ARVN: Amateur Radio//Video news ARVN
Amateur Radio
Video News
 

and now, on the web
Ham Radio Now

Sort of a blog....
March 16, 2013. The episode count is now officially 67, but since some episodes contain multiple programs, we've really done 98 of them. But we're stuck with the official 'episode count,' so I guess we'll wait to celebrate.

DOWNLOAD 
HAMRADIONOW? Most of you watch the programs 'streaming,' either on our web site, on the hosting site (Blip.tv), or on YouTube. As of February 2013, we're also available on iTunes, and the big deal there is that... with the iTunes app... you can download the programs for free. You can stream the programs on the iTunes web site. You need the app (for Windows or Mac) to download. We get an occasional request for "a DVD." Somebody wants to play a HAMRADIONOW program at a club meeting (YAY!) and they wisely don't trust live Internet delivery. The iTunes app is the fast DIY way to do that, unless something goes wrong. It works for me, but I've already heard horror stories. So failing that, I can send links for a few downloads through YouSendIt. Not the whole library, please! If you absolutely must have physical media, send me email to kn4aq@arvn.tv and I'll figure it out. The entry below for September 29. 2012 has more on that, as does the bottom of this page.

September 29, 2012. What... twice a year is too often to update a 'blog'? Sorry. I've been pretty busy with HamRadioNow. Episodes into the mid-20's now, but some of them have a dozen or more programs in them, so technically I've done about 40 HamRadioNow shows. I don't want to be 'promotional' here, so not too much to say. I'm on this page because I needed to update the DVD ordering info at the bottom. I'm not making DVDs of HamRadioNow programs for sale routinely. I'll do something by special request. I prefer to send an 'mp4' file on DVD if you need physical media. Send me email to kn4aq@arvn.tv and we'll work something out. I can also send links for downloading programs by request. They're typically 1GB or more, so know your limits. If you know how to download from YouTube, feel free. Well, it's OK with me, but it's not really OK with them.

Ham Radio NowFebruary 28, 2012. Ham Radio Now.TV  I was having too much fun (and getting such an ego boost) from my guest-host stints on Bob Heil's Ham Nation. But I realized there was a lot I wanted to do that wouldn't fit in Ham Nation. Add all the Leo Laporte kool-aid I was ingesting about how Internet based TV was about to take off, and I realized that there was something I could do to make ARVN what I really wanted it to be — a topical, immediate source of interesting ham radio television programming. I could create my own on-line Ham Radio television program. And so I did: HamRadioNow.

Step one was to create a name, step two was to secure a web domain for that name, and step three was to get some programming. That fell together with the 2012 Orlando HamCation. I don't recall exactly how I came up with "Ham Radio Now," but when I did, I was sure it would already be in use, and unavailable as a dot-com on the web. Wrong! It wasn't in use, best I could tell through extensive Google searches, and the web site had just been released by the previous owner.

It was a little tense, as I had to buy it at auction, and I wouldn't know if I got it until the noon opening of the HamCation. Then a curve ball: I won the auction (nobody else bid), but I had to wait another week while the previous owner was offered the opportunity to buy it back. I'd exchanged email with him (a retired broadcast engineer in Florida) and he said he'd hoped to do something with it, but couldn't for health reasons. So I didn't expect him to reinstate it, but I had to wait anyway. The week passed, and HamRadioNow.com was transferred to me. BUT, I really like the domain HamRadioNow.TV better. I think it says more about the program. So that's how I'll be branding it. I needed dot-com because that's how people think. Either will work  (and by the way, "ARVN.com" is in a warehouse and they think I'm rich, so forget it).

Ham Radio Now is now filling up with interviews I did at Orlando. Soon I'll be recording more interviews, mostly over Skype, with hams in-the-know about topics in the headlines, so stay tuned. There should be something every week, maybe more.

I'm not going to stop doing seminars and documentaries. I just needed more to do (cue insane laughter).

And oh, yes, to pay for it all. As you'll see on the pig-page, I've come up with the nice, round number of 10,000 hams, $10/year. Can that be done? I don't know. A few of my videos have hit well over 20,000 views. Most are well shy of that 10k figure. But then most are previews or promos, not full programs. We'll see. I don't need everyone wartching everything. Just 10,000 hams who each find enough that they're willing to kick in ten bucks a year. OK, I'm a dreamer. Cyndi's excited. She wants to retire.

January 2012. On-Line Video!
 And now for something completely different from ARVN. With the release of the 2011 ARRL/TAPR DCC video, we're trying something new. We released all those videos on the web (on YouTube). Full length, high-definition video, not just a highlights promo. Now that doesn't make us any money, but McDonalds still expects us to fork over $6 for a Happy Meal (actually, I haven't bought a Happy Meal in... welll... ever. So I'm guessing about the $6. But you get the idea).
Arvin, the ARVN MascotSo, how do we make money?

