[na-user] 1997 VE7TCP.AMPR.ORG Funding Drive
Lyndon Nerenberg <email@example.com>
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 23:27:04 -0600
Please direct any questions about the funding drive to:
1997 Funding Drive
Some (Ancient) History
This message is being sent to all subscribers to mail-
ing lists hosted on the ve7tcp.ampr.org server. Copies
will be placed in the root directory of the anonymous
FTP area, and on the web server.
The ve7tcp.ampr.org internet server has been a back
room project of mine (literally) since 1994. It's con-
ception can be traced back to the formation of the
Internet DX mailing list in 1993. The DX list was a
spin-off from the very successful CQ-CONTEST mailing
list started by Trey Garlough. The DX list was ini-
tially hosted on a system at the University of Northern
British Columbia, but as time went by the administra-
tive load involved with running the list required it to
be moved to a dedicated server where I had the flexi-
bility to install software necessary to manage the list
in a more reasonable (on my time) manner.
Once the machine was in place, setting up a web site
dedicated to ham radio was a natural extension, and in
early 1994 ve7tcp.ampr.org made it's debut as one of
the first web/mail servers on the internet dedicated
exclusively to amateur radio. (As near as I can
recall, it was the first, and I would be interested in
corresponding with anyone who can provide information
on other servers that were set up in that timeframe.
There's some history there that should not be lost.)
The initial focus of the server was on contesting and
DX (my two favourite aspects of ham radio, in that
order :-) although it soon grew to encompass other
aspects of the hobby. It was (and has) always been my
intention to make this place a home for useful informa-
tion, and not just a site containing links to other
From it's birth I have funded the server out-of-pocket.
This worked well until early 1996, by when the load on
the server overwhelmed not only the hardware running
it, but also it's internet connection. That spring I
was uncertain what to do about the situation. I didn't
want to turn the operation into a commercial business,
but at the same time I didn't want to shut it down.
After a bit of soul searching, and a lot of poking from
the system users, I decided to undertake a funding
drive to get the system upgraded to the point where it
could handle the increasing load. The positive response
from this was stunning to say the least, and allowed me
to make the upgrades necessary to keep things running
smoothly (for the most part) and to expand the service
Since then, the demand on services has maintained a
steady growth, and the hardware has continued to age.
We're now at the point where critical components are
starting to fail, and doing so with all too much fre-
quency. So once again we are at a point where the sys-
tem needs an upgrade if it's to continue doing the job.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
From it's beginnings as a server for a single mailing
list, ve7tcp.ampr.org has grown to offer a wide variety
of services to the ham community. Some of these are
rather mainstream (the mailing lists, FTP archives,
etc) and some are unparalleled anywhere (the Heard Is.
log servers). A quick summary of these includes:
* The Internet DX Mailing List
* The Heard Is. Expedition Mailing List
As well it acts as an FTP distribution site for files
and software related to CT, DXBASE, Logplus, Logwin-
dows, and NA, and mirrors the FTP archives at the ARRL
During the Easter Island (XR0Y) DXpedition it provided
the first internet-based online search engine allowing
hams to query the DXpedition log files to ensure the
information about their QSO(s) had been logged cor-
rectly. During this years DXpedition to Heard Island
(VK0IR) it served up an e-mail log search engine
(another first) in addition to providing web-based log
search capabilities. And as we've gained experience
establishing these services, the software has been made
available to the amateur community for use in future
expeditions -- a tradition I intend to carry on.
Both the web engine and the FTP archives offer up
archives of several DX bulletins (through the efforts
of some very dedicated volunteers), and these archives
are indexed and available for search via a WAIS server
running on the machine. More recently, a WHOIS based
Canadian callsign server was added, and I expect to
have the US callbook incorporated into that shortly.
NNTP feeds of rec.radio.amateur.*, alt.ham-radio.*, and
the ampr.* newsgroups are also available.
So What's Next?
Good question. I wish I had a simple answer. There are
some immediate goals I would like to achieve:
* Redo all the mailing list archives using
Glimpse as the indexing and search engine.
* Provide a single consistent front-end -- both
web and email -- for DXpedition log searches,
ala what we did for VK0IR.
* Write (yes, write) a replacement for the
mailing list server we currently run.
* Replace the existing server hardware with
bits that have been manufactured within the
last five years, and get some filesystem
I also have some longer term goals that involve provid-
ing web accessible tools for things like antenna
design, propagation analysis, and general electronic
design, that are not available to people running low-
end computer systems. From an operating standpoint it
would be nice to provide an archive for expedition and
contest log information in a format suitable for con-
ducting propagation analysis, and I would *love* to see
a truly interactive QSL database engine that could not
only be queried, but *updated* by the users.
What Needs To Be Done?
The most immediate need is to replace/upgrade the
existing server hardware. As much as I hate to say it
(and believe me, I *hate* asking for money like this),
it's going to take $$$ to do this. Details of the his-
tory of the server hardware are available on the web
page so I won't repeat them here. As it stands right
now, the system is running on a 100 MHz Pentium with
128 MB of RAM and roughly 8 GB of disk. A year ago it
was an 80486 with 16 MB and about 2GB of disk.
