Amateur Radio Tutorial and Experimentation: CITS 2023, Genoa, Italy

By Miroslav Skoric - IEEE Austria Section

The 2023 International Conference on Computer, Information and Telecommunication Systems (CITS 2023) was held at magnificent Aula Magna of the University of Genoa, Italy, from 10th to 12th July 2023. The international forum was supported by IEEE Communications Society, and was intended for scientists, engineers, and practitioners to present their latest research and development results in all areas of computer, information, and telecommunication systems. Topics of interest were divided in several tracks: Computer Systems, Information Technology, Web Technologies, Networking Systems, Telecommunications Systems, and Security Systems. The conference featured technical paper presentations, distinguished keynote speeches, and a tutorial. Having in mind that the event was organized during the peak of tourist season, CITS 2023 allowed remote (on-line) presentations for authors who were not able to arrive in Italy on time because of flight disruptions, visa issues, or similar reasons.

While planning the travel to Genoa, I considered a set of technical tests related to radio signal propagation in a coastal area. Thankfully to Italian radio amateurs Gian Leonardo Solazzi, IW2NKE and Carlo Paroldi, IK1QKU, I booked a hotel room with terrace, in order to make ad-hoc experiments with APRS (Amateur Packet Reporting System) and Winlink (global radio email system) during a 10-day stay in the city. For that purpose, an Alpha MIL 2.0 antenna was installed on a tripod, and guyed by Mastrant rope & carabiners to survive coastal winds. The rest of the equipment (SCS pactor & packet-radio controllers, RIGblaster sound-card interfaces, MFJ antenna tuner and power supply unit, YIC and BadElf GPS receivers, Radioddity and Retevis radios, etc) was in the apartment room. The experimentation was performed under the special amateur radio identifier (‘call-sign’) II1CIT, celebrating the conference. It was also possible to activate nearby voice repeaters at Mount Fasce.

From left to right: Prof. Franco Davoli, Sandro Zappatore IW1PTR, Miroslav Skoric II1CIT, Alberto Giordano I1TD.

The 1.5-hour tutorial session, entitled “Advantage of Winlink Global Radio Email® infrastructure and APRS™ positioning tool from Italian coastal perspective” was delivered by Miroslav Skoric, from IEEE Austria Section. It was an opportunity to inform the conference audience with achievements in exploring Winlink radio email service, capable to workaround the shortage of commercial telephony networks and Internet services after natural disasters and similar emergency situations. The results of aforementioned local tests were compared with experimentation done earlier at other locations (E.g. Greece and Mauritius). It was concluded that both Winlink and APRS resources were more developed in some other areas of northern Italy, such as in Milan than it was in Genoa. Having in mind high maritime activities at Genoa port facilities and ever increasing tourist & commercial traffic over the sea, it might be imperative for local ham community to establish alternative communication options to be ready in case when it might be of vital importance.

The conference chair, Prof. Franco Davoli (first from left in the photo), recalls using ham radio topics in some of his early research papers. His two researcher colleagues joined him in the audience, and both of them were Italian licensed hams who co-authored those papers: Sandro Zappatore, IW1PTR, and Alberto Giordano, I1TD.

Besides the amateur radio tutorial as part of the official program, CITS 2023 welcomed a technical display arranged the second conference day. It included several VHF and HF radio stations, an antenna tuner, GPS/GNSS receivers, various packet-radio and pactor modems, the vertical ‘whip’ antenna exposed in the conference room, as well as a plenty of ham radio literature.