We ask you to just send it in. See that little piggy bank over there on the right? That's Arvin, our new mascot. Click on him (I think he's a him... not sure), and he'll take you to our contribution page, where you can volunteer to send us some dough. I guess you can call it a shareware approach to video. You send whatever you think the program was worth to you.  We're only a few days into it as I write this. I'm gratified by the fact that the average contribution is about $15, even though the minimum is $1.50. Yay, viewers! It's still very early in the process, so I have no conclusions about how well it's working. See me in February. I do know that if this doesn't work, we'll try another on-line option. It won't be as free and easy.

December 2011. We have a new domain: ARVN.TV!
The 'dot TV' domain became available a few years ago. Moving with my usual glacial pace, I finally got around to buying the ARVN.TV domain this month. Now, the rest of the story (and it looks like I need to start a blog...)

The ARVN Story...
Ham radio is slowly beginning to embrace video, about 15 years behind most other industries.*  We're seeing a ton of crap on YouTube, some halfway decent talk-show and demo stuff, but just about no fully produced documentary type programs.

I've been a video editor since the early 1970's, a ham since the mid 60's, and with the advent of affordable, high-quality "desktop video" I decided to have some fun documenting various aspects of ham radio by producing the highest quality video programs I could on a shoestring budget.  The 2006 ARDF USA Championships is my first full-fledged production. In 2008 I released my second, Digital Voice for Amateur Radioand I'll throw in a couple of Dayton Hamvention Tours (2007 and 2009), and a bunch of seminars and forums shot at Dayton and at the ARRL/TAPR digital conferences in Chicago. This year sees my newest documentary, The Last BIG Field Day. The list is growing long!

What are you doing at your next club meeting?
Who's the market?  Hams, of course.  At less than $25 for the feature DVD's, I think some individual hams would enjoy having a collection to watch and show friends.  But mostly I'm seeing clubs latch onto them as meeting programs.  I keep the documentaries to 40 minutes or less - that's about as long as most clubs can tolerate. The Last BIG Field Day has a bunch of "bonus" material. Some of the seminars would make good club meeting programs, too. They usually are more technical (answering a common complaint about club meeting programs), and most of them are less than an hour. All the DVDs are extensively indexed so you can find specific topics easily.
 Perhaps you'll let whoever is responsible for your club's programs know about ARVN!

Streaming?  Profit?  Streaming for Profit? 
As I've described ARVN to many hams, I get two consistent comments....

The first thing people tell me is that hams are cheap.  You'll never get them to spend money on these programs.  I have enough experience now to show that's not completely true. As hams discover ARVN, they've been buying the programs. Sales run between 100 and 300 per title, so hardly a runaway success, but enough to keep at it.  Alas, ARVN can't be a charity or a free lending library.  If I cover my costs and make a little money off of it, I'll keep doing it (the feature programs like "Digital Voice" and "The Last BIG Field Day" take well over 100 hours to produce, so maybe I need to make more than "a little" money off of it).
Every year we do a little better.

Second, some hams ask if I'll be streaming the videos on the web.  My answer: Yes. See the 'blog' above.

A few people have wondered if the programs can be played on community access cable TV.  Until now, I've said 'no.' Now that most of my content is on-line, and the DVDs are getting kind of old, I'll change that to 'yes.' If you know a community access channel that would like my programs, send email to kn4aq@arvn.tv.

You can embed the video I've put on the web on your web site using YouTube's embed tools. Just keep my contribution pitch attached, and please post a link to the ARVN web site, www.ARVN.TV.or the HamRadioNow site, www.HamRadioNow.tv.

KN4AQ
KN4AQ shooting an interview for the
ARDF Championships
documentary
(photo courtesy of Joe Moell K0OV)


KN4AQ (then WA9NSO) circa 1982,
in Edit Room Four at Optimus in Chicago.



ARVN Is...

ARVN is pretty much just me, though I get some help from family, friends and the occasional hired-gun professional.  I've been making radio and TV programs and commercials since high school back in the 60's.  And I've been a ham that long, too, starting as WN9NSO in 1965. I'm a writer, too. Earlier this century I wrote for and edited the SERA Repeater Journal. I've written columns for CQ and CQ VHF;  the September 2007 QST carried my feature article on "Operating D-STAR;" I'm now a fairly regular equipment reviewer for QST; and I wrote the VHF/UHF FM-DV chapter of the ARRL Operating Manual. You can download PDFs of some of the articles on my OtherStuff page

Professionally  I'm a freelance audio/video engineer, editor, producer and 
voice-talent.  You might have heard me as The Travelocity Roaming Gnomethe announcer on Travelocity radio and TV commercials (I was the announcer, not the Gnome. Click on the Gnome picture to link to one of the commercials on YouTube). That series of spots ended in 2007. My non-ham video production company is Blind Cat Video. You'll find some demo material there if you need some video or voice-over work done. The picture to the left is me in 1982, editing on an Ampex system at Optimus in Chicago. The equipment that supported that room cost over a million bucks. Pretty impressive! Yes, I knew what every button was for. And yes, I had a lot more hair. I celebrated the 60's in the 80's.

 Your Feedback
Do you have an idea for a program you'd like to see.  Are you involved in an activity you think would make a good HamRadioNow Episode?  Comments on the videos you've seen?  Problems?  Send me some mail!

