Part 97.1 (b) says that one of the five “purposes” for amateur radio is “Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.” While most of us are not electronics engineers, we can do this by supporting groups that are working on new radio technologies. One such group is Tucson Amateur Packet Radio, or TAPR (pronounced “tapper”), for short.
TAPR got started in the early 1980s when several members of the Tucson chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, who also happened to be amateur radio operators, got together to develop a device called a terminal node controller (TNC) that would be affordable to most hams. TAPR, as an organization, was found in 1982, and began making TNC kits available. Thousands were sold, igniting the interest in packet radio.
While TAPR still promotes packet radio, today it’s working on software-defined radio projects. They are supporting the High Performance Software-Defined Radio (HPSDR) project, which is “an open source (GNU type) hardware and software project intended as a ‘next generation’ Software Defined Radio (SDR) for use by Radio Amateurs (‘hams’) and Short Wave Listeners (SWLs).” TAPR sells a number of kits that hams can build to learn about SDR. Their latest series of kits are for amateurs working with precision time sources.
Other activities include publishing, participation in the SDR forum at the Dayton Hamvention, and sponsorship of the annual Digital Communications Conference. The 2013 Digital Communications Conference was held in Seattle in September and had more than 160 attendees.
TAPR membership is only $25 per year. That entitles you to discounts on TAPR kits and publications, access to the TAPR digital library, and the latest information on TAPR projects and other activities. If you’re an experimenter or interested at all in digital communications, consider joining TAPR.