit the tower and the tower antenna shoves the signal into a regular ground-based WIRED (okay maybe fiber isn’t really a wire) private network. That private network relies on point to point wires/fiber/cable and other equipment to deliver the signal. So there are routers and numerous other touch points (ie. failure points)

      A reasonably equipped ham operator can keep their standard RF systems alive and working with some gel cells and a solar panel to keep the batteries charged. With the right antenna (and/or other hams to relay information) they can communicate a few miles or a few thousand miles without needing any other infrastructure.

      Many cell towers have limited backup capacity, and many with standby generators have to be “fed” with some type of fuel — whether diesel or propane. That means a truck of some type has to be able to reach the tower site to fill the tank(s). In a big storm, be it snow, ice, rain or wind, getting those supply vehicles to the towers to refuel them can be a challenge. Need to also remember that the same trucks that deliver the fuel need their own to make the truck go as well as to fill the truck with the fuel to be delivered.

      It doesn’t take a Cat 5 hurricane to take down your infrastructure, just a few trees across the wrong power lines, or water in a substation, to take out the very infrastructure these “wireless” Internet radios rely on.

      So it is erroneous to claim that cellular is the same as Ham Radio RF — ham Radio RF doesn’t need anything else in order to reach it’s destination. While a bit dramatic “real radio bounces off the sky” covers it — and especially if you add — “and never touches a wire (except the source and receiver antennae) along the way.


      Above being said, Ham is a hobby and understanding all different means to accomplish a connection is useful to know. But don’t over-extend that to imply that a private network connection on a cell tower is something other than what it is — a private internet connection that can and will fail as well as the components that provide the connections for all those private connections.

  3. Do people not realize that there beloved cell phone is technically a radio?

  4. Can this unit do tier2 uhf or vhf moto trbo aka DMR?
    I have a hotspot and also some local dmr repeaters.
    And a google Fi account so I could feed it a 4g sim.

  5. “Hamradio is a hobby. We don’t have to be like the ultimate emergency communications service providers. Leave it to the pros. Of course we can help with our HF and VHF/UHF as an additional resource.”

    I am fascinated by radio technology (I’m using my father’s call sign) but my main purpose is for use in emergency prep such as ARES. So I am fascinated by the idea of a “smartphone ham radio”….I think that the ease of use offered by an Android/Apple ham radio could be of huge benefit in real emergencies.

  6. Ha! It’s like DMR on steroids!

    When I use my portable Allstar node out somewhere I tell my non-ham friends. “Yeah, we’re pimping out the Verizon network for ham radio” Lol

  7. It’s simple, true ham radio dose does not require an account with a big corporation to use it.

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