Other Ham Videos Out There...
*Some of the DXpedition videos are very good.  CQ Magazine produced a very professional series of "how-to's" back in the early 90's (you'll see my wife, Cyndi KD4ACW, getting bitten by the DX Bug in the DX Video).  The ARRL also has a catalog of videos, some for sale and some they loan free.  The ones I've seen are in the "home movie" class of production.  Many are available only on VHS and they're getting kind of old.  Nothing wrong with that!  I encourage you to check the catalogs and look for interesting titles.  They can be informative and could make a good club meeting program.

And there's more and more video on the web.  ICOM is producing their own series, and there's a ton of ham video on YouTube and other individual sites.  But still, little really polished production.  My customers have told me that ARVN makes a difference they're willing to pay for.

I want to give a special plug to this web site:  www.amateurlogic.tv.  These guys have been putting together a 30 to 45 minute "podcast" video every few months for several years.  And they give it to you for free!  Production values are a little rough, but they try some neat stuff.  They get a little more technical than I usually will.  And I've recently discoverd the videos of a young ham, Chris N7ICE. He's going to give me some competiton some day!  Find him at his web site: 73s.org.  His site is also got something called "social newtorking." You know, I'm well aware of things like Facebook and Twitter. ARVN now has a Facebook page! I see the value, but don't spend much time with it. You go, Chris!

In May, 2011, Bob Heil K9EID launched Ham Nation on TWiT (This Week in Technology), an on-line network that features a bunch of technology-related programs. Ham Nation is a weekly one-hour talk show. You can see it produced live on Tuesday about 9 PM eastern. The finished programs are then available for streaming/download. There's not a lot of production — it's mostly live interviews, and Bob's got the juice to bring in the top people. Bob brought me in to be the guest host for a bunch of programs in 2011. He's moved on to other people, and I moved on to HamRadioNow.tv, but I enjoyed it.

Technical Information
In 2011 I bought three High Definition cameras, so HamRadioNow is shot in High Def.
I shoot with a Sony Z5 HDV camera (and two Sony HC9's – the photo above shows my old PD170), and I edit on Adobe Premiere PRO CS6. I have a set of wireless mics (two TRAM TR-50 lavs and two EV RE-50 hand mics using Sennheiser wireless TX/RX in the 640 MHz spectrum).  This makes "broadcast quality" video with excellent sound. I use a program called Wirecast to produce some of the 'studio' episodes. I output the programs as 720p 'mp4' video files, and upload them to Blip.tv and YouTube. Blip has a 1.5GB size limit, so I set the encode rate to stay below that. It's usually 3 mpbs or better, and I think they look pretty good. I make an archive of the program in 1080p, usually at 6 mpbs (under 4GB to store on a DVD).

I'm not making DVDs of HamRadioNow, so this info is for those interested in the old ARVN DVDs: The DVD's are "NTSC Standard Definition" - that's 525 scan lines, 30 frames per second.  If you are outside North America, you may need a multi-standard TV/monitor, or a converter to play them.  However, I have received reports that the videos play fine on computers equipped for DVD playback.  I do NOT restrict them for regional DVD playback.  If you're outside the USA and you want to give it a try, I'll refund your purchase if you can't get it to play.

DVD Playback Problems: "Home made" DVDs are notorious for playback problems, usually freezing, stuttering or skipping. Mine aren't immune. I've scoured the web for information, but I've found no universal solutions. I'm trying the best tips I've found: using high-grade 8x blank media, and burning at low speed (usually 4x), and keeping the encoded data rate below 7Mbps. That seems to have done the trick, and I'm seeing very few returns. If you have a problem with an ARVN DVD, let me know and I'll replace it free. I "spot-check" each DVD before it goes out to make sure it plays, but I can't watch them all the way through. And even if I could, DVDs that play fine on one player may have problems on another. 

73,
Gary KN4AQ

ORDER BY MAIL or PHONE
or DOWNLOAD from iTunes

For HAMRADIONOW programs
Downloads are now available free from iTunes. You'll need the iTunes app (Windows or Mac), not the web site.

I am not rotinely producing DVDs of these programs. If you need physical media, send me email and we'll work something out. It will be easiest for me to send the 'mp4' files I produce for YouTube. I can send them on a DVD, and you can play them on a computer, but NOT a typical DVD player. If you really need a 'DVD movie,' I can do it, but it will be expensive. I can also send links to download files by request. They're typically 1GB or larger, so know your limits!

FOR THE ARVN DVDS
(not HamRadioNow programs)
I can't take credt cards over the phone, only on the web site. Some people are leery of putting their credit card info on the web. If that's you,  you can mail a check for the amout listed for the DVDs. Tell me what program(s) you want, and add $3 for the first DVD, plus $1 for each additional DVD. Send it to the address over there on the right >>>>>>>>>.  (North Carolina residents add NC sales tax (6.75%, plus your local county "extra" tax, if any).

Contact
ARVN - HAMRADIONOW

Gary Pearce KN4AQ
508 Spencer Crest Ct.
Cary, NC 27513
919-380-9944
e-mail: KN4AQ@ARVN.TV
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