As published on the The North Okanagan Radio Amateur Club Website
HamWAN is a modern, multi-megabit, IP-based, digital network for amateur radio use!
HamWAN is a non-profit organization developing best practices for high speed amateur radio data networks. HamWAN also runs the Puget Sound Data Ring in Washington State as a real-world network implementation of their proposed designs.
So far, HamWAN networks have been used for things like low-latency repeater linking, real-time video feeds from distant locations, serving APRS I-gates, providing redundant internet access to emergency operations centers, and more. Any licensed radio amateur in a HamWAN service area can connect their shack directly to the network with just a small investment in equipment and no recurring cost. Since many traditional uses for Internet at home are not compatible with Amateur Radio rules it’s important to note that this service won’t replace your home Internet connection. However, it works and acts just like one but it’s intent is for Amateur Radio application use only.
So just to make it clear, using HamWan to surf the internet or watch YouTube is not acceptable use.
But using it to host an APRS iGate, or a digital node for ILRP, D-Link, or Wires-X would be an acceptable use. Because it’s a shared free service, everyone usage on the network is expected to be kept as minimal as possible and focused only on Amateur radio technologies.
The Puget Sound Data Ring
The HamWAN Puget Sound Data Ring has cells deployed at numerous wide-coverage sites. These sites are interconnected with 5 GHz modems and routed with Open Shortest Path First (known by the acronym OSPF). This forms a redundant high-speed backbone to route traffic between sites and to the internet.
HamWAN.org has a website with maps and pictures that help illustrate the Puget Sound Data Ring.
On those maps the Red “coverage areas” indicate a signal level of -70 dBm or better when using the 30 dBi recommended client antenna at 30 ft above ground. A signal level of -70 dBm or stronger will support full speed networking with about 10 Mbps in areas with clear line of sight and no interference. Connections outside of the red areas that still have decent line of sight may have weak signal and decreased speeds.
HamWAN is not just in Western Washington! There are a handful of networks around the United States and Canada implementing the HamWAN standard.
It takes about $200-300 of equipment to connect—which is less than the typical 2 meter mobile setup!
An example of that typical starter equipment is a;
Poynting 5.9 GHz 30 dBi grid or 2 ft solid dish antenna
Mikrotik RouterBOARD Metal 5SHPn wifi radio
Due to their excellent line of sight, mountain-top radio sites in western Washington and BC have a very high chance of getting HamWAN coverage. If you would like to connect your repeater to HamWAN for linking, IRLP, Echolink, or an APRS igate, that might be possible in areas where HamWAN is available.
If you think your site would make a good HamWAN cell site, you might help the local project by letting them use your QTH to host a cell and thus extend the network and accessibility for others.
If You’re Interested in the HamWAN project in general you can find out more by vistiing their website or joining their;
Sign up to the mailing list by clicking here or sending an email to psdr-join@HamWAN.org. The subject and body are not important. Archives of the distribution list are also available.
Online Chat Room
Participate in the conversation, ask for help or just follow along in real time. Hang out in the project’s IRC channel #HamWAN-Support on irc.freenode.org.
If you would like to volunteer for any of the work required.
A lot has changed since HamWAN first launched. They still recommend the starter equipment that I mentioned earlier. But now, many HamWAN sites are capable of Multi Input, Multi Putput or MIMO — meaning you’ll get the best performance out of a similar MIMO client modem — and there is a lot more compatible hardware on the market than there was before.
HamWAN’s first goal was to provide a set of standards for implementing high performance microwave networks. Their second goal was to create a reference implementation of this network in the Puget Sound region.
To call your network a HamWAN, you must meet the following certification criteria:
A ham must be able to use the Client Node Configuration instructions to connect to your network. You can use the Sector Configuration instructions to accomplish this. Here is a summary:
Use the SSID ‘HamWAN’
Use NV2 TDMA mode
Use the 10 MHz or 5 MHz in 10 MHz channels frequency plan with 120 degree sectors
Your network must be routable on the Internet. It is important that HamWAN networks are interconnected, and to do this we use the Internet.