The load imposed by running the mailing lists has
always been the limiting factor. Last years upgrades
kept the status quo mailing lists quite happy, but the
appearance of the Heard Is. list required a RAM upgrade
to 32 MB. Since them we've gone to 64, then 128 MB of
RAM. Disks have also had to be replaced, mostly due to
the old ones failing from old age. A related problem
has been heat. The server has enough hardware in it
that the fan just can't push the air through it fast
enough any more. (I attribute two of the recent disk
failures to excess heat.)
As I see it, here's what we need to do to keep the
* Replace the existing cabinet with commercial
grade rackmount chassis -- two of them: one
for the CPU board and base peripherals, and a
second for the SCSI expansion bay.
* Install a tape drive for backups.
* Purchase tapes for the tape drive.
* Replace/upgrade most of the disk farm with
current hardware. This includes adding a sec-
ond SCSI controller so that I can start
interleaving the disk I/O across more than
* Expand the disk farm to properly accommodate
the FTP, mailing list, and expedition log
Beyond this it would be nice to be able to add one or
two (or more) SCSI CD-ROM drives in order to be able to
offer up some of the public domain amateur radio
related CD's via the FTP archives.
How Can I Help?
Over the short term it's quite simple: cash is required
to upgrade the hardware. But there is more to it than
that. Just having the hardware means nothing unless
there are people willing to use it to provide tools and
services useful to the amateur community. Running a
mailing list is not a simple exercise. The people work-
ing behind the scenes put in a lot of hours to see that
you get that information in your mailbox. Similarly,
maintaining the web site, the FTP archives, the mailing
list indices, etc., requires time that we could all be
spending on the air. Keeping this going requires a com-
munity effort, and it's you the community that must
contribute to reducing the information vacuum. First
and foremost this site requires VOLUNTEERS to help
maintain the services running here. Regardless of your
level of computer skills, please consider providing
some of your time to help this continue to be a useful
site. Just like contesting and DXing, you will learn
more by looking over the shoulder of an experienced op
than otherwise, and we're more than willing to share
But naturally the other half involves finding the $$$
to fix the hardware problems we have. I've run up a
quick budget showing where we need to get to:
| Tape drive (DDS-2 Sony DAT 8GB) $1000 |
| DAT tapes for above 110 |
| 4GB SCSI disk 1050 * |
| 4GB SCSI disk 1050 |
| 96 MB RAM 1200 * |
| SCSI Controller 100 |
| SCSI CD-ROM 200 |
| Rackmount Chassis (CPU) 1300 |
| Rackmount Chassis (SCSI) 800 |
| Sub-total (CDN $) $5810 |
| GST(**) 407 |
| Total $6217 |
* These represents bits that I have already pur-
chased this year to keep the box running.
** GST is the Canadian "Grab and Steal Tax" -- an
excuse for the government to take an additional 7%
of my livelihood.
The costs I've listed represent my "dealer cost" buying
price. Some of you might be able to get the gear
cheaper, however I insist on purchasing the equipment
myself from vendors I know. It's not worth saving $10
to get something that doesn't work, and UNIX servers
are a lot more picky about what they will or will not
work with. (But if you have pointers to quality hard-
ware that I should consider purchasing, please send the
How Can I Contribute?
As mentioned above, there are two things required to
keep this service going: volunteers, and money for the
Anyone wishing to volunteer their time and knowledge,
or who has ideas on how the services here could be
expanded to assist the amateur community should contact
me via e-mail at:
I discovered last year that collecting donations was
almost as much work as running the server :-( I'm very
fortunate this year in having a volunteer who will be
coordinating the collection of donations on my behalf,
freeing up my time to concentrate on upgrading the
server. Those wishing to make cash contributions to
the server upgrade fund can send them to:
Robert Reed (W2CE)
1991 Route 37 West
Lot 109 - Pine Acres Manor II
Toms River, New Jersey
Cheques and money orders are fine -- cash is not.
Please make things out in Robert's name as he will be
depositing the money and forwarding it to me sepa-
To those of you in Edmonton, I can collect this
money directly. You can reach me via e-mail or at
424-4922 x339 during the day.
Last year I promised to have a web page set up to list
those of you who contributed to keeping the system
going. The workload of keeping up with the donations
precluded that, but I'm hoping that someone with some
basic HTML skills will step forward this year and vol-
unteer to maintain that information.
I Would Like To Thank The Academy ...
Jim Reisert (AD1C) deserves a *lot* of thanks for act-
ing as the other system administrator for this system.
He spends *way* too much time watching all the mailing
lists, and the machine in general, in between his
duties watching out for contesting.com. (And we even
let him off for a bit to get married :-)
Bob Reed (W2CE) also deserves a large *thank you* for
handling this years fund raising drive. (He doesn't
know what he got himself into :-)
And all the people who keep the bulletin and mailing
list archives up-to-date also deserve your thanks. The
system would not be what it is without them!
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