What is HUBNet and how it promotes amateur radio?

  • by

I wanted to share my thoughts about HUBNet, what it is and what I see it doing for amateur radio.
These are of course my own opinions and everyone reserves the right to have their own.

– Keith 2E0ISK.

So, what are the core goals for HUBNet?

HUBNet’s core goal is to connect repeaters across the country, to help promote activity on those repeaters and to encourage the growth of amateur radio in those areas. With HUBNet now the largest Allstar based amateur radio network in the world, it has done that and a whole lot more.

HUBNet is an opt-in system, repeater keepers, gateway owners etc choose to connect their systems to the network, to help promote amateur radio in their respective areas and give their local hams activity where previously there may have been little or none.

So, where did the world come in?

HUBNet utilises the Allstar system. Allstar was created by Jim Dixon WB6NIL, who had a lot of involvement with Asterisk in the early days of implementation. He realised you could take the open-source Asterisk PBX phone system (Voice Over IP) and utilise it for much more, including amateur radio. He started a project called App_Rpt. Skipping ahead the Allstar network was born and nodes connected to it from all over the world. As HUBNet is a part of this network, international repeater keepers and gateway owners have the ability to also connect to the system.

Why is HUBNet good for Amateur radio?

Let’s address the obvious issues. Two things humans are not great with, change and fear of the unknown. It is very easy to go into turmoil that new things will kill off old things and that will be the end of the hobby etc. VOIP based systems are not promoted by the RSGB, I presume, because of the misguided perception that it is bad for the hobby. The simple fact is, it facilitates the hobby, it breeds activity and has allowed more hams to come together and share the joys of tradition amateur radio modes more than ever.

Radio is an amazing hobby. Unlike many, it has such a diverse range of possible directions to take. Various modes both digital and analogue. Communication, social, technical. Morse has a unique place in radio, just as much as VOIP linked repeaters. All are special and have their strengths and weaknesses. But none replace each other. Ask any AM operator and they will tell you SSB is awful compared to that beautiful broadcast bandwidth audio. Ask any FM operator about DMR and they will tell you how awful DMR sounds against that lovely wide bandwidth FM signal. Technologies change and facets of the hobby become more diverse. But they don’t replace they just add to the hobby. One of the amazing things HUBNet also does is allows those various facets to come together on one network. Why is that good for the Hobby?

Those who might only know about digital modes learn about analogue modes and vice versa. You get to play and experiment and learn. All the things this hobby is about.

Before I became involved with HUBNet I had never played on HF nor had I made a contact. My QTH cannot have outdoor antennas and so my ability to play radio is limited. Thanks to meeting people through HUBNet and going along to HUBFest, I learnt about setting up a vertical HF wire antenna and worked my first HF contact G8KOE, Martin.

HUBNet is incredibly diverse, it has hams from all ages, genders and areas of the hobby. Vastly experienced HF operators, morse QRP operators, Hilltoppers, digital radio, computing the list goes on. You learn from them and they open you up to areas of the hobby you might never have explored…….and they did this using a repeater attached to a VOIP system…HUBNet. They live 200+ miles down south from you and you would never have been able to work them and learn from them without a large YAGI probably on a large mast or halfway up Winterhill. Of course, who doesn’t love going up Winterhill and setting up 2m Yagis and working the south? That’s what is so amazing about this hobby, however, day in day out it is more practical to use a more local radio mode.

HUBNet promotes practical hands-on fun!

HUBNet meets up twice a year. In May for the HUBFest and in September for the HAMFest.
This years HUBFest will be from the 28 May until the 31st of May at Brow Farm Campsite.

We camp at a campsite for a good four days playing radio. Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to camp out, you can just come down for the day. You don’t even have to use HUBNet, we have had visitors before now who listen only, heard about it on HUBNet and came along to play radio. Everyone brings along their gear and we learn to set up antennas, play with wires, learn about field operations and work HF on top band and others you might not be able to at your QTH. You learn so much from your fellow hams who have expertise in all sorts of different areas of the hobby. It’s a great social, educational and technical holiday and one I look forward to each year.

So, as you can see, HUBNet promotes and encourages hams to come together and play radio, which is, after all, what we love about our hobby.

So, there you have it. My thoughts on why HUBNet is a great network for our hobby and how it brings us all together. I hope anyone reading this who has their doubts and opinions on VOIP based radio networks can reflect on some of the things I have mentioned and see how actually a network such as HUBNet is an asset to our hobby rather than something that will kill off older techniques or facets of the hobby. My final word, of course, is education. We educate each other in this hobby and so teaching fellow hams about all of the available modes is down to us.

Special thanks go to Steve M0HOY, Peter G7RPG and Stuart M0WTX for maintaining the core of the system and to all the repeater keepers and gateway/simplex providers across the country and the world!

While I have made every effort to get the information above correct, there is always room for error. Should you see something that is not correct, please drop me an email (my email is listed on QRZ.com). I am happy to make amendments and corrections.

Links:
https://www.hubnetwork.uk/ – The main HUBNet website.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/hubnetwork.uk/ – The HUBNet Facebook Group.
http://allmon.hubnetwork.uk/ – See what nodes are connected to HUBNet.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hubnet.radio – Listen to HUBNet using this App (Android only currently).
https://twitter.com/m0hoy – Follow M0HOY, all things HUBNet and Steves adventures in radio.
https://twitter.com/cqg7rpg – Follow G7RPG, all things HUBNet and Steves adventures in radio.
https://twitter.com/m0wtx – Follow M0WTX, a mixture of HUBNet and NRG information.
https://www.allstarlink.org/ – Allstar website.