A convenient/cheap way to accomplish this is by using 188.8.131.52/8 addresses from AMPR
Your network must be open for use by all hams. The only exclusion permitted are the rules pertaining to Amateur Radio use in the country of the networks location.
Networks must contact the HamWAN organization to confirm that these criteria have been met to certify their network.
Puget Sound Data Ring – HamWAN reference network
MemHamWAN – Memphis, Tennessee.
Tampa Bay HamWAN – a Florida Simulcast Group project covering Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, Florida.
British Columbia Interior HamWAN – Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada is the newest network to be certified and their just waiting for some final website updates etc, to show them as fully certified by the HamWAN organization.
Other Networks Pending Certification
New Mexico HamWAN – Albuquerque, New Mexico
HamWAN South, Georgia.
Interconnected/routable with HamWAN these networks have been designed in a way that allows communication with HamWAN, but they use different RF standards.
HamNet – European ham microwave network
Mi6WAN – Michigan
BC Interior HamWAN
So now that I’ve covered the concept of HamWAN and I’ve described the founding organization and the Puget Sound Data Ring let’s talk about how this may affect us?
The Kelowna Amateur Radio Club, the Orchard City Amateur Radio Club has started their own HamWAN project the British Columbia Interior HamWAN – A modern multi-megabit wide area amateur radio network centered in Kelowna, BC.
Their project has it’s own website at hamwan.ca and it’s growth over the last year or so has been pretty impressive.
In 2015, a group of amateurs from the OCARC started discussing the possibility of using off-the-shelf radio gear on ham frequencies to provide high speed data capability up and down the Okanagan Valley. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, it was decided to investigate existing projects, such as the Pugent Sound HamWAN and the European HamNET.
Due to the proximity, as well as certain technological advantages, it was decided to pursue a HamWAN-compatible design. An application for a BC Community Gaming Grant was successfully applied for in 2016.
On June 11, 2017, The first successful HamWAN connection was made between the QTH of Ian VE7BST and the 0 degree sector of the Landmark building site. Sectors 120° and 240° were added at a later date.
The Kuipers Peak site was installed and operational thanks to a work party on July 8, 2017. This site has an uplink to the Landmark building, and sectors at 0° and 240°.
The Black Knight Mountain site was installed and operational thanks to a work party on October 1, 2017. This site has an uplink to the Landmark building, and sectors at 0° and 240°.
So far their main Sector Sites include the following
Sector Site – LMK – Landmark 2 buildfing in downtown Kelowna
Sector Site BKM – on Black Knight Mountain Kelowna
Sector Site KUI – on Kuiper’s Peak Kelowna
Sector Site TUR on Turtle Mountain in Vernon is partially deployed and should come online on the coming months. It’s deployment is contingent on VE7UN’s availability and weather access to the site, but they do have the backhaul network all the way there up and running, and the sectors are configured and ready to install. They anticipate that it would require a 4-6 hour onsite window to complete the job.
OCARC also has two main Client Sites.
CED – The OCARC Cedar Creek club station
ELI – The OCARC Ellison club station
NORAC and it’s members have been invited to join the HamWAN project
As mentioned already they have a Sector Site on Turtle Mountain here in Vernon. The foot print for this site covers virtually all of Vernon, as well as Armstrong, and Coldstream.
A proposed use of this network would be for our club to migrate any of our existing Internet connected servies over to HamWAN at the various repeater sites, as well as a proposal to purchase a new DR-2X repeater from Yaesu and join that repeater to an Okanagan valley network of linked repeaters for digital voice mode between Vernon and Kelowna and other communities.
The main technology that these new DR-2X repeaters would use is called IMRS which stands for Internet Linked Multi Repeater System. This technology allows the repeater operator to link multiple repeaters over a wide area network or local area network without the need for secondary repeater controllers and link radios like traditional repeater links have used. And with the bonus of clear digital communications via your Yaesu C4FM radio.